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HeyWatchThis

Round 2 of no AirBnB/Crashpads

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Look at the newest gem the AF is hinging on to force us into the roach motels  (attached and copied below in case the attachment doesn't work):

So now we can't stay in Airbnb/crash pads because they weren't booked in DTS nor are they fire compliant.  Who the $%*& is leading this push against us staying in decent places? 

Anybody else getting this letter in an email accompanied with the statement that the Air Force has to reimburse you but you will now be punished by your commander if you elect to stay in these places?

 

MEMORANDUM FOR ALMAJCOM-FOA-DRU COMPTROLLERS

AFIMSC/RM

ALL WING AND SQUADRON COMPTROLLERS

FROM: SAF/FMFC (AFAFO)

SUBJECT: Lodging Reimbursement (Clarifying Guidance for AirBnB/Similar Lodging)

Recent discussions regarding methods used for obtaining or reserving specific type lodging have caused confusion regarding the payment of claims. Some Airmen have acquired lodging outside of JTR mandated means or deemed to be not “suitable commercial lodging”, resulting in the need for further policy clarification for proper payment. There are several JTR references pertaining to AirBnB or similar type lodging that travelers and travel program administrators should be aware of...below narrative is from

SAF/MRM and was coordinated with SAF/GCA and PDTATAC:

1. Online Booking Tool to Rent Private Residences for Short Term Lodging (Par. 4130-L): These accommodations are not commercial lodgings and travelers are not to use them (do not meet fire standards and are classified as “non-conventional lodging”). These are only authorized in the event of lodging shortages in a specific location.

2. Use of Defense Travel System (DTS) or Travel Management Company (TMC) (Pars. 4130-A4,A5); Fee Reimbursement (Par. 2830-G): DoD travelers are required to make commercial lodging arrangements through DTS/TMC unless exceptions apply. If a traveler does not have an exception and fails to use DTS/TMC, the traveler is authorized the actual and necessary costs of lodging but is personally responsible for any excess costs such as service fees, booking fees, etc.

3. Suitable Commercial Lodging (Pars. 4155-A, 4250-B): Travelers are responsible for ensuring lodging is safe, secure and within reasonable proximity to the TDY location. According to General Services Agency (GSA) guidance, expenses are payable (actual or limited to proper locality or flat rate) even if traveler failed to acquire suitable commercial lodging.

Bottom line, a traveler’s failure to follow JTR guidance that requires use of DTS/TMC or suitable commercial lodging is not a reason to deny reimbursement. Appropriate disciplinary action by Commanders is expected for traveler’s failure to follow the regulatory guidance. Request widest dissemination to allow Airmen to make proper decisions IAW JTR while obtaining lodging. If a traveler was previously denied payment, they should file a supplemental travel claim via AFFSC. Depending on assignment level, questions should be directed to local Financial Services Office, AFIMSC Det, HQ AFIMSC or SAF/FMFC (AFAFO).

Eric I. Cuebas

Director, Air Force Accounting &

Finance Office

 

Lodging Reimbursement.pdf

Edited by HeyWatchThis
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We recently fought a battle in my unit surrounding the rental of an AirBnB-style lodging outfit. To further complicate matters, the owner of said property is a squadron bro, renting to another squadron bro on 45 days of orders. Due to the length of TDY being greater than 30 days, the 75% flat rate per diem was in effect.

The arrangement raised three challenges from Financial Management. First, FM cited the "stayed with a friend or relative" clause of the JTR which denies lodging reimbursement to a member if he/she stays with someone who does not charge them a fee. It is designed, in theory, to prevent someone from staying at Mom and Dad's house rent free, and pocketing the resulting per diem reimbursement. Understandable. However, Finance has expounded on this clause to assume that anyone in your squadron is OBVIOUSLY your friend and is required to house you free of charge. Despite the fact that an official rental contract was provided, and the dude renting the house out regularly rents the property in question, Finance was quick to resist.

Second, under the Flat Rate Per Diem rule it specifically states that as long as a lodging cost is incurred, the member is entitled to all of the flat rate per diem. In other words, if the flat rate per diem is $50/night, and your rental agreement is $20/night, you get to keep the leftover $30. It's spelled out clear as day in the examples listed in the JTR, but Finance is dragging their heels and treating this like the traditional "use or lose" per diem. The entire purpose of flat rate per diem is that it is a win/win for the Government and the member. Uncle Sam saves 25% on per diem, and -- if the member is able to find a cheaper lodging solution -- they get to pocket some extra money.

Third, the JTR specifically states that members claiming reimbursement for lodging under flat rate per diem rules are NOT required to provide receipts, but may be asked to prove that a cost was incurred. This leaves a very large gray area, but leave it to our Finance to dive headfirst into it in. In one instance, they demanded that the person renting the property provide his/her financial ledger. All of this because the two individuals engaged in the (legal) business contract were members of the same squadron. Could you imagine asking the owner of an AirBnB to provide a copy of their ledger so that you could get your DTS voucher paid?!? Ascenine...

Anyone else having this issue in their unit?




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What was the point of specifying in the JTR change that the fixed rate per diem was to allow travelers to find the "best value" if locations that provide it will result in "disciplinary action by the commander"?

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"These accommodations are not commercial lodgings", "Use DTS...unless exceptions apply." "If [you dont] have an exception and [fail] to use DTS, the traveler is authorized the actual and necessary costs of lodging but is personally responsible for any excess costs such as service fees, booking fees, etc.". "Travelers are responsible for ensuring lodging is safe, secure and within reasonable proximity to the TDY location." "According to GSA guidance, expenses are payable (actual or limited to proper locality or flat rate) even if traveler failed to acquire suitable lodging."


Sounds reasonable to me, Eric.


[Your] failure to follow JTR guidance is not a reason to deny reimbursement. [/b]Appropriate[/b] disciplinary action by Commanders is expected for [your] failure to follow the regulatory guidance.


I agree with you again, Eric. Although, I don't understand why you need to tell people this...I feel like some people have been going outside of the law and doing some very shady and unauthorized shit to make other people's lives miserable for basically no reason.

----Break, break...

How is this communication not a positive thing, despite its shoe clerkiness.

Use the system that's provided if you expect a vetted place to stay. If you choose not too, you are accepting risk.

When it burns down and you get charred to a crispy crinkle, are you expecting them to pay out to your family even though you stayed in a place they consider non-conventional and not verified safe?

Sometimes we bitch hard about a system that covers hundreds of thousands of people based on individual inconvenience. How should the system work? Stay where ever you want...get mugged, kidnapped, robbed, stabbed, shot, or raped and no big deal...we got you covered, just get that claim submitted and we'll pay out whatever.

How is it supposed to work if it's not literally: there is a system to help you do it, you should use it, if you don't we'll still pay reasonably, you're taking some risks, they might have consequences...CC's, I expect you to deal with discrepancies appropriately.

Finance A1C dip shlt acting on orders from NCO TSGt numb nuts...denying reimbursement up to the allowable rate at any time due to some perceived infraction rather than handing that perception over to the individual's CC (which should quickly be appropriately "filed") is where there is any issue. We need to simply start removing people, if lynching still isn't allowed.

I'd be happy to see more emails like this...let the SQ/CC handle it, or more appropriately not...because they should be busy with real shit...like people getting told they got paid twice and having. Money taken from them when that is in fact complete bull shlt.

I don't get the fuss, unless it's to bitch for the sake of bitching, in which case...carry on,
Bendy






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The best they could come up with is a "fire hazard" shows they really don't have much to stand on and are grasping at straws IMHO. For instance, at Altus there are dozens of houses used as crashpads, every house has to meet fire codes by law and there are laws covering landlord responsibilities for keeping properties in safe, habitable condition. I'm sure this is the case for the rest of the US as well. This also doesnt even cover requirements by insurance companies or property management companies that run these crash pads for the owners. 

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4 hours ago, Bender said:

 


Sounds reasonable to me, Eric.



I agree with you again, Eric. Although, I don't understand why you need to tell people this...I feel like some people have been going outside of the law and doing some very shady and unauthorized shit to make other people's lives miserable for basically no reason.

----Break, break...

How is this communication not a positive thing, despite its shoe clerkiness.

Use the system that's provided if you expect a vetted place to stay. If you choose not too, you are accepting risk.

When it burns down and you get charred to a crispy crinkle, are you expecting them to pay out to your family even though you stayed in a place they consider non-conventional and not verified safe?

Sometimes we bitch hard about a system that covers hundreds of thousands of people based on individual inconvenience. How should the system work? Stay where ever you want...get mugged, kidnapped, robbed, stabbed, shot, or raped and no big deal...we got you covered, just get that claim submitted and we'll pay out whatever.

How is it supposed to work if it's not literally: there is a system to help you do it, you should use it, if you don't we'll still pay reasonably, you're taking some risks, they might have consequences...CC's, I expect you to deal with discrepancies appropriately.

Finance A1C dip shlt acting on orders from NCO TSGt numb nuts...denying reimbursement up to the allowable rate at any time due to some perceived infraction rather than handing that perception over to the individual's CC (which should quickly be appropriately "filed") is where there is any issue. We need to simply start removing people, if lynching still isn't allowed.

I'd be happy to see more emails like this...let the SQ/CC handle it, or more appropriately not...because they should be busy with real shit...like people getting told they got paid twice and having. Money taken from them when that is in fact complete bull shlt.

I don't get the fuss, unless it's to bitch for the sake of bitching, in which case...carry on,
Bendy






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Agree. This memo basically says they have to pay you, and its up to your SQ/CC to decide if you didn't follow the guidance. "Boss, I could have slept in the roach motel for 3 months with my newborn and wife, or i could have collected $50 a day and stayed in a safe, 3 bedroom house and had a normal life." This Eric guy is trying to threaten you, but he has no authority. My squadron commander, and I'm guessing most of your squadron commanders, understand the difference between staying in the Motel 6, and renting a VRBO for 3 months. 

This is really a win. We shouldn't need this letter, and Eric isn't seeing the forest through the trees, but I agree with Bendy.

Cheers,

Beerman

Edited by BeerMan

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This is a no kidding common sense solution to the reimbursement problem.  Pay the member what they are owed, and make it a commander's issue to figure out if regs were broken without a good enough reason.  It shouldn't be some Amn's authority to deny someone thousands of dollars because they didn't like the way they booked the room.  If they really want the pound of flesh, the commander can give an article 15, and doc pay far less than what finance is trying to take away.

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8 hours ago, HeyWatchThis said:

1. Online Booking Tool to Rent Private Residences for Short Term Lodging (Par. 4130-L): These accommodations are not commercial lodgings and travelers are not to use them (do not meet fire standards and are classified as “non-conventional lodging”). These are only authorized in the event of lodging shortages in a specific location.

2. Use of Defense Travel System (DTS) or Travel Management Company (TMC) (Pars. 4130-A4,A5); Fee Reimbursement (Par. 2830-G): DoD travelers are required to make commercial lodging arrangements through DTS/TMC unless exceptions apply. If a traveler does not have an exception and fails to use DTS/TMC, the traveler is authorized the actual and necessary costs of lodging but is personally responsible for any excess costs such as service fees, booking fees, etc.

3. Suitable Commercial Lodging (Pars. 4155-A, 4250-B): Travelers are responsible for ensuring lodging is safe, secure and within reasonable proximity to the TDY location. According to General Services Agency (GSA) guidance, expenses are payable (actual or limited to proper locality or flat rate) even if traveler failed to acquire suitable commercial lodging.

Bottom line, a traveler’s failure to follow JTR guidance that requires use of DTS/TMC or suitable commercial lodging is not a reason to deny reimbursement. Appropriate disciplinary action by Commanders is expected for traveler’s failure to follow the regulatory guidance. Request widest dissemination to allow Airmen to make proper decisions IAW JTR while obtaining lodging. If a traveler was previously denied payment, they should file a supplemental travel claim via AFFSC. Depending on assignment level, questions should be directed to local Financial Services Office, AFIMSC Det, HQ AFIMSC or SAF/FMFC (AFAFO).

I admit that I have not read the actual JTR paragraphs, but the above excerpts doesn't make sense to me. 

TL:DR: AFAFO hates AirBnB/VRBO/HomeAway and you can't use online booking because you can die, unless everything is sold out then it's okay for you to take that risk.  And if you don't follow our instruciton then you the SQ/CC better punish your subordinates or we'll hold you accountable even if what you did was kosher.

1.  Online booking tool to rent...so your issue is really with the booking platform and not the actual lodging site...because you go on to say "are not to use them...do not meet fire standards", unless of course "only authorized in the event of lodging shortages..."  So sounds like you are using non-compliant fire standards as an excuse to deter people away from certain online booking platforms with a caveat.  What is your defense in court if traveler is authorized private residences lodging due to lodging shortages and subsequently dies in a building fire?  If a lodging is non-compliant then it is non-compliant with or without the use of an online booking tool.  This paragraph didn't make sense to me. 

2.  Paragraph straight forward, okay good copy.  You didn't follow the procedures, but you will still get paid, but we won't pay the online booking and cleaning fees.

3.  Again, straight forward, you didn't follow the procedures, but you'll still get paid according to the GSA schedule.

The bottom line is annoying..."appropriate disciplinary action by Commanders is expected."  Thank you Eric the finance guy for telling me how to do my job as a Commander.  What's not spelled out in this paragraph, but implied is that we, AFAFO expect you the Commander to punish the traveler for doing something annoying, but not illegal.  If we find out otherwise, we will show this official signed AF memo to your WIng King or NAF CC and argue that you are guilty of dereliction of duty.  Your Wing King or NAF CC will likely cave in because they won't want to appear soft and miss out on that next promotion.

Edited by panchbarnes
removed outdated info

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9 hours ago, Bender said:

Use the system that's provided if you expect a vetted place to stay. If you choose not too, you are accepting risk.

Bendy

 

While I agree overall, I think the concept of "vetted" is unsupported.  DTS and its associated booking tools are no different than any other bureaucratic sacred cow; re: GTCC.  Every time you pick up the phone and book your own lodging with non-a in hand, a kitten dies and ISIS wins. Use DTS or the "contract lodging" that the lodging desk "helps you out" by booking before they hand your non-a over with that hotel named in the sub paragraphs.  BS.

I travel constantly as part of my current job, and I've been booked squarely in some shady spots that I wouldn't bring my family.  Why?  Because the folks I'm traveling for wilt at the thought of going over JTR max rates.  Arts and crafts convention in town?  Tough: max rate is max rate.

As far as CCs having discretion, that begs the question: how did we get here in the first place?  Yeah, this is going to be used as a bludgeon at some point.  Bank on it.

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That stupid online booking tool only exists to provide mandatory preferential treatment to hotel chains that have paid to play with DoD. The taxi lobby must also be strong in D.C. because I am now supposed to check that taking a cab 25 miles to the airport and 25 miles back to my house is cheaper than paying long term parking. 

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It keeps the $$ where they (Congress, HHQ, and others who can direct us) want it first...that is all. The stay-elsewhere if normal DTS-brokered hotels are sold out is simply because you have stay somewhere. The appearance of military paying military is no good either...but if you HAVE too After exhausting all options, well okay.

And For example, how else are Clovis hotels going to grow be versus a budding AirBnB market?! (Half sarcasm...)

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The JTR still gives you this out:

If…adequate Government quarters are available on
the U.S. installation to which a Service member is
assigned TDY, but the Service member chooses to
use other lodging,
the Service member is limited to the
reimbursement cost of Government quarters on
the assigned TDY installation (44 Comp. Gen.
626 (1965)).

Table 2-14. on page 44

Other lodging chart.pdf

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While I agree overall, I think the concept of "vetted" is unsupported.


Google says vetted means "to make a careful and critical examination of (something)." Nothing about what standards or methods are applied.

I agree with you; we all know what's going on here.

Everything is so abused at this point that things just need to get scrapped and established anew. Tough call when you've sunk as much money into something like we have DTS. Sadly, basically impossible with the greedy claws that are sunk into it.

All just very sad,
Bendy


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On 5/17/2017 at 6:18 PM, Mad Dog said:

We recently fought a battle in my unit surrounding the rental of an AirBnB-style lodging outfit. To further complicate matters, the owner of said property is a squadron bro, renting to another squadron bro on 45 days of orders. Due to the length of TDY being greater than 30 days, the 75% flat rate per diem was in effect.

The arrangement raised three challenges from Financial Management. First, FM cited the "stayed with a friend or relative" clause of the JTR which denies lodging reimbursement to a member if he/she stays with someone who does not charge them a fee. It is designed, in theory, to prevent someone from staying at Mom and Dad's house rent free, and pocketing the resulting per diem reimbursement. Understandable. However, Finance has expounded on this clause to assume that anyone in your squadron is OBVIOUSLY your friend and is required to house you free of charge. Despite the fact that an official rental contract was provided, and the dude renting the house out regularly rents the property in question, Finance was quick to resist.

Second, under the Flat Rate Per Diem rule it specifically states that as long as a lodging cost is incurred, the member is entitled to all of the flat rate per diem. In other words, if the flat rate per diem is $50/night, and your rental agreement is $20/night, you get to keep the leftover $30. It's spelled out clear as day in the examples listed in the JTR, but Finance is dragging their heels and treating this like the traditional "use or lose" per diem. The entire purpose of flat rate per diem is that it is a win/win for the Government and the member. Uncle Sam saves 25% on per diem, and -- if the member is able to find a cheaper lodging solution -- they get to pocket some extra money.

Third, the JTR specifically states that members claiming reimbursement for lodging under flat rate per diem rules are NOT required to provide receipts, but may be asked to prove that a cost was incurred. This leaves a very large gray area, but leave it to our Finance to dive headfirst into it in. In one instance, they demanded that the person renting the property provide his/her financial ledger. All of this because the two individuals engaged in the (legal) business contract were members of the same squadron. Could you imagine asking the owner of an AirBnB to provide a copy of their ledger so that you could get your DTS voucher paid?!? Ascenine...

Anyone else having this issue in their unit?




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Nope. I rented from a old colleague on recent TDY and pocketed the leftover from the 75% rule. How did finance even find out? I just uploaded my receipt in DTS and no questions were ever asked. 

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On centrally managed TDYs you don't get orders or book arrangements through DTS.  What is this so called travel management company?  Same as the commercial travel office?  I've been on a lot of long term TDYs and no one from the CTO has ever booked my lodging.  

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On 5/17/2017 at 7:34 PM, Bender said:

 


Sounds reasonable to me, Eric.



I agree with you again, Eric. Although, I don't understand why you need to tell people this...I feel like some people have been going outside of the law and doing some very shady and unauthorized shit to make other people's lives miserable for basically no reason.

----Break, break...

How is this communication not a positive thing, despite its shoe clerkiness.

Use the system that's provided if you expect a vetted place to stay. If you choose not too, you are accepting risk.

When it burns down and you get charred to a crispy crinkle, are you expecting them to pay out to your family even though you stayed in a place they consider non-conventional and not verified safe?






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So, will I now expect USAF fire inspectors to look over my house before I can get BAH?

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5 hours ago, DirtyFlightSuit said:

You know I hear all the time about my Airline bro's having to fight to get reimbursed and paid on time....oh wait....

I know this is a joke, but it's amazing how good my airline's tool is for travel vouchers (and I bet it didn't cost $1 billion). I have to file one every month and it takes like 2 minutes.

It's impossible to understand how much of a joke the Air Force is until you're out.

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So, will I now expect USAF fire inspectors to look over my house before I can get BAH?


I certainly hope not; but, you probably had a home inspector look over it for insurance purposes (or your landlord did).

Don't make this look like I like DTS...I don't.

Bendy


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4 hours ago, Jaded said:

I know this is a joke, but it's amazing how good my airline's tool is for travel vouchers (and I bet it didn't cost $1 billion). I have to file one every month and it takes like 2 minutes.

It's impossible to understand how much of a joke the Air Force is until you're out.

2.  I don't work for an airline, but I filed my travel voucher with my current employer before I departed on my last trip.  Our travel lady filled it out for me, I signed it and had my money before my plane landed.

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1 hour ago, guineapigfury said:

2.  I don't work for an airline, but I filed my travel voucher with my current employer before I departed on my last trip.  Our travel lady filled it out for me, I signed it and had my money before my plane landed.

Can one learn this magic?

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3 hours ago, Homestar said:

Can one learn this magic?

DTS in and of itself isn't the main issue.  It's the approvers and finance types creatively applying their interpretation of the JTR that causes the headaches.  I broke in Rota for a week and my Flt/CC denied taxi reimbursement because I had meals available (I was in Bravo the whole time, so this was BS).  I also once took a POV in lieu of Airfare/Rental Car and was denied vicinity mileage (even though the approver originally authorized it) because the language of the JTR said "may approve" instead of "should" or "will."  That marked the last time I chose to drive my own vehicle anywhere.  Approvers at my current base often amend my voucher (usually to my benefit, but at least once to my detriment) without coordinating the change with me first. 

The one real issue I take with JTR/DTS is the "where you are at midnight local" rule.  I flew a mission where I transited many high per diem/expensive locations, but was airborne at midnight for several nights in a row (thus showing in transit on my voucher).  When we finally hacked 0001 on the ground, it was in Gander, so all those in transit dates were reimbursed at the shitty Gander MI&E rate.

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7 hours ago, Bender said:

 


I certainly hope not; but, you probably had a home inspector look over it for insurance purposes (or your landlord did).

Don't make this look like I like DTS...I don't.

Bendy


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So just like the people who own Air BNB/Crashpads? So what exactly is the difference then?

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