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The “Alternate Means…” Statement: Where To Enter It And Things To Think About (For Distribution to AOs)


Since 2011, DoD travelers have been required to put the following statement on their authorizations: “Alternate means, such as Secure Video Teleconference (SVTC) or other web-based communication, are not sufficiently able to accomplish travel objectives.” In this riveting installment of the DTA Toolkit, we come bearing three key pieces of advice related to that statement:

1) Verify that your travelers are only taking mission-essential trips.

2) Make sure your travelers are including the “Alternate means” statement on their authorizations.

3) Consult your local business rules for guidance about where the traveler should enter that official statement on the authorization

Note: We’ll also share some suggestions on where your travelers can enter that information.

Here goes…

According to the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR), DoD personnel are only supposed to go TDY when it’s absolutely necessary to accomplish an official mission. Translation: You should never authorize travel for the traveler’s personal benefit (e.g., as a morale-booster, as an official excuse for leisure travel) or when the traveler could accomplish the mission using an alternate means (e.g., teleconferencing).

As a way of ensuring that you and the traveler verify that you’ve exhausted all options for accomplishing the mission from the local area, the JTR requires that the traveler attach a statement to their authorization (see full statement text above). But if your travelers have been attaching that statement for the last several years, their consideration of alternate means may be lacking, due to force of habit. As such, the next time an authorization comes to you for approval, pause for a minute and ask yourself: Does the person REALLY need to travel to accomplish the mission?

Too often, people justify the necessity of their TDYs by saying things like, “You can’t put a dollar amount on a face-to-face meeting and a handshake,” or “I’d like to put a face to the name,” or “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” (OK – we threw that last one in there for fun, but you get the point). While those reasons may be true, you should seriously weigh the viability of video-teleconferencing (VTC), a Defense Collaboration Services (DCS) session, conference calling, or another means of collaboration. After all, TDYs cost money and result in lost productivity (e.g., time waiting in an airport, time creating travel documents in DTS). Therefore, if you believe that the mission could be performed by alternate means, work with the traveler to cancel the proposed trip. Ideally, this conversation should occur before the traveler even creates their authorization.

When TDY travel is the only viable option to complete the mission, it’s your job to verify that the traveler included the “Alternate means” statement is on their authorization. If your traveler is unsure of where to enter the statement in DTS, have them follow your organization’s local guidance. In the absence of any local guidance, here are a few options to recommend to your travelers:

-  Use the Description field on the Itinerary screen.

-  Use the Comments to Approving Official field on the Preview Trip screen.

-  Add the OTHER (See remarks below) other authorization on the Other Authorizations screen, then enter the “Alternate means” statement in the Remarks field.

  • For what it’s worth, we recommend this approach. The reason? By adding it to the Other Authorizations screen, the statement will also display on the traveler’s printed orders (should they need a paper copy).

-          Use the Additional Remarks field on the Digital Signature screen.

If you ever receive an authorization does not contain the required “Alternate means” statement, make sure you return the authorization to the traveler for correction.

The good news is that the Authorizing Official Checklist includes a step for the “Alternate means” statement. In other words, if you use the checklist whenever you’re reviewing a travel document, you’ll always remember to look for the statement.

For more good ideas on things you should be examining in travel documents, check out the AO/RO – Vital Skills for Authorizing Officials web-based training module in the Travel Explorer (TraX). 

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