Chapter 7: Travel & Transportation Support

TRAVEL & TRANSPORTATION SUPPORT

57.jpgAll travel directly related to the service of AmeriCorps VISTA candidates and members (excluding daily commuting), as well as the mode of travel, must be approved in advance by and the VISTA program. This travel, referred to as “official travel”, includes:

  • Travel to and from Corporation-sponsored training events and conferences
  • Travel to and from the service site for relocating VISTA candidates and Leaders
  • Emergency travel (see Chapter 9: Leave Benefits – Emergency Leave)

The VISTA program covers expenses for official travel within the continental United States, as well as for official travel by those who serve in or whose home of record is in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. All members authorized by the Corporation to travel will be reimbursed for travel and baggage expenses as described in this chapter. All travel payments are subject to collection to offset debts owed to the federal government (see Chapter 5).

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TRAVEL TO TRAINING

The VISTA program arranges and pays for cost-effective means for travel to Pre-Service Orientation, Supervisor Orientation, and Leaders Orientation for all authorized travelers – most candidates, members, and supervisors.

REQUESTING APPROVAL FOR TRAVEL TO TRAINING

AmeriCorps VISTA candidates or training-deferred members indicate their preferred departure point and their preferred mode of travel on their Travel-to-Training Travel Request Profile for travel to and from Pre-Service Orientation. (Pre-Service Orientation, for the majority of VISTA members, is the training event that occurs prior to beginning service and arriving at the project site.) The Travel-to-Training Travel Request Profile is located on your My AmeriCorps homepage, and the process for approval is automated.

PREFERRED MODES OF TRAVEL

VISTA candidates and members may be approved to travel by air, rail, bus or automobile. They indicate their preferred mode of travel on the Trainee Registration Profile. If traveling on a commercial carrier, the VISTA candidate or member also indicates his/her preferred point of departure, specifying an airport, train station, or bus depot.

Based on the schedules and fares of commercial carriers, the VISTA Training Unit and the VISTA Member Support Unit, referred to as the VISTA program, determines whether a person's preferred mode of travel and preferred point of departure are most appropriate. Travel from small, regional airports is often cost prohibitive; therefore, the VISTA program urges VISTA candidates and members to consider alternative, cost-effective modes of travel and larger, hub airports when indicating their travel preferences.

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RELOCATION TRAVEL

VISTA candidates who are relocating more than 50 miles from their home of record to serve may be entitled to a Relocation Travel Allowance.

RELOCATION TRAVEL ALLOWANCE

VISTA candidates approved to relocate to serve are eligible for a Relocation Travel Allowance, which is intended to off-set the cost of relocating to serve and the shipment of personal effects between the home of record and the service site. The rate, established by the federal government and the VISTA program, is based on the mileage between the home of record and the site, not to exceed $1,000.

REQUESTING APPROVAL FOR RELOCATION TRAVEL

VISTA candidates who are relocating more than 50 miles from their home of record indicate the points of travel and the mode of travel on the Relocation Travel Request Profile. The VISTA Member Support Unit approves all relocation travel requests. The Relocation Travel Request Profile is located on your My AmeriCorps homepage, and the process for approval is automated.

If relocation is approved by the VISTA Member Support Unit, the candidate is then eligible for relocation a travel allowance.

The VISTA Member Support Unit must approve all relocation travel requests. VISTA candidates must not make relocation travel arrangements without receiving written approval from the VISTA Member Support Unit. Candidates who relocate without approval will receive reimbursement, if at all, only up to the amount the VISTA policy permits.

MODES OF TRAVEL FOR RELOCATION

VISTA Candidates arrange their own relocation travel. The VISTA Member Support Unit informs the candidate of the reimbursement she or he is entitled to and the candidate makes an informed decision regarding the mode of travel she or he will use to travel from home of record to service site.

RELOCATION TRAVEL ROUTING

Candidates indicate their preference to relocate prior, through or after PSO on the Relocation Travel Request Profile. The VMSU, in direct communication with the candidate, approves the final routing.

TRAVEL TO PRE-SERVICE ORIENTATION

The VISTA program arranges travel to Pre-Service Orientation for VISTAs approved to relocate to serve. Candidates may depart from either their home of record or site. Your approved departure point is determined by the VMSU. See the "Travel to Training" section above for more information.

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REQUESTING REIMBURSEMENT FOR ALL TRAVEL

To claim reimbursement for any and all travel-related expenses, VISTA candidates and members must complete and submit a Travel Reimbursement Voucher form, available at the Pre Service Orientation (PSO) registration desk (or alternatively posted to your member homepage in My AmeriCorps by the VISTA Member Support Unit).

Requests for reimbursement will not be honored without approval to travel prior to departure.

Payment is made through electronic deposit to your bank account identified in My AmeriCorps. Reimbursement may take up to eight weeks due to administrative processing.

TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT AT END OF SERVICE

VISTA candidates approved to relocate to serve are eligible to receive a Relocation Travel Allowance at the close of service. The allowance is intended to off-set the cost of returning home and shipment of personal effects between the service site and approved home of record. The rate, established by the federal government and the VISTA program, is based on the mileage between the site and the approved home of record, not to exceed $1,000.00.

The approved home of record is the location approved at the start of service and may not be redefined without written authorization of the Director of the VISTA Member Support Unit. Home of record may not be altered after the tenth (10th) month of service.

You must submit a Travel Reimbursement Voucher form to collect the Relocation Travel Allowance. Your reimbursement voucher will be sent electronically to you no later than 15 days prior to the end of your service term via your member homepage in My AmeriCorps. Payment is made through electronic deposit to the member's bank account. Payment may take up to eight weeks due to administrative processing. (Refer to Chapter 11 for more information about end-of-service travel payment.)

Additional Year of Service

If you serve an additional year and have a break in service, you will not be reimbursed for travel to your home of record until the end of your final year of service. The VISTA program cannot reimburse travel home between service years. Please see the sections "Breaks in Service" and "Additional AmeriCorps VISTA Service" in Chapter 11 for more details.

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SERVICE-RELATED TRANSPORTATION

For an AmeriCorps VISTA member to perform his or her project assignment effectively, transportation may be essential. The sponsoring organization is responsible for determining the service-related transportation needs of members. These needs are based on activities identified in your VISTA Assignment Description (VAD) and do not include the daily commute or other non-service trips. As a general rule, you are expected to use public transportation in connection with your work when it is available and adequate.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION FOR SERVICE-RELATED TRAVEL

Sponsoring organizations may pay for service-related public transportation expenses. To be eligible to receive such payment, you and your project supervisor must submit a completed Form V-81 to the Corporation State Office for authorization.

VEHICLES OWNED OR LEASED BY SPONSORING ORGANIZATIONS FOR SERVICE-RELATED TRAVEL

When public transportation is not available or adequate, the sponsoring organization is responsible for providing or supporting vehicles used by members in the performance of their assignments. Vehicles owned by or leased to a sponsoring organization may be authorized for service-related transportation if necessary to carry out your project assignment. You are responsible for complying with the sponsoring organization's rules, in addition to complying with all applicable VISTA requirements, when you operate a sponsor's vehicle.

While performing your assigned duties, you may not transport passengers other than those determined by the supervisory authority to be directly related to and within the scope of your official responsibilities. There will be a presumption that you are not in the performance of official responsibilities when transporting unauthorized persons.

In the event it is determined that you were performing official activities while transporting unauthorized passengers, the passengers will not be covered by the government for personal injury, and you may be personally liable for injury to the passengers and subject to appropriate administrative action.

PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLES FOR SERVICE-RELATED TRAVEL

If a privately owned vehicle is necessary to carry out your assigned duties, authorization to use your privately owned vehicle for service-related purposes must be obtained from the Corporation State Office by completing the Use of Vehicles or Public Transportation form, referred to as a V-81. The member completes the form and forwards it to the sponsoring organization, which approves and forwards the form to the Corporation State Office for final approval. The V-81 is available on your member home page in My AmeriCorps under My In-Service Benefits. The process for approval is automated.

The sponsoring organization will reimburse members for approved, service-related mileage at the rate established by the sponsoring organization's reimbursement policy.

If the VISTA program is reimbursing the member directly for service-related mileage expenses, the member must submit a completed Statement of Mileage form (see Appendix B) at the end of each month to the Corporation State Office. Reimbursement is subject to collection for debt owed to the federal government, if applicable to the member.

If the sponsoring organization is reimbursing the member for service-related transportation expenses through a grant from the AmeriCorps VISTA, the member should submit a Statement of Mileage form to the sponsoring organization. The sponsoring organization will reimburse the member within one month.

If the Corporation State Office does not authorize a member to drive a vehicle at the project for assignment-related purposes, AmeriCorps VISTA funds cannot be used for the vehicle's operating expenses.

VEHICLES OWNED BY ANOTHER PERSON

Ordinarily, you will not be authorized to use a vehicle owned by another person (including that of a relative or another member) while conducting official project-related travel. If unusual circumstances require the use of a vehicle owned by another person, you must obtain prior approval from the Corporation State Director.

REQUESTING AUTHORIZATION TO USE A VEHICLE FOR SERVICE-RELATED TRAVEL

The sponsoring organization or supervisor must approve the V-81 form (AmeriCorps VISTA Use of Vehicles and Public Transportation), whenever you operate any or all of the following for service-related transportation:

  • Vehicle owned or leased by the sponsoring organization
  • Vehicle owned or leased by a member
  • Public transportation
  • Vehicle owned or leased by another person and approved for member use by the Corporation State Director

The V-81 form is available on your member home page in My AmeriCorps under My In-Service Benefits. Once you have completed the form, your supervisor and the Corporation State Office must approve it.

V-81 FORM IN REGARD TO RELOCATION AND/OR TRAVEL TO PSO

The V-81 form is solely required to reflect the use of a vehicle for service-related transportation. It is not required for travel from home of record to PSO or relocation to the service location. The V-81 form must not be submitted if the VISTA candidate/member is not required to use a privately owned vehicle to perform the duties of service.

LICENSING AND INSURANCE

Sponsoring organizations and VISTA members are responsible for complying with all laws concerning vehicle registration, operator licensing, and insurance on any vehicles used officially or unofficially by members in the state and locality where they serve and reside. You are covered by the Federal Tort Claims Act (see Chapter 14) for third-party liability (e.g., damage or injury to others only while in the performance of official duties) and by the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (see Chapter 14) for personal injury. The Corporation is not responsible, however, for any damage to your own vehicle; thus, it is essential that you maintain adequate insurance on your own vehicle.

ACCIDENTS WHILE DRIVING A PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE

If an accident occurs while you are driving a privately owned vehicle within the scope of your AmeriCorps VISTA duties, and other people sustain injuries or property damages because of the accident in which you were the driver, the exclusive remedy for those persons is under the Federal Tort Claims Act. If you are injured, you may be eligible to receive benefits to cover medical expenses under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act, also known as the Federal Worker's Compensation Act (see Chapter 8 for claims procedures). The Corporation is not responsible, however, for any damage to your own vehicle. (See Chapter 14 for more information about the Federal Tort Claims Act and the Federal Employees' Compensation Act.)

If an accident occurs, you must immediately summon the local police, comply with local requirements, and within two days of the accident, make sure the following actions are taken:

  • You must complete Sections I-IX of Form SF-91, Operator's Report of Motor Vehicle Accident, (see Appendix B). Your supervisor must complete Section X, Blocks 71-82c. Sections XI-XIII are completed only if bodily injury and/or fatality occur, and/or damages exceed $500.
  • Where appropriate, you must obtain the names and addresses of witnesses and, if possible, obtain a completed Form SF-94, Statement of Witness, from each witness (see Appendix B). When there are no witnesses and, therefore, an SF-94 cannot be prepared, a statement to this effect must be included in the operator's report (SF-91) and certified by the supervisor.
  • Make sure your supervisor prepares notes for the files in case you file a claim under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (see Chapter 8) after you complete service.

In all instances where state laws require an official police report based on the extent of damages, a copy of such report must be included along with the other forms mentioned previously. In all cases involving damage to property (regardless of how minor), an official police report, if available, must be included and attached to the Form SF-91. In any accident in which personal injury has occurred, you must notify the Office of General Counsel or vista@americorps.gov within 24 hours.

An original and one copy of all reports noted above, as well as the police report, if appropriate, must be submitted to the Corporation State Office, which will forward the original report(s) to the Corporation's Office of General Counsel. The member, sponsoring organization, and Corporation State Office should retain copies of all submitted forms for their records.

All members and sponsoring organizations are prohibited from making any representations concerning the ultimate liability of the federal government on a particular claim to other parties. The Corporation's Office of General Counsel and, where applicable, the Department of Justice, will make the final determination on whether an accident occurred within the scope of your project-related activities and the extent of the government's liability. (Travel to and from your home of record to the project site is not covered under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act.)

Members and sponsoring organizations are expected to cooperate fully with the Corporation's Office of General Counsel in obtaining necessary evidence and materials, and with the Department of Justice or U.S. Attorney in the event legal action is taken in connection with the accident. If requested, sponsoring organizations, supervisors, and members are authorized to provide third parties with copies of Form SF-95, Claim for Damage, Injury, or Death, and to advise that the claim must be submitted to the Corporation's Office of General Counsel or to the Corporation State Office that has authority over the member (see Appendix B).

If a civil action is brought in a local court against either you or the sponsoring organization as a result of an accident, or if you are asked or ordered to testify or be deposed, you must immediately notify the Corporation State Office, which will notify the Office of General Counsel. Copies of all legal documents must be transmitted to:

Corporation for National and Community Service
Office of General Counsel, 10th Floor
250 E St., SW
Washington, DC 20525

The Corporation is not responsible for any indemnification or contribution to the sponsoring organization for any damages sustained by the sponsoring organization.

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RELOCATION TRAVEL FORMS AT A GLANCE*

 

Form
Use
Required Approvals
Notes

Travel-to-Training Travel Request Profile – Available in My AmeriCorps Portal

Required for all VISTA candidates who attend PSO. Documents points and modes of travel for PSO and other special needs.

VISTA Member Support Unit and VISTA Training Unit – approval process is automated

Changes to this form must be the result of an emergency (critical illness or death of an immediate family member).

Relocation Travel Request Profile – Available from Sponsor and on the VISTA Campus

Required for VISTA candidates who relocate more than 50 miles from their home of record to serve. Documents preferred dates, route, and mode(s) of travel.

VISTA Member Support Unit – you must receive written approval prior to relocating

Changes to this form must be the result of an emergency (critical illness or death of an immediate family member).

The Relocation Travel Request Profile is used to document end-of-service travel benefits; tif your home of record changes during the service year, you must contact the VISTA Member Support Unit.

Use of Vehicles or Public Transportation Form (V-81) – Available in My AmeriCorps Portal

Required for VISTA candidates when a privately owned vehicle or public transportation is required for service (such as travel to community partner agencies).This need is based on activities identified in your VISTA Assignment Description (VAD) and does not include the daily commute or other nonservice trips. Check with your sponsor to determine if you need this form.

Sponsor and Corporation State Office – approval process is automated

Form V-81 is not used for:

 

  • Commuting purposes
  • Personal travel
  • Travel to PSO
  • Relocation travel when the vehicle is not required for service.

Statement of Mileage Form – Available in Appendix B

May be used by VISTA members to request reimbursement for service-related transportation expenses from their sponsoring organization.

Signature of Sponsor

Sponsors may have their own internal form; check with your sponsor about deadlines and procedures for submission.


* Check with your sponsoring organization for deadlines.

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