This is an amazing email that outlines perfectly the inefficiency of guv'munt. Even in a time of tightening budgets - cost savings are not important to the bureaucracy.
You see - it isn't the outcome that is important; it is the process.
Effective for travel performed on or after November 1, 2010, travelers are advised not to book lodging accommodations using an online booking agent, such as Expedia, Priceline, Hotels.com, etc. Instead, travelers should reserve their lodging accommodations by utilizing their Contracted Travel Office (CTO) or by contacting the hotel directly.Like the time travel requirement? Oh, and I left the email there on purpose. The last six months on active duty were a sump-pump of frustration due to DFAS. I don't care - they didn't.
The Joint Federal Travel Regulations (JFTR) for uniformed members and the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) for Department of Defense civilian employees have both been revised to state, "Despite any savings realized through online booking agents, subject to Service requirements the CTO should be used for lodging arrangements or the traveler should reserve a room directly with the hotel/chain (including the hotel's online website). Lodging reimbursement is not authorized for hotel lodging obtained through online booking agents unless an itemized receipt from the hotel is provided."
The JFTR and JTR further state that a traveler must not submit a 'lost receipt' statement to substitute for an online booking hotel receipt. If a traveler books their lodging through an online booking agent, then the only way the traveler can be reimbursed for their expenses would be if the hotel provides the traveler with an itemized lodging receipt.
However, hotels generally refuse to provide a traveler with a receipt from their establishment, because the traveler did not have a purchase transaction between them and the hotel, but rather between them and the online booking agent.
Due to the strict guidance of the regulation and the likelihood that the traveler will not be able to get the hotel to provide an itemized receipt in these situations, using online booking agents for lodging accommodations is highly discouraged. Failure to follow this guidance will result in non-payment of lodging booked incorrectly.
Any inquiries can be directed to the following DFAS travel pay customer service address: DFAS-IN.TRAVEL@dfas.mil