Gelco's Travel Manager Scores Big

Gelco's Travel Manager Scores Big

By John Makulowich
Contributing Writer

Gelco Government Network, a division of Gelco Information Network GSD Inc., Minneapolis, gives a whole new meaning to the term low profile. Not only is the little-known Reston, Va., company growing by more than 300 percent this fiscal year with $9 million in revenues, but its travel software suite is used by almost every federal agency. And there do not appear to be many competitors on the horizon.

"In the per-diem and pre-trip authorization market, we are the top travel package. Over 80 federal agencies are using Travel Manager in some form or fashion. We have 100 percent use at [the Federal Aviation Administration], State Department, Department of Energy, Labor Department and the Social Security Administration. With the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center contract award to our partner and prime, KPMG Peat Marwick LLP, they will also be 100 percent," says Greg McIntyre, senior account manager for the Government Services Division of Gelco.

Travel Manager, described by the company as an automated government travel reinvention system, plugs its computation software into travel reservation systems to offer a solution for organizations that rely on per-diem costs and pre-trip authorizations. It combines automated travel regulation, government forms generation and electronic document processing into a software service. The company offers Travel Manager in modules to meet specific travel processing needs.

Automation occurs from the outset with the preparation of travel requests through routing to approving officials and automatic auditing of documents all the way to payment. The last stage is handled by GGN's parent, which is in the business of third-party reimbursements and services. Last year alone, it distributed $30 billion in reimbursements.

The licensing fee for the software is based on transactions, that is, the number of vouchers processed. Organizations pay an initial fee and then an annual maintenance fee. For example, throughout the Department of Defense there are licenses for about 230,000 vouchers covering official commercial travel each year. The DoD Office of the Inspector General signed an agencywide agreement with Gelco to install Travel Manager at 13 sites nationwide. Plans call for the system to tie directly into the Defense Finance and Accounting Service for integrated financial management.

In another contract signed with the Department of the Navy for the Space War Systems Command in San Diego, that installation will feature a Sun/Unix system ready to handle up to 20,000 travelers annually. The Air Force 11th Wing expanded a previous agreement to a projected 108,000 travelers each year. The FAA signed an expanded agreement to cover up to 180,000 trips per year. And the National Security Agency will use Travel Manager in its secure intranet Travel Request Expense Klaim System scheduled to be completed in June 1998. The agency now budgets roughly $35 million per year for travel.

Written in the programming language Progress, the software, now in version 7 with 7.1 due soon, runs on almost all flavors of Unix, Novell and NT. For the end user, it operates under all versions of Windows. GGN is working on the so-called PCS Module. It helps manage relocation for personnel on permanent change of station and will have full World Wide Web browser capability.

Completing a successful fourth quarter with contracts for Travel Manager from NASA, Department of Defense and Department of the Navy, among others, the company is starting to look beyond the federal marketplace.

"Our plans for the months ahead are to roll out the product to federal contractors, foreign governments, state and local governments, and colleges and universities. We recently made our first sale in that market to Colorado State University and we currently have three proposals under review in Canada," says McIntyre.

While not attributing the whole figure to Travel Manager, Chip Mahan, manager of the National Security Agency's travel re-engineering in Baltimore, does say that part of his projected $6 million in annual savings comes from GGN's module. That number itself, notes Mahan, covers the entire travel process, from online booking and organizational policy through expense reporting and reconciliation to reimbursement.

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