Government Traveler Comments

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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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Understanding All Aspects of Government Travel

»Posted by on Jan 16, 2015 in Government Traveler Comments | 0 comments

As I continue day to day being the Social & Government Sales Professional at The Gettysburg Hotel and also taking the Certified Government Travel Professional Training Course I feel that I am learning both sides of the Government Market at the same time.  The training course has really brought my position full circle.  I have come to understand all of the steps that Government Travelers have to take in order to actually make a trip somewhere. There seem to be many options available for the Government Traveler from renting a car or a hotel room to making airline reservations.  I actually had a phone call the other day from a large travel agency reserving hotel accommodations for a Government Traveler coming to town for a meeting.  As the process seemed...

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Hotel Group Government Contracts

»Posted by on Jan 1, 2015 in Government Traveler Comments, Hotels | 0 comments

Most of our Government Contracts come to us directly from Government Agencies.  Our policy is that we cannot take a block of rooms out of inventory until we have an actual signed contract, purchase order or letter of intent.  Most times the contracting process takes so long that we end up waiting months for a definite answer that the group is actually coming. About six months ago we went ahead and broke our policy for Government groups and took four large bookings without any contract, purchase order or letter of intent.  We did this as a courtesy for the different groups because we really wanted their business and we knew that if we waited that the guest rooms would not be available when the contract became approved.  So far this year we have gotten stung two...

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OMB Circular A-123 and the Government Travel Card

»Posted by on Dec 15, 2014 in Government Traveler Comments, Payment Methods | 0 comments

The United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Circular A-123 that is used to define management responsibilities for internal financial controls in all Federal agencies.  Two of the items addressed in Appendix B of the circular directly relate to government travel credit cards.  The circular requires that agencies pay for Individually Billed Account (IBA) charges using a split travel disbursement and also requires that agencies perform a credit worthiness evaluation for all new travelers that receive a government credit card. Performance of a credit worthiness evaluation only applies to new card applicants and must be performed prior to issuing the card.  To meet this requirement our credit card provider obtains the credit score on all new...

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Communication

»Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 in Government Traveler Comments, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Too often in the government travel industry the lack of good communication has been a barrier to success.  Breakdown in the admin office, move to the Commercial Travel Office from there migrate to the finance and comptroller’s office.  The answer lies in better communication at all levels so the travelers know that they have received the best from all members of the staff. Travel program managers are here to be fiscally responsible in the use of funds in accordance with the rules and regulations that exist.  None of our manuals or training materials gives ownership to any one individual or group of individuals, we are all here working together to assist the traveler. The question that should always be asked, “How can the communication of those rules and...

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Spending Cuts and Compliance

»Posted by on Nov 17, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Government Traveler Comments, Industry Postings, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Like Wikipedia, your CGTP Training Course book put in plain words the exact meaning of Government Travel Management = to insure the traveler receives timely approval to take a trip required to accomplish a mission, to take a trip that is planned and reserved accurately and to be reimbursed the amount spent on the trip, all within the travel rules and regulations and available budget. Travel Managers of a federal agency will soon face the balancing act between being in compliance and cutting cost. Due to a very deep cut in federal spending not being felt currently but soon will bring impact before the fiscal year ends, travel managers will focus on cost control as a whole. The top priority ranked in 2012 is generating new airline and ground transportation savings...

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History

»Posted by on Nov 16, 2014 in Government Traveler Comments, History and Overview | 0 comments

In this first section of the Certified Government Travel Professional Training Course, it was very interesting to read of the history of the whole travel industry. I have always had a love of travel dating back to 1974 when I attended and graduated from Weaver Airline Personnel School inKansas City, Missouri. At the time I worked full time at Michigan State University and completed a correspondence portion at home and then spent one month in residence at the school in Kansas City. It was an intense and informative time at the school. As it turns out, I did not end up with a travel industry position until 1985 when I became a part time reservations agent with Piedmont Airlines. Again, I was working full time at another job and the airline work in the...

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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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Suggestions for Reduced Budgets

»Posted by on Oct 25, 2014 in Business Practices, Government Traveler Comments, Industry Postings | 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.   Several suggestions have been submitted that relate to government travel.  One suggestion that was submitted was that the agency should require travelers to park their privately owned vehicles (POVs) in airport economy lots rather than daily parking lots when they are on TDY.  In the Washington DC area, the current price for parking at Dulles Airport is:  $36 maximum for 24 hours at an hourly parking lot; $17 maximum for 24 hours at a daily parking lot; and $10 maximum for 24 hours at an economy parking lot. While the regulations do...

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Fees, Fees, Fees, – When Will They Stop

»Posted by on Oct 25, 2014 in Government Traveler Comments, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Over the past ten years that I have been working in the travel arena, the one most common complaint I hear about from my travelers are fees. They complain that every time they turn around, another fee has been charged to their government charge card. But what about these fees, why do there appear to be so many fees on a travel voucher? Since TMC’s are no longer working on commission, they have to be paid somehow for their part in making travel arrangements, thus the fees begin. The TMC that my agency uses set there TMC fees into two categories, touched and non-touched transactions. Touched transactions are just what they sound like, reservations that need to be touched by a TMC agent before completed. Non-touched transactions are reservations that are made...

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Always do the research…

»Posted by on Oct 16, 2014 in Government Traveler Comments, Hotels | 0 comments

Electronic systems can be a great tool.  However, I learned an important lesson a short time ago when I was preparing for a trip.  Just because you find something in an electronic system that fits your needs, it’s still important to do a little more research.  Information in the system is only as good as what is provided by the property or airline. A few months ago a coworker and I were planning a trip to Washington, DC and I learned a very important lesson.  It’s always a good idea to check the area when looking for lodging.  There was a lot going on in town that week and it was nearly impossible to find a hotel without a long metro ride or walk to where we were working.  We had reservations at a hotel a ways outside the city but I kept looking...

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CGTP – Some Thoughts

»Posted by on Aug 9, 2014 in Government Traveler Comments, History and Overview, Industry Postings | 0 comments

To be honest with you, I was so nervous, I am afraid to fail. I do not even know where and how to start completing the requirements of this certification but glad I had the guts to start the program. I procrastinated since the time my agency paid the dues last year but I spoke with Rick Singer and convinced me that I can easily pass and complete the program in no time. Being in the travel industry for so long, when I say long, it means that the airlines back then use Raytheon computers with green screen and computers were primarily used to assist in getting load factors – seats and cargo, that’s all.  I was fortunate enough to be on the first year class at the University of Santo Thomas in Manila, Philippines when the Dean of Education decided to put a...

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GSA City Pair Fares and Government Fares

»Posted by on Jul 3, 2014 in Airlines, Government Traveler Comments | 0 comments

There are two types of government fares that our travelers can book in the E Travel System, GSA City Pair Fares and Government fares. In 1980 the General Services Administration (GSA) developed the City Pair Program (CPP) to provide discounted air passenger transportation services to Federal government travelers. In the beginning, this service only covered 11 markets, but has grown to over 5,000 city pairs. The average savings is 63%-77% below commercial full fares. A critical aspect of travel planning is flexibility and the CPP has many features that allow Government travelers all the flexibility possible. Features of the Service include: Non-stop service was awarded on 95% of the markets where non-stop service was offered. Fares are priced on one-way routes,...

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Where to Draw the Line as an Authorizing Official

»Posted by on Jun 21, 2014 in Business Practices, Government Traveler Comments | 0 comments

As an authorizing official for my agency, there is so much I can say on what is right and wrong. A question I have for you is where do you need to draw the line with travel expenses? Yes, we are suppose to stick to the rules, but how about the people who expect you to break them and get you into trouble for their own selfish reasons… or should I say their own lazy ways. For example, parking at valet parking versus long term parking… In the name of I didn’t know… or having the person dropping the off park at the daily parking just to talk them in… and you are suppose to pay for the hourly parking in addition to mileage for the drop off? Seriously, I say! I believe in treating people fair and not matter what level you are the rules are the rules. The FTR...

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Electronic Tickets

»Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 in Airlines, Government Traveler Comments | 0 comments

The electronic ticketing system has certainly altered the travel industry. Subsequent to June 2008, most airlines were continuing to issue paper tickets.  Paper tickets and electronic tickets mutually worked in the same capacity. They show proof that a  passenger has actually purchased their airline ticket.  We recall the tribulations experienced with paper tickets.  Airlines always charged more for issuing the paper tickets verses the electronic ones.  Travelers would often forget their airline ticket  at home.  Furthermore, there were also tons of fees associated with paper tickets. According to Bryan Wilson of the International Air Transport Association the elimination of paper tickets will reduce airline costs by as much as $3 billion worldwide and cut...

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FTR: The Blueprint for the Prudent Traveler

»Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Business Practices, Government Traveler Comments, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Working in the travel arena for several years, I have sampled my share of travel vouchers for compliance to the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR). I have seen many vouchers that I felt was just following the public’s perception of government, wasteful spending. I am not required to travel often, but when I do, I do everything within my power to spend as little as possible. I guess you can say I am the “prudent” traveler, but also a taxpayer. I do not look at travel as a way to make a few extra dollars. Unfortunately, I think a lot of individuals take advantage of travel as a way to gain “free money” The FTR is the rules listing the travel guidelines, but I also think they are the reason so many people within government look at travel...

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Travel Industry Experience

»Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Government Traveler Comments, History and Overview | 0 comments

I have played a major role with the travel industry and can relate because of my more than twenty-four years in working in the industry.  At the very beginning of my travel career, I worked with a company called CATO (Combined Airlines Ticket Office).  Very similar to SATO, CATO was owned by fourteen different airlines and we supported such federal agencies as The Department of State.  I was responsible for reviewing airline charges on a large printed report that would deliver to our office from Diner’s Club, the excitement of moving to a paperless and automated travel process was very much welcomed by me. Even though General Services Administration (GSA) establishes policy and guidance for travel, agencies still struggle with internal guidance which allows a...

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History of Travel

»Posted by on Mar 2, 2014 in Government Traveler Comments, History and Overview | 0 comments

History. I always hear how things were better in the past. When things were slower, and less advanced. Where things took a lot longer to accomplish and where people took time to visit with others because televisions and computers were not invented yet. But as time has shown, not all things are better in the past. Travel in the old days took whole days just to travel a few miles, and now you can be halfway around the world in just a few hours. Technology is not a bad thing. Advancements in vehicles and computer systems have opened the travel arena to heights never imagined in the past. And as technology continues to advance, the travel industry will also advance with it. Government travel began as a small portion of the government budget but has grown to play a...

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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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Beginning the Course

»Posted by on Feb 4, 2014 in Government Traveler Comments | 0 comments

The first chapter that I read was an introduction to the travel industry.  I can relate to this information because I received my diploma in Travel and Tourism back in 1993.  The beginning of this course felt like a refresher course to what I learned so many years ago. Back in 1992 I had just graduated from High School.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life or what it had in store for me in the years to come.  I tried to get into college but my SAT scores were low and I did not want to retake them.  Travel and Tourism at York Technical Institute sounded very interesting.  I signed up and took the placement tests.  I loved it from the beginning.  Every class was fascinating to me.  I ended up graduating with a 3.5 GPA.  I was the only one who...

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Federal Travel Regulations

»Posted by on Jan 19, 2014 in Business Practices, Government Traveler Comments | 0 comments

There are several resources that are available to both travelers and systems staff that guide and govern the federal government travel process.  One of the most important documents is the Federal Travel Regulations or FTR.  The FTR provides regulations on just about any aspect of travel that you can think of from how reservations are to be made, how they should be paid for and what expenses are allowable on the voucher. The FTR mandates that all reservations should be made using a Travel Management Center.  It also mandates that all reservations are to be paid for with the government travel card.  This means that the traveler isn’t permitted to charge official travel expenses on a personal card.  While there are additional benefits to the traveler by...

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Accounting for Travel

»Posted by on Nov 27, 2013 in Business Practices, Government Traveler Comments, Hotels, Rental Cars, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Many Federal employees will travel or relocate for their jobs at some point in their career.  Travelers are mostly concerned about staying at a preferred hotel and getting a direct flight and may not realize that every travel authorization and voucher is also an accounting entry. In the accounting world, a travel authorization becomes an accounting document called an obligation and has the same accounting impact as a purchase order for goods or services.  The obligation reserves the estimated amount to ensure funds are available when the traveler submits a voucher for payment.  When the voucher is recorded in the financial system, the obligation is reversed and a payment is made. To determine what “pot of money” the traveler is using, the travel documents...

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Big Change in Travel Management

»Posted by on Nov 2, 2013 in Government Traveler Comments, Industry Postings, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Seeing the travel industry unfold right before my eyes, it has come a long way how Travel Agencies’ role changed in performing their duties. Travel Management Centers, whether “imbedded” or “accommodated” not only make sure the tickets are issued anymore, they became proficient in making use everything is under control with limited errors and good tracking, expertise, access to content, etc on an end-to-end solution capability. The whole aspect of the reservation is no longer the core of their job. The most important factor now a days is to make sure that the travel manager of the account assist and optimize the “spend” and see it as an investment. An investment that is not wasted with aspects of spend from processing to control, compliance, privacy,...

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Rail Reservations

»Posted by on Oct 28, 2013 in Electronic Travel Systems, Government Traveler Comments, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

The number one question that we receive concerning rail reservations is how to identify the type of trains in the eTravel system.  The train number is the key in identifying the type of train selected.  When a traveler requests rail reservations in the eTravel system, the Travel Management Center (TMC) will book a courtesy reservation, which means the traveler will actually have to pay for the ticket at the kiosk.  Unfortunately, the TMC fee associated with rail reservations booked through GovTrip will always be a full service fee.  This isn’t the TMC’s fault but rather falls on Amtrak not allowing reservations to be booked outside of their own system. There are three different types of Amtrak trains.  The Amtrak trains that make the most frequent...

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Federal Travel Regulations

»Posted by on Aug 2, 2013 in Government Traveler Comments, Payment Methods | 0 comments

The 41 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) chapters 300-304, of the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) administer the laws that govern the travel allowances and entitlements for federal employees.  It implements provisions and statutes pertaining to per diem, travel and transportation allowances.  Amendments to the FTR are published in the Federal Register and the CFR.  The FTR has the force and effect of law. Training specific to these travel regulations is available from General Services Administration (GSA) and other federal training centers.  Each federal agency may have their own travel policy that includes regulations, procedures and business practices unique to their agency.  The Federal Travel Regulations take precedence over agency-specific...

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Passports . . . Are you handicapped too?

»Posted by on Apr 22, 2013 in Government Traveler Comments, Industry Postings, Travel Professional Resources, White Papers | 0 comments

My husband and I talked about visiting Canada a few years ago to see Niagara Falls, but now we can’t. My sister moved to Australia two years ago and I would love to visit “the land down under”, but I can’t. You may be saying, “Why can’t you? Are you handicapped?”. Well I do have a condition that prevents me from going. I don’t have a passport. However, in a few weeks that’s going to change. I thought getting a passport was going to require a bunch of red tape, but I was wrong. I did have to gather up some information and get some things done, but it was really a simple process. I wish I had done it sooner. I picked up an application form at my local U.S. Post office. The form is called a DS-11: Application For A U.S. Passport and can also be...

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Personal Convenience is not an FTR Exception

»Posted by on Mar 7, 2013 in Government Traveler Comments | 0 comments

When it comes to official government travel, there are so many regulations and procedures that must be followed on how to make your travel lodging reservations that it gets quite confusing.  Keep in mind that personal convenience, which is certainly what we would prefer, is not a Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) exception. First and foremost, we should be looking for a FedRoom facility.  Doing so will meet the FTR requirement of giving first consideration to FedRooms properties.  These are establishments that are contracted by General Services Administration (GSA) under the FedRooms Program to ensure that the government traveler stays in fire safe accommodations at a government rate.  Lodging facilities participating in the FedRooms program offer rates at or...

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Prudence or Prudent – How is it applied?

»Posted by on Jan 28, 2013 in Airlines, Business Practices, Government Traveler Comments, Hotels, Industry Postings, Rental Cars, White Papers | 0 comments

For those of us who work for the government and with travel policy, we have heard the words “prudence” or “prudent” many times.  What do these words mean and more importantly, what do they mean to each of us as individuals? Dictionaries give us many definitions for prudence and prudent.  Care, caution, discretion, frugal, responsible, sensible, and thrifty are a few of the definitions for these words.  How are they applied by the government traveler? What does the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) say about being prudent?  FTR 301-10.123 basically states that the prudent person should use the same care in incurring expenses that would be spent on personal travel.  Most individuals use their personal money wisely and try to get the most value from their...

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Auditing of Travel Vouchers

»Posted by on Dec 30, 2012 in Government Traveler Comments | 0 comments

This posting will be a discussion of the different resources used for auditing a travel document. The EGOV Travel application and the accounting system are the primary sources for retrieving the document for audit.  The EGOV Travel application houses all documentation regarding the travel including the required receipts.  The EGOV Travel documentation is compared to the accounting system to ensure that the two systems are in sync. Many internet resources are used to confirm that the information in the travel document conforms to federal travel regulations.  Some web sites, such as Sabre’s “Virtually There”, can be utilized to obtain valuable information regarding the individual’s travel such as itinerary information and eInvoice.  A key...

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Are You Ready for a COOP or Pandemic

»Posted by on Nov 11, 2012 in Government Traveler Comments, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Are you ready for a COOP or Pandemic situation?  What about the Swine Flu? Influenza pandemics have occurred every few decades.  Previous pandemics have affected a large number of the population and resulted in numerous deaths.  No one knows when we will be affected by the next pandemic or a COOP event. We have developed a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) to ensure that our Temporary Duty (TDY) and Relocation customers continue to receive services should we experience a disruption to normal operations. Whether it be a major catastrophic event or a software outage, communication is critical. Our TDY area is ready, should we experience a GovTrip outage. Our experienced and knowledgeable travel technicians will work closely with Northrop Grumman to ensure that our...

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“Is there really a savings, or are we headed full circle”

»Posted by on Jul 31, 2012 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Government Traveler Comments, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I can remember years ago, when a federal employee, that was authorized official travel, would receive their travel authorization from the typewriter of the secretary, take that piece of paper to the ticket counter of the in-house TMC and make all of the travel arrangements.  A few days later, you would receive days later a GTR would cover the cost of the ticket and the ticket printer would produce your itinerary, along with your information regarding your trip.  It was nice to see a face, get to know your internal travel agent, as well as  have the hands-on person available there to ask any questions and to make any changes, if necessary.  Today, everything is done by the booking engine, we have become accustomed to booking our travel via our PC’s, pads or...

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FTR and ETS

»Posted by on Dec 16, 2011 in Electronic Travel Systems, Government Traveler Comments | 0 comments

In 2003, the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) amendment 2003-07, FTR Case 2003-303, E-Gov Travel Service, was published in the Federal Register. This rule requires agency-wide use of the eTravel Service now known as E-Gov Travel” The proposed amendment to the Federal Travel Regulation requiring executive branch agencies to begin implementing the ETS no later than December 31, 2004 with complete agency-wide migration no later than September 30, 2006. According to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA): “The E-Gov Travel Service (ETS) is government-wide, web-based, world-class travel management service. It was launched in April 2002 to save significantly on costs and improve employee productivity.” Well stated, so why does my agency not use the E-Gov...

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Choosing a Hotel For Your Upcoming Stay With Government Per Diem

»Posted by on Aug 13, 2011 in Government Traveler Comments, Hotels | 0 comments

Just because you are traveling with a rate guideline does not mean you need to just find a hotel that offers the government per diem or even if it is less than the government per diem.  Do you research! If you are not able to go into the DTS system to search for a room you could always search www.fedrooms.com or www.fedtravel.com that has a list of hotels that are standardized to the regulations or procedures or are FEMA approved. I would do more research and if you are not familiar with the area but have access to the internet, check out this websitewww.tripadvisor.com search for the FEMA approved hotels that are listed as approval hotels and see what reviews say about this hotel. Also visit the hotels own website to see what they have to offer. This could...

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