No more delays'travel system is ready to go

No more delays'travel system is ready to go

DTS speeds travel services

  • Quicker reimbursements

    Before: 11.3 days

    After: 5.8 days

  • Fewer processing steps

    Before: 40 steps

    After: 21 steps

  • Shorter processing time

    Before: 4 hours, 36 minutes

    After: 1 hour, 42 minutes

    (Based on test results from 27 pilot sites)

  • The Pentagon has given the go-ahead for agencies to use the Defense Travel System now that technical problems and a protest that held up deployment have been resolved.

    Following a six-month review of the system, two top Defense Department officials signed a memo July 17 reinstating the program, which is supposed to help DOD address its travel needs more quickly and cheaply. The memo offers an incentive for military agencies to deploy DTS early'they can keep whatever savings are generated.

    The review was ordered after the system was besieged with performance problems during testing in November. Other troubles that plagued the system were repeated delays caused by a complex systems integration process, the change of presidential administrations and a protest from Electronic Data Systems Corp. of the eight-year, $267 million DTS contract awarded to TRW Inc. in May 1998.

    The complaint to the General Accounting Office set back work on the system for about six months.

    Functional and technical assessments of the system were ordered by Defense brass before they signed off last month on departmentwide deployment.

    Pete Aldridge, the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, and Dov S. Zakheim, Defense undersecretary and comptroller, said they were satisfied with the system's progress.

    'The assessment has been completed and has validated both the functional and technical viability of the DTS program and concludes the DTS will meet our future temporary duty travel authorization, arrangements, payment and accounting requirements, while providing broad benefits to the department,' the memo said. 'We approve proceeding with DTS program implementation including taking all appropriate cost-effective contract actions.'

    Through DTS, TRW is automating all Defense travel-related documentation and merging multiple travel services into a single system with one interface for all users. The paperless system lets travelers use DOD public-key infrastructure certificates to digitally sign documents.

    The system will interface with more than 40 accounting and disbursing systems, the Defense table of official distances, per diem rates, a digital repository for records management and management information, DOD's PKI program, all using the Non-Classified IP Router Network [GCN, May 15, 2000, Page 1]. The Defense table of official distances lets users compute mileage between sites for their expense reports.

    Despite some earlier modernization efforts, much of the travel approval process was paper-bound.

    What's inside

    DOD organizations have more than 60 current travel services contracts. As each expires, the organizations will convert to DTS.

    TRW will run DTS under SunSoft Solaris 2.6 on a redundant cluster of Sun Microsystems Enterprise 6000 servers. The system will stow data in an Oracle8 Release 8.1.6 database and use a modified version of Travel Manager from Gelco Information Network Inc. of Minneapolis.

    Travel Manager protects the sensitive but unclassified personal and financial data of an estimated 3.2 million users.

    News of DOD's favorable review of DTS re-energized TRW officials, who had waited anxiously to learn the fate of the travel system.

    'Although a highly complex systems integration effort, our team remains focused on completing operational testing without delay and fielding a fully functional system,' said Rich Fabbre, TRW program manager for DTS.

    Donald C. Winter, president and chief executive officer of TRW, added: 'We are pleased that DOD has reaffirmed its commitment to the Defense Travel System, allowing TRW to take DTS to the next level.'

    Winter called DTS a 'revolutionary electronic system that will transform DOD's travel process.'

    The government estimates that DTS will not only reduce DOD's annual travel costs, but will also save users time in making travel arrangements and getting reimbursed.

    The system is being tested at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. A Defense operational evaluation report will be released after testing.


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