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Susan Combs  •  Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Miscellaneous Expenditures — Transportation
Aircraft

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is responsible for operating a pool of aircraft for use by state agencies.

State agencies must use state-owned aircraft whenever feasible, and must file an annual report with the Legislative Budget Board specifying the methods used by the agency to maximize use of state-owned aircraft.

TxDOT must adopt rates for interagency aircraft services that are sufficient to recover all direct costs for the services provided, including a state agency’s pro rata share of major maintenance, overhauls of equipment and facilities, and pilots’ salaries.

The rules below apply to all aircraft owned or leased by the state, except aircraft of the Texas A&M University System.

Source [+]

Texas Government Code Sections 2205.031(b), 2205.033, 2205.041(a)(1). Article IX, Section 12.01 of the General Appropriations Act. Opinion of Texas Attorney General No. H-1089 (1977). Note: A reference in law to the State Aircraft Pooling Board means the Texas Department of Transportation per Act of May 30, 2005, 79th Leg., R.S., Ch. 281 (HB 2702), Section 8.02(a)(3), 2005 Texas General Laws 778, 840.

Aircraft Leases

A state agency must rent or lease an aircraft from TxDOT unless TxDOT determines:

  • No state-owned aircraft is available to meet the needs of the agency, or
  • A rental or lease of aircraft would reduce the state’s overall transportation costs.

A state agency may use appropriated funds to lease an aircraft only if TxDOT executes or approves the lease.

Note: A mileage reimbursement authorized by the General Appropriations Act (GAA) is not considered a rental or lease of an aircraft.

Source [+]

Texas Government Code Sections 2205.035

Unless the GAA provides otherwise, only the following authorized state entities may use appropriated funds to maintain or operate state-owned aircraft:

  • Texas A&M University System
  • Texas Department of Criminal Justice
  • Texas Department of Transportation
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Texas Department of Public Safety
  • University of Texas System
  • Texas State Technical College
  • Texas Forest Service

Source [+]

Article IX, Section 12.01(b) of the General Appropriations Act

Permissible Uses of Aircraft

A state agency may pay or reimburse a travel expense for the rental, lease or operation of an aircraft only if the transportation meets the criteria below:

TxDOT must provide aircraft transportation, to the extent its aircraft are available, to:

  • State officers and employees traveling on official business per the aircraft operations manual.
  • Persons in the care or custody of the state officers or employees described above.
  • Persons whose transportation furthers official state business.

TxDOT may not provide aircraft transportation to a passenger that will:

  • Make or has made a speech not related to official state business.
  • Attend or has attended an event sponsored by a political party.
  • Perform a service or has performed a service for which the passenger is to receive an honorarium, unless the passenger reimburses TxDOT for the cost of transportation.
  • Attend or has attended an event at which money is raised for private or political purposes.
  • Attend or has attended an event at which an audience was charged an admission fee to see or hear the passenger.

A person may not use a state-owned aircraft or spend state funds for the use of an aircraft solely for political purposes. A person who violates this prohibition is civilly liable to the state for the costs incurred by the state because of the violation.

In addition, TxDOT may not provide aircraft transportation to a destination unless:

  • The destination is not served by a commercial carrier.
  • The time required to use a commercial carrier interferes with passenger obligations.
  • The number of passengers traveling makes the use of state aircraft cost-effective.

Before the executive director of TxDOT or the director’s designee may authorize a person to use a state-operated aircraft, the person must sign an affidavit stating they are traveling on official state business. The affidavit may be effective for a period of one year.

Sources [+]

Texas Government Code Sections 660.003(g), 2205.036, 2205.037; Act of May 30, 2005, 79th Leg., R.S., Ch. 281 (HB 2702), Section 8.02(b), 2005 Texas General Laws 778, 840.

Maintenance and Storage

A state agency that operates an aircraft may not use a facility in Austin other than a facility operated by TxDOT for the storage, parking, fueling or maintenance of the aircraft.

This prohibition applies regardless if the aircraft is based in Austin. If TxDOT determines there is an emergency, TxDOT may authorize a state agency to use a facility in Austin other than a TxDOT facility for the storage, parking, fueling or maintenance of an aircraft.

Source [+]

Texas Government Code Section 2205.034(b)

Replacement of State-Owned Aircraft

A state agency may use appropriated funds to replace an aircraft with an aircraft of comparable quality if TxDOT approves the replacement and the governor issues a finding of fact that:

  • The aircraft to be replaced:
    • Has been destroyed, or
    • Has deteriorated to the extent continued operation of the aircraft presents a serious hazard, or
    • No longer meets the mission requirements of the principal user agency.
  • Other state-owned aircraft cannot be effectively used instead of the replacement aircraft.

Source [+]

Article IX, Section 12.01(d) of the General Appropriations Act.

General Appropriation Act (GAA) riders for certain state agencies and institutions

For information on the use of aircraft by certain state entities in the GAA, see the following links:

  • Texas Department of Criminal Justice – GAA Rider 37
  • The University of Texas System Administration – GAA Rider 2
  • Texas Commission on Environmental Quality – GAA Rider 4
  • Texas State Technical College (TSTC) – GAA Rider 7 under Special Provisions Relating Only to Components of Texas State Technical College
  • Texas Department of Public Safety – GAA Rider 7
  • The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston – GAA Rider 5

Definitions

Person
Includes an individual, a corporation, an organization, a government or governmental subdivision or agency, a business trust, an estate, a trust, a partnership, an association and any other legal entity.
State agency
An office, department, board, commission, institution or other agency to which a legislative appropriation is made.

Sources for definitions [+]

Texas Government Code Sections 311.005(2), 2205.002(2)

Documentation Requirements [+]

  1. When a state agency pays for the replacement of state-owned aircraft, the agency must retain in its files a copy of both TxDOT’s approval and the finding of fact by the governor, if the approval and finding are required.
  2. When a state agency pays for the lease or rental of aircraft, the agency must retain documentation in its files showing:
    1. TxDOT’s approval of the lease or rental.
    2. The agency’s compliance with the requirements contained in Permissible uses of aircraft.
  3. A state agency must state the trip’s purpose and list the names of all passengers in its documentation when paying for aircraft rental.
  4. Comptroller object 7375 must be used for the purchase of aircraft.
  5. Comptroller object 7445 must be used for the rental of aircraft.
  6. Payments to TxDOT for transportation provided by TxDOT must be submitted on interagency transaction vouchers and must use comptroller object 7444.

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Susan Combs
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Questions? Contact statewide.accounting@cpa.state.tx.us
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