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Is there a more efficient way for the travel charge cardholder to track charges and make payments or for agencies to monitor misuse of the individually billed travel charge card?
The individually billed travel (IBT) charge card is issued to individuals to be used for approved official government travel expenses. Expenses that must be charged to the card include common carrier charges such as airfare or train, lodging facilities, and rental car. When practical, the card can be and should be used for meals, parking, tolls, taxi fares, and other miscellaneous allowable travel expenses. When necessary, the card can be used for cash advances for those out of pocket expenses that are more convenient to pay with cash. While the government travel card becomes the personal responsibility of the individual, the card can never be used for personal expenses. The IBT cardholder is tasked with using the travel charge card appropriately and making payments timely. Timely payments result in greater rebate amounts for agencies.
In 2005, the Office of Management and Budget mandated that split disbursement be used by government agencies as a resource to reduce the risk of travel charge card delinquency. Split disbursement is the process of dividing a travel voucher reimbursement between the charge card vendor and the traveler.
Expenses within the EGov travel systems (ETS) have a method of reimbursement (MOR) attached to them. These MORs include centrally billed account (CBA), IBT reimbursement, and traveler reimbursement. Some expenses within the EGov travel systems default to a payment MOR that designates the expense is to be sent to the charge card vendor. Travelers who hold IBT charge cards are trained to select the appropriate MOR for additional expenses. The traveler can allocate any additional amount of their net reimbursement be sent to the card vendor. The travel vouchers are interfaced into the agency’s accounting system where the designated splits are processed for payment. If the traveler calculates this correctly, the entire amount due the charge card vendor can be sent via split disbursement. This would eliminate having to write a personal check or send a personal electronic payment to the card vendor for the balance due on the charge card statement.
IBT cardholders are responsible for reconciling their monthly statements. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to embed the IBT charge card account into the travel voucher? Travelers could see the charges on their statement and would not have to track the charges during the course of their travel. My vision would have a check box that would allow the traveler to drag the charge from the statement to an expense section within the voucher or into the additional payment box.
I would like to take credit for this idea, but I can’t. I attended a training class some time ago that involved individuals from the private sector. During a break, an individual with a private company was telling me how their company’s travel system worked. The card account was embedded and charges could be dragged into the voucher! Obviously, they are way ahead of us.
It would be great if at the same time charges were dragged over from the card statement to the voucher that an auto-fill box beside the charge on the cardholder statement would recognize the voucher number indicating the charge was incurred for that specific trip. In cases where the MOR in the voucher already indicated an IBT reimbursement, an element in the charge card statement could populate as accounted and add the voucher number to the transaction. I think travelers would really like that and it would greatly aid the reconciliation of the card statement.
I believe embedding the cardholder statement into the travel voucher would reduce the risk of misuse as the traveler’s approving official would also see the statement and all the transactions that took place. With my rose colored glasses on, I believe the majority of cardholders use their cards appropriately. In the real world, we know there are the few who try to use the card for unofficial purchases and who do not make timely payments. An approving official seeing the information might be the perfect deterrent to any possible misuse.
What would be the requirements to put a plan like this in place? Would there be security concerns? Would it be beneficial? Would it reduce the time spent monitoring misuse and delinquency?
I am technically challenged, but I’m sure this could be done. Programmers from all parties involved would have to work together to make something like this happen. This would include the EGov travel provider, the travel charge card vendor, and the respective government agency personnel in charge of the travel and accounting programs working alongside each other.
In today’s society, the challenge is to go “green”. We already know that the ETS provides for a paperless environment. Individuals can access their travel charge cards statements online and do away with paper statements. Both of these applications can be opened as two programs on the computer visually looking from one to the other. Why not take this further by joining the two programs together to make reconciliation, payments, and oversight even more convenient, efficient, and effective for all parties.
By: Pam Enlow
The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency.