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Today Car rentals are all run by Corporations and private enterprises (they used to be owned by Auto manufactures). This $16 billion industry offers its services to the Government through formal agreements. The Car Rental Program for the government is now a day’s run by the Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO). The government business is valued at $300 million with over 2.25 million cars at 5000 locations. The car rental agreement between the (DTMO) and the car rental companies offers a very competitive service to the government using various car sizes and benefits like: free CDW, Unlimited Mileage, Reduced driver age to 18 for official travel (with no underage driver fee), online bookings on DTS,ETS, Quality control and Car Upgrade from some vendors.
Car rental companies must maintain insurance coverage which protects the government personnel and those personnel are advised to contact the car rentals immediately in case of damage or loss. Should there be a dispute DTMO will review the case and provide an official ruling. Most of the car rentals for the government personnel should be paid the government credit cards or CBA.
The government requires from these companies to provide usage reports to DTMO to include information like: Rental locations, Number of cars rented, size/class of cars rented, miles per rental, days per rental & total charges.
ELECTRONIC TRAVEL SYSTEMS:
The Dept. of Defense decided in 1998 to utilize the new development in technology and develop a new Defense Travel System (DTS) which was contracted to BDM (later acquired by Northrop Grumman). The idea is to provide end-to-end travel system that includes: authorization, travel reservations, ticketing, hotel and car booking, per diem calculations & voucher processing in compliance with rules and regulation of the Govt. all done electronically. The DTS is designed to accommodate 3.5 million travelers.
On the other hand, in 2002, GSA initiated electronic travel system for civilian use for the same purpose to create and end-to-end travel services. This project evolved into what we call now E-GOVT Travel Services or ETS. Federal Travelers are required by law to use TMS; otherwise they will be responsible for any cost associated with not using the system.
Chapter 301 from the FTR describes the minimum capabilities of the system which basically include the availability of Travel Management Center (TMC) or Commercial Ticket Office (CTO) to perform: Bookings, lodging and car rentals. In addition to basic management reporting system providing for example number of bookings by type of service (carrier, lodging & car rental) and compliance with policy and reasons for non compliance , statistics on origin/destinations, number of lodging nights and where & locations of car rentals used. The last thing is possibility of reconciliation of charges on CBA and refund tracking and processing.
GSA awarded 3 companies to develop the travel systems:
- Carlson wagonlit Government Travel E-2 Solutions.
- EDS’s FedTraveler
- Northrop Grumman Mission System’s GovTrip.
With the contracting aspect complete federal agencies were free to select one of the above ETS systems through an order against the contract by December 2004.While the DTS was re-awarded to Northrop Grumman in the summer of 2007. The later was a management fee contract rather than the transaction fees contract of the ETS.
It is worth mentioning that both systems are capable of providing the same facilities. They have extensive capability to handle: complex travel arrangements, policy compliance and exceptions, variations to per diem, direct communications to CTO/TMC, pre-trip audits and any other amendment or adjustment.
The DTS was approved for worldwide use in 2003. Currently the DTMO is tasked with implementing DTS at over 12000 sites around the world. There are almost a million plus users registered to use the system. Hundreds of trainers are being prepared for the task to train people across the military services.
The DTS pricing/payment structure is based on a management service fee to Northrop Grumman for the development and maintenance of the system at the direction of the DTS PMO. The DTMO has functional oversight of the system. The CTO DTS imposes a fee for ticketing and an assist fee for full travel services. These transaction fees are part of the travel cost along with others like ticket fare, taxes etc.
It is worth mentioning that ETS vendors store information n on every transaction made through the system. Since statistics are a way to enhance services/ contracts and help in quality control. ETS can report on City pair program usage, airline commissions’ revenue, unused tickets, premium class travel, hotel and car rentals and many other kinds of reports.
These systems can develop many reports in various forms for the use of the government.
By Metri Altwal