By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2006 – To help Defense Department employees better understand the new system that handles their official travel requirements, experts from the Defense Travel Management Office are deployed to the Pentagon today and tomorrow armed with information and ready to answer questions. A booth explaining the Defense Travel System, which is now required for use by DoD employees on official travel, is set up in the Pentagon concourse. Experts are on hand to explain the computer-based system and give employees a demonstration on its use.
"Given the population of the Pentagon, this is just a great opportunity to reach out to folks who are currently using DTS, as well as those who are not using it yet, but know that it's coming," said Pam Mitchell, deputy director of the Defense Travel Management Office. "So it gives us the ability to provide a lot of information and to really touch a lot of people in a short period of time."
DTS began as a pilot program in June 2001, and is now deployed to more than 8,700 sites worldwide. As of Nov. 1, more than a million people were registered for DTS, and about 13,000 users log into the system every day, Mitchell said.
The most important benefit DTS gives government travelers is a consolidated place to meet all their travel needs, Mitchell said. The system is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and allows users to do everything from creating a travel order to getting reimbursed for travel.
"It's an integrated system," she said. "It's not just about getting paid; it's not just about making a reservation. But it's really about allowing a traveler to do everything."
Some users have experienced snags and problems with DTS, Mitchell acknowledged, but she urged patience as the system is improved and fine-tuned. The Defense Travel Management Office is working on improvements and seeking feedback from users on training that would be useful, she said.
Travelers who do experience problems with DTS have several options available to them, Mitchell said. Every site where DTS has been fielded has a defense travel administrator who can provide training, and the services and agencies have their own help desks set up, she said. People can also look online for help, and request training classes, she said.
DTS benefits not only the individual travelers, but also DoD organizations by establishing a way to track the travel budget, Mitchell said. Leaders can track where and when money was spent, and can more easily enforce travel rules and regulations, she said.
The Defense Travel Management Office was created in February to consolidate, streamline, and centrally manage all commercial travel for DoD. DTS is only part of what the office does, Mitchell said.
Article sponsored by Police Officer Gifts.