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Our division as well as many others, has developed a simple sampling (audit) plan for conducting quality control reviews in compliance with the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR), the ARC Travel Program Guide, and Government Accountability Office (GAO) Guidelines. The main objective is to ensure travel and travel payments are in compliance as determined by the FTR. Our staff will complete a Travel Voucher Statistical Sampling Checklist on each document selected for audit.
At the beginning of each month a random selection of documents is made from vouchers paid the previous month. The Travel Voucher Statistical Sampling Checklist comprised of multiple tests per document is conducted on each randomly selected document. The Statistical Checklist is comprised of questions such as: Were required receipts provided? Was ticketed transportation claimed properly? Was City Pair Fare used? Was M&IE claimed correctly? Was voucher properly routed and signed by the traveler and authorized official(s)? Justification for actual expense? Justification for non-contract carrier?
Once the audits have been reviewed for errors, an evaluation of the sampling results is made and documented. Errors discovered during the audit process are communicated to the traveler as well as the appropriate contact at each agency for resolution. Notices of over-payments or underpayments are made to the travelers upon agency approval. Periodically reports are comprised of the results and sent to the agencies for review.
Analyzing the results from the audits may indicate additional training is needed for certain agencies, or a need to develop an individual training plan, and/or establish a separate sampling population for an agency in order to identify problem areas, also to evaluate and test travel and/or accounting systems to ensure all components are working properly. Auditing a sample of travel vouchers on a monthly basis enables us to maintain reasonable assurance that travel is made in accordance with FTR.
In order to complete a travel voucher audit many resources are available and used. The E-Gov Travel System and our accounting systems are our primary sources for retrieving the documentation reviewed in the audits. The E-Gov system houses all information pertaining to the travel document as well as the required receipts. We compare the information in the two systems to ensure accuracy and authenticity.
Many internet sources are available, such as GSA’s (U.S. General Services Administration) Airline City Pairs site, which assists in the determination of city pair flights, this is a key item focused on during an audit to ensure the traveler is following government guidelines when booking their airfare. Free Translation.com is another website which assists in translating foreign receipts in a document to English to determine the type of expense shown on a receipt or type of receipt. Oanda.com assists with converting foreign currency into US Dollars to confirm the accuracy of expenses claimed. Also Sabre’s Virtuallythere.com website gives us access to the traveler’s information such as airfare receipts and reservations.
Foreign travel can sometimes increase the complexity of an audit due to the traveler often traveling to multiple foreign destinations within one document, or crossing the international dateline. When auditing these documents the focus is increased when you have multiple currency conversions as well as ensuring the traveler changed their per diem location for each destination within the document. Many times you have several different currencies to convert for one travel document.
In auditing numerous government travel documents, I’ve seen a lot of common errors among travelers. My suggestions to travelers would be to be prudent, keep good documentation and receipts for each trip, voucher timely while the information is still fresh, also to enter comments in the document, especially if there is anything in the trip that is unusual. For instance, if you are staying with relatives and not claiming lodging, put comments in the voucher. Once receipts are uploaded into the E-Gov travel system I would suggest they view the receipts to ensure they are attached and are legible. I would also suggest that when travelers’ are entering their document into the travel system and are confused or have questions, to please call the E-Gov Travel Systems Help Desk. Most E-Gov Travel Help Desks are equipped with trained knowledgeable and helpful staff. It is better for a document to be entered correctly into the travel system, than to have to contact the traveler to retrieve pertinent information or receipts at a later date. As for approving officials, I would strongly suggest approving officials review the traveler’s document prior to approval, look for required receipts, verify actuals for lodging is claimed properly, and adequate comments added when necessary.
The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency.