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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

U.S. Geological Survey Manual

U.S. Geological Survey Instructional Memorandum

No. OFM 97-09

Date: September 22, 1997

Subject: Implementation of DOI Travel Reinvention Lab Recommendations

Reference: SM 340.1

Effective October 1, 1997, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is implementing a number of recommendations from the Department of the Interior (DOI) Travel Reinvention Lab. In fiscal year 1997, DOI adopted the recommendations of its National Performance Review Travel Reinvention Laboratory (Travel Lab) team for streamlining and otherwise improving the travel process within DOI. Bureaus were authorized to proceed with implementation. USGS has already implemented the three-fourth day per diem for the first and last day of travel plus the elimination of receipts for expenses less than $75.00 except for lodging and rental car expenses. The purpose of this memorandum is to provide guidance on USGS implementation of the remaining Travel Lab recommendations, those which required some further development and labor union consultation.

A key facet of the Travel Lab's recommendations is the placement of both increased authority and responsibility with the traveler and with first-line supervisors and managers involved in the travel process. The DOI policy changes empower supervisors to authorize and approve necessary travel, and recognize supervisors as the "accountable owner" of the travel process. As "accountable owners", i.e., individuals responsible for carrying out Departmental policies relating to travel, USGS supervisors will provide the primary management controls over the authorization of travel and approval of travel expenses, and are responsible for ensuring adherence to related policies and regulations. The Office of Financial Management (OFM) is prepared to provide advice and assistance on all policy and regulatory issues, and supervisors should contact us with any questions.

Implementation of DOI Travel Reinvention Lab Recommendations within USGS:

The following changes will be effective October 1, 1997.

1. Communication of the Roles and Responsibilities of Employees and Supervisors.

A major part of improving the travel process is clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of all parties in the process. The Travel Lab recommendations include these definitions, and establish an annual process aimed at reminding all employees and supervisors of their respective roles and responsibilities . The Travel Authorization, Form DI-1020, will include this information, either on the back or as a separate sheet. Definitions of roles and responsibilities are included as an attachment to this memorandum. This information should be provided to all travelers and all supervisors.

2. Use of Annual Limited Open Authorizations

Whenever supervisors deem it appropriate, travelers are authorized to use an annual limited open travel authorization (TDL); individual trip authorizations are no longer required by OFM for temporary duty travel. However, a supervisor may elect to use single trip authorizations for infrequent travelers or where closer controls are appropriate. Employees who are expected to travel frequently during the fiscal year will be issued a limited open travel authorization (TDL) for an entire fiscal year; quarterly renewals will not be required. TDL's are also valid to cover travel for conference attendance, training and foreign travel. An example of an authorization is attached which indicates the required wording that must be included on these annual authorizations.

Please Note: The change to general use of TDL's for conference, meetings, training and foreign travel does not change other existing policies, procedures, and approval requirements for these travel circumstances. Training orders (SF-182), foreign travel approval form DI-1175, donated travel form DI-2000, Request for authorization to attend meeting, Form 9-1894, and written approval for conferences having more than 30 participants, etc., are still required, and should be submitted with travel vouchers.

3. Elimination of Requirement to Attach Travel Authorization to Voucher

A copy of the TDL authorization should be included with the traveler's first travel reimbursement voucher of the fiscal year. However, it is no longer necessary to include a copy of the authorization with each subsequent voucher prepared throughout the year. The signature of the approving official on the travel voucher replaces the former requirement for verification of an approved authorization. The travel voucher must contain the necessary reference to a travel authorization number and date, to provide an audit trail. This procedure applies to all methods of travel voucher processing (Travel Manager interface, remote date entry, Third Party Draft reimbursement, or those submitted to the OFM Travel Management Branch for processing).

"Purpose of travel" information will continue to be captured in the accounting system from the information included on the travel voucher, i.e., site visit, training, information meeting, speech or presentation, conference, etc.

4. Use of Government Sponsored Travel Charge Card

Employees on official travel are expected and encouraged to obtain a travel advance using the ATM privilege associated with the government sponsored travel charge card. (Employees should be aware that imprest fund or Treasury check advances will not be available after December 30, 1998, under the terms of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996.) Travelers are entitled to a travel advance to cover the expenses of their meals and incidental expenses (M&IE). The issuance and, in particular, the collection activity costs associated with Bureau-issued travel advances (Treasury checks, electronic deposits, imprest fund payments) have been identified as one of the most significant overhead and indirect costs within the federal government.

Supervisory and management officials are to encourage and promote the use of the ATM issued travel advance in an effort to eliminate government-issued cash advances.

Employees who travel on official business are expected and encouraged to use their individual Government-sponsored travel charge card for all government travel related charges such as lodging, rental cars, meals, and travel advances. Issuance of individual Government-sponsored travel charge cards to travelers should occur wherever an individual is expected to travel at least twice a year. The USGS receives a rebate from American Express for all travel charges using the card; the bureau loses .65 percent bonus points on each dollar related to travel expenses which is not charged to the government-issued card. These rebates are returned to the divisions based on their use of the travel card - for the three month period ending in May 1997, the rebates to USGS totaled nearly $32,000.

Supervisors are expected to take necessary actions to ensure that travel charge card bills are promptly resolved by all travelers (see OFM 96-04 at Should a traveler elect to not accept the Government-sponsored travel charge card, or in the event that the travel charge card is revoked by the charge card contractor for non-payment or abuse, the employee will be responsible for financing travel costs as if they had a travel charge card. These travelers will only be eligible to receive an advance for the amount of M&IE from an imprest fund, Treasury check, or other Government funds, and after December 31, 1998, only via electronic funds transfer.

5. Elimination of the Requirement to Identify Persons Sharing Transportation

Employees will not be required to provide the names of employees traveling together by means of a rental vehicle or special conveyance. Travelers are encouraged to share vehicles to reduce overall costs, but are not required to report sharing on the travel voucher.

6. Elimination of the Requirement for Receipts less than $75.00

In April 1997, OFM abolished the requirement to submit receipts for items less than $75.00 with the travel voucher. The primary responsibility for determining the validity of such items on the voucher rests with the approving official. Receipts for lodging and rental cars are not included in this policy and continue to be required.

7. Payment Methods for Travelers' Claims

Due to requirements of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, the methods by which employees receive their reimbursement will be changing. An Instructional Memorandum will be issued in FY 1998 outlining the procedures for travelers to sign up for Direct Deposit of Electronic Funds Transfer (DD/EFT). EFT enables travelers to have their travel reimbursements sent directly to a financial institution and eliminates reimbursement by Treasury check. The practice of reimbursing travel expenses by a Third Party Draft or a Treasury-issued check will not be valid after December 30, 1998.

8. Use of AT&T FTS 2000 Telephone Charge Card During Official Travel

To gain additional savings and eliminate the need to list telephone charges on the travel voucher, offices are encouraged to make AT&T FTS 2000 telephone charge cards available to travelers. Charges on the FTS 2000 card are frequently 1/10th of the amount otherwise charged by lodging establishments. Cards are issued by the Office of Program Support, Branch of Telecommunications Services. Information and/or applications can be obtained by contacting the following individual:

Paul Togans

Timothy E. Calkins, Chief
Office of Financial Management

Attachment 1 - Travel Authorization Form

Attachment 2 - Roles And Responsibilities Of All Employees With Regard To Travel

Attachment 3 - Instructions for Completion of Annual Limited Open Travel Authorization

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Last modification: 10-22-98(bt)