Posts Tagged "ETS"

Embedded vs Accommodated

»Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Prior to moving to an eTS in 2006 our agency placed task orders off of the GSA Travel Services Solution (TSS) Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) 599-2 for three separate TMC’s.  As a cross service provider we wanted to provide options to our customers.  Most of our customers selected a mid-sized TMC that provided the best price and also was well know for outstanding customer service.    We rarely had issues with the TMC and knew we could always count on them when our travelers where in a bind. Once we moved to an eTS we considered continuing with one of our current travel agencies as an accommodated TMC.  However, the one TMC, which partnered with our eTS and was embedded, offered a lower price for both traditional and on-line booking and came with a great...

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ETS Customer Implementations

»Posted by on Jan 18, 2015 in Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

The keys to a successful eTS implementation are open communication, documentation, and both parties being consistent and reliable. Our overall goal in eTS customer implementations is to assist in providing a smooth, timely transition by: Clearly defining conversion goals Mitigating risk issues that could result in monetary or time loss Optimizing/revamping current business processes the customer performs Administering end user training on the eTS Our eTS customer implementation process usually consists of four steps. We begin implementations with a project kick off meeting with the agency. These are normally on-site visits at the agency. During this kick off meeting several things are accomplished such as: Introductions A demo of the eTS Provide the...

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»Posted by on Jan 17, 2015 in Hotels | 0 comments

FedRooms is the only official government-wide, government sponsored lodging program initiated and managed by GSA (General Services Administration) to outsource the government hotel program to a contractor.  This is in support of the President’s Management Agenda (to simplify end-to-end travel for the Federal employee).  FedRooms is a streamlined and efficient lodging program designed to bring significant government-wide savings.  FedRooms gives the government an opportunity to save $365 million dollars annually, saving the Treasury a possible $46,000,000.00. FedRooms is available to government travelers, and at no cost to the agency.  FedRooms is available to all federal and military employees as well. FedRooms is a lodging program that travelers are...

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TRX & Business Intelligence

»Posted by on Dec 30, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Payment Methods | 0 comments

The contract with TRX to implement a Business Intelligence system is absolutely the logical next step. Even with ETS and DTS, the federal government still has too many vendors transmitting data to effectively track and manage their travel programs. Having a single consolidated data warehouse from which reports can be generated will provide the government the appropriate tool to manage travel. What was surprising to me about solicitation TFL06-RH-1040 was the vast scope and limited timeline of the project. The project requires that TRX establish data feeds with not only DTS and the three ETS vendors, but also with: multiple charge card vendors (presumably GE Capital, Chase, Citibank, US Bank) every government TMC/CTO (which I understand there are approximately...

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ETS and Culture Change

»Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

When the ETS became mandatory at our agency, we found that there were several unpleasant surprises that had been lurking under the safety of our diffused paper processes.  A definite advantage of the ETS is that it made it much more difficult for various offices to operate their fiefdoms outside of the internal regulations and policies, and in some cases even appropriation law.  Where there was no political will to correct such violations, the ETS provided  an effective mechanism for bringing all parts of the organization into compliance. When we were in the initial pilot format, and the problems became more acute and obvious shortly after we required mandatory use of the system agency-side, we discovered several problems in our internal practices.  Many...

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The E-Travel Service

»Posted by on Dec 13, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

The Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) mandated all government agencies utilize a Travel Management System (TMS) in 2001.  The introduction of electronic travel systems for civilian government agencies was initiated in 2002 by the General Services Administration (GSA) to create an end-to-end travel service to connect travel authorizations, reservations, and the voucher process.  It was initially called the e-Travel Project; and evolved into the present E-Gov Travel Service (ETS). Federal travelers are required to use a Travel Management Service (TMS) and their ETS. In 2003 the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) were published to state in Chapter 301-50:3 that travelers must use the ETS once it becomes available through their TMS.  However, for reasons beyond my...

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Corporatizing or Improving TDY Government Travel Solicitation Processes

»Posted by on Dec 11, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Hotels | 0 comments

Each year, it is my responsibility to solicit all four thousand plus of our hotels for each agency or third party we have relationships with, who have government lodging contracts. The rates must be at or below per diem, must be contracted January 1 through December 31 of program year, are preferably both commissionable and last room available. Also, the hotels offer their own non-contracted government rate that may or may not be at per diem. Although these are pretty simple requirements and standard for all participating properties, they do have challenges that corporatization may improve. First, per diems are issued in early August to be effective October of that year through September of the following year. Since we currently contract January to December, all...

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ETS Receipt Management Tool

»Posted by on Dec 4, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Payment Methods | 0 comments

On September 22, 2006 the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) was amended to mandate the use of the Receipt Management tool within an Electronic Travel System (ETS).  Within the Per Diem section of the FTR a statement was added, which states that hard copy, receipts should be electronically scanned and submitted with your electronic travel claim when your agency has this capability available with the use of the ETS.  Additionally it is stated that Approving Officials are now required to review the attached electronic receipts during their review/approval process. At our agency, Travelers are responsible for making sure that their receipts are attached correctly and the attachment is legible.  All receipts for air, lodging, rental car, and any single expense greater...

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The Sabre Global Distribution System within our e-Travel System

»Posted by on Dec 3, 2014 in Airlines, Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems | 0 comments

Our E Travel System uses the Sabre Global Distribution System as an integral part of the overall travel system. The GDS is a legacy data based system that is used by all travel suppliers such as airlines, hotels and rental car vendors to automatically book travel. The GDS is separate from the commercial internet booking sites, although some booking sites will use GDS information to offer information to their users and to assist with bookings. Not all airlines and hotels use a Global Distribution System as the GDS charges travel vendors to display inventories. If a supplier uses a GDS, it is the airline carrier, hotel, or rental car company’s responsibility to keep the GDS updated with current information. In some instances some small airlines do not use the GDS...

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Centralized Travel Services

»Posted by on Dec 1, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

John Smith works at XYZ agency as an office manager.  Jill Doe works at XYZ agency as well as an auditor.   John and Jill end up sitting next to each other for lunch at a conference their agency sent them both TDY to.  As they get to know each other better the subject of their travel plans comes up.  John says he is staying at the conference hotel paying 150% of the per diem.  Jill states she was not allowed to go over per diem and is staying across town taking a taxi each day.  John says he had to take a contract carrier to the conference and when they compare costs he discovers Jill took a penalty fare that cost half as much.   John says when he gets back he will submit a paper voucher claim but Jill says she will use an automated system.  As they...

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Government Travel: From Old School to the New “Mobile & Connected” School

»Posted by on Nov 25, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In a very short time (years, not decades), government travel has gone from old school where travelers had to call their Travel Management Center (TMC) to book every reservation to working with first-generation on-line booking tools that may or may not have been a real time connection. These tools were not always user friendly but they lowered the agencies overall travel cost. From there we progressed to on-line booking engines designed to mimic the experience travelers had when booking personal trips on leisure web sites. These tools were developed to be in compliance with the Presidents E-Gov Initiatives to reengineer the federal government’s travel process to realize significant cost savings and improve employee productivity. E-Gov Travel Services (ETS)...

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Travel Management Centers

»Posted by on Nov 23, 2014 in Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

With the onset of ETS systems, the vendor of each system had to select an imbedded partner to act as the travel agent.  As referred to by GSA, the Travel Management Center (TMC) or Commercial Travel Office (CTO), had to be accredited by the Airline Reporting Corporation to sell airline tickets and other travel services.  The TMC/CTO is responsible for issuing tickets requested and approved through the ETS.  The TMC/CTO also had to provide full travel services along with 24/7 emergency services. Travel agents working on government travel accounts receive customized training on policies and procedures for official travel.  They also have experience with the GDS system and have access to the Federal Travel Regulations. The most common way of booking reservations...

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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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Rental Cars for Government Travelers

»Posted by on Nov 1, 2014 in Industry Postings | 0 comments

In support of E-Gov Travel, our Bureau staff has to know a great deal about travel policy in order to assist callers to our Help Desk.  Not only do we answer questions about our E-Gov Travel vendor’s product, but we have to know about travel policy as well.  One area we receive questions about is rental cars. First and foremost, rental cars must be approved in the authorization by the approving official.  The approving official must take into account if there is a Government vehicle available for use, or if the employee has a GOV assigned to them (if the TDY is within driving distance), or the approver selects that mode of transportation.  If the TDY is out of the driving area, the approving official must think about the need for the car as compared to...

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ETS Contract

»Posted by on Oct 26, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Industry Postings | 0 comments

When GSA awarded travel government contracts to only #3 ETS vendors almost ten years ago, the travel community was shaken by the government’s move to take away opportunities of  small to medium size travel agencies to take a piece of the pie.  The GSA vision for a firm fixed price, multiple awards and Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) was the ultimate confirmation that government will streamline the broken process of government travel starting from financial initiation of travel authorization.  Having the understanding that federal agency and the DoD travel process functions totally different, Defense Travel System responds to the needs of DoD travel and accounting requirements unlike federal agency. Both federal agency and DoD have encountered...

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EGov Travel (ETS)

»Posted by on Sep 24, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

We are a government Franchise Fund that performs reimbursable work for other agencies to save tax dollars. One function is E-Gov Travel. We offer E-Gov Travel to our customers and run a help desk to offer assistance to travelers using the software and in federal travel policy. We were fortunate to be providing this service prior to E-Gov Travel (then eTS) and were involved in the change to this system. We lead the initiative for my agency and participated in IV&V testing of all the vendors before making our selection.  We were the first agency to place a E Travel task order with GSA. Our group does TDY and PCS (relocation) travel. We also have an interface in our accounting system for obligations and payments as well as staff that administer the travel...

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Electronic Travel Service

»Posted by on Sep 21, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

The President’s Management Agenda (PMA), set forth in 2001, is intended to improve the efficiency and management of the federal government by improving policy and reducing fraud, waste, and abuse.  As explained in the PMA, “new programs are frequently created with little review or assessment of the already-existing programs to address the same perceived problem. Over time, numerous programs with overlapping missions and competing agendas grow up alongside one another-wasting money and baffling citizens.”  The General Services Administration (GSA) manages five of the initiatives including E-Gov Travel. E-Gov Travel was launched in August 2002 as a way to use technology to engineer cost savings and employee productivity.  Its use is mandated by...

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Communication During A System Migration

»Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

A high level of communication is needed for a smooth transition from a traditional Travel Management Center (TMC) environment to an Electronic Travel System (ETS) environment.  People can be very reluctant to change, especially when they’ve used certain processes to complete travel over several years.  There’s usually a bit of anxiety, especially on the part of the traveler.  ETS systems put more of the process in the traveler’s (or travel preparer’s) hands.  While it is a faster process with so many things automated, I’ve seen many travelers who were more comfortable with a manual process of writing up their travel authorization, getting written approval from their manager, and then having their TMC issue the tickets.  Using an ETS system can seem...

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The Evolution of Government Travel

»Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in Airlines, Electronic Travel Systems, History and Overview, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Twenty years ago I was assigned to the office that was responsible for travel processing.  In 1989 very few employees had computers and most of the work continued to be done as it had been for decades – by paper.   At that time a traveler would work with their secretary to complete a multi-carbon copy travel authorization.  The per diem rates were looked up in a GSA published book and the secretary would complete the estimates after calling the airline and hotel to make reservations.  Once the paper authorization or voucher was completed it was sent to several people for signature and eventually ended up in the Finance Office. Once the Finance Office received the documents, a technician verified the per diem rates and quarter day calculations for first and...

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Government Travel Management: A Summary

»Posted by on Aug 12, 2014 in Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, History and Overview, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Background: In the old days and before the 1978 Airlines Deregulation Act, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) used to decide the fares between any two cities. They decided which airline flew from/to cities and how much they should charge. Well, the 1978Airline Deregulation Act changed the dynamics and working ways of the airline industry. It allowed airlines to decide where to fly and how much they can charge. Competition was the name of the game. What was the government reaction to the deregulation act? In 1980, the government using the sheer volume of business it controls was able to negotiate and establish “government fares or CITY PAIR PROGRAM”. “Fly America Act” requires the use of US flag carriers or US Code Share flights. These fares were to become...

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Travel Management Center Experience

»Posted by on Aug 8, 2014 in Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

It is very interesting how different agencies interact with their Travel Management Center.  My first experience as a travel administrator was while working for a bureau at the Department of State.  It’s there that I initially learned the relationship between the TMC, the administrators, and travelers.  We had our TMC actually on-site, located on the first floor.  If travelers had problems with their tickets, or making reservations, they could just walk into the TMC office and get immediate assistance.  This was a very convenient arrangement as a travel administrator.  With travelers going directly to the TMC for reservation issues, more of my time as an administrator could be focused on solving problems travelers were incurring using the ETS system. My...

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Electronic Travel System

»Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

Within my agency we use the Defense Travel System (DTS) which is the ETS for Department of Defense. On March 28, 2008, the former Under Secretary for Reserve Affairs David Chu made it mandatory that DTS was to be use the Secretary of Defense mandated the use of DTS. This was as a result of the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 1997. My agency started using the system in 2007. It was a hard transition not only for me, but the travelers.  I was always use to processing travel the manual way. Therefore, my knowledge of this system was zero.  We hired a contractor for six month to help sat up our organization. A few months thereafter, I attended Defense Travel Administrator Training. As I worked with the program, I became familiar with providing guidance with...

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Rental Car

»Posted by on Jul 14, 2014 in Rental Cars | 0 comments

The Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO) has managed the rental car program for the Federal government since October 2007.  The Government Car Rental Program is designed to be used for official government business to meet mission requirements. There are many benefits of the Government Rental Car Program.  One of the most significant benefits to government personnel on official business is the collision damage waiver (CDW) insurance.  This insurance is included at no extra charge.  Besides attractive rates, other benefits include unlimited mileage, age restriction reduced from 25 to 18, and much more. Rental cars can be reserved using the E-Gov Travel System (ETS) or by contacting the Travel Management Center (TMC).  The preferred method of payment is the...

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Why Federal Travelers Should Not Use a Commercial Internet Site to Book Reservations

»Posted by on Jul 10, 2014 in Business Practices | 0 comments

The prudent person rule in the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) requires travelers to take the same care in incurring travel expenses as they would if they were traveling on personal business.  The FTR mandates the use of the electronic travel system (ETS) for travel reservations and the use of city pair fares for flights.  However, it should be noted that there is a provision within the FTR which allows the traveler an approved exception to either one of these mandates. The City Pair Program (CPP) which was developed by the General Services Administration (GSA) to provide discounted air transportation services to Federal Government travelers with an average savings of 60-69% below commercial air fares.  The CPP is projected to save the Federal Government...

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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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Cardholder Statement into Travel Voucher, Can The Two Be Joined?

»Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Payment Methods | 0 comments

Is there a more efficient way for the travel charge cardholder to track charges and make payments or for agencies to monitor misuse of the individually billed travel charge card? The individually billed travel (IBT) charge card is issued to individuals to be used for approved official government travel expenses.   Expenses that must be charged to the card include common carrier charges such as airfare or train, lodging facilities, and rental car.  When practical, the card can be and should be used for meals, parking, tolls, taxi fares, and other miscellaneous allowable travel expenses.  When necessary, the card can be used for cash advances for those out of pocket expenses that are more convenient to pay with cash.  While the government travel card becomes...

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Transitioning to an ETS System

»Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In 2003 General Services Administration (GSA) awarded three companies with E-Gov Travel Service contracts.  Once the contracts were awarded, agencies were given until December 2004 to select an ETS vendor. I was hired in 2005 to support travelers with this new eTravel system.  The agency that I work for provides administrative support services on a competitive and full cost-reimbursable basis to other government agencies.  We operate like a public business and do not receive any appropriated funds. We have two branches within travel  – Relocation and Temporary Duty (TDY).  I work in the TDY branch.  Our services include E-Gov Travel implementation, help desk support, training, travel-related payments, travel policy, and charge card administration. In the...

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Space Age Versus Stone Age

»Posted by on May 10, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

I often think about the Electronic Travel Systems (ETS) that have recently been developed by contractors and implemented by the government, and I can’t help recalling the “not so good-old-days” when the less sophisticated systems ruled this environment.  Consequently, things were much more cumbersome and time consuming. Before today’s technology the tools we were constrained to from a hotel perspective seem primitive.  Although I have never had the prodigious opportunity to utilize the ETS/DTS from an end user vantage, I believe my experience can lend testimony to the giant technological leaps and improved systems we have come to develop and implement in a very short time.  I feel the same holds true in most aspects of business and life. Before global,...

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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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eGov Travel System Featuring GovTrip

»Posted by on Mar 18, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

There are three choices when an agency selects an eGov Travel System.  The choices are; Carlson Wagonlit Government Travel’s E2Solutions, EDS’s Fed Traveler and Northrop Grumman Mission System’s GovTrip. All of the eGov Travel Systems meet the minimum requirements which were defined by General Services Administration (GSA), who awarded the contract.  This article will be referencing GovTrip. GovTrip forces the  travelers to comply with the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR).  The FTR governs the expenses the traveler is allowed to claim and the requirements which must be met in order to conduct official travel on behalf of the Government.  An agency can have travel policy which is stricter than the FTR.  GovTrip can be set up to reflect some...

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Travel Professional Resources

»Posted by on Mar 14, 2014 in History and Overview, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Communication is essential to the success of the Government Travel Professional and its agencies. The Government Travel Professional’s responsibility is to clearly communicate with the agency and its peers of any new updates, transitions, policies, and procedures.  Special attention is placed when a new system is implemented.  In addition, the Government Travel Professional keeps daily communication through phone or e-mail with TMC/CTO.  Communication is transferred in various means in which keeps the government organized while keeping their employees informed. The government ensures all stakeholders are informed of a new system/s. They cover all aspects when a new system will be taking place this is accomplished through the successful communication...

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ETS/DTS Imbedded vs. Accommodated TMC

»Posted by on Mar 3, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

ETS or DTS after the federal agency chooses an Electronic Travel System it must interface with the TMC or Travel Agency.   One may notice that there are many travel companies listed on the TSS schedule offering accommodated services. Know that each of these agencies has gone through a fairly rigorous test to be available for use by federal agency states credibility these companies.  Their financial health, the evaluation of the staff, key employees, and their ability to know their clients’ needs and work with them on a daily basis. If the purpose of the ETS or DTS system is to provide a seamless approval and reservation system that can operate quickly and efficiently all while providing rapid reimbursement to the federal traveler for their out of pockets...

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A Traveler’s Choice

»Posted by on Jan 15, 2014 in Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

The Federal Travel Regulations state that travelers have the right to choose their lodging as long as it is within agency policy.  When the traveler is booking hotel accommodations using the E-Gov electronic travel system (ETS) and has an individually billed government travel card (IBA), the traveler has the option to select the hotel they want to stay in giving first consideration to FedRooms.   However if the lodging is being charged to the Centrally Billed Account (CBA), the traveler may have to stay at an alternate hotel. When lodging is being charged to a non-point of sale CBA, someone within the agency that is authorized to use the CBA would need to place a telephone call to the hotel and reserve a room.  When calling to make a reservation, the only...

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Federal Agencies Partner with the Travel Management Center

»Posted by on Dec 31, 2013 in Contracting for Travel Services, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

A professional travel agency, the Travel Management Center (TMC), is the federal agency’s link to the travel industry.  The TMC agent is experienced in the use of the Gobal Distribution Systems (GDS) and is specially trained in the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) to assist the federal traveler. As a partner with E-GovTravel Services (ETS), the TMC facilitates the federal agency in reserving and booking transportation and hotel services in compliance with the FTR. How does the TMC assist in arranging for travel accommodations?  The federal agency and the TMC establish a written agreement or ‘Business Rules’ defining their relationship for reservation assistance, automated and full service. The on-line booking feature of ETS initiates automated...

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TMC Selection

»Posted by on Dec 29, 2013 in Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

My government agency not only uses the imbedded TMC in E-Gov Travel, we also use an accommodated TMC.  In addition, we also have a task order on the GSA TSS Schedule (Travel Services Solutions) with a TMC that is used apart from E-Gov Travel for telephone reservations only. We have a mechanism to still prepare the authorizations and vouchers for travel in our E-Gov Travel system and record the transportation expense. We are glad that our chosen E-Gov Travel vendor recently allowed more TMCs to participate in E-Gov Travel. Prior to E-Gov Travel, we created our own independent contract for travel management services, since the existing GSA contract was non-mandatory. One thing the travelers find cumbersome is the fee process. It’s difficult for the...

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Travel Management Center

»Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

The Travel Management Center (TMC) is an accredited travel agency that is under contract with the Government to provide travel services for official TDY travel.  These travel agencies are professional organizations that sell airline tickets and other travel services.  They are responsible for issuing tickets requested and approved through the Electronic Travel System, (ETS).  The TMC also must provide full travel services along with 24/7 emergency services. The TMC provides help desk support to assist federal travelers with travel arrangements that require manual handling, such as changes in reservations, emergency travel, and combining business and personal travel. Travel agents working on government travel accounts receive customized training on policies and...

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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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ETS Implementation

»Posted by on Nov 21, 2013 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

In 1995 my agency purchased the Gelco Travel Manager software and I worked on transitioning our travelers from a paper based manual system to a fully automated one that was hosted in-house.   Almost 10 years after implementing an electronic travel system, the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) were updated to require all government agencies to migrate to one of three ETS systems hosted by the vendor.  During those 10 years with Travel Manager the Bureau I work for began franchising accounting and travel services and we converted our 30 plus customers from a manual travel process to that of an automated one.  During those years, we supported our customers with training and a robust help desk.  In addition, we had developed a strong travel program that revolved...

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The Sabre Global Distribution System

»Posted by on Oct 7, 2013 in Global Distribution Systems | 0 comments

During my many years as an employee in our travel office, I have conducted many training sessions for our various government agency customers.  The reservations section within our electronic travel system (ETS) is by far one of the most ‘inquired about’ sections during my training sessions.  The reservations section within our travel system houses the capability for users to book their hotel, rental car, rail and airfare via the Sabre Global Distribution System (GDS). The Sabre GDS allows access to government negotiated rates, policy compliance at the point of sale, and automation of reservations and ticketing, which improves the efficiency of the overall government travel booking process.  The Sabre GDS provides access to preferred government rates such as...

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Problems with My Agency’s ETS

»Posted by on Sep 24, 2013 in Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

In 2009, my agency transitioned to the mandatory use of an ETS vendor for travel.  I won’t mention the vendor’s name, but I’d like to address some problems I’ve noticed with our particular vendor. One issue that has caused some frustration is the lack of visibility in our ETS.  For managers, this is a particularly frustrating experience.  For example, if one manager approves a traveler’s authorization, another manager cannot view the authorization that was approved.  This becomes a problem when, for example, Manager X approves travel for Mr. Doe since Mr. Doe’s manager was out of the office.  When Mr. Doe’s manager returns to the office, he has no idea what was approved by Manager X unless a hard copy was printed for him.  And creating a bunch...

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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...

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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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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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Travel Professional Resources

»Posted by on Mar 10, 2013 in Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Everybody who is involved in Government travel whether in systems administration, finances, travel consultants, travelers and others have many resources to help them fulfill their jobs. Online training on ETS/DTS  (GDS for travel agents)  for vendors to access appropriate financial codes for travelers, are some resources that can help. Attending seminars and educational programs from professional organizations dealing with Government travel can also be a valuable asset.   Federal Travel regulations and Regulations Integration: Government travel is conducted under various types of regulation laws and rules . Reservations, ticketing and travel activities like hotels, rent a car or Per Diem allowance, have  to comply with either/or Federal Acquisition...

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DTS, ETS & FedRooms

»Posted by on Nov 2, 2012 in Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels, Payment Methods | 2 comments

The federal government has taken on monumental tasks implementing the DTS system and ETS systems, and I commend DoD and GSA for their actions. Surprisingly, although the systems have been in place for many years now, my experience has been that neither group has been able to obtain the type of management reports necessary to effectively alter traveler behavior or leverage their purchasing power during negotiations. As a simple example, let’s take the FedRooms program. Currently DoD does not participate in the program. Therefore the FedRooms rates, according to GSA’s FedRooms manager, are not even loaded into the DTS system for display to DoD travelers. On the ETS side of the house, while FedRooms rates (XVU code) are displayed, they are displayed with up to 20...

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Global Distribution Systems

»Posted by on Oct 30, 2012 in Global Distribution Systems | 0 comments

My agency uses the program, E-Gov Travel Service (ETS), for travel services for its federal employees.  This is an example of a Global Distribution System (GDS).  The ETS can be used to book flights, hotel lodging, and rental cars, as well as reimburse employees for travel services.  ETS is primarily a self-service system whereby employees enter their travel plans and budget authorizers approve or return plans.  Overall, the ETS is convenient and user-friendly.  I have entered dozens of travel plans for my job as a facilities inspections officer.  One of the biggest benefits I have found is that the ETS automatically calculates the correct government per diem. My major complaint with the ETS is the transaction fees.  As stated on page 43 of...

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Car Rentals and ETS

»Posted by on Jun 21, 2012 in Electronic Travel Systems, Rental Cars | 0 comments

CAR RENTALS: Today Car rentals are all run by Corporations and private enterprises (they used to be owned by Auto manufactures). This $16 billion industry offers its services to the Government through formal agreements. The Car Rental Program for the government is now a day’s run by the Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO). The government business is valued at $300 million with over 2.25 million cars at 5000 locations. The car rental agreement between the (DTMO) and the car rental companies offers a very competitive service to the government using various car sizes and benefits like: free CDW, Unlimited Mileage, Reduced driver age to 18 for official travel (with no underage driver fee), online bookings on DTS,ETS, Quality control and Car Upgrade from some...

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Data Collection Under the TRX MIS Contract: Implementation, Deployment, and Strategic Sourcing Issues

»Posted by on Apr 18, 2012 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems | 0 comments

The GSA (General Services Administration) often enters into City-Pairs negotiations hampered by a relative lack of hard data on Government travel.  Where substantive data has been available it has not been as detailed or as encompassing as the Government requires to effectively support negotiations.  This lack of effective data caused the Travel Program management Office (PMO) of the GSA to conduct an Full and Open competition for a vendor that could provide services to make up for this lack of information.  The solicitation requirement was to obtain the best travel data aggregation and reporting solution that satisfied government requirements at the best value.  A trade-off analysis was performed between technical and cost and past performance to make the...

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»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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