Six Questions for HHS Inspector General

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI) led nearly three dozen of his colleagues in asking U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson to answer six questions as he investigates HHS Secretary Tom Price’s use of private jets at taxpayer expense.

The full text of Cicilline’s letter is embedded below. A PDF of the signed letter can be downloaded by clicking here.

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Dear Inspector General Levinson,

We write to respectfully inquire regarding reports that Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price chartered “private jets on five separate flights for official business, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars more than commercial travel.”  This use of federal funds for private flights would represent a departure from former HHS Secretaries who made a practice of traveling by commercial flights in non-emergency situations. We understand that you have recently begun an investigation into this matter. To that end, we respectfully request a response to the following:

1. On how many occasions has Secretary Price or other HHS officials utilized chartered private flights for official business this year?

2. How much did any private chartered trips cost taxpayers?

3. What is HHS’ policy regarding chartering private planes for official business in non-emergency situations? Did the Secretary’s use of chartered private travel comply with HHS policy?

4. What justification, if any, did Secretary Price provide HHS to charter these flights?

5. For each separate private chartered flight, what attempts, if any, were made to find and book a commercial or other more cost-effective form of travel?

6. Does Secretary Price intend to reimburse taxpayers for these flights?

As representatives of our constituents, our duty is to ensure that their tax dollars are being utilized in the most efficient and responsible manner in order to continue to deliver the critical services entrusted to federal agencies. As part of Congress’ oversight role, it is our responsibility to ensure waste, fraud, and abuse of federal tax dollars is scrutinized and corrected when need be.

We thank you for your role in providing accountability at HHS and look forward to your response. If our offices can be of service regarding this request, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

Members of Congress

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