Speaker Pelosi Announces New Director of Interparliamentary Affairs, CODEL Reforms

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–May 14, 2010.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced today that U.S. Air Force Retired Lt. Col. Stacee Bako will assume the position of Director of the Office of Interparliamentary Affairs, which oversees congressional delegation travel for the House.  Pelosi also announced several reforms to congressional delegation travel undertaken by Members of the House. 

In a letter to House Committee Chairs, Pelosi announced a series of reforms to House delegation travel, including:

•    The elimination of so-called “enhanced” per diem except in extraordinary circumstances and a requirement for the full documentation of such use;
•    A new requirement that Members and staff undertaking international or domestic official travel via commercial air will be required to book in coach/economy class unless scheduled travel is in excess of 14 hours, consistent with rules established by the Departments of Defense and State. 

Bako is currently the Deputy Director of the Office of Interparliamentary Affairs, having served in that role since late 2009.  Bako was previously the Deputy Chief of the Air Force House Legislative Liaison Office and has served as the Executive Officer to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance at Headquarters Air Force at the Pentagon. 

Bako retired from the Air Force in December 2009, having served for 20 years with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Bako is a graduate of Air War College, holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Vermont and a master’s degree in Public Administrative Management from the University of Maryland, Bowie State.  Bako replaces Kay King, who retired from Capitol Hill last month after 25 years of service. 

“These travel policy announcements are part of our continuing effort to ensure transparency and accountability in Congressional management,” Speaker Pelosi said.  “To best serve Members of the House, Lt. Col. Bako brings expertise, judgment and excellence to her new role.”

The Speaker announced the CODEL reforms in a letter to House Committee chairs sent yesterday.  A copy of the letter is below.

* * *

May 13, 2010

The Honorable xxx, Chairman
House Committee on xxxx
xxx U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

Following our recent conversation at the Chairmen’s meeting, I would like to provide you with the following restatement of rules concerning the authorization by Chairmen of travel by Members and staff:

•    A Member of the committee seeking authorization to travel for oversight purposes must do so in writing to the Chairman.  An itinerary of the proposed trip must be included, as well as a statement describing the purpose of the travel.  Should commercial travel be contemplated, the estimated cost of airline tickets as provided by CATO must also be included;

•    For all Members and staff, international or domestic official travel via commercial air may only be booked in coach/economy class consistent with Executive Branch guidelines.  Requests for exceptions to this policy due to special circumstances should submitted in writing to the Office of Interparliamentary Affairs prior to commencement of the travel.  As a general rule, business-class accommodations will only be authorized if the scheduled flight time is in excess of 14 hours, consistent with rules established by the Departments of Defense and State;   

•    Any per diem provided to Members or staff is intended to be expended only for official purposes related to the trip.  Excess funds are to be returned to the Treasury;

•    Requests for enhanced per diem must explain the justification for the request and must be submitted by the Member leading the delegation to the Office of Interparliamentary Affairs prior to departure.  Executive Branch guidelines will apply to enhanced per diem;

•    Foreign travel should be authorized only when it is necessary to facilitate the work of the Committee;

•    Chairmen may authorize travel only for Members and staff of their committee. Spouses of Members may travel when necessary for protocol purposes only and at no cost to the federal government.  Staff support for travel must be requested with the authorization to travel, and staff support must be provided by committee staff only.  Personal staff is not authorized to travel and should not be added to Committee staff for the primary purpose of qualifying for status as Committee employees;

•    If a Member of the committee does not have a spouse, an adult child (18 years of age and older) of the Member may be authorized to travel when necessary for protocol purposes only and on the same basis as a spouse. 

•    If a Member of the committee has a spouse, but the spouse is unavailable for travel, authorization for an adult child (18 years of age and older) of the Member to travel with the Member may be given on the same basis as a spouse.

•    Per Department of Defense policy, committee or leadership letters requesting additional travelers should contain the travelers name and specify their relationship (spouse, adult child) to the Member they are accompanying;

•    All travel must be led by a Majority party Member of the committee and efforts to ensure that the travel is bipartisan must be documented;

•    The availability of Department of Defense aircraft to support congressional travel is extremely limited.  A bipartisan, minimum number of Members, varying by the type of aircraft assigned, will be required.  Requests for Department of Defense aircraft must be made through the Office of Interparliamentary Affairs.  Committees should not contact the Department of Defense directly;

•    Member travel is to be conducted only during times when the House is not in session and is not to interfere with representational responsibilities; and

•    Committees must file, on a quarterly basis with the Clerk of the House, reports disclosing all expenditures for travel and the purpose of those expenditures.

Please contact the Office of Interparliamentary Affairs at ext. 6-1766 with any questions or concerns.  The staff is available to provide guidance regarding travel matters.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

best regards,

Speaker of the House