DoD Receives Gore's Hammer Award for Revamping TDY Travel
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 19, 1997 The military and civilian team re-engineering DoD's temporary duty travel system received Vice President Al Gore's Hammer Award Sept. 9 for reinvention excellence.
Deputy Defense Secretary John H. Hamre presented the award during ceremonies at the Pentagon. The Hammer Award is the vice president's special recognition to teams that have made significant contributions in support of the president's National Performance Review principles -- putting customers first, cutting red tape, empowering employees and getting back to basics.
Also participating in the ceremony were Alice Maroni, acting DoD comptroller and chief financial officer; Bob Stone, director of the White House National Performance Review; and David O. "Doc" Cooke, Pentagon director of administration and management.
DoD's re-engineering initiative began in 1995 when Hamre was the Pentagon's comptroller and chief finance officer.
"Dr. Hamre took on the department's temporary duty travel process, which was marked by fragmentation, inefficiency and high cost to the federal government and the American taxpayer," Maroni told the awardees and guests. "He saw the need to change the regulatory framework for travel management, adopt the best travel practices of the private sector, an opportunity to cut costs and to provide quality service to DoD travelers.
"He established the re-engineering travel initiative team as his vehicle for change," Maroni continued. "It's his vision, leadership and his commitment that's bringing about the successful completion of this initiative."
"More than anything," Hamre said, "[the Hammer Award] shows the American public that government employees really can make a difference. They can produce a better quality product and save taxpayer dollars. This is the kind of government Americans want."
The re-engineering team streamlined DoD's $3 billion-per-year travel system by adopting many private-sector practices. This has:
- Reduced complex travel regulations from 220 pages to 17;
- Simplified reimbursement regulations for meals and incidental expenses and eliminated requirements for receipts from expenses less than $75, except for lodging;
- Established a travel card program to pay for incidental official business travel - advances, lodging, transportation, rental cars, meals and other expenses; and
- Created one document to serve as the order, itinerary, voucher and record of any changes.
"When some people say traveling is a little deal, that's not the case at all. It's really at the core of what this department is doing every day," Hamre said. He noted more than 120,000 military and civilian personnel travel every day on DoD business, including deployments. He said re-engineering travel was a constant battle.
"No battle is harder than bureaucratic politics in Washington," he said. "What's remarkable is that it's been done with such style, dignity and conviction. Few people in Washington have a chance to build brand new and leave a legacy that others benefit from.
"Every American soldier, sailor, Marine, airman and civilian employee will benefit from this system you've designed," he told the awardees.
Initial results from 29 pilot programs at 27 sites reveal a 65 percent decrease in administrative costs, a 31 percent decrease in payment cycle time and a 100 percent increase in customer satisfaction, Hamre said.
Stone said the re-engineering teams reinvented the way DoD does its official business travel. "They formed a powerful coalition with the private sector and looked at its travel practices," said Stone. "Their efforts resulted in the removal of roadblocks that impeded sound travel management, not only in DoD, but also within the entire federal government.
"Secretary [of Defense William S.] Cohen boasted to the vice president that this is going to save a awful lot of money over the next six years -- several billion dollars," Stone said.
Karen Alderman, director of travel re-engineering, said, "Customers are so happy to be treated as honest customers. They like having understandable travel rules and they like being paid on time.