Streamlining DOD travel regs

The Defense Integrated Travel and Relocation Solutions Office, an office

of the secretary of Defense, is trying to re-engineer the fragmented and

time-consuming way permanent-duty travel is coordinated. DITRS hopes to

create a seamless, paperless and electronic process that will improve customer

satisfaction and enhance the quality of life for service members.

As part of the 2001 Defense Authorization Act, DITRS sent a legislative

package to Congress that would allow DOD to pay an upfront allowance for

temporary lodging expenses in the United States rather than reimburse members

later. It would also allow DOD to pay service members a lump sum in advance

for temporary lodging overseas.

Other provisions would enable service members to share savings with

DOD for transporting less household goods than the maximum allowance and

for choosing not to ship a privately owned vehicle.

The General Services Administration is also revising federal travel

regulations to comply with plain-language guidance and is reviewing a draft

of the rules for permanent relocation, said Bill Rivers, acting director

of the Travel Management Policy Division in GSA's Office of Governmentwide

Policy.

The paper version of the regulations will be replaced by fully Internet-based

travel regulations, including a chat room, Rivers said. The regulations

will link to related Web sites outside of government.

As agencies such as GSA and DOD revise their relocation policies and

procedures to make life easier for government employees, federal requirements

will drive the travel- software industry, said Amber Tucker, a vice president

at Cendant Mobility Services Corp. and a certified relocation professional.

Tucker foresees a totally automated move- management system with features

such as virtual relocation stations that can be used to access counselors

via videoconference.

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