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Paving the way for a new travel reimbursement process

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Air Force finance officials are implementing ways to improve customer service to Airmen with process changes, said the director of the Secretary of the Air Force Financial Management Process Improvement and Integrations Office.

"This has been a rocky road for some Air Force travelers," said Josephine L. Davis, SAF/FMPI. "Fortunately, process improvement and service delivery initiatives will improve travel reimbursement services."

Air Force finance officials recently completed two separate Air Force Smart Operations 21 reviews to improve the travel and permanent change-of-station voucher processes. Senior Air Force and Reserve command financial management leaders attended a travel voucher process AFSO 21 event at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., to conduct an end-to-end review of the travel voucher process.

"The active-duty, Guard and Reserve team identified and validated problems in the current processes and agreed on a future state process," Ms. Davis said. Some short-term solutions are now in place via a recent Defense Travel System software upgrade that improves government charge card usage. This same upgrade implemented a pilot program with the Navy, results from which will be applied to improve travel voucher services to the Air Force Reserve and Guard communities.

Ms. Davis said the Robins AFSO 21 review also looked into improving the submission of PCS travel vouchers, services for deployed members, and ensuring Airmen aren't over or underpaid. A subsequent AFSO 21 review took place in September at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., to review and improve these processes. Solutions in this area are also under way and will be implemented with DTS software upgrades scheduled to occur in 15-18 months.

Some Airmen may remember that in the past an Airman would visit the base accounting and finance office and work with a travel pay clerk to reconcile a travel voucher, according to Ms. Davis. The Airman would leave the office with a cash reimbursement and a copy of his or her filed travel voucher.

"The process was functional and effective from a traveler's perspective, but it was costly and labor intensive for the Air Force," Ms. Davis said. "The cost and manpower requirements for such a process were not an issue in the past. However, times have changed due to federally mandated manpower reductions."

In light of this changing fiscal landscape, two additional process improvement initiatives are currently underway to enhance financial service delivery to Airmen: the Financial Service Delivery Model and Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System (

"The primary objective of FSDM is to improve service delivery to Airmen through enhanced utilization of Web-based self service applications," Ms. Davis said. "Click, Call, Walk" is the FSDM slogan.

With FSDM, Airmen will have:
· 24-hour, seven-day-a-week access to Web-based service for financial transactions;
· a toll-free number to a contact center when additional assistance is needed; and
· the ability to deal face-to-face with a base financial service technicians for those unusual financial transactions.

"Ultimately, FSDM will result in enhanced customer service and substantial return on investment for the Air Force," Ms. Davis said.

Another initiative is DIMHRS, a Department of Defense program currently under development. It provides the Armed Forces with an integrated, multi-component, personnel and pay system that improve delivery of military personnel and pay services, according to Ms. Davis. This system provides each service member with a single, comprehensive record that features self-service capabilities to empower them to update portions of their personal information, and initiate personnel and pay actions.

Finance officials listen to customer comments, Ms. Davis said. They heard such comments as "I had to use my savings to pay my government travel card" or, "I had to wait months for payment due to the huge backlogs."

"These types of comments reflect a detrimental impact on our mission," Ms. Davis said. "Air Force leadership takes them seriously, and continues to take steps to resolve members' concerns."