E-Gov Travel System — What an Improvement

» Posted by on Jul 26, 2013 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

The E-Gov Travel program was one of the George W. Bush administration’s electronic government initiatives aimed at improving government cost operations.  The E-Gov Travel System (ETS) was mandated by the government in order to reduce government costs and to hopefully realize a significant cost savings.  The Bush administration also felt the ETS would greatly improve employee productivity.

I can remember when preparing the paperwork for government travel was such a frustrating part of my daily responsibilities.  The document was placed in a typewriter (remember those) to be completed.  You could not make a typo error (not even one) or you would have to start over.  There were several carbons attached to this document and it had to be perfect.  If a traveler was requesting an advance, there was yet another form that had to be completed  in order to receive an advance for the upcoming trip.   Believe it or not, all of that paperwork was just for the authorization.  Once the paperwork was complete, the Approving Official would have to sign the document.  Once the document was signed, it would be mailed to the Travel Office for processing.  The electronic routing in ETS makes those steps obsolete.  Today’s technology has now given the government traveler the ability to manage their government travel from start to finish through a common, web based, government wide service called ETS.

ETS has greatly improved the authorization process by using a web based online system instead of a typewriter.  Some of the improvements:  (1) includes a detailed itinerary and also calculates estimated costs in compliance with the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) and agency travel policies;  (2) ETS recognizes government rates for airline flights, hotel rooms, and rental cars;  (3) ETS has the capability to book your reservation for airline, hotel, and rental car by completing it online or by calling for assistance.

ETS supports the creation and electronic routing of a travel voucher used to claim reimbursable expenses for official travel.   Another great feature to the ETS is the ability to capture data that can be used to connect to an agency’s financial system in order to reimburse the traveler through direct payments to their individually billed government travel account within three to five business days.  ETS has the ability to split disburse travel payments either directly to the traveler’s government travel charge card or to the traveler’s personal account.  Both options may be selected by a traveler on a travel voucher.  The Office of Management and Budget has stated that by using the ETS it has decreased government travel reimbursement processing time from more than seven days to an average of three days.  Additionally, they report that 65% of all travel reservations are now made online which realizes a significant savings to the government.

Another added value for using the ETS is that it is available anywhere that has internet access.  You do not have to be at the office to complete your travel documents anymore.  You can be at home, at the airport, at the hotel, or maybe even at the restaurant.  Also, authorizing officials can approve their employee’s travel documents via the internet which makes the routing of the travel documents and, ultimately, reimbursement of funds much quicker.  There are also some reporting capabilities available as well.  This great technology has made traveling and document preparation a much more convenient and a faster way to travel for the government.  The fully integrated ETS will provide all employees with a more productive tool for managing their travel needs.

In November 2003, three competitively bid ETS contracts were awarded the opportunity to provide e-travel services.  Below are several  GSA requirements that were expected from each vendor and had to be met in order to successfully compete and supply e-travel services to government agencies.  Some GSA requirements were as follows:

  • Initial implementation and ongoing support
  • Training
  • Help desk support
  • Timely and accurate reservation services
  • Maintain changes to workflow
  • Maintain changes to all financial system interfaces
  • Support City Pair airfares
  • Support FedRooms
  • Support rental car programs
  • Support SmartPay Government travel charge cards

After competitive bids were carefully scrutinized, e-gov travel system contracts were awarded to the following:

  • Carlson Wagonlit (CW) Government Travel Inc. of San Antonio, Texas
  • Electronic Data Systems (EDS) of Herndon, Virginia
  • Northrop Grumman (NG) Mission System of Reston, Virginia

The above mentioned travel systems are non-government websites.

Personally, I think the transition to an ETS has made a tremendous improvement from start to finish for the government traveler.

By: Robyn Rice

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

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