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State agencies spending more on travel in 2022

All 130 state agencies like DHEC, the Department of Education, DSS, etc. spent $47 million in travel in 2022.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — State Comptroller General, Richard Eckstrom, is issuing a challenge to all state agency leaders to keep travel spending down in the next year. 

Eckstrom says spending toward travel for state agencies went up by 190% in 2022.  With the rage of the pandemic dying down a bit, he says state agencies have felt more comfortable traveling in and out of state again.

Before the onset of the pandemic, in 2017 and 18, state agencies spend $81 million on travel, but Eckstrom wants to challenge directors of these agencies to not let this much spending happen again.

"The reason I am challenging agency heads to clip 5% off what they spent this year, is to call to their attention to the fact that they didn't have to travel near as much last year," Eckstrom explained.

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The agency that spent the most in travel money this year was Clemson University with their total coming to $7.4 million. Next in line was the University of South Carolina at $5.1 million.

The House of Representatives spent $1.2 million almost tying with the State Department of Education.

Senator Josh Kimbrell explained why these agencies need to travel.

"When you start looking at the $47 million and you see there are conferences, there's travel, there are expenses related to the state doing its business," Kimbrell stated.

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There are 130 agencies in the state that travel each year, Kimbrell says he can understand a trip out of town for certain kinds of business, but not anything extravagant.

"It depends on the state agency, if it's the commerce department going to BMW in Germany to talk about them expanding their plant in Spartanburg here, that's a rational use of travel dollars," Kimbrell said. "If it's the Department of Revenue having a 'learning session' in the Bahamas, which I'm not saying they've done, but that would be a problem."

The Comptroller General says he and his staff will keep a close eye on travel expenses over the next year and are looking forward to seeing the numbers for 2023.

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