Electronic Travel Systems

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E-Travel System and FTR Compliance

»Posted by on Feb 5, 2015 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

As the system administrator for my Bureau’s E-Travel system, I have had my struggles in establishing all the routing lists, lines of accounting, groups, etc. that are needed to get a system off the ground.  These are never ending duties in my organization; as employees are constantly moving around, lines of accounting change or new people need added to the groups. I also have Regional Administrators in each of my Regional offices who assist me with these duties now that that we have implemented fully.  It is easier for them to take care of their own regional people. We have worked hard as a team in training our travelers, travel planners, reviewers, and approving officials on the E-Travel system.  We have utilized hands-on, classroom, online, and WebEx...

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E-Travel Price Resistance

»Posted by on Feb 4, 2015 in Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

When e-travel first came to our agency, some of the strongest resistance came from this new database cost transparency; all the different fees were a significant point of stakeholder resistance and later an indicator of evolving cultural change.  Price sensitivity has been changing as people become more accustomed to e-travel. As E-travel came on line, some of the most vocal complaints that we heard from the program offices and individual travelers involved the sudden “appearance” of fees for booking online or going through an agent.  The fee schedule was confusing and could be complex.  Many claimed that they had never had to pay the fees before (they had, but often they were considered part of the ticket price), and there were a lot of complaints about...

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TIME FOR CHANGE

»Posted by on Feb 3, 2015 in Electronic Travel Systems, Government Traveler Comments, Industry Postings, Travel Professional Resources, White Papers | 0 comments

CHANGE is defined by Merriam Webster as “to make different or to replace with another”. Change is something that affects people in different ways. Some people love change. Others have issues with change. Like it or not, change happens. If we did not change, we would still be using pen and paper. When a child is born, the baby changes every day, beginning with their first smile. Then it’s on to their first word and then the first step! Businesses have to be willing to make changes in order to be successful. The same concept applies to government, especially to the travel world. I started my government career ten years ago. There have been quite a few changes in those ten years. Change was happening when I started. At that time, my agency was converting to a...

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Government Travel Program: An Active Duty Perspective

»Posted by on Feb 3, 2015 in Electronic Travel Systems, History and Overview, Payment Methods | 0 comments

The history of the Government Travel Program from the active duty perspective is long and varied.  Knowing the history of where Department of Defense travel has been makes it easier to understand the changes being made now and the path to the future. When one examines travel from the active duty perspective you can see there are two major periods that have impacted travel payment processing: the pre and post Government Travel Credit Card era, and the pre and post Defense Travel System (DTS). Before the advent of the government travel credit card most Temporary Duty (TDY) travel was limited to a small cadre of individuals.  Service members often could not afford the added expense of traveling without an advance payment.  Travel advances created a series of...

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CRS, GDS & the E Gov Travel System

»Posted by on Feb 1, 2015 in Airlines, Electronic Travel Systems, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

In the 1950s the airlines began using computers to keep track of reservations and the seats available on their flights. By the 1970s airlines such as United Airlines, American and TWA began to install computerized systems in travel agencies. These systems were the first airline computer reservation systems and allowed travel agencies to obtain information and make reservations for several airlines. A computer reservation system (CRS) is a computerized system designed to create and maintain a database concerning reservations and links distributors and suppliers to a centralized storehouse of information for the primary purpose of making reservations. In the beginning, CRS’ were used to make airline reservations only. By the late 1970s airlines were installing...

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Embedded vs Accommodated

»Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Prior to moving to an eTS in 2006 our agency placed task orders off of the GSA Travel Services Solution (TSS) Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) 599-2 for three separate TMC’s.  As a cross service provider we wanted to provide options to our customers.  Most of our customers selected a mid-sized TMC that provided the best price and also was well know for outstanding customer service.    We rarely had issues with the TMC and knew we could always count on them when our travelers where in a bind. Once we moved to an eTS we considered continuing with one of our current travel agencies as an accommodated TMC.  However, the one TMC, which partnered with our eTS and was embedded, offered a lower price for both traditional and on-line booking and came with a great...

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Federal Travel Regulations and ETS

»Posted by on Jan 23, 2015 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In 2002 General Services Administration (GSA) introduced electronic travel systems to create end-to-end travel services for government employees.  The E-Gov Travel Service or ETS was to enable Federal Travelers to create their authorizations, make reservations, and process vouchers within one system.  Among other requirements, the systems had to integrate Government wide travel policies known as the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR).  The FTR administers the laws governing travel allowances and entitlements for federal travelers. The integration of the Federal Travel Regulations into the ETS system was one of the most controversial, yet needed requirements.  Many travelers were either not familiar with the Federal Travel Regulations or chose not to abide by...

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Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

»Posted by on Jan 22, 2015 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

With the invention of each new tool comes an additional problem.  When the eTravel systems were developed, they were meant to make things easier on all involved in the government travel process.  In most ways, they are successful.  The one area that is key to making the system work is keeping travelers informed.  I’ve found through my experience that no matter how much you try, you can never give out too much information to the travelers.  If there are any problems with the system, it’s better to inform the traveler before they find it on their own.  If they’re trying to do something and come across the issue then they tend to get a little more worked up.  If they are aware of the problem before they run into it and already have a...

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Global Distribution Systems

»Posted by on Jan 20, 2015 in Airlines, Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems | 0 comments

The information in Section 2A on Global Distribution Systems (GDS) was very informative and interesting. It has been my experience that many Government travelers do not understand the GDS underlying our Online Booking Engines and E-Gov travel Systems. One improvement that would be extremely helpful to the Government would be if the General Services Administration could convince all airlines that want to participate in the City Pair Program, be required to be mandatory participants in the GDS. It is frustrating to our users when they follow all the Government’s mandatory requirements such as mandatory use of the city pair program, mandatory use of an E-Gov Travel system and are still charged a full service fee because the airline does not participate in the GDS....

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From One System to Another

»Posted by on Jan 19, 2015 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

When I began working in the travel department at my agency, we were using an electronic travel system to process travel requests.  It was a simple program to use but it did not have the capability of making reservations directly with the airlines or hotels. Our agency was able to write an interface that would data link the files from this electronic system directly to our accounting system. There was very little manual posting of invoices into our accounting system by using this electronic system. The downfall of this system was there were no good reporting capabilities. When the E-Travel initiative came about, representatives from my agency were chosen to help in the testing and selection of which electronic travel system our department would select. The system...

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ETS Customer Implementations

»Posted by on Jan 18, 2015 in Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

The keys to a successful eTS implementation are open communication, documentation, and both parties being consistent and reliable. Our overall goal in eTS customer implementations is to assist in providing a smooth, timely transition by: Clearly defining conversion goals Mitigating risk issues that could result in monetary or time loss Optimizing/revamping current business processes the customer performs Administering end user training on the eTS Our eTS customer implementation process usually consists of four steps. We begin implementations with a project kick off meeting with the agency. These are normally on-site visits at the agency. During this kick off meeting several things are accomplished such as: Introductions A demo of the eTS Provide the...

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Federal Government Travel

»Posted by on Jan 15, 2015 in Airlines, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

As with any industry in today’s business times, the history of that industry is important to understand the direction it may move in the future.   Federal government travel and understanding the evolution of government travel planning is essential not only for federal travelers but those who plan travel for each specific entity of the federal government.  As we move into the future, all of the aspects of federal travel and the unique needs of travelers and their specific branch of the federal government must be studied, applied and followed accordingly. Government travel is regulated by numerous laws and regulations.  Understanding the laws and rules that apply to government employee travel and each branch they are employed by is essential to doing business...

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The Auto part of Planes, Trains and Automobiles…

»Posted by on Jan 10, 2015 in Electronic Travel Systems, Industry Postings, Rental Cars | 0 comments

The material covered in sections 2d (rental cars) and 3a (Electronic Travel Systems) is fascinating in both how the government divides responsibility for administering travel and how modern technology has enabled the travel process to become more automated.  It is interesting that the responsibility for rental vehicles comes under the Department of Defense rather than either the General Services Administration or even the Department of State.  The reason for this may stem from DoD having the largest requirement of mobilizing individuals over land than either the GSA or DOS.  Of further interest are the similarities and differences between government employees and contractors.  Regarding car rentals, the Defense Travel Management Office’s Joint Travel...

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Complex Government Travel Policies

»Posted by on Jan 1, 2015 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

My first reaction to the readings in these sections is that there seems to be a lot of rules and regulations that a government traveler must be aware of and follow to accomplish a trip. But then, when one remembers that DoD accounts for roughly 60% of the total Federal travel market, it becomes clear that the rules are necessary for good accountability. The DoD is responsible for end-to-end systems integration and currently this is through the contract with Northrop Grumman. It was designed specifically for DoD. It incorporates Title 5 and Title 31 of the US Code and includes US Code Title 37 for military personnel. The Joint Travel Regulation Vol. II is the governing regulation for DoD civil service personnel. Even by studying a functional diagram of the defense...

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Defense Travel System (DTS)

»Posted by on Dec 29, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

The Defense Travel Management Office established in 2006, is a positive example of how government can streamline best practices and procedures into one government entity. The DTMO serves to establish direction, set policy and centrally manage the defense departments commercial travel programs. DTMO is responsible for the DTS online booking tool and monitors the usage, cost and customer satisfaction in order to determine the efficiency and effectiveness. Since the implementation of DTS (Defense Travel System) in 2006 the system now operates over 9,500 sites worldwide and has approximately 75,000 users accessing it on a daily basis. The positive customer service results and the efficiency of the tool have been hard to ignore. Per the Transportation Reform Act of...

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Secure Flight

»Posted by on Dec 25, 2014 in Airlines, Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Secure Flight is a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) traveler pre-screening program that matches limited traveler information against government watch lists to identify known and suspected terrorists, prevent known and suspected terrorists from boarding an aircraft, facilitate legitimate traveler air travel, and protect individuals’ privacy.  The laws that mandate Secure Flight are the 9/11 Commission Report, which recommended that TSA take over watch list matching from the airlines, and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) of 2004, which codified the 9/11 Commission Report and required DHS and TSA to assume from airlines the function of conducting pre-flight comparisons of airline...

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Electronic Travel Systems

»Posted by on Dec 24, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Within my agency we use the Defense Travel System (DTS) which is the ETS for Department of Defense. On March 28, 2008, the former Under Secretary for Reserve Affairs David Chu made it mandatory that DTS was to be use the Secretary of Defense mandated the use of DTS. This was as a result of the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 1997. My agency started using the system in 2007. It was a hard transition not only for me, but the travelers.  I was always use to processing travel the manual way. Therefore, my knowledge of this system was zero. We hired a contractor for six month to help sat up our organization. A few months thereafter, I attended Defense Travel Administrator Training. As I worked with the program, I became familiar with providing guidance with...

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ETS and Culture Change

»Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

When the ETS became mandatory at our agency, we found that there were several unpleasant surprises that had been lurking under the safety of our diffused paper processes.  A definite advantage of the ETS is that it made it much more difficult for various offices to operate their fiefdoms outside of the internal regulations and policies, and in some cases even appropriation law.  Where there was no political will to correct such violations, the ETS provided  an effective mechanism for bringing all parts of the organization into compliance. When we were in the initial pilot format, and the problems became more acute and obvious shortly after we required mandatory use of the system agency-side, we discovered several problems in our internal practices.  Many...

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It all comes full circle…

»Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Industry Postings, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

One of the most fascinating aspects of the ETS systems in place for government travelers is that they are not ARC accredited. The differences and similarities between the commercial GDS-like systems (such as Travelocity, Orbitz, Expedia) and those designed for the government traveler and ARC accreditation are based upon who is doing the buying and how the tickets are purchased. Cutting a fine point, it seems that no GDS-like system is, in itself, ARC accredited. The GDS is only a tool to reserve seating and ARC accreditation is based upon the entity handling the funds. The commercial GDS-like systems probably do not require ARC accreditation as their business models are an attempt to ‘cut out the middle man’ by allowing the consumer to directly purchase...

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Government Travel — Behind the Scenes

»Posted by on Dec 20, 2014 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

As the world turns, so has government travel.  In the beginning, completing travel documents meant using a typewriter and typing a paper form that had several carbon pages.  This form was mailed to various offices to be approved and ended up in the travel office to be processed.  In today’s world, government travel orders have evolved to a complete automation process.  The introduction of the electronic travel systems created an end-to-end travel service to connect travel authorizations, reservations and voucher processing. Today, the traveler uses an electronic travel system to complete the itinerary with dates and locations of the travel.  He also makes his reservations including any airline, train, rental car, and lodging.  He adds in any expenses...

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Developing Interface Requirements for an E-GOV Travel Application and Accounting System

»Posted by on Dec 19, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Industry Postings, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources, White Papers | 0 comments

Many aspects surround developing an interface between an EGOV travel application and a financial system.  Understanding the type of documents the EGOV travel application produces and how the financial system handles each document type is very important.  Determining the vendors required for each transaction type is also essential in this assessment.  Accounting requirements of the financial system will also have a significant impact on the design of an interface.  The type of travel specific information passed to the accounting system is important and has great impact on the reporting capabilities of the financial system. The basic document types an EGOV travel application can produce include an authorization, a temporary duty voucher, a local voucher, and...

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Pro’s and Con’s of the E-GOV Travel Service

»Posted by on Dec 18, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

The mandatory implementation of the E-GOV Travel Service (ETS) took place in my agency last year, so we are still somewhat adjusting to the changes of using the ETS.  I’d briefly like to explain some of the positive and negative aspects of using ETS. From what I’ve heard from other colleagues who have been in Government service for a while, it used to take a long time for travelers to be reimbursed after traveling.  Obtaining written approvals for travel was also a cumbersome process.  So an advantage to the ETS is the ability to reimburse travelers in a quick, efficient manner.  This also helps travelers to pay their travel card bills in a timely manner. Another advantage is the portability of the ETS.  Travel documents can be created and approved from...

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Technology for and against travel

»Posted by on Dec 16, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Industry Postings, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

The material in Chapter 5 summarizes the material provided in the previous sections and provides superb guidance on resources available to persons of all roles in the government travel management system. Although the ETS for the government is not as user-friendly as the commercial booking systems, there are many training classes available online and in-person so each person understands how the system works and what their roles entail. Further, the information contained in this, as well as previous chapters, clearly summarizes and delineates what the various regulations concerning travel cover. What may also be added to the material is perhaps information regarding government use of technology in communications. Along with the expansion of technology in travel...

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The E-Travel Service

»Posted by on Dec 13, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

The Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) mandated all government agencies utilize a Travel Management System (TMS) in 2001.  The introduction of electronic travel systems for civilian government agencies was initiated in 2002 by the General Services Administration (GSA) to create an end-to-end travel service to connect travel authorizations, reservations, and the voucher process.  It was initially called the e-Travel Project; and evolved into the present E-Gov Travel Service (ETS). Federal travelers are required to use a Travel Management Service (TMS) and their ETS. In 2003 the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) were published to state in Chapter 301-50:3 that travelers must use the ETS once it becomes available through their TMS.  However, for reasons beyond my...

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What is PNR????

»Posted by on Dec 12, 2014 in Airlines, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

What is a PNR and do I need one?  In the travel industry, PNR stands for Passenger Name Record.  PNR is a record in the Computer Reservation System (CRS) database that contains your itinerary and other information about you.  If you have traveled by air, then you needed one and was assigned one whether you knew it or not.  PNRs were developed by airlines so they could exchange reservation information since passengers frequently use more than one airline to reach their destination.  In the electronic travel system we use, the travel management center (TMC) creates a PNR in the Global Distribution System when an airline reservation is made.  The PNR contains various information such as the traveler’s name, contact and ticketing details, itinerary, fare...

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The Sabre Global Distribution System within our e-Travel System

»Posted by on Dec 3, 2014 in Airlines, Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems | 0 comments

Our E Travel System uses the Sabre Global Distribution System as an integral part of the overall travel system. The GDS is a legacy data based system that is used by all travel suppliers such as airlines, hotels and rental car vendors to automatically book travel. The GDS is separate from the commercial internet booking sites, although some booking sites will use GDS information to offer information to their users and to assist with bookings. Not all airlines and hotels use a Global Distribution System as the GDS charges travel vendors to display inventories. If a supplier uses a GDS, it is the airline carrier, hotel, or rental car company’s responsibility to keep the GDS updated with current information. In some instances some small airlines do not use the GDS...

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Centralized Travel Services

»Posted by on Dec 1, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

John Smith works at XYZ agency as an office manager.  Jill Doe works at XYZ agency as well as an auditor.   John and Jill end up sitting next to each other for lunch at a conference their agency sent them both TDY to.  As they get to know each other better the subject of their travel plans comes up.  John says he is staying at the conference hotel paying 150% of the per diem.  Jill states she was not allowed to go over per diem and is staying across town taking a taxi each day.  John says he had to take a contract carrier to the conference and when they compare costs he discovers Jill took a penalty fare that cost half as much.   John says when he gets back he will submit a paper voucher claim but Jill says she will use an automated system.  As they...

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Government Travel: From Old School to the New “Mobile & Connected” School

»Posted by on Nov 25, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In a very short time (years, not decades), government travel has gone from old school where travelers had to call their Travel Management Center (TMC) to book every reservation to working with first-generation on-line booking tools that may or may not have been a real time connection. These tools were not always user friendly but they lowered the agencies overall travel cost. From there we progressed to on-line booking engines designed to mimic the experience travelers had when booking personal trips on leisure web sites. These tools were developed to be in compliance with the Presidents E-Gov Initiatives to reengineer the federal government’s travel process to realize significant cost savings and improve employee productivity. E-Gov Travel Services (ETS)...

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The Evolution (Revolution) of Government Travel

»Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, History and Overview | 0 comments

Government travel for civilian agencies has changed greatly over the years, going from a manual system to an electronic one. This paper will show how government travel has evolved over time, the direct impact from my agency’s perspective, and possible future directions of federal travel. Manual Model Initially, civilian travel processing was a paper-based system where travel orders and travel vouchers were manually typed and hand-carried or mailed to approving officials for signature. Transportation was procured by means of a Government Transportation Request (GTR). The accompanying financial transactions were then manually posted to the accounting system. Transportation reservations were obtained through travel agents (now called a travel management center...

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ETS Selection

»Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Once the use of an E-Gov Travel System (ETS) was mandated, our agency started preparing for the selection process.  In order to prepare our selection criteria, we needed to solicit feedback from representatives across the entire agency.  After we received everyone’s feedback, we reviewed all of the information to determine the agency requirements as a whole. We separated the criteria into the following categories: Organization Setup Document Creation (Authorizations, Amendments, Vouchers, and Local Vouchers) System Support  and Technical Issues Miscellaneous Reports Vendor Deliverables Each of the categories was further broken down into the specific task that the vendor was to demonstrate during their two and a half day evaluation.  The packet of...

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International Date Line & Per Diem

»Posted by on Nov 11, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Government Traveler Comments, Industry Postings, Travel Professional Resources, White Papers | 0 comments

Have you ever flown from the United States to Japan? Or how about to Beijing, China? If so, then you have crossed the International Date Line. Now you may be wondering, “What is the International Date Line?” The International Date Line (IDL) is an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth that runs from the North Pole to the South Pole and determines one calendar day from the next. However, the time difference between either sides of the IDL is not always exactly 24 hours because of local time zone variations. While the world is divided into 24 time zones, there has to be a place where there is a difference in days, somewhere the day truly “starts” on the planet. Thus, the 180° line of longitude, exactly one-half way around the planet from...

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Did Captain Kirk use ETS?

»Posted by on Nov 7, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

I wonder if Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise realized when he said “Beam me up Scottie” that as a federal government traveler he needed to have a travel authorization in the E-Gov travel system (ETS).  As it is with anything, travel doesn’t just happen.  It takes a team of dedicated, trained professionals to make it happen. Travel Management Center (TMC) or Commercial Travel Office (CTO) are the names the General Services Administration (GSA) designated for accredited travel agencies under contract with the federal government to sell airline tickets and other travel services. Travel begins with a travel order – the traveler must create a travel authorization using the E-Gov travel system.  When creating the authorization using...

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ETS2

»Posted by on Oct 31, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

ETS2 is right around the corner, and an agency’s internal communication will be key to making ETS2 a success. As we approach the five-year anniversary of completing implementation of ETS1 at my agency, it is important to look back at a key reason ETS1 was a success here:  communication. ETS1 was a major change at my agency.  We had been doing electronic authorizations and vouchering for a few years in a home-grown system, but ETS1 added integrated online booking and system-controlled adherence to travel policies to the equation. It was mandatory to implement ETS1 so it was vital that our employees knew that it had to happen.  At my agency, executives were consistently given the message that ETS1 was going to happen and why, and they were provided with regular...

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ETS Contract

»Posted by on Oct 26, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Industry Postings | 0 comments

When GSA awarded travel government contracts to only #3 ETS vendors almost ten years ago, the travel community was shaken by the government’s move to take away opportunities of  small to medium size travel agencies to take a piece of the pie.  The GSA vision for a firm fixed price, multiple awards and Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) was the ultimate confirmation that government will streamline the broken process of government travel starting from financial initiation of travel authorization.  Having the understanding that federal agency and the DoD travel process functions totally different, Defense Travel System responds to the needs of DoD travel and accounting requirements unlike federal agency. Both federal agency and DoD have encountered...

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FedRooms

»Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels | 0 comments

FedRooms is a government-sponsored lodging program designed for the federal traveler.  FedRooms negotiates hotel rates for those areas where government travelers need to stay while performing official government business.  This program provides a substantial savings to the government because rates are at or below per diem, no hidden costs or penalties are associated to the rate, travelers are not charged for early check-out, and travelers can cancel a reservation until 4:00 pm on the day of arrival without incurring a penalty. For the convenience of travelers, FedRooms offers a website which offers helpful information.  There’s a convenient search page for travelers to easily find a FedRooms hotel.  This site also offers an overview of the FedRooms...

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Travel Manager Responsibilities

»Posted by on Oct 18, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

As stated in the training materials, the role of the travel manager is to facilitate travel in a manner to ensure compliance. In the corporate market, compliance is monitored via a series of reports designed by the travel manager to assess how changes in policy and process effect overall behavior (compliance). Although the federal government has plans to establish similar oversight, the capability from a data standpoint is not yet available. Once the data does become available, the government will not be left without challenges. The most significant remaining challenge is that the roles and responsibilities of travel manager must evolve accordingly. Currently the primary role of federal travel managers is to ensure travelers understand and comply with policy,...

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Travel Authorization

»Posted by on Oct 18, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

A travel authorization is a written order prepared for an individual to take an official trip to a temporary duty station away from the official duty station.  The authorization is created in GovTrip and requires a lot of information before the traveler is authorized to travel.    The authorization will include the official travel expenses such as lodging, meals, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses.  It will show TDY location, per diem for the location selected and a purpose for the trip.  The traveler will also show the departure and return dates and be able to select the accounting code that is associated with his or her office.  The accounting code consists of a fund, cost center, reporting category and project code if applicable. The trip can be...

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Using the TMC/ETS

»Posted by on Oct 14, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Most government employees who travel on official government business know that they are supposed to use the TMC and ETS, but many may not know why they should do so.  American Express, SATO and for the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), National Travel, are the TMC’s used when booking travel through GovTrip.  There are many popular travel sites available for booking trips:  Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz, just to name a few.  Also, many airlines offer the service of booking directly through their websites.  While doing so may take less time and in some cases, may be significantly less expensive, there are risks involved that many may not be aware of. Perhaps the most important advantage of booking travel through the TMC is that unused tickets are fully...

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Electronic Travel Can Keep You on the Straight and Narrow

»Posted by on Oct 5, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

For those of us who have the opportunity to use an Electronic Travel site, it allows you make your plans and know right away that you are in compliance of your specified travel rules. Usually for most of us, trying to pick our favorite airline to keep our miles consolidated can be your first choice. Depending on the trip most times you can find a way to be compliant and still get your first choice. As an example, when I start an itinerary, my system has me input my preferred travel times and dates. Fortunately now with many low cost carriers serving more destinations, the legacy carriers have made the fares much more favorable. When I look at the top of the screen, I see several carriers listed to fly the routes I need and can select either my favorite carrier or...

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EGov Travel (ETS)

»Posted by on Sep 24, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

We are a government Franchise Fund that performs reimbursable work for other agencies to save tax dollars. One function is E-Gov Travel. We offer E-Gov Travel to our customers and run a help desk to offer assistance to travelers using the software and in federal travel policy. We were fortunate to be providing this service prior to E-Gov Travel (then eTS) and were involved in the change to this system. We lead the initiative for my agency and participated in IV&V testing of all the vendors before making our selection.  We were the first agency to place a E Travel task order with GSA. Our group does TDY and PCS (relocation) travel. We also have an interface in our accounting system for obligations and payments as well as staff that administer the travel...

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The Old Days

»Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, History and Overview | 0 comments

When I started working in travel in 1996, our agency was using the paper method of filing authorizations and vouchers.  Travel planners picked up the phone to make common carrier reservations with a small, dedicated TMC and called hotels directly.  Back in those dinosaur days, we kept a binder with paper copies of the per diem rates for various locations and would have to use those to ensure that travelers claimed the correct rates on their vouchers.  That was before the 75% M & IE allowance for the first and last day of travel.  Travelers actually recorded their beginning and ending time per day on paper.  We calculated per diem based on the number of quarters a person was in travel status.  Let’s say an individual started the first day of travel at...

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EGov Travel System Selection

»Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In November 2003, GSA announced that three contracts had been awarded for eTravel. The three vendors were: Carlson Wagonlit Government Travel (CWGT), E2 Solutions, San Antonio, Texas Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS), FedTraveler, Fairfax, Virginia Northrop Grumman Mission System (NGMS), GovTrip, Fairfax, Virginia The Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) was amended in January 2004 to require the use of the government wide eTravel Service. This final rule amended the FTR requirements governing employee’s use of their agency’s Travel Management Services (TMS) and the eTravel Service (eTS) by no later than September 2006. Being employed with an agency that provides travel services to approximately 30 other government agencies, this requirement had a huge...

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Electronic Travel Service

»Posted by on Sep 21, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

The President’s Management Agenda (PMA), set forth in 2001, is intended to improve the efficiency and management of the federal government by improving policy and reducing fraud, waste, and abuse.  As explained in the PMA, “new programs are frequently created with little review or assessment of the already-existing programs to address the same perceived problem. Over time, numerous programs with overlapping missions and competing agendas grow up alongside one another-wasting money and baffling citizens.”  The General Services Administration (GSA) manages five of the initiatives including E-Gov Travel. E-Gov Travel was launched in August 2002 as a way to use technology to engineer cost savings and employee productivity.  Its use is mandated by...

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Electronic Travel Service 2 (ETS2): The Next Generation

»Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

The General Services Administration (GSA) along with other government agencies, contractors, vendors, and the Travel Management Center (TMC) providers are already preparing for Electronic Travel Service 2 (ETS2), the next generation of the EGov Travel Service.  The current ETS contract, administered by GSA, will be expiring on November 11, 2013. E-Gov Travel is a Government-wide initiative that is mandated by the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) for all federal travelers and is one of 24 E-Gov initiatives outlined in the President’s Management Agenda (PMA).   The E-Gov Travel vision is to deliver a unified, simplified service that delivers a cost-effective travel experience, supports excellent management and results in superior customer satisfaction. ...

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City Pair Program

»Posted by on Sep 18, 2014 in Airlines, Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Payment Methods | 0 comments

The GSA City Pair program has helped save millions of taxpayer dollars since it’s inception in the early 80’s.   This program allows government employees to travel on negotiated flat airfares in most markets with up to 70% discount on refundable airfares.  Government contractors, however, are not allowed to participate in the CPP with GSA, but can negotiate with airlines on their own. Working for an FFRDC proves to show significant differences between GSA CPP rates and corporate rates.  As airlines continue to struggle to make profit in today’s world due to fuel hikes, competition, union employees, airport fees, mergers, etc., corporate contracts have been revamped to tiered programs which provide small discounts on published airfares with heavy...

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ETS

»Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In November 2003 three ETS contracts were awarded in response to the President’s management agenda for E-Gov Travel: CW Government Travel’s E2 Solutions (a nongovernment website), EDS’s FedTraveler.com (a nongovernment website) and Northrop Grumman Mission System’s GovTrip (a nongovernment website). The advantages of the new E-Travel systems have been remarkable, with the consolidation of the payment process and the reservation modules, this has minimized the technology costs to the government and guaranteed better service and updates.  The productivity of employees travel documents have been improved, from travel planning to reimbursement and as well as with the cost estimating capabilities on budget planning.  Travel authorizations have...

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ETS and the TMC

»Posted by on Sep 11, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

To be a viable Travel Management Company contractor for the federal government a TMC must understand the impact ETS has on it government clients, as well as the relationship it needs with ETS vendors.  The projection in the early stages of the ETS development and its capabilities suggested this technology would replace the TMC and the need for contracts to secure their services.  Understanding the complex requirements of government travel and its special needs ultimately positioned the TMC for a long viable relationship due to the services it can provide.  Federal agencies have the option of selecting their own TMC through GSA Travel Services Solutions schedule or through their own contracting vehicles. This requires TMCs to be an imbedded partner or...

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E-gov Travel Simplifies Travel Voucher Processing

»Posted by on Sep 9, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Payment Methods | 0 comments

Implementation of E-Gov Travel simplifies the voucher processing.  When I began my career in administrative accounting 19 years ago, our agency used the paper-based system for processing travel reimbursements.  A traveler submitted a manually prepared travel voucher with original receipts to his/her approving official.  The voucher and receipts arrived at the administrative office for payment by internal mail or hand delivery.  Prior to issuing a reimbursement to the traveler, the administrative office reviewed the voucher and receipts.  Every detail of the trip was analyzed for compliance to the Federal Travel Regulations and any pertinent accounting regulations to assure the claim for reimbursement was proper and valid for payment.  Upon validation of the...

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FedRooms

»Posted by on Sep 7, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Hotels, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Finding hotels that meet government standards and the travelers’ needs has historically been a tedious process for travelers and document preparers alike. Numerous searches would be made to find and compare hotels that were in compliance with per diem rates and travel regulations. In 2004 the General Services Administration (GSA) partnered with Carlson Wagonlit’s Hotel Solutions Group to redesign the government’s lodging program. The program has undergone several significant changes–one of the most obvious is the transition from the legacy program’s name, Federal Premier Lodging Program (FPLP), to the new program name, FedRooms. Additionally, the number of participating properties in the FedRooms program has increased from just over 600 in 2004 to...

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TMC/Electronic Travel Systems

»Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In the beginning of my career in travel, I can remember serving as a travel agent; part of the Delta Airlines family, wearing my blue uniform vest and skirt, with every pin from every place all of my travelers are officially went to.  The days of TMC’s are fading however; you were very quickly spotted in a federal agency by the clothes you wore, and by standing behind the large counters, providing face to face customer service to all of the agency employees.  I am very much on board for moving forward to a more automated process, but you tend to lose the level of customer service when every step is replaced by a computer.  I would rather pick up a phone and talk to a travel agent, especially in booking my official travel.  Not all travelers are experienced...

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First and Business Class Flights

»Posted by on Sep 3, 2014 in Airlines, Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In September of 2007, GAO report GAO-07-1268 found that 67 percent of all first and business class flights by Government employees were not properly justified or authorized. This was somewhat surprising to me as I thought it well known to most employees that first class and business travel are not permitted except in very limited circumstances. The Code of Federal Regulations, at 41 C.F.R § 301-10.123 states as follows: § 301-10.123 When may I use first-class airline accommodations? You may use first-class airline accommodations only when your agency specifically authorizes/approves your use of such accommodations, for the reasons given under paragraphs (a) through (d) of this section. (a)  No coach or business-class accommodations are reasonably available....

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Communication During A System Migration

»Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

A high level of communication is needed for a smooth transition from a traditional Travel Management Center (TMC) environment to an Electronic Travel System (ETS) environment.  People can be very reluctant to change, especially when they’ve used certain processes to complete travel over several years.  There’s usually a bit of anxiety, especially on the part of the traveler.  ETS systems put more of the process in the traveler’s (or travel preparer’s) hands.  While it is a faster process with so many things automated, I’ve seen many travelers who were more comfortable with a manual process of writing up their travel authorization, getting written approval from their manager, and then having their TMC issue the tickets.  Using an ETS system can seem...

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Updating System Information

»Posted by on Sep 1, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

My agency provides administrative services (i.e. accounting, human resources, procurement and travel) to other government agencies. I work in the Systems and Accounting Section of the Travel Branch.  Our agency uses an E-Gov travel system in order to process authorizations and vouchers for travelers. We have some system administration rights in the E-Gov travel system, which allows us to enter/update the data. It is very important to keep the data in the system up-to-date.  The system will perform better, if only the most current data is in the system.  I believe some agencies do not give any attention to the information after it has been entered into the system. A year ago, the owners of the E-Gov system made a request to all the agencies to review the...

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Guidelines for the Evaluation Process of the Three E Gov Travel Systems

»Posted by on Aug 28, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Our agency used the following document as a guideline for the evaluation process of the three E Gov Travel systems: This document contains functionality and tasks, which were demonstrated during the vendor presentation.  The document was used to rate the E Gov Travel system.  Some items were rated while others were for information or clarification purposes.  The document contains various sections and tasks within the sections to be performed.  If the order of the tasks was not logical to the E Gov Travel system, the vendor was asked to supply a document referencing the item numbers in the order demonstrated to allow rating officials to follow along.   Prior to the Demonstration Set up e-mail accounts, which will be accessible during the demo to look at...

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Roles and Responsibilities in Travel Management

»Posted by on Aug 25, 2014 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Not long after graduating college, I became a travel specialist. At the time I saw it as just a stepping stone to my career that would eventually lead me to a job more closely related to my major.  I now realize that when I started I had no idea how large the travel field was, and all of the parts involved.  I thought it was simply learning how to use the ETS system and being able to read a few regulations, with no regards to the other pieces involved.  It takes a great deal of cooperation from a number of individuals, teams and offices to effectively manage a Government travel management program.  These different components work together in varying degrees.  Some may not work directly at all, yet they indirectly have an affect on the work of others.  These...

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Travel Transaction Fees

»Posted by on Aug 23, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Domestic or international, request assistance or book on-line are all factors of how much a traveler will be charged for their government travel reservations. Government travelers are still struggling with the different fees that appear on their travel documents. First there are the Travel Management (TMC) fees. The TMC fee is charged at the time the ticket is issued for airfare and when the hotel reservation is booked. The rate of the fee is based upon the service that is provided to the traveler. The TMC fee is significantly lower if the traveler books reservations on-line rather than calling an agent for traditional service. Also the fee for international reservations is higher when the traveler requests assistance due to the complexity of the travel. The...

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The Evolution of Government Travel

»Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in Airlines, Electronic Travel Systems, History and Overview, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Twenty years ago I was assigned to the office that was responsible for travel processing.  In 1989 very few employees had computers and most of the work continued to be done as it had been for decades – by paper.   At that time a traveler would work with their secretary to complete a multi-carbon copy travel authorization.  The per diem rates were looked up in a GSA published book and the secretary would complete the estimates after calling the airline and hotel to make reservations.  Once the paper authorization or voucher was completed it was sent to several people for signature and eventually ended up in the Finance Office. Once the Finance Office received the documents, a technician verified the per diem rates and quarter day calculations for first and...

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Travel Authorizations – Travel Agent Perspective

»Posted by on Aug 20, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

At the travel agency in which I am currently employed I work in the call center of our government department.  I am the government client services representative for all government accounts and I oversee much of the travel authorization procedures on a daily basis.  From my perspective it is simple to see the benefits of producing travel authorizations on-line for the government agency, the TMC and all employees and travelers involved. Although we service many different government agencies there are two specific ones that come to mind when comparing the benefits of authorizations being created on-line versus manually. Our two largest government accounts are very different in the way that travel authorizations are provided for ticketing.  Client A is completely...

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ETS Implementation

»Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Implementing an E-Gov Travel System was quite a challenge.  While there was detailed and sometimes complex work involved with configuring the E-Gov Travel System and interfacing it with our financial management system, the biggest challenge involved the change for our travelers, arrangers, and approvers. My agency went from a very effective, simple in-house electronic authorization and vouchering system (with very few online bookings, done in a separate system) to using one of the three E-Gov Travel Systems.  In some ways I think it might have been easier to go from paper authorizations and vouchers to an E-Gov Travel System, but the shock may have been too great for end users. The old electronic travel authorization and voucher system did its job very well,...

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Government Travel Management: A Summary

»Posted by on Aug 12, 2014 in Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, History and Overview, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Background: In the old days and before the 1978 Airlines Deregulation Act, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) used to decide the fares between any two cities. They decided which airline flew from/to cities and how much they should charge. Well, the 1978Airline Deregulation Act changed the dynamics and working ways of the airline industry. It allowed airlines to decide where to fly and how much they can charge. Competition was the name of the game. What was the government reaction to the deregulation act? In 1980, the government using the sheer volume of business it controls was able to negotiate and establish “government fares or CITY PAIR PROGRAM”. “Fly America Act” requires the use of US flag carriers or US Code Share flights. These fares were to become...

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Airlines- _CA Fares

»Posted by on Aug 5, 2014 in Airlines, Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Payment Methods | 0 comments

One of the most misunderstood and under advertised benefit to Government travelers is the _CA fare. This is the capacity-controlled coach class fare mentioned in Section 2B Airlines. During regular training classes on our E-Gov Travel System, I continue to be astonished at the misperception and fear of choosing these _CA fares. These fares are still fully refundable, fully changeable; but they are not last-seat availability. If travelers can make their arrangements far enough in advance, sometimes airlines will offer a certain number of seats at the lower _CA pricing. This can save an office $20.00, $40.00, even hundreds of dollars per leg off the full YCA fare. Travelers misunderstand the capacity limit to mean that they either will not get a seat on the aircraft...

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Electronic Travel System

»Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Within my agency we use the Defense Travel System (DTS) which is the ETS for Department of Defense. On March 28, 2008, the former Under Secretary for Reserve Affairs David Chu made it mandatory that DTS was to be use the Secretary of Defense mandated the use of DTS. This was as a result of the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 1997. My agency started using the system in 2007. It was a hard transition not only for me, but the travelers.  I was always use to processing travel the manual way. Therefore, my knowledge of this system was zero.  We hired a contractor for six month to help sat up our organization. A few months thereafter, I attended Defense Travel Administrator Training. As I worked with the program, I became familiar with providing guidance with...

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Transition to ETS2

»Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 1 comment

Transitioning to a new E-Gov Travel Service 2 (ETS2) system in the next few years will be challenging, and change management will likely be the key to success.  There will be complex, more technical work to be completed – migrating user data and settings from the old E-Gov Travel Service (ETS) system, configuring the ETS2 system for agency travel policies, interfacing ETS2 with our financial management system – but assisting travelers, travel arrangers, and approvers in changing from the old system to the new will be key. My agency went from a very effective, simple in-house electronic authorization and vouchering system to using one of the three ETS systems 5 years ago.  The old electronic travel authorization and voucher system did its job very well,...

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Electronic Travel Systems Boost Federal Travel Reporting

»Posted by on Jul 24, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 1 comment

The federal government has a responsibility to manage federal funds efficiently and responsibly.  To meet this obligation federal agencies need to capture their travel activity for reporting and evaluation.  To assist agencies with travel management reporting the E-Gov Travel System (ETS) has the capability of interfacing with a variety of business systems across the government.  ETS provides the federal travel manager with resources for obtaining travel information and financial data that include the travel management centers, travel service providers, and their internal federal financial systems. The federal travel manager’s initial reporting source is their agency’s internal financial system.  The travel manager can generate reports to monitor...

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Travel Budget Savings

»Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in Airlines, Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels, Rental Cars | 0 comments

The Bureau of the Public Debt performs reimbursable administrative services to other Government agencies.  Our office administers travel services that include GovTrip E-Travel services and travel policy.  In the current economic climate with all the focus on cost savings and reduced budgets, saving travel dollars is taking center stage. Agencies are faced with reduced funding for travel and using video conferencing wherever feasible. The Government is tracking the ‘carbon footprint’ of their trips and setting targets for reductions.  This stemmed from a Presidential Executive Order last year and has been highly visible since reporting began. Also centralizing reporting for adherence to Federal and agency travel policies is appearing with the new GSA...

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Global Distribution Systems

»Posted by on Jul 13, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems | 0 comments

The existence of multiple Global Distribution Systems presents challenges for United States Government agencies’ efforts to manage travel. One such challenge involves determining which Global Distribution System an agency’s Travel Management Center should use, although my sense is that most agencies do not direct their Travel Management Center on which Global Distribution System to use. (Contractually, an agency may or may not even have the ability to determine which Global Distribution System their Travel Management Center uses.) Some Global Distribution Systems do not allow for the booking of tickets for certain airlines – although this is often driven by which airlines choose to participate in which Global Distribution Systems. In addition, the various...

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E-Gov Travel Service

»Posted by on Jul 4, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

The introduction of electronic travel systems for civilian agencies was initiated in 2002 by the General Services Agency (GSA) to create an end-to-end travel service to connect travel authorizations, reservations, and expense voucher processing. This initially began as the e-Travel Project, which eventually evolved to E-Gov Travel Service (ETS). The Federal Travel Regulations were amended to require use of a Travel Management Service (TMS) and the ETS for cost efficiency. This comes from 301-73.106. Federal agencies were given their choice of three ETS vendors: Carlson Wagonlit Government Travel’s E2 Solutions, EDS’s FedTraveler, or Northrop Grumman Mission System’s GovTrip. I happen to be the Bureau system administrator for ETS, so I have been very involved...

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E-Gov Travel Service Systems

»Posted by on Jun 30, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

E-Gov Travel is a government wide initiative that is mandated by the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) for all federal travelers and is one of 24 E-Gov initiatives outlined in the President’s Management Agenda (PMA). The E-Gov Travel Service (ETS) vendors include Carlson Wagonlit Government Travel’s E2 Solutions, EDS’s FedTraveler and Northrop Grumman Mission System’s GovTrip. The vendor hosts and maintains the software and GSA administers the contract. ETS travel systems replaced several in-house systems, COTS software, and manual processes throughout government. The ETS systems are E-Gov travel and FTR compliant that requires no client installation and can be accessed 24/7 from the Internet. These systems embed the reservation component in the...

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The Responsibilities of the Approving Official

»Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

The approving official has a very important role in the processing of travel requests.  Approving officials need to complete training on their eGov Travel application. Many agencies offer classroom or online training. Approving officials are setup in routing lists in the eGov Travel application.  There is often more than one approving official in a routing list to allow for unavailability.  The approving official can be an administrator, part of the finance office or required for specific agency business rules.  When a document is routed to the approving official it is their responsibility to review the document in a timely manner. The review of the authorization must be timely by the approving official to allow the traveler to confirm the reservations and...

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Reporting Using Simplified ETS

»Posted by on Jun 15, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Reports, reports, and more reports – every member of management has had a need for a report of some sort at some time or another.  Reports are crucial in today’s business world.  A report can advise management of budget constraints.  A good report also tells management where a company is spending, and maybe even losing, money.   Reports can also indicate how much time was spent on particular jobs/assignments. It is nearly impossible to function without reports. My agency receives many requests from our customers for various reports.  Nearly every day, we receive a new request for information.  In addition to the requests that we receive from our customers, we also receive data calls from the Department and General Services Administration (GSA). ...

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Where Do We Go From Here?

»Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in Airlines, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Hotels, Payment Methods, Rental Cars, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Let’s take a look at where government travel will be in the future. To see what a government traveler will experience, we’ll need to look at the various aspects of the travel system covered in our course, and extrapolate the current trends ten years down the road. The major trends in the Global Distribution world are connections across the internet and controlling distribution costs. In the next few years we are likely to see suppliers using focused distribution channels rather than the GDS to control their costs. By distributing on more effective channels, the suppliers not only safe, but gain more control over their inventory. No doubt, these channels will be internet based as the new systems coming online now are all web riding. This trend will impact...

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Cardholder Statement into Travel Voucher, Can The Two Be Joined?

»Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Payment Methods | 0 comments

Is there a more efficient way for the travel charge cardholder to track charges and make payments or for agencies to monitor misuse of the individually billed travel charge card? The individually billed travel (IBT) charge card is issued to individuals to be used for approved official government travel expenses.   Expenses that must be charged to the card include common carrier charges such as airfare or train, lodging facilities, and rental car.  When practical, the card can be and should be used for meals, parking, tolls, taxi fares, and other miscellaneous allowable travel expenses.  When necessary, the card can be used for cash advances for those out of pocket expenses that are more convenient to pay with cash.  While the government travel card becomes...

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Transitioning to an ETS System

»Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In 2003 General Services Administration (GSA) awarded three companies with E-Gov Travel Service contracts.  Once the contracts were awarded, agencies were given until December 2004 to select an ETS vendor. I was hired in 2005 to support travelers with this new eTravel system.  The agency that I work for provides administrative support services on a competitive and full cost-reimbursable basis to other government agencies.  We operate like a public business and do not receive any appropriated funds. We have two branches within travel  – Relocation and Temporary Duty (TDY).  I work in the TDY branch.  Our services include E-Gov Travel implementation, help desk support, training, travel-related payments, travel policy, and charge card administration. In the...

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Who Should Have Access To The ETS?

»Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

While transitioning our franchise customers over to our current agency’s E-Gov Travel System (ETS), we encountered the same question over and over—Who should have access to the ETS?  After much discussion with our agency, GSA, Chief Counsel’s Office, and other agencies, our Bureau has developed the following policy in regards to this question. Access to the ETS is limited to employees who have a need to use the system including travelers, document preparers, budget reviewers, approving officials, or other identified staff.  Because personal services contractors (PSCs) have an employer-employee relationship and are considered employees, they may have access to the ETS as long as they are trained to use the system and are familiar with the Federal Travel...

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Requirements of an ETS System

»Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In 2002, General Services Administration (GSA) initiated the introduction of electronic travel systems to create an end-to-end travel process that included: authorizations, travel reservations and voucher filing. The system also had to incorporate the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR).   The system, better known as E-Gov Travel Service or ETS, had to include a service for booking common carrier, lodging, and rental car reservations.  It also had to take into consideration Government wide travel policies, ticketing requirements, contract city-pair fares, per diem rates, Fedrooms and FEMA approved properties. Along with these requirements, the system had to have reporting functionalities.  It had to be able to determine the number of reservations by type of...

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E-Verify and the Travel Industry

»Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Hotels, Travel Management Centers, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

On November 14, 2008, the General Services Administration (GSA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) issued a final rule (73 FR 67651), amending 48 CFR Parts 2, 22, and 52, to change the rules on Employment Eligibility Verification.  These new rules require Government contractors to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government to use the Federal E-Verify system to confirm the immigration status of employees working on Government contracts performed within the United States.  Prior to the effective date of the new regulation, January 15, 2009, the use of the E-Verify system was voluntary. Government contractors, as well as businesses in general, have long been obligated to check...

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E-Gov Travel Systems

»Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Implementing an E-Gov Travel System was quite a challenge.  While there was detailed and sometimes complex work involved with configuring the E-Gov Travel System and interfacing it with our financial management system, the biggest challenge involved the change for our travelers, arrangers, and approvers. My agency went from a very effective, simple in-house electronic authorization and vouchering system (with very few online bookings, done in a separate system) to using one of the three E-Gov Travel Systems.  In some ways I think it might have been easier to go from paper authorizations and vouchers to an E-Gov Travel System, but the shock may have been too great for end users. The old electronic travel authorization and voucher system did its job very well,...

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Why Travel Bans Won’t Prevent a Flu Pandemic

»Posted by on May 11, 2014 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

To see this whitepaper, please click on the link below: http://www.cgtp.net/documents/travelpandemic.pdf

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Space Age Versus Stone Age

»Posted by on May 10, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

I often think about the Electronic Travel Systems (ETS) that have recently been developed by contractors and implemented by the government, and I can’t help recalling the “not so good-old-days” when the less sophisticated systems ruled this environment.  Consequently, things were much more cumbersome and time consuming. Before today’s technology the tools we were constrained to from a hotel perspective seem primitive.  Although I have never had the prodigious opportunity to utilize the ETS/DTS from an end user vantage, I believe my experience can lend testimony to the giant technological leaps and improved systems we have come to develop and implement in a very short time.  I feel the same holds true in most aspects of business and life. Before global,...

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City Pair Fares and GSA Statistics

»Posted by on Apr 26, 2014 in Airlines, Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems | 1 comment

There is a statistic cited in the training materials that I find interesting, which is that City Pair air fares save 50 – 70% off unrestricted coach fares. I have seen a similar measure of 72% savings off unrestricted coach fares published directly by GSA. This measure raises two questions: 1)    What data did GSA use to determine this measure and when was the analysis conducted? 2)     Is a better measure of program savings available? Section 2a discusses yield management tools and how airfare prices change continuously. To accurately measure savings off unrestricted coach fares, GSA would need a database of unrestricted coach fares that were purchased at the same their traveler purchased the ticket to the same destination. A second option would be to...

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Selecting an eGov Travel System

»Posted by on Apr 11, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Selecting a travel system can be an overwhelming task.  I was a team member on the core team to select an eTravel provider for our department.  The core team was made up of a manager with a extensive travel business experience, an analyst who had experience with travel and administration of a travel system and I was an information technology staff member  who had written the interface between the existing travel system and the accounting system.  The remainder of the team was made up of representatives from 12 different bureaus within our department.  The bureau representatives were mostly document preparers or administrative people who had experience with travel arrangements or travel policy.  One of the biggest challenges was to have representatives from...

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Lodging and the E Travel System

»Posted by on Apr 11, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

We all have a favorite place to stay. Whether it is for the complimentary breakfast, the availability of certain amenities, or even the rewards programs, we all look for that one particular hotel when we travel for business or pleasure. Unfortunately, not all hotels will be available when searching the E Travel System for available lodging. Currently, our E Travel System is dependent on the GDS (Sabre) for identifying hotel availability and the booking of inventory. What information is listed in Sabre and how often the inventory is updated is entirely up to the individual hotel properties. How does this affect the E Travel Systems hotel query?  The first query of the E Travel System sends an availability command to Sabre.  The return is a list of hotels for...

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Centrally Billed Travel Account Reconciliation – What is the Best Practice?

»Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Industry Postings, Payment Methods | 0 comments

The reconciliation process for agency centrally billed accounts (CBA) varies widely across government.  Agencies have developed a best practice for what currently works for them.  Some agencies have an all manual process and use nothing but paper.   Some use electronic reports provided by their Travel Management Center (TMC) and their charge card vendor.  Others make use of a CBA reconciliation module within their eTravel system (ETS).  I don’t believe there is an agency that is totally electronic in the reconciliation and payment process as there is probably a manual interruption somewhere in the process. How many individuals or departments are involved in the reconciliation and payment process?  In some agencies, the reconciliation consists of...

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Lodging Issues In Government Electronic Travel Systems

»Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels | 0 comments

As the U.S. Federal government embraces electronic travel systems and begins to move their travel bookings to these systems, we see a number of problems arise. Some are common to all migrations to booking tools (and away from agent based travel) and will be eliminated as the traveler becomes more comfortable with the systems with continued use. However, I would argue the unique nature of government travel and the government traveler create issues rarely seen in the corporate world, and may continue to confound the system, and the traveler attempting to use them. First, look at the history of how government travelers book lodging vs. air and car. For a number of years, surveys by SGTP and others have shown that the travelers routinely book air and car though their...

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Electronic Travel Systems

»Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

E-Gov Travel Systems have emerged over the past decade as part of the President’s Management Agenda. The idea of automating a previously paper intensive process naturally sounds like a smart idea. The difficulties begin starting with the change management process. It is a huge learning curve to overcome when travelers are used to the old paper process, possibly still using form fillers and looking up per diem rates; then switching to an electronic paperless process. You have to get buy in from every level of the organization to achieve a successful transition. Involvement of the core team of those bureaus and offices affected by the transformation is also critical from the very beginning of the process. Another difficulty is with only 3 vendors to choose from,...

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Requirements for an Interface between the EGOV Travel Application and the Core Financial System

»Posted by on Mar 24, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

A significant project that I completed during 2010 was the development of a requirements traceability matrix (RTM) that includes all global, functional, and technical (testable) requirements for an interface between an EGOV Travel Application and a Central Financial System.  Authorizations and vouchers have separate RTM’s that house all information regarding individual requirements.  The overall objective for the interface is to provide the capability to upload obligations and invoices to the Core Financial System for all authorizations, temporary duty travel vouchers, advance vouchers, and local vouchers via the import of a data source file from the EGOV Vendor to the Core Financial System while applying the same business rules, program logic, and...

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E-Gov Travel Partnerships

»Posted by on Mar 22, 2014 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

E-Gov Travel is a Government-wide initiative that is mandated by the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) for all federal travelers and is one of 24 E-Gov initiatives outlined in the President’s Management Agenda (PMA). The E-Gov Travel vision is to deliver a unified, simplified service that delivers a cost-effective travel experience, supports excellent management and results in superior customer satisfaction. The E-Gov Travel goals are defined as follows: develop a government-wide, web based, world-class travel management service; establish a cost model that reduces or eliminates capital investment and minimizes total cost per transaction for the government; and create a policy environment based on the use of best travel management policies. The E-Gov Travel...

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eGov Travel System Featuring GovTrip

»Posted by on Mar 18, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

There are three choices when an agency selects an eGov Travel System.  The choices are; Carlson Wagonlit Government Travel’s E2Solutions, EDS’s Fed Traveler and Northrop Grumman Mission System’s GovTrip. All of the eGov Travel Systems meet the minimum requirements which were defined by General Services Administration (GSA), who awarded the contract.  This article will be referencing GovTrip. GovTrip forces the  travelers to comply with the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR).  The FTR governs the expenses the traveler is allowed to claim and the requirements which must be met in order to conduct official travel on behalf of the Government.  An agency can have travel policy which is stricter than the FTR.  GovTrip can be set up to reflect some...

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Developing Relationships with the Travel Management Center Team

»Posted by on Mar 6, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Management Centers, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

It is imperative that Travel Administrators develop a good working relationship with their Travel Management Center (TMC) and the E-Gov vendor’s TMC team. As a matter of fact, it is a must.  You will find that it nearly impossible to administer your agency’s travel program without their assistance. My agency has developed a mutual friendship and good working relationship between both parties.  The TMC has been very helpful in assisting us with resolving issues and creating guidance for educational purposes.  The same also applies to the E-Gov vendor’s TMC team. The majority of our travelers were used to using an automated system.  However, the reservation module was new to them, so they experienced quite a few problems in the very beginning.  Of...

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Secure Flight and the Impact on ETS

»Posted by on Mar 3, 2014 in Airlines, Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Management Centers, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Secure Flight is a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Transportation Security Administration (TSA) traveler pre-screening program that matches limited traveler information against government watch lists to identify known and suspected terrorists, prevent known and suspected terrorists from boarding an aircraft, facilitate legitimate traveler air travel, and protect individuals’ privacy. The Secure Flight program added data elements that airlines were not previously collecting. The airlines must transmit the data, no later than 72 hours prior to flight time, to TSA for clearance to issue a boarding pass. If a reservation is made within 72 hours of the flight, the data is transferred at the time the reservation is made.  Secure Flight is intended to improve...

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ETS/DTS Imbedded vs. Accommodated TMC

»Posted by on Mar 3, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

ETS or DTS after the federal agency chooses an Electronic Travel System it must interface with the TMC or Travel Agency.   One may notice that there are many travel companies listed on the TSS schedule offering accommodated services. Know that each of these agencies has gone through a fairly rigorous test to be available for use by federal agency states credibility these companies.  Their financial health, the evaluation of the staff, key employees, and their ability to know their clients’ needs and work with them on a daily basis. If the purpose of the ETS or DTS system is to provide a seamless approval and reservation system that can operate quickly and efficiently all while providing rapid reimbursement to the federal traveler for their out of pockets...

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Federal Travel Regulations

»Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Industry Postings, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources, White Papers | 0 comments

Post payment auditing is a service we provide to our customers. These audits are performed using the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR). Our goal is to make sure that the travelers are reimbursed in accordance with the FTR. The Post payment auditing that we perform is on the voucher in the E-Gov Travel Service System and our accounting system. We conduct the audits using a Statistical sampling checklist, which is used on each voucher that is sampled. The amount of audits conducted can vary from month to month. This is determined by the number of vouchers that were paid the previous month. The vouchers are reviewed using the Statistical Sampling Checklist, which outlines multiple items to ensure the voucher is in compliance with the FTR. The voucher is...

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Business Practices

»Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

The travel manager role, as this chapter mentions, does require great talent in multi-tasking. During implementation, a good project plan is vital to make sure all tasks are accomplished. The travel manager has to ensure all TMC profiles are loaded, lines of accounting are loaded, and that the routing chains for all travelers are established. Charge card information has to be loaded and correct so that tickets are issued timely as a self-service transaction. An organization with thousands of travelers causes this type of workload to grow exponentially. Normally, the travel manager is not only responsible for all the E-Gov Travel tasks, but has to provide policy guidance as well. Although the E-Gov Travel system has automated many aspects of the travel document...

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Going, Going, Gone — Going Green

»Posted by on Feb 17, 2014 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Government Traveler Comments, History and Overview, Industry Postings, Travel Professional Resources, White Papers | 0 comments

Have you completed a GSA Form 87, SF 1012, or SF1164 lately? If you have traveled for the federal government then you have used these forms for obtaining authorization and reimbursement for official government travel. Even though these forms are still valid today, the forms numbers themselves are not nearly as recallable or visible due to the use of electronic travel systems. Several laws and initiatives over the past decades have been put in place to move the federal government toward a paperless and green environment. All of these initiatives are focused on a common goal of saving the environment and reducing government spending – saving taxpayer dollars – while securing and protecting information. The Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA)...

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Benefits of DTS and CTO Services versus using Other Sources for Travel Arrangements

»Posted by on Jan 4, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Industry Postings, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Government agencies are faced with reduced budgets in recent years due to the economy.  At our agency, employees have been asked to submit suggestions to improve processes and save money during this time of limited resources, and several suggestions have been submitted that relate to government travel.   One suggestion was to allow travelers to make their reservations and arrangements through a commercially available online travel search engine rather than through the Defense Travel System (DTS) or the Commercial Travel Office (CTO). It is our policy that all travelers use an available CTO for all official transportation requirements.    While online ticketing may initially appear to be less expensive and a way to save taxpayer dollars, these fares are...

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Post-Payment Travel Voucher Audits

»Posted by on Dec 29, 2013 in Electronic Travel Systems, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

We perform post-payment travel voucher audits as a service to our customers.  These audits are not punitive in nature, but rather, they are meant to serve as an educational tool so that travelers can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.  A checklist is used when performing the audit, so only items that are on the checklist are of concern.  We audit both the ETS part of the voucher and the accounting system entries.  The ETS part of the voucher is audited to ensure compliance with Federal Travel Regulations (FTR). The first item on the checklist is verifying that required receipts are attached.  This is perhaps one of the most frequently misunderstood parts of the voucher.  Travelers are often unsure whether some expenses require receipts or they...

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ETS2

»Posted by on Dec 22, 2013 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

The E-Gov Travel Service (ETS) contracts with vendors Northrop Grumman Information Systems, CW Government Travel and Electronic Data Systems (now HP Enterprise Services) will expire in 2013.  U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is gearing up for the next E-Gov Travel Service contract called ETS2.  GSA held its ETS2 Pre-Solicitation Conference on May 12, 2010 and accepted questions through May 26, 2010.  On August 5, 2010, GSA issued the presolicitation notice for ETS2 on August 5 and posted the solicitation notice on August 23, 2010.  The contract will have a base period of three years with three optional four-year extensions.  Potentially, the contract could last 15 years.  The original solicitation deadline was October 6, but on September 9 the...

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Planning a Government Business Trip

»Posted by on Dec 15, 2013 in Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Industry Postings, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources, White Papers | 0 comments

Government travelers within my agency are required to use an electronic travel system to book business trips. The first step a traveler must take after being hired into a position with the government is to provide their direct deposit banking information to the office that will be issuing their travel payments. If required by the agency, the traveler should apply for their government issued credit card before traveling. This information is stored in the traveler’s profile and his/her travel reservations, along with some other expenses, will automatically be charged to their government issued credit card. Based on the automated travel system my agency uses, the first step is to gain access to the travel system by a one-time registration process. A first time...

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Travel Policy and Compliance

»Posted by on Dec 1, 2013 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, History and Overview, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Travel policy for official Government travel is governed by the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) and those areas within the FTR that require/allow agency-specific policies to be instituted.  While travel policy has always been an integral part of the Federal travel process, travel policy became more visible with the advent of the current generation of E-Gov Travel systems, and continues to be very critical and visible as we progress towards the next generation of these systems. This is mainly due to the automated systems forcing travelers and approvers to be more in compliance with the FTR and agency policy. While a step in the right direction, this also seemed to generate even more travel policy questions and was a key factor in reorganizing our travel support...

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ETS Basics

»Posted by on Nov 23, 2013 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

GSA awarded a contract to three vendors to provide E-Gov Travel Services (ETS) and each federal agency was required to make a selection by December 2004.  The three vendors that are available for selection are Carlson Wagonlit Government Travel’s E2 Solutions, EDS’s FedTraveler, and Northrop Grumman Mission System’s GovTrip.  Each of these vendors had to meet the same requirements yet each system is very different. The ETS is made up of several components such as: Authorizations Reservations Vouchers In our agency, the authorization is created by either the traveler or a document preparer.  The authorization consists of the trip dates, where the traveler is going, and an estimate of the expenses they will incur.  Also included in the...

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