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News > Aviano members to receive new CSA government travel card
 
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Approximately 600 Aviano government travelers, have been using the new controlled spend accout government travel card over the last six months as part of a test group, but those with expiring cards or "infrequent" travelers (those who traveled no more than three times in fiscal year 2010) should receive a new card in the coming weeks. The distribution of CSAs will continue with "occasional" travelers in March, "frequent" travelers in April and a final push to all remaining government travel cardholders in May. (U.S. Air Force graphic)
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Aviano members to receive new CSA government travel card

Posted 2/3/2011   Updated 2/3/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Tech. Sgt. Lindsey Maurice
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


2/3/2011 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy  -- Beginning this month, many Aviano Airmen and government civilians will receive a special letter in the mail containing a new shiny blue Visa card with their name on it.

This marks the official rollout of the new controlled spend account government travel card.

Currently, approximately 600 Aviano government travelers, mostly in the 31st Fighter Wing staff agencies and 31st Security Forces Squadron, have been using the new CSA over the last six months as part of a test group, but those with expiring cards or "infrequent" travelers (those who traveled no more than three times in fiscal year 2010) should receive a new card in the coming weeks. The distribution of CSAs will continue with "occasional" travelers in March, "frequent" travelers in April and a final push to all remaining government travel cardholders in May.

"This is a major change that will significantly increase the flexibility of the traveler to meet their travel needs by lifting many of the merchant code restrictions attached to the GTC," said Air Force CSA program officials. "It will also help reduce the workload for agency program coordinators by automating several key processes."

One of the biggest differences cardholders will see is that they will only be able to use their card after a travel order is approved in the Defense Travel System or by the 31st Comptroller Squadron. Once approved, a spending limit will be placed on the card based on travel authorizations, which will be just enough to perform the mission (only those related travel expenses). In cases of travel emergencies or unplanned expenses, cardholders contact Citibank directly to request temporary spending limit increases, a process that used to involve working through an APC at home station.

"Using the CSA should help remove the worry of using the card inappropriately," said 2nd Lt. Gregory Cappuzzo, 31st Comptroller Squadron Financial Services Flight commander. "Members also have fewer restrictions as to where they can use the card. One hundred percent of all disbursement of funds is mandated to go directly to (Citibank), which should also reduce delinquencies. Since all funds are loaded directly to the card for lodging, per diem, etc., members now have more access to the money they are due. Residual amounts on the CSA (after voucher is submitted and processed) can be returned to the cardholder through three means: ATM withdrawal, use as a debit card, or call (Citibank) for a refund check or electronic funds transfer."

The lieutenant also noted that the CSA, unlike the GTC, does not require a credit check, so every government traveler is eligible to receive the new card.

As with all new programs, Lieutenant Cappuzzo said implementation of the CSA through the Aviano test group did face a few challenges along the way, but overall, customers are happy with the new card.

"Most initial feedback was due to inexperience with the new card," he said. "Once members realized they could call (Citibank) for any temporary increases in spending limits or how to get their money (leftover per diem) back after travel, they were good."

In preparation for the official CSA rollout, Aviano resource advisors and APCs are receiving initial training over the next three months, with the first classes Feb. 3-4. However, cardholders are encouraged to contact Citibank, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 877-784-1407 or collect at 817-802-1468, before contacting their RA or APC with an issue.

"The member has most of the power in the new card and can solve most issues by calling (Citibank)," said Lieutenant Cappuzzo.

According to Air Force CSA program officials, once cardholders receive their CSA in the coming months, they should complete the following steps in order to activate their account:

1) Verify your card is received by following the directions on the sticker attached to the front of the card.
2) Call customer service to create a PIN for ATM use
3) Check the Defense Travel System to ensure your CSA number is updated in the system
4) Ensure timely input of travel orders at least five days prior to travel.

"We hope to make Aviano's transition to the CSA as smooth as possible," said Lieutenant Cappuzzo. "The cardholder responsibilities for the CSA are almost identical to the GTC, with the direct line to (Citibank) to help solve all your travel issues."



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