Industry Postings

Benefits of Travel Charge Card Requirement

»Posted by on Nov 29, 2014 in Business Practices, Industry Postings, Payment Methods | 0 comments

On January 27, 1998, Public Law 105-264 mandated the use of a government furnished travel charge card and the implementations regulations were later published in the Federal Register, July 16, 1999. The FTR was effective May 1, 2000. In support of this activity, Public Law 105-264 mandated the reimbursement of travel expenses by agencies to its employees within 30 days. Not only have the government and its travelers benefited from this law, but the TMC/CTOs have benefited as well. The greatest benefit is that the TMC/CTO could process payments for travel services fees much more rapidly. This also speeds up the processing time for tickets and reservations of government employees if they are in a rush to have a ticket issued. The TMC/CTO receives the payment...

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Rental Cars

»Posted by on Nov 29, 2014 in Rental Cars | 0 comments

Even with the Rental car agreement through the DTMO you are subject to high rates during peak season with the car rental locations. Example: Superbowl in Tampa, Florida and just recently the Inauguration in Washington, DC. Also rental car companies often hold double the amount of the rental. Example: If you car rental was only for 2 days and total cost was $200.00 they will hold easily $400 to $500 on your credit card. Really what is the purpose? You have insurance on your own car to protect them against any damages that might occur during the time you are renting the car. With my experience I prefer to use Enterprise Rent A Car. I have not had to put extra deposits on my credit card when renting. I have rented from them from several different states and I have...

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Government Travel: From Old School to the New “Mobile & Connected” School

»Posted by on Nov 25, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In a very short time (years, not decades), government travel has gone from old school where travelers had to call their Travel Management Center (TMC) to book every reservation to working with first-generation on-line booking tools that may or may not have been a real time connection. These tools were not always user friendly but they lowered the agencies overall travel cost. From there we progressed to on-line booking engines designed to mimic the experience travelers had when booking personal trips on leisure web sites. These tools were developed to be in compliance with the Presidents E-Gov Initiatives to reengineer the federal government’s travel process to realize significant cost savings and improve employee productivity. E-Gov Travel Services (ETS)...

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Travel Management Centers

»Posted by on Nov 23, 2014 in Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

With the onset of ETS systems, the vendor of each system had to select an imbedded partner to act as the travel agent.  As referred to by GSA, the Travel Management Center (TMC) or Commercial Travel Office (CTO), had to be accredited by the Airline Reporting Corporation to sell airline tickets and other travel services.  The TMC/CTO is responsible for issuing tickets requested and approved through the ETS.  The TMC/CTO also had to provide full travel services along with 24/7 emergency services. Travel agents working on government travel accounts receive customized training on policies and procedures for official travel.  They also have experience with the GDS system and have access to the Federal Travel Regulations. The most common way of booking reservations...

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Government Ethics: Gifts with Monetary Value and Frequency Programs

»Posted by on Nov 22, 2014 in Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

As a hotel industry representative who came to the government market less than two years ago from the corporate industry market, I was surprised at the number of limitations set on client gifts.  Accustomed to giving gifts to corporate clients, inviting them to VIP dinners or banquets, as well as, encouraging the use of our frequency program as an incentive to choosing us over another hotel chain, I am learning the intricacies of what is acceptable and allowed as a gift or giveaway for my new customers and what invitations they are allowed to accept. The introduction to Government Ethics Standards states, “An employee shall not, except pursuant to such reasonable exceptions as are provided by regulation, solicit or accept any gift or other item of monetary...

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The Final Frontier: SmartPay 1

»Posted by on Nov 21, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

Established in 1998, the GSA SmartPay program provides government agencies with commercial charge card procurement and payment solutions through “Master Contracts”.  The SmartPay 1 program expired on November 29, 2008.  The new program, SmartPay 2 (SP 2), will expire on November 29, 2018. During the transition, GSA was very visible.  The Office of Charge Card Management provided support to Agency/Organization Program Coordinators (AOPC).  They provided a copy of the new Master Contract timely enough to allow AOPCs to review the information.  They also provided tools to help with agencies’ selection process and transition.  A timeline detailed recommended activities to ensure agency transitions were completed.  Conference calls were routine as...

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Rental Car Costs – Paying the GARS Fee

»Posted by on Nov 21, 2014 in Rental Cars | 0 comments

I provide a great deal of E-Gov Travel System training to our various customers’.  During training, it seems the same question arises during my coverage of the rental car section.  The very popular question is:  Do I have to pay the GARS (Government Administrative Rate Supplement) fee?  The answer to this question is yes, all Government travelers must pay the GARS fee.  However it should be noted; The GARS fee and the optional insurance that may be offered are two different things.  The GARS fee is $5.00 per day worldwide and is paid by all Government renters.  Travelers should be aware, that the $5.00 fee is in addition to the daily rate and is not automatically included in the daily rental rate of the vehicle. The GARS fee is an administrative fee which...

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The Evolution (Revolution) of Government Travel

»Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, History and Overview | 0 comments

Government travel for civilian agencies has changed greatly over the years, going from a manual system to an electronic one. This paper will show how government travel has evolved over time, the direct impact from my agency’s perspective, and possible future directions of federal travel. Manual Model Initially, civilian travel processing was a paper-based system where travel orders and travel vouchers were manually typed and hand-carried or mailed to approving officials for signature. Transportation was procured by means of a Government Transportation Request (GTR). The accompanying financial transactions were then manually posted to the accounting system. Transportation reservations were obtained through travel agents (now called a travel management center...

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Yield Management – Airlines & Hotels

»Posted by on Nov 19, 2014 in Airlines, Hotels | 0 comments

Yield management, also known as “revenue management is the process of understanding, anticipating and influencing consumer behavior in order to maximize yield or profits from a fixed, perishable resource (such as airline seats or hotel room reservations)”. Successful yield management focuses on selling the product in such a manner that is timely, price competitive, and directed towards the right subset of customers. The basic concept of yield management is based in the economic principle of supply and demand: when supplies are short, prices go up; when supply is high, prices go down. Yield management is a studied, systematic method by which managers can logically place customers within the supply demand spectrum, and thus gain the highest yield for their...

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City Pair Program Benefits Unrecognized

»Posted by on Nov 19, 2014 in Airlines | 0 comments

One thing I’ve noticed while assisting travelers with booking reservations through ETS/GDS is that sometimes the prices on certain city pair legs are higher than what the public would see on other sites such as Orbitz or Travelocity.  We get this complaint quite often.  The fact that city pair fares can save up to 50% to 70% on unrestricted coach fares is a big deal.  Unfortunately I don’t think a lot of travelers quite understand this.   In times like these when travel budgets are being slashed all over the Federal Government, many travelers are becoming even more conscientious of their travel expenses.   They are encouraged to minimize their travel expenses as much as possible.  This has caused many travelers to become upset when they see a plane...

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ETS Selection

»Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Once the use of an E-Gov Travel System (ETS) was mandated, our agency started preparing for the selection process.  In order to prepare our selection criteria, we needed to solicit feedback from representatives across the entire agency.  After we received everyone’s feedback, we reviewed all of the information to determine the agency requirements as a whole. We separated the criteria into the following categories: Organization Setup Document Creation (Authorizations, Amendments, Vouchers, and Local Vouchers) System Support  and Technical Issues Miscellaneous Reports Vendor Deliverables Each of the categories was further broken down into the specific task that the vendor was to demonstrate during their two and a half day evaluation.  The packet of...

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Spending Cuts and Compliance

»Posted by on Nov 17, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Government Traveler Comments, Industry Postings, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Like Wikipedia, your CGTP Training Course book put in plain words the exact meaning of Government Travel Management = to insure the traveler receives timely approval to take a trip required to accomplish a mission, to take a trip that is planned and reserved accurately and to be reimbursed the amount spent on the trip, all within the travel rules and regulations and available budget. Travel Managers of a federal agency will soon face the balancing act between being in compliance and cutting cost. Due to a very deep cut in federal spending not being felt currently but soon will bring impact before the fiscal year ends, travel managers will focus on cost control as a whole. The top priority ranked in 2012 is generating new airline and ground transportation savings...

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»Posted by on Nov 16, 2014 in Government Traveler Comments, History and Overview | 0 comments

In this first section of the Certified Government Travel Professional Training Course, it was very interesting to read of the history of the whole travel industry. I have always had a love of travel dating back to 1974 when I attended and graduated from Weaver Airline Personnel School inKansas City, Missouri. At the time I worked full time at Michigan State University and completed a correspondence portion at home and then spent one month in residence at the school in Kansas City. It was an intense and informative time at the school. As it turns out, I did not end up with a travel industry position until 1985 when I became a part time reservations agent with Piedmont Airlines. Again, I was working full time at another job and the airline work in the...

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Rental Cars

»Posted by on Nov 15, 2014 in Rental Cars | 0 comments

When a service member acquires a rental car from approved channels (DTS/SATO) they receive reservation rights, and rates, that are unique to government employees. Reservation rights and rates that apply to service members or federal employees that utilize CTO or DTS to procure a vehicle are as follows. The rate that is confirmed by the rental car company via DTS or the CTO must be guaranteed, and honored, for 60 days from the time of reservation. This feature allows the service member to do some forward planning without incurring a penalty or adjustments to his budget.  Once the reservation is confirmed, it must be held for a minimum of two normal business hours after the renter’s scheduled flight arrival time.  The vehicle must be available, and the contract...

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Frequent Flyer Program

»Posted by on Nov 14, 2014 in Airlines | 0 comments

In May of 1981, American Airlines (AA) started a loyalty program called AAdvantage .  AA’s goal was to retain their frequent customers by offering them rewards for flying with AA.  AA’s program was so successful that later the same year Delta and TWA introduced their own loyalty programs.  These loyalty programs became known as frequent flyer programs (FFP) because the airline tracked the miles a customer flew and rewarded them based on those miles.  Therefore, the more miles a customer flew under an airlines frequent flyer program, the greater their reward. Hotels and rental car companies started participating as “partners” in the successful airline programs.   Even though the major hotels now have their own frequent-stay programs,...

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Government Rental Car Program

»Posted by on Nov 14, 2014 in Rental Cars | 0 comments

A few years ago the Defense Travel Management Office was designated to be in charge of the Rental Car Program for the entire Federal Government.   The Rental Car Program is designed for official business used only to meet mission requirements. It offers special benefits for federal government employees on TDY such as unlimited mileage, insurance, free upgrades, etc.  While participating in this program you are required to show a valid drivers license and TDY orders.  A traveler can only request a compact size car unless otherwise authorized by their approving official.  Rental cars can be purchase using your government travel card, personal card or cash depending on your agency local travel policy. While on TDY, you must treat the automobile as if it were...

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Split Disbursements… The best Idea Ever!

»Posted by on Nov 13, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

Section 4.4.3 of OMB Circular A-123, Appendix B mandates split disbursement and salary offset for travel charge card holders.  However, agencies may request exemptions when they determine that the cost of implementing split disbursement and/or salary offset exceeds the benefits.  Agency heads must request such exemptions from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in writing, and provide the reasons therein.  The Director of OMB, in consultation with the Administrator or General Services Administration (GSA), will respond no later than 30 days after receiving the request for waiver or exemption.  Due process requirements for salary offset are contained under section 4.4.4 of Chapter 4 OMB Circular A-123…” Split Disbursements is a...

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Payment Methods

»Posted by on Nov 12, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

There are four types of payment methods in the eGov Travel application.  The methods include;  Traveler, Gov-CC, CBA, and Direct.  Expenses that the travelers select have a pre-determined payment method selected in the eGov Travel application, but payment methods for expenses can be customized for each agency.  The standard expense assignment will be covered here. Expenses with payment method of Traveler are to be reimbursed directly to the traveler’s personal bank account.  The eGov Travel application assigns the following expenses to the method of reimbursement of Traveler: meals and incidental reimbursements, taxi expense, privately owned vehicle (POV) expense, and parking and/or toll expense. Expenses with payment method of Gov-CC are to be paid...

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International Date Line & Per Diem

»Posted by on Nov 11, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Government Traveler Comments, Industry Postings, Travel Professional Resources, White Papers | 0 comments

Have you ever flown from the United States to Japan? Or how about to Beijing, China? If so, then you have crossed the International Date Line. Now you may be wondering, “What is the International Date Line?” The International Date Line (IDL) is an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth that runs from the North Pole to the South Pole and determines one calendar day from the next. However, the time difference between either sides of the IDL is not always exactly 24 hours because of local time zone variations. While the world is divided into 24 time zones, there has to be a place where there is a difference in days, somewhere the day truly “starts” on the planet. Thus, the 180° line of longitude, exactly one-half way around the planet from...

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Travel Policy and Compliance

»Posted by on Nov 11, 2014 in Business Practices | 0 comments

The agency that I work for, in addition to its mission, provides franchise services to various Government agencies.  Our Travel Services Division services over 30 of those customer agencies by providing a Travel Help Desk to assist travelers with navigating the E-Gov Travel System (ETS) , travel policy guidance and training, travel voucher payment processing, post-payment travel voucher audits, centrally billed account reconciliation, travel card management, as well as relocation services. During our latest reorganization, our Division formed a Policy And Compliance Team (PAC Team) consisting of six members with varied areas of expertise.  The main functions of this team are travel policy guidance/training, post-payment travel voucher audits, ETS and travel...

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Government Travel Charge Card Payment Problems

»Posted by on Nov 9, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

The payment of Government travel charge cards (IBAs) and the liability placed on individual travelers is an interesting topic.  At the agencies I have been a part of as a travel administrator, travelers who are expected to travel at least twice a year are either strongly encouraged or required to get a travel charge card.  When travelers apply for the travel charge card they do it with the understanding that they are liable to pay their statement each month.  Even if they have yet to receive reimbursement from the Government for their travel, travelers are required to make full payment or their travel charge card. I’ve seen this become a tense situation when several travelers were left without travel reimbursement for almost two months, despite their...

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GSA and States Need to Partner in Setting Per-diem Rates

»Posted by on Nov 9, 2014 in Hotels, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

The 50 states across the United States all adopt some sort of a travel reimbursement program.   A majority of the states adopt the GSA per-diem rate as the benchmark to reimburse travelers.   There are some problems that States with this methodology.   Some properties will only honor the GSA per-diem rates for federal travelers.  The other problem is some properties will not honor per-diem rates at all due to the market being under valued. According to the GSA; getting a per-diem rate adjusted in a market that may be undervalued, can only be requested by a federal travel manager.   This provides a real problem for states that have markets where federal travelers do not travel too.  A prime example is along the Oregon coast.  One city along...

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Travel Industry History

»Posted by on Nov 8, 2014 in History and Overview | 0 comments

In 1948 the Department of Defense had a need to transport Military passengers and cargo more rapidly than by the railroad. The air industry had a desire to become a part of this industry but almost all military passengers traveled by railroad and the railroads enjoyed a preferential passenger traffic arrangement with the government. Although the commercial airlines provided major support to the government during World War II, following the war they were generally used as a last resort for emergency movement of traffic or when a senior officer insisted on using air rather than surface transportation. Airlines were struggling in their attempts to gain entry into this market and made significant headway in 1940. Most of the airlines serving Washington DC created and...

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Did Captain Kirk use ETS?

»Posted by on Nov 7, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

I wonder if Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise realized when he said “Beam me up Scottie” that as a federal government traveler he needed to have a travel authorization in the E-Gov travel system (ETS).  As it is with anything, travel doesn’t just happen.  It takes a team of dedicated, trained professionals to make it happen. Travel Management Center (TMC) or Commercial Travel Office (CTO) are the names the General Services Administration (GSA) designated for accredited travel agencies under contract with the federal government to sell airline tickets and other travel services. Travel begins with a travel order – the traveler must create a travel authorization using the E-Gov travel system.  When creating the authorization using...

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Procurement and Management, the Federal Travel Disconnect

»Posted by on Nov 7, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

When considering travel programs, program management and procurement are both essential.  Once travel is procured, the role of the program manager is to focus on getting the maximum value from any and all negotiated agreements through careful follow up, tracking, and compliance monitoring. In turn, suppliers are more inclined to offer better deals if they believe the corporate client closely tracks usage, trains travelers, and communicates policy in ways that lead to significantly higher compliance levels.  It is the combination of procurement and program management that leads to effective overall travel programs.  In this paper I explore and assess the federal government’s approach to procurement and program management, and offer recommendations to...

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Federal Travel Regulations

»Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in History and Overview | 0 comments

There are numerous guidelines available to Federal travelers and the staff who administer the payment of that travel voucher. I feel that the most important of the tools available is the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) 41 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Chapters 300 – 304. The FTR administers the laws governing travel allowances and entitlements for federal employees. The FTR covers travel from who is considered a federal traveler; to how travel should be booked, through the payment process. The FTR mandates that all federal travel should be made using a Travel Management Center (TMC), and paid for utilizing the government issued charge card. This means that the traveler is not permitted to charge official expenses on a personal card. This also allows for...

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EGov Travel Communication Network

»Posted by on Nov 4, 2014 in Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Communication and information sharing is very important at all levels within the government.  For decades, government agencies found that they had outgrown the traditional — though still highly effective — information-sharing methods such as conversations around the office water cooler. So how do agencies in several different localities communicate effectively and share essential information with each other, vendors, contractors, and, most importantly, their travelers?  How do you obtain the knowledge from travel subject experts that is extremely valuable —   the knowledge that is in people’s heads? This knowledge may be the most valuable of all because it is frequently more extensive and up-to-date and, therefore, more useful for...

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Airlines, Hotels, and the TMC

»Posted by on Nov 4, 2014 in Airlines, Hotels, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

To ensure the value a TMC can bring to government travelers and all governments agencies, a TMC must understand the regulations and rules and that influence airfare and hotel reservations on an ongoing basis.  CPP, City Pair Program, and understanding the difference between YCA, _CA, and _CB air fares is most important for TMC agents booking each government traveler with an air itinerary.  It is a TMC’s responsibility to know how to get the CPP contract, display the options in the GDS, and follow each specific government agencies rules for approval and ticketing.  Other essential knowledge for booking airfare for government travelers is interpreting and applying the Fly America Act, the Airline Open Skies Agreements, airline code shares, frequent flyer...

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Hotel Booking and Regulation Challenges for Federal Travelers

»Posted by on Nov 2, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

Whether traveling by air, car, or train, Government travelers often require the use of a hotel room.  Due to federal regulations and E-Gov Travel Service (ETS) complications, the hotel reservation and booking process involves many challenges. Some travelers mistakenly think that the “Government rate” at hotels is the Government lodging per diem rate.  Yet this “Government rate” is not managed by the Federal Government at all.  The rate that is managed by the Government is called the FedRooms rate. Hotels that offer the FedRooms rate participate in the Government’s FedRooms program.  What some Government travelers might not realize is that they should give “first consideration…to government lodging agreement programs such as FedRooms” (Federal...

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Rental Cars for Government Travelers

»Posted by on Nov 1, 2014 in Industry Postings | 0 comments

In support of E-Gov Travel, our Bureau staff has to know a great deal about travel policy in order to assist callers to our Help Desk.  Not only do we answer questions about our E-Gov Travel vendor’s product, but we have to know about travel policy as well.  One area we receive questions about is rental cars. First and foremost, rental cars must be approved in the authorization by the approving official.  The approving official must take into account if there is a Government vehicle available for use, or if the employee has a GOV assigned to them (if the TDY is within driving distance), or the approver selects that mode of transportation.  If the TDY is out of the driving area, the approving official must think about the need for the car as compared to...

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»Posted by on Oct 31, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

ETS2 is right around the corner, and an agency’s internal communication will be key to making ETS2 a success. As we approach the five-year anniversary of completing implementation of ETS1 at my agency, it is important to look back at a key reason ETS1 was a success here:  communication. ETS1 was a major change at my agency.  We had been doing electronic authorizations and vouchering for a few years in a home-grown system, but ETS1 added integrated online booking and system-controlled adherence to travel policies to the equation. It was mandatory to implement ETS1 so it was vital that our employees knew that it had to happen.  At my agency, executives were consistently given the message that ETS1 was going to happen and why, and they were provided with regular...

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City Pair Program

»Posted by on Oct 28, 2014 in Airlines | 0 comments

There appears to be some confusion and even debate regarding the fares negotiated and contracted by the United States Government’s City Pair Program.  Many Government travelers do not realize what they are getting for their money, and what total costs are associated with non-contract restricted fares. Many Government travelers compare the ticket price of City Pair contract fares to the ticket price of economy fares that they book for personal travel using internet sites like Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity.  While the economy fares many of us use for personal travel have restrictions, penalties/fees for cancellations, and often require advance purchase, this is not the case with the Government’s City Pair contract fares.  City Pair contract fares require...

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»Posted by on Oct 28, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

Travelers no longer need to search and compare hotels to ensure they are compliant with federal regulations. When a traveler books FedRooms, he or she is guaranteed to be in compliance. With more than 5,000 FedRooms hotels worldwide, and with new hotels added daily, FedRooms provides choice while leveraging the federal government’s overall buying power – ensuring guaranteed rates and rate protection now and in the future. For federal government travelers, there are significant differences between the FedRooms rate and “government” rates. The FedRooms rate is the only rate offered under the government-wide and government-sponsored hotel program and is a GSA sponsored hotel program. The “government” rates are rates that have not been negotiated on...

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ETS Contract

»Posted by on Oct 26, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Industry Postings | 0 comments

When GSA awarded travel government contracts to only #3 ETS vendors almost ten years ago, the travel community was shaken by the government’s move to take away opportunities of  small to medium size travel agencies to take a piece of the pie.  The GSA vision for a firm fixed price, multiple awards and Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) was the ultimate confirmation that government will streamline the broken process of government travel starting from financial initiation of travel authorization.  Having the understanding that federal agency and the DoD travel process functions totally different, Defense Travel System responds to the needs of DoD travel and accounting requirements unlike federal agency. Both federal agency and DoD have encountered...

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SmartPay2 Charge Cards

»Posted by on Oct 26, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

Public Law 105-264, January 27, 1998 mandated the use of a government furnished travel charge card and the implementation regulations were published in the Federal Register July 16, 1999. SmartPay2 was implemented November 29, 2008 following a generation of several other vendors and cards.  My agency currently has JPChase Morgan as it’s vendor for our SmartPay2 cards. These cards are unique in that our agency has all hotels, rental car, and airfare, taxi, centrally billed on individual card holder’s cards.  This makes it easier for our card holders, and provides our agency with less delinquency rate than a lot of other agencies face. We also have the traditional centrally billed cards which we call corporate cards, which can be utilized for infrequent...

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Suggestions for Reduced Budgets

»Posted by on Oct 25, 2014 in Business Practices, Government Traveler Comments, Industry Postings | 0 comments

Government agencies are faced with reduced budgets in recent years due to the economy.  At our agency, employees have been asked to submit suggestions to improve processes and save money during this time of limited resources.   Several suggestions have been submitted that relate to government travel.  One suggestion that was submitted was that the agency should require travelers to park their privately owned vehicles (POVs) in airport economy lots rather than daily parking lots when they are on TDY.  In the Washington DC area, the current price for parking at Dulles Airport is:  $36 maximum for 24 hours at an hourly parking lot; $17 maximum for 24 hours at a daily parking lot; and $10 maximum for 24 hours at an economy parking lot. While the regulations do...

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Fees, Fees, Fees, – When Will They Stop

»Posted by on Oct 25, 2014 in Government Traveler Comments, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Over the past ten years that I have been working in the travel arena, the one most common complaint I hear about from my travelers are fees. They complain that every time they turn around, another fee has been charged to their government charge card. But what about these fees, why do there appear to be so many fees on a travel voucher? Since TMC’s are no longer working on commission, they have to be paid somehow for their part in making travel arrangements, thus the fees begin. The TMC that my agency uses set there TMC fees into two categories, touched and non-touched transactions. Touched transactions are just what they sound like, reservations that need to be touched by a TMC agent before completed. Non-touched transactions are reservations that are made...

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»Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels | 0 comments

FedRooms is a government-sponsored lodging program designed for the federal traveler.  FedRooms negotiates hotel rates for those areas where government travelers need to stay while performing official government business.  This program provides a substantial savings to the government because rates are at or below per diem, no hidden costs or penalties are associated to the rate, travelers are not charged for early check-out, and travelers can cancel a reservation until 4:00 pm on the day of arrival without incurring a penalty. For the convenience of travelers, FedRooms offers a website which offers helpful information.  There’s a convenient search page for travelers to easily find a FedRooms hotel.  This site also offers an overview of the FedRooms...

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Payment Methods

»Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

Our E-Gov Travel System (ETS) uses a variety of payment methods to reimburse the federal travelers.  Some of the payment methods that we use are: Individually Billed Accounts (IBA) Centrally Billed Accounts (CBA) Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Direct Bill In 1998, a Public Law mandated the use of a government issued travel charge card.  Our travelers are issued IBA’s in accordance with the SmartPay 2 guidelines.  Each traveler uses their IBA for expenses such as airline, hotels, rental cars, etc.  The CBA is used when a traveler does not have an IBA.  Generally in these situations, the traveler is new to the agency and has not yet received their credit card. Other expenses that the traveler incurs are reimbursed via EFT directly to the...

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Global Distribution Systems

»Posted by on Oct 22, 2014 in Global Distribution Systems | 0 comments

The existence of multiple Global Distribution Systems presents challenges for United States Government agencies’ efforts to manage travel.  One such challenge involves determining which Global Distribution System an agency’s Travel Management Center should use, although my sense is that most agencies do not direct their Travel Management Center on which Global Distribution System to use.  (Contractually, an agency may or may not even have the ability to determine which Global Distribution System their Travel ManagementCenter uses.) Some Global Distribution Systems do not allow for the booking of tickets for certain airlines – although this is often driven by which airlines choose to participate in which Global Distribution Systems.  In...

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The Travel Card: Official Business or Personal Use

»Posted by on Oct 20, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

The DOD Travel Card Program provides federal government travelers a safe method to pay expenses associated with official travel.  In 2008, GSA awarded Citibank the contract for the Smart Pay 2. The Travel Card Program contains both the Individually Billed IBA and Centrally Billed Accounts (CBA). IBA’s are individual accounts managed by each traveler. CBA’s are managed by one person in an organization for several travelers. The program was mandated under the Travel and Transportation Reform of 1988.  This act basically states, “The travel card must be used in conjunction with official travel only”.  In order to receive standard travel card with a credit limit of $7,500 a traveler must have a credit score of 660.  Every traveler with a score below 660...

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Charge Card Fraud, Misuse, and Abuse

»Posted by on Oct 19, 2014 in Business Practices, Industry Postings, Payment Methods | 0 comments

Fraud can be defined as a deliberate deception practiced with the motive of securing unfair or unlawful gain.  This would be an attempt, by someone other than the cardholder, to complete a transaction that is not part of official government business and applying that transaction on your government travel charge card.  You should take all necessary steps to protect your card and yourself.  Below are a few tips to keep your government travel charge card from fraud. Keep your government travel charge card in sight at all times and exposed no longer than necessary.  Skimming of a charge card occurs when someone to whom you have given your charge card for payment (such as a cashier or waitperson) swipes the card into a portable electronic device, gathering all the...

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Travel Manager Responsibilities

»Posted by on Oct 18, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

As stated in the training materials, the role of the travel manager is to facilitate travel in a manner to ensure compliance. In the corporate market, compliance is monitored via a series of reports designed by the travel manager to assess how changes in policy and process effect overall behavior (compliance). Although the federal government has plans to establish similar oversight, the capability from a data standpoint is not yet available. Once the data does become available, the government will not be left without challenges. The most significant remaining challenge is that the roles and responsibilities of travel manager must evolve accordingly. Currently the primary role of federal travel managers is to ensure travelers understand and comply with policy,...

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Travel Authorization

»Posted by on Oct 18, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

A travel authorization is a written order prepared for an individual to take an official trip to a temporary duty station away from the official duty station.  The authorization is created in GovTrip and requires a lot of information before the traveler is authorized to travel.    The authorization will include the official travel expenses such as lodging, meals, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses.  It will show TDY location, per diem for the location selected and a purpose for the trip.  The traveler will also show the departure and return dates and be able to select the accounting code that is associated with his or her office.  The accounting code consists of a fund, cost center, reporting category and project code if applicable. The trip can be...

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Always do the research…

»Posted by on Oct 16, 2014 in Government Traveler Comments, Hotels | 0 comments

Electronic systems can be a great tool.  However, I learned an important lesson a short time ago when I was preparing for a trip.  Just because you find something in an electronic system that fits your needs, it’s still important to do a little more research.  Information in the system is only as good as what is provided by the property or airline. A few months ago a coworker and I were planning a trip to Washington, DC and I learned a very important lesson.  It’s always a good idea to check the area when looking for lodging.  There was a lot going on in town that week and it was nearly impossible to find a hotel without a long metro ride or walk to where we were working.  We had reservations at a hotel a ways outside the city but I kept looking...

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Using the TMC/ETS

»Posted by on Oct 14, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Most government employees who travel on official government business know that they are supposed to use the TMC and ETS, but many may not know why they should do so.  American Express, SATO and for the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), National Travel, are the TMC’s used when booking travel through GovTrip.  There are many popular travel sites available for booking trips:  Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz, just to name a few.  Also, many airlines offer the service of booking directly through their websites.  While doing so may take less time and in some cases, may be significantly less expensive, there are risks involved that many may not be aware of. Perhaps the most important advantage of booking travel through the TMC is that unused tickets are fully...

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How To Ensure a Seamless Car Rental When Traveling for Business

»Posted by on Oct 13, 2014 in Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Rental Cars, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

There are many options available to employees when purchasing travel.  Most travelers are aware of policies and procedures, however, vendors may not be aware of certain restrictions and will try to upsell or upgrade amenities to our employees.   When this is accepted by the traveler, they run into cost reimbursable issues when filing expense reports. As an example, car rental companies will try to upsell a traveler by offering additional insurances, GPS systems, larger vehicles, sporty or hybrid models.  All of which are not reimbursed by our organization.  Also, a traveler may not realize they are being charged an additional amount for the vehicle being offered if it happens to be a larger vehicle. What we’ve done to alleviate all the backend hassles of...

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Data Collection and the Importance of Mandates

»Posted by on Oct 12, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

One way to measure the cost savings is through reporting from the TMC.  The collection of data will break down air, car, hotel and credit card spend with Ad Hoc reporting capabilities.  However, a non-mandated travel program makes it difficult to ensure cost savings to the organization. Reporting to Senior Management should reflect true costs associated with your program, unfortunately, as noted, all data may not be captured.   It is important for management to realize the benefits of mandating the use of the TMC and preferred vendors to better leverage discounts for the organization. Some of our greatest savings are obtained by mandating hotel bookings through our program.  As an example, we used to capture 50% of bookings through our on-line booking tool or...

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Code Sharing

»Posted by on Oct 11, 2014 in Airlines | 0 comments

What is code sharing? Code sharing is an agreement between airlines that allows the sale of seats by a partner airline on another airline’s flight as if the flight were its own. Code shares can provide a cost-effective way for a carrier to enter new markets by using the facilities and operations of a partner carrier. While code sharing is beneficial to many airlines, it can be misleading for travelers who believe they have purchased a ticket on one airline only to discover that they are actually flying on another. Or worse, when the traveler believes they are staying on a single airline on a multi-leg trip only to discover that they are not only changing planes, but also changing airlines in their connecting city. An important factor that a traveler should...

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Applying for a Passport

»Posted by on Oct 11, 2014 in Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

In February 2010, I decided to apply for a passport even though I didn’t have immediate plans to travel internationally.  It has been my dream to travel to a tropical island so I wanted to be prepared in case the opportunity arose.  I stopped by my local post office to pick up the application.  Applications are not only available at post offices but other acceptance facilities or passport agency.   I was told to take the form home with me, fill it out, and then make an appointment with the post office in order to complete the application process.  There are two types of passports to choose from.  I opted for the book because the card cannot be used for international travel by air.  It can only be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico,...

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»Posted by on Oct 10, 2014 in Business Practices | 0 comments

Government employees are held to the highest level of ethical behavior, especially when it comes to spending taxpayer money.  While government travel represents only a small percentage of government spending, it is highly visible.  There are numerous news stories of government officials using taxpayer money to fund personal vacations or lavish accommodations under the guise of official government business.  There should be more oversight in place to ensure that government employees do not engage in fraud, waste or abuse regarding government travel. High ethical standards and consistent enforcement of travel policies are needed to avoid even a perception of inappropriate activity. My office travels frequently in order to accomplish our mission objectives.  In...

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»Posted by on Oct 9, 2014 in Airlines, Industry Postings, White Papers | 0 comments

The General Services Administration (GSA) manages the airline City Pair Program (CPP) to provide discounted air transportation services for Federal travelers Government-wide.  Since its inception in 1980, the airline City Pair Program has expanded its presence domestically and internationally, to include 13 carriers in over 6,100 markets. Federal travelers are able to achieve the best deals on airfare available.  CPP averages savings of 70% below full, commercial air fares.  In addition, CPP features benefits that allow Government travelers supreme flexibility. When you use the City Pair Program, Fares are unrestricted, meaning: No Advance purchase required – you get the same great deal anytime No minimum or maximum length of stay required Tickets are fully...

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Payment Methods

»Posted by on Oct 8, 2014 in Business Practices, Payment Methods | 0 comments

Late November of this year the Government established a new SmartPay program, which is a primary method of payment for travel.  This new program GSA SmartPay 2, is accompanied with various improvements, enhancements, benefits, and protection for the government agencies and its travelers. The Government partnered with several contractors (financial agencies) to take on this new endeavor. Some of these financial agencies were part of the first SmartPay program and one of its major partners, Bank of America, failed to submit a proposal to continue business with the government. While reading this particular section I was curious of the reason/s why Bank of America decided to depart from this enormous program. Some of the most important improvements established for...

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Travel and Government Quarters

»Posted by on Oct 8, 2014 in Hotels, Industry Postings, Travel Professional Resources, White Papers | 0 comments

Government agencies are faced with reduced budgets in recent years due to the economy. At our agency, employees have been asked to submit suggestions to improve processes and save money during this time of limited resources. Several suggestions have been submitted that relate to Government travel. One suggestion that was submitted was that the agency should require that Government quarters be used because they are much less expensive than commercial lodging. This paper provides an overview of what the regulations state about the requirements to use Government quarters. In accordance with the Department of Defense (DoD) Financial Management Regulation (FMR) Volume 9, Chapter 5, the orders for travelers must specify the actual TDY duty location For example, if a...

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Proper Use of a Government Issued Travel Charge Card

»Posted by on Oct 6, 2014 in Industry Postings, Payment Methods, White Papers | 0 comments

In today’s world of instability and financial woes, people are struggling to survive.  Government employees are included in those people who are struggling.  People are relying more and more on credit cards to get by in this tough economic time.  That is why this is the perfect time to review the proper use of a government issued travel charge card. The number one thing for cardholders to remember is that the government issued travel charge card is to be used for “official government travel only”.  Even though the charge card is in the cardholders’ name and goes against their personal credit history, it is still only to be used for government travel.  It is hard for some individuals to understand that since the financial responsibility of the card is...

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Electronic Travel Can Keep You on the Straight and Narrow

»Posted by on Oct 5, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

For those of us who have the opportunity to use an Electronic Travel site, it allows you make your plans and know right away that you are in compliance of your specified travel rules. Usually for most of us, trying to pick our favorite airline to keep our miles consolidated can be your first choice. Depending on the trip most times you can find a way to be compliant and still get your first choice. As an example, when I start an itinerary, my system has me input my preferred travel times and dates. Fortunately now with many low cost carriers serving more destinations, the legacy carriers have made the fares much more favorable. When I look at the top of the screen, I see several carriers listed to fly the routes I need and can select either my favorite carrier or...

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Travel Management Service

»Posted by on Oct 5, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Industry Postings, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Federal Travelers are required to use a TMS or risk responsibility of the costs for not using the service.  The TMS is defined in the FTR, Chapter 301, Temporary Duty (TDY) Travel Allowances as, “A service for booking common carrier (e.g., air, rail, and bus confirmations and seat assignments, lodging accommodations, and car rental services; fulfilling (i.e. ticketing) reservations; providing basic management information on those activities; and meeting other requirements as specified in §301-73.106 of this title.  A TMS may include a travel management center…” Society of Government Travel Professionals, Certified Government Travel Professional Training Course, 80 (2007-2010). Also, §301-76.106 says that the TMS must include at a minimum a TMC, CTO, an...

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Travel Management Centers

»Posted by on Oct 4, 2014 in Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Travel Management Centers (TMCs) are travel agencies approved and contracted by GSA to provide transportation reservations and ticketing services to government travelers for official TDY travel.   The TMCs must be accredited by the airline reporting corporation (ARC).  The airline reporting corporation provides four primary services for the travel industry.  An accreditation program for designating competent, responsible travel agents in the us for the sale of worldwide air transportation. Uniform, standard tickets and other traffic documents necessary for the issuance of tickets and other ancillary services (tour packages, surface transportation, hotel accommodations, other ground arangements, etc). A computerized system through which arc-accreditied...

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Government Travel Super Saver Fares

»Posted by on Oct 3, 2014 in Airlines, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

My interest in the travel industry began many years ago. My ultimate goal was to find a position within the airline industry. At the time, the industry was going through a tough time so a job with the airlines was not “in the cards” for me. When my circumstances changed and I moved to the Washington, DC area, the opportunity arose for a part-time position with the airlines as a reservations sales agent. I worked for Piedmont/US Airways until the reservations center was closed. I was then employed with United Airlines until I relocated to a different state. This was more of a “fun” job for me; the travel benefit alone at that time was sufficient compensation for me. I was eager to learn everything about the airlines, airline reservation policies and...

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The Travel Management Center

»Posted by on Oct 3, 2014 in Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

The Travel Management Center (TMC) is the name designated by General Services Administration (GSA) for accredited travel agencies under contract to the government to provide travel services for official Temporary Duty (TDY) travel. Travel agencies are professional organizations accredited by the Airline Reporting Corporation (ARC) to sell airline tickets and other travel services. Airlines have numerous requirements that must be sustained in order to maintain their accreditation. The TMC must work with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) who defines the three letter airport code identifiers throughout the world. These codes are also used by baggage systems to facilitate correct routing of luggage. The Global Distribution System (GDS) contains...

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Payment of Travel Expenses

»Posted by on Sep 30, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

The primary way for paying for Government travel is through the GSA SmartPay 2 program.  GSA’s SmartPay 2 program provides Government agencies with commercial charge card procurement and payment solutions through master contracts established the program in 1998.  GSA issued contracts to four credit card companies to issue cards on behalf of the Government.  To date over 42 million cards have been issued and is the largest program of its kind in the world. SmartPay program cards can be issued to either individuals or agencies.  Individual Billed Accounts or IBA’s are issued to individuals for use during official travel.  These credit cards are issued in the travelers name with the traveler having full responsibility for payment and reconciliation.  A...

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Electronic Fund Transfer

»Posted by on Sep 28, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

In 1997, GSA supported the implementation of the electronic funds transfer (EFT) provisions contained in the debt collections improvement act.  The government makes payments by EFT through the automated clearing house.  Eft is mandatory for all federal payments including travel payments to government employees.  When the traveler submits a voucher for payment, the expenses that are owed to the traveler are made directly to the traveler’s bank account.  The charges that are made to the travelers individual government credit card are paid directly to the bank by split disbursement.  Split disbursement payments became mandatory for government agencies in october 2005.   With split disbursement the traveler doesn’t have to worry about making a...

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Smart-pay Program/Data Mining

»Posted by on Sep 27, 2014 in Business Practices | 0 comments

The federal government has always captured every item and stored in one place or another; more than likely down the road from the now that information will be used and will serve as a vital piece of information.  I served as the Transportation Specialist with the Peace Corps Headquarters here in Washington, DC for more than five years.  I remember having American Express as our travel card.  Each month, a box of reports would be delivered and we would spend hours manually going through each activity of the travelers’ card, checking for misuse and delinquency.  From someone who remembers the Diner’s Club card, I must say I am very impressed, excited and happy that both the IBA and CBA processes have come a long way.  With the way technology is today, I am...

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City Pair and Hotel Programs

»Posted by on Sep 26, 2014 in Airlines, Hotels | 0 comments

AIRLINES – CITY PAIR PROGRAM: In 1978, the Airline Deregulation Act changed the dynamics and working ways of the airline industry. The government taking a cue from corporate houses, that started demanding discount in airline prices, established the City Pair program to benefit from the travel expenditure on airlines. These fares are only issued against government credit cards or GTR’s and published under the code YCA, where Y means unrestricted coach and “CA” means Contract Award. There is also Government Business contract issued under code –CB (like DCB, which means controlled capacity in Business booked under D and “CB” means Contract Business. To confront various scenarios of what can happen, certain exceptions to the mandatory use of city pair...

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»Posted by on Sep 26, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), an estimated 93,000 federal government employees stay in hotels each night with an annual spend for lodging of nearly $2 billion which is an increase from 1.9 billion in 2005. There are a variety of hotel rating systems such as AAA and the Mobil Travel Guide that assign a value to the overall condition, location and amenities offered by a hotel property. The ratings can differ widely. Government travelers generally use 2 to 4 star or diamond rated properties, depending on the location. The rating systems offer some assurance of quality, location and amenities when selecting hotel accommodations. There is also assurance for the safety of our travelers through the required Hotel and Motel Fire Safety...

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The Changing World of Fed Travel as I See It

»Posted by on Sep 25, 2014 in Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

As a child, I have always wanted to either fly a plane or work closely in the travel industry.  Throughout my professional career, my role and position has always been in the travel industry.  In the beginning, I worked for Delta Airlines, responsible for shipping air freight, both foreign and domestic, for federal officers.  During that time, I acquired an interest of learning more about the travel industry, as it relates to federal government.  I am amazed at the amount of money that is allowed with moving both federal freight and employees.  Now that I have grown fond of policy and guidance, I feel with my position and skills, it is my responsibility to work hard in developing ideas that work well for both the federal side and the commercial side.  One...

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EGov Travel (ETS)

»Posted by on Sep 24, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

We are a government Franchise Fund that performs reimbursable work for other agencies to save tax dollars. One function is E-Gov Travel. We offer E-Gov Travel to our customers and run a help desk to offer assistance to travelers using the software and in federal travel policy. We were fortunate to be providing this service prior to E-Gov Travel (then eTS) and were involved in the change to this system. We lead the initiative for my agency and participated in IV&V testing of all the vendors before making our selection.  We were the first agency to place a E Travel task order with GSA. Our group does TDY and PCS (relocation) travel. We also have an interface in our accounting system for obligations and payments as well as staff that administer the travel...

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Airline City Pair Program

»Posted by on Sep 24, 2014 in Airlines | 0 comments

It appears that there are still a few Federal Travelers still having a hard time grasping the benefits and functions of the GSA City Pair Program.  The program has been extremely successful, starting over 30 years ago when they had originally covered only 11 markets and now have expanded to over 5,000 city pairs.  Yet still, the average Federal Traveler automatically wants to compare these flights to the ones that they can find out on the internet through sites such as; Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline and Orbitz.  It only makes matters worse when these airlines try enticing them through commercials and advertisements with their great deals that no one would want to pass up, especially when it is the airline of your choice.  Finding a cheaper fare that is...

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What is Code Sharing

»Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Airlines | 0 comments

Ever get to the airport and think you are flying with one airline, but when you get to the airline counter they tell you to check in with a different airline?  If so, you have probably experienced Code Sharing.  Code sharing is an agreement between airlines allowing the sale of seats by a partner airline on another airline’s flight as if the flight was their own.  This allows airlines to extend into cities or routes beyond those they actually serve.  The airline providing the plane, crew and ground handling services is call the operating carrier.  The airline selling tickets for the flight but not actually operating it is called the marketing or validating carrier.  The following scenario would be an example of code sharing.  You booked a flight on...

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The Old Days

»Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, History and Overview | 0 comments

When I started working in travel in 1996, our agency was using the paper method of filing authorizations and vouchers.  Travel planners picked up the phone to make common carrier reservations with a small, dedicated TMC and called hotels directly.  Back in those dinosaur days, we kept a binder with paper copies of the per diem rates for various locations and would have to use those to ensure that travelers claimed the correct rates on their vouchers.  That was before the 75% M & IE allowance for the first and last day of travel.  Travelers actually recorded their beginning and ending time per day on paper.  We calculated per diem based on the number of quarters a person was in travel status.  Let’s say an individual started the first day of travel at...

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EGov Travel System Selection

»Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In November 2003, GSA announced that three contracts had been awarded for eTravel. The three vendors were: Carlson Wagonlit Government Travel (CWGT), E2 Solutions, San Antonio, Texas Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS), FedTraveler, Fairfax, Virginia Northrop Grumman Mission System (NGMS), GovTrip, Fairfax, Virginia The Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) was amended in January 2004 to require the use of the government wide eTravel Service. This final rule amended the FTR requirements governing employee’s use of their agency’s Travel Management Services (TMS) and the eTravel Service (eTS) by no later than September 2006. Being employed with an agency that provides travel services to approximately 30 other government agencies, this requirement had a huge...

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Electronic Travel Service

»Posted by on Sep 21, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

The President’s Management Agenda (PMA), set forth in 2001, is intended to improve the efficiency and management of the federal government by improving policy and reducing fraud, waste, and abuse.  As explained in the PMA, “new programs are frequently created with little review or assessment of the already-existing programs to address the same perceived problem. Over time, numerous programs with overlapping missions and competing agendas grow up alongside one another-wasting money and baffling citizens.”  The General Services Administration (GSA) manages five of the initiatives including E-Gov Travel. E-Gov Travel was launched in August 2002 as a way to use technology to engineer cost savings and employee productivity.  Its use is mandated by...

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Government Rental Car Program

»Posted by on Sep 20, 2014 in Industry Postings, Rental Cars | 0 comments

The U.S. Government Rental Car/Truck Program provides special rental benefits and reduced rates to all federal government employees on official business. Designed to meet the needs of the federal traveler, the program provides quality rentals through 16 companies at over 10,000 rental locations.  The Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO) administers the program through an agreement with participating rental car companies. There are many benefits of the Government Rental Car Program.  One of the most significant benefits to government personnel on official business is the collision damage waiver (CDW) insurance.  This insurance is included at no extra charge.  Besides attractive rates, other benefits include unlimited mileage, age restriction reduced from 25...

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Delinquency: Pay Your Bill

»Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

One of the major issues within travel departments throughout government is delinquencies. Individuals who perform travel to perform their work use their government issued charge card to pay for expenses but do not pay their accounts off timely, or individuals using their government charge card as a personal card when they are not traveling at all. Both of these scenarios lead to higher delinquencies within an agency. Luckily, the Treasury Department has kept their delinquency rate down to below one percent. This is as a result of stringent rules within the Bureaus.  At the Bureaus of Public Dept we have taken several steps in the right direction to keep our delinquencies down. First, we have implemented the mandatory use of split disbursement. We have identified...

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Electronic Travel Service 2 (ETS2): The Next Generation

»Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

The General Services Administration (GSA) along with other government agencies, contractors, vendors, and the Travel Management Center (TMC) providers are already preparing for Electronic Travel Service 2 (ETS2), the next generation of the EGov Travel Service.  The current ETS contract, administered by GSA, will be expiring on November 11, 2013. E-Gov Travel is a Government-wide initiative that is mandated by the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) for all federal travelers and is one of 24 E-Gov initiatives outlined in the President’s Management Agenda (PMA).   The E-Gov Travel vision is to deliver a unified, simplified service that delivers a cost-effective travel experience, supports excellent management and results in superior customer satisfaction. ...

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City Pair Program

»Posted by on Sep 18, 2014 in Airlines, Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Payment Methods | 0 comments

The GSA City Pair program has helped save millions of taxpayer dollars since it’s inception in the early 80’s.   This program allows government employees to travel on negotiated flat airfares in most markets with up to 70% discount on refundable airfares.  Government contractors, however, are not allowed to participate in the CPP with GSA, but can negotiate with airlines on their own. Working for an FFRDC proves to show significant differences between GSA CPP rates and corporate rates.  As airlines continue to struggle to make profit in today’s world due to fuel hikes, competition, union employees, airport fees, mergers, etc., corporate contracts have been revamped to tiered programs which provide small discounts on published airfares with heavy...

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Payment Methods

»Posted by on Sep 17, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

The two payments discussed in the course are the government charge card and centrally billed accounts.  These two methods are available to all travelers via Defense Travel System (DTS) or manually. How the travel processes through the system is the difference between the two methods. When processing an authorization via the DTS for a member that has a credit card the system will automatically default to the method of payment that is in accordance with the Department of Defense Financial Management Regulations Volume 9, Chapter 3.  With the credit card there are no advances, if the traveler does not have a credit card he can request an advance. The advance is then routed to his personal bank account via electronic funds transfer. This method of processing...

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»Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In November 2003 three ETS contracts were awarded in response to the President’s management agenda for E-Gov Travel: CW Government Travel’s E2 Solutions (a nongovernment website), EDS’s (a nongovernment website) and Northrop Grumman Mission System’s GovTrip (a nongovernment website). The advantages of the new E-Travel systems have been remarkable, with the consolidation of the payment process and the reservation modules, this has minimized the technology costs to the government and guaranteed better service and updates.  The productivity of employees travel documents have been improved, from travel planning to reimbursement and as well as with the cost estimating capabilities on budget planning.  Travel authorizations have...

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Government Lodging Policy

»Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

 When I first walked into my first position with the Department of State (DOS), I was asked to spend one week, working closely with the employees in the DOS, Regulations Division.  I was amazed to learn that the policy is the law that governs the entire program and with this, travel would be completely out of control and abused.  This sparked my interest to work closely with those who are responsible for establishing, revising and writing policy pertaining to travel.  I have decided five years later, after receiving much training that my career would focus directly for writing travel policy for federal agencies. Lodging can be an area that is easily be abused as well as placing federal government in danger, if the law does not address what the employee can...

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CGTP History

»Posted by on Sep 14, 2014 in History and Overview | 0 comments

When I was in school, I found history boring.  Memorizing names and dates of events seemed pointless.  This carried into my adult life and I gave history (whether of the U.S., the world or even the Universe) very little mindshare.  Recently, however, and possibly due to my “advancing years”, I’ve developed a keen interest in understanding how things have come to be as they are so that I can conjure how I/we can get them to be how I/we want them to be.  I find myself drawn to The History Channel on TV and am now listening to the audio book, “John Adams” by David McCoullough, on my way to and from work.  I find it highly educational, informative and entertaining and it gives me a much better context in which to view the world as I currently perceive...

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ETS and the TMC

»Posted by on Sep 11, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

To be a viable Travel Management Company contractor for the federal government a TMC must understand the impact ETS has on it government clients, as well as the relationship it needs with ETS vendors.  The projection in the early stages of the ETS development and its capabilities suggested this technology would replace the TMC and the need for contracts to secure their services.  Understanding the complex requirements of government travel and its special needs ultimately positioned the TMC for a long viable relationship due to the services it can provide.  Federal agencies have the option of selecting their own TMC through GSA Travel Services Solutions schedule or through their own contracting vehicles. This requires TMCs to be an imbedded partner or...

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E-gov Travel Simplifies Travel Voucher Processing

»Posted by on Sep 9, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Payment Methods | 0 comments

Implementation of E-Gov Travel simplifies the voucher processing.  When I began my career in administrative accounting 19 years ago, our agency used the paper-based system for processing travel reimbursements.  A traveler submitted a manually prepared travel voucher with original receipts to his/her approving official.  The voucher and receipts arrived at the administrative office for payment by internal mail or hand delivery.  Prior to issuing a reimbursement to the traveler, the administrative office reviewed the voucher and receipts.  Every detail of the trip was analyzed for compliance to the Federal Travel Regulations and any pertinent accounting regulations to assure the claim for reimbursement was proper and valid for payment.  Upon validation of the...

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Because We Need Them

»Posted by on Sep 7, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

Our government agency processes payments for several customers.  Therefore, it is common for us to receive a telephone call regarding a travel reimbursement.  We can issue reimbursements in four ways: electronic funds transfer (EFT), individually billed accounts (IBA), centrally billed accounts (CBA) and checks.  The flexibility is necessary to accommodate different travel situations. The following three scenarios show three travelers going on the same trip.  All of the travelers need a flight on Tuesday from Washington, DC to Atlanta, GA for a three day conference.  Each traveler will take a taxi to and from the airport and stay in the same Atlanta hotel, but their method of reimbursement will be different. Traveler 1 will start to work at his government...

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»Posted by on Sep 7, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Hotels, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Finding hotels that meet government standards and the travelers’ needs has historically been a tedious process for travelers and document preparers alike. Numerous searches would be made to find and compare hotels that were in compliance with per diem rates and travel regulations. In 2004 the General Services Administration (GSA) partnered with Carlson Wagonlit’s Hotel Solutions Group to redesign the government’s lodging program. The program has undergone several significant changes–one of the most obvious is the transition from the legacy program’s name, Federal Premier Lodging Program (FPLP), to the new program name, FedRooms. Additionally, the number of participating properties in the FedRooms program has increased from just over 600 in 2004 to...

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SmartPay 2 Transition

»Posted by on Sep 5, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

by Cindy Moore The new SmartPay 2 contract was effective November 30, 2008.  Our agency was very much involved in the travel credit card transition.  All card holders were issued new cards under a SmartPay Master Contract administered by the General Services Administration. As a Government travel card holder, I was kept informed of the changes as they occurred in this transition.  Our agency services many other government entities.  Therefore, it was our responsibility to keep them informed of the changes as well.  Guidance was sent to them outlining the changes along with the following step-by-step instructions: The current SP 1 contract expires at 11:59 p.m. on November 29, 2008, at which time the current travel charge card will expire regardless of the...

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Consistent Resources

»Posted by on Sep 5, 2014 in Industry Postings, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

While the course materials state “It is reassuring, especially when implementing new systems, that a virtually unlimited supply of information is available electronically,” the quality of multiple resources that might overlap in purpose can cause more confusion than clarity if the messages provided conflict, or even if they simply provide the same information using different language. Undoubtedly, intentional obfuscation is not the desire of any program attempting to increase the numbers of people and agencies adopting it. But relying on a variety of involved parties to be responsible for creating and disseminating information pertinent to their respective roles in the travel/purchasing process lends itself to potential misunderstanding. What sources are the...

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TMC/Electronic Travel Systems

»Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In the beginning of my career in travel, I can remember serving as a travel agent; part of the Delta Airlines family, wearing my blue uniform vest and skirt, with every pin from every place all of my travelers are officially went to.  The days of TMC’s are fading however; you were very quickly spotted in a federal agency by the clothes you wore, and by standing behind the large counters, providing face to face customer service to all of the agency employees.  I am very much on board for moving forward to a more automated process, but you tend to lose the level of customer service when every step is replaced by a computer.  I would rather pick up a phone and talk to a travel agent, especially in booking my official travel.  Not all travelers are experienced...

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First and Business Class Flights

»Posted by on Sep 3, 2014 in Airlines, Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In September of 2007, GAO report GAO-07-1268 found that 67 percent of all first and business class flights by Government employees were not properly justified or authorized. This was somewhat surprising to me as I thought it well known to most employees that first class and business travel are not permitted except in very limited circumstances. The Code of Federal Regulations, at 41 C.F.R § 301-10.123 states as follows: § 301-10.123 When may I use first-class airline accommodations? You may use first-class airline accommodations only when your agency specifically authorizes/approves your use of such accommodations, for the reasons given under paragraphs (a) through (d) of this section. (a)  No coach or business-class accommodations are reasonably available....

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The Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990

»Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Business Practices, Hotels, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Public Law 101-391, also known as The Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act, requires federal employees to stay in fire-safe lodging facilities.  This is an Act of Congress that was signed by President George H. W. Bush on September 25, 1990.  The main purpose of this Act is to save lives. To be considered fire-safe, lodging facilities must have: hard-wired, single-station smoke detectors in each guestroom in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard 72; and an automatic sprinkler system, with a sprinkler head in each guest room in compliance with NFPA standards 13 or 13R. Properties three stories or lower in height are exempt from the sprinkler requirement. Over 400 Americans died in hotel fires in the 1970s and 1980s.  Later...

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Communication During A System Migration

»Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

A high level of communication is needed for a smooth transition from a traditional Travel Management Center (TMC) environment to an Electronic Travel System (ETS) environment.  People can be very reluctant to change, especially when they’ve used certain processes to complete travel over several years.  There’s usually a bit of anxiety, especially on the part of the traveler.  ETS systems put more of the process in the traveler’s (or travel preparer’s) hands.  While it is a faster process with so many things automated, I’ve seen many travelers who were more comfortable with a manual process of writing up their travel authorization, getting written approval from their manager, and then having their TMC issue the tickets.  Using an ETS system can seem...

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Updating System Information

»Posted by on Sep 1, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

My agency provides administrative services (i.e. accounting, human resources, procurement and travel) to other government agencies. I work in the Systems and Accounting Section of the Travel Branch.  Our agency uses an E-Gov travel system in order to process authorizations and vouchers for travelers. We have some system administration rights in the E-Gov travel system, which allows us to enter/update the data. It is very important to keep the data in the system up-to-date.  The system will perform better, if only the most current data is in the system.  I believe some agencies do not give any attention to the information after it has been entered into the system. A year ago, the owners of the E-Gov system made a request to all the agencies to review the...

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CPP Reviewed

»Posted by on Aug 31, 2014 in Airlines, Contracting for Travel Services, Industry Postings, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

The City Pair Program began in 1980, growing from 11 airport/city pair markets with awards of $1.3 million to 4900 pairs with awards estimated at over $2.89 billion. GSAs Airline City Pair Program, (last visited March 31, 2012). “[The] program is for scheduled certificated U.S. airlines to provide passenger transportation services, governmentwide, for approximately 6000 domestic or international airport and City Pairs.” Id. The City Pair Program is touted as being a highly successful venture for both the federal government and participating airline carriers. Id. The CGTP Training Course book also praises the City Pair Program and states that “[t]he government benefits from lower rates, no restrictions and available...

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Code Share FAQ’s

»Posted by on Aug 30, 2014 in Global Distribution Systems | 0 comments

The implementation of our E Travel System brought about new challenges in understanding the travel industry. One of the first airline practices that we had to identify and share with our travelers was the practice of code sharing. The following is the guidance we created from the list of frequently asked questions we received on our customer service help desk. What is Code sharing? A code share is an agreement between airlines that allows the sale of seats by a partner airline on another airline’s flight as if the flight were its own.  Code shares can provide a cost-effective way for a carrier to enter new markets by using the facilities and operations of a partner carrier. This can be misleading for travelers who believe they have purchased a ticket on...

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The Responsibility of a Cardholder

»Posted by on Aug 30, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

As the holder of an individually billed government travel charge card (IBA), it is the responsibility of the cardholder to reconcile the account.  When a government employee travels on official government business, their transportation and lodging costs along with the Travel Management Center/Commercial Travel Office (TMC/CTO) booking fee will be charged to their IBA.  Other items such as meals, parking, tolls, excessive baggage, rental car, and  gasoline for the rental car may also be charged to the IBA.  An important thing to remember is to keep all the receipts for charges made during the trip; it will aid in the reconciliation process.  The IBA is to be used for official TDY travel only.  Once a traveler returns to their residence/duty station, there...

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Questions About the SmartPay 2 Travel Card

»Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

I’m sure that there are many questions about the use or abuse of the Government SmartPay 2 travel card, and I will try to explain a few of the issues I have encountered in my Government travel experience. One question is in regards to the type of travel card an agency chooses to use.  My agency has chosen an individually billed travel card that travelers use to pay for hotels, rental cars, and other travel expenses.  Airline tickets are generally charged to my agency’s centrally-billed account.  I wonder, though, why my agency has not chosen a travel card where the lodging is directly billed to the Government.  As an agency, we could save a lot of money because a number of localities waive lodging taxes when the lodging costs are billed directly to the...

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Guidelines for the Evaluation Process of the Three E Gov Travel Systems

»Posted by on Aug 28, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Our agency used the following document as a guideline for the evaluation process of the three E Gov Travel systems: This document contains functionality and tasks, which were demonstrated during the vendor presentation.  The document was used to rate the E Gov Travel system.  Some items were rated while others were for information or clarification purposes.  The document contains various sections and tasks within the sections to be performed.  If the order of the tasks was not logical to the E Gov Travel system, the vendor was asked to supply a document referencing the item numbers in the order demonstrated to allow rating officials to follow along.   Prior to the Demonstration Set up e-mail accounts, which will be accessible during the demo to look at...

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Federal Travel Regulations

»Posted by on Aug 26, 2014 in Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Policies and procedures set forth in the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) insure accountability of taxpayer’s money. The Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) is contained in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) chapters 300-304.  The purpose of the FTR is to interpret policy requirements to insure that official travel is conducted in a responsible, most cost effective manner.  It also strives to communicate the policies in a clear manner to Federal agencies and employees. The FTR sets forth the rules and regulations applicable to employees traveling on behalf of the U.S. Government.  It administers the laws governing travel allowances and entitlements for Federal employees.  The FTR contains information on mode of transportation, per diem, and miscellaneous...

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Roles and Responsibilities in Travel Management

»Posted by on Aug 25, 2014 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Not long after graduating college, I became a travel specialist. At the time I saw it as just a stepping stone to my career that would eventually lead me to a job more closely related to my major.  I now realize that when I started I had no idea how large the travel field was, and all of the parts involved.  I thought it was simply learning how to use the ETS system and being able to read a few regulations, with no regards to the other pieces involved.  It takes a great deal of cooperation from a number of individuals, teams and offices to effectively manage a Government travel management program.  These different components work together in varying degrees.  Some may not work directly at all, yet they indirectly have an affect on the work of others.  These...

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Federal Government Car Rental Programs

»Posted by on Aug 23, 2014 in Rental Cars | 0 comments

There are many government and military car rental programs offered to federal government employees for business and pleasure travel. These programs offer many benefits and savings.  There are approximately 5000 car rental locations. Be sure to check with your rental company to determine if they charge by calendar day or a 24-hour day.  This can make a big difference in your overall total.  Airport fees can add a lot to your rental rate.  If you are flexible, check the rates at various locations throughout the city. The car rental agreements between the federal government and the car rental companies include many benefits that are not available to the general public. Many times if you book in advance or travel during off-peak times, you can get a cheaper...

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Travel Transaction Fees

»Posted by on Aug 23, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Domestic or international, request assistance or book on-line are all factors of how much a traveler will be charged for their government travel reservations. Government travelers are still struggling with the different fees that appear on their travel documents. First there are the Travel Management (TMC) fees. The TMC fee is charged at the time the ticket is issued for airfare and when the hotel reservation is booked. The rate of the fee is based upon the service that is provided to the traveler. The TMC fee is significantly lower if the traveler books reservations on-line rather than calling an agent for traditional service. Also the fee for international reservations is higher when the traveler requests assistance due to the complexity of the travel. The...

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