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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

U.S. Geological Survey Instructional Memorandum

No.: APS 2008-02

Issuance Date: February 5, 2008

Expiration Date:  Retain Until Superseded

Subject: First Class and Business Class Travel

1.  Purpose. This Instructional Memorandum provides instructions 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: Survey Manual Chapter (SM) 340.1.2 - Authority for Travel; SM 205.2 – Travel Delegations; Department of the Interior (DOI) Financial Administration Memorandum (FAM) No. 2007-019 (II.G.1); DOI Departmental Manual (DM) Chapter 205DM15; 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 less-than-premium-class accommodations shall be used for all modes of passenger transportation except as outlined 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 prior 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. 

(2)  Requests to use first class air accommodations can only be approved by the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget (PMB).  Requests should be submitted by the Bureau Director, through the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, through the DOI Director, Office of Financial Management, to the Assistant Secretary for PMB. Requests should be received by the Assistant Secretary for PMB no later than 15 calendar days prior to commencement of the travel.  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)]).

(3)  Requests to use business class must be approved by the USGS Associate Director for Administrative Policy and Services (APS).  Requests should be submitted by the Science Center manager/director and be approved by the Regional Executive as appropriate and routed through the applicable programmatic Associate Director or Regional Director, and should be received by the Associate Director for APS no later than 7 calendar days prior to commencement of the travel.

(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 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 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)  Premium class accommodations are necessary because the employee has a disability or is otherwise so physically impaired that other accommodations cannot be used, and such condition is substantiated in writing by competent medical authority. Requests for approval based on disability must be supported by a current statement from a competent medical authority. Such requests require approval by the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget.  These requests must be submitted by the Bureau Director through the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, through the DOI Director for the Office of Financial Management and through the DOI Occupational Health Program Manager, Office of Occupational Health and Safety.  Such requests should be received in by the Assistant Secretary for PMB at least 15 calendar days prior to commencement of the trip.

 (c)  Premium class accommodations are required for security purposes or because exceptional circumstances make the use essential to the successful performance of a departmental mission. first class requests for an exception based on security reasons should be submitted by the Bureau Director through the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, through the DOI Director, Office of Financial Management through the DOI Office of Enforcement and Security Management, to the Assistant Secretary for PMB. Such requests should be received in by the Assistant Secretary for PMB at least 15 calendar days prior to commencement of the trip.

 (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.

(f)  Premium class accommodations are necessary because the origin and/or destination are 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 business class accommodations. 

Requests for approval under the conditions described in (f) above will be kept to a minimum and must be fully justified.  The traveler’s personal preference is not a valid use of these conditions. The traveler may upgrade to business class at their own expense, including through redemption of frequent flyer miles.  The excess costs of premium class airline accommodations procured for personal convenience will not be charged to or paid by the USGS.

Premium 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 TDL or TDU 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/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 for Policy, Management and Budget.

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

           

/s/ Karen D. Baker______                     ___February 5, 2008__________________
       Karen D. Baker                                  Date
Associate Director for Administrative
     Policy and Services


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