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Department of Veterans AffairsTravel AdministrationFebruary 2020Volume XIV – Chapter 10101 OVERVIEWThis chapter establishes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) financial policies andprocedures regarding travel administration and provides the authoritative reference forVA travel management. It contains VA policy and procedures for managing travel byVA personnel, invitational travelers, contractors, and witnesses. The chapter alsoimplements and supplements those portions of the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR)pertaining to temporary duty travel. The FTR is the Government regulation thatimplements statutory requirements and Executive Branch policies for travel by Federalcivilian employees and others authorized to travel at Government expense (41 Code ofFederal Regulations (CFR), Chapters 300 through 304).Union rights and privileges related to travel expenses, as defined in Union agreements,do not supersede the regulations contained in the FTR.The following topics are covered in this chapter:010201010202010203010204010205010206Travel Approval, Training and AuthorizationPre-Employment Interview and Invitational TravelBlanket Travel AuthorizationsTravel AdvancesTravel Reimbursement Policies and ProceduresUse of the Travel Charge CardVA will limit the authorization and payment of travel expenses to travel that is necessaryto accomplish the Department’s mission and is most economical and effective.Consideration will be given to, but is not limited to, budget constraints, adherence totravel policies, environmental impact and reasonableness of expenses. VA will alwaysconsider alternatives (e.g., teleconferencing) before approving travel (41 C.F.R. § 30170.1).0102 POLICIES010201 TRAVEL APPROVAL, TRAINING AND AUTHORIZATIONA. Approval.1. Employees traveling on official business must obtain approval from a direct linesupervisor [1] or an approving official holding a higher-level position in the employee’sdirect line organizational structure in advance of their trip. Evidence of the approvalshall be uploaded or captured electronically in VA’s travel system when a travel0F[1]NOTE:The direct-line supervisor may provide a one-time blanket approval to the employee for multipletravel episodes involving a specific project or detail. The Approving Official in VA’s travel system isresponsible for ensuring the travel authorization meets FTR and Vol XIV Travel chapter policyrequirements.2

Department of Veterans AffairsTravel AdministrationFebruary 2020Volume XIV – Chapter 1authorization is created and/or approved. If Delegations of Authority are requiredregarding certain travel-related actions in this chapter, they must follow the guidance setforth in VA Directive 0000, Delegation of Authority.2. No VA employee may approve his or her own travel, nor may a travel arrangerapprove the travel expenses prepared on behalf of a traveler. Under Secretaries,Assistant Secretaries, Staff Office Directors, the General Counsel, Inspector General,and Facility/VISN/Regional Directors will delegate the authority to approve their travel toa senior-level official in their organization.3. Each employee who approves, directs or performs travel will exercise diligence andpractice economy in all matters involving travel costs. Travel will be conducted atGovernment expense in accordance with statutory requirements and VA policy.4. For additional guidance and approval when traveling to a conference, reference VACorporate Travel Management and Reporting Office Website, and Vol XIV Ch. 10,Conference Planning, Oversight, and Reporting.B. TrainingAll employees, supervisors and approving officials are responsible for ensuring theyfollow VA travel policy and Federal Travel Regulations for official travel.1. Officials delegated to approve employee travel, and supervisors of employeesperforming the travel are required to:a. Complete travel training offered in the Training Management System (TMS) or othersimilar travel training offered outside of TMS. If training is conducted outside of TMS,the employee is responsible for documenting the training in TMS to ensure centralizedrecord keeping;b. Ensure that their employees have taken and are current with the required traveltraining;c. Instruct their subordinates of their rights, privileges and responsibilities in theperformance of, and reimbursement for, official travel.2. Officials may contact the Financial Services Center (FSC) VA-Wide TDY TravelSupport Group for training session(s). These sessions are available regularly with atraining schedule posted on the FSC VA-Wide TDY Travel website at FSC E Gov TravelService 2. Customers may arrange a customized on-site training session by contactingthe FSC VA-Wide TDY Travel Support Group at 866-533--0188 or via email Until the FSC training is linked or contained in TMS, the FSCtraining will need to be documented and uploaded into the employee’s TMS account.3

Department of Veterans AffairsTravel AdministrationFebruary 2020Volume XIV – Chapter 13. A 30-day grace period (beginning from the return travel date) will be granted toemployees who are unable to accomplish training prior to beginning their official traveldue to one of the following reasons. A new employee is required to go on immediate training at the start of his/heremployment; or An employee who receives short notice of his/her temporary duty travel. Shortnotice is defined as less than one week.4. Approving Officials (AOs) must maintain a current training status. AOs will not haveauthority to approve travel authorizations if their training status is not current.C. Authorization1. All employee travel, including emergency travel requires advance approval, inaccordance with Section 010201A. All travel authorizations in VA’s travel system will beapproved by an AO before travel is performed.2. In the case of an emergency, AO approval of a travel authorization in VA’s travelsystem may be completed post trip.3. A travel authorization is necessary for a traveler to be reimbursed for travelexpenses. It identifies the purpose for travel (reference Appendix A, Purpose for Travel)and generates the travel itinerary and estimated cost of a trip. Amended travelauthorities will be issued when the authority in the original authorization is insufficient forthe traveler to perform official business or permit the traveler to incur allowableexpenses. When prior authorization is not possible or practical, post-trip approval maybe issued through an amended travel authorization or on the travel claim. Failure toreceive proper authorization may limit or prevent reimbursement of travel expenses.4. Employees who travel away from their official duty station (e.g., beyond theestablished local travel area) are required to perform such travel under a travel authoritycreated in VA’s travel system.5. The FTR defines official station as an area defined by the agency that includes thelocation where the employee regularly performs his or her duties or an invitationaltraveler’s home or regular place of business. The Office of Personnel Management(OPM) defines the official worksite of a telework employee as the place where theynormally work, not their telework location, as long as they are regularly scheduled to beat that site at least twice each bi-weekly pay period. If a telework employee is calledinto the official station on a telework day, the employee is not entitled to reimbursementfor travel to the official station.a. For permanent, long-term telework arrangements (virtual employees), the officialworksite will be reassigned to the telework location. The employee whose official4

Department of Veterans AffairsTravel AdministrationFebruary 2020Volume XIV – Chapter 1worksite is reassigned will receive locality pay for the telework worksite, not the originalworksite (OPM Pay Administration - Official Worksite).b. An employee may receive travel entitlements to the official station if their worksitehas been permanently changed to their virtual worksite location. In the event that theofficial worksite is reassigned to the virtual location, trips to the main worksite areconsidered "official business" and the employee is entitled to travel reimbursement asappropriate for the time and distance.6. Local Travel. See Vol XIV, Ch. 7, Local Travel, for information on local travelpolicies and procedures.7. VA Form 3036, Travel Authority for Temporary Duty, will be issued when travel awayfrom the official station will be required and no travel or per diem expenses will beincurred. Reference Appendix B, No Cost Travel Authority, for the requirements to useVA Form 3036 for no-cost temporary duty (TDY) travel authority, as well as a completedsample form. If the traveler does incur a necessary travel or per diem expense, the nocost travel authority will be voided for that episode of travel and a new trip-by-trip travelauthorization will be created in the travel system. For manual travel authorizations, thedocument numbering, processing and records retention must follow established fiscalprocedures.8. Whenever possible, the travel of an employee away from his or her official stationwill be scheduled within the employee’s regular duty hours. Compensation for traveloutside of the employee’s regular duty hours will be in accordance with VA Handbook5011, Hours of Duty and Leave, Part II, Chapters 2 and 3, and VA Handbook 5007, PayAdministration, Chapter 15, Compensatory Time Off for Travel. The employee’ssupervisor should confer with the Office of Human Resources to determine theappropriateness of any compensation.9. VA will reduce the traveler’s Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE) per diem rate toa flat rate when the travel assignment involves extended stays and the traveler is ableto obtain lodging and/or meals at lower costs. The flat rate is equal to 55 percent of theM&IE per diem rate. Reference Vol XIV Ch. 2, Travel Per Diem, for additionalinformation on reduced per diem.10. Employees on extended temporary duty lasting more than 6 months may beauthorized a temporary change of station (TCS). A TCS will be for at least 6 months butwill not last more than 30 months. A TCS is intended to improve employee satisfaction,enhance morale, and reduce income tax liability (from extended temporary dutyassignments) and overall cost to the Government. Reference Vol XIV Ch. 8, RelocationPackages, for additional information on both temporary and permanent changes ofstation.5

Department of Veterans AffairsTravel AdministrationFebruary 2020Volume XIV – Chapter 1D. Travel System.1. Under no circumstance shall a VA employee use another VA employee’s credentialsto access VA’s travel system with the intent to submit a travel claim that is not their ownor to perform system assigned roles not assigned to them, on behalf of another VAemployee. In accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 1030, Fraud and related activity inconnection with computers, unauthorized or fraudulent access to government computersystems may subject you to a fine of up to 5,000 or double the value of anythingobtained via this unauthorized access, plus up to five years imprisonment.2. Travelers, travel arrangers, and AO’s must ensure advance approval is obtained, inaccordance with Section 010201A.3. Document preparers (travelers and travel arrangers) will use the travel system toprepare and route TDY travel authorizations; to make reservations includingtransportation, lodging, and rental car, and to process all TDY and local travel claims.Approving officials will use the travel system to review and approve all TDY travelauthorizations and TDY or local travel claims. Reference Appendix C, Procedures toReimburse Travel Expenses via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). The traveler will havean approved travel authorization for official travel prior to departure. Authorizations arenot complete until the document successfully routes through the travel system.Returned authorizations will be corrected and re-signed to begin routing for approval.Printed travel authorizations are not required for record retention or audit purposes if thedocuments are processed electronically in the travel system. However, if the travelauthorization from the direct line supervisor is not in VA’s travel system, the approvalwill be retained by the employee for audit purposes.4. Access to the travel system is limited to VA employees and invitational travelers forofficial travel. Travelers will log into the travel system and submit their travel claimsupon completion of their TDY. An invitational traveler may sign a hard copy of the travelclaim provided to them by travel arrangers as another option. Reference Section010205 for guidance on alternate submission. The FSC VA-Wide TDY Travel SupportGroup Help Desk is available to assist organizations with preparing invitational traveldocuments. The help desk can be reached at or at 866-533-0188.5. Travelers may contact the travel system provider’s call center at 800-356-9513 from8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., EST, weekdays, except on Federal holidays, for technicalsupport with the travel system. All itineraries include a toll-free telephone number thetraveler may call 24/7 while in a travel status. Use of this service may incur anadditional expense.E. Use of VA’s Travel System.1. Employees will purchase transportation tickets for their official travel through VA’stravel system. Some advantages of using the travel system are reporting capabilities,emergency tracking of travelers, ensuring Government rates, meeting FTR6

Department of Veterans AffairsTravel AdministrationFebruary 2020Volume XIV – Chapter 1requirements and making ticket exchanging easy while on travel. The travel systemmay not be used for the personal travel route when combined with official travel fortemporary duty travel. Personal travel is travel by an indirect route or interruption of adirect route for personal reasons. The travel system will be used for the official travelroute of the temporary duty travel. There may be additional costs and penaltiesassociated with using sources other than the travel system, which the traveler will beresponsible for paying when arrangements are made or changed for personal reasonsand there is no mission requirement.2. Employees will use electronic tickets when available to reduce travel system servicecharges. Vol XVI Ch. 2, Government Travel Charge Card Program, requires mandatoryuse of the Centrally Billed Account (CBA) travel card for employee transportation andfees. Travel system transportation and service charges paid by the CBA for officialtravel are not an itemized reimbursable travel expense directly to the traveler; however,the transportation cost will be reflected in the total cost on the travel claim. The fee willbe added to the itinerary after the authorization has been approved and the reservationshave been ticketed by the travel system and will be included on the travel claim underthe CBA travel card. Fees incurred as a result of changes to the itinerary for personalreasons not related to emergency travel will be the responsibility of the traveler to pay.A bill of collection will be processed to recoup the fees. The employee is responsible forensuring he or she has been ticketed prior to departure.3. Employees may contact their local travel office if they need assistance with travelarrangements. Contacting the travel office directly, however, may result in higher feesfor reservations.4. If the travel system becomes unavailable for any reason, employees may completetravel arrangements by contacting the travel office to make reservations. The traveloffice will complete the travel arrangements and will enter the necessary informationinto a queue for later processing in the travel system to generate a travel authorizationonce the system becomes available. Travelers will receive a notification from the travelsystem to review and complete the travel authorization.5. Reservations using commercial means available to the general public are notpermitted for official travel. Use of a luxury chauffeured car service, such as alimousine, is prohibited. This luxury service does not include airport shuttle or taxi.6. Amendments to authorization documents are required for changes to any mode oftravel including common carrier, date changes that impact reservations made in thetravel system or per diem entitlements, and any changes to the transportation cost.Preparers must annotate the reason for the amendment in the comment section of theauthorization.7. Approving officials or travelers will promptly cancel authorizations for cancelled tripsto ensure that travel funds are de-obligated in the accounting system. Employees willpromptly repay any travel advance issued for cancelled trips.7

Department of Veterans AffairsTravel AdministrationFebruary 2020Volume XIV – Chapter 1F. Exceptions for the Use of VA’s Travel System or Online Booking Engine (OBE).1. The head of an agency may grant case-by-case exceptions to the use of theagency's travel system when in accordance with 41 C.F.R. Part 301-50. In VA,requests for exceptions will be submitted in writing to the Office of the Secretary (00)through the Office of Financial Policy (047GA3). Requests will contain a business caseanalysis that justifies why the travel system cannot be used. The Office of the Secretarywill report agency exceptions to the Administrator, General Services Administration,1800 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20405 with full justification and/or analysis,addressing the criteria in 41 C.F.R. Chapter 301.2. Employees will use the OBE offered by the travel system to reserve transportation,lodging and official rental cars. Listed below are the extenuating circumstances inwhich a traveler is authorized an exception from using the OBE. Preparers should entera comment on the travel authorization explaining the applicable extenuatingcircumstance.a. When attending a conference where the conference sponsor has negotiated withone or more lodging facilities to set aside a specific number of rooms for conferenceattendees and, to ensure that a set-aside room is available, travelers are required tobook lodging directly with the lodging facility.b. When attending a VA-sponsored program where the agency has negotiated with anairline service, and travelers are required to book directly with the airline.c. When traveling to a remote location and it is not possible to book lodging or rentalcar accommodations through the travel system.d. When circumstance will not allow booking of travel through the OBE (e.g., travelsystem is down or not available).e. When making travel arrangements for personal/unofficial travel in conjunction withofficial travel. Reference Appendix D, Personal/Unofficial Travel Combined with OfficialTravel Procedures).f. When travel is authorized under a Not-To-Exceed (NTE) travel authority.g. When travel arrangements are provided in-kind by a non-Federal source. ReferenceAppendix E, Non-Federal Sponsored Travel.3. If none of the above circumstances apply, the traveler is responsible for anyadditional costs resulting from the failure to use the travel system, including servicefees, cancellation penalties or other additional costs (e.g., higher airfares, rental carcharges or hotel rates). In addition, the agency may take appropriate disciplinary action.G. Temporary Duty Travel without Prior Authorization.8

Department of Veterans AffairsTravel AdministrationFebruary 2020Volume XIV – Chapter 11. All employee travel requires advance approval, in accordance with Section 010201A2. Approving officials may authorize reimbursement of an expense post-TDY travelbased on the circumstances presented. Official travel performed without any prior travelauthorization or requiring additional time to perform the travel specified in the original oramended authorization will be supported by a justification in the travel systemexplaining the reason why prior authorization (or an extension of time) was notobtained. Travelers will be responsible for expenses not sufficiently justified or deniedby the approving official.3. All employee travel time extensions post-travel require approval by the first linesupervisor.4. Requests for approval of unauthorized travel do not normally constitute approval toretroactively adjust a per diem or mileage rate prescribed by the FTR.When amending the travel authorization, the per diem and mileage rates in effect duringthe travel episode will not be adjusted retroactively. The correction of obvious errors oradjustments resulting from mandatory FTR rate modifications is allowed.H. Not-To-Exceed (NTE) Travel and No Cost Travel Authorization.1. Under the Government Employee Training Act (GETA) authority, approving officialsmay authorize travel for all or part of the travel and/or training expenses for the period oftraining.2. When the agency pays for part of the expenses, an employee may pay theremaining expense(s) with personal funds. Since NTE travel may co-mingleappropriated funds with personal funds, travel arrangements will not be made via theOBE or Individually Billed and Centrally Billed Travel Cards. Approving officials mayauthorize employees to attend training at no cost to VA. Reference Appendix B, NoCost Travel Authority, for preparation.3. An administrative determination will be made in accordance with Human Resources(HR) policy to determine whether an employee is in a duty or leave status. If theemployee is in a duty status, an NTE Travel Authorization will be issued in the travelsystem. The travel authorization will specify the dollar amount of travel expenses to bereimbursed by VA. If the employee is in a leave or other non-duty status, a travelauthorization will not be issued, and the traveler will not be entitled to reimbursement ofany travel expenses. Reference Appendix A, Purpose for Travel, to determine whetheran activity is considered a training event.I. Personal/Unofficial Travel Combined with Official Travel.When VA employees combine personal/unofficial and official travel, properly preparedtravel authorizations help the Department and travelers to determine when to charge for9

Department of Veterans AffairsTravel AdministrationFebruary 2020Volume XIV – Chapter 1annual leave, when to reimburse travel expenses, and who is financially responsible if atraveler becomes ill or is injured while away from the office. Reference Appendix D,Personal/Unofficial Travel Combined with Official Travel Procedures, for instructions onhow to create a travel authorization that combines personal/unofficial and official travel.J. Local Travel (Reference Vol XIV Ch. 7, Local Travel).K. Non-Federal Sponsored (Donated) Travel.When a traveler has been approved to accept payment from a non-Federal Governmententity (e.g., donated travel), a non-Federal Sponsored Travel Authorization will becreated in VA’s travel system when a traveler has obtained advance approval, inaccordance with Section 010201A. The travel authorization will identify the source ofpayment, payment type (e.g., in-kind or reimbursed by payment from the non-Federalsource) and payment amount. VA Form 0893, Advance Review of Offer to DonateSupport for Official Travel, will be provided with the traveler’s receipts, which are faxedinto the travel system when submitting the travel claim. Reference Appendix E, NonFederal Sponsored Travel, for instructions on how to create a non-Federal SponsoredTravel Authority in the travel system.010202 PRE-EMPLOYMENT INTERVIEW AND INVITATIONAL TRAVEL.A. Pre-Employment Interview Travel.1. A pre-employment interviewee is either a current Federal employee in a non-dutystatus, or a new hire. The FTR does not require reimbursement for pre-employmentinterviews (41 C.F.R. § 301-75.2). Therefore, when an individual performs preemployment interview(s), the hiring official may use conference calls or videoconferencing. Follow-up interview travel expenses may be paid when considerednecessary by the hiring official, using fiscally prudent measures, only when advanceapproval is obtained, in accordance with Section 010201A. Reimbursements for preemployment interviews do not need to be all or nothing. The interviewing official maymake the decision to partially reimburse the interviewee for travel to the preemployment interview. An interviewee may be paid the same travel expenses to whicha Government employee traveling on official business is entitled. Decisions to pay anyor all travel expenses of an individual candidate will be in accordance with the authority,applicability and rules of 41 C.F.R. Chapter 301.2. The approving official will determine eligibility based on OPM guidelines contained in5 C.F.R. Part 572 and VA guidelines related to Title 38 employees, contained in VAHandbook 5005, Part II, Chapter 3, paragraph 5 and as may be provided in 38 U.S.C. §7410.3. Pre-employment interview travel will be approved on a trip-by-trip basis only. Atravel authorization must be submitted in VA’s travel system using the purpose codeInvitational Travel. Interviewees are not authorized a travel advance. Interviewees will10

Department of Veterans AffairsTravel AdministrationFebruary 2020Volume XIV – Chapter 1be instructed on pertinent VA travel policy and procedures, for reservations, submittinga travel authorization for approval, and how to submit travel claims for reimbursement.Reference Appendix F, Pre-Employment Interview Procedures, and note VA travelsystem profiles may only be moved temporarily for pre-employment interview for amaximum of 5 calendar days. The interviewee is expected to exercise the same care inincurring expenses that a prudent person would exercise if traveling on personalbusiness.4. Pre-employment travel expenses will not be approved for an interviewee to look for aresidence at the prospective duty station.5. Travel arrangements for the interviewee may be made by the interviewing facility’stravel arranger in accordance with the FTR and VA policy (reference Appendix F, PreEmployment Interview Procedures). Interviewees must use Government city-paircontracts with airlines and Amtrak and are bound by rules outlined in the FTR and VApolicy. Common carrier transportation (air, rail, bus) will be paid through the station’sCBA. For invitational travelers lodging and rental car reservations, the traveler will haveto arrange their own lodging and rental car if they are authorized. Travelers will benotified of their reimbursement limitations based on the per diem entitlements for theTDY location.6. The interviewee is accountable for all transportation tickets/e-tickets issued for use inperforming pre-employment travel. The interviewing facility will provide the intervieweefull instructions on procedures involved with ticket exchanges and/or credit procedures.Expenses other than common carrier transportation and/or lodging will be paid by theinterviewee who will be reimbursed for allowable expenses upon submission andapproval of a travel claim or local travel claim.7. Interviewees whose travel has been approved will be advised to keep a record andmaintain receipts of all charges until their reimbursement claim is settled. Intervieweeclaims against the Government are forfeited if the claimant attempts to defraud theGovernment. The claimant is subject to disciplinary and/or criminal provisions if a false,fictitious or fraudulent claim is presented against the United States (41 C.F.R. § 30152.12, 18 U.S.C. § 287 and § 1001).B. Invitational Travel.1. Invitational travel involves VA paying for the travel of a non-Federal employee, aFederal employee traveling in a non-duty status or consultants (not under an agreementor contract with VA). Advance appro

010206 Use of the Travel Charge Card . considered "official business" and the employee is entitled to travel reimbursement as appropriate for the time and distance. 6. Local Travel. See Vol XIV, Ch. 7, Local Travel, for information

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