Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says he regrets the cost to taxpayers of his weekend trips to his Carmel Valley home, which cost about $32,000 for reach round trip.
Panetta says he is looking for ways to find savings, but also says it is healthy to get out of Washington to get some perspective at his Monterey-area farm.
"I regret that it does, you know, that it does add costs that the taxpayer has to pick up,'' Panetta said during a Pentagon briefing Monday. "A taxpayer would have to pick up those costs with any secretary of state or secretary of defense. But having said that, I am trying to look at what are ... the alternatives here that I can look at that might possibly be able to save funds and, at the same time, be able to fulfill my responsibilities, not only to my job, but to my family.''
Panetta is required to travel on military aircraft so he can remain in constant, secure contact with the White House and military leaders.
The Associated Press reported he has commuted home at least 27 times since he took over the Pentagon job in July.
He has reimbursed the Treasury about $17,000 for the travel, based on a government formula, or about $630 per round trip.
The trips have cost taxpayers as much as $860,000.
Leon Panetta is a long time resident of the Monterey Bay area. He and his wife Sylvia founded the Panetta Institute for Public Policy which is located on the campus of Cal State Monterey Bay.