By U.S. ArmyAugust 8, 2007
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS BY SOLDIERS
ABOUT NEW TEMPORARY CHANGE OF STATION (TCS) POLICY
(Note: TCS for Soldiers is synonymous with TDY)
Q1: Why has the Army decided to make this policy change'
A1: Army reviews of TCS costs identified concerns with TCS administrative and fiscal management, to include:
o Soldiers serving in TCS status for multiple years
o High cost of travel claims
o No predictability in managing positions
o Initial personnel requirements not validated beyond initial request
o Government lodging and meals underutilized resulting in unusually high costs in travel claims.
Q2: Who directed the changes'
A2: The Secretary of the Army (SecArmy) directed the Army Staff to develop a TCS Action Plan to fix the identified concerns so the 11,000 Soldiers currently on TCS orders and their Families have a process that makes sense, is predictable, and honors their willingness and commitment to sacrifice and serve in long-term positions. After thorough coordination and discussion, the SecArmy approved the Action Plan developed by the staff. These changes are intended to make TCS orders the exception rather than the rule for Soldiers deployed in validated long-term assignments. These changes will improve operational, fiscal, and the administrative management of TCS Soldiers. The policy changes do not apply to Soldiers in long-term TCS status in the combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area.
Q3: What is the change to the TCS/TDY Policy'
A3: Effective 15 August 2007 TCS /TDY orders will not be issued for greater than 180 days without a waiver from the ASA(M&RA). The objectives of the policy are to limit TCS status to periods of 180 days or less and to use PCS or long-term TDY assignments for contingency requirements lasting longer than 180 days. The policy changes do not apply to Soldiers who in long-term TCS status in the combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area.
Q4: What happens if you are on TCS orders on 15 August'
A4: Soldiers who, on 15 August 2007, are in long-term TCS/TDY assignments will remain in a TCS status until the current order expires or until 31 January 2008, whichever is earlier. At the end of this period, the Soldier may be offered a permanent change of station (PCS) assignment to the position if it is determined by the Army G3, USAR or NG to be a long-term requirement (i.e., more than 180 days).
Q5: When will the positions be identified as long term'
A5: Effective 15 August, all positions will begin a validation process to be completed NLT 30 September 2007.
Q6: When will Soldiers be notified about their position'
A6: Notifications will begin on 15 August and be completed NLT than 30 September
Q7: What if the Soldier accepts the Permanent Change of Station (PCS) offer at the end of his or her current orders, or effective 31 January 2008'
A7: If the Soldier accepts the PCS, then orders will be published to execute the PCS.
Q8: What if the Soldier declines the PCS offer'
A8: If the Soldier declines the PCS offer and his or her organization requests a waiver, he or she may remain in a TCS status until ASA(M&RA) makes a decision on the waiver request.
Q9: How can a waiver to the 180-day limitation be requested'
A9: Units that have Soldiers on long-term TCS/TDY assignments may submit waivers through the chain of command to ASA(M&RA). The waiver request has to be reviewed by at least a major general before being sent to HQDA.
Q10: What are the criteria for a waiver'
A10: Critical manpower needs, cost and individual or family hardship.
Q11: What if a Soldier accepts a PCS'
A11: Soldiers with dependents who accept PCS receive a housing allowance based on the permanent duty station (PDS) to which they have been ordered. These Soldiers may also request Secretarial Waivers from the G-1 to receive a housing allowance based on current place entered active duty (PLEAD)/previous PDS in lieu of a housing allowance based on their current PDS.
Q12: What happens if the Soldier is granted a waiver'
A12: Soldiers who are granted waivers for TCS beyond 180 days will be reimbursed at a reduced per diem rate of 55% of the maximum daily locality per diem rate for the duty location. Soldiers in this status using government lodging solutions will receive full reimbursement for Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE) unless government dining facilities are available.
Q13: What happens to Soldiers not offered or who decline PCS when their position is identified as long term'
A13: If a Soldier is not offered a PCS, he or she may remain in a TCS/TDY status until expiration of current order or until 31 January 2008, whichever is earlier.
If the Soldier declines PCS or does not receive a waiver to the 180 days TCS limit by the ASA (M&RA), the Soldier will be released from active duty (REFRAD) and the Army will fill the position with another Soldier, using the following solutions, in order:
o TDY in excess of 180 days with ASA(M&RA) waiver
o short-term TCS.
Q14: Do these changes affect all Reserve and National Guard Soldiers deployed'
A14: Policy includes Soldiers serving in CONUS UP Section, 12301 and 12302, Title 10 USC.
Q15: What are some of the key procedural changes'
A15: These procedural changes are being implemented at the same time as the 180-day policy, but are separate from that policy. These changes are being implemented to improve cost and management controls. The key changes are:
o Installation Management Command (IMCOM) will now process all orders and manage travel funds, and arrange lodging/meals.
o Soldiers in TCS status will be directed to use government lodging solutions (installation or contract) with IMCOM approval required to use economy per diem lodging.
o If government lodging solutions are not available, IMCOM will provide the Soldier a statement of non-availability.
o All travel claims will be filed using the Defense Travel System (DTS). Soldiers under current manual travel claims procedures will be appropriately transitioned to DTS.
Q16. Will these reforms adversely impact Soldiers' income and Family support'
A16: The Army is making every effort to ensure that no additional hardships are placed either on the Soldier or his/her Family as a result of these changes to the TCS program.
Q17. Will the Army continue to seek to place Soldiers on TCS status'
A17. Absolutely. The Army is committed to changing the way it does business in managing TCS Soldiers so it can better employ Soldiers and implement a revised policy that is appropriate for the long war and persistent combat operations.
Q18: Can Soldiers receive reimbursement for expenses if implementation of these policies causes Soldiers to incur financial penalties'
A18: Soldiers may request reimbursement in accordance with the Joint Federal Travel Regulation.
Q19: Where can Soldiers get more information'
A19: TCS Soldiers need to contact their sponsoring Command or local DFAS office, or check the appropriate USAR/NG Website for answers to specific questions relative to individual circumstances and impact of this new policy.