Proposal would limit publicly funded travel

HAWAII MEETING: From left, Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority Executive Director Ray Topasna, Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green, Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio and Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's chief of staff, Tony Babauta, talk about the programs Hawaii has launched to alleviate homelessness during a trip to Hawaii in May. Photo courtesy of the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority

Sen. James Moylan has introduced several proposed amendments to the Government Travel Law, including eliminating government-funded travel for spouses of government of Guam employees and ensuring per diem allowances apply across the board. 

The bill also proposes other mandates intended to track and minimize government-funded travel.

Current law allows government-funded travel for dependents of employees traveling related to recruitment, termination or home leave.

The law also allows government-funded travel to the spouse of the governor, speaker of the Legislature and the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Guam, in addition to the spouse of any other employee as provided by regulations.

Moylan's proposal would cut all of these authorizations - except government-funded travel for the spouse of the governor – as well as provisions that give additional per diem rates to the governor, lieutenant governor, lawmakers, judges, mayors, executive or special assistants, department heads, commissioners and board members.

Employees will also be required to submit itemized accounts of expenses incurred during travel. Failure to submit the statement of account will result in the suspension of future travel. If costs exceed the per diem allowance, the employee can be reimbursed for the excess expenses if approved by their department head or board or commission.

Conversely, the employee must reimburse GovGuam within 10 working days if an employee receives a per diem allowance in excess of expenses. Failure to do so would also result in a suspension of travel using government funds.

The governor, local judges and justices, and members of the Legislature are "exempted from submitting an approved authorization for expenses exceeding their per diem and travel allowances," according to the bill.

Employees are required to submit justification statements when traveling as part of the amendments.

Department heads, boards and commissions must determine if there can be alternatives to travel for training under the amended bill. The same is true for any travel for meetings.

The bill also would require the creation of rules and regulations under each government branch to supplement the travel law.

"The objective is not to prevent travel in the public sector, but to assure it is within justifiable reasons and costs," the bill states.

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