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CAFTDTI Accomodation Interpretation

The notorious DCBA aide memoire, and the various benefits never approved but paid regardless I roll the VCDS held an impromptu press conference announcing "Stop!" both come to mind...
Have a copy of this notrious aide memoire?
It was repealed years ago, as it gave unfounded direction, and resulted in a lot of extra work to pay people. I suspect a DWAN search for that title might find a copy or two squirrelled away somewhere.
@CountDC not sure where you are booking travel but last few TDs there was nothing available at the government rate (even in the off season). In Halifax the rate was I think around $160/day; lowest we could find was close to $400 a night. It was approved ahead of time, and no issue with the claim, but the federal book is way out of date.

At the time the military quarters were full, and a lot down because the wardroom/C&POs mess was down hard for the HVAC (which is a big deal on a LEED building that is basically sealed) and had been for months. I'm sure whatever the cost was that delayed the repairs was made up in a few weeks of TD, so probably another penny wise, pound foolish self goal.
Your post corresponds to what I said - if nothing available then you can justify exceeding. I am even nicer than some I have known in that I only ask if you contacted 3 places. I have known others to ask if the member called every hotel listed in the book (I was actually asked this on an audit and asked them if they would call all 50 hotels listed in the book).
A special kind of fun is booking a hotel in a location where each day of the week has its own rate. You will be fine on three days and the other four days will be way over. If you average the cost over 7 days, it comes in under the city rate but the pedant will point to the official Q&A that states each night needs to be within the rate limit.
… and get a rental car to sleep in if you have to be there on only the peak price night.
Sorry for you on that one. I once had to book in 3 hotels for a one week trip so know the pain. Personally I would have went with the averaging, ensured the note to 34 was completed in ClaimsX explaining it and approved the payment. I would have also warned you though that there was the risk that an audit I mean PPV team could pick it up and order a recovery for some of it.
Well, according to the policy, as dapaterson pointed out, it is on the department to recover the funds, not the employee nor the FSAs. Your job as FSA is to pay the rate paid, as long as it was booked as the federal government rate. The time we spend enforcing policies is much greater than the amount the department would pay. It is silly for me to NOT be allowed to take a hotel A within city rate limit but above the directory price that is convenient, but it is entirely acceptable to take hotel B that is still within city rate limit but is much more expensive than hotel A but matches the directory price, and is more inconvenient than hotel A.

At some point, we need to trust that members make the right choices give the circumstances. If they don’t, pay for their mistake, educate them and move on.

People that are strict on enforcing those rules are typically those that are not subject to them too often.
as both dap and myself indicated it says if booked through the system. If you make the booking yourself with the hotel then it is your problem not the departments. If booked through the system we contact the contractors to let them know about the overcharge and they deal with the vendor (at least the few times I dealt with it worked that way). In your sample as long as the hotel was below the city rate limit and comparable priced to those in the directory then I would have signed off on it using the convenience as justification (hotel was same location as event, within walking distance, etc).

The time we spend enforcing policies would be a lot less if people would actually read the policies and learn what they are supposed to do rather than just doing what they want and then expecting others to fix everything for them.
Interpretation of compensation and benefits policy (which includes TD) is an HR function, which is why it falls under DCBA and not somewhere in Adm(Fin).

Account verification, s. 34 certification, and s. 33 is a finance function (accounting actually... it would help the CAF if it could use proper nomenclature).

If this is some random direction from DCBA, see above about how only the CAF can do something so stupid to itself. There is certainly nothing in the CFTDTIs that says that, but that's what you get for putting an illiterate retired Chief Clerk in a job that has such a broad impact on the CAF when it should probably be filled by a lawyer.

No way would it stand up to a grievance if a member got sent on TD and had an actual expense for a hotel that couldn't be avoided without sleeping in a parking lot.

I interpret that to mean it's the DND rather than the outsourced contractor.... which only makes sense for the contractor if it wasn't done using their services. Nothing in that suggests "the department" can't tell it's own personnel, FSA or claimant in question, to go sort it out.
Right - I should have said TD is the FSA not HRA and isn't done by the OR.

To be honest I didn't recall where the direction was from so looked it up. According to the CFTDTI it was the CDS that signed the policy for us. The order for selection would be:

1. within city rate in book
2. within city rate not in book
3. above city rate in book
4. above city rate not in book.

As an addition IAW with the same CDS entry to CFTDTI it is the approving authority that is supposed to select the accommodations following this criteria.

"the approving authority is to first attempt to select an accommodation both within the city rate limit and the ACRD. If there are no accommodation...."

Somehow I don't think the General is going through the directory looking for hotels.

For reimbursement of overpayments it clearly states if booked through the contractor. Don't use it then it is yours to deal with. Most people do book directly and when I called a few the member didn't ensure they were charged the federal government rate. The hotel could have stuck to the charge but was nice enough to adjust for the member.

All in all there is the black and white that some will absolutely fully interpret as the only way and adhere to. Then there are those that understand sometimes a bit of commonsense (sorry for the language) has to be used along with reading the full policy. For example as others have mentioned the 34 is not the approving authority. If an AA selects hotel 2 the 34 job is to ensure the claim adheres to that. The problem is that when that claim goes through audit they will observe that the claims and 34 should not have paid it on the claim. This makes some people in claims sections and as 34s hesitate as they don't want the blame. Downloading of responsibility and blame has become all too common in the CAF. As Ballz mentioned 34 and 33 are not the AA and shouldn't be in that process unless the AA has asked for advice but they are the first blamed if anything is picked up. Been through too many audits and had to justify the AA selections because it was my fault somehow even when the justification was already with the claim. Make sure your ITA reflects the AA selection and not what the member has decided to do (for example don't send an ITA showing PMV and then tell me a cost comparison has to be done. The AA has selected PMV so it isn't required).

My take - read the policies and see if there is a way to justify on the members behalf. Almost everything can be done IF you can justify it. I have done this for meals exceeding the rates, hotels and even paying a person with a personal plane to fly the member to Fredericton when they missed a booked flight. Of course it still has to be reasonable not just "I wanted to eat a $2000 steak at a 5 star restaurant" . If you are skirting the policy in a substantial amount advise the member of the possible risk down the road. DOCUMENT everything as much as possible. ClaimsX has 4 boxes in which notes can be entered and these notes show on the claim - use them to explain things. "Paid hotel at $100 vice $80 book rate as it included meals saving $60 a day".

Know the chain of command and use it if you are not content with the answer given from one level. Nothing wrong with asking nicely a Compt to have a query submitted to ARC if you are not satisfied. That is what ARC is there for.

Just for clarity - I see the policy and directives, sometimes have to adhere to them because I cannot justify or approve anything else but most certainly do not always agree with them. I much preferred members that would come in and discuss their plans before hand rather than going with what they think and then expecting me to just make it work for them.

Oh - and yes a 34 should be able to look at most things and determine if it was justified or what is needed to justify it. I can only recall outright rejecting one claim a long time ago and it was because there was absolutely nothing to support it and the member refused to obtain anything. Most times I have been able to either have staff add notes or advice member of what they needed to provide for us to complete payment. Occasionally I have opted to deal with it myself and obtain what was needed (Hi Hotel X. I have a member that stayed there and lost his receipt. Could you send him a new one so I can complete his claim? thanks).