A site for happy landings
- By Paula Shaki Trimble
- Apr 10, 2000
The Transportation Department hopes a World Wide Web-based travel and expense
service will take some of the frustration out of the least glamorous part
of travel filing for reimbursement.
The agency plans to release a draft solicitation this month for a dedicated
Web-based service that can process federal travelers' trip planning and
expense documents, including electronic approvals.
Filing travel expenses is "one of the most annoying and troublesome
parts of the travel process," said Susan Tollerson, project manager for
the Web travel and expense system at DOT. Paper vouchers can take three
hours to fill out, she said, and then that data must be entered into other
The Web-based system will reduce the time and redundancy in the process.
And Tollerson hopes the system will result in more timely reimbursements.
DOT plans to solicit proposals later this month and award a contract
to one or more vendors by summer, Tollerson said. The site will be hosted
by the vendor, an arrangement that will save the government the cost of
ownership and operation, she said.
The procurement of the travel expense service is the next step in DOT's
plans to offer civilian agencies all their travel-related services online.
It follows the DOT's pilot FedTrip.gov online booking site [FCW, March 27],
which will go live in May and will eventually be open to other government
agencies and selected contract workers. FedTrip uses commercial software
to automate the research and booking of flights, hotels and car rentals.
DOT also plans to open the Web-based expense service to the rest of
the federal government after a trial period at DOT, and eventually will
connect the two services through a single federal travel Web site, Tollerson
Federal agencies spent about $8 billion on travel in fiscal 1998; DOT's
share was about $277 million.
The Defense Department, which spent about $5.3 billion on travel in
1998, is designing a similar system called the Defense Travel System for
active-duty military and civilian DOD personnel. In 1998, TRW Inc. was awarded
a $263.7 million contract for the system, which is in a pilot phase. The
Defense Travel System will use Gelco Information Network Inc.'s Travel Manager
software, American Express Co.'s travel management services, Sun Microsystems
Inc.'s computer hardware and Oracle Corp.'s database management software.
When it comes to travel systems, government in many ways is ahead of
the corporate world, said Stephen Spears, Gelco's vice president for business
"There is a driver within government, with the Defense Travel System
leading the charge, of bringing technology into the travel mix to allow
agencies to migrate their current product and fee structures to a new way
of doing business," Spears said.
DOT hopes to move toward an application service provider model rather
than maintain certain IT skills in house, said David Kleinberg, DOT's deputy
chief financial officer.
The government's move to ASP fee-for-service structures is crucial
to making it less difficult to process travel arrangements, Spears said.
DOT does not want to duplicate the Defense Travel System, but it must
meet DOD rules because the Coast Guard which is part of DOT is subject
to many military rules and regulations, Tollerson said.