Jerry Brown bans most state workers’ travel

Good news for teleconferencers: Gov. Jerry Brown today issued an executive order nixing all travel by state workers unless it’s “mission-critical.”

maybe they'll hitchhike“Our fiscal challenges demand that we take a much closer look at how taxpayer dollars are being spent within state government,” Brown said in a news release. “Now is not the time to attend conferences, travel to meetings or take out-of-state field trips and this Executive Order puts an end to it.”

His order bans state employees from traveling either in-state or out-of-state unless it’s mission-critical or there is no cost to the state. All in-state mission-critical travel must be approved by agency secretaries or department directors who do not report to an agency secretary, and all out-of-state travel must be approved by the Governor’s office.

By “mission-critical,” he means travel that’s directly related to enforcement responsibilities, audits, revenue collection or other duties required by state law, contract or executive directive. This doesn’t include travel to attend conferences, networking opportunities, professional development courses, continuing education classes, meetings that can be conducted by video or teleconference or other non-essential events.

All agencies and departments will have to submit out-of-state travel requests for the next fiscal year directly to the Governor’s office by May 6. In the past, agencies and departments have been allowed to switch previously approved trips with new trips during the fiscal year, but this order won’t allow that.

Requests for out-of-state travel will have to document the trip’s purpose and explain why it’s mission-critical, its destination and length, the projected cost and source of funding, the number of travelers and each individual’s role, the benefit to the state, the impact if the trip is denied, whether the goal of the trip can be met in a less costly manner and whether a traveler’s absence will interfere with regularly assigned duties.

Brown last week ordered state agencies and departments to recover millions of dollars in uncollected salary and travel advances. Earlier, he issued orders that state agencies stop spending taxpayer money on free giveaway “swag” and gift items; cut cell phones and the passenger vehicle fleet in half; and freeze hiring across state government.

UPDATE @ 4:45 P.M.: This just in from California Republican Party Communications Director Mark Standriff:

“Governor Tinkerer has struck again. First, he tinkered with state cell phones, then he tinkered with the state car fleet, and now he’s hit the tinkering trifecta by announcing another big-on-symbolism-but-short-on-substance edict on state employee travel plans. Somebody should tell the governor that if he wants to get tough on ‘non-essential’ expenses, then he should cut back on his pre-fab forays into Republican territory where all he really does is waste time kicking at open doors.

“The simple truth is that Jerry Brown is no closer to a real budget solution than he was in January and his vaunted political skills are consistently coming up short. He refuses to offer one major government reform because the public unions won’t let him and he’s content to protect bureaucrats at the expense of services rather than protect services at the expense of bureaucrats. It’s sad to say it, but Jerry tinkers while California yearns.”

Read the executive order’s text after the jump…


WHEREAS the Governor’s 2011-12 budget proposes to close the state’s structural budget deficit in part through increased efficiency that will substantially reduce state operational expenses; and

WHEREAS since the beginning of this Administration, Executive Orders and other directives have been issued to restrict hiring in state government, drastically reduce the number of state cell phones and vehicles, and stop spending taxpayer dollars on free giveaway and gift items; and

WHEREAS the Governor’s 2011-12 budget proposes to cut state operational expenses by reducing discretionary expenditures and increasing efficiency; and

WHEREAS restricting both in-state and out-of-state travel to only non-discretionary purposes will further reduce operational expenditures.

WHEREAS the Governor’s 2011-12 budget proposes a reduction of $413 million ($250 million from the General Fund) in state operation efficiencies and other savings; and

WHEREAS restrictions on travel are necessary to help achieve these savings; and

NOW, THEREFORE, I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, by virtue of the power vested in me by the Constitution and the statutes of the State of California, do hereby issue the following orders to become effective immediately:

IT IS ORDERED that discretionary travel is prohibited. All in-state non-discretionary travel must be approved by Agency Secretaries or Department Directors who do not report to an Agency Secretary. All out-of-state travel must be approved by the Governor’s Office.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the new travel restrictions are as follows:

1. No travel, either in-state or out-of-state, is permitted unless it is mission critical or there is no cost to the state.

Mission critical means travel that is directly related to:

Enforcement responsibilities.
Revenue collection.
A function required by statute, contract or executive directive.
Job-required training necessary to maintain licensure or similar standards required for holding a position.

Mission critical does not mean travel to attend:

Conferences (even those that historically have been attended).
Networking opportunities.
Professional development courses.
Continuing education classes and seminars.
Non-essential meetings that can be conducted by phone or video conference.
Events for the sole purpose of making a presentation unless approved by the Department Director.

2. No travel is permitted for more than the minimum number of travelers necessary to accomplish the mission-critical objective. This restriction applies even when there is no cost to the state.

3. Agency Secretaries or Department Directors who do not report to an Agency Secretary may authorize in-state travel when the request conforms to the principles identified above.

4. As referenced in Budget letter 11-06, Agencies and Departments must submit their out-of-state travel requests to the Governor’s office by May 6, 2011. No substitutions will be allowed for trips approved per this Budget Letter.

5. The Department of Finance will issue all necessary instructions and forms to implement this restriction on state travel. In addition, the Department of Finance will work with agencies and departments to develop targets for budgetary reductions in lieu of travel restrictions. Departments that achieve their target budget reductions, as determined by the Director of the Department of Finance, may seek exemption from the provisions of this executive order.

IT IS REQUESTED that other entities of State government not under my direct executive authority conduct an analysis to determine the discretionary nature of their travel in order to reduce unnecessary costs.

This Executive Order is not intended to create, and does not create, any rights or benefits, whether substantive or procedural, or enforceable at law or in equity, against the State of California or its agencies, departments, entities, officers, employees, or any other person.

I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this Order shall be filed with the Office of the Secretary of State and that it be given widespread publicity and notice.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 26th day of April 2011.

Governor of California


Secretary of State

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.