Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has commuted on military aircraft to his home in northern California more than two dozen times since he took over the Pentagon in July, paying about $630 per trip for a roundtrip flight that costs the Pentagon about $32,000.
The totals detailed by defense officials lay out his reimbursements for the first time, showing he paid the Treasury about $17,000 for the 27 personal trips. Based on fuel and other operating expenses for his Air Force plane, those same trips cost the government as much as $860,000.
As Pentagon chief, Panetta is required to travel on military planes because they have the secure communications equipment he needs to stay in contact with the president and other top civilian and military leaders.
His bill for the travel is calculated according to reimbursement formulas dictated by longstanding federal policies using what a full-fare coach trip would cost. And the Pentagon says it costs about $3,200 per flight hour to operate the small plane he usually uses for the 10-hour round trip.
Read more at OfficialWire. By Lolita C. Baldor, AP.