Official Opinion 2004-3
Limitations on the use of state aircraft for other than official business
Following complaints received in his office last year, the Inspector General conducted a review of the use of state-owned aircraft by state officials, including the Governor. The Inspector General reviewed the practices of the state agencies that provide aviation services: the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Natural Resources. In an undated report issued in August 2003 dealing with the use of aviation assets, the Inspector General made a number of recommendations, including that the Office of the Governor evaluate each flight to insure its compliance with current policies of the Governor’s office, and that all flights be conducted in compliance with agency policies relating to documentation and proper use of the aircraft.
In conjunction with the Inspector General’s review, the Governor’s office established guidelines for the use of state aircraft by the Governor.1 The Governor’s office has divided travel into three categories: (1) state purposes only, (2) non-state purposes, and (3) mixed travel (state and non-state purposes). With respect to category (2), the Governor’s office will “honor state guidelines prohibiting using state planes or helicopters for travel where no state business is involved.” The guidelines contemplate, however, that the Governor may combine state business travel with unofficial business, and that reimbursement will be obtained from external sources for all unofficial travel. The guidelines require that the Governor’s office review flight invoices to reconcile the purpose of travel for each leg of a particular trip.
The Inspector General’s report also stated the following:
The OIG has discussed with the United States Secret Service (USSS) the security requirements for the President and the policies that direct the use of government aircraft to move the President. The use of military aircraft to provide a secure transportation is required. The movement of the Chief Executive to functions or events of a political or personal nature is always by government aircraft to ensure a safe environment. The costs to the government are reimbursed by the appropriate entity such as a political party or event sponsor.
Report of the Office of the Inspector General on Use of Aviation Assets, File 03-068, Summary of Actions, at 2 (undated). This statement might be interpreted to imply that the use of state aircraft by the Governor for personal or political reasons may in all cases be justified by security considerations, so long as the costs of such personal or political trips are reimbursed to the government. The Inspector General’s report, however, did not explicitly make such a finding.
The question addressed by this opinion is whether there is legal authority for any public official, including the Governor, to use a state aircraft for personal or political purposes, and, if so, under what circumstances. Additional complaints received this year by the Law Department concerning the use of a state patrol helicopter have highlighted the need for this opinion.
A. LEGAL BACKGROUND
Under O.C.G.A. § 50 19 22, “[a]ll state aircraft required for the proper conduct of the business of the several administrative departments, boards, bureaus, commissions, authorities, offices, or other agencies of the state or for authorized agents of the General Assembly, or either branch thereof, shall be managed and maintained by the department [of transportation].” (Emphasis added.) Substantially the same language appears in O.C.G.A. § 32 2 2(a)(16)(A). Under subparagraph (a)(16)(E) thereof, authority is given to the commissioner of transportation to approve the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Natural Resources and the State Forestry Commission “to purchase, lease, rent, charter, maintain, or repair special purpose aircraft necessary to conduct the particular business of said agencies . . . .”2 The commissioner of transportation has entered into written agreements with these agencies authorizing their use of special purpose aircraft for certain purposes. Each agreement specifies public purposes to which the aircraft must be put. For example, the Department of Natural Resources and the State Forestry Commission are authorized to use the special-purpose aircraft for “[e]nforcement of laws, rules and regulations with which the Operating Agency is charged . . . and those activities which are necessary and incident to the management and study of such laws, rules and regulations.”3 In the case of the Department of Public Safety, the authorized use is “[l]aw [e]nforcement.”4
The language of these statutes makes it clear that the General Assembly intended that all state aircraft be used in furtherance of the “the proper conduct of the business” of state government; i.e., public business. With the possible exception of providing security as discussed below, nothing in these statutes suggests legislative authority for the use of state aircraft to facilitate personal or political business.5
B. THE GRATUITIES CLAUSE
In 1989 my predecessor issued an official opinion concerning the carriage of private individuals on state aircraft. 1989 Op. Att’y Gen. 89-19. That opinion concluded that transportation on state aircraft must be limited to state officials and employees on official business and those non-employees from whose carriage the state derives some benefit. The opinion stated that aircraft managed and maintained by the Department of Transportation are intended for the proper conduct of the state’s business, citing O.C.G.A. § 32 2 2(a)(16)(A). The opinion concluded:
There is no sense in which the state can be said to receive any benefit from the carriage of persons not on the business of the state. Even though it may cost the state no more to operate the aircraft with the additional passenger, the sole beneficiary of the carriage is the passenger, not the state. A benefit flowing from one to another, with no reciprocal benefit from any source, is a donation or gratuity. See Haggard v. Board of Regents, 257 Ga. 524, 526 (1987); Smith v. Board of Commissioners, 244 Ga. 133, 140 (1979).
1989 Op. Att’y Gen. 89-19, at 42. The use of state aircraft is intended by the General Assembly to be limited to the furtherance of legitimate state business. It naturally follows that the use of state aircraft for personal or political purposes is contrary to that intent. Moreover, the public policy of this state as expressed in Art. III, Sec. VI, Par. VI of the Georgia Constitution prohibits the grant of any donation or gratuity. “[T]he General Assembly shall not have the power to grant any donation or gratuity or to forgive any debt or obligation owing to the public . . . .” Id. at (a).
In Kennedy v. State, 205 Ga. App. 152 (1992), the court found a violation of the gratuities clause where a county commissioner had provided county labor, materials, and equipment to pave the parking lot of the local VFW Post. The county had not been reimbursed for the work done for the benefit of the private organization and had “received no substantial benefit.” Id. at 153.6
Using a gifts and gratuities analysis, the Supreme Court of Georgia in Garden Club of Georgia v. Shackelford, 266 Ga. 24 (1995), invalidated Department of Transportation regulations which permitted outdoor advertising companies to remove vegetation along state rights-of-way to make their signs more visible. The court found that the permits violated the gratuities clause since the state derived no “substantial benefit” from the removal of the state-owned trees. The court found that the information the traveling public received from the outdoor advertising signs was insufficient to qualify as a substantial benefit.
Seven years later, the court again addressed the Department of Transportation’s vegetation removal program in the light of statutory changes made after its first opinion on the subject. In Garden Club of Georgia v. Shackelford, 274 Ga. 653 (2002), the court reiterated its previous holding that the gratuities clause is not violated when the state receives a “substantial benefit” in exchange for the use of public property. In light of a legislative finding that outdoor advertising provides a substantial benefit to the traveling public and a requirement that the advertisers pay the appraised value of the trees removed, the court concluded that the new statute did not violate the gratuities clause.7
This office has issued a number of opinions relevant to this issue. In 1993 Op. Att’y Gen. U93 14, it was concluded that the gratuities clause was not per se violated where the state provided free space to the capitol press corps covering state government. The opinion recognized that the prohibition against gratuities does not apply where the use or grant of public property is reasonably expected to benefit a public program or function.
In these instances, the validity or invalidity of the use or grant of state property is usually determined with reference to the “benefit” received by the state, in absolute terms and in relative terms as compared to the benefit bestowed. There is no clear, consistent language for the test. [Citations omitted.] However, it is fair to say that the cited precedent and other reported cases and opinions require a good faith expectation, and primary motive, that the state will benefit in fair return for the cost or the value bestowed and further that the actual gratuitous activity and the function expected to benefit indirectly are expressly authorized by law, or are authorized by implication. It is clear that this exception must be applied cautiously.
Id. at 112-13. The opinion concluded that allowing reporters the use of state owned space in the Legislative Office Building might “return fair value to the state in making easier the legitimate government function of informing the public.” Id. at 115.
Similarly, this office has accepted that the General Assembly may provide an employee benefit or allow a use of state facilities in aid of a statutory program under circumstances which would otherwise be a gratuity. For example, the use of public facilities and the processing of a charitable contribution or parking fee by withholding sums from employee salaries would be gratuitous to the private charity or landlord, unless it is part of the compensation provided public employees. See, e.g., 1996 Op. Att’y Gen. U96-11. In 1998 Op. Att’y Gen. U98-15, however, it was concluded that the gratuities clause does not permit direct grants to private concerns solely for the purpose of inducing general economic growth and development.
Finally, in 2001 Op. Att’y Gen. U2001-4 it was concluded that there would be a violation of the gratuities clause were a county to use jail inmates to remove graffiti from private property in the absence of a clear and substantial public benefit. Relying on Garden Club of Georgia v. Shackelford, 266 Ga. 24, 25 (1995), the opinion determined that “[w]here the state receives no substantial benefit, the free use of state labor generally or state property violates the constitutional prohibition regardless of the worthiness of the purpose or the recipient.” The opinion did find, however, that when the state is acting under its police power, incidental benefits flowing to a private recipient may be outweighed by a greater benefit derived by the public, such as in the case of welfare programs, firefighting, disaster relief, and police services.
The common thread that runs through both the case law and our opinions is that in order to avoid violations of the gratuities clause, the state, city, or county must derive some “substantial benefit” from the transaction. See, e.g., Haggard v. Board of Regents, 257 Ga. 524 (1987); Smith v. Board of Comm’rs, 244 Ga. 133 (1979). “Substantial benefit” means more than a mere reimbursement of cost associated with a particular transaction. Under that circumstance, the state would derive no benefit whatsoever. It might not be harmed, being left in a neutral position monetarily, but any benefit would flow only to the individual who had been provided the service by the state at cost. Moreover, the “substantial benefit” must be in aid of a public function which has been declared in express terms, or necessarily implied, by the General Assembly. See 1995 Op. Att’y Gen. 95-22, at 57.
Therefore, it is my official opinion that, in the absence of some substantial benefit flowing to the state or the public, the gratuities clause generally prohibits the use of state-owned aircraft for political or personal uses, even where the costs of such trips are reimbursed to the state. This prohibition would also apply to any discrete segment or leg which might be described as personal or political. In other words, the gratuities clause precludes the use of state aircraft for the personal or political segments of a “mixed use” trip as contemplated by the Office of the Governor’s flight guidelines. On the other hand, when a trip or a discrete segment of a trip involves public and either private or political purposes the existence of the public purpose may justify the trip so long as that purpose is not a pretext.
C. STATUTORY SECURITY EXCEPTION
Code section 35-2-73(a) provides that the commissioner of public safety is authorized to employ security guards necessary to “watch over and protect the Governor and members of his immediate family, the Lieutenant Governor and members of his immediate family, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and members of his immediate family” and their residences, as well as such other state property and individuals as may be directed by the Governor. Subsection (b) of this Code section also provides that members of the immediate families may travel on state-owned transportation facilities or at state expense, when traveling with the officers, or at their request on state related business, or when in the commissioner’s judgment security considerations demand.8 This Code section, when read in light of the gratuities clause and in pari materia with O.C.G.A. § 32 2 2(a)(16) relating to the purchase of aircraft for official business, means the following:
• The specified officers may fly on state aircraft or utilize other state transportation when on official business.
• Members of their immediate families may also travel on state transportation when traveling on “state related business” either with or at the request of the officer.
• These officers and members of their families may travel on state transportation regardless of the purpose for the travel when the commissioner of public safety determines “security considerations so dictate.”
With regard to the third item, specific findings by the commissioner concerning the need for such security arrangements and the appropriateness of utilizing state aircraft to address those security concerns are necessary; otherwise, the overarching constitutional principle embodied in the gratuities clause would be violated for mere convenience. The Office of the Governor’s stated intent to refrain from the use of state aircraft where the trip is solely for “non-state business” refutes any suggestion that security considerations require that the transportation occur in state aircraft on all trips.9
More than a mere rote recitation that a personal or political flight on state aircraft is “necessary for security” is required. Such determination should address why a “security” flight on a state aircraft is different from other commercial or private flights that the officer would ordinarily be expected to take when not on state business. At a minimum some threat assessment must be performed to determine whether and the extent to which personal security requires the use of state aircraft to transport the official on personal business. That assessment should also include a determination of how the use of state aircraft for personal business transportation addresses that threat. Such findings should be documented and maintained in the records of the department.10 It is my official opinion that, in the absence of such a determination, state-owned aircraft cannot properly be used by these officers and their families for personal or political purposes; the determination of reimbursement is irrelevant.
D. AGENCY POLICIES
I have reviewed the policies of the Department of Transportation, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Public Safety relating to the use of state aircraft.11 The Department of Transportation policy provides that
the aircraft may be used only for the conduct of business of the State of Georgia and that the several Departments, Agencies, Boards, Bureaus, Commissions or Authorities which comprise State Government or agents of the General Assembly of Georgia, each respectively, are responsible for determining when air transportation is necessary and proper. The Department, however, reserves the right to deny service when, in the opinion of the Department, there exists a question on the purpose of the trip being for the conduct of State business. (Emphasis added.)
The Department of Natural Resources policy provides that
[p]assengers riding in DNR aircraft will be State employees on official state business or official guests of this department, or any other state agency, whose passage is a benefit to the State of Georgia. On flights requested by other State agencies, it shall be the responsibility of the person requesting the flight to insure that all passengers are authorized under the above guidelines. (Emphasis added.)
As indicated above, the Inspector General’s report made a specific recommendation that “[a]ll flights must be conducted in a manner that complies with the supporting agency’s policies on documentation and use of state aviation assets.” Under the above stated policies, it is clear that state aircraft may not be used for personal or political convenience.
However, under recently promulgated Operating Procedure No. 5.02 of the Department of Public Safety’s Aviation Division, it is contemplated that the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the House may all be transported on state aircraft even where the trip is purely personal.12 “The Department is also charged with . . . providing security protection which includes providing business and personal transportation for the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House and their families.” Operating Procedure No. 5.02.1. Under Operating Procedure No. 5.02.2(E)(6), it is the responsibility of the state patrol pilot to obtain a signed certification that each flight is for “official State Business.” However, “[n]o certification is necessary for those passengers or trips qualifying for security transportation under 35-2-73 which authorizes the personal transportation of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, or their family members for purposes of providing security to the state’s leaders.”
Operating Procedure No. 5.02.2(F) provides as follows:
(1) Occasionally the Governor or Commissioner may determine that it is in the State’s best interest to fly State officials in State aircraft even when they are on non-government business. In this case, the charge would be the same as for all State agencies (a recovery of the direct operating costs of the particular aircraft flown on the mission). . . .
(2) Those qualifying for transportation pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 35 2 73 shall not be charged for any flights taken for non-governmental business.
The state patrol’s new operating procedure raises serious questions. The first is that it presumes that the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House may fly on state patrol aircraft for personal business in the absence of any specific determination by the commissioner of public safety that “security considerations so dictate.” Under the operating procedure, it is the office each holds that “qualifies” the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker to utilize state aircraft for personal purposes without regard to security issues. However, as expressed above, it is my official opinion that “security” transportation for personal reasons must be based on a rational determination that security considerations present at the time require it. Otherwise, the use of state-owned aircraft for personal travel might become nothing more than a matter of personal convenience which violates the gratuities clause.
The second issue raised by the operating procedure lies in the provision that the Governor or the commissioner may authorize the use of state aircraft by other state officials “even when they are on non-government business.” Such authorization, even were there to be a reimbursement of direct costs, violates the gratuities clause since the state receives no substantial benefit from such transportation. While the operating procedure suggests that such flights may be in the “State’s best interest,” it does not require or even recognize that the state must receive a substantial benefit. The gratuities clause and the relevant state statutes demand a bright line rule. If the individual is on personal or political business, the state is not benefiting from the transport. If the individual is on state business, then it easily follows that the state is deriving a benefit. Finally, Operating Procedure No. 5.02.2(F) conflicts with the gratuities clause and the requirements of the Georgia’s Ethics in Government Act, O.C.G.A. §§ 21 5 1 through 73, by exempting the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker from any reimbursement of costs for “non-governmental business.” The provision of the policy that permits those qualifying for transportation under O.C.G.A. § 35 2 73 to travel on state aircraft on personal business without cost does not explicitly require any determination by the commissioner of public safety that security considerations dictate that the state aircraft be utilized for such travel. Unless such a determination is made, the use of state aircraft for personal travel is not authorized even where a cost reimbursement is made.
On the other hand, if the commissioner of public safety makes a reasoned and particularized determination that security requirements dictate the use of state aircraft, even for the personal travel of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or Speaker, then the use of the state assets is part and parcel of the Department of Public Safety’s function of providing for the security of the officers and no reimbursement to the state is necessary. An exception to this conclusion would be where the travel is for political purposes, in which case the state’s Ethics in Government Act prohibits any unremunerated support by the state in connection with political campaign activities.
E. OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
1. Ethics in Government Act
Code section 21-5-30.2 prohibits any public agency (or any individual acting on behalf of such agency) from making any campaign contribution, directly or indirectly. It is also a violation of the Act for any candidate to accept such a contribution. That Code section defines contribution as a “gift, subscription, membership, loan . . . or anything of value conveyed or transferred by or on behalf of an agency, without receipt of payment therefor . . . .” Thus, where a public officer uses, i.e., “borrows,” a state aircraft and state employee services for any purpose beneficial to that officer’s campaign for reelection without reimbursing the state, the Ethics in Government Act is violated. On the other hand, if the state were to receive reimbursement, then there would be no violation of the Ethics in Government Act.
The Ethics in Government Act must be read in conjunction with other relevant statutes. Thus, in the general case, I do not think the eligible officers must reimburse the state when the commissioner of public safety, for security reasons, has determined that travel on state aircraft is necessary. However, if the trip is among those purposes for which the Ethics in Government Act requires reimbursement, the Act controls and reimbursement is required. See Johnson v. Caldwell, 229 Ga. 548, 551 (1972) (the more particular statute generally prevails over the more general).
2. Liability Concerns
Under the Tort Claims Act, O.C.G.A. §§ 50 21 20 through 37, the state has waived its sovereign immunity “for the torts of state officers and employees while acting within the scope of their official duties or employment and shall be liable for such torts in the same manner as a private individual or entity would be liable under like circumstances.” O.C.G.A. § 50 21 23(a). Under such circumstances, the individual official or employee may not be sued or held personally liable. O.C.G.A. § 50-21-25 (a). In Cary v. Department of Children and Youth Services, 235 Ga. App. 103 (1998), the court made it very plain that the state’s waiver of sovereign immunity does not extend to damages resulting from conduct “not within the scope of . . . official duties or employment.” Id. at 103. If an accident involving a state aircraft should occur while on a flight for personal or political reasons, without a determination by the commissioner of public safety that security considerations required travel on the state aircraft in that particular instance, it is possible that a court would find that individual employees or officials were not acting within the scope of their duties. The result might be personal liability for any negligence associated with the flight.
Under the state’s commercial aircraft liability policy effective July 1, 2002, coverage is extended to the State of Georgia and its departments or agencies when sued in state courts, and to“Employees of the State of Georgia employed by Departments or Agencies while acting within the scope of their duties . . .” and “Elected or Appointed Members of State Agencies and Entities while acting within the scope of their duties . . . .” Amendatory Endorsement No. 41, Policy No. GW 111095, issued through Associated Aviation Underwriters, Inc. (emphasis added). Thus, where a state employee whose job is to operate a state aircraft is operating it under a security determination of necessity under O.C.G.A. § 35 2 73, the state employee will be acting within the scope of his or her duties, and the use of the aircraft will be for official business. Under this circumstance, liability coverage should be available. Otherwise, liability coverage for the official or employee may not exist.
If the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or Speaker of the House must travel on personal or political business, such travel must be accomplished by private means unless the commissioner of public safety has determined that travel on state aircraft is necessary for personal security. Specific findings by the commissioner of public safety regarding such security arrangements are necessary for each instance of travel. Otherwise, where any public officer uses a state aircraft for a personal or political reason, the use of the aircraft is contrary to the prohibitions of the gratuities clause and state statutes authorizing the use of state aircraft, even were the official to reimburse the state for the direct costs associated with the trip. The state has derived no “substantial benefit” from such a trip.
Where one or more legs or segments of a trip might be categorized as personal or political in nature, such legs would be prohibited, even though the overall trip includes official travel as well as the personal or political travel.13 In the absence of a particularized security finding by the commissioner of public safety, those portions of the trip that can be identified as personal or political would be prohibited under the gratuities clause and state statutes governing the use of state aircraft. Even when a security determination is present, the trip is reimbursable when its purpose falls within the Ethics in Government Act.
Although this opinion does not raise any new legal principles with respect to the use of state aircraft, it is the first comprehensive review of the applicable law related to such use. For that reason the opinion should be applied prospectively, at least insofar as it governs the personal or political use of state aircraft by the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the House under the security provisions set forth in O.C.G.A. § 35 2 73.
MICHAEL E. HOBBS
Deputy Attorney General
1 The guidelines are set out in a letter dated May 9, 2003, from the Executive Counsel to the Governor to the Inspector General.
2 I am aware that the Department of Technical and Adult Education and the Department of Corrections have maintained aircraft without the approval of the commissioner of transportation. This office has provided advice that qualifiedly approved the Department of Technical and Adult Education’s ownership and use of aircraft needed to fulfill its educational responsibilities under O.C.G.A. § 20 4 14(c)(3). However, I have recommended that the Department of Technical and Adult Education seek clarifying legislation in this regard. With respect to the Department of Corrections, I am informed that its aircraft has been grounded and the transfer of the aircraft to another state agency is currently being coordinated by the Governor’s office.
3 See Memoranda of Agreement between the Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources and the State Forestry Commission authorizing their use of special purpose aircraft pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 32 2 2(a)(16)(E), 2.
4 See Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety authorizing its use of special purpose aircraft pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 32 2 2(a)(16)(E), 2.
5 Concerning the use of state-owned vehicles generally, O.C.G.A. §§ 50 19 1 through 26 make it abundantly clear that such vehicles are intended for use by state officials and employees in the “performance of their official duties.” O.C.G.A. §§ 50 19 1(a)(2), 3, 4, 6, and 22. Consistent with this clear intent, O.C.G.A. § 35 2 56(b)(2) prohibits the use of any Department of Public Safety vehicle by an off-duty employee at any political function of any kind. Finally, O.C.G.A. § 50 19 8 prohibits any state officer or employee, while traveling in vehicles for which the state is paying mileage, to transport any political campaign literature, or engage in the solicitation of votes, or transport any person who is soliciting votes in any election.
6 Such was also the import of Justice Fletcher’s concurrence in Morton v. Bell, 264 Ga. 832 (1995):
Property acquired with public dollars for public use should be utilized solely in the manner compatible with the public interest. The use of public property for purely private gain is contrary to this interest and any attempt by a municipality to authorize such use would be void as against public policy. Such public policy emanates from Art. IX, Sec. II, Par. VIII of the Georgia Constitution.
Id. at 834, (Fletcher, J., concurring). Art. IX, Sec. II, Par. VIII of the Georgia Constitution prevents the General Assembly from authorizing any local government to appropriate money for or to lend its credit to any person or to any non-public corporation, except for purely charitable purposes.
7 The court initially overturned the department’s regulations for the administration of the program on gratuities grounds. On a motion for rehearing, however, the court withdrew the gratuities discussion and, instead, invalidated the regulations because the department had promulgated its rules without consultation with an advisory board, as mandated by the statute. The court’s change in direction was important because, in the original decision, the court itself determined that the particular method of appraisal used by the department resulted in a gratuity notwithstanding expert testimony concerning its validity. Ultimately, the court found that the existence of a gratuity is a mixed question of law and fact, but nevertheless showed a willingness to make a determination of that issue from the bench.
8 The actual text of O.C.G.A. § 35 2 73(b) is somewhat convoluted:
Members of the Governor’s family, the Lieutenant Governor’s family, and the Speaker’s family for whom protection is provided by the Security Guard Division, when traveling with the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, or the Speaker, as the case may be, when traveling on state related business at the request of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or the Speaker, as the case may be, or when in the judgment of the commissioner security considerations so dictate, may be transported by means of state owned transportation facilities, when appropriate, or at state expense by private carrier, when the use of such state owned facilities are [sic] not practical or appropriate.
9 Letter dated May 9, 2003, to Inspector General from Executive Counsel, p. 2. (“The Governor’s Office will continue to honor state guidelines prohibiting using state planes or helicopters for travel where no state business is involved.”)
10 See, e.g., letter of former Attorney General Michael J. Bowers dated September 27, 1990, addressing the use of state aircraft by family members and advising the commissioner of transportation and the commissioner of public safety that such security determinations should be documented.
11 The Department of Technical and Adult Education has interpreted its motor vehicle use policy to include aircraft. That policy likewise limits the use of state vehicles to official duties.
12 Operating Procedure No. 5.02 became effective May 28, 2003.
13 It has recently been brought to my attention that it is a practice of the Department of Public Safety not to record legs of helicopter flights where a helicopter lands but does not turn off its engine. In my view the Department of Public Safety should discontinue this practice. If a leg of a flight has a terminus where passengers or materials are either dropped off or picked up, I believe that leg should be documented whether the engine is shut down or not. The failure to do so could easily be used to disguise the nature of the trip, lessening public confidence that the state’s assets are properly being devoted to the public good.