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elbows
11-19-2013, 02:27 PM
Hi. What is the precedent like for full or partial assistance with Capital Bikeshare by federal agencies?

Many of my trips would be work-related, but I have not sprung for a membership yet. I want my agency to help pay for it, both out of principal, but also because it might encourage use by my coworkers. It would be easier for me to make the argument if I had examples of other agencies. My agency currently pays for parking of vehicles, both at our headquarters and while attending business functions. Given that one of my coworkers wracked up the price of an annual Cabi membership in parking fees for a weeklong conference in Crystal City, I feel like I can come up with a justification but other examples would really help.

Tim Kelley
11-19-2013, 02:30 PM
Hi. What is the precedent like for full or partial assistance with Capital Bikeshare by federal agencies?

Many of my trips would be work-related, but I have not sprung for a membership yet. I want my agency to help pay for it, both out of principal, but also because it might encourage use by my coworkers. It would be easier for me to make the argument if I had examples of other agencies. My agency currently pays for parking of vehicles, both at our headquarters and while attending business functions. Given that one of my coworkers wracked up the price of an annual Cabi membership in parking fees for a weeklong conference in Crystal City, I feel like I can come up with a justification but other examples would really help.

Where is your office located? I can ask someone from either Arlington (http://www.bikearlington.com/tasks/sites/bike/assets/File/Capital_Bikeshare_corporate2011-12-05.pdf)or DC to contact your HR department to bring it up.

rcannon100
11-19-2013, 02:47 PM
There are two questions here.

First, can individual CABI costs be reimbursed (just like a taxi fare or other travel expenses). Ed Fendley at EPA apparently was successful at getting EPA to do a trial run of reimbursing these expenses. I cannot tell you how it was structured, but Ed might be able to help.

Second, the agency acting as a CABI partner and giving CABI memberships to staff as a benefit. There are two important notes here. CABI wants the agency to set up an account, have staff come to CABI and set up memberships, and CABI will charge the agency for the agreed rate (at the silver rate for example, agency pays $25 and staff pays $25). I asked how the agency can know how much it will spend; the answer was "It cant." The agency can turn off the account eventually, but however many staff sign up is what the agency pays. I am not a procurement attorney but I suspect this is a violation of the antideficiency act (the agency cant spend money it does not have; therefore the agency must be able to limit how much is spent). The second alternative is that the agency buys a set number of memberships. So we bought 100 memberships. The agency hands out coupon codes. The staff redeems those coupon codes. Agency pays $25; staff pays $25; staff receives a $50 benefit. There is an issue here about whether the coupon codes actually get redeemed (there should be an audit to make sure the codes get used).

Finally, the IRS has issued a letter saying that an agency giving CABI memberships out is a taxable benefit. In the example above, staff received a $50 benefit. That is a taxable benefit.

Does this help?

elbows
11-19-2013, 03:30 PM
Headquarters is in SW DC.

elbows
11-19-2013, 03:33 PM
There are two questions here.

First, can individual CABI costs be reimbursed (just like a taxi fare or other travel expenses). Ed Fendley at EPA apparently was successful at getting EPA to do a trial run of reimbursing these expenses. I cannot tell you how it was structured, but Ed might be able to help.

Second, the agency acting as a CABI partner and giving CABI memberships to staff as a benefit. There are two important notes here. CABI wants the agency to set up an account, have staff come to CABI and set up memberships, and CABI will charge the agency for the agreed rate (at the silver rate for example, agency pays $25 and staff pays $25). I asked how the agency can know how much it will spend; the answer was "It cant." The agency can turn off the account eventually, but however many staff sign up is what the agency pays. I am not a procurement attorney but I suspect this is a violation of the antideficiency act (the agency cant spend money it does not have; therefore the agency must be able to limit how much is spent). The second alternative is that the agency buys a set number of memberships. So we bought 100 memberships. The agency hands out coupon codes. The staff redeems those coupon codes. Agency pays $25; staff pays $25; staff receives a $50 benefit. There is an issue here about whether the coupon codes actually get redeemed (there should be an audit to make sure the codes get used).

Finally, the IRS has issued a letter saying that an agency giving CABI memberships out is a taxable benefit. In the example above, staff received a $50 benefit. That is a taxable benefit.

Does this help?

Yes. It helps; thanks. Perhaps I'll contact Ed.

dbb
11-19-2013, 06:45 PM
At HUD, we began with a crowdsourced idea and got the Secretary and Deputy Secretary to agree to buy a bunch of CaBi memberships (we are a Gold level member) that we awarded via lottery (that process is going on now). Because of the obvious potential savings if it is used to avoid the costs of commuting or local travel, the decision was made to pay for it with the funding allocated for transit benefits.

I don't know how other agencies handle their transit benefit program but at HUD the fare is credited to your smart trip card at the beginning of the month (in a separate area) and then that which isn't spent is taken back at the end of the month. Since Jan 2012, I have taken the metro for commuting about 4 times so HUD avoided about $1200 in transit costs. The fact that one commute each month by CaBi would result in offsetting the cost of the membership made it a pretty easy sell. In addition, we expect that local travel costs (which is paid by the individual offices) will also be reduced although that will be a bit harder to tease out because of the decentralized accounting.

Your approach is likely a hybrid of Mr. Cannon's and mine. Shoot me a PM with an email and phone and we can chat.

Dana