E-Travel vendors' poised to sell systems

The three federal E-Travel vendors now have until Dec. 31 to sell the 24 largest federal agencies on their travel management systems.

CW Government Travel Inc. of San Antonio, EDS Corp. of Plano, Texas, and the Mission Systems unit of Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman Corp. all got permission May 17 from the General Services Administration to sell their systems to federal agencies.

GSA last November awarded the companies a 10-year E-Travel contract worth up to $450 million. GSA expects the standardized systems to save more than $730 million over the next 10 years, including $230 million in transaction costs, said Tim Burke, GSA's E-Travel program manager.

The systems will handle travel arrangements from beginning to end, including booking air travel, hotel accommodations and rental cars, obtaining supervisor approvals, interfacing with agency accounting systems and reimbursing employee expenses.

"It's going to be a very competitive next few months. We are certainly going to get our share of the business," said Soo Morehouse, program manager for FedTraveler.com, EDS' e-travel system. She said the core FedTraveler system has already been deployed at three agencies for more than a year.

The three vendors will also be trying to sell their systems to about 100 smaller agencies, Morehouse said.

Eight of the 24 largest agencies are expected to contract for their new travel system by July 1, Burke said. Then by Dec. 31, the remaining 16 largest agencies must each award a task order for one of the three new travel systems. Burke said all 24 agencies will implement the new systems by September 2006.

The first eight agencies slated to adopt a new system are the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Transportation and Treasury, General Services Administration, National Science Foundation, National Archives and Records Administration and U.S. Agency for International Development, Burke said. He said the eight either have paper-based systems or legacy systems that need upgrades.

"To have that many early adopters says a lot about GSA, the agencies and the products. I think the agencies realize that what is being offered now is better than that they are currently using and that it is worth the transition," said Kay Anderson-Hager, vice president of marketing and sales for CW Government Travel.

Since January, Federal Aviation Administration employees in Oklahoma City have been testing all three vendors' systems, and more than 75 percent of the 200 employees chose to book online and all used the online voucher system to pay for travel. Employees who did not book travel online either were unsure if they were using the systems correctly or did not realize the systems could handle complex travel arrangements, Burke said.

Now, multiple agencies are testing the three vendors' systems at GSA, Burke said.

Tom Park, deputy chief financial officer at the Transportation Department, said the department will award a task order as early as this week.

"We already have evaluated the systems and understand each of their strengths and weaknesses," Park said. "The last step is to get final prices from the vendors."

NSF has been planning to jettison its paper-based system for about three years, but held off in anticipation of the new standardized systems, said Neville Withington, the agency's e-travel project manager.

"We are excited about this," she said.

Burke said GSA estimated that the 24 largest agencies will shut down more than 200 agency-specific travel systems after moving to the new e-travel systems.

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