Panoptic Enterprises' FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH
DATE: November 23, 2004
SUBJECT: Federal Travel Regulation (FTR); Relocation Allowances
SOURCE: Federal Register, November 23, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 225, page 68111
AGENCIES: Office of Governmentwide Policy, General Services Administration (GSA)
ACTION: Proposed Rule
SYNOPSIS: GSA is proposing to amend FTR Chapter 302, Relocation Allowances, to incorporate private industry policies and best practices to keep government relocation practices in line with current relocation trends and to better manage the government relocation programs and costs.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The FTR is Chapters 300 through 304 of Title 41 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The FTR is available on the Internet at http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/programView.do?pageTypeId=8199&ooid=14161&programPage=%2Fep%2Fprogram%2FgsaDocument.jsp&programId=8955&channelId=-14863.
DATES: Comments must by submitted no later than January 24, 2005.
ADDRESSES: Respondents may submit comments directly on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov; on the web site at http://www.gsa.gov/ftr; by e-mail to: email@example.com; by fax to 202-501-4067; ro by mail to General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat (V), 1800 F Street, NW., Room 4035, ATTN: Laurie Duarte, Washington, DC 20405. Cite " FTR Case 2003-309" when making comments on this proposed rule.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ed Davis, Program Analyst (Team Leader), Office of Governmentwide Policy, Travel Management Policy, 202-208-7638.
SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION: Much of private industry uses lump sum relocation payments for all relocation expenses except real estate expenses. Temporary quarters, miscellaneous expenses, and other payments have a small one-time administrative cost and do not need to be reconciled in a post-payment audit. The administrative savings and efficiency improvements of such systems are substantial.
Private industry spends less time on its relocation packages because, generally, they are tiered, more flexible to handle exceptions, and relocation expenses rarely extend beyond one year because there are no extensions. The focus is on getting the transferee settled at the new location as fast as possible in permanent quarters. Currently, the government permits federal employees to voucher items from a move up to 4 years after the move (two years to complete a relocation plus a two year extension). This is a drain on federal accounting systems as monies must remain allocated to cover transactions.
To remedy this situation, the following changes are proposed to FTR Chapter 302:
- FTR 302-2.8, When must I complete all aspects my relocation?, FTR 302-2.9, If I am furloughed to perform active military duty, will I have to complete all aspects of the relocation within the time limitation?, FTR 302-2.10, Does the 2-year time period in 302-2.8 include time that I cannot travel and/or transport my household effects due to shipping restrictions to or from my post of duty OCONUS [outside the continental United States]?, FTR 302-2.11, May the 2-year time limitation for completing all aspects of a relocation be extended?, and FTR 302-2.110, Are there time factors that we must consider for allowing an employee to complete all aspects of relocation?, would be amended to reduce the length of time to complete a relocation from two years to one year. Also, FTR 302.2-11 and FTR 302-2.110 would be further amended to reduce the length of time for relocation extensions from two years to one year.
- FTR 302-2.20, What is a disclosure statement?, and FTR 302-2.21, Must I sign a disclosure statement?, would be added to require disclosure statements so the government will not pay for relocation expenses that are paid by another government or private source. Also, a paragraph (g) would be added to FTR 302-2.100, What internal policies must we establish before authorizing a relocation allowance?, to cross-reference the new FTR 302-2.20 and FTR 302-2.21.
- To define relocation programs, relocation payment systems, and relocation management reporting systems, the following would be added: FTR 302-2.200, What does the federal relocation management program include?; FTR 302-2.205, What are agency responsibilities to implement the federal relocation management program?; FTR 302-2.300, What is a relocation payment system?; FTR 302-2.305, How do agencies obtain relocation payment system services?; FTR 302-2.400, How do agencies acquire a Relocation Management Reporting System?; and FTR 302-2.405, May we obtain an exception from the use of a Relocation Management Reporting System?
- FTR 302-3.304, Is there a time limit by when I must begin my relocation travel and transportation of household goods upon separation?, and FTR 302-3.305, May I be granted an extension to the time limit for beginning my separation travel?, would be added to address separation travel timing and extensions.
- FTR 302-4.300, What is the POV mileage rate for PCS travel?, would be amended to reduce the mileage rate for relocation to be in line with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) relocation reimbursement rates ("See IRS Publication 521, Moving Expenses, available on the Internet at http://www.irs.gov").
- FTR 302-5.11, Is there a time limit on the duration of a househunting trip?, would be amended to reduce the maximum allowable number of days for a househunting trip from 10 to 8 calendar days, to be in line with industry practices.
- The term "fixed amount" would be replaced by the term "lump sum" in FTR 302-5.13, What methods may my agency use to reimburse me for househunting trip expenses?; FTR 302-5.15, Must I document my househunting trip expenses to receive reimbursement?; FTR 302-5.16, May I receive an advance of funds for househunting trip expenses?; FTR 302-5.18, May I retain any balance left over from my househunting reimbursement if my fixed amount is more than adequate to cover my househunting trip?; FTR 302-5.101, What governing policies must we establish for the househunting trip expenses allowance?; FTR 302-5.103, What factors must we consider in determining whether to offer an employee the fixed amount househunting trip subsistence expense reimbursement option? (to be redesignated as section 302-5.104); FTR 302-6.11, What methods may my agency use to reimburse me for TQSE [Temporary Quarters Subsistence Expenses]?; FTR 302-6.12, Must I document my TQSE to receive reimbursement?; FTR 302-6.301, What governing policies must we establish for the TQSE allowance?; and FTR 302-6.304, What factors should we consider in determining whether the TQSE allowance is actually necessary?.
- FTR 302-5.14, What transportation expenses will my agency pay?, would be amended to state, "Generally, trips of under 250 miles will only be reimbursed for POV mileage and only at the rate prescribed in [FTR] 302-4.300..." and "unless the agency performs a written cost comparison proving cost savings, only common carrier will be authorized for trips with a distance greater than 250 miles."
- FTR 302-5.103, What modes of transportation may we authorize for a househunting trip?, would be added, which would state, "When the new official station is less than 250 miles from the old official station, you should only authorize the use of the employee's POV for a househunting trip (HHT) and reimbursement for POV mileage at the rate prescribed in this part...When the new official station is 250 miles or more from the old official station, you may authorize the use of the common carrier transportation or POV for a househunting trip, whichever is most advantageous to the government."
- FTR 302-6.200, What am I paid under the lump sum payment reimbursement method?; FTR 302-6.201, How do I determine the amount of my lump sum payment?; FTR 302-6.202, Will I receive additional TQSE reimbursement if my lump sum payment is not adequate to cover my actual TQSE? [No]; and FTR 302-6.203, May I retain any balance left over from my TQSE lump sum payment if such payment is more than adequate? [Yes], would be revised to encourage the use of lump sum payments for administrative efficiency and the potential for cost savings. Also, FTR 302-6.204, Am I required to file a voucher for TQSE if I selected the lump sum payment? [No], would be added.
- FTR 302-6.304, What factors should we consider in determining whether to offer an employee the fixed amount TQSE reimbursement option?, would be revised to explain the factors to consider when deciding to offer lump sum payments [ease of administration, cost, and employee morale and productivity].
- FTR 302-6.305, Must we require transferees to sign a statement that TQSE was incurred? [Yes], and FTR 302-6.306, When must we make the lump sum TQSE payment to the transferee? [prior to the occupancy of temporary quarters], would be added.
- FTR 302-7.2, What is the maximum weight of HHG [Household Goods] that may be transported or stored at Government expense?, would be revised to clarify that the definition of 18,000 pounds net weight of household goods does not include packing materials.
- FTR 302-7.4, Does the weight of any professional books, papers and equipment (PBP&E) count against the 18,000 pound HHG weight limitation?, would be revised to include an agency option for unaccompanied air baggage (UAB) as a part of the household goods allowance.
- FTR 302-7.8, At what location may my HHG be temporarily stored?, would be added to clarify that "HHG may be placed in temporary storage at origin, in transit, at destination, or any combination thereof upon agency approval."
- Current FTR 302-7.8, Is there a time limit for the temporary storage of an authorized HHG shipment?, would be redesignated as FTR 302-7.9 and would limit the maximum number of days of temporary storage of household goods to a total of 150 and require that the number of days allowed coincide with the number of days allowed for TQSE.
- Current FTR 302-7.9, What are some reasons that would justify the additional
storage beyond the initial 90-day limit?, would be redesignated as FTR 302-7.10 and would be revised to reduce the initial temporary storage period from 90 to 60 days.
- Current FTR 302-7.20, If my HHG shipment includes an item (e.g. boat, trailer, ultralight vehicle) for which a weight additive is assessed by the HHG carrier, am I responsible for payment?, would be redesignated as FTR 302-7.21, and would specify that the transferee is responsible for payment of weight additives.
- A new FTR Part 302-7, Subpart D, Baggage Allowance, would be added to incorporate policies for including unaccompanied air baggage (UAB) in the HHG weight allowance for moves between CONUS and OCONUS (outside CONUS). It would consist of the following sections:
- FTR 302-7.300, When may I be authorized a UAB shipment?
- FTR 302-7.301, Is my UAB shipment in addition to the 18,000 pounds net weight of HHG weight allowance? [No]
- FTR 302-7.302, What is the maximum weight allowance for a UAB shipment? [350 pounds net weight for the employee and for each immediate family member 12 years of age and over; or 175 pounds net weight for each immediate family member under 12 years of age]
- FTR 302-7.303, When may my agency authorize the shipment of UAB?
- FTR 302-7.304, Is there a time limit for shipment of my UAB? [the UAB must be shipped prior to departure from the old duty station]
- FTR 302-7.305, Who makes arrangements for transporting my UAB? [the agency or the agency's designee]
- FTR 302-9.301, Under what conditions may my agency authorize transportation of my POV [Privately-Owned Vehicle] within CONUS [Continental United States]?, would be revised to require that agencies consider whether the cost of transporting the POV is greater than the value of your POV, and whether the distance the POV is to be shipped is 600 miles or more.
- FTR 302-9.501, How many POV's may we authorize for transporting at government expense?, would be added to specify that two POVs may be transported at government expense.
- FTR 302-9.504, What factors must we consider in deciding whether to authorize transportation of a POV to a post of duty?, and FTR 302-9.505, What must we consider in determining whether transportation of a POV within CONUS is cost effective?, would be redesignated as FTR 302-9.505 and FTR 302-9.506, respectively, and be amended to specify that agencies are not to transport a POV to a post of duty when the cost of transportation is more than the value of the POV, or when the post of duty is less than 600 miles away.
- FTR 302-11.2, Am I eligible to receive an allowance for expenses incurred in connection with my residence transactions?, would be amended to require that the guidelines in Internal Revenue Service Publication 521, Moving Expenses, be followed to deermine whether the allowance is tax deductible [it requires the commute to new job location via commonly traveled routes from the old residence be increased by at least 50 miles].
- FTR 302-11.21, How long do I have to submit my claim for reimbursement of expenses incurred in connection with my residence transactions?, would be revised to reduce the time limit for submitting claims for residence transactions from two years to one year.
- FTR 302-11.22, May the 2-year time limitation be extended by my agency?, would be revised to reduce the time limit for extensions to submit claims for residence transactions from two years to one year.
- The introductory paragraph of FTR 302-11.200, What residence transaction expenses will my agency pay?, would be revised to clarify that reimbursement of residence transaction expenses is limited to amounts customarily charged where the residences are located.
- FTR 302-15.70, What governing policies must we establish for the allowance for property management services?, would be amended to permit direct payment of property management service fees to the government employee, when appropriate.
In addition, the following terms and definitions would be added to FTR 300-3.1, What do the following terms mean?: "accompanied baggage" and "unaccompanied air baggage" ("personal items and equipment (i.e., pots, pans, light housekeeping items, collapsible items (cribs, playpens, baby carriages) and other articles required for the care of the family that may be shipped by air").
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Panoptic Enterprises at 703-451-5953.
Copyright 2004 by Panoptic Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.
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