Increased Productivity in Processing Travel Claims Can Cut Administrative Costs Significantly

AFMD-81-18: Published: Jan 19, 1981. Publicly Released: Jan 30, 1981.

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GAO examined the productivity in processing travel claims in response to a congressional request.

The processing of claims for travel expenses incurred by federal employees is costing several million dollars more than necessary annually. This amount could be cut significantly by: (1) replacing the reimbursement method used for high cost areas with the method of reimbursing for lodging, plus a flat fee for meals and miscellaneous expenses; (2) eliminating redundant, overly detailed supervisory reviews and unnecessary typing of vouchers; and (3) improving voucher auditing activities at payment centers. The processing of vouchers is expensive and not offset by savings. The presently used high rate (actual cost) method of reimbursing travel provides payment of actual expenses up to a predetermined ceiling. Because it requires detailed itemization, it costs nearly twice as much to process by this method as the lodgings-plus method. Travel voucher processing productivity is also low due to unnecessarily detailed reviews by supervisors and unnecessary typing. Productivity in auditing vouchers at payment centers was impeded by an overconcern for accuracy and by poor processing practices. The General Services Administration has proposed to change lodgings-plus reimbursement for domestic travel to make it compatible with its proposed worldwide reimbursement system. The method, as presently proposed, will be very difficult and expensive to administer. Agency payment center officials contacted felt the proposed method would double the processing costs for lodgings-plus vouchers.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The heads of departments and agencies should establish productivity measures for travel voucher processing as part of their payment center productivity measures, which GAO recommended in a prior report.

    Agency Affected: Heads of Federal Agencies

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should include the following in the FTR: instructions that typing of vouchers is not required and should not be done when travelers prepare legible, handwritten vouchers.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should include the following in the FTR: a requirement for supervisory review of travel vouchers and an explanation of the purpose of such reviews, of which one level is sufficient.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should direct that the proposal to add en route reimbursement to the lodgings-plus method be revised as we have suggested.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Defense Per Diem Committee to adopt the two-tier, lodgings-plus method for reimbursing military travel and in conjunction with the General Services Administration propose legislation to replace the high rate method with a two-tier, lodgings-plus method.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should include the following in the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR): a statement of the responsibilities of payment center examiners in auditing vouchers.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  7. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The heads of departments and agencies should examine each payment center to determine what actions can be taken to increase productivity.

    Agency Affected: Heads of Federal Agencies

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should propose legislation to replace the high rate geographic area method with a two-tier, lodgings-plus method and increase the maximum amount reimbursable for lodgings-plus to such a level to allow for cost growth without getting congressional approval for each new ceiling.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

 

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