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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

340.3 - Commercial Transportation


OPR: Admin/Financial Management

1. Purpose. This chapter sets forth the policies and procedures for the use of commercial transportation by United States Geological Survey (USGS) employees, or personnel serving the USGS, engaged in official business within or outside their assigned duty station.

2. Policy. SM 340.1.2

3. References. SM 340.1.3 and 340.2.3

4. Rental Conveyances.

A. Approval. The hire of boat, automobile, taxi-cab, aircraft, livery, or other conveyance will be allowed, if approved as advantageous to the Government, whenever the employee is engaged in official business within or outside the designated post of duty. The size of the rental car should be commensurate with the number of people who will be riding in it. Normally, a car classified as a compact is large enough to accommodate two travelers and their luggage. Rental of a luxury or sports car should be avoided unless fully justified.

B. Incidental Charges. If the hire of a special conveyance does not include costs of the incidental expenses of gas or oil, feeding and stabling horses, rental of garage, hanger, or boathouse, subsistence of operator, ferriage, tolls, etc., these costs should be initially paid by the person furnishing the accommodations, and subsequently, itemized in the bill.

C. Damage Waiver or Insurance Costs. Commercial vehicle rental contracts customarily include full insurance coverage for property damage or injury or death to third parties resulting from the rentee's use of the vehicle. Damage to the rented vehicle (collision damage), however, is often covered only above a deductible amount specified in the rental contract, the rentee being responsible for the cost of damage below that amount. When a traveler rents a vehicle from a company participating in the Military Traffic Management Command program (companies are listed in the Federal Travel Directory, issued monthly by the General Services Administration), the rental rate includes liability coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident and $25,000 property damage for each occurrence, as well as full comprehensive and collision coverage. Neither the Government nor its employees are liable for loss or damage to the vehicle, unless such loss or damage is caused by the willful and wanton negligence of the Government employee. When renting without a travel authorization or from companies not participating in the Military Traffic Management Command program, the additional insurance (collision damage waiver or collision damage insurance) is available in the rental contract for an extra fee.

(1) An employee may not be reimbursed for the cost of collision damage waiver or collision damage insurance when official travel in the rental vehicle is performed wholly within the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or a United States territory or possession. In the event of an accident while the rental vehicle is being used for official business, the USGS may pay the rental company for damage to the rented vehicle up to the deductible amount contained in the rental contract.

(2) An employee may be reimbursed for the cost of collision damage waiver or collision damage insurance when the vehicle is rented or leased for official travel in foreign areas.

(3) The cost of personal accident insurance is a personal expense and is not reimbursable.

D. Hire of Conveyance from Another Employee or Member of an Employee's Family. Charges for the hire of a conveyance of another Government employee, a member of the traveler's family or a member of the family of another Government employee will not be allowed without justification that the conveyance was not procured because of such personal or official relationship and that the member of the family who furnished this conveyance is not dependent upon the traveler for support. The material facts will be reported in the account.

E. Persons Traveling Together. When two or more persons travel together by means of a rented vehicle or special conveyance, that fact will be stated by each traveler on his travel voucher. Included should be the name and employing agency of the accompanying traveler.

5. Class of Service Authorized - Common Carrier.

A. General Policy. It is the policy of the Government that less-than-first-class accommodations shall be used for all modes of passenger transportation (except as outlined in paragraphs 5C and D, below). Common carrier accommodations shall be as specifically provided in 5B, C and D, below, and shall apply to both domestic and international travel of USGS employees while on official business. Any utilization of premium class airline accommodations must have approval, regardless of funding source.

B. Air Travel.

(1) The use of air accommodations exceeding tourist/coach class (i.e., business, executive or first class) for transportation on official business will be restricted to an absolute minimum. Approval of exceptions for use of higher class accommodations will not be granted unless the travel meets one or more of the following conditions:

(a) Space is not available in coach/ tourist class accommodations on any scheduled flight in time to accomplish the purpose of the official travel, which is so urgent that it cannot be postponed. An explanation is required as to why the matter is so urgent that it cannot be postponed. The explanation should also

explain when the travel requirement became known and when travel was scheduled, including reasons for any failure to make advance travel arrangements.

(b) Premium class accommodations are necessary because the employee is so handicapped or otherwise physically impaired that other accommodations cannot be used, and such condition is substantiated by competent medical authority. Requests for approval based on physical handicap must be supported by a current statement by a competent medical authority. These requests should be submitted to the Chief, Division of Medical and Health Services, Office of Personnel, DOI, for review and recommendation prior to submission to the Assistant Secretary--Policy, Management and Budget for approval.

(c) Premium class accommodations are required for security purposes or because exceptional circumstances make their use essential to the successful performance of a departmental mission. Requests for an exception based on security reasons should be forwarded through the Office of Enforcement and Security Management, DOI, for review and recommendation prior to submission to the Assistant Secretary--Policy, Management and Budget for approval.

(d) Less than premium class accommodations on foreign carriers do not provide adequate sanitation or health standards. The conditions justifying the use of a foreign carrier must be met before approval can be requested for use of a higher class of accommodations on a foreign carrier (see 41 CFR 301-3.6).

(e) The use of premium class accommodations would result in an overall savings to the Government based on economic considerations. This determination includes avoidance of additional subsistence costs (per diem), overtime, or lost productive time that would be incurred while awaiting availability of tourist class accommodations. The cost savings must be based on contract air service where available and travel by the most direct route.

Requests for approval under the above conditions will be kept to a minimum and must be fully justified. These conditions will not be to meet the personal preferences of the traveler. If the traveler prefers a higher class of accommodations, the excess cost over coach/tourist class accommodations via contract air must be paid by the traveler. The excess costs of premium class airline accommodations procured for personal convenience will not be charged to or paid by the USGS.

(2) Requests to use premium class air accommodations should be submitted by the Director, through the Assistant Secretary--Water and Science to the Assistant Secretary--Policy, Management and Budget. Requests for approval should be submitted to the Assistant Secretary--Policy, Management and Budget at least 15 calendar days prior to commencement of the trip. After the fact approval will not be granted unless premium class accommodations were the only accommodations available and the travel was urgent and under emergency conditions that precluded advance approval. The employee will be liable for all increased costs resulting from the use of premium class air accommodations if the required approval is not obtained. Requests for approval are not required when regularly scheduled flights between the authorized origin and destination points (including connection points) provide only premium class accommodations. (The employee must include a certification on the voucher that only premium class accommodations are provided between these points [41 CFR 301-3.3(d)(3)(i)]).

Requests for approval should be submitted in triplicate and should contain the following information:

(a) Name, grade and position or title of the employee for whom the use of the premium class air accommodation is requested.

(b) Origin, destination and date of each segment of travel including any segment where coach/tourist class accommodations will be utilized.

(c) Additional cost resulting from the difference between premium class air accommodation and contract air accommodations (coach/tourist accommodations if the segment of travel is not serviced by contract air).

(d) Explanation of circumstances justifying the use of premium class air accommodation. If a foreign air carrier is to be used, provide the name of the foreign carrier.

(e) Explanation of efforts taken to obtain coach/tourist class accommodations including the name and phone number of the travel management center (TMC) used.

(f) Name and address of the person to whom the request for approval is to be returned after action by the Assistant Secretary--Policy, Management and Budget.

C. Train Accommodations.

(1) Sleeping car accommodations. When overnight travel is involved, the lowest first-class sleeping accommodations available shall be allowed. Higher cost accommodations may be authorized upon certification that lowest first-class accommodations were not available. This certification must be signed by the official authorizing the travel. When practicable, through sleeping accommodations shall be obtained if they are more economical to the Government.

(2) Parlor car and reserved coach accommodations. When adequate reserved coach accommodations are available, officials authorizing travel shall require that those accommodations be used to the maximum extent possible. However, use of a parlor car seat may be allowed when the duration of the train travel exceeds 4 hours.

(3) Extra-fare trains. Travel by extra-fare trains may be authorized or approved whenever their use is administratively determined to be more advantageous to the Government or is required for reasons of security. The use of National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) Metroliner coach service is considered to be advantageous to the Government. (Note: Metroliner Club service is considered to be first-class service).

D. Steamer Accommodations. The minimum first-class accommodations will be allowed when a stateroom is included in the cost of passage or is a separate charge. Higher cost accommodations may be authorized upon certification that lowest first-class accommodations were not available. This certification must be signed by the official authorizing the travel. The travel authorization or other administrative determination may, however, specify the use of an accommodation less costly than the minimum first-class accommodations when suitable for a particular voyage. The term "minimum first- class accommodation" as used in this paragraph means one which provides direct access from within the stateroom to a washbasin, shower or bath, and toilet.

6. Special Fares.

A. Reduced Rates.

(1) Use of Special Lower Fares.

(a) Through-fares, special fares, commutation fares, excursion fares and reduced-rate round trip fares shall be used for official travel when it can be determined before the start of a trip that this type of service is practical and economical to the Government. Round trip tickets for special lower fares which are restricted or have specific eligibility requirements shall be secured only when, on the basis of the journey as planned, it is known or can be reasonably anticipated that these tickets will be used.

(b) When traveling between city/airport- pairs listed in the monthly Federal Travel Directory, contract air or rail service is mandatory. When there is more than one contract carrier between city-pairs, the carrier offering the lowest fare should be used. When a traveler has used air or rail service as a method of travel, the travel voucher must contain one of the following statements:

(i) Contract carrier used.

(ii) Contract carrier not used - justification attached (Form 9-2042, Justification for the Use of a Non- Contract Carrier) must be used. See Figure 1.

(iii) Contract carrier not available (travel was not between city-pairs).

(2) Reduced group or charter fares offered by travel agents.

(a) Reduced fares for group or charter arrangements available only through travel agents (other than contract travel management centers) may be used by individuals or a group of employees provided an administrative determination has been made by the traveler's office and approved by the Assistant Directorfor Administration, on a case-by-case basis before the travel, that use of the reduced group charter fares will result in a monetary savings to the Government and will not interfere with the conduct of official business. In such instances, if payment for transportation cannot be made to a carrier with a Government Transportation Request or Diners Club Government Charge Card, but must be made to the travel agent, the traveler shall pay for the transportation with cash (personal funds or travel advance) and shall obtain a receipt which shall be submitted with the travel voucher.

(b) Unequal Fares Available. When common carriers furnish the same method of travel at different fares between the same points for the same type of accommodations, the lowest cost service is used unless use of a higher cost service is administratively determined to be more advantageous to the Government.

B. Procedures for Processing Unused Tickets and Refund Vouchers.

(1) Travel Management Centers (TMC). Those offices using the services of a GSA contract travel agency should return the unused ticket or refund voucher to the TMC. Traveler's office should prepare a SF 1170 (Redemption of Unused Ticket), attach the unused ticket or refund voucher and submit to the TMC. A copy of each document should be submitted to the Office of Financial Management (OFM), Branch of Travel and Transportation. If the refund is not received within 30 days, OFM will initiate follow-up procedures. If an unused ticket is returned to the TMC in the same calendar week in which it was issued, it is not necessary to prepare the SF 1170.

(2) Airline Ticket Offices. Offices procuring tickets directly from an airline ticket office should return all unused tickets and refund vouchers to OFM, Branch of Travel and Transportation.

7. Traveler's Responsibility for Unused, Downgraded, Canceled, or Oversold Transportation Services.

A. Unused or Downgraded Tickets or Canceled Reservations. Travelers are required to follow the guidelines in 7A(1) and (2), below, in connection with unused passenger transportation services and accommodations:

(1) When a traveler knows that reservations for transportation and/or accommodations will not be used, he/she must cancel the reservations, either personally or through the appropriate office handling the travel arrangements, within the time limits specified by the carrier. Similarly, where the transportation furnished is different, or of a lesser value than that authorized on the ticket, or where a journey is terminated short of the destination specified on the transportation request, the Government is due a refund. The traveler will send a copy of the refund application to OFM. All adjustments in connection with unfurnished or unused passenger transportation must be promptly reported to prevent losses to the Government. Failure of travelers to follow these procedures may subject them to liability for any resulting losses.

(2) Travelers are not authorized, as provided in 41 CFR 101-41.209-2, to receive refunds, credits or any other negotiable documents from carriers for unfurnished services or unused tickets (or portions thereof) purchased with a Government Transportation Request or through the Diners Club Government Travel System. Instead, the traveler should request a receipt or ticket refund application or other written acknowledgement of fare adjustment from the carrier and furnish the carrier a "bill charges to" address of:

U.S. Geological Survey

Office of Financial Mgmt. MS 270

12201 Sunrise Valley Dr.

Reston, VA 20192

Factual information relating to unused passenger transportation must be attached to or entered on the travel voucher. In any case where itineraries are changed or trips are canceled after tickets have been issued to the traveler, a statement must be entered on the travel voucher, and initialed by the traveler, that all tickets have been either used for official purposes or all unused tickets, or portions thereof, have been properly accounted for (Paragraph 6B(1) and (2)).

B. Oversold Reserved Accommodations (denied boarding). Tariff provisions of certain scheduled air carriers require the payment of liquidated damages in certain situations if the carrier fails to provide confirmed reserved space. When payment of liquidated damages results from travel on official business, these penalty payments are due the Government and not the traveler. Any traveler who has been denied confirmed reserved space shall ensure that the carrier shows the "USGS" as payee on the compensation check.

C. Voluntary Vacating of Reserved Airline Accommodations. Airlines are required to ask for volunteers to give up their reserved seats before the airline denies boarding to any passenger with a reservation. Airlines are free to determine the amount to be paid to the volunteer. Employees who voluntarily give up their seats may retain these payments only under the following conditions: (1) Employees should not voluntarily give up their seats if it will interfere with the performance of official duties. (2) If an employee voluntarily gives up his/her reserved seat and, as a result, incurs additional travel expenses beyond those which he/she would have normally incurred, these additional expenses must be offset against the payment received by the employee. (3) If the employee's travel is delayed during official duty hours, the employee would be charged annual leave for the additional hours (see 59 Comptroller General 203). Airline payments to volunteers are distinguishable from denied boarding compensation (payments) under 7B, above, wherein penalty payments are due the Government.

8. Use of United States Flag Carriers.

A. Travel by United States Flag Ships. Section 901 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936 (46 U.S.C. 1241(a)) provides: "Any officer or employee of the United States traveling on official business overseas or to or from any of the possessions of the United States shall travel and transport his/her personal effects on ships registered under the laws of the United States where such ships are available unless the necessity of the mission requires the use of a ship under a foreign flag: Provided, that the Comptroller General of the United States shall not credit any allowance for travel or shipping expenses incurred on a foreign ship in the absence of satisfactory proof of the necessity thereof."

B. Use of United States Flag Air Carriers.

(1) Definitions. As used in this paragraph, the following definitions apply:

(a) The Fly America Act. The "Fly America Act" refers to provisions enacted by Section 5 of the International Air Transportation Fair Competitive Practices Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-623, January 3, 1975), 49 U.S.C. 1517, as amended by Section 21 of the International Air Transportation Competition Act of 1979 (Pub. L. 96-192, February 15, 1980), 94 Stat. 43.

(b) U.S. Flag Air Carrier. The term "U.S. flag air carrier" means an air carrier holding a certificate under Section 401 of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (49 U.S.C. 1371). Foreign air carriers operating under permit are excluded.

(c) United States. For purposes of this paragraph, "United States" means the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories and possessions of the United States (49 U.S.C. 1301(38)).

(d) Gateway Airport in the United States. A "gateway airport in the United States" means the last airport in the United States from which the traveler's flight departs or the first airport in the United States at which the traveler's flight arrives.

(e) Gateway Airport Abroad. A "gateway airport abroad" means the airport abroad from which the traveler last embarks enroute to the United States or at which the traveler first debarks incident to travel from the United States.

(2) General Requirements of the Fly America Act. The Fly America Act, 49 U.S.C. 1517, as implemented by the Comptroller General's guidelines, B-138942, March 31, 1981, requires Federal employees and their dependents, consultants, contractors, grantees, and others performing U.S. Government financed foreign air travel to travel by U.S. flag air carriers:

(a) Unless travel by foreign air carrier is a matter of necessity as defined in 8B(3), below.

(b) When U.S. flag carrier service is available within the guidelines in 8B(4) and (5), below.

(3) Necessity of Use of Foreign Air Carrier Service. Use of foreign air carrier service may be deemed necessary if a U.S. flag air carrier otherwise available cannot provide the air transportation needed, or use of U.S. flag air carrier service will not accomplish the agency's mission.

(4) Availability of U.S. Flag Air Carrier Service.

(a) General. U.S. flag air carrier service is available even though:

(i) Comparable or a different kind of service can be provided at less cost by a foreign air carrier.

(ii) Foreign air carrier service is preferred by or is more convenient for the USGS or the traveler.

(iii) Service by a foreign air carrier can be paid for in excess foreign currency, unless U.S. flag air carriers decline to accept excess or near excess foreign currencies for transportation payable only out of those monies.

(b) Scheduling Principles. In determining availability of U.S. flag air carrier services, the following scheduling principles should be followed unless their application results in the last or first leg of travel to and from the United States being performed by foreign air carrier:

(i) U.S. flag air carrier service available at point of origin should be used to destination or, in the absence of direct or through service, to the farthest interchange point on a usually traveled route.

(ii) Where an origin or interchange point is not served by U.S. flag air carrier, foreign air carrier service should be used only to the nearest interchange point on a usually traveled route to connect with U.S. flag air carrier service.

(iii) Where a U.S. flag air carrier involuntarily reroutes the traveler via a foreign carrier, the foreign air carrier may be used notwithstanding the availability of alternative U.S. flag air carrier service.

(5) Guidelines for Determining "Unavailability" of U.S. Flag Air Carrier Service.

(a) Travel To and From the United States. Passenger service by a U.S. flag air carrier will not be considered available when the travel is between a gateway airport in the United States and a gateway airport abroad and the gateway airport abroad is:

(i) The traveler's origin or destination airport, and the use of U.S. flag air carrier service would extend the time in a travel status, including delay at origin and accelerated arrival at destination, by at least 24 hours more than travel by foreign air carrier.

(ii) An interchange point, and the use of U.S. flag air carrier service would require the traveler to wait 6 hours or more to make connections at that point, or delayed departure from or accelerated arrival at the gateway airport in the United States would extend the time in a travel status by at least 6 hours more than travel by foreign air carrier.

(b) Travel Between Two Points Outside the United States. For travel between two points outside the United States, U.S. flag air carrier service will not be considered to be reasonably available:

(i) If travel by foreign air carrier would eliminate two or more aircraft changes enroute.

(ii) Where one of the two points abroad is the gateway airport enroute to or from the United States, if the use of a U.S. flag air carrier would extend the time in a travel status by at least 6 hours more than travel by foreign air carrier, including accelerated arrival at the overseas destination or delayed departure from the overseas origin as well as delay at the gateway airport or other interchange point abroad.

(iii) Where the travel is not part of a trip to or from the United States, if the use of a U.S. flag carrier would extend the time in a travel status by at least 6 hours more than traveled by foreign air carrier including delay at origin, delay enroute and accelerated arrival at destination.

(c) Short Distance Travel. For all short distance travel, regardless of origin and destination, U.S flag air carrier service will not be considered available when the elapsed travel time on a scheduled flight from origin to destination airport by foreign air carrier is 3 hours or less and service by U.S. flag air carrier involves twice the travel time.

(d) Travel Financed Solely with Excess Foreign Currencies. U.S. flag air carriers render themselves "unavailable" by declining to accept payment in foreign currencies for transportation services required by certain programs or activities of the Government which, under legislative authority are financed solely with excess foreign currencies which may not be converted to U.S. dollars. In these instances, and notwithstanding the provisions of 8B(4)(a)(iii), foreign flag air carriers that will accept the required foreign currency may be used to the extent necessary to accomplish the mission of the particular program or activity. The statement of justification required under 9A, below, must indicate that the transportation service needed can be paid for only in excess foreign currencies and that otherwise "available" U.S. flag air carriers declined to accept payment in the foreign currencies.

9. Use of Foreign Flag Air Carriers.

A. Authorization or Approval. Expenditures for commercial foreign air transportation on foreign air carrier(s) will be disallowed unless there is attached to the appropriate voucher a Form 9-2043, Justification For the Use of a Foreign Carrier (see figure 2), adequately explaining why service by U.S. flag air carrier(s) is not available, or why it was necessary to use a foreign air carrier (see paragraph 8B above). The use of foreign flag air carriers may be authorized or approved only when U.S. flag air carrier service is not available as determined under the guidelines in 8B or when foreign air carriers are used under the reciprocal terms of an appropriate bilateral or multilateral agreement as described in 9B, below, or when use of foreign carriers is necessary under 8B(2) and (3).

B. Air Transport Agreements. Nothing in the guidelines contained in 8B, above, shall preclude and no penalty shall attend the use of a foreign air carrier which provides transportation under an air transport agreement between the United States and a foreign government, the terms of which are consistent with the international aviation policy goals set forth at 49 U.S.C. 1502(b) and provide reciprocal rights and benefits.

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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
Contact: APS, Office of Policy and Analysis
Last modification: 08-Jan-2013@15:43 (kk)
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