It's the Law: Start Reengineering Your Agency's Travel Process

President Clinton signed 1997 Defense Authorization legislation on September 23, 1996. It contains provisions for the biggest change in government travel rules in 40 years, and was passed with strong bipartisan support in the Congress.

The new law finally fixes the underlying legislative problems so that all agencies can reinvent their travel systems, one of NPR's initial recommendations. Implementation will save taxpayers hundreds of millions a year while improving government travel services. It does this by adopting the best travel practices in the private sector. The law:

A House version of the bill required agencies to use a corporate credit card for travel expenses. Although that provision did not make the cut in conference, committee members thought the card was a good idea. The conference report urges agencies, when appropriate, to use their discretionary authority to "maximize the use of the travel charge card."

Over the years, the General Accounting Office has highlighted the excessive cost of the government's travel system. Last year it pointed out that, while the Defense Department spent about $5 billion on its travel, it spent an additional 30 percent just to administer the system. Well-run travel systems in the private sector cost about six percent to administer.

Government reinventors do not have to look to the private sector for a model. In 1995, the National Security Agency's travel management operation, a reinvention lab, was selected by Business Travel News, the newspaper of the travel industry, as one of the four best in the country. NSA is right up there with Hewlett-Packard, Bankers Trust, and Texas Instruments. NSA's new process, including software under development, can be used by other agencies. Call Chip Mahan at (301) 688-3023.

A task force of the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program, a government-wide reinvention activity, developed the new legislation and implementing regulations. Call (202) 512-9201 for the name of a task force member who can discuss the travel provisions. Call (202) 512-6000 to get a copy of the JFMIP report, Improving Travel Management Governmentwide.

The report is also on the World Wide Web. See FinanceNet ( The direct URL is gopher:// You may also use Gopher. To get a menu, use this address: gopher: //

This article appeared in Reinvention Express, September 25, 1996, Vol. 2, No. 20 Navigation Bar For NPR site Back To The NPR Main Page Search the NPR Site NPR Initiatives Links to Other Reinvention Web Sites Reinvention Tools Frequently Asked Questions NPR Speeches NPR News Releases