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
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:
D. Mandatory Use of the 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Occasional non-use of the travel charge card is not a problem. The formal exemption procedures (above) were not intended for occasional non-use.
You should apply immediately. Charge cards can be delivered in 72 hours. Application procedures are at http://internal.usgs.gov/ops/acquisition/bcnewapp.html.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Your travel claim will still be processed after your travel voucher has been submitted.
You must resolve with your supervisor/approving official any concerns with the travel claim and resubmit, sign, and date the claim.
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.
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com . 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You may also:
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.
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."
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.
You must formally dispute incorrect charges either by submitting the Bank of America Dispute Form (a copy can be downloaded from http://18.104.22.168/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.
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).
The charge card contractor will notify POD when your payment was received. However, POD may still charge you its processing fee.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 648-7602.