Step 1 - Email of approval

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In order to travel for 18F, you need to go through three steps to ensure that your plans get fully approved and ticketed. Here’s the TL;DR for each one:

  1. Confirm email of approval: ensuring that your travel plans are pre-approved via email by someone who has the ability to obligate funds on behalf of the government, and that this approval is communicated to the 18F travel team by sending it to tts-travelauths@gsa.gov.
  2. Choose your itinerary: the process of making reservations in Concur, the E-Gov travel system. Reservations in Concur are called Authorizations. Authorizations in Concur are required for all trips that involve travel by air or Amtrak, or any trip longer than 12 hours (even if travel was not via air or Amtrak).
  3. Submit for Concur approval: ensuring that the 18F travel team receives your authorization and has the necessary details to formally approve your travel. The travel team reviews and approves authorizations each day at 3:30 PM Eastern time, so please ensure that it is in by that time to allow for same-day review.

Starting this process assumes that you are both in the Concur system and have a GSA travel card. If you’re not sure if you’ve completed these necessary pre-steps, please check out the First-Time Travel Guide or read on more below:

Confirm your travel dates and get an email of approval

Before making any reservations, you’ll want to make sure that your trip has been pre-approved by someone who has the ability to obligate funds on behalf of the government. This person could be a division director or higher inside 18F if the travel is considered non-billable, or they could be someone outside 18F (who is designated on an inter-agency agreement or memorandum of understanding with 18F) if the travel is considered billable. There is a slightly different process for requesting approval depending on whether the travel is billable or nonbillable.

Know that you’ve already been approved to travel? Skip ahead to I’m approved! What’s next?

Non-billable travel approval

How should I request approval?

First, determine how many other 18F employees will be traveling to the event that you are going to. Then, use the method outlined below to secure approval for yourself and your team where applicable.

  • C2 If the travel involves going to a training or conference, your approval will be be processed via C2. Follow the Professional Development and Training Guide, and include everyone who is attending the training or conference on the request by adding others as “observers” to the request once it has been submitted. Once your C2 request is approved, you may skip ahead to booking your travel– no email is necessary.
  • Email If the travel is for other non-billable business, you will make a request via email (cc-ing the group if applicable). Requirements for the email are below:

Nonbillable travel email approvals

  • To: line Determine which division is paying for the travel, and address your email to the director of that division. Include multiple directors if multiple divisions will be paying for the travel.
  • cc line: All individuals approved for travel should be cc’d when the email is forwarded to tts-travelauths@gsa.gov.
  • Subject line: In the subject line, include the following convention: [NON-BILLABLE] - [Correspondence code] of the director approving the travel] - [Tock Project Name] - #[Tock Project ID] - [Official Travel Start Date] - [Official Travel End Date]
  • Body: Include your travel dates and a workplan. A general email template, including a workplan, can be found below).
  • Attachment An estimate of total travel expenses using this template, which automatically calculates round-trip City Pair fares and hotel/M&IE estimates based on the GSA per diem rates (Mileage cost estimates will still need to be manually estimated using the GSA Reimbursement rates).
  • If estimated travel costs > $2,000 for the entire group You will need the approval of your Assistant Commissioner. Group travel costs in excess of $10,000 will require additional review.

If you receive approval of your request, go ahead and forward it to tts-travelauths@gsa.gov. This helps us keep good records in case of audit, and also allows the Travel Team to clear your itinerary once you’ve submitted it in Concur.

Amending or updating approval for non-billable travel

Any amendment to approved non-billable travel that would require an additional day of per diem or lodging, exceeding the government maximum hotel rate, or otherwise exceeding the original approved estimate by more than 20% must be re-approved by the division director and sent to tts-travelauths@gsa.gov.

Any other amendment with a minimal impact on the budget (i.e. change of dates, adding additional days at the traveler’s personal expense, changing origin or destination airports with no significant cost increase) requires only that the immediate supervisor approve the change and communicate it to tts-travelauths@gsa.gov.

Billable travel approval

Who is responsible, and how to I make my request?

Your client is responsible for providing approval for your billable travel. Your project manager (or someone they delegate) is responsible for communicating the travel request to the client and securing their approval. Once this is done, the individual who secured the client’s email of approval must forward it to tts-travelauths@gsa.gov and cc the members of the team who are traveling.

Which client?

The client approving travel should be one of the client signatories of the IAA or MOU, or a person formally delegated by one of those individuals. If you aren’t sure who this is, please ask your client partner about who is responsible for approving travel and they should point you in the right direction.

Communicating billable travel approval to the 18F travel team

Project managers (or their delegates) are responsible for requesting written approval of travel plans to the client and once approval is secured, sending it via email to tts-travelauths@gsa.gov. Their email needs to include the following:

  • Subject line: [BILLABLE] - [Tock Project Name] - #[Tock Project ID] – [Official Travel Start Date] - [Official Travel End Date]
  • cc line: All individuals approved for travel should be cc’d when the email is forwarded to tts-travelauths@gsa.gov.
  • Body: Names, origins, and destinations, as well as dates/locations of any additional travel made in conjunction with official travel at the individual’s personal expense. The template below) may be used.
  • As an attachment An estimate of total travel expenses using this template, which automatically calculates round-trip City Pair fares and hotel/M&IE estimates based on the GSA per diem rates (Mileage cost estimates will still need to be manually estimated using the GSA Reimbursement rates).

Once you have been cc’d on your client’s email of approval, you are good to move on to the next step.

Amending approval for billable travel

Any changes to the itinerary approved by the client that require:

  • A change in dates for either business or personal reasons
  • Additional days of per diem or lodging that the client will have to pay for
  • Exceeding the government maximum hotel rate
  • A flight that exceeds the City Pair rate
  • Otherwise exceeding the original approved estimate by more than 20%

MUST be re-approved by the client.

Individual travelers or project managers with such a change to their itinerary may reach out directly to the client on the same thread as the email sent to tts-travelauths@gsa.gov to to request approval.

Notice about late approvals

Ensure that you request your approval with sufficient advance notice. Requests made late may not receive director approval in time. Requests that are not finalized before 4:30 PM Eastern time the last business day before travel begins will not be approved by the Travel Team.

Template email of approval

This is a basic email of approval for individual billable travel, but could also be adapted for use for a group:


Subject: [BILLABLE] - [Tock Project Name] - #[Tock Project ID] – [Departure_Date] - [Return Date]


Body:

Hello,

I request approval to travel from [ home_location ] to [ work_location ]. The dates of travel are [ departure_date ] - [ return_date ]. I will depart the [ departure_date ], to arrive in time for [ work_to_be_done ] scheduled for [ first_day_of_travel_work_date ]. I will return to [ home_location ] on [ return_date ].

Please reply with your approval, or with any subsequent clarifications you may have.

Many thanks,

[ requestor_name ]


Additional templates for emails involving other circumstances are available in the Travel Guide FAQ– see the links below:

I’m approved! What’s next?

Are you traveling in the next 3 business days?

Yes - I need AdTrav

No - I need to book an upcoming trip that will start later than 3 days. Go to normal booking.

If you are traveling on the next business day, please ensure that your email of approval is in order and you have successfully submitted your travel for Concur approval by 3:30 PM Eastern. Authorizations received after this time, or over a weekend/holiday will not be approved.

AdTrav

Call AdTrav at 877-472-6716 to make flight arrangements.

You can also make hotel arrangements through AdTrav.

Once you’ve gotten off the phone with AdTrav, do something else for 1-2 hours while their system syncs up with Concur. Then, head over to travel.gsa.gov and follow the instructions for Submitting for Concur approval:. If you want to make hotel reservations outside of AdTrav, read on more here.

Got questions? Ask #travel, tts-travel@gsa.gov, or book office hours here