DoD asks Congress to simplify travel regulations

Friday, April 30th, 2010

DoD needs Congress' help to reengineer travel laws, policies, and processes in order to make defense travel simpler.  Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Legislation, David Fisher (Director, Business Transformation Agency) and Pamela Mitchell (Director, Defense Travel Management Office) told members that the Joint Federal Travel Regulations (JFTR) and Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) have, over time, become “unwieldy documents that can be confusing, and occasionally contradictory.”  And, witnesses said, continuing policy changes reflected in law have added to the difficulties.  Fisher and Mitchell did agree that the Defense Travel System (DTS) should be reviewed and transformed, but advised that this effort cannot be completed before changes are made to travel legislation and policies.  Congress required DoD to submit a plan to simplify defense travel in the FY2010 Defense Authorization Act.  Some subcommittee members reminded witnesses that Congress and travelers have been critical of the cost and time it has taken to revamp defense travel over that past 15 years.  The witnesses responded by insisting that progress has been made, citing reductions in the cost of processing travel vouchers.  And, they noted that DoD travelers have expressed satisfaction by gradually increasing their use of the DTS system to make travel arrangements (86% in FY2009).  However, the witnesses did acknowledge that continued improvements are needed in order to guarantee a stable, reliable, and secure system for the long term.  A major component of this effort will be modernizing the software platform.  To that end, DTS has decided to concentrate on completing the “Technical Refresh” of the system and fixing “problems with the highest impact on travelers.” 

7 Responses to “DoD asks Congress to simplify travel regulations”

  • Paul Freeman says:

    I attended the DTMO and DTA Sustainment Seminar in Alexandria, VA in early April 10. Gained many new insights and tools from the professional presentations by DTMO and Contractor Staff team. Will cross-feed and apply these new best practices. Enjoyed meeting and speaking with many of the DTMO staff. Other AF unit DTAs in our ORG are looking forward to attending DTA Seminar coming up in June. Thanks to DTMO and support team for putting on the Seminars and improving DTS Program Management.

  • Frank Condino says:

    The JFTR and JTR need to be improved in a variety of ways, by=ut must people confuse DTS for travel regulations. DTS is just a tool to pay claims. The way to fix tdy is go to a toatl flat rate system for each location for example DC give a person $325 a day for lodging, food and rental car and put into the CIV pay or mil pay system no voucher required just proof member or employee traveled. Do centally billed tickets for the air travel. Right now we spend to much time with DTS and the AO’s have liability when most of them would not know the difference between the JFTR and JTR if it hit them in the face.

  • S.Greenhill says:

    Everyone knows that military manhours are essentially prepaid. Wether they are working, not working, or putting in overtime, the cost is the same. With that being said, the loss of manhours will never be a viable reason to revamp any DoD system. In addition, your proposed flat rate would increase travel cost across the dod due to the automatic authorization of entitlements not needed nor used ( rental cars & hotels).

  • Steve Baum says:

    I’ve been advocating a flat-rate per diem (by location) for several years. Routine Congressional/GAO reviews identify cost of bureacracy to administer DoD travel at about $0.30 of every $1.00 spent for the actual travel. This is really inefficient and waste of tax-payer dollars that could be better spent on costly weapon systems. DoD includes both military and civilian members – so there is a manpower cost that should be included in any analysis of options. Implementation of DTS has only put more responsibility on the traveler – and time spent submitting requests and vouchers takes away from member’s primary tasks (whether military or civilian DoD members). So there is a transparent cost associated with this that is undervalued and often overlooked. What would be needed would be a paperless automated tool to authorize member to travel, and flat-rate per diem by location for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses. No other documentation required unless member needed something by exception (rental car, etc.). Travelers would know reimbursement for any particular location up-front, and could possibly be advanced via debit card. In addition, most travelers would be more cost-consience since any savings on per diem would be individual gain. So there is an incentive to stay in less costly lodging. Cost savings would be generated by less man-hours – both by members traveling, and by those involved in the current bureacracy to administer. Reduced manning is one major result/benefit.

  • Florence Clay says:

    When processing centrally billed airline tickets, the identity of the traveler is unknown to an inexperienced employee. Specifically, many elements of expense have lost identities as a result of combining accrued expenditures. This may result in overobligations, unidentified travelers, and unpaid expenses per organization. Entry errors are made from time to time and the responsibility may fall on the organization to expend more time researching a transaction than is necessary primarily due to a small staff. Time is money and we must be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. When traveling in full accordance with the instructions of the JFTR/JTR this is our guide subject to interpretation.

  • J. WIlson says:

    I don’t have an issue with the JTR/JFTR for the most part. There are some items that need to be amended (authorization for GPS), but DTS and the GSA City Pair program need a lot of work. For instance, I have been trying to get someone to explain to me why it costs more than $1756.40 to fly from Colorado Springs, CO to Omaha, NE with a connecting flight in Denver, CO – and only $234.70 to fly from Denver, CO to OMA. We are paying $1,521.70 to fly from Colorado Springs, CO to Denver, CO just 80 miles up the road. Therefore, we have our traveler’s fly from Denver for an average savings of $1400 per traveler. Also, I don’t feel like there is sufficient training for the reviewer’s and authorizing/certifying officials. Alot of FW&A.

  • Rick Jenkins says:

    Has anyone seen this travel calculator ? https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/Passport Logion and click Travel Tools. I’m IMPRESSED and OUTRAGED at the same time. They have a great trip estimator in here, and I am outraged DTS can’t be this easy. Clearly they have the capability to do so. Why doesn’t congress ask them to put this interface on DTS? There are some other good tools in here as well.

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