On Oct. 1, the Joint Federal Travel Regulation Volume 1 and the Joint Travel Regulation Volume 2 merged into one regulation now called the Joint Travel Regulations.
Under the new regulation, which covers both military and civilian Department of Defense travelers, several miscellaneous reimbursable expenses are no longer authorized to be claimed.
Items such as ATM fees and baggage tips that people used in permanent change of station or temporary duty status are no longer reimbursable. They are now included in the per diem rates when the member is filing their travel voucher.
These costs will be covered under the incidental expense portion of per diem. Members receive $5 per day in the continental U.S. and various rates in areas outside of the continental U.S.
Additionally, members will receive a flat rate per diem regardless if they are in the U.S. or overseas. Per diem will depend on the locality rate, which will now include lodging, meals and incidental expenses. However, they will receive a portion of that flat rate depending on the length of the TDY.
“If you are TDY at a location for 30 days or less, there is no change in the way things are being processed,” said Staff Sgt. Derek Tekampe, 86th Comptroller Squadron customer service technician. “However, if your TDY is 31 to 180 days, the direct reimbursement for your per diem is no longer the same. Since your TDY is so long, you should now be looking at hotels offering accommodations for extended stays instead of a regular hotel, because the per diem rate is 75 percent of the full rate.”
Additionally, for TDYs longer than 181 days, the authorized flat rate is 55 percent of the locality rate.
“If you are going to be staying at a location for six months or longer, you should look at renting an apartment and cooking your own meals,” Tekampe said. “The general way the whole DOD has looked at TDYs in the past — the whole mentality needs to change.”
The changes outlined in the JTR are being made to help facilitate that change in thinking.
Travelers will now have to do their research prior to getting to a location, because if you get there and get a non-availability letter to stay off base for 45 days, you’re going to be limited to 75 percent of the flat rate.
The changes to the flat rate per diem are effective Saturday. TDYs beginning before that date will be grandfathered in and processed the old way at the full rate regardless of length. However, if the TDY is amended with an extension after Saturday, the new rates will take effect on the date after the amendment was processed.
“There are currently no plans to change DTS to automatically reflect these changes. Members will have to manually input the data to correctly calculate the percentage at which they should receive reimbursement,” said Staff Sgt. James Annison, 86th CPTS lead defense travel system technician.
However, the 86th CPTS plans to provide training for organizational defense travel administrators and approving officials to recognize these trips.
“For any trip after Nov. 1, they are going to have to start looking at the authorizations and the vouchers to make sure they are giving them the correct per diem and flagging them,” Annison said. “There will be an audit procedure set up by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and DTS to flag all of the authorizations and vouchers that are approving full rate or anything over the flat rate per diem.”
Training for ODTAs and AOs is planned for the first and third Tuesday of the month for the next several months. ODTAs and AOs will not only receive information on the new regulation and DTS but also on where to find information when questions arise. ODTAs and AOs should contact the 86th CPTS to learn more about the training.
These individuals will then be responsible for training the members of their units to ensure all members are processing their travel vouchers correctly.
“We need to be good stewards of the American dollar and look at how can we save the government money,” Tekampe said.
For details, contact your unit resource adviser or defense travel administrator, or visit www.defensetravel.dod.mil.