At Urging of Sharing Economy Caucus Co-Chairs, GSA Will Remind Federal Agencies About Ridesharing Services

March 17, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Responding to a bipartisan request from House Sharing Economy Caucus co-chairs Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Darrell Issa (R-CA), the General Services Administration (GSA) has agreed to advise federal agencies that employees’ use of transportation network companies (TNCs) – often called ridesharing companies – is a permitted, reimbursable expense.

In a letter to the lawmakers, the GSA indicated it will issue a Federal Travel Regulation bulletin reminding agencies that they can let employees use ridesharing companies while on official business.

“GSA will continue to monitor trends in the travel industry, including the use of TNCs,” Associate Administrator Lisa A. Austin wrote. “These trends can lead to opportunities for the Government to take advantage of new technology and innovation that will increase efficiency and avoid costs.”

“I’m glad the GSA is taking swift action to save taxpayers’ money and time by embracing the revolution in local transportation,” Swalwell said. “Good government requires keeping up with the times, and federal employees on official business must be able to avail themselves of the cheapest, most efficient travel options.”

“It's encouraging to see government taking steps to modernize and stay up-to-date with new technologies,” Issa said. “Ridesharing services are transforming the way we get around town while making transportation cheaper, faster, and more reliable. It’s time for government to embrace this revolution which will reduce costs to taxpayers and save money every year.”

The GSA, the federal government’s procurement agency, is responsible for setting travel policies. It already lets federal employees be reimbursed for using ridesharing companies for official travel, but many agencies may not be aware of that.

In their February 10 letter to the GSA, Swalwell and Issa noted state governments already have had success with this – a recently enacted California law officially authorizes state employees on official business to be reimbursed for such travel. “As TNCs become an increasingly important part of our transportation landscape, it is important that the federal government keep pace with these developments,” they wrote.

“Uber is committed to improving the way our cities move by providing affordable and efficient transportation,” said Niki Christoff, head of federal affairs for that company. “We greatly appreciate Congressman Swalwell’s and Congressman Issa's efforts to have the GSA clarify that transportation network companies like Uber are an option for federal employees on official travel helps us achieve our goal of getting everyone connected to a reliable ride with the push of a button.”

“Millions of people across the country rely on Lyft's convenient, affordable rides when traveling for work, and we appreciate the GSA's efforts to prompt federal agencies that transportation choices for employees include ridesharing,” said Joe Okpaku, Lyft's Vice President of Government Relations. “We want to thank Representatives Swalwell and Issa for their continued support of innovative, modern options like Lyft.”

Read the lawmakers’ February 10 letter to the GSA here; read the GSA’s March 14 reply here.