DOD revives Defense Travel System

Defense Travel System memo

The Defense Department has reinstated the Defense Travel System, enticing military organizations to deploy the system early by promising to let them retain any early savings generated by using the system.

After a six-month review, Pete Aldridge, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, and Dov Zakheim, fellow undersecretary and comptroller, determined that "DTS will meet our future temporary duty authorization, arrangements, payment and accounting requirements," according to their joint July 17 memo.

DTS deployment had already been delayed for about a year, when the change of administrations and questions about the system's training requirements and response time led to the review. The system is being tested at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., with an operational evaluation report to follow as early as next month.

"I think the government recognized that they just had a T-1 line that was saturated" during last year's unsuccessful DTS pilot program test at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., said Philip Odeen, executive vice president for Washington, D.C., operations at TRW Inc., the DTS contractor. "They needed a T-3 line." A copper-based T-1 line can achieve 1.5 megabits/sec transmission speeds, while a fiber-based T-3 can get up to 45 megabits/sec.

Because of security constraints at Whiteman, each traveler's DTS request would shut down if the base's central server to the Non-Classified IP Router Network (NIPRNET) didn't respond quickly enough, Odeen said.

The memo endorsed one of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's ideas: to allow military organizations to retain any money they save by working more efficiently.

DTS should enable travel reimbursements to be made in an average of 5.8 days, as opposed to the current 11.3 days; travel report processing should occur in 21 steps as opposed to 40 steps; and processing time should average 1 hour and 42 minutes, as opposed to 4 hours and 36 minutes, according to the Travelink Web site (www.dtic.mil/travelink/whatis dts.html).

Aldridge and Zakheim's memo calls on armed services chief information officers to determine each military installation's ability to connect to the NIPRNET and use DTS effectively. The DOD CIO will oversee such plans, and the Defense Information Systems Agency will provide assistance.

"The services have stated that infrastructure will not be an issue and have agreed to test and fund all their sites to upgrade as necessary for the future," wrote Kenneth Oscar, acting assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, in a July 11 memo on DTS.

Aldridge and Zakheim, who will continue to provide DTS policy oversight, transferred DTS program responsibility to the U.S. Transportation Command in their memo.

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