GSA looks to crowdsourcing to fix e-gov travel services

Agency will offer prize of up to $25,000 for a better approach to troubled e-gov program

The General Services Administration, in the market for a new approach to managing government travel services online, is looking to crowdsource the problem, even offering a prize of up to $25,000 to someone who comes up with a solution.

The E-Gov Travel Service program has been a problem for years, suffering from “administrative and cost overhead burdens” and “very dissatisfied” customers, according to a notice GSA published Feb. 5.

Rather than ship off the typical request for information to the government contractor community, GSA officials are looking for innovation from the public at large -- using what they call an open innovation strategy.

The dark side of crowdsourcing

“The outcome of this effort would shorten innovation cycles, involve our customers, introduce out-of-the-box thinking (or challenge the ‘dominant logic’), increase customer loyalty, and get access to exclusive knowledge and creativity,” the notice states.

GSA plans to hire a contractor to manage the program, setting up the challenge, managing the interaction with participants and awarding the prize. The agency has developed a six-paragraph description of the problem, which will serve as the starting point for the initiative.

The winner, if any is selected, will be required to transfer the intellectual property rights for their idea to GSA.

About the Author

John Monroe is Senior Events Editor for the 1105 Public Sector Media Group, where he is responsible for overseeing the development of content for print and online content, as well as events. John has more than 20 years of experience covering the information technology field. Most recently he served as Editor-in-Chief of Federal Computer Week. Previously, he served as editor of three sister publications:, which covered the state and local government IT market, Government Health IT, and Defense Systems.

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Reader comments

Fri, Feb 12, 2010

In order to effectively centralize a service like this, you must also centralize the policy interpretation. Without that, you well never achieve the highest levels of efficiency.

Tue, Feb 9, 2010 Mike Moxcey

Simplifying GovTrip cannot be done. Think about it. If each Agency has different rules for who is allowed to travel or where, then GovTrip has to have separate policies for each Agency-traveler. Also remember that GovTrip is _not_ a system for providing travel assistance to employees. Govtrip is a system for verifying that all trips are done according to procedures AND that people use their official Visa card to give money to the sponsoring bank. That truly is the goal of GovTrip and it meets those goals admirably well. If they want to imporve GovTrip, first look at what the -real- goal is. A tv network does not provide programming to watchers; it sells eyeballs to advertisers. GovTrip sells government trips to banks and provides verification reports to auditors; it is not a traveler's assistance like Travelocity. How is GovTrip failing to meets it real goals right now?

Sun, Feb 7, 2010

This seems a little disingenuous. GSA has mismanaged this program from the beginning, allowing agencies to totally re-design the 3 systems to suit their needs. There should only be a single system, perhaps operated by a contractor but directed by GSA. The notion that multiple systems are needed is absurd. To see how out of control it's now become, refer to the draft solicitation for ETS-2. Over 100 pages of requirements for a service GSA claims they want to "simplify". Start with standardizing policy and FTR interpretation. My bet is the 25K incentive is not paid, just like the "innovation" incentives under the current contract.

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