Agency watchdog slams former HHS chief Price on costly travel


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

The government wasted at least $341,000 on travel by ousted Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, including booking charter flights without considering cheaper scheduled airlines, an agency watchdog said Friday.

The HHS inspector general’s long-awaited report chastised the department for flouting federal travel rules, which require officials to book trips in the most cost-efficient way for taxpayers.

The inspector general estimated that the government spent nearly $1.2 million on Price’s travel during his seven months in office. That included more than $700,000 in military flights on two foreign and two domestic trips, as well as more than $480,000 for various domestic trips by private chartered aircraft.

HHS “improperly used federal funds related to Sec. Price’s government travel,” the report said. Of 21 trips reviewed by the inspector general’s investigators, only one complied with all federal travel requirements. The report said none of the charter flights complied.

Price, who built a reputation as a budget hawk during earlier congressional service, has apologized and repaid the government nearly $60,000. The report said authorities should seek full recovery of the $341,000 deemed wasteful spending.

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