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 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. This service replaces more than 250 different travel booking, authorization and financial systems and cuts costs by an estimated 50% saving $450 million over 10 years.
In order for the continued success of this initiative, all parties must work together to achieve the vision and goals of E-Gov Travel. At my agency, we place great value in building strong, meaningful relationships with industry leaders. We establish partnerships with entities that can complement our travel program, understand Government requirements, and promote good government practices and processes. We view our partnerships as additional resources for our agency and recognize the value of all parties working closely together.

The General Services Administration (GSA) is an independent agency of the United States Government. The new model aligns all of GSA travel programs including Fedrooms, the Government’s premiere lodging program; the Government City Pair Program, which offers Government travelers lower airfare and other benefits; and the GSA Travel Charge Card Program. GSA also sets the Continental United States (CONUS) per diem and Privately Owned Vehicle (POV) mileage rates; administers the E-Gov Travel Services (eTS) contract; and plays a key role in developing and implementing travel-related policies including the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR). Our partnership with GSA is a critical component of our travel program. We participate in the monthly GSA eTS User Group meetings to share deployment experiences, functional experiences, and collaborate with other Federal agencies to discuss system issues that can be elevated as a group to the eTS vendor for resolution. System enhancements that are funded by one Federal agency can benefit the other agencies as well. We participate in many other GSA-sponsored work groups and events. This gives us the opportunity to share best practices and network with other Federal agencies.

We also have a long-term relationship with our eTS vendor. The eTS vendor hosts and supports the travel system. We meet and collaborate with the vendor staff routinely to discuss system issues, new enhancements, testing, and problem resolution. We also attend monthly User Group meetings along with representatives from the entire Government-wide community for that eTS vendor. These meetings allow us to communicate directly to the vendor and GSA any system or performance issues and allows us to be involved in the decision making process for upcoming enhancements and improvements to the system. In addition to the regular meetings, the eTS vendor hosts on-site bi-annual customer meetings and educational sessions to allow for face-to-face time with the vendor staff. We also participate in various eTS vendor coordinated Six Sigma projects in an effort to continually improve the eTS travel systems.

We have also developed strong working relationships with our designated Travel Management Centers (TMC). These relationships allow us to collaborate with our TMC partners to define a reservation process that ensures the business needs are met. We also participate in on-site visits with the TMCs. These face-to-face meetings allow us to gain a better understanding of TMC business practices, their automated systems, as well as industry practices that affect reservation processing. This partnership also gives us the opportunity to provide input on proposed enhancements to the eTS reservation module. This communication network with the TMCs allows us to receive information such as flight cancellations or delays, airport closings due to adverse weather, and travel industry trends that we share with our other agencies. Additionally, our team works closely with the stakeholders on the TMC Business Rules Document (BRD), which details the various business functions of the TMC and their processes.

As a Shared Service Provider, my agency also conducts quarterly User Group meetings to share information amongst our customer community on all areas of the travel program. This collaboration allows us to discuss specific issues relating to the travel system for their agency and act as a liaison with GSA and the eTS vendor for resolution. On a routine basis, we send email communications to our customers on any issues that affect their travelers relating to the travel process. We also conduct travel system training and FTR training to our customer’s travelers and approving officials. Government travelers and approving officials play an important role in supporting the travel program and need to be actively included in the E-Gov Travel communication network.

As President George W. Bush quoted, “our success depends on agencies working as a team across traditional boundaries to better serve the American people, focusing on citizens rather than individual agency needs.” We have come a long way since the beginning of E-Gov Travel but still have a ways to go to ensure the success of the E-Gov Travel initiative. We need to keep the larger vision in mind when working through day-to-day issues with the eTS vendor. In conclusion, the E-Gov Travel Service will provide significant value through its consolidation, standardization, and automation of federal travel planning and management over the long term. Partnerships are more important than ever in order to keep the communication lines open and agencies working together toward a common goal.

by Julie Gilchrist

“The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency.

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