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2400 Personal Vehicles

2410 Reimbursing Personal Vehicle Travel

Travel Policy May 2015

DFPS may reimburse authorized travelers for mileage incurred during the employee’s use of a personal motor vehicle.

When making travel plans, each travel arrangement must be the most cost effective considering all relevant circumstances. The shortest route between points is generally presumed to be the most cost effective route; however, consideration is given for reimbursements of a longer route due to the employee’s time savings, resulting productivity improvements, and safety factors.

The number of miles traveled by an employee for state business is determined by point-to-point itemization. When using point-to-point mileage, the traveler lists the street addresses in the Record of Transportation. Point-to-point mileage may be documented by an employee’s vehicle odometer reading or by a readily available online mapping service.

DFPS developed an online Travel Submission System (eTravel). Staff are mandated by the agency to use this system for their travel reimbursements. This system allows staff to plan their daily trips using the Bing mapping tool that is built into the eTravel system and is the standard for the agency. eTravel calculates and records the point-to-point trip information. See 6000 Automated Online Travel System – eTravel.

DFPS will reimburse a longer route that is faster than the shortest route because the time savings and resulting productivity improvements make it the most cost-effective route. As previously noted, the itemization for point-to-point mileage is recorded by eTravel. Any change to the recorded mileage must be sufficiently detailed for the agency to verify the number of miles and to validate the justification for the change. DFPS auditors use the eTravel system as the DFPS internet mileage tool for travel audit verification as eTravel uses the mileage information from Bing.

Additional mileage incurred because a state employee is lost or receives inaccurate directions may not be included in the calculation of a mileage reimbursement. Traffic gridlock, road construction, unfamiliar roads, etc., are also not included in the calculation. If, however, an employee has to take a detour due to construction or road closure, the employee can include that mileage. The traveler must document justification for this on the record of transportation for that date. When using point-to-point in a rural area, the traveler may need to give additional information to verify mileage, such as, “3 miles off of Farm Road 183 East across from the Blue Church.”

Allowable additional expenses include parking fees and toll charges incurred while on official state business.

2420 Coordinating Personal Vehicle Travel

Travel Policy June 2014

Authorized travelers of the same agency from the same office location traveling on the same dates with the same itinerary must coordinate when traveling by personal vehicle to the same duty point. The state allows full mileage for one vehicle for every four authorized travelers. If multiple travelers are claiming the same personal vehicle mileage, the traveler must denote in the Record of Transportation in the Duties Performed, the itinerary difference.

The commissioner can determine that coordination of travel is not feasible under certain circumstances. The executive memo will be maintained in the Accounting Division. (see TexTravel - “Four per car rule”). Examples:

  •   An authorized traveler is required to transport equipment and supplies to the duty point and does not have room for passengers.

  •   An authorized traveler plans to drive to the same conference that a colleague is going to, but has scheduled a meeting at a regional office afterward.

2430 Multiple Authorized Travelers

Travel Policy May 2015

Whenever travel expenses of more than one individual are being paid or reimbursed, and if the expenses were incurred for the same or similar official state business, the traveler includes supporting documentation for those expenses on the travel reimbursement form. Sufficient detail or justification must be provided to prove the number of individuals conducting the business was necessary.

Supporting documentation justifying why more than one authorized traveler was necessary to conduct the same or similar business when the authorized travelers are traveling to and from the same location, must be documented in eTravel on the Trips tab under Duties Performed.

Example Statements

“I traveled from Austin to Houston with three other auditors to perform an internal audit of a program area. Four auditors were necessary to expedite the audit.”

“I traveled from San Antonio to Austin with two other employees to attend USAS training provided by the Comptroller’s Office at the Proctor building. It was necessary that three employees attend the training due to USAS requiring hands-on training experience.”

“I traveled from Edinburg to Austin with two other employees to attend an Accounts Payable meeting. It was necessary for all three to attend because immediate feedback of new procedures presented was needed.”

2440 Mechanical Failure Repairs

Travel Policy June 2014

The state does not consider an authorized traveler to be performing state business if he or she is attending to the mechanical failure of a personal vehicle. Authorized travelers will not be reimbursed for neither lodging, meals, nor mileage caused by the mechanical failure of a personal vehicle. Once the vehicle is repaired and the authorized traveler continues state business, reimbursement for lodging, meals, and mileage claims can be resumed. If an authorized traveler continues state business by other means of transportation, reimbursement for lodging and meals for the period during which the vehicle is being repaired may be claimed.

2450 Personal Vehicle Mileage

2451 Mileage Reimbursement Rate

Travel Policy June 2014

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) establishes a maximum mileage reimbursement rate to be used by the private and public sector for mileage reimbursement. These rates are generally reviewed and set annually, but unexpected disasters and economic factors can cause rates to change during the year.

The state of Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts takes the information supplied by the IRS and sets a maximum reimbursement rate for the state. Agencies cannot reimburse more than the maximum mileage reimbursement rate set, but each state agency does have the authority to establish a lower mileage reimbursement rate. DFPS generally uses the maximum reimbursement rate for the state.

When claiming mileage reimbursement, authorized DFPS travelers must use the agency approved reimbursement rate for the travel service dates. The DFPS eTravel system is designed to use the appropriate rate for the specified travel period.

2452 Mileage Between Lodging and Restaurants or Lodging and Duty Point

Travel Policy May 2015

Actual mileage between lodging and restaurants and lodging and duty points, while on overnight trips, can be reimbursed up to a maximum of 10 miles roundtrip. An exception is available for mileage reimbursement between lodging and duty point if a justification statement is included on the travel claim in eTravel on the Trips tab under Duties Performed.

Example Justification Statements:

  •   “Unable to obtain lodging at state rate within five miles of duty point.”

  •   “Unable to obtain lodging within five miles of duty point due to safety factor.”

2453 Mileage Between Residence and Airport

Travel Policy June 2014

The required check-in or arrival time of a flight is the travel start time. If the travel start time is on a workday before or after working hours, then reimbursement is for actual mileage.

If the travel start time is on a workday during work hours, then reimbursement is for actual mileage or mileage from HQ, whichever is less.

If the travel start time is on a nonworking day, then reimbursement is for actual mileage.

A state agency may reimburse a state employee for the mileage incurred by another individual (employee or nonemployee) while transporting the authorized traveler between the employee’s residence and an airport. To be reimbursed for a courtesy ride, this must be the most cost effective method of reimbursement. The cost the employee would have incurred if the employee had driven and parked his or her car is compared to the cost of mileage reimbursement for the trip or trips supplied through a courtesy ride.

If an authorized traveler receives a courtesy ride to the airport not from a commercial source, the travel claim must indicate the name of the person providing the courtesy ride. It must also be stated whether the person providing the courtesy ride is either an employee or nonemployee, because the authorized traveler and the employee providing the courtesy ride cannot both claim the same mileage expense.

2454 Mileage Between Residence and Duty Point

Travel Policy May 2015

Mileage between the authorized traveler’s residence and duty points are limited to mileage less than or equal to mileage to headquarters, regardless of the day of week or time of day.

Mileage to and from an authorized traveler’s residence can be claimed for after-hours mileage when the employee is “On Call”. “On Call” staff are identified by each program area. Staff who are performing an “On Call” duty must identify each travel line associated with an “On Call” duty on the Trips tab in eTravel by stating “On Call” and including the travel time and duty performed; otherwise the mileage will automatically be reduced.

Supervisors are responsible for reviewing and certifying the appropriateness of an employee claiming mileage for “On Call” duties.

2455 Mileage Between Residence and Place of Employment

Travel Policy June 2014

Reimbursement for mileage between an employee’s residence and HQ is not allowed unless extraordinary circumstances cause the travel, and the travel occurs during nonworking hours.

Extraordinary circumstances are events that threaten public health or safety, or cause or threaten to cause damage to public property. Circumstances and the starting time of the travel must be documented in the Record of Transportation on the Travel Claim. The starting time of the travel determines whether the travel occurs during nonworking hours.

2456 Mileage for Returns to Place of Employment

2456.1 Returns to HQ From Personal Leave

Travel Policy June 2014

Transportation back to HQ can be reimbursed if an authorized traveler is outside of his or her HQ city on personal leave and the commissioner asks the authorized traveler to return for state business. The authorized traveler must state on the claim that the agency head required the authorized traveler to return to HQ.

In the Record of Transportation and Duties Performed section of the travel  claim:

  •   if the travel is by car, indicate the address left from or returned to; or

  •   if the travel is by air, indicate the scheduled flight departure or arrival time.

2456.2 Weekend Returns to HQ

Travel Policy June 2014

An authorized traveler can return to HQ on the weekend at state expense. However, the reimbursement for returning (including reimbursement for lodging and meals, mileage, or transportation) cannot exceed the cost of staying over the weekend. If more than one authorized traveler returns to HQ in a personal car, the comparison of mileage to reimbursement for lodging and meals includes the reimbursement for lodging and meals of each authorized traveler.

Example

An authorized traveler is 500 miles from HQ on a business trip that will continue through the next week, and the traveler wants to go home for the weekend. The traveler returns to HQ at 5 p.m. Friday and leaves to return to the duty assignment at 6 a.m. Monday at a cost of $550. Had the traveler stayed at the duty point, the estimated reimbursement for lodging and meals would have been $337. The claim may only be $337.

The following table compares the costs:

Cost to Stay at Duty Point

Day

Meals

Lodging

Totals

Friday

$10

$85

$95

Saturday

$36

$85

$121

Sunday

$36

$85

$121

Monday

 

 

 

Weekend reimbursement for lodging and meals total

 

 

$337

* The rate of $.55 per mile is for comparison only.

Cost to Return to HQ

Return to HQ from duty point (500 x $.55)*

$275

 

 

 

 

Return to duty point from HQ (500 x $.55)*

$275

Mileage total

$550

* The rate of $.55 per mile is for comparison only.

The traveler shows the amount on the travel claim as a claim for mileage and indicates that it is “Weekend mileage in lieu of reimbursement for lodging and meals.

If public transportation had been used, the traveler would have claimed only its actual cost (including taxi, bus, or limousine fares) up to the estimated cost of staying at the duty point. The traveler would note on the claim: “Weekend public transportation in lieu of reimbursement for lodging and meals.”

2456.3 Daily Returns to HQ

Travel Policy June 2014

Authorized travelers can return to HQ daily rather than stay out of town at state expense. The reimbursement for transportation to return to HQ cannot exceed the reimbursement for lodging and meals the traveler would have received had he or she remained at the duty point.

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