Tulsa Mayor Bartlett signs new travel policy
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
1/02/13 at 7:52 AM
As of Tuesday, city of Tulsa employees are now required to complete two new forms as part of any business or professional development trip.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett on Monday signed an executive order repealing the city's existing employee travel policy and creating a new one that includes the travel forms.
City employees - including police officers and firefighters - will be required to complete a travel justification form before taking a work-related trip and a post-travel report within two weeks after the training is completed.
City Manager Jim Twombly said the forms are intended to give supervisors and city councilors a better sense of how public dollars are being used on travel.
"I think the idea is that when we look at this on an annual basis during the budget process that information will be readily available," Twombly said.
City Councilor G.T. Bynum has been pushing for just that type of information for years.
He said Friday that he was glad to see the mayor sign an executive order implementing the new travel policy rather than seek a City Council vote on the matter.
"If employees are using money to get a license or gain some education, that is money well-spent," Bynum said.
"But if they are using it to go to a conference in Palm Beach, Fla., that they could have taken an online seminar (to get the same information), this is the kind of thing we would like to know, and this is going to allow us to figure that out," he added.
City employees must submit the travel justification form to a supervisor along with their travel authorization and request for funding forms before making a work-related trip.
Twombly said that in the past, city employees were asked to give only a very basic explanation for a trip, such as "certification" or "continuing education."
The new travel justification form asks employees to describe the purpose of the trip; the benefit the employee expects to gain from the trip; how the city would benefit from the employee's trip; and whether alternative training or education options are available closer to home or that would not require travel.
"It is not onerous in any respect," Twombly said. "They (supervisors) are already making these decisions based on that type of information.
"We will simply be recording that and it will be easily accessible, and that will be important."
The post-travel form asks employees to list any certificates, licenses or continuing education credits that were earned on the trip as well as the workshops or training attended.
Employees also are asked whether the trip met or exceeded the benefits outlined by the employees in their travel justification forms.
Employees also are asked to explain how their new training will be used on the job and what actions the employees plan to take to follow up on what was learned on the trip.
Under the city's new travel policy, employees who receive training that would benefit other city workers may be asked to share what they learned with their fellow employees.
The post-travel report must be submitted within two weeks after the completion of training.
Twombly said expense reimbursement will not be tied to submission of the post-travel reports but that failure to complete the form would be a violation of the city's travel policy.
Bynum said he was glad to see the Mayor's Office and the City Council working together again.
"It is another way this mayor and the council have worked together to make sure the citizens' money is spent the right way," he said.
Defining a trip under the new policy
The city of Tulsa's new employee travel policy defines a business-related trip as follows:
A trip is defined as any business-related travel: A) beyond an 80-mile radius from the employee's regular work location; and B) involving a total of at least 12 hours; and C) exceeding the employee's regular workday; and D) requiring an overnight stay.
Reasonable time for travel to and from a scheduled event shall be included in determining the 12-hour requirement noted above. Time spent by an employee as part of his or her regular work activities, such as travel from worksite to worksite during the weekday, does not qualify as a trip.
Original Print Headline: Mayor pens new travel policy
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
City Manager Jim Twombly: He says officials will have a better sense of how public dollars are being used for travel