Planning a Government Business Trip

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» Posted by on Dec 15, 2013 in Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Industry Postings, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources, White Papers | 0 comments

Government travelers within my agency are required to use an electronic travel system to book business trips. The first step a traveler must take after being hired into a position with the government is to provide their direct deposit banking information to the office that will be issuing their travel payments. If required by the agency, the traveler should apply for their government issued credit card before traveling. This information is stored in the traveler’s profile and his/her travel reservations, along with some other expenses, will automatically be charged to their government issued credit card.
Based on the automated travel system my agency uses, the first step is to gain access to the travel system by a one-time registration process. A first time user must supply the required information needed to set up their profile and then submit the form electronically. After all requirements are met, the traveler will then be able to access the system by using their unique ID and password.

Before leaving on the business trip, the traveler must create an authorization in the travel system. The authorization is a document in which the traveler enters the dates of travel, trip purpose, and temporary duty location (TDY). This completes the basic itinerary information. Next, the traveler selects their reservations for air, lodging, and/or car rental. The system uses the global distribution system (GDS) when searching for available reservations from which the traveler chooses.

The per diem entitlements automatically populate into the authorization based on the TDY location selected in the itinerary section. On this page and in other areas of the document, the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) are built into the system so the traveler is following the travel guidelines that apply to a government traveler. For instance, the traveler is entitled to a certain amount for meals and incidentals. This amount is also automatically populated (based on the TDY location) so the traveler knows what to expect the allowable amount will be for each day. While the traveler is at the location, they are entitled to a full day of the allowable amount for that location but on the first and last days of travel, they receive 75% of the allowable amount.

The traveler would then enter any estimated expenses they may incur while on the trip, such as, lodging taxes, parking, taxi, or excess baggage, just to name a few. If the traveler is using their privately owned vehicle for the trip or to drive to the airport, they would select mileage expenses as well.

The traveler will then select an accounting code so the trip can be charged to a specific office budget.

The traveler should then preview all the information entered into the system to ensure they have included everything before electronically submitting the information for approval. After the document has been approved, it is then ready to be interfaced into the accounting system. When the interface process is complete, the funds are officially obligated for the trip.

Upon the traveler’s return to the office, they should complete and sign their voucher within five business days. First, a voucher is created and all of the information contained in the authorization is automatically populated into the voucher. The traveler then updates the expenses in the voucher to match the receipts for the expenses incurred on the business trip. Any required receipts must be attached to the voucher by either faxing or scanning them into the document. It is required that the hotel receipt be attached and the receipts of any single expense over $75.00. Agency policy may also require common carrier transportation receipts. On the payment totals screen in the voucher, the traveler can send an additional amount to their government credit card. For instance, if a meal was charged to the credit card while on travel, that amount would be entered on the payment totals screen and the amount to the credit card increased and the amount to the traveler reduced. After reviewing the voucher for accuracy, the traveler electronically signs the document to be routed for approval. After the document is approved by their approving official, it is then electronically sent to our office the next day for payment processing. For the expenses that are to be reimbursed to the traveler directly, the payment is deposited to the traveler’s personal bank account. The payment is normally credited to their account within three to five business days. Any reimbursement that was designated to the traveler’s credit card will be sent directly to the credit card company on behalf of the traveler.

By: Cindy Pomrenke

The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency

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