I would like to see something much simpler for DoD travel. I’d love to see that blasted credit card thing go away, and make travel systems acknowledge that we’re not in the sixties anymore. We could just give people a lump of money and let them figure it out themselves, or put the rule sets in plugins for any number of web-based travel agencies, or make the system become a travel ATM (“need to go to Cleveland for a week? Your boss says it’s required? Okay, come back if you get stuck paying more than X, and here’s the Cleveland air-room-car packages from these eight travel systems!”). Standardization isn’t the goal. Mission accomplishment, careful use of the taxpayer’s money, and transparent accountability is–in that order, too.
This problem is a lot like the French Minitel computer system. Minitel was good for what it was a long time ago, but it locked the country into a teletext terminal system for everybody just as the Internet became useful. Minitel cost a lot of money to implement and standardize, and the standard prevented the French from taking advantage of rapid improvements to connectivity. When you’re stuck with a Minitel, the answer is not to build another Minitel from scratch using the best of the last decade’s innovations.
In order to really save and become efficient, we have to become more accepting of a particular kind of risk. Unfortunately, that risk is completely unacceptable to the people who control the purse, which got us this program. Congress will spend a thousand dollars keeping ten from being stolen or wasted, and it is almost impossible to kill a program of record. So for that reason, even if Sen. Coleman is criticizing DTS for home state pork reasons, he’s still benefiting the country. I’d prefer we think bigger than just going back to a travel agent contract again–but this is a start.
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