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As a travel agent, understanding the history of government travel and how it has affected the importance of adequate travel planning is monumental to a TMC’s success as a government contractor. Some of the most influential changes to government travel affecting travel agencies have been:
- 1980, GSA and DoD received authority to contract and test several travel agencies capabilities.
- October 4th, 1985 DOT issued an order which terminated the antitrust immunity for the airlines to operate SATO, effective April 30th, 1986. This meant the airlines could not create cooperative pricing agreements, and SATO would operate independently.
- November 8th, 1985 section 1464 of the DoD Authorization Act, P.L. 99-144, stated free and open competition for government travel offices and travel services.
- December 10th, 1985, GAO supported the travel industry position stating, arrangements such as SATO as a contractor, and GSA Travel Management Centers are subject to applicable government procurement laws.
- Changes by the airlines eliminating commissions to TMC’s required contract and policy changes in order to pay TMC fees. Fees for TMC services remains one of the essential factors in acquiring and securing government contracts and task orders.
- FTR 301-73,102 mandated all government agencies to utilize a Travel Management System by January, 2001.
Equally as important for travel agencies is understanding the rules and laws that affect and influence how a TMC can acquire a task order and perform to government standards and guidelines. It is essential for a TMC to understand and abide by the governing bodies that have the force and effect of law in government procurement and travel.
- FAR, Federal Acquisition Regulations, governs procurement activities by the federal government.
- DFARS, Defense Acquisition Regulations, is the source for implementation of laws and DoD contracting policies.
- FTR, Federal Travel Regulations, administers the laws governing travel allowances and entitlement for federal employees. This ties directly into TMC knowledge and abiding by city-pair contracts and up to date per diem rates, domestically and internationally.
- JTR, Joint Travel Regulations apply to uniformed serviced member and civilian employees of DoD.
- DSSR, Department or State Standardized Regulations apply directly to per diem rates and rules for foreign travel for all civilian DoD travelers.
Over the past 30 years, government travel has changed monumentally, and the rules that govern travel and TMC’s accommodation of that travel. In this changing environment, up to date knowledge of the procurement process and the laws that govern all federal travel is essential for a GSA approved TMC’s success with government contracts and task orders.
By Scott Carver