As stated in the training materials, the role of the travel manager is to facilitate travel in a manner to ensure compliance. In the corporate market, compliance is monitored via a series of reports designed by the travel manager to assess how changes in policy and process effect overall behavior (compliance). Although the federal government has plans to establish similar oversight, the capability from a data standpoint is not yet available.
Once the data does become available, the government will not be left without challenges. The most significant remaining challenge is that the roles and responsibilities of travel manager must evolve accordingly. Currently the primary role of federal travel managers is to ensure travelers understand and comply with policy, which are two necessary and important roles. A third, and somewhat overlooked role, is to modify traveler behavior to minimize costs.
An example is the FedRooms program, which currently is not a mandatory program. Although not mandatory, travelers could save the federal government money if they booked hotels using the FedRooms program. However, program usage is only 2% demonstrating that the goal of saving money is tertiary. Some might argue that saving money is the job of the procurement folks. I would argue the opposite, in that it is the travel managers who provide the procurement officials with the “ammunition” (traveler volume, spend, and compliance results) needed to effectively leverage the governments significant purchasing power.
By Ted Schuerman