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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

U.S. Geological Survey Instructional Memorandum

No. OFM 2000-05

Date: June 15, 2000

Subject: Mandatory Use of the Travel Charge Card, Late Payment of Travel Vouchers, and Collection of Delinquent Travel Accounts

What is covered in this Instructional Memorandum?

  1. Purpose of the Instructional Memorandum (IM)
  2. Effective Date
  3. Background
  4. Mandatory Use of the Travel Charge Card
    1. Employee's Responsibilities
    2. Supervisor/Approving Official's Responsibilities
  5. Late Payment of Travel Vouchers
    1. Employee's Responsibilities
    2. Supervisor/Approving Official's Responsibilities
    3. Other Involved Personnel's Responsibilities
  6. Charge Card Delinquencies
    1. Employee's Responsibilities
    2. Supervisor/Approving Official's Responsibilities
    3. Other Involved Personnel's Responsibilities
  7. Contacts

A. Why is this Instructional Memorandum being issued?

This IM describes procedures for travelers, their supervisors, and for personnel involved in reconciling accounts. This IM replaces IM No. OPS 2000-01.

B. When do these procedures take affect?

This IM is effective with all travel beginning after June 17, 2000.

C. What is the legal authority for this IM?

The Travel and Transportation Reform Act (Public Law 105-264) was passed on October 19, 1998. It applies to all types of temporary duty travel and the house hunting and en route portions of permanent change of station (PCS) travel. The provisions of the Act covered in this IM are:

  1. Mandatory use of the government issued travel charge card for official government travel.
  2. Payment of late fees to employees who are not promptly reimbursed for their travel expenses.
  3. New procedures associated with employees who are delinquent on their travel charge card accounts.

D. Mandatory Use of the Travel Charge Card

  1. Employee's Responsibilities:

    1. What are my responsibilities as a holder of the travel charge card regarding mandatory use of the card?

      • To obtain a travel charge card and use it.
      • To use the charge card for transportation tickets, lodging, and rental cars.
      • To use the charge card to the maximum extent possible for all other reimbursable travel expenses.
      • To certify on each travel voucher that you used the charge card to the maximum extent possible.

    2. Can I refuse to use my government issued travel charge card?

      Refusal to use the card is considered insubordination. Failure to use the card will result in supervisory counseling and may result in a series of disciplinary actions.

    3. Is any type of travel exempt from mandatory use of the charge card?

      Invitational travel and travel by new appointees are exempt from mandatory use of the travel charge card. In addition, if you have a charge card application pending you are also exempt from mandatory use until the card is received.

    4. What about foreign travel?

      Although the government issued travel charge card is not accepted in some foreign locations, foreign travel is not exempt from mandatory use. You must make reasonable attempts to use the travel charge card.

    5. Are any types of travel expenses exempt?

      If a vendor does not accept the travel charge card then its use is not required. In addition, expenses you incur with vendors that normally operate on a cash basis are also exempt. Examples include:

      • laundry and dry cleaning,
      • parking,
      • local transportation expenses, including taxis,
      • tips,
      • phone calls where the government phone card or credit card is not accepted, and
      • meals where use of the card is not practical, such as group meals or fast food restaurants.

    6. How can I request an exception to mandatory use of the travel charge card?

      Exemptions to mandatory use of the travel charge card will be rare and limited. To obtain an exemption you must justify the reasons for the requested exemption, have the justification approved by your supervisor and Regional/Assistant Director, and submit it to OFM who will forward it to the Assistant Secretary - Water and Science for his/her action. This is a lengthy and expensive process that will take several weeks to complete. You will be notified of acceptance/rejection of your exemption request by OFM.

    7. What if I need an exemption to mandatory use of the travel charge card after travel is complete?

      Your travel voucher will be processed normally and paid under the presumption that an exemption will be granted. It is unclear at this point what the consequences are if the exemption is not granted. This IM will be updated once this is known.

    8. What if I forget to use my travel charge card?

      Occasional non-use of the travel charge card is not a problem. The formal exemption procedures (above) were not intended for occasional non-use.

    9. What if I don't have a travel charge card?

      You should apply immediately. Charge cards can be delivered in 72 hours. Application procedures are at http://internal.usgs.gov/ops/acquisition/bcnewapp.html.

  2. Supervisor/Approving Official's Responsibilities:

    1. What are my responsibilities concerning mandatory use of the government issued travel charge card?

      • to ensure all employees who travel have a government issued travel charge card,
      • to ensure all employees use the government issued travel charge card as much as possible,
      • to decide if employee exemption requests are valid and should be forwarded for consideration.

    2. What are my responsibilities in reviewing travel vouchers for mandatory use of the charge card?

      You must review each travel voucher to ensure that the government issued travel charge card is used to the maximum extent possible. Your approval of the travel voucher signifies that you accept the employee's statement that the travel charge card was used to the maximum extent possible.

    3. What if I don't believe the travel charge card was used to the maximum extent possible?

      If you and the employee don't agree that the charge card was used to the maximum extent possible then you should have the employee initiate the exemption approval process. Also, make a notation to this affect on the travel voucher.

    4. What if an employee refuses to use the travel charge card?

      An employee who refuses to use the travel charge card is insubordinate and subject to disciplinary action. Consult your local personnel office for advice on disciplinary action.

    5. What if an employee forgot to use the travel charge card?

      If this is an isolated, infrequent lapse, then you should approve the travel voucher and make a notation on the voucher concerning this occasional non-use.

    6. What if an employee requests an exemption for non-use after the travel is completed?

      You should approve the travel voucher and make a notation on the voucher. The employee should initiate the exemption process explained in D.1.f.

E. Late Payment of Travel Vouchers

  1. Employee's Responsibilities:

    1. What are my responsibilities concerning timely submission of travel claims?

      • Submitting your travel voucher for approval within 5 workdays of completion of the travel, or every 30 days if in an extended temporary duty travel status.
      • Submitting your house hunting and en route PCS vouchers as each segment of the move is completed.
      • Signing and dating your travel voucher on the date you submit it to your supervisor or approving official.

    2. What if I don't submit my travel voucher within the required timeframes?

      Your travel claim will still be processed after your travel voucher has been submitted.

    3. What if my travel voucher is returned by my supervisor or approving official?

      You must resolve with your supervisor/approving official any concerns with the travel claim and resubmit, sign, and date the claim.

    4. What happens if I am not reimbursed for my travel expenses within 30 days?

      You are entitled to a late payment fee if you are not reimbursed within 30 calendar days of your supervisor/approving official's approval of the travel voucher. If you are not reimbursed within 120 calendar days you are also entitled to an additional late payment penalty fee.

    5. How are the late payment fees calculated?

      • Late payment fees will be calculated from 30 days after your travel claim is approved.
      • The late payment fee is based on the following payment table developed by the Department. It includes an additional cumulative $20 late payment penalty fee at 30 day intervals beginning with the 121st day. Both fees will be reimbursed to you separately from the travel voucher reimbursement.

      Amount of Claim 30-60 61-90 91-120 121-150 151-180 181-210 Greater Than 210
      $1 - 500 $5 $10 $15 $40 $65 $90 $115
      $500.01 $10 $20 $30 $60 $90 $120 $150

    6. What is the basis for the late payment fee?

      The late payment fee ordinarily will be based on the "net to traveler" line of the travel voucher. It will not be based on centrally billed items (e.g., transportation tickets or rental cars). For PCS vouchers the basis for computing the late payment fee will be your net claims for advance househunting trips and enroute travel.

    7. How will the late payment fees be treated for income tax purposes?

      The late payment fee is considered interest income and will be reported to you and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Form 1099 if it exceeds $600 a year. The additional late payment penalty fee (the $20 fees) is considered wages and will be included in your income reported to you and the IRS on Form W-2. If you receive either fee you should report it on your income tax returns.

  2. Supervisor/Approving Official's Responsibilities:

    1. What are my responsibilities for timely approval of travel vouchers?

      • Reviewing the travel claim to ensure that the travel was properly authorized, the amounts claimed are reasonable, and the voucher package is complete.
      • Returning the travel claim to the employee as soon as possible, but within 7 calendar days, if there is anything improper with the travel claim.
      • Approving valid travel claims as promptly as possible.
      • Noting the date you received the voucher if different than the date you approved it.
      • Note: you are not responsible for auditing the claim or for any errors discovered in subsequent audits of the claim.

    2. What if I don't approve the travel voucher on the date it was submitted?

      Calculation of the late payment fee will be based on the date you approve the travel voucher, unless you note on the face of the travel voucher a different date you received it. If you are unsure of the date it was received then put the date the employee signed it on the face of the travel voucher. You may delegate this responsibility for periods of anticipated absences.

    3. How long do I have to notify the employee of errors in the travel voucher?

      You should inform employees of any errors as soon as possible after receipt of the travel voucher. If this is done within 7 calendar days of receipt of the travel voucher then the cycle for computing the late payment fee will start over again.

  3. Other Involved Personnel Responsibilities
    1. Vouchers Paid Through the Travel Manager Interface

      1. Travel Manager Voucher Preparer's Responsibilities:

        1. What are my responsibilities with regard to timely submission of travel vouchers?

          • Promptly completing travel vouchers and obtaining necessary signatures and approvals.
          • Promptly performing the tasks necessary to submit the travel voucher for interface to FFS.
          • Calculating the number of days from submission of the voucher (as determined by the supervisor/approving official) to the date the status of the voucher is changed to approved.

        2. Why do I need to calculate the number of days (E.3.a.(1)(a) above)?

          If more than 22 days have elapsed from the date the voucher is approved by the approving official to the date it is changed to approved in travel manager, then the travel voucher may have a late fee added to it. If more than 22 days have elapsed, E-Mail the travelers name, social security number, voucher number, and the date the voucher was received or approved by the supervisor/approving official to bwhite@usgs.gov . OFM will determine if the late payment fee should be paid. If so, it will be charged to the account (or predominant account) that the travel is charged to and issued separate from the voucher reimbursement.

    2. Vouchers Paid by OFM

      1. Travel Voucher Preparer's Responsibilities:
        • Promptly completing travel vouchers and obtaining signatures and approvals.
        • Promptly performing the tasks necessary to submit the travel voucher to OFM.

      2. What if a late payment fee is due?

        OFM will review each voucher received in OFM to determine if a late payment fee is due. If so, OFM will compute the fee and add it to the voucher amount. If a fee is paid, it will be charged to the account (or predominant account) that the travel is charged to.

    3. Accounts Reconciliation

      1. What is different about this process?

        If the travel voucher is paid more than 30 days after submission it may have the late payment fee paid. If the travel voucher is paid more than 120 days after submission there may be an additional late payment penalty fee paid.

      2. How will I identify these fees?

        The late payment fee will be charged to object classes 211U or 212U. The additional late payment penalty fee will come through the payroll process. The object class for the additional late payment penalty fee has not yet been determined.

F. Charge Card Delinquencies

  1. Employee's Responsibilities:

    1. What are my responsibilities concerning payment of my charge card account?

      • Paying the undisputed individually billed transactions by the due date.
      • Reporting erroneous, misposted, or disputed charges to an Agency Program Coordinator or an appropriate administrative contact in your office.
      • Promptly restoring a delinquent account to a current status and obtaining a new travel charge card (if applicable).

    2. What do I do if I'm on extended travel and unable to file travel claims or pay my charge card bills?

      If you are on extended travel (e.g., extended travel to remote locations) and unable to file your travel vouchers every 30 days, then you are a candidate for "mission critical" status. This status effectively suspends your account from becoming delinquent during the period of extended travel. See www.usgs.gov:8888/ops/acquisition/bcindx.html on how to receive mission critical status.

    3. What happens if I let my account become delinquent?

      You will:

      • Have your charge card suspended if your account is more than 60 days delinquent.
      • Have your charge card canceled if your account is more than 96 days delinquent.
      • Be assessed a $20 fee each month you have a balance that is 120 days delinquent.
      • Be required to reinstate your account to a current status.
      • Be subject to garnishment of your wages for the unpaid charge card balance.

        You may also:

      • Face disciplinary action if your account is more than 60 days delinquent.

      If you anticipate a payment may be late then you should contact an Agency Program Coordinator and the Bank of America, which may provide you other payment options.

    4. Will I be prohibited from traveling if my government issued charge card is suspended or canceled?

      You will not be prohibited from traveling, but you must do so on personal funds and file for reimbursement after-the-fact. (Note: commercial transportation tickets must be charged on your office's corporate account.) You may apply for a trip-by-trip travel advance in cases of extreme hardship. To apply for such an advance you must justify the reasons for the request, have the application approved by your supervisor and Regional/Assistant Director, and submit it through OFM to the Assistant Secretary - Water and Science. The Assistant Secretary's guidance for approving these applications is that approval would be "short-term in nature and rare."

    5. How do I clear misposted transactions?

      Misposted charges will remain on your account until the transfer takes place. These charges will not affect your delinquency status if the transfer was initiated in adequate time for the bank to complete the transfer (usually 48 hours). If the bank does not transfer the transaction promptly and your account becomes suspended, notify an Agency Program Coordinator immediately to lift the suspension and resolve the cause of the unsuccessful transfer.

    6. How do I dispute incorrect transactions?

      You must formally dispute incorrect charges either by submitting the Bank of America Dispute Form (a copy can be downloaded from http://32.97.140.44/forms/gsaforms/c12a1198/dispute.asp or a signed letter with all the details of the incorrectly charged transaction to Bank of America. Once the dispute is formalized, the bank will issue you a provisional credit. During the period of dispute, these charges will not reflect against your account balance. If the bank determines your dispute is not valid, the disputed transaction amount will be reapplied to your account balance and become your responsibility. Do not dispute misposted transactions.

    7. When will garnishment of my wages occur?

      When you are 60 days delinquent the credit card contractor can inform the Payroll Operations Division (POD) at the National Business Center to garnish your wages. The POD will inform you of this garnishment order and begin garnishing your wages in 60 days. The POD may also charge you a processing fee plus the $20 credit card contractor's fees (if applicable).

    8. What if I paid the charge card contractor in the interim?

      The charge card contractor will notify POD when your payment was received. However, POD may still charge you its processing fee.

    9. Can I negotiate a payment plan with the charge card contractor?

      You can enter into a fixed payment plan with the credit card contractor before garnishment ofyour wages begins. However, the credit card contractor will charge you a $20 fee for every month your account is more than 120 days delinquent. The contractor will waive further payment of this fee after three consecutive payments are made. If you entered into a fixed payment plan after the credit card contractor referred your account to POD you may still be charged the processing fee.

  2. Supervisor/Approving Official's Responsibilities
    1. What are my responsibilities concerning employee delinquent charge card accounts?
      • Reviewing charge card delinquency reports.
      • Counseling employees who are delinquent or are approaching delinquency on their charge card accounts.
      • Ensuring that employees who have their card suspended or canceled are taking action to get their account restored.
      • Deciding if an employee's travel advance request is an extreme hardship situation and should be forwarded for consideration.

    2. Instructional Memorandum No. OPS 2000-01 prohibited employees from traveling and required disciplinary action when employees became 60 days delinquent. Is that still required?

      No. Employees should not be prohibited from traveling because their charge card account is delinquent. However, if their delinquency is so severe that their charge card is suspended or canceled, then they must travel on their own funds. These employees are eligible for travel advances only in cases of extreme hardship. If an employee cannot or will not travel under these conditions then you may have an employee conduct or performance issue and should consult your servicing personnel office for advice. You still have the responsibility to counsel your employees about their charge card delinquencies. You also have the option to take progressively severe disciplinary action. You should consult with your servicing personnel office for advice on the appropriate action.

  3. Other Involved Personnel

    How will the garnished wages or processing fees appear in my cost center accounts?

    The fees and garnishments are deductions from gross pay. As such, they will not affect costs for purposes of determining funds availability.

G. Who do I contact if I have questions about this IM?

Questions concerning charge card applications or clearing misposted or disputed transactions should be directed to one of the Agency Program Coordinators listed at http://internal.usgs.gov/ops/smartpay/bc-apcs.html. Questions of a personnel nature should be directed to your servicing personnel office. All other questions should be directed to Susan Sheely at ssheely@usgs.gov or (703) 648-7602.


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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
URL: http://www.usgs.gov/usgs-manual/im/ofm-2000-5.html
Contact: OIS, Corporate Information Technology Branch
Content Information Contact: ssheely@usgs.gov
Last modification: 11-Jan-2013@10:57 (km)