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Subchapter 210 - TRAVEL




All official travel must be authorized prior to departure. DFI will provide the traveler with an authorized travel order (T.O.) prior to each trip.

The T.O. will reflect points of travel and denote special authorizations such as, advance of funds, allowable upgrades, annual leave, use of non-contract flights, miscellaneous reimbursements, etc. If deviations from the original itinerary must be made, the T.O. must be amended, usually upon return of the traveler.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) travel manual and supplements govern official travel.



    DFI can be contacted during normal business hours by using the following telephone number:

    (301) 827-5653 (non-emergency)

    After normal business hours, use the Emergency Operations Staff (EOS) phone number (301) 443-1240 which is serviced by a 24-hour contract answering service. The answering service will page the ORO Late Duty Officer, who will contact the appropriate individual with which you need to speak. When leaving a message with the answering service, include the name of the individual you are ultimately trying to contact.

    The costs of long distance telephone calls for official business are reimbursable.


    The FAX numbers for DFI are: 301-443-6919 and 301-827-6685. It is programmed to receive incoming messages 24 hours a day. Charges for sending FAX messages for official business are reimbursable.



  1. Transportation Requests

    Most trips will be by air and the purchase of airline tickets will be arranged and prepaid by DFI. Occasions may arise where the traveler may need to deviate from the prearranged itinerary and therefore could incur large transportation costs for air fares.

    Refer to the IOM for further guidance or contact your trip planner.

    Emergency purchases of such airline tickets should be made using the government issued travel credit card.

  2. Payment

    Cash or government issued credit card should be used when possible.

    Personal credit cards can be used for travel costs only if the cost does not total $100 or more. The traveler should be careful to obtain receipts for all transportation tickets acquired.

    When alternate methods of payment are used, claim reimbursement on the travel voucher and submit appropriate receipts. See Sub Chapter 215.1 of this guide for mandatory statements required on a travel voucher.


It is the responsibility of DFI to make arrangements for all air travel required to meet the travel itinerary.

It is the responsibility of the traveler to make the necessary arrangements for surface transportation such as rail, bus, car, boat, etc. These arrangements are usually made locally, during the international trip, using the most convenient mode available. The traveler may obtain guidance from the firms being inspected in arranging for surface travel. The international traveler may have to arrange for some air travel during an international trip under circumstances such as itinerary changes, emergencies, or strikes, etc.

211.3 RAIL

When train travel is necessary, the traveler may seek assistance from the firm being inspected to make arrangements. It is important to keep copies of receipts for rail tickets. Records should be accurate in case rail receipts cannot be obtained or are lost. Some useful websites: www.eurorail.com and www.britrail.com

211.4 AIR

All government travel must use the contract Travel Agency. The normal class of service for authorized official travel is coach. Travelers may upgrade their tickets at no expense to the government paying the increased charges themselves.

All air travel originating from the USA to a foreign country and return MUST be via American flag carriers. Attempts will also be made to use U.S. carriers on other legs of the trip. The government has negotiated contract fares for a number of foreign cities which must be utilized when applicable.

Travel between Headquarters and the investigator's duty station will follow standard domestic travel regulations. This requires use of contract air carriers.

The following is an excerpt from a General Services Administration (GSA) publication regarding the overbooking of flights, denial of boarding where space was reserved, and the subsequent payment of damages to the traveler: "Oversold reserved accommodations (denied boarding). Tariff provisions of certain scheduled air carriers require the payment of liquidated damages in certain situations if the carrier fails to provide confirmed reserved space. When payment of liquidated damages results from travel on official business, these penalty payments are due the government and not the traveler. Any traveler who has been denied confirmed reserved space shall ensure that the carrier shows the "Treasurer of the United States" as payee on the compensation check and shall forward the payment to the appropriate agency official."

For inspectional travel, DFI arranges for purchase of full fare coach accommodations in order to prevent "bumping" and provide flexibility to change and rearrange travel between duty points overseas. Do not make changes to flight itineraries without consulting your trip planner.

Business class may be authorized for travel in excess of 14 hours from origin to destination. This is in lieu of an overnight rest stop. Any domestic connections of the business class travel will be booked in coach class, only the outbound U.S. to international location is business, for example:

Chicago, IL to Atlanta, GA (coach class); Atlanta, GA to Bombay, India (business class).

Non-bargaining unit members do not qualify for business class. Business class may be authorized only if the employee has a medical condition which is warranted and justified by a physician’s medical certificate that is submitted to DFI.


On December 28, 2001, the President signed a law that allows employees to retain all frequent traveler benefits, including frequent flyer miles, earned on official government travel for their personal use. Travelers can also use their frequent flyer miles to upgrade to premium class, however, upgrades must adhere to the regulations as published in the Federal Travel Regulations. Official guidelines for using the frequent traveler benefits are posted in GSA’s Web site: www.gsa.gov


A rest stop can be authorized in lieu of business class travel, when the departure and destination point (by most direct route) is separated by several time zones. The scheduled flight time including stopovers should exceed 14 hours, and at least one destination point is outside the contiguous U.S. The rest stop is not to exceed 24 hours. The rest stop may be within the U.S.


Auto rental must be authorized specifically on the T.O. Travelers will be reimbursed for authorized rental expenses when properly vouchered and accompanied by a receipt.

Traveler must take collision damage waiver (CDW) and theft insurance prior to picking up the rental car. Government Travel Agency does not carry these two insurance policies which are reimbursable only for cars rented in foreign countries.

Automobiles rented for official travel must be treated as though they are Government-owned vehicles, and as such, non-government employees, including relatives, may not be transported.

Expenses for auto rental for purposes other than official business will not be reimbursed.

211.8 TAXI AND OTHER PUBLIC CONVEYANCE (buses, subways, etc.)

All conveyance charges (taxis, buses, subways, etc.) including tips (up to 15%) when used for official travel are reimbursable. Receipts are required for fares over $75.

The traveler is encouraged to use public conveyances such as buses and subways since travel via these facilities is usually less expensive than taxi cabs.


Under new billing procedures implemented by our agency’s Travel Management Center, all international airline tickets are charged to a government-issued travel credit card - either a corporate or individual account. Charges will be billed to ORA's corporate account unless otherwise indicated by the traveler. All tickets purchased against the current government-issued travel credit card will be covered with $250,000 travel accident insurance, plus $1,500 baggage insurance for loss, theft, or damage to checked and carry-on baggage. Employees are also covered by workman's compensation insurance while traveling on official business.

Note - the above information is applicable only to the government travel card issued at the time of writing (currently, VISA). Benefits available to travelers are subject to modification should there be a change in the vendor providing travel credit card services.


Subsistence is the cost of lodging, meals, tips, and miscellaneous expenses incurred by the traveler.

Maintain an accurate record of all expenditures incurred while traveling. Use them for reference during preparation of the expense voucher. It is suggested that international travelers carry blank travel voucher forms and complete them on a daily basis.

Unlike domestic travel, for international travel you cannot claim hotel taxes as a separate expense.

212.1 RATES

International per diem rates are adjusted monthly. Each city has a prescribed maximum allowable rate for lodging and meals and incidental expenses (M&IE), published monthly in a State Department document. DFI will provide the traveler with the current rates prior to departure. When the trip traverses months, the traveler should confirm the current rate when completing the travel voucher.

Current rates within the continental U.S. are available on several website in the Internet: GSA's Domestic per Diem rates and www.state.gov or from the Travel Audit Section (301 827 5008).


Per diem computation for international locations is a world-wide lodgings-plus system. Each location will have a prescribed maximum allowable rate for lodging and M&IE. Partial days of travel (e.g. first/last day) will be prorated at 3/4 of the applicable M&IE rate.

When briefings are held in the Headquarters area, the current Washington, D.C. area rate for the day of travel to Rockville and subsequent full days should be used.

On the day of departure to international locations from duty station, use the M&IE rate of the destination city prorated at 3/4 of the rate. On the day of departure from a temporary duty station (Washington for briefing) claim the entire day at the M&IE rate for the destination city.

Following are examples:

  1. Traveler leaves from Washington Dulles, (after a full day of briefing) departing at 8:30 p.m. (EST) Friday, and flies directly to Madrid, arriving at 7:50 a.m. (Madrid time) Saturday. Actual flight time (due to 6 hour time difference) is 5 hours and 20 minutes.

    Per diem computes as:
    12:01a to 8:30p Friday = 1 full day at (MADRID M&IE rate, lodging not required). 12:01a Saturday, start the Madrid rate for both M&IE and lodging.

  2. Traveler leaves official duty station (Minneapolis) at 2:00p Friday, and travels to New York, NY arriving at 5:15p. Departs New York at 7:45p and flies directly to Frankfurt, Germany arriving at 10:15a (Frankfurt time) Saturday.

    Per diem computes as:
    Friday = 3/4 day at the M&IE rate of the destination locale (Frankfurt) (No lodging required). 12:01a Saturday; start the Frankfurt rate including lodging and M&IE.

When returning to the U.S. per diem allowable is the M&IE rate applicable to the preceding day. For example:

Traveler departs Munich, Germany at 11:20a (Munich time) Saturday and travels to London, arriving at 12:10p (London time). Departs London at 2:25p (London time) and travels to Dulles Airport, Washington, DC arriving at 3:35p (EST) and arrives at residence at 5:00p (EST).

Per diem computes as:
3/4 at the M&IE rate for Munich.

See Exhibits 2A and 2B for examples.


There may be occasions when lodging and/or subsistence expenses significantly exceed the allowed per diem rate. If this occurs, HHS Travel Regulation allows for a request to claim actual expenses. Generally it is lodging, not M&IE, allowance that is exceeded. Meals do not need to be itemized, if the allowed M&IE is claimed.

In the case where the hotel was selected due to availability or proximity to the location of official business and there was no possibility to change to a lower cost hotel, the lodging allowance can be authorized for maximum total up to 150% of the allowable rate.

Actual expense approval will not, for the most part, be approved for more than 150% of the allowed lodging rate. Although travel regulations permit approval of actual expense for lodging up to 300% of the prescribed maximum per diem rate under certain special or unusual circumstances, due to declining resources ORA will only approve 150% of the allowed lodging rate except for the most rare occasions.

If it is known prior to travel that lodging costs will be over the maximum allowable rate, DFI will prepare the required justifications and submit them with the Travel Order. If while in travel status situations occur that cause the traveler to exceed lodging limits, the traveler should notify DFI immediately to obtain approval for the increased lodging. Approval documentation will be sent to the traveler's district office for submission with the travel voucher.


FDA has purchased travel insurance for the ORA foreign cadre members. The travel insurance was purchased through Hartford Life Insurance Company who has arranged for these services to be provided by Worldwide Assistance Services, Inc. Packets were sent out to all cadre members as they traveled and to the DIBs, if you did not receive one, contact your trip planner.

If, while in travel status, an investigator must be hospitalized because of illness or injury not due to his/her own misconduct, per diem continues. Be guided by IOM 114.2.


An advance of funds check can be provided for up to 60% of the total per diem and other estimated travel expense.


If the estimated advance of funds does not exceed $600, the traveler is expected to utilize their government issued travel credit card to obtain funds through ATM withdrawals.

For advance amounts exceeding $600, the field traveler will prepare an Advance of Funds form (SF-1038) and Travel Voucher form (SF-1012) with original signatures and obtain a check through their designated regional payment office. The district director will sign as authorizing official in order for these checks to be scheduled.

In case of emergencies or certain other extenuating circumstances, DFI can provide the traveler with an advance of funds check in an amount not to exceed $2,500. This check will be issued from the FDA headquarters accounting office.


A T.O. will be provided by DFI. The T.O. will contain estimated costs, itineraries, special authorizations, etc. Review the T.O. to ensure all necessary items are completed.

When there is a deviation in the itinerary, an amendment to the T.O. must be written upon return. Provide all deviations of the itinerary to DFI so an amendment can be prepared. The traveler must provide a copy of the T.O. amendment(s) to the auditor. Without such amendment(s), claims made on the travel voucher will not match the T.O. and the traveler may not be reimbursed for all expenses. A copy of the amended T.O. should be provided to your servicing regional/district voucher auditor.

Notify your trip planner of any intended use of annual leave, since it must have prior approval and be indicated on the T.O.

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