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.