[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 178 (Wednesday, September 14, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 63134-63137]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-21993]



41 CFR Parts 301-11 and 301-70

[FTR Amendment 2016-02, FTR Case 2015-304; Docket No. 2015-0017, 
Sequence No. 1]
RIN 3090-AJ56

Federal Travel Regulation; Clarifying Agency Responsibilities 
Concerning Reimbursement for Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) Fees and 
Laundry, Cleaning and Pressing of Clothing Expenses

AGENCY: Office of Government-wide Policy (OGP), General Services 
Administration (GSA).

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: GSA is amending the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) by 
clarifying the regulations regarding reimbursement for Automatic Teller 
Machine (ATM) fees and laundry, cleaning, and pressing of clothing 

DATES: Effective: September 14, 2016.
    Applicability: Federal agencies have until November 14, 2016 to 
apply this rule to their internal policies.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For clarification of content, contact 
Mr. Cy Greenidge, Program Analyst, Office of Government-wide Policy, at 
202-219-2349. For more information pertaining to status or publication 
schedules, contact the Regulatory Secretariat (MVCB), 1800 F Street 
NW., Washington, DC 20405, 202-501-4755. Please cite FTR Case 2015-304.


A. Background

    GSA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on January 8, 
2016 (81 FR 883). The rule proposed to amend the FTR by expanding the 
definition of ``incidental expenses'' (IE) to include ATM fees. 
Additionally, the rule proposed to amend the FTR by clarifying that 
agencies have discretion regarding the reimbursement of expenses 
related to laundry, cleaning, and pressing of clothing for official 
travel within CONUS that involves four or more consecutive nights of 
    The public had 60 calendar days to comment on the proposed rule. 
GSA received 22 comments from 19 respondents. Two respondents opposed 
the amendment in general, eleven addressed only the inclusion of ATM 
fees in the definition of IE, two addressed only the clarification 
concerning the final approval authority for the reimbursement for 
laundry, cleaning, and pressing of clothing expenses, three addressed 
both the

[[Page 63135]]

proposed IE definition change and the laundry reimbursement 
clarification (which have been broken out separately below for ease of 
response), and one was out of scope. Some of these comments resulted in 
changes to this final rule.

B. Analysis of Public Comments

    The two comments that opposed the amendment in general are 
summarized below:
    Comment: If travel is required to do mission related duties, how 
can there be a cap on the travel related expenses? The employee should 
not have to pay out of pocket to do their job.
    Comment: As a government engineer, I am already paid less than my 
private industry counterparts and now it appears that I am expected to 
pay my own travel expenses as well.
    Response: The final rule changes will have a minimal impact on 
employee reimbursements for official travel. When necessary to fairly 
compensate travelers, agencies will retain the discretion to authorize 
the reimbursement for the cost of ATM fees and/or the cost for laundry, 
cleaning, and pressing of clothing services while employees are on 
official travel within CONUS for four or more consecutive nights.
    The fourteen comments concerning ATM fees being included in the 
definition of IE are summarized below:
    Comment: Proposing to change ATM fees to incidental expenses as 
part of per diem is patently unfair to Federal employees. You would be 
forcing employees ordered to travel (many times against the will or 
convenience of employees) as part of their work duties to subsidize the 
Federal government's operating costs especially considering the 
expensive costs of eating at restaurants in many cities.
    Comment: An employee conducting official business for the 
government should not be required to use personal funds to augment 
travel costs. We do not have control over the fees charged by the banks 
for using their ATMs and we do not have control over fees for ``cash 
advance'' charged by the government credit card issuer.
    Comment: This is not a fair assessment to move the expense of ATM 
fees under the incidental expense included in the M&IE. It would cause 
the traveler to come out of pocket for official business.
    Comment: Moving ATM fees from miscellaneous expenses to incidental 
expenses means that employees of official travel will have to use per 
diem funds to pay for ATM fees instead of those available for meals and 
    Comment: Employees on short trips will receive insufficient 
incidental expense reimbursement to reimburse the employee for all ATM 
fees incurred, thereby requiring the employee to pay for the ATM fees 
out-of-pocket. The proposal also gives agencies the discretion to 
determine when an employee will be separately reimbursed for ATM fees 
even though the fees are part of incidental expense allowance. We 
believe this will result in a disproportionate increase in 
administrative time required to determine when ATM fees are payable as 
miscellaneous expenses when compared to any cost savings realized from 
the proposed regulatory change.
    Comment: Moving the ATM fee from a miscellaneous expense to an 
incidental expense puts the burden of government travel onto the 
traveler which shouldn't be allowed. There are times when an employee 
might be on travel for a week or more and the ATM fee (with the foreign 
ATM fee and .025 fee of the total amount) would easily exceed the $5 
incidental expense allowance. This goes against the precept that it 
should not cost the employee to conduct government business (travel).
    Comment: The $5 limit for incidental expenses will be inadequate to 
reimburse the actually incurred expenses of employees who use their 
Citi Travel Cards to obtain cash advances for their TDY. This proposed 
rule change does not appear to account for these reasonably anticipated 
costs it will prohibit agencies from reimbursing, to the detriment of 
employees on TDY.
    Comment: My agency has put in place restrictions on how much cash 
we are able to get from ATMs, despite the fact we are advised in many 
countries to only use cash and not the credit card due to fraud. In all 
cases we are assessed an ATM fee in the foreign country and again by 
the travel card. This proposed regulation may mean I end up eating some 
or all of these costs on my own.
    Comment: I disagree with including ATM services and fees as part of 
per diem allowance. Our agency has a large number of traveler's that 
use the ATM to get advanced funds.
    Comment: Section 301-12.1 removes ATM fee as a miscellaneous travel 
expense and does not give agencies discretion to pay ATM fees as a 
miscellaneous expense. Section 300-70.200(h) implies that an agency or 
approving official can determine if the ATM fees can be paid as a 
separate miscellaneous expense, if warranted (e.g., forced gratuity or 
other incidental expenses, which may exhaust the allowance to cover the 
cost of ATM fees). Sections 301-12.1 and 300-70.200 are contradictory 
and need to be revised.
    Comment: If GSA wishes to embed the ATM fees inside the incidental 
expenditures part of the traveler reimbursement, then GSA should do a 
nation-wide survey on incidental expenses. If GSA is unwilling to 
update the incidental expenses inside CONUS, then the ATM fees should 
remain a miscellaneous expense reimbursement, fully reimbursable for 
federal employees.
    Comment: It is unfair to make them pay these mandated fees which 
will easily exceed the daily incidental rate. Unlike the USA where 
taxi, bus, and even the smallest restaurants accept travel cards as 
payment, many international locations require local cash currency for 
valid travel related expenses. It is unfair to expect employees to pay 
for the required currency transaction, exchange rate, ATM surcharges 
and travel card cash advance fees when this entire system was put in 
place for government convenience and to reduce government costs by 
eliminating cashiers necessary to dispense foreign travel currency.
    Comment: It is not fair that reimbursement for ATM fees for the use 
of the government card will no longer be a separate miscellaneous item, 
but will be lumped in with the incidental expenses. The incidental 
expenses are those that we, as travelers may or may not choose to make. 
We are required to expend the ATM fees for the use of the government 
card. This is because we are required by Federal law to use the 
government travel card (and ONLY the government travel card) when 
obtaining cash for travel.
    Comment: The incidental fees for baggage, porters, etc. are 
discretionary based on the traveler's decision. ATM fees are not 
discretionary. A traveler is entitled to a cash advance for MI&E 
expenses which means incurring an ATM fee.
    Response: Based upon these comments, GSA will neither add ATM fees 
to the definition for ``incidental expenses,'' nor amend FTR 301-70.200 
regarding internal per diem policy, and will continue to list ATM fees 
as a miscellaneous expense. Agencies will continue to have discretion 
regarding the reimbursement of ATM fees. In those instances when 
directly using the Government contractor-issued travel charge card may 
not be feasible, the amendment to section 301-70.301 mandates agencies 
to establish policies and procedures governing who will determine if 
miscellaneous expense reimbursement is appropriate in connection with 
official travel, to include transaction fees for use of ATMs) when 
using the Government

[[Page 63136]]

contractor-issued charge card. If there is a valid reason why the 
traveler cannot use the Government travel charge for lodging and meals, 
agencies have the option to fully reimburse travelers for ATM fees. As 
a result, GSA has updated the language in this final rule based upon 
these comments.
    The five comments that addressed clarification of the policy 
relating to laundry, cleaning, and pressing of clothing expenses are 
summarized below:
    Comment: I have been involved with DoD travel vouchers and claims 
for over 30 years and recommend not to authorize laundry and dry 
cleaning as a reimbursable expense. Leave it as an incidental expense.
    Comment: When TDY for more than a week, laundry usually has to be 
cleaned. While at the home station, most employees own washers and 
dryers to do their own laundry. Cleaning laundry while TDY is an added 
expense that would not otherwise exist and therefore should be covered 
by miscellaneous expenses and not incidentals.
    Comment: The change makes the reimbursement for laundry, cleaning 
and pressing of clothing at the discretion of the agency. This will 
permit the agency to disallow these expenses entirely.
    Comment: We recommend that GSA completely eliminate the 
reimbursement of laundry, dry cleaning, and pressing of clothing, as 
these expenses are not a direct consequence of traveling. Employees 
would incur the same expenses for laundry, dry cleaning, and pressing 
of clothing at their official duty station if they were not in travel 
    Comment: 301-11.31 needs to include a minimum number of days or 
proof of expense must be provided. We have no way of proving if the 
expense actually occurred, except for dry cleaning. If you make this 
expense more lenient, we will have traveler's claiming laundry for a 
single overnight stay.
    Response: The cost of laundry, cleaning, and pressing of clothing 
services will continue to be treated as a discretionary, miscellaneous 
expense. The change in regulatory language is intended to clarify that 
agencies are responsible for making the final decision with respect to 
approving this type of expense. Although the FTR stipulates that a TDY 
trip must be at least four consecutive nights for the traveler to be 
eligible for reimbursement of laundry and dry cleaning expenses, 
agencies have the discretion to establish a higher number of minimum 
nights. Additionally, agencies may choose to deny reimbursement for any 
laundry, dry cleaning, and clothes pressing expenses. The agency's 
internal policies should address what the agency will require for the 
traveler to receive approval for reimbursement for these expenses. 
This, GSA will not change the language in the amendment based upon 
these comments.
    The following comment was out of scope as it does not pertain to 
the subject matter of this amendment, and as a result, no change will 
be made in response:
    Comment: With everyone having computers, why is there a need for so 
much travel? Video conferencing costs a fraction of sending ten people 
to Los Angeles for a convention.

C. Major Changes in This Final Rule

    Based upon the comments received, this final rule does not include 
ATM fees within the definition of ``incidental expenses,'' but rather 
leaves reimbursement of these expenses as a miscellaneous expense, and 
further clarifies that reimbursement for these fees is within the 
agency's discretion.

D. Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    Executive Orders (E.O.s) 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess 
all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives, and if 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). E.O. 
13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, 
of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. 
GSA has determined that this final rule is not a significant regulatory 
action is not subject to review under section 6(b) of Executive Order 
12866. GSA has further determined that this final rule is not a major 
rule under 5 U.S.C. 804.

E. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities within the meaning of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601, et seq. This final rule is 
also exempt from the Administrative Procedure Act pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 
553(a)(2) because it applies to agency management or personnel.

F. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act does not apply because the changes to 
the FTR do not impose recordkeeping or information collection 
requirements, or the collection of information from offerors, 
contractors, or members of the public that require the approval of the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under 44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.

G. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This final rule is also exempt from Congressional review prescribed 
under 5 U.S.C. 801. This final rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 

List of Subjects in 41 CFR Parts 301-11 and 301-70

    Government employees, Travel and transportation expenses; 
Administrative practice and procedures, and Individuals with 

    Dated: August 3, 2016.
Denise Turner Roth,
Administrator of General Services.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 
5701-5711, GSA amends 41 CFR parts 301-11 and 301-70 as set forth 


1. The authority citation for 41 CFR part 301-11 continues to read as 

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 5707.

2. Revise Sec.  301-11.31 to read as follows:

Sec.  301-11.31  Are laundry, cleaning and pressing of clothing 
expenses reimbursable?

    Your agency may reimburse the expenses incurred for laundry, 
cleaning, and pressing of clothing as a miscellaneous travel expense 
for TDY within CONUS. However, you must incur a minimum of four 
consecutive nights lodging on official travel to qualify for this 
reimbursement. Laundry and dry cleaning expenses have not been removed 
from foreign per diem rates established by the Department of State, or 
from non-foreign area per diem rates established by the Department of 
Defense. Separate claims for laundry and dry cleaning expenses incurred 
in foreign areas and non-foreign areas are not allowed.


3. The authority citation for 41 CFR part 301-70 continues to read as 

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 5707; 40 U.S.C. 121(c); Sec. 2, Pub. L. 105-
264, 112 Stat. 2350 (5 U.S.C. 5701, note), OMB Circular No. A-126, 
revised May 22, 1992, and OMB Circular No. A-123, Appendix B, 
revised January 15, 2009.

4. Amend Sec.  301-70.301 by revising paragraph (c) to read as follows:

[[Page 63137]]

Sec.  301-70.301  What governing policies must we establish for payment 
of miscellaneous expenses?

* * * * *
    (c) Who will determine if other miscellaneous expenses are 
appropriate for reimbursement in connection with official travel, 
including but not limited to, fees for the use of automated teller 
machine (ATMs) when using the Government contractor-issued travel 
charge card and expenses for laundry, cleaning, and pressing of 
[FR Doc. 2016-21993 Filed 9-13-16; 8:45 am]