Treasury issues first electronic travel system contract

The Treasury Department has gotten the ball rolling on the General Services Administration's eTravel initiative by awarding the first eTravel service contract.

Under the contract, which is expected to surpass $60 million over 10 years, Northrop Grumman will provide online travel service for the department using its GovTrip service. Treasury has one of the largest travel volumes of the 24 agencies that will select providers by the end of the year.

Northrop Grumman will develop a Web site to provide end-to-end travel service for Treasury. The system will cover planning and authorizing travel, making reservations, delivering electronic tickets, calculating and approving reimbursements, and archiving data. The goal is to cut the department's administrative expenses by increasing the number of self-service travel transactions.

The eTravel program is one of five e-government initiatives sponsored by GSA. The Bush administration expects the eTravel program to save taxpayers 50 percent in government travel costs over 10 years.

Leo Hergenroeder, Northrop Grumman's eTravel program manager, said the company's software and its partnership with American Express, the world's largest travel agency, were key advantages of its service. Hergenroeder said Northrop Grumman will help Treasury reduce costs by "changing the ratio between self-service transactions and non-self-service transactions, which are much more expensive." Electronic processing of travel vouchers, he added, is "much, much more efficient than processing paper vouchers."

He also said that seven or eight agencies will issue task orders before July 1, and he is "very confident that we'll do well." Northrop Grumman competed for the Treasury contract with CW Government Travel Inc. and EDS, the two other companies chosen by GSA to develop and pitch eTravel services. Treasury's choice of Northrop Grumman applies only to agencies within the department. Other departments and agencies will make separate decisions on eTravel vendors between now and the end of 2004.

"We're disappointed but we look favorably at the conversations we've had with other agencies," said Steve Vetter, outreach and adoption manager for EDS U.S. government solutions. "We think EDS will be the top vendor in this case. We believe we have the product that best meets the needs of the federal government."

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