Commentary | Sept. 13, 2021

How to use your government travel card during the FSMS cutover period

By MyCG Staff

You may have heard about the new Financial Management System (FSMS) and the new travel system (ETS) coming online at the beginning of October. As this occurs, there is a scheduled “cut over period” and in order to assist travelers with this transition, the Coast Guard has announced an immediate temporary expanded use of the government travel charge card (GTCC). During this time members who are performing a permanent change of station (PCS), long-term temporary travel, or who are under disaster evacuation orders may use their travel cards, whereas normally they would not be allowed. 

Use the centrally billed account

Generally when you travel, you are expected to book your airfare or train tickets on your GTCC. However, since travel claims will not be processed during the cut out period when FSMS and ETS come online, travelers are temporarily allowed to use the centrally billed account (CBA) for common carrier transportation expenses. The idea behind using the CBA is to reduce some of the impact on your GTCC credit limits and overall balance. When you use the CBA to book your travel, travelers and approving officials (AOs) will need include the following statement in the remarks section of travel orders: “Use of the Centrally Billed Account (CBA) is authorized.”

GTCC payments

If your account is in good standing – meaning you don’t have any past due balance from July 2021, which were due Aug. 22, 2021 – your account will be entered into a mission critical status which means no payment will be required on new August balances or future balances until after the cutover period. This status will keep your account in an active status and prevent adverse impacts resulting from debt while travel claims are not being processed. As a traveler, you will need to retain receipts and be prepared to immediately submit vouchers when the new systems are available. 

New GTCC cardholders will immediately be placed into mission critical status.

Credit Limits

As a traveler, if you need your GTCC credit limit raised  as a result of the inability to process travel claim reimbursements during the cutover you should contact your local travel manager. Travel manager authorization to establish credit limits is temporarily increased from $9,999 up to $19,999. Any requests above $20,000 will be forwarded to the GTCC program managers for DHS approval.

Disaster Evacuation  

If you receive orders to evacuate due to a disaster, you are authorized to use your GTCC for member and dependent meal and incidental expenses (M&IE) as flat-rate per diem for the number of allowable evacuation days limited by the evacuation order and actual days evacuated.  GTCC holders may withdraw up to $415 per week in cash at ATMs against their GTCC account to cover member and family M&IE expenses while evacuated under evacuation orders.  

Permanent Change of Station (PCS) and Long-Term Temporary Duty (TDY) 

Effective immediately, if you are executing a PCS move or long-term TDY, you are currently authorized to use the GTCC. This is a temporary provision for the cut out period. Generally, if your PCS is greater than 15 days or your temporary travel is greater than 21 days, you are not allowed to use your GTCC. This policy is temporarily suspended. However, you are expected to abide by the policy regarding authorized purchases remain in effect as stated in the Government Travel Charge Card (GTCC) Program Policies and Procedures, COMDTINST M4600.18 (series) and the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR). The GTCC is only for official travel to cover authorized expenditures, however, a temporary policy waiver is granted to cover authorized dependent expenses during PCS. 

Proper use of the GTCC for PCS consists of the following:

  • Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) at the old or new permanent duty station (PDS); charges related to this expense include lodging and meals while in temporary lodging.  See Chapter 5, in the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) for additional TLE information.
  • Fuel for Privately Owned Vehicles (POV), but only if POV is the authorized mode of transportation for the PCS travel. This is not a directly reimbursed item; it is paid in the form of a monetary allowance in lieu of transportation (MALT). MALT is a flat-rate per mile and per vehicle entitlement based on the distance between the old and new PDS, as determined by the Defense Table of Official Distances (DTOD).
  • Lodging and meals enroute; these items are not reimbursed directly, you and your dependents are entitled to a flat-rate per diem for the number of allowable travel days based on the mode of transportation, not to exceed the actual travel days used as outlined in Chapter 5 of the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR). 
  • Airfare/Train/Bus for you and dependents traveling with you, and only if it is the authorized mode of transportation for the PCS travel. Personal travel arrangements made for leave in conjunction with official (LICWO) travel cannot be purchased with the GTCC. See Chapter 3 of the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) further details regarding LICWO travel.
  • Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) is paid for using the CBA and purchased through the Travel Management Center (TMC) service provider.
  • Tolls and miscellaneous fees may be charged to the GTCC.    

Misuse 

If you use your GTCC for non-travel related expenses, they will still be considered misuse. GTCC may not be used for the following: 

  • Local travel
  • Team gear
  • Permissive orders
  • Retirement/separation
  • Personally procured moves
  • During leave
  • To/from leave site
  • Leave in conjunction with official (LICWO) travel
  • Cash withdrawals exceeding reimbursable amounts. 

Commanders/supervisors will ensure travel cards are used only for official travel related expenses. 

Examples of misuse include, but are not limited to: 

  • Expenses related to personal, family or household purposes except for authorized PCS expenses
  • Cash withdrawals from an ATM used during non-travel periods or not related to official government travel requirements are "not authorized."  This includes but is not limited to any withdrawal of a credit balance remaining on the card
  • Intentional failure to pay undisputed charges in a timely manner, and (d) ATM cash withdrawals taken more than three days prior to official government travel. Cardholders who misuse their travel card may be subject to administrative or disciplinary action, as appropriate.

Departing a unit on PCS orders 

Immediately upon receipt of orders, if not already a cardholder, you must apply for a GTCC. Travel Managers should assist cardholders in the application process and determine if expediting a card is necessary to meet travel requirements. Travel managers will adjust credit limits 10 days prior to the approved detach date to reflect the estimated cost of the PCS travel entitlements, allowing the GTCC to be used for temporary lodging. It is important that you as the traveler understand what PCS reimbursable entitlements are rated and their estimated dollar amounts. Upon completion and certification of the outbound interview, you will be provided an endorsement to the PCS orders which contains the estimated dollar amount of the travel entitlements. You will use this information to ensure charges placed on the GTCC do not exceed the amount that will be reimbursed upon PCS travel voucher settlement. 

Upon check-out from the unit, travel managers must counsel cardholders concerning proper use of the GTCC and who they should contact if issues arise. Any cardholder who requires assistance during the PCS travel period should contact their travel manager for their former command; if already reported to the new PDS, contact the travel manager of the new PDS. 

Find your supporting travel managers under the contacts portal page

If the cardholder is unable to reach the travel manager, Citi customer service should be contacted by calling the number on the back of the GTCC.

Reporting to your new unit

As a cardholder, you must submit you PCS travel vouchers in a timely manner upon check-in at the new PDS, as outlined in Section H of the Personnel & Pay Procedures Manual, PPCINST M1000.0 (Series). When the travel voucher is completed, ensure the split-disbursement amount in block 1 of DD Form 1351-2 reflects all undisputed charges placed on or pending in the GTCC. If temporary lodging is still required at the time of completion of the travel voucher, you must include an estimate of the TLE charges in the split-disbursement amount. Other than payment for temporary lodging, no further charges will be placed on the GTCC after completion of the travel voucher. You must ensure you update you GTCC contact information immediately following the establishment of your address at the new PDS. If you do not have a Citimanager account, the travel manager should make the necessary changes or assist you to create a user profile in Citimanager.

You must proactively review GTCC statements to ensure payment are made in full from the split-disbursement. You must pay any remaining balance due after the posting of the split-disbursement. Payment can be made via Citimanager at Citi Commercial Cards (citidirect.com), using the Citi mobile application, or by calling the number on the back of the card. If the split-disbursement exceeds the amount due, you may obtain the amount of the credit balance via the same methods described above. You are solely responsible for ensuring the card balance is paid in full once claim processing becomes available again.

Commands are reminded that particular attention is required for those newly reporting cardholders who typically would not have been issued a travel card from the departing unit. As soon as they have completed their travel claims, ensure the travel card limits are reduced to the minimum limits.

What if I am not eligible or cannot establish a GTCC?

If you cannot establish a GTCC account, then the CBA should be used to the maximum extent possible and you may use a personal credit or debit card for related commercial lodging and M&IE costs. The Travel Management Center, currently ADTRAV, should still be used for official travel reservations, including disaster evacuation reservations.    

Keep in mind: 

This policy does not apply to accession, separation, or retirement travel, nor does it affect the payment of advance pay or advance basic allowance for housing to pay for rental deposits. Additionally, this policy does not apply to PCS travel for civilian personnel, selected reserve members, or individual ready reserve members as these populations do not use the same order writing and outbound interview processes.  

GTCC Travel Managers may direct questions to Michael Duchossois at 703-254-7175 or to Evelyn “Carlene” Curry at 703-258-5996. 

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