The National Audit Office has today published the findings from its investigation into central government travel expenditure, covering how and where officials travel, as well as policy controls over the expenditure, and whether those controls deter, prevent and identify inappropriate spending.
The key findings of the investigation are as follows.
- Spending on travel makes up only a small amount of central government expenditure and the great majority of work trips by officials are standard or economy class.
- However, inappropriate travel expenditure can seriously damage reputations.
- Despite this, the centre of government has little oversight of official travel, leaving that role to departments, although it does seek to manage the price of travel purchased through the use of central procurement frameworks. It does not monitor overall demand for travel since it sees this also as the responsibility of departments.
- Departments are not managing demand for government travel sufficiently actively. NAO analysis suggests that government travel expenditure has increased by at least 11% in real terms since 2010-11, despite overall headcount reductions and advances in video and teleconferencing technology. However, the number of overnight hotel bookings has decreased.
- There is considerable variation between departmental travel policies and between controls on expenditure. There is, for example, no standardization among departments about when officials can travel non-standard class by rail and non-economy class by air.
11 March 2015