Editorial: If SC trips are out of hand, ban out-of-hand trips, unnecessary trips | Editorials | Tech US News

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One thing the pandemic has taught us is that there is much more we can do and do well from our offices and homes than we ever realized.

For well-established, self-starting teams, for example, there was little downside to working from home several days a week. Many routine meetings could be conducted via Zoom in much less time and much more conveniently than driving across town or across the state for a face-to-face meeting. Some people have even become comfortable with the idea of ​​socializing via video conferencing.


Scope: The remote control is not an adequate substitute for most of life.  Above all education

The other thing we learned was that video conferencing is a totally inadequate substitute for much of life. Most jobs cannot be done remotely. Many employees need the structure of an office and the presence of a supervisor to maintain focus on their work. Remote concerts and comedy shows are…watching TV. Online church is better than nothing.

And then, of course, there’s school. Again, remote learning is better than nothing, but if there’s anyone in South Carolina who still believes we can do a minimally adequate job of educating the next generation without face-to-face instruction, we have a ton of recent test scores to share. with you.

SC Agency Travel Spending Increases Dramatically Due to COVID;  Eckstrom is seeking a 5% cut.

That’s what we should keep in mind when SC Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom says there’s plenty of room for state agencies to further reduce government travel because “during COVID-19 we’ve shown that some meetings can be conveniently attended online , or not.”

We have never been advocates for unrestricted government travel. Indeed, we suspect that agency directors (like their private sector counterparts) have been too quick to approve travel to attractively positioned conferences and seminars as rewards for good employees, who may or may not become better employees as a result of the assistance


Editorial: Another taxpayer-funded junket?  South Carolina really needs to rein them in

We have plenty of evidence that appointed and elected officials who decide on their own to attend meetings in tourist locations see it that way.

But that doesn’t mean you can look at the $47 million in travel expenses for state employees in the fiscal year that ended June 30 and conclude it’s 5% too high. For all we know, it could be 20% too high or too low. In fact, Mr. Eckstrom admitted as much to The Post and Courier’s Seanna Adcox when last week he asked state agencies to cut their travel budgets by 5%. I was simply picking a number out of thin air.


Editorial: SC Senado wants to ground most of the legislative flights.  House would have to agree.

Even beyond that thinly veiled figure, there was something disturbing about the way Mr. Eckstrom chose to release his annual report on state travel spending: His entire press release was about state agencies tripling their travel spending. trip from the previous year, without any mention. than what came before that.

Of course, leaving out that crucial context is the only way asking for a 5% across-the-board cut makes sense. Because when you add the context, it seems pretty clear that state agencies have already done what Mr. Eckstrom is asking them to do. And then some.


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As Ms. Adcox reports, that $47 million in travel spending last year was up from $16 million in the year that ran from July 2020 to June 2021. But it was down from $55 million in the year 2019-20, mostly pre-pandemic. — and well below the $77 million in 2018-19, the last normal year. In other words, state agencies have cut their travel spending by nearly half since before COVID.

We are sure that there was still some inappropriate or unnecessary spending even in last year’s drastically reduced total. After all, state lawmakers alone spent more than $230,000 on out-of-state travel last year.


Editorial: Junkets, liquor, expensive tickets not a surprise to SC's fire-free airport board

But the SC House was the eighth-biggest travel spender in the state because it spent $1.2 million on in-state travel, nearly all of which was supposed to pay the House’s 124 members an average of about $12,000 each to drive to and from Columbia more than 20 times. one year for legislative sessions. We would consider it an essential expense.

The judiciary nearly doubled its in-state travel spending last year, from $600,000 to $1.1 million, after it began holding trials again. Again: must-have state-owned enterprise.


Editorial: Demand audits from prosecutors

At DHEC, which had the fourth-highest travel spending last year, the top 10 spenders were nurses and social workers, and all of them are reimbursed only for in-state travel and no registration costs, suggesting they were traveling to do your jobs

Of course, those who spent the most on travel, as always, were the University of Clemson and the University of South Carolina. And as always, the big spenders were the coaches, who have to go where the kids are if they want to hire players who can help teams win.


Scoppe: Let's blame Charleston Airport's outrage where it belongs.  And fix it

We can debate whether recruiting winning sports teams is a legitimate state function, something we doubt. But a more productive use of our time might be to use the raw numbers out of context from Mr. Eckstrom not as an end point, but as a starting point, to explore what is happening in agencies that have a level of -state travel and conference expenses.

What we suspect we would find is not the need for arbitrary limits on spending, but further confirmation that the Legislature must enact better controls to prevent taxpayer-funded junkets.

Get a weekly roundup of South Carolina opinion and analysis from The Post and Courier delivered to your inbox on Monday evenings.

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