1:02 PM, Dec 6, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Vice President Joe Biden's $585,000 hotel bill for a Paris visit early in 2013 focused a lot of attention on the issue of the high cost of VIP travel. Even as Biden is currently on a swing through the Far East, the State Department has posted a $583,000 contract with the Shangri-la Hotel in Singapore for the vice president's three-day/two-night stay this past July, his most recent Far East visit. Though the online Justification and Approval document is somewhat poor quality, it indicates a need for a hotel "to host a VIP visit of over 250 guests at during the principal's visit," the "principal" in this case being the vice president:
Not all such contracts for VIP travel expenses are released by the government, although when they come, the releases always lag behind the trip dates for security reasons. Security concerns are also the reason for the lack of "full and open competition" that is often required on government contracts. When asked for comment regarding the requirements of posting travel-related contracts, a State Department spokesperson responded via email:
Federal acquisition requirements for posting contract awards related to Presidential and Vice Presidential Travel to FedBiz Ops are that any contract for more than $150,000 should be posted within 30 days of the contract award date.
The above contract was awarded on July 18, 2013, but was not posted until December 4, 2013, which amounts to 139 days. When asked to comment regarding the delay in posting this and other such contracts, the spokesperson replied:
The Department takes our obligations under the Transparency Act very seriously, and strives for complete, timely reporting from all of our missions worldwide.
9:58 AM, Jul 17, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Vice President Biden spent only about 20 hours in Trinidad and Tobago on his recent six day trip through South America and the Caribbean, but the hotel bill for the vice president, his entourage and the advance team came in at about $245,000 for an estimated 1,134 room nights. As is typically the case with VIP travel, the contract was awarded without the usual "full and open competition" due to security and logistical concerns:
In Copenhagen, $430,285.70 for hotel and $200,629 for limousines.9:53 AM, Jun 29, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
The Washington Times reports that the cost of Obama's Africa trip, estimated as high as $100 million, is overshadowing President Obama's agenda. If past VIP trips are any indication, lodging and local transportation would represent only a fraction of the $100 million, yet those costs would likely still dwarf those of the average citizen traveling abroad. In late March, Vice President Joe Biden's $321,000 limo bill and $585,000 Paris hotel bill for his trip to Europe earlier this year were revealed.
1:35 PM, May 1, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
As the White House first announced in March, Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Mexico and Costa Rica later this week. The trip is billed as "an important opportunity to reinforce the deep cultural, familial, and economic ties that so many Americans share with Mexico and Central America." And at yesterday’s White House press conference, the president stated that he is "very much looking forward to taking the trip down to Mexico" this week.
'Approximately 136 hotel rooms for 893 room nights.'9:46 AM, Mar 22, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Vice President Biden and his entourage spent a little time in London in early February during his first foreign trip of the second term of the Obama administration.
Reporter is feted at lavish hotel, writes about lavish experience. Does it get any better?2:05 PM, Jul 26, 2010 • By VICTORINO MATUS
Travel writing can be tough, despite what you might think. You're jotting down notes about the beautiful sunset, rather than just watching it. Coming up with the right words is a constant struggle. And still I wonder with great envy how Toni Bentley, a ballerina and author, landed the plum assignment of reviewing the Royal Mansour hotel in Marrakech, Morocco, for the Wall Street Journal, which, according to her description, sounds like the most opulent and extravagant hotel in the world.
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