The Defense Department has finally fleshed out a plan to replace “the aging and inefficient Defense Travel System,” according to a Thursday announcement.
DTS is used by service members to book travel and file vouchers for reimbursement of expenses incurred during temporary duty assignments, or TDY.
The Pentagon said in its press release that it had awarded a $9.3 million contract to SAP Concur to develop a travel system prototype. SAP Concur is an American software development and licensing company that provides travel and expense management services to businesses.
The SAP Concur team — which includes Accenture Federal Services, Booz Allen Hamilton and CWTSato Travel — is expected to complete the business travel prototype within 24 months.
The department hopes that the $9.3 million Other Transaction Authority award will “exponentially lower the cost of airline tickets and save more than 10 million labor hours annually spent on the process of booking travel by more than 2 million active duty, reserve, and civilian personnel,” according to the press release.
On top of the money saved for the Pentagon, the change will likely be welcomed by service members who frequently complain about the archaic and error-prone current system.
In the press release, the DoD said it spends $9 billion on travel annually, with TDY travel covering roughly 70 percent of all vouchers.
Through this Other Transaction Authority, the DoD said it will lower costs by mandating the use of lower-cost, non-refundable airline tickets in markets without pre-negotiated fares. The DoD’s award is also intended to launch a prototype capability to adopt commercially available travel processes using information technology solutions.
In addition to lowering overall costs, the new system will reduce workflow complexity, the DoD said. That should decrease the amount of time and effort spent by everyone from the traveler to the authorizing official in the reimbursement process.
“We have a responsibility to ensure our resources are used in the most efficient and effective manner, and given this specific project has such a wide ranging and deep impact — reforms with results like these are crucial,” said DoD Chief Management Officer John H. Gibson in the release. “I’m proud of the work we’re executing through the Reform Management Group and initiatives like this from the Information Technology Reform Team.”