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 control or understanding there remain individuals and groups who appear to continue to follow business as usual with no regard to the change in the FTR.  And, until someone with a lot more importance or influence than I have puts a stop to it, the practice will never change.

The ETS is the current way of doing business in the government. In November, 2003, three competitively bid E-Gov Travel Service Contracts were awarded to: CW Government Data Systems Corp (EDS), Northrop Grumman Mission Systems (NGMS).

Over my 20+ years in the travel field for the government; I have seen many changes.  However, I believe the current ETS can be a highly effective way of doing business IF and WHEN we can train, convince, or somehow force the employees out there who are resisting the change to utilize the system.  As long as there remain exceptions (as in employees) we will never have a fully effective system.

The current ETS is not designed to handle the Permanent Change of Station (PCS) vouchers, so these will continue to be processed manually at this time.

I believe that as Bureau Administrator for the ETS, it is very important for me to maintain an open line of communication with both the Department and our contracted ETS vendor.

Having a good working relationship is important no matter what level you are, or who you are working with.  In my position, it is extremely important as customer service is my main concern.   As travel administrator, I am the help desk for my office.  I also have Regional administrators who forward issues they cannot resolve up to me.  I serve as the liaison between the Regional administrators and the Department and ETS Vendor.

The relationship you build with your ETS vendor is a very important relationship.  We count on them to provide us the flights, hotels, and rental cars that we need to conduct our business; at the lowest possible prices.  If you do not have a good relationship with your vendor, how do you expect them to be willing to work with you on getting flights to small offices loaded into the GDS?  Or to make programming quirks or changes to enhance the system to better suit our needs?

Sure, there are times and issues that we all wish would get resolved, we as government employees feel the ETS vendors just aren’t listening to us on the priority of some of the issues, however; after taking this course, I now understand that the vendor is probably sitting over there with a list just as long as ours trying to figure out how to make everything work for everyone.

If you have a good working relationship with the E-Gov vendors TMC team, they will be more willing to work with you in resolving your help desk issues, and to resolve questions that they get from our employees.  Gradually; by working together, the issues and problems will decrease, which means the call volume for both of you decreases.

The ETS is a constantly evolving system, as we mold and modify it to make it compatible with our day-to-day operations.  Of course, the travel industry is constantly evolving as is government reporting regulations, so the ETS system must continue to be a work in progress to keep up with the changes demanded of it and its users.  Not only are we making demands for changes to keep up for current reporting requirements, we are preparing for implementation of a new financial system, so our ETS vendor is having to work with us on that as well.

Presently, we are in the testing mode for the next version of our ETS system, which I hope implements easier than the first.  So far; it appears to be more intuitive and user friendly which is what our travelers were asking for.

Shirley Keller

“The comments presented here are mine personally and do not reflect the views of either my agency or the government.”

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