GSA continues to hint at E-Travel consolidation

Monday - 5/3/2010, 3:50pm EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The General Services Administration continues to head down the path to consolidate the E-Travel program around one vendor instead of three.

GSA issued a draft request for proposals Friday detailing its initial requirements for the new system.

Throughout the document, GSA refers to one contractor providing end-to-end travel management services, and nowhere in the statement of objectives does it mention that the agency may make this a multiple award contract.

"The Contractor, under this firm, fixed-price, indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contract, shall provide a highly usable, secure end-to-end travel management service that is hosted and operated by a commercial vendor and provided to the federal government via a secure Web portal environment," the draft RFP states.

"These services shall be available in a highly reliable, secure, usable, and intuitive travel service, with entry from a Web-based portal. The contractor shall provide online and agent assisted support for all aspects of official travel and travel management with processes and procedures consistent with applicable travel regulations and policies, as well as transitional implementation and ongoing account management services and training."

This is the second draft RFP GSA has issued since November. The first draft statement of objectives also seemed to call for the consolidation to one vendor.

In 2003, GSA awarded Carson Wagonlit Government Travel, Inc., EDS (now HP) and Northrop Grumman Mission Systems contracts to provide a standardized E-Travel portal for agencies. The government has seen mixed results in mandating the move to these three vendors.

The Office of Management and Budget says in the fiscal 2010 E-Government Benefits Report to Congress issued in March that 23 of 24 major departments have or are in the process of implementing the portals-18 of which are fully deployed. And the final one, the Justice Department, is scheduled to begin in 2010.

But three major agencies that account for nearly 33 percent of all federal travel have not moved to the new system-the departments of Commerce, Homeland Security and Justice.

Additionally, another 53 smaller agencies have fully or partially deployed E-Travel.

OMB reports that E-Travel portals have decreased the average time to process a reimbursement to three days from 28 days, and more than 76 percent of all online travel reservations were made through the sites. In all, E-Travel portals will process more than 2.1 million travel vouchers in 2010.

The draft RFP calls for the vendor to use an application or software-as-a service approach for the portal. The vendor must include access to all other travel systems, such as FedRooms, City Pair Program and SmartPay.

GSA details 14 mandatory requirements, including creation, routing and approval of travel authorizations, travel planning and cost estimating, support of mobile devices and several others.

"With ETS2, the federal government's travel service solution advances the existing service's capability by improving usability, functionality, reliability, and security," the draft RFP states.

"These improvements result in increased customer satisfaction and productivity, utilization of online reservations and fulfillment, and reasonable cost. Federal travel management must reach its next level of service through secure transmission of significant amounts of travel data to enhance the effective management of federal government travel spending and to improve travel programs."

Comments on the draft RFP are due by May 26, and GSA will host an industry day May 12 in Arlington, Va. The agency also will host one-on-one sessions with vendors May 18 or May 20.

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