Comings and Goings
Traveler's Corner
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Issue No.  4 Bi-weekly Newsletter from ITA Administration February 20, 2002

ITA Speakers' Series

The Speakers' Series invites in-house speakers to discuss current issues and their impact on the rest of ITA. The Series is designed to meet monthly and informally for an hour. Mark your calendar and join us on the following dates:

Date and Time: Thursday, February 21, 2002 at 10:00
Location: Room 3407
Speaker: Jeffrey Gren, Director, Office of Microelectronics, Medical Equipment and Instrumentation
Topic: How foreign regulation of medical devices and medical reimbursement policies serve as non-tariff trade barriers and what can be done? Why foreign country medical device regulations and reimbursement rates can serve as trade barriers? How low reimbursement rates adversely impact the quality and increase the cost of medical care by not recognizing the value of technology? Mr. Gren will provide an overview of the two major global medical device regulatory systems, U.S. FDA and the EU Medical device directives. He will also outline restrictive regulatory and reimbursement policies in several countries and strategies by the U.S. medical device industry and DOC to deal with this problem. For further information, call Rosemary Pappas at (202)482-0482.

New Transit Benefit Program

Beginning April 1, 2002, the SmartBenefit Program will be offered to employees of the Department of Commerce (DOC) (headquarters only). The program allows Metrochek participants who use Metrorail only to receive their monthly Metrochek amount electronically rather than at the quarterly distribution held at DOC headquarters. The Department of Transportation (DOT) will download the monthly Metrochek amount to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) registered SmarTrip account. Participants will be able to receive their monthly Metrochek amount on their registered SmarTrip card at a Passes/Farecards machine at any Metro station. Employees who are currently using the SmarTrip card or would like to apply for the SmarTrip card, can pick up an application in Room 4001. Applications must be returned to Sharon Russell, ITA Transit Benefit Coordinator, by March 15, 2002 in order to start the SmartBenefits Program on April 1, 2002. Applications received between March 16 and June 15, 2002 will be processed for employees to start the SmartBenefits Program on July 11, 2002. If you have questions, please call Sharon Russell at (202)482-3267.

FY 2003 Budget

Secretary Evans is schedule to testify on the 2003 budget at House Appropriations (Commerce-Justice-State) Subcommittee hearing on February 27, 2002. The Senate Appropriations hearing for the Commerce Department is scheduled for March 13, 2002. For more information, contact Alan Zegas at (202)482-5739.

Trivia Question!!
When authorizing funds overseas, should the Performance Goal be included?
Answer to Last Issue's Question:
Where do you find the transit benefit accounting classification code for your program area?
Answer: The transit benefit codes for ITA can be found in the FY 2002 Coding Pattern, listed for each program area.

Current Connection Status with NBC

Last December the National Business Center (NBC) was forced by court order to suspend its Internet connection with all outside organizations. The majority of our offices use the Internet to connect to FlashPoint, Document Direct, and the Property System at NBC. As a result of the restrictions imposed by the court order, FCS headquarters and the domestic field offices have been unable to use these programs. The Office of Financial Management (OFM) has access to a leased line that connects directly to NBC without using the Internet. OFM in conjunction with the Office of Information Resources Management (OIRM) has succeeded in using this connection to re-link FCS headquarters and the domestic field offices with NBC. As of February 5, 2002, all FlashPoint, Document Direct, and Property System users are once again connected to the NBC data center. For more information contact Alfredo Hurtado at (202)482-5434.

Travel Manager

Travel Manager is a commercial off the shelf (COTS) e-business system that prepares travel documents, automatically routes the documents for review, electronic approval, and payment, and selects documents for random audits. Travel Manager documents will be automatically interfaced with ITA's Federal Financial System (FFS), eliminating the need to send hard copies of travel orders and vouchers to NBC to be manually entered into the system, reducing processing time and the time needed to reimburse the traveler. The system will operate over ITA's existing Intranet, allowing users easy access to the system. ITA has chosen Gelco's Travel Manager to automate the paperwork process involved in the preparation of travel orders and travel vouchers. The Travel Manager Project team is currently setting up a pilot test program for selected sites. A phase implementation of the program is planned later this year. The first implementation phased of Travel Manager will be for headquarters and domestic field offices and the second phase will be for international posts. For more information contact Alfredo Hurtado at (202)482-5434.

ITA Comings and Goings - 12/03/01 - 01/18/02

Arrivals - WELCOME!

ADMIN - William G. Rogers III, Richard D. Ryan, Tamara V. Spriggs, IA - Aishe Allen, Marsha A. Brooks, Martin J. Classens, Patrick M. Connolly, David W. Cordell, Brian J. Ellman, Jennifer C. Moats, Michael D. Rollin, Andrew R. Smith, Orestes Theocharides, Sam Zengotitabengoa, MAC -Chris D. Christov, Bryan Lopp, Michelle Wright, TD - Brooks D. Altshuler, Jeanette Harrison, Andrew C. Moskowitz, Sheela Pewar, Brian W. Woodward, US - Mario W. Cardullo, Carol G. Petty, USFCS - Patrick Hughes, Robert L. Jones, John S. Larkin II, William N. Scaggs


ADMIN - Beth Jameson, MAC - William J. Desrochers, Angela L. Lester, TD - Rossel V. Advincula, Brian F. Fennessy, USFCS - Valerie Felice Castro

Traveler's Corner

Question: Must a traveler use a contract carrier when traveling on official government travel?

Answer: Yes, a traveler must use a contract carrier when traveling on official government travel unless one or more of the following conditions exist(s) which must be noted in Block #14 of the travel order: (a) Space or a scheduled contract flight is not available in time to accomplish the Department's mission or the use of a contract carrier would require the traveler to incur unnecessary overnight lodging costs which would increase the total cost of the trip; b) The contractor's flight schedule is inconsistent with policies of the Department with regard to scheduling travel during normal working hours; or (c) A non-contract carrier offers a lower fare available to the general public, the use of which will result in a lower total trip cost to the Government, to include the combined costs of transportation, lodging, meals, and related expenses. If you have questions, call your travel contact or Sharon Russell at (202)482-3267.

Where Do I Find.... Federal Long Term Care Insurance (LTCI) Program

You can visit the Long Term Care Insurance page at
You can visit the LTC Partners page at
You can call LTC Partners, toll-free at 1-800-LTC-FEDS (1-800-582-3337)
You can sign up on the mailing list to receive health and financial bulletins and other information about the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program directly to your home address by vising the LTC Partners webpage or calling their toll-free number. The first direct mailings will go out sometime in February. The Federal LTCI Contract is awarded to LTC Partners - a John Hancock/MetLife joint venture. Both insurance companies are leaders in group and individual long term care insurance. LTC Partners will manage all core functions that support the program: Early Enrollment Program, Educational Campaign, Open Season and Ongoing Education and Enrollment. Human Resources Staff will not be LTCI experts, but refer all questions regarding LTC and LTCI to the LTC Partners' Website or Call Center. All changes, adjustments, and corrections regarding LTCI enrollments will be initiated by LTC Partners. If you have questions contact Vanessa Lewis at (202)482-8327 or Dottie Bowling at (202)482-3504.