Senators Introduce Frequent Flyer Legislation

WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (D-CT), along with Ranking Member Fred Thompson (R-TN) and Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and John Warner (R-VA), have introduced legislation that will allow military personnel and federal employees to make use of promotional benefits, such as frequent flyer miles, that they receive as a result of official government travel.

                ?This initiative will correct a glaring inequity that exists between government and private sector employees for work-related travel,” Lieberman said. “Not only is the current prohibition on frequent flyer benefits unfair to our federal workforce but it is inefficient for agencies that have to take on this significant administrative burden.  By making these benefits available to government workers, we will help make federal service more competitive with the private sector.?

                ?I am pleased to join my colleagues in cosponsoring this legislation which allows federal employees and military personnel to retain frequent flier mileage awards earned while on government travel,? Thompson said.  ?This legislation should serve to boost employee morale and enhance federal recruitment and retention efforts at a time when we want to encourage citizens to answer the call to public service.?

                ?Federal employees and military personnel are frequently asked to travel on behalf of their government, often times going long distances from home for many days at a time,? said Akaka, Chairman of the Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services.  ?These hard working men and women deserve to retain the benefits they receive in the course of their public service.  That is why I am pleased to join Senators Lieberman, Thompson, and Warner in sponsoring this legislation.?

                ?Civilian federal employees and their DOD counterparts have long deserved the opportunity to receive earned frequent flyer miles,? said Warner.  ?At the very moment we are struggling to recruit and retain the very best talent for the federal government, and this bill represents a significant step forward in that effort.?

                The bill, S.1498, which was introduced Wednesday, would allow those federal employees currently prohibited by the 1994 Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act to retain travel benefits such as frequent flyer miles, upgrades, and access to carrier clubs or facilities.  Covered are executive branch employees, including military personnel, foreign service members, and their families, judicial branch personnel, and employees of the General Accounting Office, the Library of Congress, the Government Printing Office, and other legislative-branch agencies.

                Earlier this year the House of Representatives passed legislation to allow federal employees to retain travel benefits.  In September, the Armed Services Committee adopted an amendment offered by Senators Lieberman and Warner to extend these privileges to executive branch employees as well as military personal as part of the Department of Defense 2002 Authorization Act.  The bill introduced today further expands the number of federal employees eligible to retain these benefits.