Posts Tagged "E-Gov"

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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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FedRooms

»Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 in Business Practices, Hotels | 0 comments

FedRooms, formerly known as the Federal Premiere Lodging Program (FPLP), is the official Federal Government lodging program that will allow for substantial savings.  The FedRooms rate in comparison to “government” rates will always be at lower cost to matching prices, which creates a savings for your agency. The Government negotiates FedRooms rates while “government” rates are set by the vendor and are arbitrary. Other benefits of staying at a FedRooms hotel are the 4 p.m. (or later) day of arrival cancellation policy, no early departure fees or any other hidden fees.  Hotels that are approved by FEMA as fire safe hotels offer the Fedrooms rate. Book the FedRooms rate using either your E-Gov System, your travel management center (TMC) or online...

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Contracting for Travel Services

»Posted by on Jan 24, 2015 in Contracting for Travel Services | 0 comments

Procurement and Travel are not usually handled by the same types of offices. Yet they need to come together when trying to procure either Travel Management Services or an E-Gov Travel System. The travel teams are the functional experts that can identify the needs of the agencies and what the specific requirements will be. The contracting officer can counsel on the complicated procurement processes and ensure all steps are accurately followed. The request for information stage and drafting the unambiguous requirements can be one of the most difficult steps. If you miss something that may be vital to your agency, it may be defined as out of scope later in the process and require modification. In an effort to avoid costly mistakes, involve as many subject matter...

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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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Global Distribution Systems (GDS)

»Posted by on Jan 20, 2015 in Airlines, Business Practices, Global Distribution Systems, Hotels, Rental Cars, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

How much do you know about the global distribution system (GDS) that is used by your E-Gov Travel System?  Maybe your E-Gov System uses Sabre, Galileo/Apollo, Worldspan or Amadeus.  Currently, these are the four major GDS systems. My agency chose an E-Gov Travel System that uses the GDS, Sabre. The GDS houses the necessary information that will allow travel agents to book and sell airline tickets, book hotel rooms, make rental car reservations, and reserve rail reservations and more. The first GDS, Sabre, was created by the airlines in the 1960s.  Sabre has been around a lot longer than its competitors; Amadeus was created in 1987, Worldspan in 1990 and Galileo/Apollo in 1993. These complex systems have numerous capabilities.  Besides what was previously...

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US Government Rental Car Program

»Posted by on Dec 10, 2014 in Rental Cars | 0 comments

The Federal Government has a rental car program, which is managed by the Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO).  DTMO has managed this program since October 2007. You may be asking what are the benefits of the U.S. Government rental car program?  One of the most notable benefits is that the collision damage waiver (CDW) insurance is included in the negotiated rate. Besides the attractive rates, other benefits include unlimited mileage, adjusted rates according to size of car and much more. These rental cars can be booked using your E-Gov travel system or using the traditional method by calling your Travel Management Center (TMC).  The rental car reservation is booked and charged to the traveler’s individual Government charge card.   If a traveler does not...

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Rental Car Costs – Paying the GARS Fee

»Posted by on Nov 21, 2014 in Rental Cars | 0 comments

I provide a great deal of E-Gov Travel System training to our various customers’.  During training, it seems the same question arises during my coverage of the rental car section.  The very popular question is:  Do I have to pay the GARS (Government Administrative Rate Supplement) fee?  The answer to this question is yes, all Government travelers must pay the GARS fee.  However it should be noted; The GARS fee and the optional insurance that may be offered are two different things.  The GARS fee is $5.00 per day worldwide and is paid by all Government renters.  Travelers should be aware, that the $5.00 fee is in addition to the daily rate and is not automatically included in the daily rental rate of the vehicle. The GARS fee is an administrative fee which...

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Procurement and Management, the Federal Travel Disconnect

»Posted by on Nov 7, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

When considering travel programs, program management and procurement are both essential.  Once travel is procured, the role of the program manager is to focus on getting the maximum value from any and all negotiated agreements through careful follow up, tracking, and compliance monitoring. In turn, suppliers are more inclined to offer better deals if they believe the corporate client closely tracks usage, trains travelers, and communicates policy in ways that lead to significantly higher compliance levels.  It is the combination of procurement and program management that leads to effective overall travel programs.  In this paper I explore and assess the federal government’s approach to procurement and program management, and offer recommendations to...

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Global Distribution Systems

»Posted by on Oct 22, 2014 in 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 ManagementCenter 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...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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SmartPay2

»Posted by on Feb 7, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

Smartpay 2 is the biggest change in payment methods that most agencies have experienced in 10 years. The original Smartpay program took years to enhance and develop, but most agencies are extremely proud of their partnerships with the charge card vendors. It absolutely revolutionized the micro purchase process throughout the Government and has eased the burden of incurring travel expenses on Government travelers. One major shock of the Smartpay 2 solicitation was that a current Smartpay vendor – Bank of America, who serviced several Government agencies, decided not to participate in the resolicitation. This meant even agencies that were comfortable with their electronic access systems and reporting processes would be forced to choose a new vendor. Most...

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E-Gov Travel Simplifies Travel Voucher Processing

»Posted by on Oct 19, 2013 in Business Practices, 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 claim a...

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FedRooms Adoption

»Posted by on Jun 27, 2013 in Hotels | 0 comments

Before E-Gov Travel when I went on a trip the first thing I would do is to decide on what hotel I wanted to stay in.  I did this in various ways such as internet searches, past experiences or referrals.  My normal destination is to DC so I would try to find a hotel that was either close to the location I was traveling to or at least close to a metro stop.  Once a decision was made, I called the hotel and asked for the Government rate, which many times exceeded per diem.  Even after calling several hotels there were times I could not find any hotels that offered a rate at or below per diem and I ended up having to request reimbursement for actual expenses on my lodging. When our agency moved to a eTS and required that we book Fedrooms hotels when possible, many...

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Communication

»Posted by on Jun 23, 2013 in Business Practices | 0 comments

Communication is a key ingredient in any business or aspect of life.  In our agency, one of our biggest assets is our ability to communicate well within our office, with the customers we service, and the communication between us and the vendors we work with on a daily basis.  We focus on high quality customer service.  Our travel helpdesk is staffed with technicians who are very knowledgeable in the E Gov Travel system and the Federal Travel Regulations. Our technicians answer any questions the traveler may have regarding the FTR or questions that pertain to the creation of documents in the E Gov Travel software.  Our customers have access to our helpdesk five days a week within the hours of 6:00am to 6:00pm.  The most common calls are from first time...

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E Gov Travel – The Transition and Training Process

»Posted by on May 19, 2013 in Airlines, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Hotels, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Beginning in September of 2004, our agency began converting our customers from the legacy travel system to the new E Gov Travel system.  With approximately thirty agencies to convert, we completed the transition within a twelve month time-frame.  Even though this schedule was quite intense, we were able to complete this transition successfully due to the cooperation of everyone involved, the organization of a well thought out project plan, and a detailed training plan. For each customer to convert from the legacy system to the new one, there were two people in our agency assigned to lead each team.  We were responsible for performing all of the background maintenance tasks, such as routing lists, the people table, and security groups. We also trained all...

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ETS and the FTR

»Posted by on Apr 24, 2013 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

A major benefit of converting to an E-Gov travel system is that the system enforces travelers to comply with the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR).  The FTR governs what expenses the traveler is allowed to claim and what requirements must be met in order to conduct official travel on behalf of the Government.  An agency may also have a travel policy which is stricter than the FTR.  The E-Gov travel system can also be set up to reflect some of the agency’s requirements in addition to the FTR requirements. Pre-audits have been built into the electronic system, which makes the travelers follow the guidelines. The E-Gov travel system has a built-in reservation module, which allows travelers/document preparers to select their airfare reservations.  Travelers...

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Transition to Smart Pay 2

»Posted by on Mar 12, 2013 in Electronic Travel Systems, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

November 30, 2008, marked the beginning of the new Travel Charge Card Program called Smart Pay 2 (SP2).  Federal Government travelers are encouraged to apply for an individual Government charge card in order to pay for their travel expenses.  The previous 10-year contract, also known as Smart Pay 1 (SP1), expired on November 29, 2008.  Various individuals from my agency were extremely involved in the selection of our credit card vendor.  As it turned out, the incumbent charge card vendor was awarded the new 10-year contract. Internally, our credit card team conducted weekly meetings with the individuals from each section who were assigned to the project so that the conversion would be completed accurately and timely.  In addition to working with the credit...

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Government Travel System Support

»Posted by on Feb 7, 2013 in Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Government employees are mandated by the Federal Travel Regulations to use an E-Gov Travel Service when made available by their agency. Most government travelers are familiar with on-line booking engines such as Expedia, Travelocity, etc. when making reservations for personal travel. However, the E-Gov travel systems may not be as user friendly since travel regulations are integrated with the system. Travelers often find that they need assistance when preparing their travel documents in the system and making reservations. At my agency, we provide travel help desk support to other government agencies. This support ranges from assisting travelers with system functionality on a small scale to training infrequent travelers on how to use the system. When appropriate we...

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How the Federal Travel Regulations Affect Our Agency

»Posted by on Aug 14, 2011 in Business Practices, History and Overview, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

The Federal Travel Regulations are an important part of the work we perform in our office on a daily basis.  We provide other agencies with a full service travel help desk in which our personnel is often asked to quote the FTR and clarify any confusion the government traveler may be experiencing while traveling for business purposes. However, in order to answer more complex questions, we have two policy experts within our office who research issues and respond to the traveler in a timely manner. We also perform post-payment audits of travelers’ vouchers on a monthly basis.  We must ensure that travelers are complying with the FTR in areas in which the E Gov travel system isn’t capable of verifying.  For instance, the FTR requires that a traveler...

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