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NEWS | Nov. 8, 2011

TMO offers money and time saving tips

By Michael Simmons Joint Base Charleston Traffic Management officer

Given today's increased operations tempo, you may find yourself spending more and more time on the road, whether for relocation, training or in support of overseas contingency operations. With that in mind the Department of Defense has provided a solution to give you a convenient means of funding official travel through the Government Travel Charge Card program.

The Travel and Transportation Reform Act set forth a plan to have all federal employees (civilian and military) use the GTCC for all official government travel expenses. The GTCC includes the Individually Billed Accounts known as the individual travel card and Centrally Billed Accounts.

In line with this, the Under Secretary of Defense issued a memo directing a reduction to the amount and uses of CBAs. The memo restricts its' use to purchasing air, rail and bus tickets only for those travelers who are not eligible for the IBA. The idea behind this proposal is that greater use of the IBA will lessen or eliminate problems associated with unused airline tickets, higher service fees and improper payments. It also will eventually facilitate the transition to the new travel card under the Controlled Spend Account program.

Using your IBA offers you the chance to enjoy savings and several benefits such as a 41 percent lower service fee for reservations made through the Defense Travel System, ATM cash advances, the opportunity to select your seat at the time you make your reservation and more flexibility by offering you a choice of several flights to and from your destination based on the times that are more convenient for you.

On the flip side, using the CBA will increase service fees by 59 percent since the travel arrangements must be made outside the DTS, offer no travel advance or opportunity to select your seat at the time you make your reservation and passengers are generally booked on flights that do not allow choices based on their desired departure times.
Here is a tip you can use to help save even more. If you do not see a flight that satisfies your requirements in DTS click on the Commercial Travel Office assist link. This will send your request directly to the CTO and still save significantly versus going outside DTS as would be required with the use of the CBA.

Orders approving officials can help ease the strain on their budget and enhance the morale of their travelers by allowing an extra day at the TDY location. Most destinations do not have special contract airline pricing available for government travel on Sundays. By permitting a traveler to depart on a Saturday, units will often spend less in extra Per Diem and lodging compared to the cost to fly on Sundays.

Make sure the travel orders contain a statement notifying the traveler whether the use of the IBA is required or whether they are exempt. A few examples of personnel that may be exempt are if they are a new recruit, an employee who does not yet have an IBA or a group traveler. If the traveler is exempt, the travel orders must contain the statement "Traveler is non-IBA card holder use of CBA Authorized."

Finally, promptly notify the CTO of tickets or partial tickets that were not used so a refund may be processed to recover government funds. Remember, all official travel arrangements must be made by the base CTO through DTS. Under Public Law 105-264, DoD personnel are required to use a government-sponsored, contractor-issued travel charge card unless otherwise exempt. Also, governing directives requires that travel orders contain a statement notifying the traveler whether mandatory use of the travel card is required or whether the traveler is exempt from the mandatory use provision.

Questions may be directed to the Traffic Management Office Passenger Travel at 963-3059 or 3066.