Travel and Training

I-2021-5


Effective Date: Expiration Date: Chapters:
April 13, 2022 When Superseded 13   40  

Overview

In the modern workforce, organizations and employees benefit from the continuous attainment of new skills and abilities. Certain government functions may also require employees to travel. To support these ends, the District government provides travel reimbursement for appropriate expenses incurred by employees. This issuance provides guidance on travel requests, and the reimbursement process.

Note:  This issuance was initially published on January 21, 2021, and updated on April 13, 2022, to clarify the locations in which District travel is currently not permissible per the Mayor's Orders.  

Government Travel

When incurring travel expenses, District government agencies and employees should be guided by principles of accountability, transparency, efficiency, and economy.

Agencies should only incur expenses when doing so would benefit the operations and services provided by the District government and should limit the number of travelers to the minimum necessary. An employee must exercise the same care in incurring travel expenses that a prudent person of modest means would exercise if traveling on personal business to keep costs as low as possible.

Travel Officer Designation

Ultimately, each agency’s Travel Officer oversees travel expenditure approvals and reimbursements. For this reason, each agency should designate a Travel Officer. In the absence of a specific designee, the agency head serves as the Travel Officer.

Travel Officer Responsibilities

  • Reviewing, verifying, certifying, and processing all requests for travel authorizations, advancements, and reimbursements;
  • Ensuring compliance with Chapter 40 of the District personnel regulations; and
  • Consulting with the agency’s general counsel when appropriate.

Approved Reasons for Travel

Travel can be a necessary expense for District government employees as a part of their positions. However, to receive reimbursement for expenses incurred during travel, it must:

  1. Support District government business (for example, conferences and meetings);
  2. Develop employees in a way that benefits District government operations (e.g. training and seminars); or
  3. Be due to an emergency that interrupts of one of the two allowable trips described above.

Emergency Travel

While on approved travel, employees may experience an emergency that can interrupt their trip. Under these circumstances, employees may be eligible to receive reimbursement for expenses associated with the emergency trip. Reimbursable emergency travel must be a result of one of the following:

  1. If the employee becomes incapacitated due to illness or injury due to no fault of their own;
  2. If a member of the employee’s family dies or becomes seriously ill; or
  3. If a catastrophic occurrence or an impending disaster, such as fire or flood, directly impacts the employee’s home.

Requesting Travel

Employees who wish to engage in government travel to a destination more than 50 miles from the District of Columbia, must draft and give to their supervisor a Travel Justification Memo addressed to their agency Director that identifies:

  1. The specific knowledge or skill that will be learned by participating in the training; and
  2. How the acquired knowledge or skill will help advance the work of the District government, their agency, or their unit.

If an equivalent or similar training is offered by the District government, the trainee or supervisor must also identify how the training differs from what is offered. If there is no legitimate business reason to incur the expense of outside training, the request will be denied. For a quick checklist for requesting travel and reimbursement requests, please refer to Attachment 2 (Request Checklist).

Local Travel

Local travel is defined as travel within 50 miles of the District of Columbia. Agencies, at their discretion, may choose to allow for oral requests and approvals for local travel in-lieu of a justification memo. However, employees must still complete a written Training and Travel Expense Authorization Form (see Required Forms).

International Travel

All international travel on behalf of the District government must be approved by the Mayor’s Chief of Staff through the Mayor’s Office of the General Counsel. International travel requests and procedures must adhere to the guidelines provided in Mayor’s Memorandum 2017-001, dated May 2, 2017.

Restricted Destinations

Some jurisdictions have embraced political choices that are inconsistent with our residents’ values. For this reason, no officer or employee of the District of Columbia is authorized to approve any official travel to the below-listed states nor is travel to the following states reimbursable pursuant to Mayoral Orders:

  • North Carolina – Mayor’s Order 2016-040, dated March 31, 2016.
  • Mississippi – Mayor’s Order 2016-058, dated April 8, 2016. 
  • Tennessee – Mayor’s Order 2016-081, dated May 11, 2016.

Required Forms

In addition to the Travel Justification Memo, employees must also submit a Training and Travel Expense Authorization Form (TR-1) to receive approval to incur training and travel expenses. If transportation or lodging expenses are projected to exceed the lowest rate available, the employee must also submit a Travel Exemption Request Form (TR-2) at the time of the request for training. These forms can be found in the Travel Forms Excel spreadsheet (Attachment 1).

Training and Travel Expense Authorization Form

In order to have a request for travel or training reviewed, employees must prepare and submit a TR-1. The form requires employees to identify their proposed method of travel, vendor information, method of payment, and estimated expenses. The employee may also use the form to request an advance on certain expenditures.

Employees should consult with their agency’s Travel Officer to obtain information on expenditure guidelines, allowances, and agency-specific travel rules before completing the form.

Travel Exemption Request Form

Employees must complete the TR-2 when travel-related lodging or transportation expenses are greater than the lowest available rate, or when an employee is unable to obtain lower rates for early conference training registration, or another item that requires exemption (if requested by the OCFO). If applicable, employees must submit this form with their requested advance or reimbursement.

Service Agreement

If the total cost of the training is greater than $2,500, or will exceed 80 hours of duty over the course of a single training program, the employee must complete an Agreement to Continue in Service Form. The service agreement will require the employee to agree to remain in employment with the District government for a defined period of time and to acknowledge that the costs of training will be withheld from their final paycheck or recovered by alternate means should they voluntarily retire or resign before completing the required amount of service.

An employee who enters into an agreement must give their employing agency a notice of 10 workdays prior to separating from District government. Additional information on this topic can be found in I-13-7, Agreement to Continue in Service.

Supporting Documentation

Employees must submit the following supporting documentation with each travel request:

  • Documentation detailing the cost of transportation (e.g., a printout of a ticket of intended purchase, or a price comparison website showing the cost of the ticket);
  • Documentation detailing the cost of any lodging (e.g., a printout of the lodging price or of a price comparison website showing the cost of lodging);
  • Documentation showing that the cost of transportation and lodging are the lowest rate available (e.g., a printout from a price comparison website);
  • Documentation detailing the per diem lodging rate for the destination, if applicable (e.g., a printout from the General Services Administration (GSA) website); and
  • Documentation detailing the per diem meal and incidental expense rate for the travel destination (e.g., a printout from the GSA website).

Failure to submit required documentation may result in the denial of a request.


Approval Process

Travel approvals shall be processed as follows:

  1. The employee requesting travel authorization shall submit the required forms detailed above to their immediate supervisor.
  2. The supervisor shall review and certify whether the requested travel benefits the agency.
  3. The supervisor shall submit the approval form to the travel officer.
  4. The travel officer shall certify whether the request complies with Chapter 40 of the District Personnel Regulations, and that the request is complete and accurate.
  5. The travel officer shall secure the signature of the agency fiscal officer certifying that funds are available to fund the request.
  6. The agency head or designee shall either approve or deny the travel approval request; and
  7. The travel officer shall notify the employee and the supervisor of the decision on the request.

Canceling Travel

If authorized travel is cancelled for official purposes, or for a reason beyond the employee’s control, and the employee paid for the travel expenses with their own funds, the agency may reimburse the employee for nonrefundable expenses.

An employee must notify the travel officer of a cancellation of travel and submit a refund of any monies advanced in connection with the authorized travel. Advances that are not refunded to the agency within three business days shall be recovered by the agency, which may include an offset against the employee’s salary, a retirement credit, or other amount owed to the employee or any other legal method of recovery.

If authorized travel is cancelled because of an employee’s personal convenience, the employee will be solely responsible for any expenses incurred.


Incurring Expenses While Traveling

Employees must keep receipts of all transactions related to the costs of training and travel. Employees must keep physical receipts or use agency-approved expense reporting applications such as Expensify. For a complete guide on reimbursable expenses, please refer to Attachment 3 (Reimbursement Guide).

Transportation Receipts

For air, train, rental car, and similar transportation expenses, receipts must show:

  • The employee’s name;
  • The name and phone number of the transportation company;
  • For any flights, train travel, or similar carrier services, the route number, the class of service, the passenger record number, the date and time of the travel, and the starting and ending points of the travel;
  • For rental cars, the date, time, and location of the pickup and drop-off of the car, the type of car rented, and the rental confirmation number; and
  • The total cost of the transportation, listing separately the pre-tax amount and the amount of any tax.

Lodging Receipts

Lodging receipts must show:

  • The employee’s name;
  • The name, address and phone number of the lodging;
  • The dates of the stay; including the arrival and departure dates;
  • The room type and daily rate for the lodging;
  • A description of any additional benefits included in the daily lodging charge (such as meals, parking, or internet access);
  • The tax rate and amount, if reimbursement of taxes is requested;
  • An itemized list of additional charges, such as charges for telephone or internet service, if the reimbursement of these charges is requested; and
  • The total cost of the lodging, including an itemized listing detailing each pre-tax charge, the pre-tax total, and the amount of any tax.

Meal Receipts

Meal receipts must show:

  • The employee’s name, handwritten if not printed on the receipt;
  • The name and address of the restaurant;
  • The date and time of the meal;
  • An itemized list of each cost of the meal (that is, listing each beverage and meal item, and their costs, separately);
  • The number of persons whose meals appear on the receipt, with the specific costs for which reimbursement are sought being clearly identified; provided, an employee shall obtain a separate receipt for their meal where feasible; and
  • The total amount of the bill, including an itemized listing detailing each pre-tax charge, the pre-tax total, the amount of any tax, and the amount of any tip.

Expense Reimbursement

Within ten business days of returning from training or travel, employees must submit a Request for Training and Travel Expense Reimbursement Form (TR-3) to their agency travel officer. In order to reconcile expenses associated with training and related travel, employees must still use this form if they received an advance and are not seeking additional reimbursement.

Employees who used a personal vehicle to travel locally, must also submit a Personal Vehicle Reimbursement Form (TR-4).

Employees must attach all receipts (or an expense report from an expense tracking application such as Expensify) to their TR-3 or TR-4.

Agency travel officers will review forms for accuracy, completeness, and applicability. If an employee submits an incomplete or inaccurate form, the travel officer must return the form to the employee for completion or correction. After verifying completeness and accuracy, the travel officer will sign the forms.

Each travel expense reimbursement form signed by the travel officer shall be submitted to the agency head, or the agency head’s designee. The agency head, or the agency head’s designee, must review and sign the form to authorize the reimbursement of the travel expenses.

Agencies will provide employees any authorized reimbursements within 30 calendar days after receiving a properly completed reimbursement form.


References

  1. Title 6-B, Chapter 40 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations
  2. Title 6-B Chapter 13 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations

Attachments

  1. Attachment 1 - Travel Forms
  2. Attachment 2 - Request Checklist
  3. Attachment 3 - Reimbursement Guide

Issued by Interim Director E. Lindsey Maxwell II, Esq., D.C. Department of Human Resources on Jan. 21, 2021, 4:29 p.m.