» Posted by on Feb 3, 2015 in Electronic Travel Systems, Government Traveler Comments, Industry Postings, Travel Professional Resources, White Papers | 0 comments

CHANGE is defined by Merriam Webster as “to make different or to replace with another”. Change is something that affects people in different ways. Some people love change. Others have issues with change. Like it or not, change happens. If we did not change, we would still be using pen and paper. When a child is born, the baby changes every day, beginning with their first smile. Then it’s on to their first word and then the first step! Businesses have to be willing to make changes in order to be successful. The same concept applies to government, especially to the travel world.

I started my government career ten years ago. There have been quite a few changes in those ten years. Change was happening when I started. At that time, my agency was converting to a new accounting system. There were a lot of growing pains during the conversion. However, I’m sure there is not one person who would want to use that antiquated system now. The accounting system that we converted to at that time was more user-friendly and had better reporting capability.

We are now in the process of converting our customers to an upgraded version of that accounting system! Once again, we are experiencing the growing pains that go along with conversions. However I am sure once we get used to the new version, we will not want to go back. We are learning new things about the accounting system every day. Our customers will benefit from this change too. We have been able to assign certain fields with important data, therefore making the reporting even better than what we were providing.

Not only are we changing accounting systems, but we will soon be converting to a new E-Gov Travel Service (ETS) system. It is hard to believe it has been eight years since we started using one of the mandated systems and that the current contract will be expiring next November. There were quite a few growing pains for our customers when they converted to the ETS system. Some agencies were using an in-house automated system, some were using a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) system, and others were still using paper! Needless to say, the conversions were not easy for us or for the document preparers and travelers.

We provided hands-on training, help desk support, written guidance and many other forms of support to the agencies. I am sure this time will be no different. Who knows what other ways we will come up with in order to get the customers adjusted to the new system. We are always trying to come up with different ways to communicate policies and procedures and to educate our travelers.

The new E-Gov contract will be in effect for 15 years. I am really anxious to see what the new ETS2 provider has to offer. My agency assisted our current ETS provider with many improvements to their system. We participated in user group meetings, questionnaires, and submitted requests for enhancements. I hope that the new system will be as good as what we have now, if not better. Therefore, I have high expectations for the new provider! We need and must stay up-to-date on the latest forms of technology, while providing easy and fast service to the government travelers. Our travelers are working under the motto, “do more with less”. Therefore, the systems that we use must be able to be accessed just about anywhere and must also be easy to use. I vision a system that can be accessed via a traveler’s cell phone from anywhere in the world. Maybe the system can be voice activated. For instance, maybe the new IPhones can be connected with the ETS2 system. It would be a convenient feature if a traveler could speak into their phone and book their reservations.

There are many changes happening in the government travel world. There is no time for boredom! It seems like the minute we get used to something, it is time for change. I am sure the new ETS2 system is not the only thing that will be changing. With the mergers of airlines, there could possibly be a change to the airline City Pair Program (CPP). We have already been notified that there is one change that is happening, which is actually no change! Most of the per diem rates for lodging and meals and incidentals (M&IE) will not be increasing this coming fiscal year. This is a first for many years. This was General Services Administration (GSA) way of cutting travel costs for FY 13.


“The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency.”

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