Bid to block funds for Defense Travel System fails

The Defense Travel System escaped the chopping block once again Tuesday night when the House rejected a bid to stop funding it, but a similar measure awaits debate and a vote in the Senate.

The House cast off an amendment to the fiscal 2007 Defense appropriations bill (H.R. 5631) that would have blocked funding for the $474 million Internet-based end-to-end travel management system. The language, introduced by Rep. Chris Chocola, R-Ind., failed by a vote of 141-285.

A briefing document from Chocola's office stated that poor execution has doomed the system, which is contracted out to Northrop Grumman Corp. The system is overpriced and fails to find the cheapest airline tickets, the document said.

Along with a list of frequently asked questions, the briefing document recommended that the Pentagon use one of the General Services Administration eTravel booking systems, which include a Northrop system along with CW Government Travel and EDS systems. But rather than mentioning all three available vendors, the brief only noted Northrop competitors CWGT and EDS.

On the Senate side, Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has proposed an amendment to the fiscal 2007 Defense authorization bill (S. 2766) that would, in addition to blocking funding for DTS, require the department to obtain travel services from GSA's eTravel service, as suggested by Chocola.

The Senate has started debating the authorization bill, but Coburn's amendment has yet to come up. This marks the Oklahoma senator's second legislative attempt in less than a year to nix the program. His last attempt - an amendment to the fiscal 2006 Defense spending bill - failed last October.

In January, the Government Accountability Office found critical flaws and incomplete testing of DTS, resulting in massive delays. The findings provided new fodder for DTS opponents. But Northrop officials maintain that the problems highlighted in the report have been corrected.

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