We Handle Hurricanes and e-Business

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration manages travel costs electronically

Minneapolis  August 20, 2001  It's not applicable to those hurricane season flights into the eye of the latest named storm, since those aren't handled by your favorite airline, but it's at least a start to the government managing travel expenses better. Gelco, a provider of e-business expense management and reimbursement programs, today announced that the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has implemented Gelco Travel Manager, in order to reduce processing costs and manual rekeying of data and provide the agency with information for analyzing and justifying travel expenditures to Congress.

The system will automate 93 percent of all travel documents and will service the agency's 14,000 staff members and an additional 1,000 invitational travelers, including scientists and researchers from foreign nations working with NOAA on global projects. The application will support the agency's key bureaus and will administer travel regulations and ensure policy compliance for both civilian and Department of Defense travel regulations, including current per diem rates.

R.J. Dominic, NOAA Finance Office drector/comptroller, states that, "The automated capabilities of the Integrated Travel Manager System (ITM) have allowed NOAA to realize cost savings and, at the same time, redeploy personnel from labor-intensive travel related accounting tasks to other critical areas. ITM has provided NOAA managers with extensive and timely travel information and has also provided NOAA travelers with prompt and accurate travel reimbursements."

The Gelco e-business system prepares travel documents, automatically routes documents for review and electronic approval and selects documents for random audits. A custom application allows Gelco Travel Manager to access CAMS (Commerce Administrative Management System), the Core Financial System, to review the availability of funds and to apply correct accounting codes. This speeds financial processing, and enables the agency to produce a variety of ad hoc management reports. The system will operate in a variety of hardware and software configurations, allowing users to easily access the system.

"These reports have proven invaluable for communicating travel needs and justifications to Congress," said NOAA consultant Stephen Elko, a principal with Enterprise Systems Engineering. "NOAA has been able to show how increases in per diem rates must be offset, why certain foreign travel is necessary, and how travel to remote areas, for instance in Alaska, is cost-effective for taxpayers. Without Travel Manager, producing such reports, whenever needed, would require significant staff resources."

"We've worked with NOAA in an on-going partnership to provide the agency with leading edge e-business applications," said Andy Bridge, Gelco Expense Management Group vice president. "The system is highly flexible, user-friendly and requires a minimum of training to operate. The system incorporates industry best practices and advanced technology to help NOAA effectively manage and control their agency's travel expenditures."