The Department of the Interior may reduce travel costs, increase video conferencing

Friday, January 13 2012

The Department of the Interior could stand to save millions of dollars and reduce carbon emissions if it uses video conferencing technology to cut back on travel, according to the Inspector General's report.

In 2009 alone, the DOI spent $42.4 million on travel expenses. With a predicted savings of $4.2 to $8.5 million for stays up to two nights and $11.2 to $22.4 million for stays up to four nights in annual travel costs, the agency could significantly benefit from video conferencing use.

Using online conferencing to cut back on travel can also help curb pollution. The Inspector General's study estimates that reducing travel by 10 to 20 percent can decrease the DOI's CO2 emissions from 298 to 596 tons.

The Interior Department agency has also been found to be underutilizing the 315 video conferencing endpoints it has across the nation. A lack of policy on video conferencing use may be partly to blame. The Inspector General recommends developing a policy that presents video conferencing as a viable alternative to travel, which can help educate staff about the potential benefits and encourage them to use the technology.