Sheppard strives for 0 percent GTC default rate

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Financial responsibility is one important part of an Air Force member's duty and is a task that Sheppard and Air Education and Training Command are taking very seriously as they work to decrease the number of government travel cards that have overdue payments by cardholders. 

The Department of Defense set a standard of 2 percent as the limit of delinquent GTC accounts an organization should have. AETC currently holds a 1.02 percent delinquency rate across the command, a number almost half of what is required but isn't zero: the number most bases are trying to meet. 

Gen. William R. Looney III, commander of AETC, wants the delinquency rate lower.
"The default standard has become zero percent," said Lt. Col. Robert Gurner, 82nd Comptroller Squadron commander. "General Looney expects (AETC) bases to have no delinquent GTC accounts." 

This higher standard comes from one AETC base's ability to maintain no delinquencies for 16 months straight, a feat no other base has yet accomplished. Additionally, other AETC bases have achieved zero delinquencies for short periods of time. 

"Sheppard is not far from a zero percent rating but has some work to do in order to accomplish that goal," Colonel Gurner said. 

Sheppard has the second-most government travel cards in AETC. More than 3,800 people have GTC accounts, and maintaining that many cards is a tough job. There are a few important ways cardholders can make sure their accounts are in good standing though: 

- Split disperse payments from a TDY directly to the GTC. It is mandatory and will make sure payments to the card are processed in a timely manner.
- Look at the bill when it arrives in the mail. Make sure the amounts charged are correct and that payments have been posted to the account. If payments that you know are supposed to be there are not, find out why. 
- Stay in touch with the agency program manager. Every unit has a person designated and trained as a representative that can help with all GTC questions, including finding out how much is owed and the status of payments. 

According to Colonel Gurner, it is very important to take care of GTC cards for several reasons. First, Air Force members are expected to practice financial responsibility, and failure to pay debts affects the Air Force image. Second, this debt personally affects the cardholder. It is a private debt that can affect their credit rating when delinquent. Finally, failure to pay can result in Uniform Code of Military Justice action per the Department of Defense financial management regulations. 

The key for unit commanders is to stay on top of their member's card usage and use their APC representatives to monitor the program. This helps the unit and the member, said Colonel Gurner. 

"We want Sheppard to have a zero percent delinquency rate and be at the top of the command," said Colonel Gurner. "We want to lead the command in this, just like Sheppard tries to do in everything else. We want to be the best."