Government Travel — Behind the Scenes

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» 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 he may incur while on travel, selects the accounting that the funds will be pulled from and electronically signs the document.  As far as the traveler is concerned, the travel document is complete, but one might ask, how does the automated form get to the correct approver and how does the travel management center, TMC, get informed of the reservations he just inputted in his document?

System administrators are responsible for the behind the scenes setup and maintenance.  The administrator communicates with the agency contact to find out who they want as the budget reviewers and approving officials for each office in their agency.  A routing list is created that includes the different document types, authorizations, vouchers, and local vouchers, statuses, and levels.  It is crucial that each routing list has a process in the routing that all documents will route first to the TMC to book reservations and this process will be bypassed if there are no reservations in the document.  The administrator can also set up conditions in the routing list such as, if the traveler selects the centrally billed card, (CBA), as their method of reimbursement for their airline charges, then the document will route to the responsible party that maintains the CBA account.  That person will review and stamp the document CBA Approved or whatever the status is set up as and the document will continue routing to the next level.  In order to stamp these documents, the responsible party must have the appropriate access which is granted by the administrators and saved in their profiles.  So when the traveler electronically signs their travel document, it picks up the routing that is saved in the travelers profile and routes accordingly.

When a traveler creates their profile in the ETS system, they select their organization.  Once they do this, they are automatically added to global membership groups.  These global groups are created by the system administrators.  The purpose of the global groups is to allow for reports to be easily created for government reporting purposes.  The administrator also adds the traveler to a group that is associated to their individual office.  A document preparer will be given access to the group so he will be able to process travel documents for any of the travelers that are in the group.  Some agencies may elect to give the budget reviewer access to these groups as well.  This will allow the reviewer to edit the document and change the line of accounting if the traveler had selected the incorrect accounting or if another office is funding the travel.

Upon notification from an agency contact that a traveler has left the agency, the system administrators remove the traveler from the ETS system.  They remove their access, remove them from groups they may belong to, and remove any credit card information that may be stored in their profile. By doing this, the traveler will no longer have access to the system and it keeps the system cleaned up.  Travelers that are also approving officials that have left the agency will be removed from the routing they are in and communication is sent back to the agency contact informing them that the routing list has been changed and any traveler that has a document currently routing in the system will need to re-sign their document to pick up the change and start the routing over.

There’s quite a bit of maintenance behind the scenes for a travel document that the traveler will never see.  The system administrators are continuously granting and removing access to provide agencies with the most up-to-date information.  The automation process has really moved travel documents to a higher rate of speed from the ole typewriters.  Makes a person wonder what will occur around the next turn of world travel.

By: Crystal Horner

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

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