Accounting for Travel

» Posted by on Nov 27, 2013 in Business Practices, Government Traveler Comments, Hotels, Rental Cars, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Many Federal employees will travel or relocate for their jobs at some point in their career.  Travelers are mostly concerned about staying at a preferred hotel and getting a direct flight and may not realize that every travel authorization and voucher is also an accounting entry.

In the accounting world, a travel authorization becomes an accounting document called an obligation and has the same accounting impact as a purchase order for goods or services.  The obligation reserves the estimated amount to ensure funds are available when the traveler submits a voucher for payment.  When the voucher is recorded in the financial system, the obligation is reversed and a payment is made.

To determine what “pot of money” the traveler is using, the travel documents must contain an appropriation or fund code and cost center.  For even more detail, some agencies may use project codes and reporting categories.

For the Government to define and track the type of travel expense incurred, expenditures are recorded using budget object codes (BOC).  Travel expenses are usually classified as major object class 2100, which is further broken down into sub object classes where the last two digits of the BOC define the type of expense selected such as Lodging, Common Carrier or POV.    In an eTS the BOC is automatically assigned as the document preparer selects each type of expense.

When using an eTS the accounting string (usually a combination of the fund, cost center and project code/reporting category) selected on the authorization will automatically pull forward to any amendments or vouchers for the trip.  Some agencies require that an authorization route to a budget reviewer who may review or assign the accounting as well as verify the availability of funds.  Some agencies have a fund check built into the authorization that will verify funds and accounting once the document preparer or traveler has entered it.   Once a travel document is approved in the eTS it interfaces to the financial system where all the accounting data is recorded and used for financial and other reporting.

Agencies use the travel accounting information to better manage their travel program.  For example agencies can use travel reports from the financial system to determine if fleet cars are cost effective by analyzing costs to travel by POV and rental car. Reports are also used to help develop travel budgets and create policy.

Disclaimer: The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency.  Use of this equipment is consistent with the agency’s policy governing limited personal use.

By Diana Bonnell

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