The Travel Process

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» Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in Business Practices, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

The travel process can be a very complicated process without the proper training. The Bureau of the Public Debt offers training for all agencies in which we perform travel for. Many people are involved each time an individual goes on travel. Everyone involved has a specific duty to perform in order to make the travel process run smoothly. The following is the normal process an individual would follow when traveling for the government.

The first step of the travel process is being asked to perform travel. Whatever the need is for the travel, the authorization to travel must be approved by management. Once management has approved the need for travel, they may give specific limitations, exceptions, approvals that pertain to the travel at hand. This information will need to be input in the authorization.

The second step of the travel process is entering the authorization into the e-travel system used by the agency. The authorization can either be entered by the traveler or an assigned document preparer for the office. The authorization should be entered into the system before the individual departs for the travel. Of course, there can be exceptions to this rule as long as a verbal authorization has been given. At the time the authorization is being entered, reservations can be made online for hotel, airline, and rental car. An estimate of these expenses will be loaded into the e-travel system as well as any TMC fees that will be incurred. After the reservations have been selected, the individual will continue estimating any other travel expense they feel may occur during the trip. After all expenses have been entered into the authorization, an accounting code must be selected to show how the travel will be paid. Once all comments, expenses, and accounting has been added, the individual will need to electronically sign the authorization. This will start the routing process of the authorization and the reservations will be reserved. The authorization may route electronically through several individuals before it is approved by management within the e-travel system. Once approved, the authorization will load into the accounting system and the money will be assigned and obligated for this travel.

The third step of the travel process is vouchering for actual expenses. Once the travel is completed, the individual is to complete the voucher within five days if possible. All information entered on the authorization is copied directly into the voucher. The traveler will now update all estimated expenses from the authorization and input actual expenses incurred while on travel. If a certain expense is not needed, it is simply removed and any item not previously on the authorization can be added. It is recommended that the traveler look at the charge card statement online to see all charges placed on the charge card. That way, when the voucher is completed, the traveler can split disburse those expenses directly to the charge card provider and no check will need to be sent. It is imperative that the traveler review the voucher thoroughly to make sure that the expenses and the amounts claimed are truly what were incurred during the travel. Once all expenses have been claimed, the traveler will need to electronically sign the voucher.  This will start the routing process for the voucher. It may also go through many individuals before it is approved by management.  Once approved, the voucher will now be sent to the accounting group for processing into the accounting system.  Local vouchers can be entered into the e-travel system the same way a voucher can. Local vouchers do not require an authorization to be created first.

The final step of the travel process is processing the voucher into the accounting system. Once the accounting technicians receive the file from the e-travel vendor, they perform a data link which loads the information into the accounting system. Once in the accounting system, the technician must perform a validation process that ensures all information loaded correctly. Once the process has been completed, the voucher will be sent to a payment batch where the accountant will process and make the payment allocations. The accountant will send a portion of the payment directly to the charge card vendor via split disbursement and a portion directly to the traveler via direct deposit. This is allocated to how the payment was vouchered for in the e-travel system. Once the payment batch is processed, the payment should be received within 3-5 business days.

This completes the process. The process is not a difficult process if the proper training has been given before the travel begins. The main requirements are to know how to use the e-travel system to input the authorization and voucher and the Federal Travel Regulations to know what expenses can or cannot be claimed. Any questions on the process can be directed to the Travel Customer Service Helpdesk.

By: Linda Ruppel

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