Panoptic Enterprises' FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH
DATE: December 22, 2003
SUBJECT: Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) Amendment 2003-07; eTravel Service (eTS)
SOURCE: Federal Register, December 22, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 245, page 71026
AGENCIES: Office of Governmentwide Policy, General Services Administration (GSA)
ACTION: Final Rule
SYNOPSIS: GSA is amending the FTR to require agencies to submit plans and schedules for migrating to eTS no later than March 31, 2004; to begin implementing the eTS no later than December 31, 2004; and to complete migration to eTS for full agency-wide use by September 30, 2006.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The FTR is Chapters 300 through 304 of Title 41 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
For more on the proposed rule, see the June 20, 2003, FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH “Federal Travel Regulation (FTR); eTravel Service (eTS).”
For more on the notice of the availability of FedTrip, the first part of eTS, see the March 20, 2003, FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH "Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) Bulletin 2003-B1, eTravel Initiative."
For more on the notice of the creation of the eTravel initiative and GSA's intent to require agencies to use the system by the end of 2003, see the July 25, 2002, FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH "Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) Bulletin 26, eTravel Initiative."
EFFECTIVE DATE: January 21, 2004.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Umeki Thorne, Office of Governmentwide Policy, Travel Management Policy, 703-872-8590.
SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION: On July 25, 2002, GSA announced the creation of the eTravel Initiative and of its intent to require agencies to use the governmentwide, web-based, end-to-end travel management system by the end of 2003. The purpose of the eTravel Initiative is to establish a single portal that federal employees will use when making official business trips to obtain travel authorizations, make hotel and car rental reservations, and pay for airline tickets and other expenses. The system will work much like commercial web-based systems that the public uses to book business travel. (EDITOR'S NOTE: The eTravel Initiative is one of the Bush Administration's 25 "e-gov" initiatives that are intended to address performance gaps in existing government systems.)
On March 20, 2003, GSA notified agencies that "FedTrip" was available as the online booking service available governmentwide, and that it "should be agencies' first choice for making temporary duty travel arrangements...until the governmentwide, web-based end-to-end travel management service is available...Providing an online booking service is the initial phase of reengineering the entire travel process to realize significant cost savings to the government, to improve employees' productivity, and to provide a unified, simplified official travel process."
On June 30, 2003, GSA published a proposed rule that would require agencies to migrate to eTS, the replacement for FedTrip and agencies' travel management services for booking common carrier (air, rail, bus confirmations and seat assignments), lodging, and car rental reservations; fulfilling ticketing reservations; and providing basic management information on those activities. This proposed rule defined "eTS" as "the common governmentwide end-to-end travel management service that automates and consolidates the federal travel process in a web-centric environment, covering all aspects of travel planning, from authorization, reservations, expense reporting, and reimbursement" (proposed FTR 300-3.1, What do the following terms mean?). According to the proposed rule, agencies would be required to have “internal policies and procedures in place to govern use of the program including a plan and timeline to implement eTS no later than December 31, 2004, with agency-wide migration to eTS completed no later than September 30, 2006” (proposed FTR 301-73.2 What are our responsibilities as participants in the federal travel management program?).
Comments on the proposed rule were received from 10 federal agencies and an individual. Based on the comments, the proposed rule is adopted as final with changes. The following are the key provisions of the final rule, with differences between the proposed and final versions of the rule indicated:
- A definition for "eTravel Service" is added to FTR 300-3.1, What do the following terms mean?, and the definition of "travel management system" would be replaced with a new definition for "travel management service." [The proposed definition for “eTravel Program Management Office" was deleted from the final rule.]
- FTR Part 301-50, Arranging for Travel Services, is revised to incorporate the required use of eTS “when your agency makes it available to you” [instead of “when it becomes available in your agency” as originally proposed in FTR 301-50.3, Must I use the eTravel Service to arrange my travel?]. In addition, the final version of FTR 301.50-3 clarifies that the rule does not apply to the Department of Defense (which has its own travel management system) and the government of the District of Columbia.
- FTR 301-52.3, Am I required to file a travel claim in a specific format and must the claim be signed?, is would be revised to require the use of eTS for the filing of travel claims “As soon as your agency migrates to the eTravel Service (eTS)...(agencies are required to migrate to the eTS no later than September 30, 2006.)” [The proposed rule would have required the filing of travel claims “as soon as your agency migrates to the eTS, and no later than September 30, 2006..."]
- FTR 301-70.1, How must we administer the authorization and payment of travel expenses?, is revised to require agencies to "require employees to use the eTS to process travel authorizations and claims of travel expenses once [the agency] migrate[s] to the eTS, but not later than September 30, 2006..."
- FTR Part 301-73, Travel Programs, is amended as follows:
- FTR 301-73.2, What are our responsibilities as participants in the federal travel management program?, requires agencies to:
“(a) Designate an authorized representative to administer the program including leading your agency's migration of eTS;
“(b) Ensure that you have internal policies and procedures in place to govern use of the program including a plan and timeline to implement eTS no later than December 31, 2004, with agency-wide migration to eTS completed no later than September 30, 2006;
“(c) Establish a plan that will measure direct and indirect cost savings and management efficiencies through the use of eTS once deployed. This plan must include your migration plan and schedule which must be submitted by March 31, 2004 to the eTravel Program Management Office (PMO)...;
“(d) Require employees to use eTS in lieu of your TMS as soon as it becomes available in your agency (unless an exception has been granted in accordance with Sections 301-73.102 or 301-73.104), but no later than September 30, 2006; and
“(e) Ensure that any agency-contracted travel agency services (TMS) complement and support eTS in an efficient and cost effective manner.” [The introduction to the final rule states that agencies will ensure the “TMS complement and support eTS in an efficicent and cost effective manner” through “a competitive task order evaluation among the eTS contractors.”]
- FTR 301-73.100, Must we require employees to use the eTravel Service?, reiterates the implementation schedule by stating, “...you must have fully deployed the eTS across your agency and require employees to use the eTS for all temporary duty travel no later than September 30, 2006. Agencies must submit their eTS migration plans and schedules by March 31, 2004 to the eTravel PMO...You must implement the eTS no later than December 31, 2004, and require employees to use the eTS as soon as it becomes available in your agency.” In addition, a note to FTR 301-73.100 states, “Award of a task order to a vendor on the eTS Master Contract constitutes eTS implementation. Agency-wide use of the eTS for all travel management processes and travel claim submission constitutes complete migration.”
- FTR 301-73.102, May we grant waivers to the use of the eTravel Service or the Travel Management Service?, states, "Your agency head or his/her designee(s) may grant individual case-by-case exceptions to the use of eTS when such use (a) causes an unreasonable burden on mission accomplishment(s) (e.g., emergency travel (and eTS is not accessible), invitational travel, necessity of disability accommodations or special needs...; (b) compromises a national security interest; (c) may endanger the life of the traveler (e.g., an individual traveling under the federal witness protection program or threatened law enforcement/investigative personnel...; or (d) is consistent with any contractual terms applicable to your agency (i.e., you must insure that any exceptions do not cause a breach of contract).” [The final rule adds the exceptions for emergency travel, when use of eTS may endanger the life of the travel, and compliance with contractual terms.]
- FTR 301-73.104, May further exceptions to the required use of the eTravel Service be approved?, [FTR 301-73.103, May additional waivers be granted to the required use of the eTravel Service or the Travel Management Service? in the proposed rule], states that GSA's Associate Administrator for the Office of Governmentwide Policy may grant agency-wide exceptions (or exempt an agency component), from the required use of the eTS when “(1) the agency has presented a business case analysis to the General Services Administration that proves that it has an alternative TMS to the eTS that is in the best interest of the Government and the taxpayer (i.e., the agency has evaluated the economic and service values offered by the eTS contractor(s) compared to those offered by the agency's current Travel Management System (TMS) and has determined that the agency's current TMS is a better value); (2) the agency has security, secrecy, or protection of information issues that cannot be mitigated through security provided by the eTS contractors; (3) the agency lacks the technology necessary to access eTS; or (4) the agency has critical and unique technology or business requirements that cannot be accommodated by the eTS contractors at all or at an acceptable and reasonable price (e.g., majority of travel is group-travel)... As a condition of receiving an exception, the agency must agree to conduct annual business case reviews of its TMS...” [The proposed rule only permitted exceptions when “(1) it is in the best interest of the United States government; or (2) arranging travel services through a TMS or the eTS is impractical or imposes unreasonable burdens or costs on your agency."]
- FTR 301-73.105, What are the consequences of an employee not using the eTravel Service or the Travel Management Service? [proposed FTR 301-73.104], states, "If an employee does not use the eTS (when available) or your agency's designated TMS, he/she is responsible for any additional costs...resulting from the failure to use the eTS or your TMS. In addition, you [the agency] may take appropriate disciplinary actions."
- FTR 301-73.106, What are the basic services that should be covered by a TMS? [proposed FTR 301-73.105], states that the TMS must, at a minimum, “include a Travel Management Center (TMC), commercial ticket office (CTO), an in-house system, an electronically available system, or other method(s) of arranging travel, which has the ability to provide the following as appropriate to the agency's travel needs: (1) booking and fulfillment of common carrier arrangements...(2) lodging information...(3) car rental and rail information...[and] provide basic management information, such as (1) number of reservations by type of service (common carrier, lodging, and car rental); (2) extent to which reservations are in compliance with policy and reasons for exceptions; (3) origin and destination points of common carrier usage; (4) destination points for lodging accommodations; (5) number of lodging nights in approved accommodations; (6) city or location where car rentals are obtained; and (7) other tasks, e.g., reconciliation of charges on centrally billed accounts and processing ticket refunds.” A note to FTR 301-73.106 states, “The eTS fulfills the basic services of a TMS. You have the option to use the contracted travel agent service(s) of your choice through eTS or other contract vehicles. You have the responsibility to ensure that agency-contracted-for travel agent services complement and support the eTS in an efficient and cost effective manner.”
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Panoptic Enterprises at 703-451-5953 or by e-mail to Panoptic@FedGovContracts.com.
Copyright 2003 by Panoptic Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.
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