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Saving money for the Government can also mean gains for employees. Federal employees who frequently travel on Government business may be eligible to participate in agency awards programs that reward employees for savings earned through use of frequent flyer miles and reduced lodging costs. Public Law 103-355, dated October 13, 1994, directed the General Services Administration (GSA) to provide guidelines to ensure that agencies promote, encourage, and facilitate the use of frequent traveler programs offered by airlines and hotels to Federal employees. Sections 4501-4507 of title 5, United States Code, authorize agencies to pay cash awards to employees who, by personal effort, contribute to the efficiency or economy of Government operations. Under the authority of these two laws, a number of agencies have established programs that reward employees for their efforts to minimize travel costs. Through savings earned by using frequent flyer miles and economical lodgings, employees can receive payments for up to 50 percent of the travel savings they earn for their agency.
In order for employees to participate in travel savings programs, agencies must establish specific eligibility policies and procedures. If the agency participates, employees may apply directly to airlines for frequent flyer accounts, which they manage themselves and for which they can earn frequent flyer credit for official Government travel. Because a Comptroller General opinion states that frequent flyers miles earned from Government travel funds are the property of the Government, mileage credit earned during Government travel cannot be used for personal travel. However, employees who use the credit to obtain free coach-class airfare tickets for official travel are eligible to receive a portion of the travel savings earned from the free ticket through the agency travel savings program.
Travel savings awards may be paid to employees for savings earned when lodging on official travel. Employees earn lodging savings on official travel by: (1) staying with family or friends; (2) staying at hotels with rates less than the maximum lodging allowance; and (3) sharing hotel accommodations. In addition, employees are encouraged to stay at accommodations that meet fire and safety standards set by the Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990. To be considered as lodging savings, several restrictions and requirements must be met: