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Defense Travel System [DTS]: more than 960,000 personnel are signed up to use DTS, and more users are self-registering every day. More than 451,000 travelers have created travel documents in DTS, which does not include other key DTS users.

This is the fourth year that the Defense Transportation Journal has published articles in its passenger travel issue chronicling the growth of the Defense Travel System (DTS). For those of you who have followed the evolution of our system, I am happy to report this year that DTS has turned the corner and is beginning to experience the successful use that was envisioned from the beginning.

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CURRENT SNAPSHOT

As of 23 May 2006, DTS is operational at 8295 sites worldwide, to include 250 or about 92 percent of the high-travel volume/high-visibility sites, with more sites coming on line every month. The PMO expects to achieve Full Operational Capability (FOC) by the end of FY 2006, with the PMO deploying the remainder of the high-volume travel sites and the Service and Agency components responsible for deploying the remainder of DOD's approximately 11,000 sites.

Through 25 May 2006 DTS has processed more than 2.05 million approved authorizations and more than 1.7 million approved vouchers. DTS is processing on average more than 5100 approved vouchers and more than 6000 approved authorizations per regular workday, and an average of more than 39,000 unique users visit the DTS daily. More than 960,000 personnel are signed up to use DTS, and more users are self-registering every day. More than 451,000 travelers have created travel documents in DTS, which does not include other key DTS users: Authorizing and Approving Officials (AO), Defense Travel Administrators (DTA), Centrally Billed Account (CBA) personnel, and other process owners who are also using DTS every day to support and manage the travel process. This is a key point; DTS is important not only to the traveler, but also to commanders, managers, and process owners. It is in this regard, too, that DTS is unique and differs significantly from the GSA eGov Travel Service (ETS). DTS is a fully integrated financial management system that manages business travel for the Department.

Figure 1 dramatically illustrates the rapid growth in DTS usage over the past year. As additional sites are fielded, as the system is proliferated more completely at existing sites, and as users become more comfortable with and confident in the capabilities and functionalities of DTS, usage will continue to increase exponentially.

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As DTS usage continues to increase, greater cost savings and cost avoidance will be realized. Recent GAO findings showed that the Army paid $6 million to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) for manual processing of 177,000 travel vouchers between October 1, 2004, and February 28, 2005. During that same period, the Army paid only $186,000 for DTS processing of 84,000 vouchers--a savings of more than $30 per voucher. This is but one small example of the potential for savings to the taxpayer that can--and do--accrue from the use of DTS.

DTS FUNCTIONALITY ENHANCED BY MONROE SOFTWARE RELEASE

In my last update, I reported on the tremendous increase in capability and functionality made possible by the Madison software release. We introduced the Monroe software release on 1-2 April 2006, significantly upgrading system usability, improving user-friendliness, and adding functionality.

Initial reports concerning usage of DTS subsequent to the Monroe Release are very encouraging. On the first day, DTS set a new record for 42,574 unique users logged on at least once. Sustained usage since the release has increased by 15 to 30 percent compared to that before the release.

Functionalities enhanced by Monroe include:

* Improved Lines of Accounting (LOA) management;

* Redesigned Budget Module to improve usability;

* New "Return to List" navigation button to simplify review of multiple documents;

* Improved Group Travel processing;

* New Constructive Travel process to facilitate transportation calculations and allow Authorizing Officials (AO) to impose reimbursement limits;

* Improved Personal Leave on Travel functionality;

* Improved accountability for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) funded travel;

* Improved system audits; and

* Enhanced Defense Travel Administrator (DTA) maintenance features.

The debt management functionality was greatly simplified, and the ability of the Debt Management Monitor (DMM) to accomplish its functions was enhanced by the Monroe release. It activated the Debt Management Gateway, which allows for recording due process, waivers, initiating payroll collections, and collections for out-of-service debt situations. It initiated automated accounts receivable transactions to accounting interfaces for tracking of debt management transactions for the financial community and initiated automated transmission of the advice of collection debt to the individual to inform the traveler that a debt is fulfilled.

The envisioned functionality for DTS is essentially complete. However, there is still much to do to complete integration with the myriad of partner systems with which DTS must have two-way interface to achieve maximum effectiveness across DOD as a fully integrated financial management system. There are also numerous usability issues that are being addressed through a series of planned maintenance releases over the next two months. The resolution of these issues will continue to improve the responsiveness and system-friendliness of DTS as seen by the user.

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PROGRAM REORGANIZATION

As we approach full operational capability (FOC) for DTS, the program office has undergone several major changes to ensure a smooth transition for DTS as it becomes an integral part of the Department's electronic business architecture.

The Travel Management Division of the PMO has been transferred to the Under Secretary of Personnel and Readiness, where it has formed the nucleus of the new Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO). DTMO now has responsibility for all aspects of travel management for the Department of Defense, and for them, DTS will be one of the "tools of the trade" that enable them to accomplish their mission. Simply stated, the DTMO will be the center of excellence for travel management, responsible for travel policy, and will become the day to day interface with the users of the system after FOC.

The PMO is now part of the new Business Transformation Agency (BTA), which has oversight over DTS and numerous other automated programs that are integral components of the Department's business enterprise architecture. The PMO will continue to be responsible for the deployment and operation of the DTS and for continued system development and testing to ensure it stays current with advances in technology and that the interfaces with existing systems are upgraded as those systems continue to evolve. The PMO will also be responsible for continuing to expand the capability and functionality of DTS beyond business travel, encompassing permanent duty travel (PDT) and numerous miscellaneous financial transactions necessary to the day to day conduct of business within the Department of Defense.

This is an exciting time for DTS. As an integral component of the Department's business enterprise architecture, the potential for DTS as an integrated worldclass financial management system that goes well beyond travel management for the Department is enormous. There is no other system like it anywhere. Given the complexities and diverseness of the financial management processes across DOD, the establishment of the linkages among systems has been a major accomplishment. But there are systems still remaining with which DTS could and should interface. These include integrating military air travel and on-base government lodging programs to provide additional options for the DTS traveler; establishing greater connectivity and usability for the Reserve Components; and establishing effective linkage with the emerging military (Defense Integrated military Human Resource System [DIMHRS]) and civilian (Defense Civilian Personnel Data System [DCPDS]) personnel systems across the Department. It includes expanding DTS to support permanent duty travel (PDT) for personnel changing duty stations. It includes expanding the use of DTS to support many other miscellaneous financial payments to Department personnel, including but not limited to:

* Miscellaneous Expenses in conjunction with Recruiting Duty;

* Travel for Specialty Care less than 100 miles from Permanent Duty Station (PDS);

* Reimbursement for Civilian Medical and Dental Treatment Paid from Personal Funds;

* Civilian Employee Physicals arranged by the employee to determine fitness-for-duty;

* Reimbursement for Notary Public Expenditures;

* Invitational Travel when there is no entitlement to per diem allowance;

* Reimbursement for Local Movement of Household Goods;

* Transportation Incentive Program;

* Clothing (uniform clothing allowance for civilians, security police, firefighters, etc.);

* Investigation Expenses (reimbursement for police and court record checks, transcripts, photographs. or miscellaneous investigative fees) and payments to agencies (state and local) for individual background checks;

* Professional Liability Insurance for authorized government employees;

* Reimbursements for personal expenditures to support mission, environmental licenses, fees, passport fees, driver's license fees, permits, streetcar charges, annual permits for toll roads and bridges, and reconnection fees;

* Training and education expenses--includes advance payment of non-contract tuition, civilian and military education services, tuition assistance, and professional certifications; and

* Award Ceremony Fees (fees paid by award nominees and recipients and their supervisors and managers for attendance at ceremonies within the scope of the incentives awards act may be reimbursed).

DTS has the capability and functionality to operate with these systems and is being used on a limited scale to support miscellaneous payments. The potential and power of DTS as an integrated financial management system is enormous. As the BTA leverages the technology and capabilities of the business programs over which it now has oversight to refine the Department's Business Enterprise Architecture, DTS could become increasingly important in achieving greater economies and efficiencies in the Department's business processes.

by Colonel Brandy Johnson, USAF, Program Director, Defense Travel System

Colonel Brenda (aka Brandy) S. Johnson has been Program Director for the DTS since September 2003, responsible for developing and deploying DTS to over 11,000 DOD sites worldwide. She previously served in the Office of the Under Secretary of the Air Force where she oversaw program and budget activities for the acquisition of 16 Defense space programs.
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Author:Johnson, Brenda (aka Brandy) S.
Publication:Defense Transportation Journal
Date:Aug 1, 2006
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