Winning Ways Road Tested
A panel of nine judges selected this year's winners-the Veterans Affairs Department; the Department of Housing and Urban Development; the Navy's Fleet and Industrial Supply Center; and the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs-based on the following criteria:
- Application of reengineering principles (including process simplification, integration and innovation).
- Verifiable savings.
- Improved customer satisfaction.
- Partnership with the private sector.
- Agencywide application.
- Use of paperless/electronic commerce.
- Excellence in buying or administering travel.
The winners will be feted on Nov. 6 at a ceremony at the Hotel Washington in Washington.
Veterans' Affairs' Centralized Household Goods Program
Before 1995, some 200 Veterans Affairs facilities had local control of the department's household goods program, including policy implementation, procedures and shipments. As a result, rules and procedures weren't uniformly enforced, "subjecting the local facility and transferees to unnecessary complications, costs, inconvenience, frustration and occasional notoriety," says Robert McKenna, VA's director of materiel management. The department had contracts with 60 carriers, who were selected based on lowest cost. Documentation was frequently missing, inaccurate or lost.
Almost 25 percent of moves resulted in loss or damage claims.
So the VA set out to reinvent its household goods program, setting up a central team for policy and operations that could become expert in the area. The team created a one-stop resource for workers who need move information. Through GSA's schedule, the department contracted with a private company to manage relocations including counseling, scheduling, billing, claims and reporting. The firm, Move Management, collects fees from the carriers it contracts with to move the shipments, charging the VA nothing. Carriers (four primaries with another eight available as back up) are selected based on quality and value. The carriers can be replaced immediately for performance failures. Another vendor manages all shipment data.
Implemented throughout the VA in 1998, the program now boasts of damage and loss claims on less than 6 percent of its 1,400 moves a year. Moves used to take field representatives an average of seven hours to manage; now they take 15 minutes. Other savings come from a reduction in damage claims and the need for fewer auditors. The bulk of the $1.9 million saved each year comes from better rates charged by the carriers. And some of the benefit is immeasurable, as it comes in the form of increased employee morale and reduced turnover. The judges applauded the VA for negotiating a strong contract. "The result is a better solution for relocation activity," one judge said. Another noted: "If you want to have happy federal employees going through a move, you have to have a good screening process for your carriers."
contact: Robert McKenna, director, Materiel Management, at (202) 273-6116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HUD's Travel Management System
With a vision of a fully automated travel management process, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is putting in place the pieces of the puzzle. Already assembled are Gelco Travel Manager, which allows travelers to prepare, route and get approval of travel documents electronically; FedTrip, an Internet-based, self-booking reservation system sponsored by the Transportation Department; and an online, real-time interface with HUD's accounting system.
The result: Fewer steps, shorter processing time and greater accuracy. For example, travelers now are reimbursed two to three days after their vouchers are approved. In the past, when vouchers had to be mailed or faxed to Fort Worth, Texas, for processing, travelers didn't get their money for a week or more after a supervisor had signed the voucher.
Feedback from the system's users is positive. "Organizations that do frequent travel say the automated system has freed them up from the veritable avalanche of paper they had to deal with," says Barry Kahn, director of HUD's travel management division. HUD plans to set up a bridge between Travel Manager and the department's travel management vendor, SATO. Electronic routing will allow the authorization number to be created and passed electronically throughout the operation-which includes the reservation system, the accounting system and the billing process-without being re-entered.
"The independent pieces [of this system] have been built," says Kahn. "The thing I have to do is make them talk to each other." By the end of 2001, Kahn expects to have the whole system up and running in all HUD offices.
"With the completion of our interfaces, we will have a true point-of-sale solution for entering the authorization number. It will be generated and entered one time and passed on to all related systems automatically, with no human intervention," says Kahn. Kahn expects the new system to save $2.9 million a year-most of that in time savings for travelers, support staff and accounting staff-on approximately 30,000 trips a year.
The judges commended this project for linking all aspects of the travel management process: "This innovative project really moves the ball forward in federal travel management," said one judge. "This is the vision of how you want federal agencies to travel effectively," remarked another.
contact: Barry Kahn, director, Travel Management Division, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, (202) 708-0614 ext. 6540 or email@example.com.
Navy's SMARTWebMove, Fleet and Industrial Supply Center
Managing more moves than any other entity in the world, the U.S. military has difficulty juggling its relocation workload, especially during the summer months when the number of moves shoots up. The Navy's promising SMART WebMove program is designed to alleviate some of the overload by allowing customers to complete applications for routine moves online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from anywhere-afloat or ashore.
Arranging a household goods transfer with the SMART WebMove program takes 45 minutes to an hour on average. Doing things the old-fashioned way, with a visit to the personal property office, took a service member an average of four hours, including travel time. The Naval Supply Systems Command put the system in place for moves from San Diego to other places in the continental United States on May 30. In 2002, it hopes to expand to moves to or from any Navy activity in the continental United States and to cover overseas locations beginning in 2003.
Robert Vail, project officer, expects the program to eventually handle 70 percent of the Navy's 150,000-plus moves a year. That's a potential savings of $10 million in personnel time alone, says Capt. Robert Ritchie, program director. Other military services expressed interest in using the system as well.
Saying that nothing is "more antiquated than the household goods program," judges praised the winners for developing "a whole different way of connecting individuals with relocation activities." They believe it has potential to save many dollars and improve the lives of service members and their families.
Justice Department's Travel and Acquisition Management Solutions Project
Work smarter, save money: That could have been the Office of Justice Programs' motto in revamping its conference planning methods. With 150 events a year, the office spends about $10 million a year on hotel-related expenses for conferences and meetings. But Eldred Jackson, director of the office's Travel and Acquisition Management Solutions Project, and his team knew they could do better, and they sought to use the GSA contracts schedule to build a superior meeting support process, from concept to final evaluation. The two key components: conference management and hotel site selection.
Under the new system, decisions are scrutinized at every step to make sure they reflect best business practices and that any spending is necessary and effective. For example, contractors hired to coordinate meetings must be able to provide online registration, teleconferencing, videoconferencing and Webcasting.
This promising program was pilot-tested for two Office of Justice Programs activities in April, and it will expand as existing contracts expire. Jackson estimates that the program will save $650,000 in its first year, most of that on site selection. Agreements for hotel site selection are available agencywide, and Jackson expects that all of Justice will use the new contracts by the end of fiscal 2004. The judges look forward to good results from this experiment. "This agency has a way of using GSA contracts to get a much better result in conference planning," one judge said.
contact: Eldred Jackson, project director, OJP Travel and Acquisition Management Solutions Project, (202) 514-0696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travel Managers Of The Year Awards Judges:
- Karen Cleary Alderman, Joint Financial Management Improvement Program
- Timothy Clark, Government Executive
- Jack Kelly, Office of Management and Budget
- David Kleinberg, Department of Transportation
- Jonathan Klem, Gelco Expense Management Group
- Sue McIver, Services Acquisition Center, General Services Administration
- Rebecca Rhodes, Office of Governmentwide Policy, General Services Administration
- Mary Sarkis, Choice Hotels International
- Sharon Weinhold, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army
NEXT STORY: Sensing laptop theft