Travel Allowances for Evacuated Employees Impacted by Hurricane Katrina
Employees ordered to evacuate from areas directly impacted by Hurricane Katrina on or after 08/27/2005 may be reimbursed for en route travel to a safe haven location and a per diem allowance after arriving at the safe haven location until such time as the evacuation order is terminated by the Director or for a period not to exceed a total of 180 days.
By memorandum dated 9/23/2005, Director Mueller was granted authority to authorize evacuation payments and special allowances (en route travel and per diem allowance) for employees and/or their dependents who were ordered to evacuate areas impacted by Hurricane Katrina on or after 08/27/2005. The authority for the evacuation/safe haven travel is authorized by 5CFR, Section 550.405. In order to be reimbursed for evacuation travel and allowance, the employee and/or dependents must actually depart the affected area. There is no allowance for dependents who do not evacuate the disaster area. This authority only covers the evacuation of employees impacted by Hurricane Katrina.
Evacuation Travel and Allowances
The evacuation travel and allowance is authorized in two parts. The first part covers en route travel and per diem allowance for the employee and his/her dependents from the date of the ordered departure through the date of arrival at the safe haven location. A dependent for this purpose is defined as a relative that resided with the employee at the time of the ordered evacuation and was dependent on the employee for support. The second part covers reimbursement of a per diem allowance following the date of arrival at the safe haven location until the evacuation order has been terminated by the Director or for a period not to exceed a total of 180 days, inclusive of the en route travel time. In addition, when the employee and dependents are allowed to return to the official duty station, en route transportation and per diem allowance will be reimbursed in the same manner as when they traveled from the disaster area.
The safe haven authority for the employee will end when the evacuation order is terminated or when the employee is reassigned to an alternate location to perform the same or different duties the employee would have performed at the official duty station. The safe haven authority for the dependents will end when the evacuation is terminated or 180 days from the date of ordered departure. The safe haven authority provides for reimbursement of en route travel and transportation, lodging, meals, and hotel taxes as delineated below. This authority does not cover reimbursement of miscellaneous expenses, such as personal telephone calls, laundry/dry cleaning, or local transportation.
The per diem rate for en route travel as well as the allowance after arriving at the safe haven location is based on the prescribed locality rate where the employee and/or dependents spend the night. Employees and dependents may reside in the same or different safe haven location(s).
The authority governing evacuation travel specifically authorizes reimbursement of lodging under the lodging-plus per diem system. Thus, all claims for lodging must be supported by the original lodging receipt. If lodging is provided by friends or relatives, a lodging allowance cannot be authorized and it is not recognized as a savings under the Travel Savings Program. The M & IE allowance will be the extent of the reimbursement and it is payable in the same manner authorized for a permanent change of station (transfer travel), prorated accordingly based on the age of the dependent.
The maximum per diem rate for the employee and each dependent 12 years of age and older (including spouse) is 100% of the prescribed rate for the locality. For each dependent less than 12 years of age, the maximum per diem rate is 50% of the rate allowed for the employee. This rate is payable for the first 30-day period of the evacuation, inclusive of the en route travel time. After the initial 30-day period, the maximum per diem rate that can be reimbursed is 60% of the rate prescribed for the first 30-day period. In addition, there is no provision for changes in the per diem rate after the initial 30-day period.
If a privately-owned vehicle (POV) was utilized to perform en route travel to the safe haven location, the employee may be reimbursed a mileage allowance at the rate of 40.5 cents per mile. However, if the travel took place on or after 9/1/2005, the mileage allowance rate is 48.5 cents per mile. The mileage allowance rate covers all individuals in the POV. If more than one POV was used to perform safe haven travel, an explanation as to the necessity of the second vehicle should be provided on the SF-1012, Travel Voucher. If the en route travel was performed by a common carrier, the employee will be reimbursed for the actual cost of the airplane/train/bus tickets, not to exceed the contract carrier fare from the evacuated area to the safe haven location. The en route travel voucher should also include a request for reimbursement of a per diem allowance for the employee and each dependent from the date of departure from the affected area through the date of arrival at the safe haven location, including any period of delay en route that was beyond the control of the employee.
A family of four including two children over the age of 12 is evacuated from New Orleans to Shreveport. The family completes the travel in one day utilizing a POV on 9/2/2005. The per diem rate for Shreveport is $64.00 for lodging and $43.00 for meals. In connection with the en route travel, the employee and dependents are authorized 75% of the M & IE rate for the first day of travel and one night's lodging. The actual cost of lodging was $129.00 plus $8.50 in hotel taxes. The maximum amount that may be authorized as reimbursement for lodging is 400% (four family members at 100% each) of the prescribed lodging rate for a total of $256.00 (400% X $64.00). Since the actual cost of lodging is less than the maximum allowed, the employee's claim for lodging is limited to $129.00. The M & IE rate for the first day of travel is 75% of the $43.00 prescribed rate or $32.25 each (.75% X $43.00) for a total of $129.00 ($32.25 X 4). In addition to lodging and meals, the employee is also entitled to reimbursement of a mileage allowance of $153.26 (316 miles at 48.5 cents) and the cost of hotel taxes. The employee's total claim for en route travel is $419.76, comprised of $129.00 for lodging, $129.00 for M &IE, $8.50 hotel taxes, and $153.26 in mileage allowance.
A separate SF-1012, Travel Voucher, must be prepared for the en route travel and for each 30-day period that per diem is claimed at the safe haven location. The en route travel voucher may be submitted as soon as the travel is completed.
The purpose of travel "Evacuation Travel" must be indicated on both the travel voucher and the FD-540. All claims for reimbursement of evacuation travel and allowances must be submitted to the Travel Advance and Payment Unit (TAPU), Room 1270, for processing and payment.
The employee's claim for safe haven allowance will begin the following day, or in the above scenario on 9/3/2005. The safe haven allowance should be claimed in 30-day increments. However, in connection with the first voucher, the number of days claimed will be reduced by the number of travel days claimed in connection with en route travel. For example, in the above scenario, one day was utilized for en route travel, therefore, the first voucher will only cover 29 days (30 days less one day travel time).
An Excel worksheet (which is posted on the Finance Division Intranet webpage) to assist employees in computing their per diem allowance at the safe haven location. The worksheet must be submitted as an attachment to the SF-1012, Travel Voucher. The purpose of travel "Safe Haven Allowance" must be indicated on both the travel voucher and the FD-540. Employees are reminded that beginning on the 31st day, inclusive of travel days, the maximum per diem rate that can be authorized in the form of a safe haven allowance is reduced to 60% of the rate prescribed for the first 30-day period.
In order to identify and capture the cost of the evacuation travel and allowances, it is extremely important that the applicable authorization numbers be annotated on the FD-540 as well as the SF-1012, Travel Voucher. The authorization number for evacuation travel and allowance for Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 is TR15HQ050050, for FY 2006 the authorization number is TR15HQ0060018.
Unfortunately, there is no advance of funds for this travel; however, employees can utilize their government travel card to pay for the lodging and meals. The reimbursement associated with this travel is not taxable income.
Tmporary Duty Assignments
It is possible that the employee will be in a TDY or Extended TDY assignment, while the dependents are in a safe haven travel status. If/when the employee is reassigned, because of the evacuation, to an alternate location to perform duties, his/her entitlement to a safe haven allowance will expire. Once the employee begins working at the alternate location, even if it is within 50 miles of the employee's previous office of assignment, he/she is considered to be in a TDY status, entitled to reimbursement of the normal per diem allowance. All claims for reimbursement of lodging must be supported by the original lodging receipt. The lodging expense cannot be duplicated in instances where the employee and dependents are staying in the same location, and the employee is claiming TDY and the dependents are authorized reimbursement of a safe haven allowance.
For those employees commuting on a daily basis between his/her residence and the alternate work location, an M & IE allowance will only be authorized if the travel day is in excess of 12 hours. For all travel less than 24 hours, the departure and arrival times must be annotated on the SF-1012, Travel Voucher. In addition, employees commuting on a daily basis may also be reimbursed for the additional out-of-pocket expenses if a POV is utilized to drive from the residence to the alternate work location. For example, if the employee lived 10 miles from New Orleans and he/she is reassigned to Baton Rouge which is 90 miles from the residence, the employee may be reimbursed for 80 miles (90 - 10 miles) at 48.5 cents per mile.
An employee performing duties at the official duty station is also considered to be in a TDY status and eligible for reimbursement of a per diem allowance, if his/her home is uninhabitable. All claims for lodging will be reimbursed on an actual expense basis, supported by the original lodging receipt. If the employee’s residence is habitable, a per diem allowance, including M & IE allowance will not be authorized for duties performed at the official duty station. There is no allowance for dependents who do not evacuate the disaster area.
The authorization numbers issued for employees reassigned to an alternate location to perform TDY is TR15HQ050049 for FY 2005 and TR15HQ0060017 FY 2006. The purpose of travel "TDY-Due to Hurricane Katrina," should be annotated on the SF-1012, Travel Voucher and the FD-540.
This authority does not cover employees that have been permanently transferred/relocated outside of the affected areas. Their benefits are covered by Chapter 302 of the Federal Travel Regulation. Employees should plan their relocation accordingly, as the statute only allows for one home finding trip, and a maximum of 120 days of temporary quarters. All requests for reimbursement of temporary quarters in excess of 60 days must still be submitted to TAPU, Room 1396, for review and approval by the Section Chief, Accounting Section. The Finance Division will give favorable consideration to requests from employees directly impacted by Hurricane Katrina for an extension of up temporary quarters allowance up to 120 days.