Barry McVay's FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH
DATE: April 21, 2000
FROM: Barry McVay, CPCM
SUBJECT: Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) Amendment 92; Mandatory Use of the Travel Charge Card
SOURCE: Federal Register, April 21, 2000, Vol. 65, No. 78, page 21365
AGENCIES: Office of Governmentwide Policy; General Services Administration (GSA)
ACTION: Final Rule
SYNOPSIS: GSA is amending FTR Amendment 90 concerning payment by the government of expenses connected with official government travel, particularly regarding relocation expenses and the amount of time agencies are permitted to review travel claims. This final rule further implements the requirements of the Travel and Transportation Reform Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-264).
EDITOR'S NOTE: The FTR is Chapters 300 through 304 of Title 41 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This final rule revises Chapter 301, Temporary Duty (TDY) Travel Allowances.
See the January 19, 2000, FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH "Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) Amendment 90; Mandatory Use of the Travel Charge Card" for more on the travel charge card regulations.
Also, see the March 30, 2000, FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH "Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) Amendment 90; Mandatory Use of the Travel Charge Card," for more on the postponement until May 1, 2000, of the mandatory use date.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This final rule is effective April 21, 2000, and will apply to the payment of expenses incurred during official government travel performed on or after May 1, 2000.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Harte, Office of Governmentwide Policy, Travel and Transportation Management Policy Division, 202-501-1538.
SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION: In Public Law 105-264, paragraph (a) of Section 2, Requiring Use of the Travel Charge Card, requires the Administrator of General Services to issue regulations requiring "federal employees [to] use the travel charge card established pursuant to the United States Travel and Transportation Payment and Expense Control System, or any federal contractor-issued travel charge card, for all payments of expenses of official government travel."
On July 16, 1999, GSA issued an interim rule which amended the FTR to implement this requirement, applicable to all travel performed after January 1, 2000, and requested comments. Based on the comments received, GSA finalized the interim rule on January 19, 2000, and extended the date for mandatory use until after February 29, 2000. However, many agencies sought further extensions to this date, primarily because they now rely on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software to manage their travel functions, and the commercial software manufacturers could not (or did not) update the software in time to meet the February 29, 2000, date. Therefore, GSA decided to grant all agencies an extension until May 1, 2000.
GSA has further analyzed the final rule and decided to make some additional changes:
- Since relocation expenses (excluding en route travel and househunting expenses) are not technically "travel" expenses, GSA has decided that they are not covered by Public Law 105-264. So GSA has added to FTR 301-51.2, What official travel expenses and/or classes of employees are exempt from the mandatory use of the Government contractor-issued travel charge card?, paragraph (l), which states, "Relocation allowances prescribed in Chapter 302 of this title, except en-route travel and househunting trip expenses." Also, a note is added to FTR 301-70.704, What expenses and/or classes of employees are exempt from the mandatory use of the Government contractor-issued travel charge card?, which states, "Relocation allowances prescribed in Chapter 302 of this title, except en-route travel and househunting trip expenses are not covered by this requirement."
(EDITOR'S NOTE: FTR 301-51, Paying Travel Expenses, and FTR 301-70, Internal Policy and Procedure Requirements, Subpart H, Policies and Procedures Relating to Mandatory Use of the Government Contractor-Issued Travel Charge Card for Official Travel, are mirror images of each other -- FTR 301-51 from the traveller's point of view; FTR 301-70 from the agency's. For example, FTR 301-70.704, What expenses and/or classes of employees are exempt from the mandatory use of the Government contractor-issued travel charge card?, has the same note added to it that is added to FTR 301-70.704. The remaining changes will address the "traveller's" portion of the FTR, followed in parentheses by the corresponding FTR section that is changed to addresses the "agency's" responsibilities and requirements.)
- FTR 301-52.17, Within how many calendar days after I submit a proper travel claim must my agency reimburse my allowable expenses?, had established 30 calendar days as the limit. This final rule exempts the following relocation expenses from the requirements of this section because they are not travel expenses: "(a) transportation and storage of household goods and professional books, papers and equipment; (b) transportation of mobile home; (c) transportation of a privately owned vehicle; (d) temporary quarters subsistence expense, when not paid as lump sum; (e) residence transaction expenses; (f) relocation income tax allowance; (g) use of a relocation services company; (h) home marketing incentive payments; and (i) allowance for property management services." (FTR 301-71.204, Within how many calendar days after the submission of a proper travel claim must we reimburse the employee's allowable expenses?)
- FTR 301-52.18, Within how many calendar days after I submit a travel voucher must my agency notify me of any error that would prevent payment within 30 calendar days after submission?, had established a seven calendar-day limit. This final rule changes that to "as soon as practicable after you submit your travel claim...however, not later than May 1, 2002, agencies must achieve a maximum time period of seven working days for notifying you that your travel claim is not proper." (FTR 301-71.208, Within how many calendar days after submission of a proper travel claim must we notify the employee of any errors in the claim?)
- FTR 301-52.20, How are late payment fees calculated?, had required the use of the Prompt Payment Act interest rate plus the late payment charge that the card contractor would have charged had the traveller not paid the bill. This final rule permits the agency to use either the Prompt Payment Act interest rate or "a flat fee of not less than the prompt payment amount, based on an agencywide average of travel claim payments." (FTR 301-71.210, How do we calculate late payment fees?)
- For undisputed delinquent amounts, FTR 301-54.102, What is the maximum amount my agency may deduct from my disposable pay?, permits 15% of disposable pay. FTR 301-54.2, What is disposable pay?, defined disposable pay as "Your compensation remaining after the deduction from your earnings of any amounts required by law to be withheld. These deductions do not include discretionary deductions such as health insurance, savings bonds, charitable contributions, etc." This final rule deletes "health insurance" from the list of "discretionary deductions." (FTR 301-76.2, What is disposable pay?)
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Barry McVay at 703-451-5953 or by e-mail to BarryMcVay@FedGovContracts.com.
Copyright 2000 by Panoptic Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.
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