by Maj. Vanessa Hillman
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs
Peterson Air Force Base, Colo — Airmen throughout Air Force Space Command will start getting the new Citibank controlled spend account cards beginning now through the end of March.
The change over to a new system is designed to help eliminate the misuse and abuse by some Airmen with the old Government Travel Card system.
“The perspective of most travelers is the GTC isn’t broke, so why fix it,” said Jeff Weston, Air Force Space Command Financial Services Specialist. “Although this is the perception, the program is in fact broke since it has become a delinquency management program instead of a tool used to accomplish the travel mission.”
Mr. Weston further explained that the GTC program morphed into a delinquency management program instead of a travel card program which resulted in commanders and first sergeants spending a significant amount of time working disciplinary issues related to the abuse of the GTC card.
“All cards had full-time credit limits ranging from $4,000 to $7,500 which unfortunately led to member’s not in a travel status using the card for unauthorized purposes,” he said.
Another problem the new program solves is Airmen who previously could not be approved for the GTC.
“Not all travelers qualified for a GTC, since issuance of the card was based on credit worthiness and travel frequency requirements,” said Mr. Weston. “All travelers will have a CSA and no credit check will be required.”
The primary benefit of the CSA program is a reduction to travel card delinquencies, decreasing the amount of time supervisors need to spend on the program. CSA bases spending limits on approved travel authorizations and provides just enough funds to cover the TDY.
“The CSA concept has two features that will reduce travel card delinquencies,” said Col. John Pletcher, director, AFSPC Financial Management and Comptroller. “First, the CSA card has zero value when the traveler does not have an approved travel order in the accounting system. This eliminates the potential for a member to use the card for personal expenses when they’re not traveling. Second, the CSA program requires the full travel voucher settlement to be paid to the member’s Citibank account to ensure the CSA bill is paid first, then allowing any residual balance to be paid to the member in a variety of ways.”
The CSA card will be issued to all Air Force travelers to be used for all TDYs and permanent change of station expenses, and to alleviate any confusion base finance offices have plans to educate all Airmen.
“Educating travelers on the new program will be the key to the success of the CSA card,” said Mr. Weston.
“Base finance offices are aggressively working on getting the word out through commander’s calls, wing stand-up’s, first sergeant meetings, newspaper articles and various advertising materials such as storyboards and tri-folds,” said Colonel Pletcher. “In addition, CSA ‘Hot Tips of the Day’ are posted on the home page of the Air Force Portal with a link to the Virtual Finance page which has detailed briefings on the CSA program.”
However, there are ways for Airmen to find additional information to start educating themselves.
“While the roll-out will include a media blitz and briefings throughout the chain of command, I’d encourage Airmen to learn more about the CSA program on their own at the ‘Virtual Finance’ site on the Air Force Portal or on Citibank’s CSA website,” recommended Colonel Pletcher. “Both contain useful learning tools that highlight the changes and educate the user on the benefits of the program.”
The CSA program has been designed to occur smoothly and will be implemented in three phases, according to Colonel Pletcher.
First, travelers with expiring GTC cards should expect to get their cards in the mail around mid-Jan. This will eliminate the need to send them a new GTC card, only to follow it up with a new CSA card a couple of months later when the program is implemented AFSPC-wide.
Second, Schriever Air Force Base will be the “test base” and will start the program by end of January. This will allow the command to assess the roll-out procedures and fine-tune the implementation process before going command-wide.
Third, the remainder of AFSPC units will be enrolled in the program by late March.
“To the average traveler, the change to the CSA card will require increased accuracy in Airmen’s travel estimates, but should be essentially neutral in their ability to charge their official travel expenses,” said Colonel Pletcher.
For more information Airmen can contact their local finance office or go to www.airforcetravelcard.transactionservices.citi.com.