Academic journal article The Journal of Government Financial Management

Letter to the Editor

Academic journal article The Journal of Government Financial Management

Letter to the Editor

Article excerpt

Dear Editor:

The article entitled "Moving Forward: One Agency's Quest to Make Employee Relocations More Efficient and Predictable" in the spring Journal describes how the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) built a permanent change of station (PCS) cost estimator tool to derive a lump sum PCS payment for employees.

At first glance, this seems like a great idea to reduce red tape and bureaucracy. However, a managed relocation program powered by automation can bring even greater benefits to the transferee, agency and taxpayer. What if, instead of paying the lump sum up front, those employees could submit a voucher for their actual expenses using a "TurboTax®-like" tool that sequences necessary steps in a question and answer format and pre-populates information, based on the pre-trip estimate? All could be done on a smartphone, using the camera to upload receipts. Vouchers would be routed electronically and automatically audited by the system so payments, including tax withholding, take place almost immediately. Since the system tracks the obligation and the reimbursement, de-obligation of unused funds takes place immediately as well. Consider the benefits of this approach: fair/fast reimbursement to the traveler, extremely low administration cost, an auditable and accountable process, and great stewardship of taxpayer money.

In the FWS example, the lump sum went well: the house sold easily, and the transferee seemed happy with the reimbursement, which implies he received more money than needed. …

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