Tracking Travel Expenditures

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» Posted by on Jun 5, 2013 in Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Payment Methods | 0 comments

From my experience working with the federal government, they still have difficulty tracking their travel expenditures. “The government presently has very limited capability for management information reporting of its travel usage and spend.” This phrase appeared in the statement of objectives for GSA’s Business Travel Intelligence RFP in 2006. Although the government has the foundational tools (ETS/DTS), vendors (TMC/CTO, SmartPay) and processes (FTR) in place, they still are unable to determine how their money is spent to any degree of specificity.

One key reason is that, unlike corporate clients who maintain a single travel agency for all transactions*, GSA allows each agency to contract with individual travel agencies. Having various travel agencies with various reports and reporting formats adds a layer of complexity and administration that is not present in the corporate market, and makes the task of rolling up all information into a government-wide summary complex and cumbersome. The same is true if not more intricate on the DoD/DTS side, which I understand has current contracts with up to 100 travel agencies. Add on top of that the dynamic that travelers sometimes deal directly with travel vendors (hotels, airlines, etc) and by-pass travel agencies all together, and the data becomes even more diluted.

In 2007, the federal government contracted with TRX to facilitate the consolidation and analysis of travel data. Effective implementation of this project will finally give the federal government the data they so desperately need.

By Ted Schuerman

*According to Runzheimer International 94% of corporations who negotiate lodging rates rely upon travel agency provided reports for negotiations.

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