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PSC GOing Places Transportation Technical Bulletin

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Gains continue through fourth month of travel stabilization push

The Program Support Center (PSC) and its operational division partners (OpDivs) have continued to improve upon the stabilization of travel for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including improving the overall performance of the ConcurGov travel management system.

In June, PSC and the Travel Leadership Coalition launched a six-month push to improve stabilization by addressing key technical issues the OpDivs felt affected the overall performance of travel.

Past issues already successfully addressed included:

  • CBA/IBA “flipping”
  • Federal Agency Travel Administrator and Federal Travel Arranger training
  • CBA reconciliation quality issues
  • NIH’s data warehouse XML validation tests
  • Issue reporting processes

More recent issues addressed include:

  • Email notifications to travelers about late vouchers
  • Duplicate obligations occurring in UFMS
  • IHS patient travel

Several key updates to the Common Transportation Integration Platform (CTIP) have been performed as well, including deployment of the Profile Administration Tool (PAT) that allows OpDivs to set up user profiles independently, and a refresh of the National Institutes of Health Center for Information Technology TIBCO platform. The CTIP team also led the delivery of the first E-Gov Travel Service contract period (ETS1) data archive and reporting tool through GovNet-NG.

After a slow start that saw PSC canceling its first few summer training classes in Boston and New York City due to low registration numbers, PSC undertook an effort to boost employee participation by underwriting the classes. This resulted in class enrollment jumping and demand increasing to where PSC was able to reschedule classes in “Beantown” and “The Big Apple.”

PSC also introduced HHS’s first “Travel Performance Placemat,” a single-source reporting tool that establishes a composite of the travel performance starting at the OpDiv level and up through the Department level. PSC will continue to improve upon the placemat in the upcoming year.

During August, the OpDivs and PSC participated in a Travel Planning Summit to orient the travel community to the progress made since December 2015, and to provide input PSC for its fiscal year (FY) 2017 Travel Program Work Plan. The work plan establishes PSC’s fiscal year resource priorities for the area of travel.

 

Travel system consolidation planned for FY 2017

During FY 2017, PSC and several operational divisions will kick off an effort to reduce the total number of ConcurGov travel system instances in use.

There are presently 14 separate configured instances of the travel management system, each configured according to different policy settings in use at the OpDiv level. These instances are aligned to the Department’s core financial system, which is comprised of three distinct financial systems: UFMS, HIGLAS, and NBS.

Management of so many instances is inefficient and impractical. For instance, when a technical issue is experienced, one or several instances might be affected. Each instance has to be examined separately to determine if it was affected. Likewise, custom code must be updated in every instance when it is revised. The same duplication occurs when regression testing is performed.

The first steps of the streamlining effort will have the Travel Leadership Coalition:

  1. Establishing a common configuration for the OpDivs.
  2. Communicating the notable changes and impacts to business process to all the affected OpDivs.
  3. Making the changes in each instance.

As the instances are standardized, Concur Technologies will analyze each one so that the company can develop a plan to merge instances over a period of time with minimal disruption to the Department’s operations.

More information about the effort will be provided as the work moves forward.

 

Travel management system is not approved for non-travel payments

The ConcurGov travel management system is not approved as a means to make payments that are unrelated to local and temporary-duty travel.

The travel management system’s Authority to Operate is based on its use solely as a travel management system. Use of the system for anything but travel reimbursement violates the terms and conditions of the contract under which the software is provided as a service.

The travel system is not approved for use to reimburse persons or make disbursement for:

  • Personal expenditures that did not occur when on travel
  • Travel expenses not authorized by the Federal Travel Regulation
  • Procurements, like samples for destructive testing
  • Commuter transit benefits or commuter transit expenses
  • Personal commuting costs/expenses
  • Professional liability insurance reimbursement
  • Parking
  • Office mass transit cards for local travel
  • Approved legal settlements or judgments
  • Administrative supplies
  • Software
  • Food and beverage
  • Honoraria
  • Awards, bonuses, or incentives
  • Any other sorts of payments for benefits, pay, entitlements, procurements, or acquisitions.

Anyone who needs reimbursement for these type expenses should consult with their local finance office staff to determine the proper reimbursement, payment, or procurement process that must be applied to their issue.

Finally, the local travel voucher tool of the travel management system is not to be used in any way to subvert or circumvent the procurement and acquisition process or established payment mechanisms to place orders for goods and services, including purchase cards, purchase orders, purchase agreements, and contracts.

 

House of Representatives bill to address Metro safety issues might allow transit benefits to be used for shared transportation

A new House of Representatives bill might allow federal employees commuting to and from Washington, D.C., to use their public transit benefits on travel modes other than the Metro subway system for the duration of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Agency (WMATA)’s SafeTrack repair schedule.

The bill proposed would allow workers who use the monthly benefit on newer, technology-driven transportation platforms like Uber, Zipcar, Lyft, and Capital Bikeshare.

The bill states that during WMATA’s SafeTrack operation, which is scheduled to run through spring 2017, federal employees would be authorized to use their transit subsidy on a transportation-network company, a term defined as any entity that utilizes innovative mobility technologies to provide alternatives to driving alone, including car-share, bike-share, carpool, or vanpool, multimodal fare payment system, app-based mobility providers, and other innovative projects.

Application-based ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, car-sharing services like Zipcar and car2go, and commercial bike-sharing services like Capital Bikeshare would be treated as “public transportation,” according to the bill.

If passed and made law, the bill would be a short-term expanded legislative view of public transportation that includes traditional rail and buses blended with contemporary modes of transportation that have emerged over the past decade.

To ensure we are ready to support our customers if a change were made, PSC has already started working to adapt its current processes and system to be able to handle the new transit mode types.

 

PSC releases custom ‘burst’ report to remind travelers to file vouchers

PSC has developed a custom report using the ConcurGov Business Intelligence functionality as a way of reminding travelers to file their vouchers.

Most OpDivs have seen the value and requested that the report be turned on for their travelers.

As soon as an employee’s travel ends, the automated report sends an email from the travel management system to remind the employee to file their travel voucher within five business days.

Travelers are required by the Federal Travel Regulation to file a proper travel voucher within five business days of the end of their travel.

Presently, the Department’s traveling workforce is averaging 22 days to file a voucher. While this is an improvement of four days since when the travel management system was first deployed, it is still nowhere near the statutory requirement.

After the first email reminder, if a traveler still has not filed a voucher for the trip by the tenth day after receipt of the reminder, then they will be sent reminders every day until the travel voucher for that trip has been filed.

Managers can obtain reports from their OpDivs’ travel teams to assess their employees’ compliance with the five-day filing requirement and they are encouraged to take appropriate action whenever employees are found to be delinquent in filing vouchers.

 

Travel card A/OPCs must report charge card abuse referrals made each month

Agency/organization program coordinators (A/OPC) managing travel cards are required to scrutinize travel card usage for indicators of possible abuse, and report to PSC each month the referrals made of suspected instances of travel credit card abuse.

A/OPCs are required to report to the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) full details of suspected travel card abuse. The reporting is required for anyone who is an A/OPC or who is a corporate cardholder for Centrally Billed Account credit cards.

A/OPCs must report the suspected travel card abuse to PSC as well. The report to PSC should include:

  • The card number
  • Questionable transactions and dates
  • Date referred to OIG or management
  • Location suspected abuse was referred to (either OIG hotline or the name of the management official)

Examples where charge card use must be examined more closely because of risk of abuse include:

  • Purchases made at locations where vendor’s name does not reflect transportation, lodging, or a restaurant (e.g., “Joe’s Furniture Gallery”)
  • ATM withdrawals being made when:
    • Not on travel
    • More than 3 days before start of travel
    • The day after travel
  • ATM withdrawals exceeding the daily authorized limit
  • Credit card numbers on lodging receipts not matching the Government charge card number
  • Single purchases exceeding $100
  • Purchases made with charitable and social service organizations
  • Purchases made at membership organizations for membership fees
  • Use to obtain “quasi-cash” like casino chips, stored value cards, or other items exchangeable for goods or services
  • Use at adult entertainment venues and casinos
  • Use in international airport duty free shops

The role of the A/OPC in this regard is focused on compliance monitoring and identification of suspected abuse, reporting and supporting OIG and management inquiries into the suspected abuse.

 

Concur publishes ‘workarounds’ document monthly

Concur Technologies, Inc., publishes a comprehensive list each month of the ConcurGov functionality that is not working as planned and the alternative approaches employed for achieving the same result — a “workaround” — that must be applied.

The document is titled, “ConcurGov Workarounds for [Month] [Year],” and it is sent via email to anyone who is signed up for ConcurGov system notifications. The Program Support Center (PSC) ensures these are provided to lead federal agency travel administrators (FATAs) for distribution to local FATAs.

“Workarounds” are commonly emplaced for Information Technology applications when a designed functionality does not perform as expected, and they used until a technical solution is designed, developed, tested, and deployed. Sometimes, if a workaround is found to be more efficient or more effective than the originally planned and designed technical approach, then it is possible that the workaround can become the technical approach.

PSC plans ultimately to establish a travel management system technical library once the PSC SharePoint application is launched.

 

Approving officials should consider, decide upon travel request quickly to help employees net best air fare prices 

Approving officials are encouraged to consider and decide upon employee requests to travel as soon as practical, avoiding any unnecessary delays or disruption to travel plans.

This enables employees to meet their work obligations, support management operational planning, and avoid loss of better fares received from planning and reserving travel in advance of the actual day of travel.

For instance, the government’s pre-negotiated _CA (“dash CA”) fares are often lowest when the travel is reserved at least two weeks prior to the day of travel.

Employees are required to receive permission to travel before travel is performed, per the Federal Travel Regulation. All requests to travel must be submitted through the ConconrGov travel management system to be considered. Employees cannot presume to have permission to travel, so it is important for approving officials to consider and decide upon the travel as soon as practical.

 

Managers should take corrective action to address late vouchers

Employees are required by the Federal Travel Regulation — the law — to file proper vouchers within five business days of the end of trip.

With the ConcurGov application available worldwide 24-hours a day, there are now very few legitimate reasons why an employee could not file a voucher on time.

Tools are also available now for OpDivs to remind every employee who travels to file their voucher on time. This includes the “burst” email reminder and reports that are available with the ConcurGov business intelligence functionality.

With this in mind, managers are reminded of their obligation to address instances when a voucher is not filed in a timely fashion.

The Department is averaging 4.1 days to process a travel voucher and it is taking an average of 8.2 days for travelers to be reimbursed from the time the voucher is filed by the employee. During fiscal year 2016, Departmental employees took an average of 22 days after the end of their travel to file their vouchers.

 

PSC to publish master list of travel-related data calls

PSC is building a comprehensive list of travel-related reporting requirements to help OpDivs forecast data calls and with information continuity.

This list will be regularly published in the “GOing Places” technical bulletin and on the PSC website. The data calls and reporting schedule will be listed according to reporting period. The periods will be:

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Semi-monthly (twice in one month)
  • Monthly
  • Bi-monthly (once every two months)
  • FY quarterly (October through December, January through March, etc.)
  • Semi-annually (twice in one year)
  • Annually
  • Bi-annually (every other year, with the starting year noted)

 

PSC sets core FY 2017 travel training class calendar

PSC will continue to host its high-quality monthly training for Federal Travel Arrangers in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area during FY 2017.

The two-day course will provide employees performing the federal-travel arranger role (formerly called “preparers”) with the skills need to successfully perform the activities of the arranger role, such as creating travel reservations and documents in ConcurGov.

Participants will be taught fundamental attributes of performing travel program management at the local level, the various roles and responsibilities associated with federal travel and the travel management system, and the regulations and policies that govern federal travel.

This class is open to all employees who prepare travel for themselves or others. Course dates are listed below.

PSC will also continue to offer these sought-after trainings for those in the federal-travel arranger role monthly in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Here’s the latest schedule:

Course: Travel Training for Federal Travel Arrangers

Dates:

Location:

Nov 1–2, 2016

5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857; Room 5E49

Dec 6–7, 2016

330 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20237; Room 5194

Jan 10–11, 2017

5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857; Room 5E49

Feb 7–8, 2017

330 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20237; Room 5194

Mar 7–8, 2017

5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857; Room 5E49

Apr 4–5, 2017

330 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20237; Room 5194

May 2–3, 2017

5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857; Room 5E49

Jun 6–7, 2017

330 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20237; Room 5194

Jul 11–12, 2017

5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857; Room 5E49

Aug 1–2, 2017

330 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20237; Room 5194

Sept 5–6, 2017

5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857; Room 5E49

 

The schedule and locations for more classes are currently being planned, and will be published on the PSC website at www.psc.gov.

PSC is also planning to expand its transportation training offerings:

  • Lead FATA training workshop.
    • A free half-day knowledge refresher workshop to provide lead FATAs and account managers with hands-on instruction on with the opportunity to share best practices for reporting, ticketing, accounting, and emergency travel.
  • Quarterly federal-travel arranger and FATA training at the PSC Salt Lake City office.
    • Please watch for future communication about these upcoming training opportunities.
  • Updated the Travel Card Online training.
    • PSC will create a separate new travel card holder training class and a separate, shorter annual refresher training class to qualify travelers to continue to use the government-provided travel card.
  • Weekly “Travel in a Minute” topic Web-based virtual-instructor-led training seminars focused on the top types of issues received by the OneDHHS Help Desk.

In addition to the standard monthly schedule, group and customized federal-travel arranger and FATA courses are also available upon request. To learn more about obtaining group or customized travel training, email the PSC at transportation@psc.gov.

 

Training job aids get new look, upgrade

The Program Support Center is revamping all of the ConcurGov travel training job aids. The new job aids will be posted as Web pages on the PSC website.

The new format (current job aids are in PDF format) will improve access, allow searching by key words, and make it much easier to update the job aids in the future.

PSC will publish the updated job aids on a continual basis starting in the first quarter of FY 2017.

 

October ‘Consumer Reports’ magazine features tips on flying coach class

The October edition of Consumer Reports, the magazine that reports its independent tests of consumer goods and services, has a cover theme, “Secrets to Stress-Free Flying,” and the theme especially focuses on coach class travel.

Most government employees who travel follow the requirement to use coach class fares when traveling using CityPairs “_CA” (a.k.a. “Dash CA”) fares.

The magazine offers tips on such topics as getting along with other passengers, coping with annoying passengers, reducing stress and anxiety, and avoiding health problems from traveling in coach-class conditions. The magazine even points out the most germ-infested places in aircraft and how to reduce health risks.

Other information in the edition includes how to get through airport security more quickly, historical industry flight-capacity comparisons, explanations of why seating has changed, and even a timeline of the evolution of the commercial passenger aviation industry.

Now, if only Consumer Reports would figure out how travelers can avoid those seats most likely to have kids kicking the seat backs…

 

ConcurGov quick tip: Searching for Travelers

When searching for a traveler on the User Administration tab in TAVs, be sure to change the User Status drop down from “Active” to “All.” Doing so will ensure that ConcurGov looks for and returns data for that traveler even if their profile has expired, as sometime profiles are expired by users in error.

ConcurGov screen image showing the User Administration tab. The User Status drop down list shows “All” instead of “Active.”

 

Amtrak to increase number of high-speed Acela trains by 2021

Amtrak will leap into high-speed train service for its northeast corridor in the next five years by purchasing 28 new Acela trains, according to travel industry news outlets.

The trains are reported to feature 40 percent more seats, and Amtrak plans to increase the Acela service frequency between Washington, D.C., and Boston.

Amtrak is also planning to make track upgrades between Baltimore and New Carrollton, and also make station and platform improvements at Washington, D.C.’s Union Station, Baltimore’s Penn Station, and New Carrollton. Amtrak will also support New York Penn Station’s Moynihan Station expansion.

 

ConcurGov quick tip: Updating Traveler/Document Profiles

How to update an authorization after a traveler transfer organizations

Sometimes, you come up against a travel issue and you are just not sure where to start — or if it is even possible to make the change you would like to make. That is why we provide this helpful tip. If someone transfers organization you can change an authorization that has been previously made to reflect this change.

Scenario:

  • User transfers organizations within ConcurGov.
  • User’s profile is not updated by their administrator until after the user has created an authorization for an upcoming trip.
  • The authorization pulls the attributes from the traveler’s profile at the time the document is created.

 

What impact does this have on the document?

The document’s routing list will be set to the routing list in the user’s previous organization.

Example:

  • Nicholas has just created an authorization for his upcoming trip to Dallas.
  • After Nicholas’ authorization is created, he is moved from organization ‘CGE A’ to ‘CGE B.’

 

ConcurGov screen image showing that the “Org” pull down list shows the user’s new organization, and the “Routing List” shows an additional “Routing List.”

 

  • Nicholas’ Routing List has changed from ‘Routing List 1’ to ‘Routing List 2.’

 

All future authorizations that Nicholas creates will inherit his new profile attributes.

  • Previously created documents (like Nicholas’ upcoming trip to Dallas) will not inherit the new profile attributes as displayed in Figure 1.

 

To update Nicholas’ authorization (created prior to his profile being changed):

  1. Open the applicable travel authorization.
  2. Navigate to the Profile tab.
  3. ConcurGov screen image showing a menu bar with the “Profile” item selected.

  4. Click the magnifying glass to the right of the Organization field and select Nicholas’ new organization.
  5. Select the dropdown menu for the Routing List field to select Nicholas’ new routing list.
  6. ConcurGov screen image showing the new “Organization” selected in the dropdown list, and the new “Routing List 2” selected in the “Routing List” dropdown list.

  7. Once the document’s attributes have been updated, click the Save Profile Changes button.

Note: You will be prompted with a pop-up notification explaining that you have changed the traveler’s organization for this document; click OK to proceed.

 

Validate the DTMO rate, benefits before booking car rentals

Travelers should validate the rates, car size, and features they are receiving before signing for a rental car at the counter and accepting the keys. Travelers may also inspect the vehicle before signing the agreement.

The Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO) holds the Government’s master contract for rental vehicles, and vehicles offered through the ConcurGov travel management system are based on DTMO contract’s negotiated rates.

If the rates do not match what was published in ConcurGov, then the traveler should ask to have the rate corrected. When the ConcurGov mobile application is deployed at the Department, travelers will be able to validate the correct rate right at the counter right from a smartphone.

Travelers should also check to ensure that the DTMO corporate discount number is correct and in their ConcurGov car vendor profile so that any rewards credits earned are applied correctly.

Rental cars obtained for travel are now also tax free if travelers provide the rental car company with a copy of the New York State tax exempt entity form that the PSC has established with the state.

 

Amtrak hikes cancelation fee

All Amtrak ticketing is a ‘Point of Sale’ purchase

The cancellation fee for Amtrak has increased from 10 to 20 percent, and for reserved coach and business class Acela, this fee will be charged if the train trip is canceled within 48 hours of the trip.

Please note that Amtrak is a “Point of Sale” purchase, which means a traveler is billed immediately for selecting an Amtrak ticket.

 

 ‘Duty of care’ starts with the traveler

“Duty of care” is a current hot topic with regards to federal government employees traveling on official business, and there remains a considerable amount of uncertainty with regards to who bears what obligations.

It is most-important to remember that “duty of care” starts with the individual traveler. Just as the first rule of lifesaving taught to lifeguards is, “Don’t become a victim yourself,” travelers must likewise take steps to reduce risk and uncertainty when abroad. Consider the following:

  • Trip planning is more than just transportation, lodging, and meals. Plan for your own health and safety.
  • Keep U.S. embassy contact information with you and verify that it is correct.
  • Let trusted associates and family know your travel plans.
  • Keep your supervisor informed of your whereabouts and check in during critical incidents.
  • Stay aware of country conditions, including events that might lead to acts of violence or civil unrest.
  • Check U.S. State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites for travel information and warnings
  • Learn about the law enforcement system and accessibility. Many countries’ police are extensions of the military.
  • Travel in groups whenever possible.
  • Be especially careful when operating motor vehicles.
  • Determine before you travel if your personal health insurance covers international hospitalization and evacuation.
  • Recognize the differences between health insurance, travel insurance, and emergency evacuation insurance, and medical emergency evacuation insurance.
  • Consider supplemental individual insurance for medical care and medical transportation.
  • Learn the State Department processes for evacuation due to country conditions and for individual medical evacuations.
  • Stay informed about the medical resources available to you at the international destinations.

 

GSA announces $2 increase to standard combined per diem rate for FY 2017

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has announced that the standard combined per diem (lodging and meals and incidental expenses — M&IE) for FY 2017 will increase to $142, up $2 more from last fiscal year’s rate of $140.

The new rate went into effect last week on October 1, 2016. It includes $91 for standard rate lodging, which accounted for the $2 year-over-year increase, and $51 for M&IE.

GSA sets per diems annually for the 48 states and 2,600 counties in the continental United States. Its lodging rates are based on local costs of mid-price hotels and constitute the maximum allowances that federal employees can be reimbursed for expenses incurred while on official travel. GSA allows for higher-than-standard per diems in about 350 markets.

PSC advocates for HHS’s traveling employees by participating in GSA’s working groups that make these decisions, such as the “Per Diem Boundary Review” working group that is reconsidering how geographic boundaries are set for per diem rates.

 

Passport processing fee goes up

State Department now charging $110 to process official U.S. Government passports

The U.S. Department of State (DoS) began charging $110 for each official, diplomatic, or special issuance passport application starting October 1, 2016.

More information was sent out via the Executive Secretary to each OpDiv/StaffDiv on the costs. The Office of Global Affairs (HHS/OGA) has been working with DoS and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources (ASFR) to work out a viable method for HHS to pay these fees. HHS will likely be invoiced for the payments on a quarterly basis. OGA and ASFR are still working out the details and hope to be able to share information about how this will work in the near future.

Payment will not be made on or using ConcurGov. If you need more information on this matter, please contact Jessica Stewart at OGA.

 

Travel credit cards are for use only when on official travel

Using a Government-provided travel charge card for anything other than official federal Government travel and travel-related expenses is considered misuse/abuse of the card, and cardholders who abuse travel cards might be eligible for administrative and/or disciplinary action as provided for by the HHS Table of Offenses and Penalties.

Agency/organization program coordinators (A/OPCs) are responsible for monitoring cardholders’ use of the travel charge card correctly and that cardholders receive appropriate training. A/OPCs are also responsible for monitoring account activity for misuse/abuse, fraud, and delinquency.

Some examples of indicators of possible misuse/abuse include:

  • Personal use
  • Use of the travel charge card for someone other than the specific cardholder
  • Use while not on official government travel
  • Purchases from an unauthorized merchant
  • Excessive ATM withdrawals
  • Failure to pay undisputed card balances fully and on time (i.e., partial payment and late payments).

To be proactive, A/OPCs should set reasonable spend limits and review cardholder activity through reports and monitoring systems. There are several tools and resources available to A/OPCs to enable active monitoring of travel card usage. Visa Intellilink is one of the tools provided to A/OPCs specifically for monitoring misuse/abuse. A/OPC who do not have access to this tool should contact their OpDiv’s Lead A/OPC.  PSC can also help with connecting A/OPCs with Lead A/OPCs.

In addition, consider the following indicators when monitoring travel card usage:

  • Merchant category code (MCC) appears to be outside the cardholder’s general area of responsibility
  • The account has been closed due to fraud and a new card has been reissued
  • The cardholder frequently disputes transactions
  • The cardholder has had multiple authorizations declined
  • The cardholder makes transactions on non-travel days
  • The cardholder consistently reaches their monthly credit limit
  • The merchant address appears to be a home address

Any of these indicators should be considered as cause to closely examine use of the card. There might be sufficient cause to refer the suspicious activity to the Office of the Inspector General.   Expert consultation on instances of suspected card abuse/misuse is also available from OpDiv Lead A/OPCs and  PSC charge card specialist Dyonne Slaughter, who may be contacted by e-mail at: dyonne.slaughter@psc.hhs.gov.

 

Department of Transportation study shows airline industry had 78 percent on-time rate for June

On August 17, 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation released a study that found an average of 78 percent of flights on major airlines in America arrived on time during June.

Also, according to NBCNews.com, the on-time percentage has increased from the 74.8 percent the airline industry amassed in June 2015. U.S. airlines achieved a two-year high of 83 percent on-time rate arrivals in May 2016. Any flight that lands within 14 minutes of its scheduled arrival time is considered on time.

Some of the top causes for delays were late-arriving aircraft, aviation system issues, maintenance or crew problems, and extreme weather.

 

Road Tales: PSC Trainer’s a ‘Fool for the City’

PSC’s Carmen Smith hits the road to train IHS

PSC trainer Carmen Smith and Roger Earl, the drummer from Foghat

Carmen and Roger Earl, the drummer from Foghat

Throughout the summer, PSC trainers Carmen Smith and Suzie Frain crisscrossed the nation to deliver travel training to HHS employees. We asked Carmen to give our readers an insider’s look into what it takes to keep the HHS workforce traveling smoothly. Carmen wrote:

“Sometimes in our travels to different training sites, we never know what awaits us. As trainers, we have to be flexible and work with the customers’ locations as they are, and not knowing what to expect was taken to a whole new level this summer during our whirlwind training tour. On one of my trips, one of my trainings was at the Indian Health Service’s (HIS’s) office in Bemidji, Minnesota. A 10 p.m. flight from Minneapolis was my only option, which didn’t allow me to arrive in daylight as I prefer. I expected the hotel shuttle to pick me up as advertised only to discover that there was no shuttle available. It didn’t exist. So, I called one of the only two taxi services available. If you’re unfamiliar with Bemidji (pronounced, “Bee-mid-gee”), it’s located in northwest Minnesota and has a population of 13,431. It’s the largest commercial center between Grand Forks, North Dakota, and Duluth, Minnesota, and it is home of the legendary Paul Bunyan and his ox ‘Babe.’ http://www.visitbemidji.com/what-to-do/historical-cultural/paul-bunyan/.

“After finally checking into my hotel after midnight, I retired for the evening only to be awakened by a tornado about an hour later. When daylight finally came, there was no power, tops of trees were hewn down and small planes had toppled over from the strong winds. Wow! What a way to “blow into town!” With everything going on, I wasn’t sure if we were going to have the Federal Travel Arranger class that was scheduled.

“Jeff Bingham, the Finance Officer for the IHS, Bemidji-area office, was able to finally get in touch with me and he assured me that class was still going to happen in spite of the challenges. The staff there treated me with such hospitality that I felt like royalty! Jeff even reserved a parking space just for me. The training participants welcomed me with open arms, inviting me to ride with them for lunch and they ensured that in the evenings I knew the best places to eat for dinner. Travel tip: Always trust the locals when it comes to food.

“When I left Bemidji, it was almost like leaving home. But Bemidji had even more surprises for me. To put the icing on the cake, the legendary rock ‘n’ roll band Foghat was on my 5 a.m. flight home on Saturday. You know, when I’m out on the road with our customers, sometimes not knowing what to expect can be pretty sweet even for a ‘Fool for the City’ like me!”


PSC Contact Information:

PSC GOing Places Transportation Technical Bulletin is published by PSC Transportation Services
located at 7700 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 920, Bethesda, Maryland 20857.

To ask questions, comments, add news or subscribe to PSC’s GOing Places Transportation Technical Bulletin, please contact the Editor by email at GOcard@hhs.gov.