SmartPay TwitterSmartPay FacebookSmartPay Google+SmartPay LinkedIn

MenuSearch

GSA SmartPay

Travel

The GSA SmartPay program provides a means to pay for all travel and travel related expenses. Discover tips to success by learning about policies, training opportunities, and innovative solutions here! 

Account Holders/ AOs

Travel Program Overview

What is the GSA SmartPay Travel Account?

The GSA SmartPay travel program provides account holders a means to pay for all travel and travel related expenses. Additionally, the GSA SmartPay program is the primary mechanism used to purchase airline, rail and bus tickets at significantly reduced fares under the GSA City Pairs Program (CPP). For more information on the City Pairs Program, click here.

The Travel and Transportation Reform Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-264) mandates Federal Government account holders to use the travel account for official government travel expenses. The travel account allows individual account holders to pay for travel expenses and receive cash advances. In many instances, use of the account has eliminated the need for agencies to issue travel cash advances. Government account usage provides streamlined, best-practice processes that are consistent with private industry standards.

The GSA SmartPay Program has continued to grow through increased adoption as agencies/organizations realize benefits afforded under the program.

Benefits include:

  • Universal Acceptance: Because GSA SmartPay travel accounts are either VISA or MasterCard brands, they can be used at any merchant that already accepts these types of payment.
  • Safety and Convenience: GSA SmartPay travel accounts significantly reduce or eliminate the need for agency imprest funds or cash. Account holders do not need to worry about carrying large amounts of cash with them when they travel, thus making the GSA SmartPay payment solutions more secure as well as more convenient for the traveler.
  • Refunds: Agencies receive monetary payments provided by the contractor based on the dollar or spend volume during a specified time period, which result in millions of dollars back per year for the agency.
  • Electronic Access to Data: The GSA SmartPay contractor banks all provide an Electronic Access Systems (EAS), which provides account access and a variety of reports for A/OPCs to assist in the effective management of the program.

Exceptions to using the GSA SmartPay travel account include:

  • The vendor does not accept the payment solution;
  • The administrator of GSA has granted an exemption (see FTR Section 301-70.704); or
  • Your agency head has granted an exemption.

 

Types of GSA SmartPay Travel Accounts

New to GSA SmartPay 3: GSA SmartPay Tax Advantage Travel Card Accounts are new product offerings that combine an Individually Billed Account (IBA) and Centrally Billed Account (CBA), providing a means to obtain tax exemption automatically at the point of sale for rental cars and lodging charges.

Travel Individually Billed Accounts (IBAs) are the most common travel account, issued directly to the employees by the customer agency/ organization to be used to pay for official travel and travel-related expenses. IBAs may only be issued to federal employees or employees of Tribes or Tribal Organizations. IBAs may be used for local travel only if authorized by written policy of the agency/ organization. Agencies/ organizations reimburse employees only for authorized and allowable expenses. Account holders are directly responsible for all purchases charged to the IBA account. Payment may be made directly by the account holder, agency/ organization, or in the form of a split disbursement in accordance with agency/ organization policy

Travel Centrally Billed Accounts (CBAs) are established by agencies/organizations for official travel charges and official travel-related expenses. Agencies/organizations generally use the Travel CBA to purchase common carrier transportation tickets for employee official travel through third-party arrangements, such as the GSA E-Gov Travel Service (ETS) for civilian agencies, the Defense Travel System (DTS) for the Department of Defense or permissible equivalent travel system. Agencies/organizations may also make purchases through travel management centers, commercial travel offices, and through other government contracts

When using the new Tax Advantage Travel Card Account, charges for rental cars and lodging will be automatically billed to a CBA for payment, taking advantage of the Government’s CBA tax exemption status for those types of accounts. Charges for other travel-related purchases such as meals and incidentals are billed to the IBA portion of the account, will still incur tax, and the individual traveler will still be liable for payment to the bank for those charges.

 

Account Holder Responsibilities

Do's

In addition to your agency's travel policy, you should comply with the following guidelines:

  • Do use your government travel account to pay for official travel expenses.
  • Do obtain travel advances for official travel through an ATM if authorized by your agency.
  • Do track your expenses and keep receipts while on travel so you have accurate information for filing your travel claim.
  • Do file your travel claim within five working days after you complete your trip or every 30 days if you are on continuous travel.
  • Do submit payment in full for each monthly bill.
  • Do follow your bank's dispute process for charges which are incorrect.
  • Do contact your bank's customer service number if you have questions about your monthly bill.
  • Do be aware that misuse of the travel account could result in disciplinary actions by your agency.
  • Do be aware that failure to pay your bill in a timely manner can result in suspension or cancelation of your account.
  • Do destroy your travel charge card if you leave your agency or retire.
  • Do immediately report your lost or stolen account to your A/OPC and the issuing bank.
  • Do destroy any lost or stolen cards that are recovered.
  • Do be aware of identity theft schemes attempting to gain access to financial information.
Dont's
  • Don’t use your travel account for personal use.
  • Don’t obtain travel advances through the ATM which exceed your expected out of pocket expenditures for a trip.
  • Don’t obtain travel advances through the ATM unless you are on travel or will be on travel shortly.
  • Don’t allow your monthly bill to become overdue because this could result in suspension or cancelation of your account.
  • Don’t wait for receipt of your monthly billing statement to file your travel claim.
  • Don’t forget that the account is issued in your name and liability for payment is your responsibility.
  • Don’t write your personal identification number (PIN) down or carry your PIN in your wallet.

Approving Official (AO) and Certifying Official

What is an Approving Official?

Specific to the purchase programs, the Approving Official is an individual (typically a supervisor) responsible for ensuring that the purchase account is used properly by the agency. The Approving Official also authorizes account holder purchases (for official use only) and ensures that the statements are reconciled and submitted to the Designated Billing Office (DBO) in a timely manner.

What is a Certifying Official?

A Certifying Official is an individual who has been charged with the responsibility of authorizing certified vouchers for payment and ensuring that funds are available for obligation before payment. The Certifying Official is held accountable for public funds in civilian agencies.

Note: OMB Circular A-123, Appendix B and the GSA SmartPay Master Contract language utilize the terms Approving Official and Certifying Official synonymously. In the case of many agencies/organizations, the individual that holds the title of Approving Official also holds the title of Certifying Official. However, the roles of Approving Official and Certifying Official may be separate functions in some agencies/organizations.

What is my role as an Approving Official?

There are many important responsibilities entrusted to the Approving Official, including:

  • The Approving Official is responsible for ensuring that all purchases made by the account holder(s) within his/her span of control are appropriate and the charges are accurate. Purchases should not only be legal and proper, but also should be considered “mission essential”. In order to ensure proper purchases, the Approving Official must review and approve account holder statements belonging to all account holders within their purview. The Approving Official’s review should include looking at all required receipts and account holder logs.
  • The Approving Official is responsible for counseling account holders within his/her span of control regarding regulations, misuse, and delinquency.
  • The Approving Official is responsible for resolving all questionable purchases with the account holder. Upon review of receipts and account holder logs, if the Approving Official finds a questionable purchase, the Approving Official must work with the account holder to receive more information regarding the purchase in order to determine the legitimacy of the purchase.
  • The Approving Official is responsible for elevating unresolved questionable purchases to the Agency/Organization Program Coordinator (A/OPC). In the event an unauthorized purchase is detected or there is a purchase that is still in question after review of supporting account holder documentation, the Approving Official must notify the A/OPC as well as any other appropriate personnel in accordance with agency policy. This may include notifying the agency’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for further investigation relating to potential misuse.
  • The Approving Official is responsible for ensuring monthly billing account accuracy. The Approving Official signs the account statement and maintains documentation regarding the account in accordance with agency procedures.
  • The Approving Official is responsible for conducting informal compliance reviews for all account holders under their span of control. These reviews should be completed in accordance with the agency’s specific policies (i.e. frequency, format).
  • The Approving Official is responsible for ensuring that account holders follow the mandatory source requirements established in Part 8 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), otherwise known as the Required Sources of Supplies and Services.
  • Assist A/OPCs and account holders with their responsibility to obtain, maintain and retain complete documentation of all purchases, particularly when pre-approval is required. This can be done by ensuring the proper documentation is sent and received through the approval chain. Tools, logs, and templates for the AO can be found on the GSA SmartPay website at: https://smartpay.gsa.gov/content/resources#sa864

Note: Approving Officials may be held financially responsible for payments made on accounts because of failure to ensure billing account accuracy.

Remember, it is important to review your agency’s specific policy regarding reimbursement and disciplinary actions.

OMB Circular A-123, Appendix B provides multiple recommendations with regard to the Approving Official function. OMB Circular A-123, Appendix B recommends:

  • Compliance reviews, or agency audits of account holder files, should be conducted at a minimum on an annual basis.
  • The span of control, or number of account holders assigned to each Approving Official, is no greater than between 1:5 or 1:10 (i.e. each Approving Official is responsible for between 5 and 10 account holders).
  • An Approving Official is able to act independently. For example, an employee should not be the Approving Official for a supervisor. This type of arrangement may put the employee in a compromising position and jeopardize their role as an Approving Official.

In addition to the above recommendations provided in OMB Circular A-123, Appendix B, many agencies may provide additional responsibilities for the Approving Official within their agency’s policies. It is important that the Approving Official reviews the agency’s specific policies before beginning their official duties.

What is my role as a Certifying Official?

United States Code Title 31 Section 3528, states the roles and responsibilities of a Certifying Official. These roles and responsibilities include:

  • Certifying a voucher is responsible for the information contained in that voucher and the supporting records.
  • The Certifying Official is responsible for the computation of the certified voucher.

The Certifying Official must ensure that all line items contained in the voucher and the total amount for payment has been computed correctly and that there are no mathematical errors in the voucher.

  • The Certifying Official is responsible for the legality of the proposed payment under the appropriation or fund involved in the payment. In other words, the Certifying Official must make sure that the line of accounting that is utilized to pay the voucher aligns with the type of items purchased.

In the case of the purchase program, the Certifying Official will most often rely on other members of the Government Purchase Team to review the supporting records (i.e. the account holder and the Approving Official). However, the Certifying Official still has a responsibility to assess the accuracy of the data while performing the certification process and to report suspect transactions to the A/OPC and appropriate investigative office.

  • The Certifying Official is financially responsible for repaying a payment if the payment was certified and was illegal, improper, or incorrect due to negligence on the part of the Certifying Official or was not paid out of the correct appropriation due to negligence on the part of the Certifying Official.

See United States Code 31, Section 3528 for a full explanation of the financial responsibilities of a Certifying Official.

In addition to the roles and responsibilities stated above, many agencies may provide additional responsibilities for the Certifying Official within their agency’s policies. It is important that the Certifying Official reviews the agency’s specific policies.

Additional Resources

Additional resources including tools, logs, and templates for the AO can be found on the GSA SmartPay website at: https://smartpay.gsa.gov/content/resources#sa864

Signing Up for a GSA SmartPay Travel Account

New Applicants

The account holder, or also known as cardholder, is the individual or agency/organization component designated by an agency/organization to receive an account. The account holder is responsible for:

  • Securing the account;
  • Maintaining records relating to all travel transactions; and
  • Using the account ethically and appropriately.

A creditworthiness assessment is used as an internal control to ensure that account holders are financially responsible. If you are a new travel account applicant, then your agency is required to assess your creditworthiness in accordance with P.L. 112-194 before an account is issued.

In some cases, a restricted account may be issued if the applicant has a low creditworthiness score or refuses a credit check. A restricted card includes constraints such as:

  • Reducing the limit on individual transaction amounts;
  • Limiting the types of transactions allowed;
  • Issuing a declining balance card that automatically restricts dollar amount and transaction types;
  • Limiting the dollar amount of transactions that can be applied to the card within a particular time period;
  • Limiting the length of time a card remains active, such as for the length of time the account holder is in official travel status; and/or
  • Restricting use at ATMs.

To apply for a GSA SmartPay travel account, please follow these steps:

  • Contact the travel program coordinator (A/OPC) at your agency to obtain an application and submit the necessary information for the GSA SmartPay travel account.
    • Provide an address (typically your home address) where your GSA SmartPay travel account is to be mailed.
    • Provide an identifier to activate your travel account (and remember it!).
    • Inquire about ATM access from your A/OPC.
  • Know and understand your responsibilities in accepting a GSA SmartPay travel account. Be aware that:
    • You are personally liable and responsible for all charges whether or not you are reimbursed by your agency;
    • Your credit rating may be affected if the account is cancelled;
    • You may be subject to disciplinary action and/or salary offset for late payment.
  • Sign and submit the application 
Receiving Your GSA SmartPay Travel Account

New applicants should receive their GSA SmartPay travel account from the contractor bank to the address provided in your application within 10-14 calendar days from the time the application is submitted by your A/OPC. Replacements for lost, stolen, broken, or otherwise unusable cards will be sent within 48 hours of the agency/organization request.

In the case of an emergency, such as response to a natural disaster, threat to national security and military mobilization, the contractor bank will send the GSA SmartPay travel account within 24 hours of the request.

If you have ATM authorization, the contractor bank will mail your ATM PIN separately. You should receive your PIN within a few days of receiving your travel account; however, you may receive your PIN before you receive the travel account.

When you receive your GSA SmartPay travel account:

  • Read the Account Holder Agreement.
  • Sign the back of your GSA SmartPay travel charge card, if applicable.
  • Activate your GSA SmartPay travel account.
  • Secure your GSA SmartPay travel account until you are ready to travel.
  • Read and understand your agency specific travel policy and procedures.
  • Find out what documents or receipts you will need to keep.
  • Become familiar with Federal travel policy:
    • Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) - for civilian employees (41 CFR., Chapters 301-304).
    • Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) - for DoD civilian employees
    • Foreign Affairs Manual, Volume 4, Chapter 460 (4 FAM 460) and Foreign Affairs Manual, Volume 14, Chapter 500 (14 FAM 500) for members of the Foreign Service, U.S. Department of State

 

Extended Benefits

Government travel account holders, under the GSA SmartPay Program, are eligible to receive extended benefits coverage. They are covered when the account holder initiates and pays for the entire travel related transaction with their government account.

Any/All benefit are agency specific. This means that some agencies may have more benefits due to differences in the task order.

Additional restrictions, limitations, and exclusions may apply to the terms and conditions of the insurance provisions. Dollar limitations on services provided may vary depending upon the contractor. For details, please contact your issuing bank’s customer service center.

These benefits are provided, free of charge, through the following contractors:

  • JPMorganChase
  • Citibank
  • US Bank
Travel Emergency Assistance
  • Lost or Stolen Account Report
  • Emergency Medical Referral Assistance
  • Prescription Assistance
  • Emergency Legal Referral Assistance
  • Valuable Document Delivery
  • Emergency Transportation Assistance
  • Emergency Ticket Replacement
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Lost Luggage Assistance
  • Emergency Message Service
  • Emergency Translation Service
  • Pre-Trip Assistance
Auto Rental Insurance (ARI)

For auto/rental insurance (ARI) information, please refer to your Visa/ MasterCard benefits document.

Planning for Travel

Travel Authorization (TA) and Cost Estimating

The first step to planning for official government travel, or travel performed at the direction of a Federal agency under an official travel authorization, is to determine:

  • The purpose of the trip,
  • Length of time you will be on travel,
  • Destination(s),
  • Dates of departure and return, and
  • Whether a vehicle is needed while at your destination.

Note: Account holders traveling locally and not under an official travel authorization may use their GSA SmartPay Travel Account for local travel expenses only when expressly authorized by agency/organization-level policy.

Next, fill out a Travel Authorization (TA), the official authorization to take the trip.

The TA will need to be signed by your supervisor and routed for other necessary approvals. In order to complete the TA, you will need:

  • Transportation Fares
  • Lodging Expenses
  • Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE)
  • Actual Expenses
  • Training and Conference Attendance Fees

Transportation Fares for air, privately-owned vehicles or train transportation:

  • Airline: GSA negotiates special reduced rates with airline companies called the GSA City Pair Program (CPP). Rates and schedules are listed at www.gsa.gov/citypair
  • Privately-Owned Vehicles (POVs): Mileage rates for using POVs are listed at www.gsa.gov/mileage
  • Train Transportation: Check with your Travel Management Company (TMC) for train transportation fares and information.

Lodging Expenses :

  • Lodging rates vary by time of year and location. To find out the per diem rate for the area you will be traveling, go to https:// www.gsa.gov/perdiem.
  • State Tax Exemption: Depending on the type of account you are using and the state where you are traveling, you may be tax exempt. If you are traveling to a state which does not grant tax exemptions for your type of account, taxes are reimbursable by your agency. Before leaving for travel, visit the GSA SmartPay website or contact the state directly for information about tax exemption and to obtain any state tax exemption forms (if required) and other related state tax information.

Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE):

Actual Expenses: In situations where normal per diem rates are not sufficient to cover costs, actual expenses are allowable. This method of reimbursement must be approved ahead of time on your TA. (For additional information, refer to FTR 301-11.303, Actual Expense).

Training Events/ Forum Attendance: Special rates may apply for federal government attendance at training events/ forums. All fees must be indicated on your TA and approved ahead of time. Advance payment of a forum or training registration fee may be reimbursed as soon as your TA has been approved and after you have submitted the proper travel claim/voucher for the expenses incurred. Refer to FTR 301-74 Conference Planning for more information.

Making Reservations

Using the Travel Management System/ Commercial Travel Office for Airline, Lodging and Car Rental

As a federal government traveler on official travel, you are required to use the Travel Management System selected by your agency for all common carrier, lodging, and car rental arrangements. Only the head of your agency or his/her designee may exempt certain types of travel arrangements from the mandatory use of the Travel Management System. At most agencies, you will make travel reservations through your agency Travel Management Center (TMC), or Commercial Travel Office (CTO) if you work at the Department of Defense. The TMC/CTO may charge your agency a fee for processing the transaction. If there are several transactions, such as transportation and lodging reservations, the fee may be lower if you make all arrangements at the same time. Generally, the TMC/CTO pays for airline tickets using your agency's travel CBA, so these charges will not appear on your GSA SmartPay Travel Account. However, agency policy may require you to pay for airline tickets using your GSA SmartPay Travel IBA.

What are the benefits of the TMO/ CTO?

There are several benefits to having the TMC/ CTO make your reservations:

  • Compliance with the Fly America Act, Government-wide travel policies, contract city pair fares, electronic ticketing, and ticket delivery.
  • Compliance with the Hotel/Motel Fire Safety Act.
  • FedRooms consideration and benefits:
    • FedRooms provides Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), FEMA and ADA compliant hotel rooms for federal government travelers on official business.
    • Customers receive benefits such as best price/value (at or below per diem), policy compliant hotels, flexibility when cancelling, a variety of booking channels, and quality lodging worldwide.
    • FedRooms hotels are educated in state tax exempt policy and procedures.

For lodging reservations placed outside of FedRooms, it is particularly important to ask:

  • Is the facility is on the FEMA list of fire safe lodging?
  • What is the hotel’s cancellation policy? Be sure to cancel within the appropriate times if you will not be using the room. Most hotels charge for last minute cancellations or no-shows.
  • What is the late arrival policy?
  • When does the hotel charge your GSA SmartPay travel account? This is important because it will affect your ability to receive timely reimbursement from your agency.
  • Does the hotel honor the state tax exemption policy? Some states tax exempt for GSA SmartPay IBAs. If you are traveling to a state which does not grant tax exemptions, taxes are reimbursable. Before leaving for travel, make sure you know the tax exempt policy for your destination by checking the GSA SmartPay Website.

For airline reservations: Use of City Pair fares is mandatory unless a valid exception as listed in the FTR at 301-10.107 exists. FTR requires that the more highly discounted "CA" fare be considered first and chosen if available and meets mission requirements. In order to obtain a refund for unused or partially used tickets, the traveler is responsible for contacting the travel agent, the Commercial Travel Office (CTO) or airline (if tickets were purchased directly from the airline).

Before, During, and After the Trip

Before the Trip

Can I receive a cash advance?

In accordance with agency policy, you may obtain cash to cover all anticipated out-of-pocket cash expenses for the trip before you leave. The preferred and most efficient method to obtain a cash advance is by using your government travel account to withdraw cash from an ATM machine. As a reminder, do not withdraw cash for personal use.

How do I get my airline tickets?

Most TMCs/ CTOs use e-ticketing and will send your itinerary and ticket confirmation through email. With e-ticketing, you will not get a physical ticket, only information about the reservation. If your TMC/CTO mails airline tickets, pick up your ticket as close to the date of departure as possible.

Note: Federal employees may retain, for personal use, frequent flyer miles earned while on official government travel.

Travel Checklist

When packing for your trip, don’t forget:

  • Your Government issued picture ID card/ badge or driver's license.
  • A copy of your travel authorization.
  • Your GSA SmartPay travel account to pay for official travel expenses.
  • Personal cash or personal credit cards to pay for personal expenses.
  • Lodging tax exempt forms; if required.
  • A record of expenses - write them down and save receipts. Lodging receipts are required by all agencies. Follow agency policy with regard to other receipts.

Below is a quick snapshot of what is and is not reimbursable while on your trip:

 Is Reimbursable

 Is NOT Reimbursable

Airfare and baggage fees

Business or First Class air fares without prior written approval

Maximum lodging amount allowed for the per diem locality excluding lodging tax

Amount in excess of lodging amount allowed for the per diem locality unless previously approved

Meals (up to the rate for the per diem locality)

Meal costs over the rate for the per diem locality

Personal calls (per agency policy)

Personal calls (per agency policy)

Work related telephone calls and faxing

Gifts and souvenirs

Laundry and dry cleaning (at the TDY location and only after consecutive nights lodging on official domestic travel)

Postcards and postage

Car rental (approved)

Personal Expenses

Shuttle, taxi, and tips

 

ATM fees if allowed by your agency (cash advances for official travel only)

 
During the Trip

Remember, ONLY use your travel account for authorized official travel expenses.

What happens if my GSA SmartPay account doesn't work?

If your GSA SmartPay travel account does not work, there may be several possible reasons this may occur including:

  • The transaction may be denied due to an authorization control such as a Merchant Category Code, or MCC block. An MCC is a four-digit code used to identify the type of business a merchant conducts (gas stations, restaurant, airlines, etc). The merchant chooses their MCC with their bank. Program coordinators use MCCs to control what purchases are allowable. If your account does not work due to an MCC block, contact your program coordinator for advice or to get the block lifted. Note: The bank cannot unblock a merchant category code or raise your credit limit without approval from your program coordinator.
  • Your travel account may be suspended or cancelled due to delinquent payment. If you recently paid the bill, it may not have posted yet, or there may be other payment problems. Call the bank's customer service for advice:

Citibank:

U.S. Bank:

When should I use the ATM while on travel?

Use the ATM feature of your GSA SmartPay travel account to obtain cash for official travel expenses authorized on your travel authorization. If you need assistance finding the nearest ATM, contact the bank's customer service at the number on the back of your GSA SmartPay travel account. If you lose or forget the PIN, you must apply for a new one and it will be mailed to the address provided in the application. Bank personnel are not able to look up the PIN for you. Your agency limits ATM use to a maximum dollar transaction over a specified period of time. Contact your agency program coordinator to find out your ATM limits.

What are ATM fees?

  • The contractor bank may charge a minimal fee for ATM use. The amount of the fee is listed in your Account Holder Agreement and is reimbursable.
  • The ATM machine you use may charge an additional fee. It will be posted on the receipt and is also reimbursable, if allowed by your agency.

Remember: Do not use the ATM from your GSA SmartPay travel account to obtain cash for personal expenses.

Can I use the GSA SmartPay Travel Account internationally?

Yes, your travel account may be used for official government international travel at any merchant who accepts VISA or MasterCard.

  • You may obtain foreign currency from a bank or an ATM using the GSA SmartPay travel account.
  • Foreign currency transactions will be converted to U.S. dollars using a favorable conversion rate in existence at the time the transaction is processed. Processing may or may not take place on the date of the transaction, and the rate may differ from day to day. The contractor bank shall not assess foreign currency conversion fees on purchases made in foreign currencies under the GSA SmartPay Program and will identify the conversion rate and any other third party fees related to foreign purchases charged on the statement.

Some agencies offer Foreign Currency Accounts to account holders, where payment solutions are offered in foreign currencies. All administrative functions, including billing and settlement, shall occur in the foreign currency desired by the agency/organization.

Returning from theTrip

When you return from your trip, you will have to fill out a Travel Voucher (TV) or a similar form at your agency to present your travel claim for expenses.

Here are few key tips to remember:

  • Within 5 working days of your return from official travel, complete and submit the travel claim/voucher.
  • Provide all necessary information from your trip including receipts as required by your agency.
  • Understand the sign-off process at your agency and follow-up to help speed your claim through the approval process.
  • Set up direct deposit to your bank account ahead of time to speed up the reimbursement process. This way you will not have to wait for a check to be mailed.
  • Use the amount reimbursed by your agency to pay the statement in full by the payment due date. If you do not pay the balance on your travel account bill, it will become delinquent.

 

How do I pay my GSA SmartPay Travel Account bill?

You will receive a statement notification, either electronically or through the mail, from the contractor bank once a month for your GSA SmartPay travel account. The bill will be issued for all travelers in your office on the same date each month, called the billing cycle date. When you receive the statement, verify all of the charges listed. The full amount of undisputed transactions is due to the contractor bank by the payment due date indicated on the statement, whether or not you have been reimbursed by your agency.

Important Note: The GSA SmartPay travel accounts are charge card accounts, not credit card accounts. Therefore, no minimum payment can be made to keep the account from becoming delinquent. You must pay the full amount listed on the statement by the payment due date. If payment is not received in a timely manner, you may lose your charging privileges and adversely affect your ability to perform your job responsibilities.

You can pay your bill electronically, through the mail, or by phone/ mobile app.

  • For electronic bill paying services: Make sure your account is set up with the correct account number, and make sure you know how many days the payment will take to reach the bank. Some networks send a check, so knowing the time frame is important to avoid delinquency. If your travel account number changes for any reason, don't forget to update the bill paying service with your new account number.
  • For mailing payments: Use the envelope provided by the issuing bank to mail your check and include the tear-off portion of the statement so that the amount you send will be posted to the correct account. Do not send checks to GSA. If your check bounces, the bank will charge a returned check fee, which is not reimbursable. If you have multiple returned checks, your travel account may be cancelled.
  • For mobile application payments: check with your agency program coordinator to see if this option is available for your agency and for instructions on how to download the mobile app.

Note: If you have no outstanding transactions at the billing cycle date, you will not receive an invoice. When all outstanding charges are paid, you will receive a statement the next month to reflect the payment.

When is the payment due date?

Payment for all undisputed charges must be made in full by the payment due date, which is 25 to 30 days after the closing date on the statement, depending on the contractor bank. The payment due date is printed on each bill.

When is my account considered past due?

An account is considered past due if payment for the undisputed principal amount has not been received within 45 calendar days from the payment due date.

Consequences of late payment include:

  • Bank representatives will notify you.
  • Your program coordinator is notified that the amount is past due.
  • Your supervisor may also be notified.

Can my account be suspended if I don’t pay the bill?

Yes, an account may be suspended if payment of the full amount of undisputed charges is not received and posted by the contractor bank 61 calendar days from the payment due date.

Consequences of suspension include:

  • You will be unable to use the travel account.
  • Bank representatives will notify you.
  • Your program coordinator is notified that the account has been suspended.
  • In many agencies, higher level officials are notified.
  • The suspension will count towards the two suspensions, which will result in cancellation of the travel account when it becomes delinquent a third time.

When is my account cancelled?

An account may be cancelled if:

  • It has been suspended two times during a 12-month period for undisputed amounts and is past due again; or
  • There is misuse on the travel account and the program coordinator has approved the cancellation; or
  • It is past due for undisputed amounts at 126 calendar days past the closing date on the statement of account in which the charge appeared. At day 120, the contractor bank will notify the account holder and A/OPC electronically and in writing that the account will be canceled if payment is not received in full by the close of the fifth calendar day after the notification. At day 126, the account will be canceled unless otherwise directed by the A/OPC.

The program coordinator and/or GSA SmartPay Contracting Officer reserves the right to cancel an individually billed account (IBA) under his/her purview and shall document the reasons for the cancellation.

Consequences of cancellation include:

  • You will be unable to use your travel account, and it will not be reinstated.
  • Your ability to do your job may be affected if you are not able to travel and obtain government discounts.
  • The cancellation may be reported to your manager/supervisor and to your human resources officer.
  • The cancellation may result in a personnel action such as a notice or letter being placed in your official personnel record.
  • The cancellation may be reported to credit bureaus and your personal credit rating may suffer.
  • A late fee may be imposed on the uncollected balance.
  • The contractor bank may begin collection actions.
  • You will be liable for fees related to collection actions.
  • The contractor bank may request salary offset from your agency.
  • At 180 days past due, the bank writes off the account as a bad debt, and credit bureaus are again notified.

In summary,

Calendar Days Past the Payment Due Date

Account Status/Action

45 Days Past Due

Pre-Suspension

61 Days Past Due

Suspension/Pre-Cancellation

126 Days Past Due

Cancellation

180 Days Past Due

Charge Off/Write Off

Green Travel

When traveling, be aware of your impact on both the physical and social environment.  Whenever possible, try to minimize negative environmental impacts and make positive contributions by choosing eco-friendly options, conserving plants, wildlife and other resources, and respecting local cultures and communities.

Travelers have opportunities to preserve and protect the environment of the place they are visiting.  Look for green lodging options and earth-friendly transportation such as biking, walking and taking public transit. 

The Government has made environmental sustainability a priority.  FedRooms is working with its hotels to promote properties that have sustainable practices in place - look for the FedRooms “green” icon when searching for hotels. 

Some tips to think about before traveling include: 

  • Choose hotels that are locally owned or staffed by local employees.
  • Choose hotels that have recycling programs and options for reusing towels and sheets instead of having them changed each day.
  • Research if the hotel offers energy-efficient lighting, low-flow toilets and showers, or if they take advantage of alternative energy sources.
  • Select a hotel close to public transportation and or near the places you are going to visit.
  • When flying, book electronic tickets.
  • Minimize air travel and choose to stay longer in a destination instead of making many short trips.
  • For shorter trips, take the train, take the bus, or drive.
  • When renting a car, choose a small hybrid car.
  • Share the ride with fellow employees.  Ride sharing can include either cabs or shuttle services between airports, hotels, and conferences or meetings.
  • Pack lightly.  Reducing the weight of luggage can significantly cut green house gas emissions and reduce the weight of your individual carbon footprint.
  • Before leaving home, unplug any unnecessary appliances and set the thermostat and water heater at low settings.

During your trip, try to:

  • Minimize water usage when showering or brushing your teeth.
  • Turn off air conditioning and other electrical appliances when not in use.
  • Use your own drinking cups and toiletries.
  • Tell the hotel how important eco-friendly options are to you.
  • Walk: Agencies should raise the awareness of the environmental and health benefits of walking or bicycling between lodging and meetings at the temporary duty site when practical.
  • Use public transportation: You as a traveler should be familiar with subway/trains and bus routes that are available between meetings, lodging, and other locations at which business is to be conducted.
  • Grab only the maps and brochures that you will actually use.
  • Eat local: Visit a farmer’s market, shop at a locally owned grocery store and choose locally owned restaurants that buy local.
  • Whenever possible, utilize options that do not require batteries.  Buy rechargeable batteries for your essential travel items (cameras, razors, and flash lights).
  • Check out electronically.  Most hotels allow travelers to view and approve their bill electronically rather than relying on paper documents.

After your trip, eliminate the use of paper by signing up for online or paperless statements and payments.

Questionable Charges

How do I handle questionable charges on the bill?

As an account holder, you are responsible for reviewing all charges on your statement. One of the first signs of fraud is at least one “mystery expense” showing up on your statement. Verify your statement by:

  • Looking for transactions or account withdrawals you do not recall making; and
  • Checking for unknown vendors.

If you do notice a questionable charge, act promptly so that you will have the necessary information before payment is due.

  1. Contact the merchant for clarification on the charge. If you need help identifying the merchant, call the contractor bank's customer service number listed on the back of your GSA SmartPay travel account. If the charge is erroneous, generally the merchant will reverse it, and it will appear as a credit on your next statement. Be sure to follow up and make sure the credit was posted to your account and deduct the credited amount from your payment. If the credit is not posted in a reasonable amount of time, dispute the charge with the bank. If the merchant says it is a legitimate charge to your account, ask for proof, such as a signed receipt. If, after receiving the additional information from the merchant, you do not agree that it is a legitimate charge, dispute the charge with the bank.
  2. Disputable charges include double billings and charges to your account that belong to another account. Non-disputable charges include sales tax, shipping, and returned or unused airline tickets. Usually, airline tickets are purchased by the TMC using the centrally billed account and the amount will never appear on your travel account. In the instance when you purchase airline tickets using your own individually billed account and you return the tickets, the airline will issue a credit against your account. You, the account holder, are responsible for notifying the contractor bank of any items in dispute and shall have 90 calendar days from the transaction date to initiate a dispute, unless otherwise specified by the agency/organization.
  3. Payment of the undisputed charges must be made by the payment due date. Once you have submitted the dispute to the bank, delinquency of the disputed amount will be held in abeyance until the matter is resolved.

Note: You relinquish your right to recover a disputed amount if you do not dispute it before 90 calendar days from the transaction date .

Contractor Bank Support

Customer Service

Account holders who have questions related to their specific account, must contact their agency’s contractor bank directly. This number can be found on the GSA SmartPay website or listed on the back of your travel charge card. You can contact the bank with issues related to payment, delinquency, address/ personal information change, confusion about your bill, disputed items, how to use the bank’s online account access website, or other questions related to specific account information. Customer service representatives are accessible to both domestic and international account holders through a dedicated email address and toll-free numbers, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

If you need help contacting the banks or dealing with specific issues, your agency’s program coordinator (A/OPC) can assist you.

Citibank:

U.S. Bank:

The GSA SmartPay banks offer a secure web-based electronic access system (EAS) on which you can view your account electronically at any time. In addition, many agencies allow for mobile application capabilities including the ability to access EAS, pay invoices, receive text/email alerts, and view statement and payment information over a mobile device. You should request electronic access, along with a login and password, when you apply for a travel account.

How do I report a lost/ stolen account?

Report a lost or stolen travel account promptly to:

  1. The contractor bank;
  2. Your program coordinator (A/OPC); and
  3. Your supervisor.

Once an account has been reported as lost or stolen, the contractor bank immediately blocks that account from further usage and a new account number will be issued to the account holder.

Reporting the account as stolen does not relieve the account holder or the Government of payment for any transactions that were made by the account holder prior to reporting it stolen. If you do not recognize a transaction appearing on your statement, you are responsible for notifying the contractor bank within 90 calendar days from the transaction date to initiate a dispute, unless otherwise specified by the agency/organization. This notification of transaction dispute may occur via the electronic access system, by telephone, or other electronic means (e.g. email).

Note: You relinquish your right to recover a disputed amount after 90 calendar days from the date that the transaction was processed. It is your responsibility to dispute questionable charges. If you don’t, you will be held personally liable for the amount of the questionable charge.

What happens if my address changes?

If you change your address, please be sure to contact the bank immediately with your new information by:

  • Calling the toll free contractor bank number listed on the back of your account;
  • Using the bank's electronic access system; or
  • Asking your program coordinator to submit the change electronically.

Note: Make sure you file a change of address form at your local post office so mail will be forwarded.

Common Questions

Who should I contact for help with my account?

First contact your Agency/ Organization Program Coordinator (A/OPC). A/OPCs can answer most account related questions including:

  • How do I apply for an account?
  • What is considered proper use of my account?
  • What is my spending limit?
  • What are merchant codes and how can I request lifting these codes?
  • What is delinquency? What is fraud? What are the consequences for my agency?
  • Why has my account been suspended or canceled?
  • How do I get set up for online access?

Account holders can also contact the bank directly using the customer service phone number listed on the back of their card.

If your issue can not be resolved by your A/OPC or the bank, please forward it to GSA Program Support at (703) 605-2808 or email gsa_smartpay@gsa.gov.

 

How do I get a GSA SmartPay account? Do I need to qualify?

Accounts, such as charge cards, need to be obtained through your agency’s payment solutions program. Each agency has different criteria for distributing accounts to employees. Contact your supervisor or your agency’s program management office for more information on applying for a GSA SmartPay account. 

Depending on the type of payment solution and agency/organization, there are different qualifications for applicants to obtain an account:

  • For purchase accounts, a supervisor must recommend an employee to apply.  Potential purchase account holders must complete purchase account holder training before using their purchase account.
  • Depending on the frequency of travel, agency or government wide policy may require that an employee obtain a Government travel account to make travel related purchases. Travel account applicants may be subject to a credit worthiness check and must complete travel account holder training before using their travel account.
  • Fleet accounts are generally assigned to a vehicle, rather than an individual. Users of a Government vehicle should contact their fleet program manager to learn more about how to use vehicle fleet accounts.

 

What may be purchased with my GSA SmartPay account?

Purchase Account – Purchase accounts are the preferred contracting and payment mechanism for micro-purchases of supplies and services in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulations. Only a few categories of purchases are excluded, such as:

  • Long-term rental or lease of land or buildings;
  • Travel related expenses (excluding conference rooms, meeting spaces, and local transportation services such as Metro fare cards, subway tokens, etc.);
  • Cash advances (unless permitted as a value added service under the agency task order).

For purchases above the micro-purchase threshold, the purchase card may be used as an ordering and payment mechanism, not a contracting mechanism. These purchases will require a separate contract.

Travel Account – Travel accounts may be used by individual government travelers to pay for all official Government travel and related expenses. Account holders are expected to submit vouchers to their agency for all authorized travel-related expenses within five days after the travel is completed (or within 30 days if on continuous travel) and must pay their travel account bills.

Account holders are not authorized to make purchases for anything other than official government travel-related expenses. Some agencies authorize the use of travel accounts for local travel purposes - check with your supervisor or A/OPC to learn more about your agency/organization’s policy.

Fleet Account – Fleet accounts may be used for purchasing fuel and maintenance services for government vehicles.

 

What policies exist regarding use of the GSA SmartPay account?

Depending on the type of account, different policies may apply.  Policies include:

  • Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR);
  • Federal Travel Regulations (FTR);
  • Federal Management Regulations (FMR);
  • OMB Circular A-123 Appendix B;
  • Treasury Financial Manual for Guidance of Departments and Agencies.

Additionally, many agencies have additional regulations that are specific to their program and tailored to the agency's mission and operating procedures. Contact your agency program management office for more information regarding agency-specific policies.

 

What are the training requirements? How will my program coordinator know that I have completed my online training?

All program participants must be trained and receive a training completion certificate prior to appointment.  In addition, refresher training must be completed every 3 years (or more often if required by your agency training policy).  Training certificates serve as proof that an account holder has taken the appropriate training course. 

Account holders can obtain their training certificate by logging into the GSA SmartPay Online Training.  If the account holder has previously taken the course and passed the quiz, they may reprint or save the certificate with the original course completion date by logging into the online training.  An account holder can also take a refresher quiz.  A passing score will enable the account holder to reprint the certificate with a refreshed date. 

 

What is account misuse, and what are the potential penalties?

Intentional use of a government account for other than official government business constitutes misuse, and depending on the situation, may constitute fraud. Each agency develops and implements policies related to employee misuse. Examples of misuse include:

  • Purchases that exceed the account holder's limit;
  • Purchases that are not authorized by the agency;
  • Purchases for which there is no funding;
  • Purchases for personal consumption, and
  • Purchases that do not comply with the policies.

Potential consequences for the account holder may include: counseling, cancellation of the account, a written warning, notation in employee performance evaluation, reprimand, and/or suspension or termination of employment.

In the case of purchase account or centrally billed accounts (CBA) travel misuse, the employee may be held personally liable to the Government for the amount of any unauthorized transactions. Depending on the agency and the circumstances, there are a number of applicable laws that can result in fines or imprisonment.

Additionally, the contractor banks are authorized to take certain actions against account holders whose accounts are cancelled for delinquency, such as:

  • Assessing late fees;
  • Utilizing collection agencies to recover the delinquent balance;
  • Reporting the delinquency to national credit bureaus, and
  • Salary offset.

 

What is my responsibility when it comes to paying taxes when using my GSA SmartPay account?

In some cases, when using certain types of accounts, government account holders are exempt from taxes on their purchases.  Please visit the SmartTax section of the website for more information on taxes.  

  • Centrally Billed Accounts (CBA): CBAs are purchase accounts where payment is made directly to the bank by the Government.  
  • Individually Billed Accounts (IBA): IBAs are travel accounts where payment is made directly to the bank by the individual.  The state determines the exemption status for Individually Billed Accounts.
  • Integrated Accounts:  Integrated accounts are considered CBAs

 

What is split disbursement?

The payment process called split disbursement is defined in the GSA SmartPay 2 master contract as the process of dividing a travel voucher reimbursement between the contractor (bank) and the traveler. The balance designated to go to each is sent directly to the appropriate party.

Note:  Although OMB Circular A-123, Appendix B in Chapter 4.4 requires all executive branch agencies to implement split disbursement, it may not yet be operational in your agency/organization. Please contact your Agency/Organization Program Coordinator (A/OPC) for further details

 

Is a merchant allowed to photocopy a GSA SmartPay card?

Both VISA and MasterCard state in their guidelines that a merchant is allowed to make/store a photocopy of a card provided they do NOT record or copy the PIN and/or CVC data in any manner or for any purpose.

VISA guidelines state:  A merchant must not require a cardholder to provide any supplementary cardholder information as a condition of honoring the card including photocopying the card, unless it is required or permitted elsewhere in the US Regional Operating Regulations.

MasterCard guidelines state:  The merchant must absolutely not copy the back of the card because the merchant is not allowed to record the CVC data.  Although there is no rule prohibiting making a copy of the card front, there are standards regarding storing and destroying account data, which would include a copy of the card front. 

Note:  According to US Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 33, 701, it is illegal for a merchant to photocopy your Government ID.      

Program Coordinators

As a program coordinator/ approving official, the success of your travel program depends on your basic understanding of the GSA SmartPay program, as well as your active participation and understanding of program policies and procedures set forth by your agency/organization.  GSA SmartPay is more than just a charge card program - it offers a large variety of payment solutions that can be utilized to advance agency mission in many different ways. Find out more here!

How it Works

The Travel and Transportation Reform Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-264) mandates Federal Government account holders to use the contractor-issued travel charge card for official government travel expenses and to receive cash advances unless:

  1. A vendor does not accept the travel charge card;
  2. The Administrator of GSA has granted an exemption (see FTR Section 301-70.704); or
  3. Your agency head or his/her designee has granted an exemption.

Government travel accounts are VISA or MasterCard branded and can be used at any location that accepts VISA or MasterCard, including internationally.  The GSA SmartPay travel account may be used only for authorized official travel and authorized travel related expenses. Official travel expenses are transportation, lodging, meals, and incidentals. The travel account may not be used for personal expenses at any time or must not be used by any other person.

General Administration

The GSA SmartPay travel program provides accounts to government employees for official travel.  In order to be successful in managing your travel program, you will need to have a clear understanding of how the GSA SmartPay program works, actively participate in meetings and training conferences, communicate relevant information to your account holders, and be familiar with agency/ organization specific policies and procedures.

Refunds

The Federal Government saves on processing costs and generates revenue through volume refunds.  The amount of refund your agency receives is calculated during task order negotiation.

Agencies must verify their own refunds.  You can do this by comparing the base points in the task order with the quarterly refund report received from your bank.  If you need a copy of the quarterly report, contact your point of contact at the bank.  With GSA SmartPay, split disbursement will allow agencies to receive productivity and sales refunds for IBA accounts in addition to CBA accounts.

Click here for more information on refunds.  

Reporting Tools

Program Coordinators should use electronic reports to monitor and track delinquency.  The following is a list of reports available to you from the banks:

  • Pre-suspension/Pre-cancelation Report: Provides a listing of accounts eligible for suspension or cancellation.
  • Suspension/Cancelation Report: Provides a listing of accounts that have been suspended or cancelled.
  • Delinquency Report: Provides account status for each range of days accounts are past due (30, 60, 90, 120 or more days).
  • Charge Off/Write Off Report: Lists the amounts charged off/written off for non-payments.
  • Exception Report: Provides information on declined authorizations, Merchant Category Code (MCC) reports for non-travel expenditures, ATM withdrawals, high-volume accounts, etc. These reports may vary from bank to bank.
  • Ad Hoc Reports: Your bank may offer an ad hoc reporting tool that enables you to create customized reports with the data elements you specify.
Additional Tools

The Electronic Access System (EAS) provides many useful reports to assist in the effective management of the GSA SmartPay program. The EAS allows AOs to review an account holder’s transactions online. Purchase account holders can maintain electronic purchase logs through the EAS as well. There are many other functions of the EAS that are beneficial for AOs, including electronic reconciliation and certification, editing account allocation, multi-account allocation and assignment of account codes.

Value Added Product and Service Offerings are provided from the contractor banks to customer agencies.Those offerings that are most beneficial for AOs include data-mining tools to detect patterns, trends, and/or anomalies, and automatic email alerts for a given transaction.

Contractor banks are required to provide various reports to agencies, to help manage the program and to assist agency representatives with identifying and investigating possible misuse of payment solutions.  

Additional information regarding the GSA SmartPay Program and AO responsibilities can be found via the following links:

Billing and Payment

For Individually Billed Accounts (IBA): Account holders must make payment for all undisputed charges on their travel charge card bill IN FULL by the statement billing due date printed on the bill (25 to 30 days after the closing date on the billing statement).  Failure to pay the monthly bill in a timely manner may result in the loss of their charging privileges. If the account is suspended, the account holder will be unable to use it until the bank receives payment. If the account is cancelled due to non-payment, the delinquency maybe reported to credit bureaus, be referred to collection agencies, or lead to other collection actions and the account holder may not be eligible to receive a new account.  The agency/organization is never responsible or legally liable for the account.

For Centrally Billed Accounts (CBA):  The Federal Government accepts liability only for those proper charges made by an authorized centrally billed account holder using the account, but is not liable for any unauthorized use. Unauthorized use means the use of an account by a person, other than the account holder, who does not have actual, implied, or apparent authority for such use and from which the account holder receives no benefit. When the centrally billed account has been used by an authorized account holder to make an unauthorized purchase, the centrally billed account participant is liable for the charge.

Realizing Cost Savings

The GSA Office of Charge Card Management (OCCM) and GSA SmartPay contractor banks are dedicated to identifying opportunities to provide customers with GSA SmartPay solutions to help address agency payment challenges. OCCM seeks to increase awareness of available payment solutions under the GSA SmartPay master contract and help agencies continue to find ways to increase payment efficiencies and earn refunds. In the current budgetary environment, OCCM is committed to providing information to agency executives and card managers to identify innovative ways to help realize cost savings.

Responsibilities and Risk Management

As the travel program coordinator (A/OPC), your primary responsibility includes overseeing the travel program for your agency/ organization to best support your agency’s mission. You will serve as a liaison between the account holder, the bank, the agency’s management, and GSA’s Office of Charge Card Management.

A/OPC responsibilities include:

  • Maintaining a current list of account names, account numbers, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers of all current account holders and accounts;
  • Maintaining a current list of agency/ organization points of contact for Designated Billing Offices (DBOs), Transaction Dispute Offices (TDOs), and Electronic Commerce/ Electronic Data Interchange Offices (EOs);
  • Providing to the bank(s) any changes in organizational structure that affect invoice/ report distribution;
  • Reviewing and evaluating the bank’s technical and administrative task order performance and compliance;
  • Ensuring that DBOs, TDOs, and EOs provide feedback;
  • Resolving technical and operational problems between the bank and the user;
  • Assisting the GSA SmartPay contracting officer in authorizing unique contract support changes;
  • Taking appropriate action regarding delinquent accounts or non-compliance with task order performance;
  • Ensuring that task orders and changes to the task orders are within the maximum dollar volume limit, and include:
    • Clearly defined requirements, acceptance plan and criteria, and an appropriate management and technical approach; and
    • Defined milestones and deliverable products, schedules, and prices
  • Developing an independent government estimate for each task order and/or changes to the task order;
  • Participating in annual training conferences;
  • Ensuring account holders use the travel account correctly;
  • Monitoring account activity and managing delinquencies; and
  • Ensuring that appropriate steps are taken to mitigate suspension or cancelation actions.

 

Preventive Actions and Risk Management

There are several preventative actions you can take to help manage and minimize risk within your travel program.  These include:

  • Determining credit limits – Review the credit limit of account holders to determine what is appropriate based on the frequency of travel.
  • Deactivating accounts when not in use.
  • Establish ATM withdrawal limits.
  • Monitor delinquency and unauthorized charges more effectively by decreasing the number of days for suspension, cancelation, or late fees.
  • Blocking certain Merchant Category Codes (MCCs) to prevent unauthorized use.
  • Suspending and/or canceling an account for inappropriate use or failing to pay the bank on time.
  • Implementing salary offset.
  • Ensuring the use of split disbursement
  • Reviewing accounts periodically to ensure that all unused travel accounts are closed (this includes closing accounts for employees who leave the organization).
  • Reporting delinquency and misuse/abuse to the appropriate officials.

Delinquency

Delinquency is the result of an employee’s failure to pay the charges incurred on his/her individually billed travel account in accordance with the terms and conditions of the issuing bank’s account agreement.  The account holder must pay all undisputed charges directly to the issuing bank in full by the billing due date as printed on the statement of account, regardless of whether or not reimbursement has been received from the agency.  The billing due date varies between 25 and 30 days after the closing date on the statement of account.  In the event a statement of account contains a charge that is incorrect or unrecognizable by the account holder, the account holder must dispute the charge by filing a dispute form with the bank within 60 days from the statement of account date on which the charge first appeared.

The following can be used as a guide for determining the status of an account.  (Please remember to refer to your agency policy for specific delinquency stages).

  • 45 days past due: Pre-suspension
  • 61 days past due: Suspension/ pre-cancelation
  • 126 days past due: Cancelation
  • 180 days past due: Charge off/ write off

It is important to notify employees that a canceled individually billed travel charge card account may be:

  • Reported to credit bureaus or similar entities
  • Referred to an outside collection agency
  • Subject to late fees that will not be reimbursed

 

Monitoring Delinquency

Use electronic reports to monitor and track delinquency.  The following is a list of reports available to you from the banks:

  • Pre-suspension/Pre-cancelation Report: Provides a listing of accounts eligible for suspension or cancelation.
  • Suspension/Cancelation Report: Provides a listing of accounts that have been suspended or canceled.
  • Delinquency Report: Provides account status for each range of days accounts are past due (30, 60, 90, 120 or more days).
  • Charge Off/Write Off Report: Lists the amounts charged off/written off for non-payments.
  • Exception Report: Provides information on declined authorizations, Merchant Category Code (MCC) reports for non-travel expenditures, ATM withdrawals, high-volume accounts, etc. These reports may vary from bank to bank.
  • Ad Hoc Reports: Your bank may offer an ad hoc reporting tool that enables you to create customized reports with the data elements you specify.

Reporting a Lost or Stolen Account

As the program coordinator (A/OPC), you have the responsibility to immediately report a lost or stolen account to the issuing bank so that they can cancel the account. 

Reporting the account as stolen does not relieve the account holder or Federal Government of payment for any transactions that were made by the account holder prior to reporting it stolen.  If the account holder did not make the transactions appearing on the billing statement, the account holder must submit a dispute form to the bank within 90 days from the date of the transaction. Failure to submit the dispute form could result in liability to the account holder or to the Federal Government.  If required, the bank will mail a new card within one business day from the time theft or loss was reported and will assign a new account number to the replacement card.

Best Practices

Best Practices for Managing Account Holders
  • Train account holders on the proper use of the travel accounts. Use ethics training as another source for instruction.
  • Develop a traveler hotline to respond to account holder questions.
  • Develop and maintain a travel-specific website for your agency.
  • Publish answers to frequently asked questions related to travel on your agency website.
  • Create an informational newsletter.
  • Send periodic reminders to account holders on agency travel policies and procedures.
  • Hold orientation sessions with new account holders.
  • Provide account holder training on how to fill out a proper travel claim/voucher.
  • Remind account holders who are on extended travel to submit interim travel claims/vouchers to ensure timely receipt of reimbursement.
  • Notify account holders that their obligation to pay their respective bank by the billing due date is not contingent upon receipt of a travel reimbursement from the agency/organization.
  • Contact account holders who appear on the Pre-Suspension/ Pre-Cancellation Report by phone, email, and/ or correspondence. Advise account holders that immediate action must be taken.
  • Use a statement insert/statement message provided by the bank to convey information to account holders.
  • Provide the GSA SmartPay card-sized brochure, Helpful Hints for Travel Card Use.
  • Send an annual letter from your agency director reminding account holders of their responsibilities.
  • Provide a travel training video for account holders.
Best Practices for Program Coordinators (A/OPCs)
  • Use online tools provided by the banks, GSA, and your agency.
  • Email updates to A/OPCs at all levels on program changes.
  • Review reports regularly and track trends in delinquency rates and charge offs/ write offs.
  • Use exception reports to detect misuse of the travel account or unusual spending patterns.
  • Use ad hoc reporting tools provided by your bank to customize and/ or develop your own agency reports.
  • Eliminate manual calculations by developing ad hoc reports that can be generated as needed.
  • Ensure that account holder information is properly secured and confidentially maintained in accordance with the security and privacy regulations of your agency, as well as with the Privacy Act.
  • Create a monthly newsletter/ memorandum to reinforce agency travel account holder policies for misuse and/or account delinquency.
  • Develop and implement an agency-established penalty guide with your agency’s human resources office outlining appropriate disciplinary action for undisputed delinquencies and non-official use of the travel account by employees.
  • Perform an annual review of all accounts to determine whether each account meets the criteria for continued participation in the Federal Government travel program.

Common Questions

As a Program Coordinator, how do I connect with other agency program coordinators to share ideas and best practices?

There are several ways to actively participate within the community:

  • Join the Discussions with GSA SmartPay Community on Interact: A private online community allowing Program Coordinators (A/OPCs) a central location to share ideas and best practices, as well as discuss all other issues related to the GSA SmartPay program.
  • Attend the Quarterly A/OPC meetings, monthly Discussions with Dave conference call,  as well as other special meetings and events.  Dates and location for all meetings will be posted within the Interact Community.
  • Attend the GSA SmartPay Annual Training Forum:  Learn about all aspects of successfully managing your charge card program, including innovative payment solutions and the latest advancements in program oversight, as well as network, collaborate and share best practices with other card managers, bank representatives and GSA personnel. Check the website for more information.
What can I do to improve my agency’s program performance?

The GSA SmartPay program office provides a number of tools and other types of assistance to support effective program management in agencies across the Government. A few tips include:

Ensure policies are being followed: Most agencies have comprehensive policies regarding the administration of their payment programs. This includes policies for account use as well as for program management. Agency program management offices should ensure that the policies are communicated to cardholders and easily accessible (e.g., post the regulations on the agency's Intranet website). It is important for agencies to follow through with the implementation of their policies, including distribution and compliance monitoring.

Make sure training is a priority for all account holders and program coordinators: 

  • GSA offers free basic online training covering regulations and best practices for all agencies,
  • A variety of free resources and guidebooks to support card management are available on our website 
  • Contact the bank to schedule an in person or virtual Electronic Access System (EAS) training for your program coordinators
  • Attend the annual GSA SmartPay training forum provides a large variety of training for all program coordinators   

Initiate an Accounts Payable File Review:  An A/P File Review is a no-cost tool for agencies to help identify opportunities to leverage GSA SmartPay solutions as methods of payment to increase process efficiencies, cost savings, and refunds. 

Participate in Workgroups:  The GSA SmartPay program office sponsors periodic workgroups to facilitate the sharing of information between agencies, and to collect feedback on the performance of the GSA SmartPay program office and its contractor banks.

How do I go about incorporating a new payment solution into my program?

Under the GSA SmartPay program there are many options available to assist in meeting your agency’s mission critical needs.  Products  and related services under the GSA SmartPay program can offer customized payment solutions to help your agency achieve its goals. Upon award of the GSA SmartPay master contract, each agency awarded a task order to one of the three GSA SmartPay contractors: Citibank, J.P. Morgan, and U.S. Bank. The products and services offered to your agency under the GSA SmartPay program, may not be specified at the task order level, as each agency's task order is different and unique.  Therefore, it is important to review your agency/organization's task order and speak to those within your agency responsible for managing your agency’s task order, such as your level 1 Agency/Organization Program Coordinator (A/OPC) and/or the Contracting Officer, to find out how your agency/organization can take advantage of these offerings. 

What policies exist regarding the use of the GSA SmartPay payment solutions?

There are a number of policies that govern the use of Government payment solutions. Policies include:

  • Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR);
  • Federal Travel Regulations (FTR);
  • Federal Management Regulations (FMR);
  • OMB Circular A-123 Appendix B;
  • Treasury Financial Manual for Guidance of Departments and Agencies.

Additionally, many agencies have regulations that are specific to their program and tailored to the agency's mission and operating procedures. Contact your agency program management office for more information regarding agency-specific policies.

What training is available for agency program coordinators?

There is a variety of free training offered for program coordinators (A/OPCs).  All upcoming training relevant information for program coordinators will be posted in Interact. 

What can agencies/organizations do to help prevent misuse of cards? What tools are available to provide assistance to agencies in detecting fraud and misuse?

Agencies can significantly benefit by mandating training that meets governmentwide standards for account holders and A/OPCs. Currently, training varies widely among the agencies, with many agencies relying on the training provided at the annual GSA SmartPay training forum and the online training courses on the GSA SmartPay website.  These training courses provide the necessary governmentwide rules and regulations but do not reflect agency-specific requirements.

The master contract requires a number of tools that support the Government in controlling and monitoring card spend to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse. Examples of these tools are:

  • Credit limits – Credit limits restrict single purchase, daily, weekly, or monthly expenditures by the cardholders. In accordance with agency policy, limits are set to meet the agency needs.
  • Merchant Category Code (MCC) Blocks – MCCs are established by the bankcard associations to classify different types of businesses. Merchants are assigned codes that describe their primary line of business. Agencies can limit the types of businesses where cardholders can make purchases by limiting the MCCs available to the cardholder.
  • Reports – Agencies have access to management reports via the Internet. The banks provide standard reports and ad hoc reports. These include Account Activity reports, Dispute reports, Unusual Spending Activity reports, Lost/Stolen Cards reports, and miscellaneous Ad Hoc reports.
  • Guidebooks – The banks are required to provide written guides for A/OPCs that include best practices for account setup and maintenance, account suspension/cancellation, disputes, reports, and invoicing procedures. Agencies also have access to account holder guides from banks, which outline authorized uses of the account, disputes, and billing.

Other resources such as Knowledge: The Best Protection for Your GSA SmartPay Card are available for download or print on the website. 

© 2015 GSA

This is an official U.S. Government Web site managed by the GSA.

SmartPay TwitterSmartPay FacebookSmartPay Google+SmartPay LinkedIn