The National Business Travel Association released its scorecard of the U.S. government’s handling of business travel for 2009 after the President’s State of the Union Address. What’s interesting is that the report scores a failing grade for the government’s lack of addressing the FAA Reauthorization bill and gives low grades to other initiatives that could help streamline the day to day demands placed on business travelers. But the report isn’t all bad: it recognizes that progress has been made for items that will interest international business travelers coming to the U.S. — Rob Hard

NBTA Government Scorecard Slams Lack of Action on FAA NextGen, Hails International Passenger Facilitation

The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) welcomes the President Barack Obama’s emphasis on creating jobs that will kick start the U.S. economy, as laid out in the State of the Union address. The association also praised this week’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is awarding $8 billion to states for high-speed rail development, a priority on NBTA’s 2010 government relations agenda. NBTA is pleased the business travel industry is already a key component of the agenda in Washington for 2010. Unfortunately, this wasn’t always the case in 2009.

NBTA today issued the United States government an overall grade of C+ in its 2009 Government Relations Scorecard. Released a year after President Obama was sworn into office, the NBTA scorecard analyses Congressional and federal agency activity on the most important government issues affecting corporate travel.

NBTA graded the progress made in 2009 on 12 issues grouped into 3 categories: Domestic Travel (C), International Travel (B+), and Taxes and Regulation (D-).

Michael W. McCormick, NBTA Executive Director and COO, said, “2009 was one of the toughest years America has faced in decades. And while much work was done by Congress and the Obama Administration to help our ailing economy, efforts to further the corporate travel industry earned the government an average rating. There is clearly more work to be done, and NBTA stands ready to support the government in its efforts to ensure the quality and safe facilitation of global business travel.”

NBTA graded actions taken on the following issues:

Federal Aviation Administration Funding F
Airline Performance and Aviation Congestion B
Transportation Infrastructure A
Domestic Registered Traveler C-
Terrorist Watch List and Passenger Rights B
Traveler Taxes C
Energy and Climate Change Incomplete
Regulation of Business Travel D
International Registered Traveler A
Visa Processing and the Visa Waiver Program B-
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) A-
Model Ports of Entry D-

The government’s work on transportation infrastructure and international registered traveler programs each earned an A from NBTA. The association lauded the allocation of $8 billion for expansion of high-speed rail across the United States and was pleased to learn this week that the funds will be awarded this early in 2010. NBTA also noted that the Department of Homeland Security expanded its Global Entry program to 13 additional U.S. airports in 2009 and launched the first bilateral agreement with a foreign government to allow expedited entry into participating nations.

McCormick added, “These two travel issues were by far the most successful of the year. Investments in transportation infrastructure and improved international passenger facilitation are vital undertakings that will benefit travelers, companies and economies around the world for decades to come.

Funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) received the lowest grade – an F. NBTA says enactment of FAA reauthorization would help speed deployment of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), which would help to reduce delays caused by the current antiquated system. Despite efforts to pass the FAA Reauthorization bill, another short-term extension was enacted in December. Congress and the Administration also did not include funding for NextGen in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, known as the economic stimulus package, nor did the House include NextGen funding in its “Jobs” bill passed last month.

“The refusal of our government to prioritize the modernization of our aviation system is a significant failure,” said McCormick. “Our economy relies heavily on the efficiency of air travel. In fact, business travel alone contributes $260 billion to the U.S. economy, and we’ve found that investment in business travel could lead to the creation of more than 5 million new jobs.”

NBTA also issued its 2010 Government Relations Agenda today. The association will focus on educating Congress and the Administration about the value of business travel, a healthy travel infrastructure, passenger efficiency and safety, and fair taxation and fees.
The NBTA 2009 Government Relations Scorecard and 2010 Government Relations Agendacan be found at or by contacting NBTA at

Originally Published February 5, 2010