Letter: Harsh words for the Defense Travel System
In response to a recent article about DTS, an Air Force reader highlights numerous shortcomings of the software -- and suggests a face-off between the system and a human with a typewriter and phone at hand.
IDA [the Institute for Defense Analyses] is not a Test and Evaluation organization. Submit DTS to a real Operational Test and Evaluation, with COMOPTEVFOR [Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force] in charge. Then let's see the OTE Test Plan and the Final Reports Executive Summary. Without that, IDA's word is worthless.
In the [Air Force], out of 100 frequent flyer Engineer geeks, you would have a very hard time finding three people who liked or were satisfied with DTS.
As an end-user it is the most abusive and obtuse software that I can recall in twenty years. I have seen some really bad software.
Flat out a test plan should measure just one thing; Can DTS beat a human sitting at an obsolete IBM Selectric Typewriter with a telephone at producing a set of Travel orders with confirmed bookings (flight, rental car and hotel)? Having experienced the positive joy of DTS since 2006 every month, I think I can confidently declare that I seriously doubt that DTS could win that race. Wait it gets even better, try modifying an existing DTS booking or god-forbid try canceling a DTS order! How about Leave in Route during a TDY? The instructions for just Leave in Route is fourteen pages in length.
The only people who would possible like DTS are travelers who regularly go to exactly the same place every TDY without variations. That is the only time that DTS would save an employee man-hours vice using a typewriter.
Out here in the NSPS [National Security Personnel System] serfdom land (middle management technical professionals) we have speculated that Rumsfeld and the DOD DTS staff took the software development and user interface guide from the *bleeping* Soviets. DTS is a form of enemy torture. That is our only rational explanation for why they made this so Byzantine and not-logical.
DTS costs the taxpayers more man-hours to use than it is worth. Flat out the pin-head bean counters in D.C. love it because it gives them for the first time a common and timely accounting view of all DOD travel. It just costs the rest of us lost productivity and morale killing frustration. In the DOD you have about 600,000 people who would vote to kill this beast and maybe 30,000 who would vote for it.
Naturally the Pentagon brass-hats will keep it and put even more lipstick on the pig.
The other problem that IDA failed to mention is that DTS also gives the accountants traceability on even travel to classified locations and the ability to perform analysis on DOD personnel movement to support classified projects, programs and also a fair characterization of the classified locations.
For an unclassified system DTS is an operational security nightmare. When aggregated DTS roll up accounting views should be SECRET. But DTS SPO will not do that because they would have to fire all of those non-US citizens who are doing their DTS database development and administration work. Oops!
Sort of like when [the U.S. Strategic Command's] contractor for the unclassified LOGMOD was hiring green-carded Red Chinese software developers and they sort of helped themselves to a whole lot more (1998-1999).
For end-users DTS has a few light-years to go before it will match an Electronic Form like PureEdge Forms or Adobe PDF E-Forms and a telephone to call a travel agent.
Anonymous (Air Force)