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Frequently Asked Questions

CONFERENCE PLANNING GUIDANCE

  1. Is conference planning part of the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR)?
  2. If a conference or meeting is held within the local commuting area, may the government pay for light refreshments?
  3. The FTR states that agencies may provide light refreshments to agency employees attending official conferences. It also states that 5 U.S.C. 5702 authorizes the refreshments. Does the FTR permit agencies to provide refreshments to employees who are not in travel status?
  4. When I attend a conference which includes lunch, it may be necessary to skip lunch for health reasons or because I'm eating elsewhere due to official business. Will I be reimbursed for a replacement lunch?
  5. Does the requirement to book lodging accommodations through my agency's travel management system (TMS) apply when attending a conference where the conference sponsor has blocked rooms at one or more lodging facilities?
  6. As a federal conference planner, may I keep for personal use any promotional benefits or materials I receive from a travel service provider?

INTERNAL AGENCY TRAVEL POLICY MANAGER

  1. What is an internal agency travel policy manager?
  2. What is the role of the internal agency travel policy manager?
  3. How do federal travelers interact with the internal agency travel policy manager?
  4. What happens when the traveler calls GSA for travel assistance in lieu of his/her travel policy manager?
  5. How is the internal agency travel policy manager identified?

MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT RATES

  1. Can the GSA or Federal privately owned automobile (POA) rate exceed the standard mileage rate established by the IRS?
  2. Is there a difference between the Federal privately owned automobile (POA) reimbursement rate and the IRS’s standard mileage rate?
  3. What items are considered when the IRS establishes their standard mileage rate?

PER DIEM

  1. Where can I find Per Diem Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)?

UNUSED, PARTIALLY USED, and EXCHANGED TICKETS

  1. What is the employee's responsibility regarding unused tickets?
  2. Who should the employee contact?
  3. What is the agency's responsibility?

CONFERENCE PLANNING GUIDANCE

  1. Is conference planning part of the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR)?

    Yes, FTR Part 301-74 covers travel-related expenses involving conferences for federal employees. If there is no travel involved on behalf of the federal host or attendees of the conference, then the FTR does not apply. If there is travel related to the conference(s), the FTR applies for the federal participant.

  2. If a conference or meeting is held within the local commuting area, may the government pay for light refreshments?

    No, not within the authority of the FTR. The payment for breaks allowed in the FTR applies only to conferences, meetings, etc., that involve travel.

  3. The FTR states that agencies may provide light refreshments to agency employees attending official conferences. It also states that 5 U.S.C. 5702 authorizes the refreshments. Does the FTR permit agencies to provide refreshments to employees who are not in travel status?

    The FTR covers only individuals in a travel status. An agency can determine that it is prudent to allow attendees not in a travel status to partake in the break where light refreshments are provided to ensure that the integrity and continuity of the conference would not be seriously hampered or disrupted if those attendees were forced to obtain refreshments elsewhere. In addition, the agency could determine that the administrative burden of monitoring refreshments to ensure only travelers partake is so costly and inefficient that such costs outweigh the cost of providing refreshments. If an agency is concerned about the legality of providing such refreshments, then the agency has the ability to say no to providing the breaks. It is the agency's decision. However, agencies may not provide light refreshments to non-federal travelers unless there is a mechanism for them to pay the cost of providing such refreshments, such as a registration fee. Note to Question 3: A decision of the Comptroller General of the United States (B-288266, January 27, 2003) states that "GSA does not have the authority to authorize agencies to pay for light refreshments for those not in a travel status." The decision further states that "certifying officers should not rely on GSA's travel regulation on conference planning to authorize light refreshments at meetings for employees in nontravel status." See GSA Travel Advisory #7, January 30, 2003, entitled, "Clarification of providing light refreshments at government sponsored conferences".

  4. When I attend a conference which includes lunch, it may be necessary to skip lunch for health reasons or because I'm eating elsewhere due to official business. Will I be reimbursed for a replacement lunch?

    Your agency, at its discretion, may allow you to claim the full M&IE allowance if:

    (1) You are unable to consume the furnished meal(s) because of medical requirements or religious beliefs;

    (2) In accordance with administrative procedures prescribed by your agency, you requested specific approval to claim the full M&IE allowance prior to your travel;

    (3) In accordance with administrative procedures prescribed by your agency, you have made a reasonable effort to make alternative meal arrangements, but were unable to do so; and

    (4) You purchase substitute meals in order to satisfy your medical requirements or religious beliefs.

    In your agency’s discretion, and in accordance with administrative procedures prescribed by your agency, you may also claim the full M&IE allowance if you were unable to take part in a Government-furnished meal due to the conduct of official business.

  5. Does the requirement to book lodging accommodations through my agency's travel management system (TMS) apply when attending a conference where the conference sponsor has blocked rooms at one or more lodging facilities?

    The requirement to book lodging accommodations through an agency TMS does not apply when a conference sponsor has negotiated with one or more lodging facilities to set aside a specific number of rooms for conference attendees. To ensure that the set aside rooms are used, direct booking, by attendees, with the lodging facility is required. Consequently, use of a TMS is not mandatory.

  6. As a federal conference planner, may I keep for personal use any promotional benefits or materials I receive from a travel service provider?

    No. Promotional benefits or materials you receive from a travel service provider in connection with your planning and/or scheduling an official conference or other group travel (as opposed to performing official travel yourself) are considered property of the government, and you may only accept the benefits or materials on behalf of the federal government.

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INTERNAL AGENCY TRAVEL POLICY MANAGER

  1. What is an internal agency travel policy manager?

    The General Services Administration's Office of Governmentwide Policy's Travel Management Policy Division sponsors an Interagency Travel Management Committee (ITMC) that provides a forum through which federal agencies can exchange information and ideas for resolving common interests relating to the effective utilization of the Federal Travel Regulation. This committee, representing federal agencies, boards, and commissions has been designated by his/her agency and has a significant interest in the management of federal travel. The ITMC members are generally the agency travel policy managers.

  2. What is the role of the internal agency travel policy manager?

    Through the ITMC, GSA strengthens lines of communication and disseminates information to agency representatives. The role is, among other things, to ensure compliance with internal travel rules and regulations.

  3. How do federal travelers interact with the internal agency travel policy manager?

    Federal travelers should direct any travel-related questions to his/her respective internal agency travel policy manager.

  4. What happens when the traveler calls GSA for travel assistance in lieu of his/her travel policy manager?

    Generally, the federal traveler and/or other respective interested party is referred by GSA back to the internal agency travel policy manager for direct assistance.

  5. How is the internal agency travel policy manager identified?

    The manager is generally found in the agency's Office of Finance and/or travel policy office, or GSA can provide the point of contact. If you need additional assistance, GSA is available at 202-501-1777.

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MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT RATES

  1. Can the GSA or Federal privately owned automobile (POA) rate exceed the standard mileage rate established by the IRS?

    No. The Federal POA rate cannot exceed the IRS standard mileage rate. The statute was recently changed to allow GSA to mirror the IRS standard mileage rate.

  2. Is there a difference between the Federal privately owned automobile (POA) reimbursement rate and the IRS’s standard mileage rate?

    Although the actual rates are the same, the reimbursement mechanisms may be different. While the Federal POA reimbursement rate is directly reimbursed to the Federal employee for every mile driven for official reasons, the IRS standard mileage rate is the amount provided for optional use by taxpayers to substantiate the amount of deductible costs per mile of operating an automobile for business purposes. Also, unlike with Federal employees on official travel, the IRS standard mileage rate is deducted from the individual’s income for determination of a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income.

  3. What items are considered when the IRS establishes their standard mileage rate?

    The following items are reviewed and make up the IRS’s standard mileage rate:

    • Gasoline and oil
    • Depreciation of original vehicle cost
    • Maintenance, accessories, parts, and tires
    • Insurance
    • State and Federal taxes

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PER DIEM

  1. Where can I find Per Diem Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)?

    Per Diem FAQs

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UNUSED, PARTIALLY USED, and EXCHANGED TICKETS

  1. What is the employee's responsibility regarding unused, partially used, and exchanged tickets?

    An employee must turn in all unused, partially used, and exchanged GTR(s), ticket coupons, e-tickets, or refund applications to the employee's agency in accordance with the agency's procedures. Under no circumstances should unused, partially used, and exchanged tickets be filed, destroyed, or thrown away!

  2. Who should the employee contact?

    Employees should contact their Travel Management Center, travel agent, supervisor, or other designated official.

  3. What is the agency's responsibility?

    The Federal Travel Regulation prescribes the agency's responsibility at Chapter 301, Parts 301-72.300 and 301-72.301.

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QUESTIONS:
For all travel policy questions, e-mail travelpolicy@gsa.gov


Travel Management Policy FAQ