Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly pauses while speaking at a news conference at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, to discuss the operational implementation of the president's executive orders. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

This just came out of the Office of Management and Budget

In light of recent events, the President has asked me to remind the heads of all executive departments and agencies of Administration policies on travel.

First, as to law and formal policy: Government-owned, rented, leased, or chartered aircraft should not be used for travel by Government employees, except with specific justification – per
the Office ofManagement and Budget (OMB) Circular A-126 (May 22, 1992), Improving the Management and Use ofGovernment Aircraft, and the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR).

However, beyond the law and formal policy, departments and agencies should recognize that we are public servants. Every penny we spend comes from the taxpayer. We thus owe it to the taxpayer to work as hard managing that money wisely as the taxpayer must do to earn it in the first place.

Put another way, just because something is legal doesn’t make it right. Even when the criteria of Circular A-126 and the FTR allow for the use of Government-owned, rented, leased, or chartered
aircraft, departments and agencies should still consider whether commercial air travel is a more appropriate use oftaxpayer resources. Accordingly, with few exceptions, the commercial air system used by millions of Americans every day is appropriate, even for very senior officials.

Therefore, all travel on Government-owned, rented, leased, or chartered aircraft, except space available travel and travel to meet mission requirements (as those situations are defined in Circular A-126) shall require prior approval from the White House Chief of Staff. Full-time required use travelers are exempted from this requirement. Further guidance from the White House Chief of Staff on the approval process will be forthcoming. OMB is also reviewing longstanding guidance pertaining to the use of Government-owned, rented, leased, and chartered aircraft and welcomes any suggestions that would strengthen existing controls. In the meantime, departments and agencies are reminded that they are required to adhere to the FTR and Circular A-126.

Note that his also includes the use of military aircraft on anything but a Space Available basis.

Notwithstanding the fact that I don’t have a huge objection to senior officials using either military, government owned or charter aircraft, the policy is solid. The hard part is going to be making it stick. Can Kelly do it? Yes. Could Priebus? Not on his best day. Can Kelly’s successor? We’ll see. But if this policy can’t be made to stick, then it is going to cause more problems than it solves.

If this is the policy, it should have been in force on Day One. Now it looks like the administration is being stampeded… because they are. Dealing with the press is like dealing with a bratty three-year-old. They’ve learned they can get a result from this and they will be back for more.

It is a damned shame that it cost Tom Price his job. He was pushing the HHS beast in the right direction.

Tags: John Kelly