14 FAM 540
PROCURing TRAVEL AND Transportation
(Office of Origin: A/LM)
14 FAM 541 Travel Management Centers
a. All overseas posts must receive air travel booking and ticketing services through an outsourced, contracted travel management center (TMC). Posts may elect to receive such services on-site or off-site but must be mindful of the relative cost of those two service delivery options.
b. Contracted TMCs must be able to access and ticket U.S. Government fares, including GSA city-pair fares (see 14 FAM 542), and accept all U.S. Government forms of payment, including CBA, IBA, and GTR (see 14 FAM 543). In order to meet this requirement, some posts in locations with limited local ticketing capabilities may need to seek TMC services from a TMC located in another country and therefore may not be able to receive on-site TMC services.
c. Use of the current TMC under contract with the Department of State (or other foreign affairs agency) at the employee’s post of assignment; at the location of the entity authorizing travel; at the location from which travel has been authorized to begin; or in Washington, DC is mandatory unless:
(1) The TMC is unable to issue, exchange, or combine a ticket on the common carrier(s) on which transportation will take place; or
(2) When travel is of an unanticipated, emergency nature and arranging travel through a TMC would prevent accomplishment of the purpose of travel.
d. Fees charged by a TMC for the service of arranging cost-constructed travel or for arranging travel paid using a personal form of payment are a personal responsibility of the traveler, even if the cost of the desired itinerary is less than the cost of the authorized itinerary.
e. If, in accordance with one of the exceptions above, a traveler purchases common carrier transportation directly from the carrier or uses a noncontracted entity (e.g., an online travel agency) to book travel and is charged a service, booking, administrative, or transaction fee (regardless of nomenclature used), such fees are not reimbursable expenses.
14 FAM 542 Contract Carriers
a. Each fiscal year, the General Services Administration (GSA) awards contracts to eligible U.S. air carriers that provide them with an exclusive right to transport U.S. Government personnel by air travel between certain city pairs. The awarded air carrier for a particular city pair agrees to make unrestricted airfare available to U.S. Government travelers at a discount over the unrestricted fares it typically makes available to the public.
b. Use of the awarded contract air carrier has been determined to be advantageous to the U.S. Government and is mandatory when a traveler has been authorized air travel between an awarded city pair. For exceptions, see 14 FAM 543.2.
c. When a traveler is authorized an unrestricted coach-class fare and the contract carrier offers a lower cost, capacity-controlled contract fare (e.g., _CA), or a lower cost, unrestricted, public-coach class fare, the traveler must use the lower-cost fare when it is available unless the traveler has been authorized use of the “lowest upgradable fare” in accordance with 14 FAM 567.2-4, paragraph c.
NOTE: _CA fares are not restricted fares. They are merely limited in availability (e.g., the number that an airline will make available to U.S. Government travelers on a particular flight). Although an airline may constrain the upgradability of _CA fares or require more miles or cash to upgrade from them, traveler desire to upgrade does not justify the added expense associated with booking a YCA fare when a _CA fare is available (except as outlined in 14 FAM 567.2-4, paragraph c.
d. When a post or bureau has authorized use of a restricted fare in accordance with 14 FAM 564.2 and the contract carrier offers a restricted fare that is lower in cost than the unrestricted city-pair fare, the restricted fare on the contract carrier should be used.
e. When departing from or arriving at a U.S. metropolitan area with multiple airports:
(1) For U.S. domestic travel, the city-pair contract is airport specific, and the traveler may use the airport that best suits the traveler’s needs and is cost effective;
(2) For international travel, the city-pair contract is market specific. If a contract carrier provides service to/from multiple airports in a market, the traveler may use the airport that best suits the traveler’s needs and is cost effective. However, if a contract carrier provides service to/from only a particular airport in the market, the traveler must use the airport into which the contract carrier has filed the fare;
(3) Cities with multiple airports include:
· Chicago (ORD and MDW)
· Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW and DAL)
· Houston (IAH and HOU)
· Los Angeles (LAX, ONT, SNA, BUR, and LGB)
· New York City (JFK, LGA, and EWR)
· San Francisco (SFO and SJC)
· Washington, DC (DCA, IAD, and BWI)
NOTE: The GSA city-pair fare contract does not classify Miami (MIA)/Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) as a single metropolitan area. However, when an international city pair exists to either of those cities, travelers should use the least costly fare available for the authorized class of service in conjunction with the most economical ground transportation costs for travel to/from the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area.
f. Travelers are not authorized to use non-public U.S. Government fares (including GSA contract city pairs and airline-filed non-public fares) for any portions of indirect travel.
14 FAM 542.1 Exceptions to Mandatory Use of Contract Air Carriers
a. The following are possible exceptions to the mandatory use of a contract air carrier:
(1) The contract carrier’s flight schedule is inconsistent with the performance of a mission-critical, official duty;
(2) The contract carrier is sold out or does not offer service on your authorized date of travel;
NOTE: For travel that is not date-specific (e.g., permanent-change-of-station [PCS]), travelers are expected to schedule their trips on dates when the contract carrier offers service if the difference in cost between using a noncontract carrier (with either public fares or nonpublic government fares) on the preferred date of travel and the cost of using the contract carrier on the next date it offers service is substantial;
NOTE: When travel is date-specific (e.g., temporary duty (TDY)) but not critically urgent (e.g., medical evacuation (MEDEVAC)) and a traveler is away from their permanent duty station, additional per diem costs caused by waiting for the next day that the contract carrier offers service must exceed the difference between the cost of a ticket on the contract carrier on the next day it offers service and the cost of a ticket on a noncontract carrier on the authorized date of travel for this exception to apply;
(3) The contract carrier cannot accommodate your pet(s) as an in-cabin pet, as accompanied baggage, or as checked cargo on the same flight as you, or in the case of codeshare flights, the operating carrier will not accept your pet(s) as an in-cabin pet, as accompanied baggage, or as checked cargo if the flight is booked using the codeshare flight number of a U.S. carrier;
NOTE: When pet movement is the determining factor for non-use of the contract carrier, the traveler is responsible for airfare exceeding the YCA city pair fare and for the actual cost of moving the pet(s);
(4) The contract carrier’s flight schedule is inconsistent with the provisions of 14 FAM 581.1 with regard to scheduling travel during the employee's regularly scheduled workweek;
NOTE: This exception does not apply to international travel;
(5) A noncontract carrier offers a public (nongovernment) fare that is less expensive and has the same restrictions as the fare on the contract carrier;
NOTE: Noncontract fares that are limited to U.S. Government travelers on official business (e.g., _DG, Category Z (_MZ), and similar fares) are not public fares and cannot be used to demonstrate cost savings against a contract carrier fare.
b. A valid exception to the mandatory use of a contract carrier does not confer an exception to the Fly America Act. When a traveler is authorized an exception to the mandatory use of a contract carrier, the noncontract carrier used must be Fly America Act compliant unless an exception to the Fly America Act also applies. See 14 FAM 583 for exceptions.
c. When a traveler is authorized use of a noncontract carrier in accordance with one of the exceptions above (other than the “lower fare” exception in 14 FAM 542.1, subparagraph a(5), government fares (e.g., _DG, _MZ, etc.) should be used on the noncontract carrier if they provide the lowest cost.
d. Traveler preference (e.g., for a non-stop flight, particular air carrier, routing, connecting city, connection length, or journey duration) is not a valid exception to the mandatory use of a contract air carrier.
e. Availability or nonavailability of seat assignments or upgrades are not valid exceptions to the mandatory use of a contract air carrier.
14 FAM 542.2 Justification Certificate
a. When one of the exceptions to the mandatory use of a contract air carrier applies, the traveler must complete Form DS-4022, Justification Certificate for Use of a Noncontract Air Carrier, in myData and submit the fully approved form to their TMC before the TMC may issue a ticket on a noncontract carrier. The traveler must also attach a copy of the completed Form DS-4022 to their travel authorization.
b. The pet travel exception (14 FAM 542.1, subparagraph a(3), is self-certified by the traveler and does not require further approval.
c. All other exceptions must be approved by the traveler’s authorizing official, a management officer at post, a USAID executive officer at post, a Department of State bureau executive officer or deputy executive officer, or the Director of Transportation and Travel Management (A/LM/OPS/TMP) or their designee. (For Commerce, the approving official is the senior commercial officer, regional senior commercial officer, or regional director.)
d. Financial responsibility for unauthorized use of a noncontract air carrier lies with the traveler.
14 FAM 543 payment instruments for the procurement of official travel
There are four payment instruments that can be used in the procurement of official travel. In order of precedence, they are:
· U.S. Government contractor-issued centrally billed account (CBA)
· U.S. Government contractor-issued individually billed account (IBA)
· Government Transportation Request (GTR)
· Personal forms of payment
14 FAM 543.1 Primary Payment Instrument: CBA
a. The primary payment instrument to be used to procure common carrier transportation for official travel is the U.S. Government contractor-issued centrally billed account (CBA) travel card. The CBA must be used except when it is not accepted by the carrier; when travel is of an emergency nature and arranging travel through a TMC would prevent accomplishment of the purpose of travel; or in other exigent circumstances as determined by the Transportation and Travel Management Division (A/LM/OPS/TMP).
b. Each mission must have at least one valid CBA at all times and must provide the CBA card and/or number to the contracted TMC.
c. The office at post responsible for the travel function will ensure that the TMC provides the CBA number to the common carrier through a Global Distribution System (GDS) or common carrier reservation system as the form of payment for tickets it issues.
d. The common carrier must be the merchant for a ticketing transaction. The TMC may not be the merchant for ticket purchases.
e. The TMC may elect to accept ticketing transaction/service fees using the CBA. In such cases, the TMC may be the merchant only for the transaction fee, not for any associated ticket. When a TMC elects to accept ticketing transaction/service fees using the CBA, those fees must be charged in local currency unless the contract with the TMC specifies the transaction fee in another currency (in which case that currency is used). TMCs may not assess or pass through any credit card processing or interchange fee for transaction/service fees collected through use of the CBA unless the contract with the TMC specifically permits it to do so.
f. The office at post responsible for the travel function will ensure that monthly CBA billing statements are provided to the TMC for CBA reconciliation (matching transactions to valid, funded travel authorizations). Since the CBA is a charge card and not a credit card, each post or mission is responsible for paying CBA invoices, directly to the card issuer, by the payment due date.
g. For instances of cost-constructed travel in which the desired itinerary costs more than the traveler’s authorized itinerary:
(1) In countries in which the billing and settlement plan (BSP) accepts two forms of payment, the CBA must be used to charge up to the cost of the authorized itinerary (i.e., the cost-constructive cap) and a personal form of payment must be used to pay the remaining balance; and
(2) In countries in which the BSP does not accept two forms of payment, the traveler must first pay the post cashier for the difference between the cost of the authorized itinerary and the cost of their desired itinerary. Then, the CBA must be used to charge the full cost of the desired itinerary.
14 FAM 543.2 Secondary Payment Instrument: IBA
a. Certain travelers (primarily U.S. direct hires) may be eligible to hold a U.S. Government contractor-issued individually billed account (IBA), commonly referred to as a travel card.
b. An IBA should be used to procure transportation for official travel only when a CBA cannot be used or when travel is of an unanticipated, emergency nature and arranging travel through a TMC, thus using a CBA, would prevent accomplishment of the purpose of travel.
c. All travelers who are eligible to hold an IBA and who travel two or more times per year are expected to obtain an IBA (4 FAH-3 H-466.2). Travelers who are eligible to hold an IBA are responsible for paying the bill in full by the payment due date, for taking it with them on all official trips, and for requesting a replacement in a timely manner when their card has been lost, stolen, or is nearing expiration.
d. An IBA may be used to pay for common carrier transportation (e.g., air or rail tickets), luggage fees, and other expenditures eligible for reimbursement per 14 FAM 560. An IBA may also be used as a guarantee for lodging and for car rentals when use of a rental car is authorized in advance.
e. When purchasing air transportation with an IBA, the traveler is responsible and liable for obtaining the lowest-cost U.S. Government fare, including city-pair fares, when such fares are filed by the air carrier.
f. An IBA may not be used to purchase tickets for any segments of travel that are cost-constructed.
g. An IBA may not be used to purchase tickets or pay for travel-related expenses for any individual other than the individual authorized to hold the card or for their eligible family members.
14 FAM 543.3 Tertiary Payment Instrument: GTR
a. If use of a U.S. Government contractor-issued CBA or IBA is not accepted or their use is impractical as determined by the Transportation and Travel Management Division, special circumstances justify the use of Form OF-1169, U.S. Government Transportation Request (GTR), to procure transportation. GTRs are serialized accountable documents, and must be protected like cash (e.g., stored in a safe).
b. At locations where use of a GTR is a rarity, an accountable office may furnish the traveler a sufficient number of blank GTRs to accomplish the authorized travel. (See 4 FAM 472, 14 FAM Exhibit 513 and 14 FAM Exhibit 517.4 on preparation and use of GTRs.)
c. At locations where use of a GTR is more common, the accountable office may issue blanket GTRs to the TMC to be used as a form of payment for common carrier transportation. In such cases:
(1) The issuing post must have a signed contract with a TMC, and that TMC’s name must be written on the GTR;
(2) A single blanket GTR is issued at the beginning of each calendar week or other payment period, not to exceed one month, which has been mutually agreed upon by post and the TMC. The blanket GTR will be the form of payment for all tickets purchased during the agreed-upon period;
(3) The TMC will use the GTR number in the form of payment field on the airline ticket. The TMC pays the airline for the ticket; and
(4) The TMC must maintain a list that includes the ticket number, traveler name, and value of each ticket issued under the blanket GTR, and must provide the list to post’s designated point of contact no less frequently than every 30 days. The post has 30 days from receipt of the list to make payment to the TMC.
d. Paper GTRs are no longer produced but may continue to be used until stocks are depleted. Once paper GTR stocks are depleted, electronic GTRs may be obtained from the General Services Administration. Instructions for how to obtain, complete, and use the GTR can be found on the A/LM/OPS/TMP FAQ and Travel Tips webpage.
14 FAM 544 USING PERSONAL FORMS OF PAYMENT TO PROCURE TRANSPORTATION
Personal forms of payment include cash, personal or travelers checks, and personal credit cards. Authorizing officials must not impose a financial hardship on a traveler by requiring the traveler to use personal forms of payment to purchase common carrier transportation when a CBA, IBA, or GTR can be used.
14 FAM 544.1 Use Up to $100
Personal forms of payment may be used to purchase common carrier transportation services up to $100 without specific advance authorization to use such a payment instrument. Such expenditures may be claimed on a travel voucher without first undergoing the reimbursement audit otherwise required in accordance with 14 FAM 544.2.
14 FAM 544.2 Use in Excess of $100
a. Personal forms of payment should only be used when a CBA, IBA, or GTR cannot be used. Examples of such situations may include:
(1) A vendor will not accept a CBA, IBA, or GTR;
(2) A traveler who is not eligible to hold an IBA has been verbally authorized to travel, but waiting for the preparation of a paper or electronic travel authorization would prevent accomplishment of the purpose of travel; or
(3) A traveler is cost constructing and the TMC cannot issue a ticket on a desired common carrier(s), cannot combine tickets on the desired carrier(s), or cannot exchange tickets between or among the desired carriers(s).
b. When a traveler uses personal funds in excess of $100 to purchase common carrier transportation, the traveler must submit a request for a reimbursement audit as soon as possible after completion of the travel. The request must contain:
(1) Brief statement explaining the circumstances that prevented the use of a CBA, IBA, or GTR;
(2) A copy of the travel authorization related to the request;
(3) Complete itinerary/ticket information for personally purchased tickets; and
(4) Complete itinerary/ticket information for any U.S. Government purchased transportation associated with the travel authorization.
c. Reimbursement to the traveler who used personal funds may not exceed the cost that would have been properly chargeable to the U.S. Government for travel along the authorized itinerary and in the authorized class of service if a U.S. Government payment resource had been utilized.
d. For State: Requests for reimbursement should be forwarded to TransportationQuery@state.gov and will be considered by the Director of Transportation and Travel Management (A/LM/OPS/TMP).
NOTE: When rail is the authorized mode of travel between two foreign points and the price of a rail ticket purchased using a personal form of payment is $300 or less, the requirement to audit the purchase is delegated to the traveler’s authorizing official, who will indicate approval of the purchase through approval of the travel voucher.
e. For USAID: Requests for reimbursement should be forwarded to M/MS/TTD.
f. For Commerce: Requests for reimbursement should be forwarded to the Office of Foreign Service Human Capital.
g. For USAGM: Requests for reimbursement should be forwarded to the Travel Operations Manager, CFOA.
h. For USDA/FAS: Requests for reimbursement should be forwarded to the Director, International Services Division, Office of Foreign Service Operations.
i. In exceptional cases, the authorizing offices listed above may permit full reimbursement when the traveler reasonably would not have been aware of the requirement that a CBA, IBA, or GTR be used to purchase common carrier transportation for official travel (e.g., the traveler has not previously traveled for the U.S. Government) or when such payment mechanisms were not available to the traveler (e.g., a traveler self-funds appointment travel because appointment orders were not prepared in time for their employment start date), but rarely and only as particular circumstances warrant.
14 FAM 544.3 Recovery of Excess Payments or Liquidated Damages
a. A traveler who has procured transportation services with cash must assign to the U.S. Government the traveler's right to recover excess payment involving a carrier's use of improper rates. The following statement will appear on the travel voucher:
“I hereby assign to the United States any right I may have against any parties in connection with reimbursable transportation charges described below, purchased under cash payment procedures (41 CFR 101-41.203-2).”
b. In instances where an air carrier is liable for liquidated damage payments because of its failure to provide confirmed reserved space (i.e., involuntary “bumping”), the traveler is responsible for turning over any compensation provided by the air carrier to the Treasurer of the United States.
14 FAM 545 Through 549 Unassigned