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1000 DFPS Travel Policy Overview

1100 Terms and Definitions

Travel Policy May 2015

Cancellation Charge – A fee, charge or payment that a provider of travel services assesses because of the cancellation or change of a travel reservation or other travel plan. For example, a nonrefundable purchase of an airline ticket becomes a cancellation charge when the ticket becomes unusable because of changed travel plans.

Central Billing – Central billing occurs when the contracted state charge card company submits an invoice, listing multiple charges made to the agency charge card account, for reconciliation and payment.

Commercial Lodging Establishment – A motel, hotel, inn, apartment, or similar entity that furnishes lodging to the public for pay.

Comptroller – The Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Designated Headquarters (HQ) – The area within the city limits of the incorporated area in which a state authorized traveler’s place of employment is located. If an authorized traveler’s place of employment is located within an unincorporated area, then the area within a five mile radius of the place of employment is the designated HQ. If a city, town, or unincorporated area is completely surrounded by the city or town in which an authorized traveler’s or legislator’s place of employment is located, then the designated HQ includes the surrounded area.

Direct Billing – Direct billing occurs when vendors submit invoices to the agency for payment rather than charging the traveler.

Disability – A physical or mental impairment of a person that substantially limits one or more major life activities of the individual.

Texas Government Code §660.002(8)

Divisional Travel Policy - An agency approved internal travel policy implemented at and for a region, division, unit, or program area.

Duty Point – The destination other than a place of employment to which a state-authorized traveler or legislator travels to conduct official state business. If the destination is outside the authorized traveler’s or legislator’s designated HQ, then the duty point is:

  •   the area within the city limits of the incorporated area in which the destination is located; or

  •   the area within a five mile radius of the destination if it is located in an unincorporated area.

eTravel System – An online travel application that records all business related Travel Reimbursement expenses. This system automatically calculates mileage between locations or duty points, allows users to document details of duties performed, records per diem (lodging and meals), incidental expenses, and associated wards of the state expenses. Interactive maps and driving directions can be launched and printed for users who plan their travel in advance.

Executive Level Management – This represents all assistant commissioners or deputy commissioners, CFOs, COOs, commissioner, chiefs of staff, Internal Audit directors, general counsel, and medical directors.

Force Majeure – A common clause in contracts which essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties or an event – described by the legal term “act of God” – prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.

Incidental Expense – A necessary and reasonable expense incurred by a state-authorized traveler while traveling on official state business. The term includes applicable taxes except taxes on meals. The term does not include:

  •   expenses for meals, lodging, or transportation;

  •   personal expenses;

  •   expenses that an authorized traveler would incur regardless of whether the authorized traveler was traveling on official state business; and

  •   tips and gratuities.

Lodging Expense – A charge imposed by a commercial lodging establishment as consideration for providing lodging. The term does not include money paid as a donation, gratuity, or tip to the establishment.

May Not – A prohibition; the term does not mean “might not” or its equivalents.

Meal Expense – The cost of a meal plus any tax that is based on the meal’s cost. The term does not include a tip, a gratuity, or a mandatory service charge paid or imposed in conjunction with a meal.

National Travel Systems (NTS) – NTS is one of two state contracted travel agencies for the State of Texas. NTS is currently the travel agency used by DFPS. NTS provides an online reservation system.

Nonworking Hours – All hours in a calendar day except working hours.

Overpayment – An authorized traveler’s receipt of a reimbursement that exceeds the limits established by law or the amount of travel expenses actually incurred.

Place of Employment – The office or location at which a state-authorized traveler most frequently conducts official state business.

Prospective State Employee – A person who is being considered by a state agency for employment with the agency. The term includes an employee of a state agency who is being considered for employment by another state agency.

Receipt – Documentation submitted as proof that an allowable travel expense has been incurred by a state employee. The documentation must include all of the following information:

  •   The name, date, and address of the commercial establishment

  •   The itemization of the items purchased

  •   Proof of payment

      Lodging receipts have additional requirements. Please see 2352 Lodging Receipts.

Rental Car Calculator – An online tool to assist travelers in determining the most cost efficient travel means by comparing the cost of renting a vehicle to the cost of reimbursing employees for business related mileage.

ROSA – Regional Operations Support Administrators

Small Claims Travel Voucher – Accounting document used to reimburse a state-authorized traveler for travel expenses incurred during the discharge of official state business. Small Claims relate to services, goods, or travel expenses in this case, that would be paid for out of State Appropriations that are closed at the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

State Travel Charge Card – A charge card issued to an eligible agency employee by the contracted charge card company for the purpose of paying travel related expenses; also referred to as the “State Corporate Card.” Employees eligible for a state travel charge card must qualify based upon personal credit history. The state is not responsible for the payment of charges applied to these accounts. The charge card may only be used for official state travel related business expenses.

TA –Travel Authorization is a process in eTravel for receiving pre-approval for staff and client travel.

TPASS – The Comptroller’s Texas Procurement and Support Services.

Travel Claim – Represents travel expenses submitted for reimbursement. This term will be used in conjunction with eTravel, and represents the online submittal of travel expenses, replacing the paper travel claims.

Travel Expenses – Transportation, meals, lodging, or incidental expenses incurred while conducting official state business.

Workday – A day on which a state-authorized traveler is regularly required to conduct official state business.

Working Hours – The hours during which a state-authorized traveler is regularly scheduled to conduct official state business.

1200 State Travel Legislation

Travel Policy June 2014

Policies and procedures governing state business travel are based on legislation, and so are the many conveniences that have been arranged for travelers. The DFPS Travel Policies explain in detail how to arrange, document, and reimburse travel so authorized travelers can be assured that:

  •   reimbursements will be timely and accurate;

  •   the privilege of state-arranged billing and charging is protected for travel required in the future; and

  •   DFPS is complying with the law.

State travel legislation includes:

  •   state travel laws and regulations contained in the General Appropriations Act;

  •   the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) – Title 34 Part I Chapter 5 Subchapter C Rule 5.22, to help state agencies and state employees comply with the travel regulations enacted by the Texas Legislature;

  •   the Comptroller’s Texas Procurement and Support Services (TPASS);

  •   the Travel Regulations Act, Texas Government Code, Chapter 660, Travel Expenses; and

  •   Textravel Web Resource – This link through the Comptroller enables agencies to access all state travel regulations and procedures in one easy to navigate online location.

In order to conserve state funds, some of the DFPS travel policies listed in the following sections may be more conservative than those contained in the Texas Administrative Code or the Texas Government Code.

1300 Conveniences for State Travelers

Travel Policy May 2015

TPASS allows participating vendors to offer an array of services to authorized travelers. The program has negotiated annual contracts as part of its mission to reduce costs and keep agency management informed about how its authorized travelers travel and at what costs. Those contracts provide for the following:

  •   Travel agency services

  •   State travel charge cards

  •   Airfares

  •   Rental cars

  •   Hotels

The state contract offers the following conveniences for authorized travelers:

  •   Multiple options in choosing flight times, hotels, rental cars, billing services, and so on

  •   Better services

  •   State contractors who are familiar with agency needs, saving travelers time and worry

  •   The ability to avoid spending personal funds for state travel by using the agency’s central billing account, which allows airline and car rental charges to be billed directly to the agency

DFPS requires all employees to obtain prior approval for public transportation (airfare, car rental authorization, bus ticket reservations) and out of state travel through the Travel Authorization (TA) process in eTravel.

1400 Authorized Travelers

Travel Policy June 2014

DFPS reimburses travel expenses in accordance with the comptroller’s guidelines for official state business conducted by:

  •   employees, prospective employees, and other authorized travelers;

  •   committees, councils, and key officials;

  •   attendants to authorized travelers with disabilities requiring assistance;

  •   wards of the state;

  •   volunteers and interns;

  •   foster parents;

  •   clients; and

  •   witnesses.

The Travel Claims Unit processes all travel claims for DFPS employees only. Interns, temporary employees and non-employees are reimbursed for their travel through DFPS Accounts Payable.

1500 Travel Inquiry and Contact Information

Travel Policy May 2015

Links to the DFPS Intranet Travel Contact Information

Travel Claims (travel claim reimbursement)

Travel Management: Direct Bill (car rental and airlines)

eTravel Claim and Request Status:

The status of each Travel Claim can be found in the eTravel application.

Email Addresses to Travel Mailboxes

Travel Policy Inquiries

The DFPS Travel POLICY mailbox is for inquiries regarding the DFPS Travel Policy – regulations, auditing, “how to” questions, etc.

Travel Claim Status

The DFPS Travel Status mailbox must only be used to inquire on a claim that is has been in “audit received” status more than 20 work days.

Advance Travel Inquires

DFPS AT EXTRA

Direct Bill Transportation Inquiries

DFPS DIR BILL SUPPORT

 

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