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.
While the amounts spent were deemed fairly ordinary by government insiders, the fact that the closely-held information was found on a publicly available government website had some speculating that perhaps the postings had been inadvertent. Wolf Blitzer, who spent seven years reporting from the White House, even called it “an extremely rare glimpse.” However, further investigation has revealed that the information is not as rare as previously supposed.
For example, Vice President Biden’s trip to Moscow in 2011. The contract was awarded to the Moscow Ritz-Carlton on February 24, 2011 and , according to the accompanying Justification and Approval (J&A), the estimated cost for 1,778 room nights was $665,545. As has been noted before, contracts for travel for high level government officials are not subject to the same requirements for competitive bidding as other government contracts due to security concerns:
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