New contract award sends e-travel initiative on its way

A technology company that protested the bid process for the General Services Administration's Web-based travel management initiative is now one of the contractors for the $450 million project, agency officials announced this week.

On Monday, GSA announced that Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS) would join Northrop Grumman Corp. and CW Government Travel Inc. in offering its product to federal agencies. Under GSA's eTravel initiative, the contractors pitch their products to agency officials, who then select the one that works best for their organization.

On Tuesday, officials from Northrop said they were ready to move forward with the project.

"It's more than time to get started," said Leo Hergenroeder, the company's eTravel program manager. "We are looking forward to getting the product out to the federal agencies."

The award is the second for the eTravel initiative, which hit a snag when EDS filed a bid protest on Aug. 29 with the General Accounting Office. EDS officials argued that the $450 million eTravel contract awarded on Aug. 15 to Northrop Grumman and CW Government Travel was unfair. The protest was dismissed by GAO in September when GSA decided to reopen the bid process to EDS and other competitors.

The new award puts the eTravel project back on track, and testing on the systems will begin immediately, GSA officials said. Kay Anderson-Hager, vice president of marketing and sales at CW Government Travel, said the addition of EDS would not slow her firm's progress.

"It's just one more company to compete against," Anderson-Hager said.

The eTravel initiative, one of 24 Bush administration e-government projects, aims to automate and consolidate federal travel systems. The new products are expected to simplify all portions of the travel process-planning, reimbursement and reconciliation. The systems will give managers up-to-the-minute access to their travel budget obligations and allow travelers to split their reimbursements and send money directly to travel card vendors.

Agencies can begin using the new systems in early 2004, and are expected to have completed the transition by September 2006.

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