This post contains an overview of what you need to know about how to book travel, excerpted from the comprehensive 18F Travel Guide.
The 18F Travel Team has two members:
- Leah Gitter (TTS Operations)
- Ethan Heppner (TTS Operations)
Leah Gitter is 18F’s primary points of contact for travel-related questions during 18F Travel Office Hours. Ethan Heppener fills in for Leah when they are out of the office.
If you have travel questions, you can ask them during 18F travel team office hours Monday through Friday from 10:30 to 11:30 AM and again from 3:30 to 4:30 PM (All times Eastern). Someone will be monitoring the channel and they will address your question as fast as they can.
For more involved questions, you can also sign up for a 1-on-1 appointment with a member of the 18F travel team. The 1-on-1s will be offered every day between 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM Eastern. If you’re new and have read through the Handbook Travel Guide and aren’t sure where to start, feel free to book some 1-on-1 time and get yourself oriented. If there are no 1-on-1s scheduled, morning office hours will continue through this time.
The travel team also approves authorizations at 2:30 PM Eastern every day, and Ethan does final approvals by 6 PM ET. If your travel wasn’t approved and you think it should have been, feel free to reach out in #travel or email@example.com at 3 PM Eastern to check if it was received.
Note: Authorizations will be addressed within a day of being submitted, but vouchers may take up to 5 business days since they are handled them as the remaining travel approval time on the office hours calendar permits.
Finally, please don’t DM or @ individual travel team members outside of office hours. Instead, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or ask in #travel at any time, and you’ll receive a response during the next office hours.
DMs/@s made outside of these times may not receive a response– everyone on the travel team juggles multiple duties, including billable projects. Reducing time cost associated with context switching will help get 18F closer to :4300:. Thanks for your understanding!
You can add the 18F Travel Team schedule to your Google calendar by copying the link below into the “Add a coworker’s calendar” box:
Travel time is billed as general, unless you’re working on a project. (Then you can bill your travel time to the project.)
You’ll use your travel card to pay for expenses — other than flights and meals (M&IE per diem) — incurred during government travel. You can apply to get one as soon as possible, and it is required in order to travel for 18F unless you get an exemption. Start your application for one here, and once receiving it, be sure to use it for all travel expenses made in your official capacity. Don’t forget to keep a receipt of everything you purchase on it.
A per diem is an allowance that you get each day you travel on official government business. There are two ways you can receive your M&IE per diem: You can withdraw it (in cash) from your travel card before or during travel, or you can choose to receive it as reimbursement after you’ve concluded your travel. In the second instance, you’ll be responsible for paying for meals and incidentals. You do not need to save and submit receipts to receive your M&IE per diem.
Concur, also known as travel.gsa.gov, is the system 18F employees use to book official travel and pay for flights. Before using it, you’ll first need to apply for access. You will complete your profile after your receive your travel card.
The process of requesting travel, including formally clearing dates with your supervisor or client, making your flight and hotel reservations, ensuring that you are billing your trip to the right place, and forwarding onto the 18F travel team for approval.
In order to ensure same-day approval of your travel, please ensure that your authorization has been successfully submitted before 2:30 PM Eastern Time.
Vouchers allow you to receive reimbursement for travel-related expenses. You can create one based on the expenses listed in your authorization, adjust it accordingly and upload corresponding receipts, and again submit to the travel team for approval. Once completed, everything charged to your travel card will be reconciled.
It is important to complete your vouchers on time– within 5 business days of returning from travel. Submitting vouchers late is a major drain on resources for the finance and agreements teams, which sometimes have to reopen billing and even modify agreements in order to recover our costs for the trip, which the Economy Act requires us to do. So, no travel will be approved for anyone with travel expenses that are more than 5 business days outstanding.
Cars for official business
GSA maintains a fleet of cars for official use:
- Email email@example.com and ask for access to a motor pool at your GSA office (ex: “the 1800 F ST NW GSA Motor Pool.”)
- Watch out for a registration link to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will then be able to login into https://vehicledispatch.fas.gsa.gov/FMVD/VDHOME/.
- Reserve a car! Leave “Organization Code/Cost Center” and “Account Info/LOA” blank.
- Call 1-866-472-6711 for motor pool support.
This Travel 101 is just a quick orientation. As mentioned at the start of this page, the Handbook has a whole guide for you: 18F Travel Guide!