DTS test flight ready
- By Paula Shaki Trimble
- Apr 24, 2000
An early version of the Defense Travel System that will be available to
selected personnel this summer won't be connected to the system's central
database or Defense Department accounting systems, but it will bring DOD
one step closer to automating its travel operation.
As DOD and prime contractor TRW Inc. test the final version of DTS,
scheduled for initial operational capability by this fall, the limited version
of the system will allow DOD travelers to become accustomed to the new software
in anticipation of the full rollout.
"The main rationale for DTS-Limited is that we cannot possibly deploy
the full DTS system to all DOD users in a very short time due to the significant
cultural and process changes," said Kay Anderson-Hager, chief of the travel
service acquisition management branch at DOD, in a written response to questions.
"Therefore, the DTS-Limited capability will be provided to our customers
to allow them to reap some of the benefits of the full DTS earlier in the
When completed, DTS will allow about 3 million DOD users to have their
travel authorized and reserved and to receive reimbursement from DOD accounting
systems by connecting to the Defense Travel System Regional Data Center
and commercial reservation systems.
The DTS-Limited system being rolled out in the next few weeks will not
be connected to the centralized data center. However, the early system will
provide authorizations and access to commercial reservations systems through
Gelco Information Network Inc.'s Travel Manager software, said Rich Fabbre,
TRW's DTS program manager.
If another government organization wants access to the DTS common user
interface, commercial travel offices or accounting systems, it can provide
them at its own expense, Anderson-Hager said. Those users will then switch
to full DTS when it is deployed.
Testing Causing New Delays
The earliest users of DTS-Limited will be the users scheduled for later
deployments of the full DTS, Fabbre said. The deployment of the full system
will take two-and-a-half to three years. The DTS program management office
has asked military services and agencies to provide a list of locations
where they want DTS-Limited to be deployed, according to DOD.
TRW expects about $263.7 million in transaction-based business during
five years on the full DTS system, Fabbre said. DOD awarded the company
the contract in May 1998. Electronic Data Systems Corp. protested the award,
but work was reinstated to TRW in October 1998. The delay put the company
about 100 days behind schedule. Work on the system has now fallen about
a year behind schedule, Fabbre said.
"Testing is taking longer than either we or the government envisioned,"
Fabbre said, adding that the complexities of the system and new capabilities
that involve several transactions for a single trip have been obstacles
to keeping the project on schedule. "We would have hoped to have been deployed
The upfront testing is necessary to ensure that the DTS team provides
a quality product, Anderson-Hager said.
The DTS contract uses an innovative model that involves DOD partnering
with the contractor on development and deployment of the system. It also
dictated that DOD would not own the system but would instead buy use of
it. The contract allows TRW to sell DTS services to any federal agency,
Besides Gelco's Travel Manager software, DTS will use American Express
Co.'s travel management services, Sun Microsystems Inc.'s computer hardware
and Oracle Corp.'s database management software.
DOT Plans Own Booking Engine
The Transportation Department plans to offer a similar online booking
engine using a commercial product called ResAssist from TRX Technology
Services, Dallas. The site, FedTrip.gov, is currently being tested at the
Federal Aviation Administration. DOT also released a draft solicitation
for commercial World Wide Web-based travel and expense services April 11.
DOD initially hoped to use a commercial off-the-shelf product for DTS,
but TRW found that while Gelco's Travel Manager came close, it needed to
be modified to fit the look and feel of DTS, Fabbre said. The Gelco software
is what is being deployed as part of the DTS-Limited system.
Gelco Travel Manager's functionality was not modified, but in some cases
the interface and integration hooks to commercial reservation systems and
Defense Finance and Accounting Service accounting systems were customized,
said Dan Ragheb, vice president of corporate marketing at Gelco. The off-the-shelf
product provides the ability to research travel options, but DOD wanted
to include the online booking capability and connections to its accounting
systems, he said.
"The biggest challenge for us has been on the back end with DFAS because
their requirements were not as well-defined when the contract was awarded,"
One of the complex features is the DOD public-key infrastructure software
token used to keep unauthorized users out of the system, Fabbre said.