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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

U.S. Geological Survey Instructional Memorandum

No. OFM 98-01

Date: December 01, 1997

Subject: Collection of Delinquent Travel Advances

1. Purpose:

The purpose of this memorandum is to establish the policy and procedure for collecting delinquent government-issued travel advances owed by USGS employees.

2. Background:

The Office of Financial Management (OFM) is responsible for managing travel advances as an integral part of the USGS's ongoing cash and debt management programs. The Accounts Receivable Branch (ARB) has been assigned the responsibility for collecting delinquent travel advances.

The Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) policy regarding repayment of travel advances is strict and is incorporated in the Department of the Interior's (DOI) travel advance policy (DOI memorandum dated June 1, 1994). The policy included herein will be incorporated in future Survey Manual revisions along with the new guidelines implementing the recommendations of the Department's Travel Lab.

3. Definitions:

Government-issued travel advance (travel advance) - Advances issued from an Imprest Fund or via Treasury check for the purpose of official business travel. Cash advances received by an employee from an ATM against their government credit card are not considered government-issued travel advances.

Delinquent travel advance - Travel advances that are not liquidated within 30 calendar days after completion of the authorized travel period.

4. Policy:

Filing travel vouchers. Employees are required to submit travel vouchers to the Office of Financial Management (OFM) within 5 working days after completion of the authorized travel. For travel that exceeds 30 days, such as temporary duty assignments or change of headquarters, a voucher is required to be submitted within 5 working days after each 30-day period of travel. Travel vouchers which liquidate a travel advance are to be sent to the Travel Management Branch, OFM for processing. Travel advances cannot be repaid via Third Party Draft or Imprest Fund reimbursement.

Notifications. If a travel voucher is not received within 30 calendar days from the end of the authorized travel period, or the voucher is insufficient to liquidate the outstanding travel advance balance, the ARB will notify the employee via an EMail letter that their travel advance has become delinquent and that the balance should be repaid immediately. This notification will inform the employee that the advance will be collected via salary offset through payroll deductions if not repaid within 15 calendar days from the date of the EMail notification.

The ARB will "cc" a copy of the EMail notification to the employee's Division Administrative Officer (AO) or designee. The AO will be responsible for ensuring that the appropriate supervisors and management officials are notified of travel advance delinquencies. The AO will also serve as OFM's liaison for problems related to delinquent travel advances.

Payroll deductions. When a travel advance is not settled within 15 calendar days following the 30-day notification, a payroll deduction will be initiated. The ARB will submit a request to the Bureau of Reclamation, Payroll Operations Division (BOR), to initiate payroll deductions to recover the delinquent advance. Payroll deductions will recover the entire advance balance from the employee's subsequent salary check. If that salary check is not sufficient to liquidate the entire advance balance, payroll deductions will continue from subsequent salary checks until the entire advance is liquidated. At the time of referral to BOR, the ARB will provide a list of employees who are referred for payroll deductions to the respective AO.

Although the policy requires recovery via offset collection of the entire travel advance from the employee's subsequent salary check, the employee may request a repayment schedule with OFM to repay the travel advance over a longer period of time. Collections under such a schedule will be made through payroll deductions at an amount established in a repayment agreement. Repayment schedules will be granted by OFM on a case-by-case basis when it is determined that a "serious hardship" would be created if the entire repayment were offset in one salary check. Regardless of the repayment agreement, if the entire amount of the advance is not liquidated within 120 days from the end of the travel period, the entire advance will be classified as taxable wages to the employee (reference 26 CFR 1.62-3(g-h).

If an employee does not submit a voucher within 120 days of the end of the travel period, the advance will be considered taxable income and reported on the employee's Form W-2. If an employee submits a voucher after the 120 day period and is entitled to reimbursement of a portion of the payroll deduction, the reimbursement will be reduced by the amounts withheld for Federal and state taxes on the amount of the delinquent advance.

Questions regarding the repayment of delinquent travel advances may be directed to Cathi Carlson (703) 648-7611 (EMail: clcarlso@usgs.gov).

5. Effective Date: This IM is effective upon date of issuance.

6. Cancellation Date: This IM will remain in effect until superseded or canceled.

John J. Blickley, Acting Chief
Office of Financial Management


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Last modification: 10-22-98 (bt)