By Tech. Sgt. Amaani Lyle
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
The Air Force is primed for service wide distribution of new Citibank controlled spend account government travel cards now through spring 2011, officials said here Dec. 1.
Locally, the 50th Comptroller Squadron will lead Schriever Air Force Base members through the implementation of this initiative.
“Our goal is to make the transition to the new controlled spend accounts as transparent as possible for our Airmen and to eliminate any chance of mission degradation by being always one step ahead of the game,” said Master Sgt. Tony Gonzalez, 50 CPTS noncommissioned officer in charge of Financial Services.
Issuance of the CSA card for use in conjunction with temporary-duty assignments, permanent change of station or deployment orders follows an extensive multi-installation pilot phase and involves the eventual replacement of more than 480,000 traditional set-limit cards currently in use.
According to Mike Bilbrey, the Air Force banking officer, the CSA card differs from the traditional travel card in that approved travel authorizations and amendments automatically adjust the CSA’s spend limits to reflect the estimated cost of the mission.
“The CSA is the most innovative solution to the government travel card program since its inception, and it allows the Air Force to better manage cash flows,” Mr. Bilbrey said. “Since the card won’t have any value until a travel order is approved, Airmen can count on higher levels of security, lower delinquency rates, and best of all, instant approval, since there is no credit check required to have a CSA.”
Mr. Bilbrey explained that once the mission is complete, users submit their vouchers for processing, at which time Citibank officials reconcile the account and identify the residual funds available to the cardholder for personal use or to transfer to another personal account.
While enjoying possible residual funds for personal use is a perk for Airmen, the fully automated CSA also has virtue from a commander’s perspective by eliminating arduous, time-consuming GTC oversight responsibilities, Mr. Bilbrey said.
“We can reduce many hours per week on tasks agency program coordinators and managers once spent on program delinquency management, to the tune of about 382,000 man-hours per year,” Mr. Bilbrey said. “With Citibank receiving 100 percent of the travel voucher payment, the number of delinquencies will be minimal, ensuring Airmen and APCs can focus on the mission at hand.”
Since the mission at hand can vary greatly for Airmen, Citibank allows cardholders to call for temporary spend limit adjustments, based on last-minute travel requirements.
This provides cardholders the spending limit they need until they can get the amendment into the system, Mr. Bilbrey said.
Current GTC cardholders will be automatically enrolled into the CSA program and will receive e-mail notifications when their card is on the way. Infrequent travelers will be among the first to have their current government travel cards deactivated and receive the new CSA cards, Mr. Bilbrey said, adding that Airmen should update their e-mail addresses with Citibank and their new card numbers with merchants.
Citibank representatives said training sessions are essential to Airmen understanding how the CSA program works, and session schedules will be publicized in the near future.
“The Air Force has partnered with Citibank to not only provide training, but offer cardholders premiere, 24-hour customer service to travelers anywhere in the world,” said Stacy Eslich, a Citibank relationship manager. “In addition, the card’s coverage for insurance, travel, medical and emergency assistance delivers the most comprehensive coverage in the card industry.”
For more information, visit www.airforcetravelcard.transactionservices.citi.com.
50th Space Wing Public Affairs contributed to this article.