Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What is Happening with Federal Travel

Recently the Federal Government issued a Federal Travel Regulation Bulletin (GSA Bulletin FTR 10-6) regarding Travel Policies and Practices. The stated purpose of this bulletin is to “enhance travel cost savings and reduce green house gas emissions.” This travel policy was established in response to the President’s Executive Order requiring heads of agencies to consider reductions associated with “implementing strategies and accommodations for transit, travel, training, and conferencing that actively support lower-carbon commuting and travel by agency staff.”

The travel bulletin goes on to say one of the ways to enhance cost savings is by reducing or eliminating travel. The new guidance encourages eliminating travel when possible by utilizing technology in lieu of travel. Agencies are encouraged to use teleconferencing, video conferencing, webinars, social networking options, etc. We have heard all of this before. It will be interested to see if we see an increase in demand for electronic conferencing.

Both travel costs and carbon reduction strategies are encouraged in the guidelines when planning any travel. Suggestions include traveling lighter (less luggage), using public transportation, and ridesharing and or walking, to and from lodging and meeting sites. When cabs are used, the traveler is encouraged to use cabs that use alternative fuels. If rental cars are required, the traveler is encouraged to use the smallest, most fuel efficient vehicle or if available under a government agreement, use alternative fuel or hybrid rental.

Lodging should be “Green”. Travelers are encouraged to look for lodging that is LEED certified, or has an EPA Energy Star rating or participates in EPA’s Waste Wise and Watersense program and has a stated commitment to practicing environmentally preferable purchasing in the products and services used. The guidance also asks travel to participate in the hotels reuse of linen to conserve water and recycling programs. It also encourages turning off AC/Heat, radio and TV in the room when leaving. These are good suggestions for all us as we travel for either business or pleasure.

When hosting meetings and conferences requiring travel, the guidance encourages strategies such as offering an alternative for remote conferencing, ensuring the site is easily accessible to public transportation, assuring the property incorporates green principles, and that if possible, schedule concurrently with other meetings so attendees can overlap their attendance and avoid multiple trips.

What does that mean to both government planners as well as independent planners? I think this is the wave of the future and we should all consider these guidelines when working with all of our clients and planning for our future events.

~ Linda Begbie • CEO & Executive Director, RDL enterprises

Ed Note: If you are traveling in or to California, check out this web site for a list of green-certified hotels and learn what it takes for them to become certified. - KB