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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

U.S. Geological Survey Instructional Memorandum

No.: APS 2009-02

Issuance Date: October 29, 2008

Expiration Date:  Retain Until Superseded

Subject: First Class and Business Class Travel

1.  Purpose. This Instructional Memorandum replaces Instructional Memorandum No. APS 2008-02 and provides additional clarification and guidance for use of premium-class accommodations 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: Survey Manual Chapter (SM) 340.1.2 - Authority for Travel; SM 205.2 – Travel Delegations; Department of Interior (DOI) Financial Administration Memorandum (FAM) No. 2007-019 (II.G.1) and DOI FAM No. 2008-003 (II.G.1); DOI Departmental Manual (DM) Chapter 205 DM 15; Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) 301-10.23; FTR 301-10.121; and FTR 301-10.124.

3.  Procedures:  Class of Service Authorized--Common Carrier.

A.  General Policy. It is the policy of the USGS that tourist or coach accommodations shall be used for all modes of passenger transportation except as outlined below and shall apply to both domestic and international travel by USGS employees while on official business. Any utilization of premium-class airline accommodations (i.e., first and business class) must have prior approval, regardless of funding source.

B.  Air Travel.

(1)  The use of air accommodations exceeding tourist or coach class (i.e., first and business class) for transportation on official business will be restricted to an absolute minimum. 

(2)  Requests to use first-class air accommodations can only be approved by the Assistant Secretary--Policy, Management, and Budget.  Requests should be submitted, on a trip-by-trip temporary duty travel (TDT) authorization, by the Director, through the Assistant Secretary--Water and Science; through the DOI Director, Office of Financial Management; to the Assistant Secretary--Policy, Management and Budget; at least 15 calendar days prior to commencement of the trip. These requests must be routed through managerial channels, including the appropriate Associate Director or Regional Director, through the Associate Director for Administrative Policy and Services, to the Director.

a)  After-the-fact approval will not be granted unless first-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 first- and business-class air accommodations if the required approval is not obtained.

(b)  Requests for approval are not required when regularly scheduled flights between the authorized origin and destination points (including connection points) provide only first- and business-class accommodations. The employee must include a certification on the voucher that only premium-class accommodations are provided between these points [see 41 CFR 301-3.3(d) (3) (i)].

(3)  Requests to use business class must be approved by the USGS Associate Director for Administrative Policy and Services. 

(4)  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 for coach- or 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 and how a delay of the trip would endanger the mission. 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)  First- or business-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 in writing by competent medical authority.  Requests for approval based on physical handicap must be supported by a current statement by a competent medical authority.  Requests for approval of first-class accommodations based on disability should be submitted by the Director, through the Assistant Secretary--Water and Science; through the DOI Director, Office of Financial Management; through the DOI Occupational Health Program Manager, Office of Occupational Health and Safety; to the Assistant Secretary--Policy, Management and Budget; at least 15 calendar days prior to commencement of the trip. These requests must be routed through managerial channels, including the appropriate Associate Director and/or Regional Director, through the Associate Director for Administrative Policy and Services, to the Director. 

(c)  First- or business-class accommodations are required for security purposes or because exceptional circumstances make their use essential to the successful performance of a departmental mission.

(d)  Tourist- or coach-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 accommodation on a foreign carrier (see 41 CFR 301-3.6).

(e)  The use of first- or business-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.

(f)  First- or business-class accommodations are necessary because the origin and/or destination are outside the continental United States (OCONUS), and the scheduled flight time, including stopovers and change of planes, is in excess of 14 hours.  Even if a foreign travel routing requires a flight of 14 hours or more, the recommended practice is to authorize a rest stop en route or a rest period upon arrival at the duty site to avoid the increased expense of first- or business-class accommodations. 

(i)  When travel is direct between duty points which are separated by several time zones and at least one duty point is OCONUS, a rest period not to exceed 24 hours may be authorized or approved when air travel between the duty points is by less-than-premium-class accommodations and the scheduled flight time (including stopovers of less than 8 hours) exceeds 14 hours by a direct or usually traveled route. The rest stop may be authorized at any intermediate point, including points within the continental United States, provided the point is midway in the journey or as near to midway as requirements for use of U.S. flag air carriers and carrier scheduling permit.

(ii)  A rest stop shall not be authorized when an employee, for personal convenience, elects to travel by an indirect route resulting in excess travel time. The per diem rate for the rest stop shall be the rate applicable for the rest stop location.

(iii)  When carrier schedules or the requirements for use of U.S. flag air carriers preclude an intermediate rest stop, or a rest stop is not authorized, it is recommended that the employee be scheduled to arrive at the temporary duty point with sufficient time to allow a reasonable rest period before reporting for duty in lieu of authorizing premium class accommodations.

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. The traveler may upgrade to business class at their own expense, including through redemption of frequent flyer miles.  The excess costs of higher class airline accommodations procured for personal convenience will not be charged to or paid by the USGS.

(g)  First- or business-class travel for either temporary duty or permanent change of station travel will not be authorized when the employee is not required to report to duty the following day.

(5)  If first class is being requested based on a justifiable reason under FTR 301-10.123 or business class is being requested based on FTR 301-10.124, the detailed documented justification and request must be on a trip-by-trip TDT authorization.  Annual temporary duty limited or temporary duty unlimited authorizations may not be used.  Requests for approval 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- or tourist-class accommodations will be utilized.

(c)  Additional cost resulting from the difference between premium-class air accommodations and contract air accommodations (coach or 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- or tourist-class accommodations, including the name and phone number of the travel management center 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.

(g)  If the request is based on medical necessity, provide current medical documentation from the medical provider to support the request.  This certification must be updated annually, unless the physical impairment is a lifelong impairment.

           
___/s Karen D. Baker______________                    _____October 29, 2008___
Karen D. Baker                                                                       Date
Associate Director for Administrative Policy and Services


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