GSA approves E-Travel systems

The General Services Administration today announced all three E-Travel vendors' systems were approved and certified as ready to make federal employees' travel easier.

The systems will handle travel arrangements from beginning to end, including booking air travel, hotel accommodations and rental cars, obtaining supervisor approvals, interfacing with agency accounting systems and reimbursing employee expenses.

Eight agencies are expected by July 1 to award a task order contract to either Carlson Wagonlit Government Travel Inc. of San Antonio, EDS Corp. of Plano, Texas, or the Mission Systems unit of Northrop Grumman Corp., to implement the system, said Tim Burke, GSA's E-Travel program manager.

The agencies are the Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Transportation and Treasury departments, the General Services Administration, the National Science Foundation, the National Archives and Records Administration and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

By Dec. 31, all agencies must award a task order for a standardized travel system from one of the vendors, Burke said.

GSA last November awarded the companies a 10-year contract worth up to $450 million. E-Travel is one of five e-government projects GSA is managing.

Agencies are testing the systems at GSA's program management office over a four-day period after deciding on their system's requirements, Burke said. Then officials will confirm their findings with GSA and issue a task order to one of the three vendors to begin implementation.

Since January, Federal Aviation Administration employees in Oklahoma City have been testing all three vendors' systems, and more than 75 percent of the 200 employees chose to book online and all used the online voucher system to pay for travel, Burke said.

"With the FAA, we tested scenarios, system capabilities and depth," Burke said. "All three met our standards."

GSA expects the standardized systems to save more than $730 million over the next 10 years, including $230 million in transactions costs alone, Burke said.

Burke said the 24 largest federal agencies will all implement one of the three e-travel systems by September 2006. He said another eight departments will migrate by December 2004, and the final eight will start by the middle of 2005.

"The early adopters either built home-grown systems that needed serious upgrades or didn't have an automated system at all," Burke said.

Burke said GSA estimated that the 24 agencies will shut down more than 200 agency-specific travel systems by the end of 2006.

Gail Repsher Emery, who writes for Washington Technology magazine, contributed to this story.

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