Circular No. A-126
May 22, 1992
TO THE HEADS
OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS
the Management and Use of Government Aircraft
4. Scope and Coverage
6. Acquisition and Management
7. Use of Government Aircraft
8. Travel on Government Aircraft
9. Reimbursement for Use of Government Aircraft
10. Approving the Use of Government Aircraft
11. Approving Travel on Government Aircraft
12. Documenting the Use of Government Aircraft
14. Accounting for Aircraft Costs
15. Effective Date
16. Information Contact
1. Purpose. This Circular is being issued to minimize cost
and improve the management and use of government aviation resources.
It prescribes policies to be followed by Executive Agencies in acquiring,
managing, using, accounting for the costs of, and disposing of aircraft.
2. Authority. This Circular is issued under the authority
of the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, as amended; the Budget
and Accounting Procedures Act of 1950, as amended; Reorganization
Plan No. 2 of 1970; Executive Order 11541; and 31 U.S.C. 1344.
3. Background. The Office of Management and Budget has concluded
that the government-wide policy guidance with respect to the use
of government aircraft should be clarified to restrict the operation
of government aircraft to defined official purposes; restrict travel
on such aircraft; require special review of such travel on government
aircraft by senior officials or non-Federal travelers in circumstances
described hereafter; and codify policies for reimbursement for the
use of government aircraft.
4. Scope and Coverage. This Circular applies to all government-owned,
leased, chartered and rental aircraft and related services operated
by Executive Agencies except for aircraft while in use by or in
support of the President or Vice President.
5. Definitions. For purposes of this Circular, the following
6. Acquisition and Management.
aircraft means any aircraft owned, leased, chartered or rented
and operated by an Executive Agency.
requirements means activities that constitute the discharge
of an agency's official responsibilities. Such activities include,
but are not limited to, the transport of troops and/or equipment,
training, evacuation (including medical evacuation), intelligence
and counter-narcotics activities, search and rescue, transportation
of prisoners, use of defense attache-controlled aircraft, aeronautical
research and space and science applications, and other such
activities. For purposes of this Circular, mission requirements
do not include official travel to give speeches, to attend conferences
or meetings, or to make routine site visits.
- Official travel means (i) travel to meet mission requirements,
(ii) required use travel, and (iii) other travel for the conduct
of agency business.
use means use of a government aircraft for the travel of
an Executive Agency officer or employee, where the use of the
government aircraft is required because of bona fide communications
or security needs of the agency or exceptional scheduling requirements.
Federal officials are persons:
at a rate of pay specified in or fixed according to subchapter
II of chapter 53 of title 5 of the U.S. Code;
these are persons employed by the White House and executive agencies,
including independent agencies, at a rate of pay equal to or greater
than the minimum rate of basic pay for the Senior Executive Service.
Exempted from this definition, for purposes of this Circular,
are active duty military officers.
employed in a position in an Executive Agency, including any
independent agency, at a rate of pay payable for level I of
the Executive Schedule or employed in the Executive Office
of the President at a rate of pay payable for level II of
the Executive Schedule;
employed in a position in an Executive Agency that is not
referred to in clause (i) (other than a position that is subject
to pay adjustment under Section 1009 of Title 37 of the U.S.
Code) and for which the basic rate of pay, exclusive of any
locality-based pay adjustment under section 5304 of title
5 of the U.S. Code (or any comparable adjustment pursuant
to interim authority of the President), is equal to or greater
than the rate of basic pay payable for the Senior Executive
Service under Section 5382 of title 5 of the U.S. Code; or
appointed by the President to a position under section 105(a)(2)(A),
(B), or (C) of title 3 of the U.S. Code or by the Vice President
to a position under section 106(a) (1) (A), (B), or (C) of
title 3 of the U.S. Code.
coach fare means a coach fare available to the general public
between the day that the travel was planned and the day the
cost means all costs associated with the use and operation
of an aircraft. (See Attachment A for detailed definition.)
number and size of aircraft acquired by an agency and the capacity
of those aircraft to carry passengers and cargo shall not exceed
the level necessary to meet the agency's mission requirements.
must comply with OMB Circular No. A-76 before purchasing, leasing
or otherwise acquiring aircraft and related services to assure
that these services cannot be obtained from and operated by
the private sector more cost effectively.
shall review periodically the continuing need for all of their
aircraft and the cost effectiveness of their aircraft operations
in accordance with the requirements of OMB Circular No. A-76.
A copy of each agency review shall be submitted to GSA when
completed and to OMB with the agency's next budget submission.
Agencies shall report any excess aircraft and release all aircraft
that are not fully justified by these reviews.
shall use their aircraft in the most cost effective way to
meet their requirements.
7. Use of Government Aircraft. Agencies shall operate government
aircraft only for official purposes. Official purposes include the
operation of government aircraft for (i) mission requirements, and
(ii) other official travel.
8. Travel on Government Aircraft. Government aircraft shall
only be used for (i) official travel; or (ii) on a space available
basis subject to the following policies:
travel that is not also required use travel or to meet mission
requirements shall be authorized only when:
commercial airline or aircraft (including charter) service is
reasonably available (i.e., able to meet the traveler's departure
and/or arrival requirements within a 24 hour period, unless
the traveler demonstrates that extraordinary circumstances require
a shorter period) to fulfill effectively the agency requirement;
the actual cost of using a government aircraft is not more
than the cost of using commercial airline or aircraft (including
charter) service. When a flight is being made to meet mission
requirements or for required use travel (and is certified
as such in writing by the agency which is conducting the mission
as required in Section 10.b.), secondary use of the aircraft
for other travel for the conduct of agency business may be
presumed to result in cost savings (i.e., cost comparisons
are not required).
may not use government aircraft on a "space available" basis unless:
aircraft is already scheduled for use for an official purpose;
such "space available" use does not require a larger aircraft
than needed for the official purpose;
such "space available" use results only in minor additional
cost to the government; and
reimbursement is provided as set forth in Section 9.
9. Reimbursement for Use of Government Aircraft.
10. Approving the Use of Government Aircraft. The following
policies apply to the procedures under which the use of government
aircraft for official travel may be approved by the agency which
owns or operates the aircraft:
travel that is not required use travel:
incidental private activities (personal or political) of an
employee undertaken on an employee's own time while on official
travel shall not result in any increase in the actual costs
to the government of operating the aircraft.
The government shall be reimbursed the appropriate share of
the full coach fare for any portion of the time on the trip
spent on political activities (except as provided in subsection
required use travel. The government shall be reimbursed as
follows (except as may otherwise be required by subsection (d))
for required use travel:
a wholly personal or political trip, the full coach fare for
For an official trip during which the employee engages in
political activities, the appropriate share of the full coach
fare for the entire trip;
For an official trip during which the employee flies to one
or more locations for personal reasons, the excess of the
full coach fare of all flights taken by the employee on the
trip over the full coach fare of the flights that would have
been taken by the employee had there been no personal activities
on the trip.
available" travel. For "space available" travel other than
for the conduct of agency business, whether on mission or other
flights, the government shall be reimbursed at the full coach
fare except (i) as authorized under 10 U.S.C. 4744 and regulations
implementing the statute; and (ii) by civilian personnel and their
dependents in remote locations (i.e., locations not reasonably
accessible to regularly scheduled commercial airline service).
any case of political travel, reimbursement shall be made in
the amount required by law or regulation (e.g., 11 C.F.R. 106.3)
if greater than the amount otherwise required by the foregoing
11. Approving Travel on Government Aircraft. The following
policies apply to the procedures under which travel on government
aircraft may be approved by the agency which sponsors the travel:
an agency head, or officials designated by the agency head, may
approve the use of agency aircraft for official travel.
a government aircraft used to fulfill a mission requirement
is used also to transport senior Federal officials, members
of their families or other non-Federal travelers on a "space
available" basis (except as authorized under 10 U.S.C. 4744
and regulations implementing that statute), the agency that
is conducting the mission shall certify in writing prior to
the flight that the aircraft is scheduled to perform a bona
fide mission activity, and that the minimum mission requirements
have not been exceeded in order to transport such "space available"
travelers. In special emergency situations, an after-the-fact
written certification by an agency is permitted.
that use government aircraft shall report semi-annually to
GSA each use of such aircraft for non-mission travel by senior
Federal officials, members of the families of such officials,
and any non-Federal travelers (except as authorized under 10
U.S.C. 4744 and regulations implementing that statute). Such
reports shall be in a format specified by GSA and shall list
all such travel conducted during the preceding six month period.
The report shall include: (i) the name of each such traveler,
(ii) the official purpose of the trip, (iii) destination(s),
and (iv) for travel to which Section 8.a.(ii) applies, the
appropriate allocated share of the full operating cost of each
trip and the corresponding commercial cost for the trip. In
addition, agencies shall report a summary of these data to
OMB semi-annually in a format specified by GSA. (Reports on
classified trips shall not be reported to GSA but must be maintained
by the agency using the aircraft and available for review as
12. Documenting the Use of Government Aircraft. All uses
of government aircraft must be documented and this documen-tation
must be retained for at least two years. At a minimum, the documentation
of each use of government aircraft must include:
- the tail
number of the plane used
approval requirements - All travel on government aircraft
must be authorized by the sponsoring agency in accordance with
its travel policies and this Circular and, when applicable, documented
on an official travel authorization. Where possible, such travel
must be approved by at least one organizational level above the
person(s) traveling. If review by a higher organizational level
is not possible, another appropriate approval is required.
approval requirements for required use travel - Use of government
aircraft for required use travel must be approved in advance
and in writing. A Federal officer or employee must obtain written
approval for all required use travel on a trip-by-trip basis
from the agency's senior legal official or his/her principal
deputy, unless (1) in the case of an officer or employee who
is not an agency head, the agency head has determined that all
travel by the officer or employee or travel in specified categories
qualifies as required use travel, or (2) in the case of an agency
head, the President has determined that all travel, or travel
in specified categories, by the agency head qualifies as required
use travel. Any determination by an agency head that travel
by an officer or employee of that agency qualifies as required
use travel must be in writing and set forth the basis for that
determination. In special emergency situations, an after-the-fact
written certification by an agency is permitted.
head opting to determine that travel by an officer or employee
may be required use travel shall establish written standards
for determining when required use travel is permitted. Such
travel is not permitted unless in conformance with such written
approval requirements for travel that is not to meet mission
requirements or required use travel - Use of government
aircraft for such travel by the following categories of people
must be authorized in advance and in writing:
members of families of such senior Federal officials; and
must be approved on a trip-by-trip basis and be signed by the
agency's senior legal official or his/her principal deputy; or
be in conformance with an agency review and approval system that
has been approved by OMB. In special emergency situations, an
after-the-fact written certification by an agency is permitted.
by such individuals that is deemed to be official travel shall
be subject to the same rules and conditions as any other official
travel. Travel by such individuals that is not official travel
is subject to the reimbursement requirements in Section 9.c.
for "space available" travel.
name(s) of the pilot(s) and flight crew
purpose(s) of the flight
names of all passengers
aircraft are used to support official travel, the documentation
must also include evidence that the applicable provisions of this
Circular have been satisfied.
Executive Agency officials with statutory authority to procure
aircraft will assure that:
agency's internal policies and procedures for procuring aircraft
and related services are consistent with the requirements of
OMB Circular No. A-76.
Their agency's aircraft programs comply with the internal
control requirements of OMB Circular No. A-123 and that they
are included in the agency's Management Control Plan. Any
material weaknesses in these programs are to be reported in
the annual internal control reports to the President and the
Their agency cooperates with the General Services Administration
in the development of aircraft management policies and standards
and in the collection of aircraft information.
Their agency has an aircraft information system that conforms
to the generic data and reporting standards developed by GSA.
Agencies that do not already have systems that conform to
these standards are required to implement such systems within
one year from the issuance of the GSA standards.
- The Secretaries
of Defense and "the uniformed serv-ices," the Secretary of State,
and the Administrator of General Services shall incorporate the
applicable policies in this Circular into the travel regulations
which they promulgate for uniformed service, foreign service,
and civilian employees, respectively. The necessary changes to
these regulations should be issued no later than 180 days from
the date of this Circular.
Administrator of General Services shall maintain a single coordinating
office for agency aircraft management. The responsibilities
of this office shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
of the development of effectiveness measures and standards,
policy recommendations, and guidance for the procurement, operation,
safety, and disposal of civilian agency aircraft;
operation of a government-wide aircraft management information
identification, for agencies and OMB, of opportunities: to
share, transfer, or dispose of underutilized aircraft; to
reduce excessive aircraft operations and maintenance costs;
and to replace obsolete aircraft;
development of generic aircraft information system standards
other technical assistance to agencies in establishing automated
aircraft information and cost accounting systems and conducting
the cost analyses required by this Circular;
review of proposed agency internal aircraft policies for compliance
with OMB guidance and notification to OMB of any discrepancies;
conduct of an annual study of the variable and fixed costs
of operating the different categories of government aircraft
and dissemination of the results for use in making the cost
comparisons required in Section 8.a.(ii) and reporting the
trip costs as required in Section 10.c.
In order to
carry out these responsibilities, the Administrator of General
Services shall maintain an interagency aviation policy working
group to advise him in developing or changing aircraft policies
and information requirements.
for provisions of this Circular which specify their own implementation
dates, each agency head shall issue internal agency directives
to implement this Circular no later than 180 days from the
date of the Circular. These internal agency directives must
include all policies contained in this Circular, but may also
contain additional policies unique to the agency. Responsibility
for these policies shall be assigned to a senior management
official who has the agency-wide authority and resources to
14. Accounting for Aircraft Costs. Agencies must maintain
systems for their aircraft operations which will permit them to:
(i) justify the use of government aircraft in lieu of commercially
available aircraft, and the use of one government aircraft in lieu
of another; (ii) recover the costs of operating government aircraft
when appropriate; (iii) determine the cost effectiveness of various
aspects of their aircraft programs; and (iv) conduct the cost comparisons
required by OMB Circular A-76 to justify in-house operation of government
aircraft versus procurement of commercially available aircraft services.
Although agency accounting systems do not have to be uniform in
their design or operation to comply with this Circular, they must
accumulate costs which can be summarized into the standard Aircraft
Program Cost Elements defined in Attachment B. The use of these
elements to account for aircraft costs is discussed in Attachment
15. Effective Date. This Circular is effective on publication.
16. Information Contact. All inquiries should be addressed
to the General Management Division, Office of Management and Budget,
telephone number (202) 395-5090.
A - Accounting for Aircraft Costs
Attachment B - Standard Aircraft Program
Cost Element Definitions
Return to Top
Return to this article at: