In a June 30 notice published in the Federal Register, GSA officials announced that agencies should develop a plan by March 2004 outlining how they will implement an e-travel service and begin putting a system into place by 2006. The e-travel initiative, one of the Bush administration's e-government projects, will provide a governmentwide, Web-based, end-to-end travel management system for federal employees. The system, slated to be fully up and running by 2006, aims to automate and consolidate travel processes from planning to reimbursement and reconciliation across agencies.
The governmentwide e-travel system will replace agencies' existing online booking systems and federal employees will be required to use it once the system is up and running, the notice said. All agencies should be using the system by September 2006. Under this proposed rule, agencies will be required to allocate the budget and personnel resources necessary to support e-travel system implementation and training. Federal agencies spent approximately $10 billion on airline tickets, hotels and car rentals in fiscal 2002, an increase of nearly 12 percent over fiscal 2001 travel expenditures.
Earlier this year GSA urged agencies to encourage more employees to make their travel arrangements using available online reservation systems, such as the Transportation Department's system FedTrip, until the new system is up and running. GSA also cautioned agencies against investing in online booking systems that could not eventually be transferred to the governmentwide e-travel system.
GSA has issued a request for proposals for a contractor to develop a governmentwide e-travel system that would cover all aspects of business travel administration, including travel planning, authorization, reservations and voucher reconciliation. Officials expect to award a contract in mid-summer.
The proposed rule does not apply to the Defense Department, which spent nearly $6.64 billion in fiscal 2002 on federal travel. The agency anticipates a drop in travel spending in fiscal 2003. The Defense Department has devoted more than five years trying to develop its own automated travel system for Defense travelers, spending more than $190 million on it.
Send comments on the proposed rule by July 30 via e-mail to FTRCase.firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail using the address below. Please include FTR Case 2003-303 in all correspondence.
General Services Administration
Regulatory Secretariat (MVA)
ATTN: Laurie Duarte
1800 F Street, N.W., Room 4035
Washington, D.C. 20405