Aldmyr aims to intercept DOD travel biz

With the Defense Travel System still several years from full deployment, software vendor Aldmyr Systems Inc. has been steadily developing Defense Department clientele for its own travel management system, which company officials are positioning as a DTS alternative, at least for the short term.

DTS, which will be fully rolled out in 2001, will replace an antiquated paper-based travel voucher process with an integrated computer-based system. BDM International Inc., now part of TRW Inc., was awarded the $263 million DTS contract earlier this year.

Aldmyr's PerDiemAzing (PDA) software meets all the DTS program's requirements but is available today, said Don Bailey, president of Aldmyr, Lanham, Md.

Most of the company's DOD customers are pilot sites set up by DOD about three years ago when the department began planning the DTS program. Of the 27 pilot sites launched then, Aldmyr operates 11; Gelco, whose products will be offered under the DTS contract, operates another 11. Various other companies operate the remaining pilots. Aldmyr did not bid on the DTS contract.

Aldmyr, a minority-owned business, now counts four Air Force bases, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Defense Information Systems Agency and the Defense Logistics Agency among its DOD customers for PDA. Several civilian agencies, including the Transportation Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Small Business Administration, also are using PDA for paperless travel authorization and reimbursement.

"We feel we have a better solution than the Defense Travel System that has been up and running for more than a year," Bailey said. "They're reinventing the wheel. There's something in place that's already working now, [and] they're building this theoretical system that may be up and running in three to four years."

PDA, which grew out of a mainframe application developed 10 years ago for the Department of Health and Human Services, is designed to provide a universal access point in a desktop software operating environment for all major travel management functions. Users can submit an electronic travel request (complete with airline, hotel and rental car reservation requests) to approving officials, who can view and respond to the request.

After the traveler returns, all reimbursement mechanisms— including direct deposit— can be performed from the same interface. The product, which costs $60 per seat, reduces the former two- to seven-week reimbursement period to 24 to 72 hours, the company said.

Hill Air Force Base, Utah, has a PDA site license for 15,000 seats. While plans call for the entire base to use the product eventually, only 500 users are up and running so far, said Andrew Schow, Hill's travel re-engineering manager.

Schow said he does not know what future conversion to another travel management program would cost. However, he did say that Hill plans to convert to the DTS offering when it becomes available.

"We were told by the Pentagon that we would test this particular piece of software," Schow said. "This will not be the Defense Travel System. The contract for that has already been let. Over time, [PDA] will be replaced by the giant pie in the sky called DTS. We're at least another year to 18 months minimum before we're going to see [DTS] come and knock at our door."

At Dover Air Force Base, Del., Lt. Col. Jim Behring, Dover's comptroller, said the base has a site license for 1,200 users, which soon will include all of the base's air crews. Using the system has shaved a complete day off travel document processing time, Behring said. However, he noted that Dover is scheduled to convert to the DTS solution in two or three years. "There's no guarantee one way or another that we would use Aldmyr," Behring said.

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