Grassley questions HHS travel expenses

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sent more employees on international trips in 2008 and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wants to know why.

Grassley wrote HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday asking her to explain why there was a 6 percent increase in foreign travel, and a 14 percent increase in spending on such travel, during fiscal year 2008, according to a report published on IowaPolitics.com. Travel by officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health accounted for 95 percent of that spending.

In particular, Grassley takes aim at the fact that CDC and FDA employees spent more on their trips than other agency officials -- including purchasing business-class tickets.  "In FY 2008 travel for both FDA and CDC employees cost much more per trip than employees at other agencies, a cost that was not attributable to distance or remoteness of destinations, but instead to business-class expenses," Grassley wrote.