LinkedIn Logo
P.S.C. Going Places. Your source for transportation news.

Upcoming “Travel in a Minute” Training Series

“Travel in a Minute” sessions are 10-to 15-minute topic-specific virtual training sessions hosted by Program Support Center (PSC). Registration is open to anyone who wishes to attend, but some sessions are targeted for certain audiences that have specific knowledge about travel or travel systems. Anyone can register by sending an email request to transportation@psc.gov.

Below are the upcoming “Travel in a Minute” training sessions:

  • December 5, 2017 icon
    Training Topic Time(s)
    Reporting: Understanding the Common Page 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. E.T.
    ROI Lodging Briefing 12:45 p.m. E.T
    ROI Air Briefing 1:30 p.m. E.T.
    Reporting: Running and Scheduling Reports 2:30 p.m. E.T.
     
  • December 6
    Training Topic Time(s)
    Reporting: Understanding the Common Page 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. E.T.
    Creating an Interim Voucher 12:45 and 1:30 p.m. E.T
    Reporting: Running and Scheduling Reports 2:30 p.m. E.T.
     
  • December 7
    Training Topic Time(s)
    Reporting: Understanding the Common Page 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. E.T.
    ROI Lodging Briefing 12:45 p.m. E.T
    ROI Air Briefing 1:30 p.m. E.T.
    Reporting: Running and Scheduling Reports 2:30 p.m. E.T.
     
  • December 12
    Training Topic Time(s)
    Reporting:Running and Scheduling Reports  11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. E.T.
    ROI Air Briefing 12:45 p.m. E.T
    ROI Lodging Briefing 1:30 p.m. E.T.
     
  • December 13
    Training Topic Time(s)
    Reporting: Running and Scheduling Reports 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. E.T.
    How to Remove Multiple Trips from a Document 12:45 and 1:30 p.m. E.T
    Reporting: Understanding the Common Page 2:30 p.m. E.T.
     
  • December 14
    Training Topic Time(s)
    Reporting: Running and Scheduling Reports 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. E.T.
    ROI Air Briefing 12:45 p.m. E.T
    ROI Lodging Briefing 1:30 p.m. E.T.
     
  • December 19
    Training Topic Time(s)
    Reporting: Understanding the Common Page 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. E.T.
    ROI Lodging Briefing 12:45 p.m. E.T
    ROI Air Briefing 1:30 p.m. E.T.
    Reporting: Running and Scheduling Reports 2:30 p.m. E.T.
     
  • December 20
    Training Topic Time(s)
    Reporting: Understanding the Common Page 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. E.T.
    Email Search Results from ConcurGov Travel 12:45 and 1:30 p.m. E.T
    Reporting: Running and Scheduling Reports 2:30 p.m. E.T.
     
  • December 21
    Training Topic Time(s)
    Reporting: Understanding the Common Page 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. E.T.
    ROI Lodging Briefing 12:45 p.m. E.T
    ROI Air Briefing 1:30 p.m. E.T.
    Reporting: Running and Scheduling Reports 2:30 p.m. E.T.
     
  • December 26
    Training Topic Time(s)
    Reporting: Running and Scheduling Reports  11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. E.T.
    ROI Air Briefing 12:45 p.m. E.T
    ROI Lodging Briefing 1:30 p.m. E.T.
    Reporting: Understanding the Common Page 2:30 p.m. E.T.
     
  • December 27
    Training Topic Time(s)
    Reporting: Running and Scheduling Reports 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. E.T.
    'Create Expenses Through' Field vs. 'Copy Per Diem Expense Values and Conditions' Link 12:45 and 1:30 p.m. E.T
    Reporting: Understanding the Common Page 2:30 p.m. E.T.
     
  • December 28
    Training Topic Time(s)
    Reporting: Running and Scheduling Reports 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. E.T.
    ROI Air Briefing 12:45 p.m. E.T
    ROI Lodging Briefing 1:30 p.m. E.T.
    Reporting: Understanding the Common Page 2:30 p.m. E.T.
     
  •  

    TO THE TOP


    PSC Helps Customer Stop Improper Receipt of Transit Benefits

    Program Support Center (PSC) recently helped one of its customers identify an employee who was receiving transit benefits despite not being qualified to do so.

    In keeping with the PSC values of curiosity and partnership, PSC provided an agency transit coordinator with a custom transaction report after the coordinator identified a benefits recipient whose benefits usage appeared suspicious. The report illustrated how many purchases were made each month by the benefits recipient and whether they were made online or purchased at authorized transit service providers. PSC also provided the coordinator with transit benefit application records. The information was useful in determining, in tandem with other records, that the employee was telecommuting (working from home) full-time and was using the transit benefits for personal trips on the Metrorail system. PSC also advised the coordinator that the benefits, because they were used for personal trips, were no longer tax-exempt and the agency would have to count the benefits issued during the time of misuse as taxable income.

    More than 10 years ago, in the era of paper transit-benefit vouchers, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that the overall waste and fraud in the Federal Transit Benefit Program amounted to tens of millions of dollars a year. Since then, PSC created the GO!card®, a transit benefit credit card, as a way of ensuring that transit benefits are used for the purpose Congress intended and PSC has helped tens of thousands of federal workers commute to and from work in a legally-compliant way.

    PSC can support its customers’ compliance programs and compliance efforts with this sort of higher level of service by modifying the in-place customer service agreement. PSC can provide custom reports each month, ad hoc research and analysis, and expert attestations regarding program eligibility requirements, benefit application information, and more. To find out more about how PSC’s transit team can help in this regard, contact Hilleary Topercer, Business Developer, PSC, at (301) 492-4842 or hilleary.topercer@psc.hhs.gov.

     

    TO THE TOP


    Updating a Traveler’s Organization and Routing List Within a Document

    Updating a traveler’s organization or routing list within an existing document is a simple step that can be done by any FATA simply by using the following steps:

    1. Just access any pending trip’s travel authorization or voucher that hasn’t yet been submitted and then click on the ‘Profile’ tab.
      • Note that this cannot be done with amended travel authorizations because these type documents are actually copies of the original.
    2. Under the ‘Duty Station’ section, the Organization and Routing List fields can be changed from the current organization and routing list. Users will only see those organizations and routing lists that they have access to and that are available for them to use. Make the needed changes and click the ‘Save Profile Changes’ button. It’s that simple!
    View-profile-from-document
     

    TO THE TOP


    Travel Leadership Coalition Brings Together HHS Experts

    Government travel touches on so many issues that it’s necessary to ensure there’s representation from the many areas of professional and technical expertise within the government.

    Experts from the areas of human resources; information technology (IT) systems — including experts in the areas of IT security, development, testing and planning, budget and finance, program management, credit cards, policy, procurement, and more — are part of the global community that has a voice in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s travel program and travel activities.

    The Travel Leadership Coalition serves as HHS’s functional body for its collective body of experts to meet and participate in the delivery of all manner of travel. The coalition meets the second Tuesday of each month.

    To participate, just contact your operational division lead, federal agency travel administrator, or senior travel official.

     

    TO THE TOP


    Travel Governance Council Adopts Bi-Monthly Meeting Schedule

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Travel Governance Council, which serves as the executive-level strategic and guiding body for the department’s travel program, will now meet every other month starting the third Tuesday of December 2017.

     

    TO THE TOP


    2017 PSC Customer Travel Service Reviews Are Underway

    Program Support Center (PSC) started its 2017 annual travel service reviews with its customers during July. The reviews, delivered to operational division executives, senior travel officials, and senior management team members, provide customers with a comprehensive briefing on services delivered throughout the year by PSC’s travel support team.

    The briefings, the first of which have been led by Al Sample, Director, PSC, and Mike Saunders, Director, Real Estate, Logistics, and Operations Portfolio, PSC, are structured to reflect accomplishments, the current state of travel services being delivered, and future strategic plans and activities.

    Through a dialogue with customers, areas briefed included travel account management, a snapshot of PSC performance, travel cards, travel governance, policy concerns, and travel system technical concerns. Customers are also offered consultative advice useful toward maintaining operationally effective travel programs and improving travel program management and performance. The PSC team also uses the briefings to receive customer feedback to maintain service delivery quality, and to address immediate customer concerns.

    PSC has completed briefings for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Briefings for the other U.S. Department of Health and Human Services operational divisions are being scheduled.

     

    TO THE TOP


    E-Government Travel System Recognizes Fluctuating CPP Ticket Prices

    Travelers, travel arrangers, and federal travel supervisory approvers often wonder why City Pairs Program (CPP) ticket prices change within the ConcurGov system between when the reservation is made and the ticket is issued.

    CPP ticket prices fluctuate from the negotiated fixed price because the CPP contract provides for an economic price adjustment when aviation fuel prices change. A primary driver of the cost of airline seating is aviation fuel prices. Here’s how it works:

    The ConcurGov system reserves the ticket “off-the-shelf” of the Global Distribution System (GDS), which is a travel product “supermarket.” The GDS carries a broad range of travel products that range from airline seats to hotels to rental cars. When obtained, a ticket is only reserved; it’s not actually “sold” to travelers until it’s ticketed, which is done when two things have happened: the travel authorization is approved in the ConcurGov E-Government Travel System (ETS) and the period in time has been reached when it is five days before the travel is scheduled to occur. When these two events happen, the seating is “ticketed” (sold) and the final price is locked. The final price of the ticket can be higher or lower depending on the current price of aviation fuel.

    Travelers typically see a nominal price variance occur, and both the travel system and the financial system are programmed with certain tolerances to enable these minor price/cost variables to occur without causing electronic travel documents to fail.

     

    TO THE TOP


    TSA Awards Organization Coin to PSC Transit Team Member for Service Excellence

    Davron Mukhabbatov shakes hands with the man giving him a coin.

    For nearly a year, Davron Mukhabbatov, a member of the Program Support Center transit team, has been working directly with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) transit manager to ensure high-quality transit benefits services are delivered to TSA customers.

    “I’ve been helping them with all of their transit processes,” explains Mukhabbatov. “Both parking and transit. I help them with their reports, respond to their requests, and help them with their certifications.”

    Mukhabbatov thought it was all in a day’s work until there was a surprise visit to Salt Lake City, Utah, by TSA’s Scott Ellis, who is the acting Personal Property Policy and Compliance Branch Chief. Ellis acknowledged Mukhabbatov’s excellence by presenting him with TSA’s organization “challenge coin.”

    Challenge coins are a source of pride in the military and public safety communities. Members of these communities often carry their organization’s official coin with them, and during social gatherings, each member is challenged to show their pride by presenting their coin. Depending on the group, not presenting a coin when challenged can prompt other social expectations to be borne by those who are empty handed, like buying a round of drinks or enduring a good-natured ribbing. The challenge coins are also traded and collected by some people just like Olympic pins and organization patches are.

    “It was an amazing experience,” Mukhabbatov says. “I thought he was in Salt Lake City to tour the facility, but he had this appreciation planned for me. It was a very good surprise.”

    The coin honors innovation and team spirit, something which Mukhabbatov is pleased to bring to every client, but he appreciates the time and consideration provided by Ellis and TSA.

    “It was really a great honor for me,” Mukhabbatov says.

     

    TO THE TOP


    ConcurGov ETS’s “Details” Feature Makes Identifying Contract Flights Easier

    Often travelers and federal travel arrangers search for airfare by choosing to search from hubs (“Metro area”) instead of a specific airport (e.g., DCA, JFK, LAX, SLC, etc.). The results displayed can often be confusing since some flights might show as a government-contract carrier while — depending on the airport — the flight will not be a contracted fare.

    A simple way to ensure correct fare options are displayed, always click the “Show/Hide details” option. This will present the detailed information and flight options.

    For example, the image below illustrates options that display when searching for an airport within the Washington metropolitan area. Choosing a flight at an area airport, such as DCA for example, will result in government-contract carriers displaying even though there might not be any available.

    Airport-Drop-Down-location

    *Note: Although government-contract fares may not be available, the airline is still considered a government-contract carrier, therefore displaying a fare. For example:

    Search results from a flight search highlighting "Govt. Contract Carrier"

    The City Pairs Program offers pre-negotiated contract fares for specific airlines traveling between certain paired cities, e.g., DCA/LGA, not WAS/NYC or DCA/EWR or DCA/JFK.

    Concur-Travel-Mixed-Flight-Train-Search-Results

    Note that, if you search for flights from the hub in general (e.g., “WAS” – Washington Area Airports), then the system will take into account the contract carriers from each airport within the hub.

    If you find a good flight, you should make sure to either search for flights from the hub or from the airport out of which the flight actually leaves. This will ensure that the system applies the appropriate contract-carrier information to the flights selected.

    For more information regarding the contract carrier availability, please visit gsa.gov/portal/content/104512.

     

    TO THE TOP


    GSA Awards SmartPay 3 Contract, PSC Starts Preparations to Support Implementation

    Though a year away, SmartPay 3 readiness activities have already started. SmartPay 3 will provide many new opportunities including training integration, access to the most up-to-date technology in the banking industry, department-specific support to fit our unique needs, and closing loopholes that existed under SmartPay 2 that led to fraud, waste, and abuse.

    For a smooth transition process, Program Support Center invites all agency/organization program coordinators (A/OPCs) to start now to examine and cleanup of existing data.

    If travel credit cards are needed for emergency purposes and must remain open, operating divisions don’t have to close them to prepare for SmartPay 3. Operating divisions should consider reducing the available credit line to $1. If a person needs to travel, then it only takes seconds to increase the credit limit. Also, this helps reduce the risk of credit card abuse and conforms to the credit card compliance and oversight obligations set by the Government Charge Card Abuse Prevent Act and Office of Management and Budget Circular A-123.

     

    TO THE TOP


    Bike2Work Transit Subsidy Program

    Program Support Center (PSC) is the government’s premier Bike2Work transit benefits provider, offering eligible employees a $20 monthly voucher to cover bicycle commuting expenses.

    The vouchers can be used for:

    • The purchase of a bike lock
    • Bike parking or storage
    • Bike upgrades (lights, racks, etc.)
    • Repairs, tuning, and general maintenance
    • Safety equipment

    Participation in the Bike2Work program can be year-round or seasonal. Recipients of Bike2Work benefits may not also receive transit subsidy benefits at the same time. Prior to applying for the Bike2Work program, you must withdraw from the transit subsidy benefit program and your GO!card will be canceled.

    To apply for Bike2Work benefits, follow the instructions below:

    • Log in to govzone.psc.gov
    • Click on ‘My Services’ at the top of the homepage
    • Click on ‘Transit Subsidy Program Management’
    • Click on ‘Start Application’ for Bike2Work Program
    • Complete and submit application

    Participating bicycle store vendors that accept the Bike2Work vouchers can be found at commuterbenefits.com/where-can-i-use-it/.

    For more information on the Bike2Work program, please visit psc.gov/transportation-services/transit-subsidy-program-management/bike2work or contact the PSC Transit Subsidy Program Office via email at gocard@hhs.gov or via phone at (301) 492-4774.

     

    TO THE TOP


    Frequent Travelers Who Are “On the Edge” with Airline Rewards Programs Should Consider Asking Airlines for a ‘Bump’

    Airline rewards programs often have calendar year requirements to meet in order to get to a next level of rewards. This might require a traveler to travel on a certain number of qualifying segments, buy a certain number of tickets, or fly a fixed number of miles.

    It’s not uncommon for travelers to reach the end of the qualifying year and find themselves maddeningly close to that next level, which might get them perks like priority boarding, use of VIP lounges at airports, a higher place on a free-seat upgrade list, or other such benefits.

    Travelers who find themselves a few hundred points short shouldn’t be shy about calling the airline’s rewards program and asking for a courtesy ‘bump’ to the next level. The airlines can easily see by the traveler’s trips that they’re a frequent traveler, so it’s not uncommon for them to forego those last few miles or points to keep a good customer.

    At the same time, employees should be mindful of the Federal Travel Regulation requirements pertaining to selecting routes and airlines just to obtain frequent traveler program points (FTR §301-53.4.).

     

    TO THE TOP


    Transit Benefit Recipients Must Certify Eligibility Annually Through PSC

    The Internal Revenue Service requires all transit benefit users to recertify their eligibility to receive the benefits on an annual basis. Program Support Center (PSC)’s transit benefits subsidy program office helps employees meet this obligation by leading the annual recertification activity.

    Recertification ensures that the public’s funds are being delivered for the purpose intended and that only those persons who are eligible to participate in the program receive transit benefit funds.

    To expedite the process, the recertification users are broken down into smaller groups and invited to recertify within a specified 30-day window. The smaller groups will allow for a quicker, smoother process.

    Transit users can expect an email from the GO!card email box that invites them to perform their annual recertification.

    To facilitate full communication, agency transit coordinators will also have access to information on who still needs to recertify and who has completed the process.

    Employees must understand that recertification is not optional; it’s a requirement to maintain eligibility to receive the benefits.

    The PSC team wants all the benefit recipients to continue to receive the benefits to which they’re entitled, so prompt attention to invitations to re-certify are greatly appreciated.

     

    TO THE TOP


    PSC Supports GSA’s Effort to Revamp the Federal Travel Regulation

    Without its amendments, the U.S. Constitution is only 4,543 words, and that includes the signatures. When originally published, the document was printed on just four sheets! Plus, its amendments add only another 3,048 words, for a total of 7,591 words.

    In the spirit of the framers of the Constitution — that great governance can be obtained in just a few words, which can encourage localized decision making — Program Support Center (PSC) coordinated with its operational-division partners to gather input in response to General Services Administration (GSA)’s July call for input to revamp the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR).

    More than 120 comments were received and submitted to GSA. GSA reported in September that it has received about 1,200 comments, meaning that the department accounted for 10 percent of the total.

    Some of the input submitted to GSA included creating separate regulations for travel, relocation, and definitions, as well as using standard terminology and phrasing consistently across all of its regulations and establishing the approving official/federal travel supervisory approver role as pecuniary, the same as the funds certifier role in the accounting profession.

    GSA is currently sifting through all of the combined input and will use this information to revise the FTR. PSC, as a champion for its customers, routinely seeks information from GSA’s Office of Government-wide Policy regarding this FTR revamp effort.

     

    TO THE TOP