Many agencies require Travel Authorizations (TA) for trips over 50-miles. These policies have been around for decades, but it is now very common for government employees to travel to meetings in official vehicles, in excess of 50 miles each way, during the course of normal daily business, with no costs incurred (aside from wages and mileage to the GOV). That being said, it seems downright wasteful to incur the costs associated with creating - and then cancelling - TA’s processed in TeServ, FedTraveler or other such systems. These “no cost TAs” typically require 2-3 layers of approval (i.e., staff hours) and result in a charge to the agency. Wouldn’t it be better (and cheaper) to allow the TA to be created, on an exception basis, after the fact, if a planned day trip exceeded the norm and reimbursement became necessary?
Some people presume there is a liability issue, but no one has been able to explain how the Government would treat a traveler differently if he/she was in an auto accident 49.9 miles from a duty station versus 50.1 miles from a duty station when travelling on official business. Frankly, having been in the government admin world since 1980, I know of no such distinction.
This really seems to be an overly-bureaucratic and costly policy that can be improved by using common sense and requiring travel authorizations only when costs are incurred.