House cuts off funding for eTravel

The General Services Administration’s eTravel budget would be cut to nothing under an amendment attached to the House Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies funding bill for fiscal 2006.

Calling the effort an ill-conceived megacontract that “is poised to eliminate a whole sector of the small-business community -- travel agents -- from working with the government,” Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) offered the amendment June 30. Lawmakers approved it 233 to 182; the bill now awaits Senate action.

“These megacontracts have clearly gone too far, and it is time that we say enough is enough,” Velazquez said during the House proceedings.

Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, and District of Columbia Subcommittee, defended the e-government initiative, saying that the effort should save approximately $450 million over 10 years.

During debate, he said Velazquez’s amendment would cause “the shutdown, entire shutdown of the eTravel program.”

Velazquez also cited language from the report accompanying the fiscal 2004 omnibus appropriations bill mandating that GSA not require agency participation in eTravel. “Despite this mandate, GSA did just the opposite, and made the eTravel project mandatory barely one month after the conference report,” Velazquez said. “This means that no local or federal office can use their neighborhood travel agency, even if they already have for years.”

Knollenberg cited boutique' travel systems as a burden on travel agencies.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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