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2200 Travel Advance Funds

Travel Policy May 2015

Priority use of the Travel Advance Fund is for new direct delivery staff attending the required training. Other staff may be allowed to use the Travel Advance Fund on a case-by-case exception basis. The Advance Travel Fund is a petty cash fund allowed by the Comptroller of Public Accounts (CPA), and as a petty cash fund, the Advance Travel Fund is used for agency emergencies, and is not designed for common and repeat travelers. Use of the Travel Advance Fund is authorized by Texas Government Code §403.248. Authorized travelers and their supervisors are responsible for ensuring that travel advances adhere to policy.

The EXTRA (Express Travel Advance) Card is a MasterCard that can be used anywhere that MasterCard is accepted. It is limited to allowable travel expenses made on official state business while in travel status. The card has a credit limit equal to 100% of expected travel expenses and is only good for the specific dates of travel listed on the Travel Advance Request.

The EXTRA Card is used for State of Texas business travel charges only and is not for personal use. No alcohol or tips may ever be charged on the card. Purchases of alcohol are considered abuse of the card and violate state law, according to Government Code 660.113. All DFPS business airline tickets and rental cars must be charged on the agency’s direct bill account. Use of the EXTRA Card for charges other than official state business is a direct violation of the state’s contract with Citibank, and, therefore, a misapplication of the state issued card. Any misuse will result in cancellation of the EXTRA Card and will be subject to disciplinary action and probable restriction of future EXTRA Card usage.

The DFPS Travel Office verifies all EXTRA Card purchases through a real-time web-based system that allows DFPS to monitor and review all EXTRA Card activity. The traveler’s supervisor, manager, and regional or division director is notified of any apparent misuse of the EXTRA Card. The traveler is required to provide a written explanation of charges which appear to constitute misuse. 

If repeated misuse is confirmed, the traveler’s unit director, with a copy to the unit director of the Office of Administrative Services and the Office of General Counsel, is notified of the misuse and the traveler is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

2210 Who Will Be Issued Travel Advance Funds

Travel Policy August 2015

The following employees may be issued travel advance funds:

  •   New employees attending Basic Skills Development training

  •   First-line supervisors attending Basic Skills Development training

  •   Master Investigators and Master Caseworkers

  •   Other employees with an exception.

Applicable exceptions are:

  •   authorized travelers who have applied for but not received a state travel charge card;

  •   authorized travelers who make (or expect to make) less than three trips per fiscal year, or accumulate a total of less than $500 in business related travel expenses per fiscal year; and

  •   authorized travelers who may claim other financial hardship.

A “financial hardship” is a one-time exception for rare occurrences. It is the responsibility of the supervisor and the regional director to make the initial approval based on a “unique” financial emergency/hardship. The Accounting Division makes the final decision based on available funds and the emergency justification.

Examples of financial hardships would be a sudden medical cost, or large car expense, or a family crisis (these are not all-inclusive examples). Current economic conditions should not be considered a unique financial hardship as all staff face the same economic conditions.

The Advance Travel Exception process is not designed to override Section 2220 Who Will Not Be Issued Travel Advance Funds.

2220 Who Will Not Be Issued Travel Advance Funds

Travel Policy May 2015

The following employees will not be issued travel advance funds:

  •   Employees in salary group B19 or higher

  •   Employees who have a state travel charge card

  •   Employees who had a state travel charge card cancelled for misuse or nonpayment within the previous 12 months

  •   Employees who have failed to submit a Travel Advance Settlement claim in eTravel within 14 calendar days following the completion of the trip (see 2230 When to Submit a Travel Advance Request and Travel Settlement Claim)

  •   Employees who have failed to repay overpayments from previous travel advances within 14 calendar days of the Delinquent Repay Collection first notice

  •   Employees not with the state, including advisory council members, interns, contractors, perspective state employees, and volunteers

  •   Employees who are not in good standing with the state of Texas, because the employee:

  •   is in default of a student loan;

  •   owes child support in a case where the attorney general provides services; or

  •   is indebted to the state or owes state taxes

The anticipated travel expenses must total at least $300.

2230 When to Submit a Travel Advance Request and Travel Settlement Claim

Travel Policy May 2015

The Advance Travel Request must be in “AR Audit Received” status in eTravel at least 14 calendar days before the departure date.

An employee who receives a travel advance must, within 14 calendar days from the end date of the travel, submit a travel advance settlement claim in eTravel.

A travel advance settlement or reimbursement is considered delinquent 15 calendar days after the end of the date of travel for which the advance was issued. An employee with a delinquency will not be approved for additional travel advance funds, and subsequent travel reimbursement claims will not be processed for payment until the delinquency is resolved.

2240 Travel Advance Request Procedures

Travel Policy May 2015

The requester:

  •   completes the Advance Travel Request in eTravel

  •   completes the online approvals through the Travel Authorization (TA) process in eTravel and electronically attaches the authorization to the request for any of the following:

  •   Car rental requests

  •   Airline reservations

  •   Out-of state travel;

  •   must initiate the request in sufficient time so the request is in “AR Audit Received” status, with all appropriate approvals, at least 14 calendar days before the departure date.

The supervisor:

  •   approves the Travel Authorization in eTravel before travel dates if applicable; and

  •   Approves the Travel Advance Request in eTravel at least 14 calendar days before the departure date;

The Travel Advance Unit:

  •   reviews the request to determine eligibility;

  •   loads the credit limit to the EXTRA card, and distributes it to the location the traveler specifies on the request in eTravel.

2250 Travel Advance Settlement Procedures

Travel Policy May 2015

The Travel Advance Settlement Claim must be received in eTravel within 14 calendar days after the last travel day of the associated advance travel trip. The travel settlement claim initiates the audit process, which determines the allowable expenses, replenishes the Travel Advance Fund, and calculates if the authorized traveler will be reimbursed additional funds or the authorized traveler needs to reimburse the state for unauthorized charges placed on the EXTRA card.

One Advance Travel Settlement Claim should be submitted in eTravel for each EXTRA card issued, and should not be combined with regular travel.

2251 Travel Advance Settlement Attachments Required

Travel Policy June 2014

Gasoline

Itemized receipts are required for reimbursement associated with refueling rental vehicles. “Pre-pay” gasoline receipts will not be reimbursed. Acceptable gasoline receipts that are reimbursable are itemized "after purchase is complete" receipts that show the number of gallons, price per gallon, and cost. The EXTRA card may be used to purchase gasoline while in a personal car, and the traveler's mileage reimbursement will be reduced by the amount charged for fuel. 

Employee Restaurant Meals Purchased with the EXTRA Card

Itemized receipts are not required to be submitted, but must be maintained, for any restaurant meals purchased using the EXTRA card. Questionable purchases on the Citibank (card) statement are subject to review in audit, and the itemized receipt may need to be provided to receive reimbursement.

Employee Restaurant Meals Not Purchased with the EXTRA Card

Itemized receipts are required to be submitted with the settlement claim for any meals not purchased on the EXTRA card. Employees will not be reimbursed for meals purchased out-of-pocket unless an itemized meal receipt is submitted. 

Grocery purchases

Itemized receipts are required to be submitted with the settlement claim. Each receipt can only be for grocery meals for one day (purchased and consumed on the same date). Travelers cannot purchase meals for multiple days all on one date.

2252 Delinquent Travel Advance Settlement Claim

Travel Policy May 2015

If the travel claim is not received within 14 calendar days, the Travel Advance Unit sends a notice to the traveler, with a copy to the supervisor.

If the travel claim is not received within 14 calendar days of the Delinquent Travel Advance Settlement Claim first notice, a second notice is sent. At the time the second notice is sent, the Travel Advance Unit:

  •   notifies the employee and the supervisor that the employee has not completed and submitted the Advance Travel Settlement Claim; and

  •   places the employee on Comptroller warrant hold.

An employee who does not submit the claim may be denied travel advances in the future and may be subject to adverse personnel action, up to and including dismissal.

2253 Repaying Unallowable Expenses Charged to the EXTRA Card

Travel Policy May 2015

The Travel Advance Unit will audit the Travel Advance Settlement Claim. If the amount charged to the EXTRA card exceeds the actual reimbursable travel expenses incurred, the Travel Advance Unit contacts the employee for immediate reimbursement, supplying the employee with the exact amount due to the agency.

If the payment is not received within 14 calendar days of the Delinquent Repay Collection first notice, a second notice is sent. At the time this second notice is sent, the Travel Advance Unit:

  •   notifies the employee and the supervisor that the employee is indebted to the state;

  •   places the employee on Comptroller warrant hold, if appropriate; and

  •   continues with the appropriate recoupment process including referral to the Office of the Attorney General, if applicable.

An employee who does not submit the payment may be denied travel advances in the future, have other travel expenses placed on “Hold”, and may be subject to adverse personnel action up to and including dismissal.

The authorized traveler should be prepared to repay the agency upon notification as the traveler should know the travel expenses were less than the amount charged.

2254 Reimbursing Authorized Traveler for Expenses in Excess of the Amount Charged to the EXTRA Card

Travel Policy June 2014

The Travel Advance Unit audits the Travel Advance Settlement Claim. If it is determined that the state owes the authorized traveler an amount in excess of the amount charged, the Travel Advance Unit prepares and enters the additional travel expenses, issuing payment for the remaining balance.

The Travel Advance Unit processes the remaining balance within 20 working days of receiving the Travel Advance Settlement Claim.

2260 The Authorized Traveler and Supervisor Responsibility

Travel Policy May 2015

The traveler:

  •   signs the back of the EXTRA card upon receipt;

  •   prepares Travel Advance Settlement Claim within 14 calendar days after the associated advance travel trip. Travel Advance Settlement Claims must include only the travel associated with the advance;

  •   must obtain a copy of Form 7905 Certificate for Internal Training from the instructor and submit it with the travel claim if applicable. Form 7905 may only cover one training session. Altered 7905s are not acceptable. If the certification document is not provided, the traveler contacts the instructor or clicks on the Form 7905 hyperlink for further instructions;

  •   submits the Travel Advance Settlement Claim to the supervisor for the approval; and

  •   pays back excess advance within 14 calendar days of notification from the Travel Advance Unit.

The supervisor:

  •   approves the advance travel settlement claim in eTravel no later than 14 calendar days after the completion of the trip;

  •   is responsible for auditing for “Divisional” travel policy, and must remove Divisional required documentation before sending the claim to state office; and

  •   is required to notify the Travel Advance Unit once it is determined that an employee who had been approved for an advance is leaving DFPS. This notification is necessary to ensure funds are recouped.

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