WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Defense Department will launch an Integrated Lodging Program Pilot June 15, which will provide quality government and commercial lodging, with greater safety and security and better services at reduced rates.
Travelers TDY, for 30 days or less, to select DOD locations will be directed to book lodging in the Defense Travel System (DTS) and use government or preferred commercial lodging before other lodging accommodations.
The effort to develop an enterprise-wide program was facilitated by the National Defense Authorization Act 2015, which authorizes the secretary of Defense to institute a government lodging program to provide quality government or commercial lodging for civilians or members of the military services performing duty on official travel.
Integrated Lodging Program Pilot sites:
• Charleston, South Carolina – Joint Base Charleston
• Dayton, Ohio – Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
• Norfolk, Virginia – Select area U.S. military installations
• Saratoga Springs, New York – Naval Support Activity Saratoga Springs
• Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Washington area
• Tampa, Florida – MacDill Air Force Base
• Twentynine Palms, California – Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
The DOD Integrated Lodging Program Pilot affords an excellent opportunity to not only leverage the DOD’s collective purchasing power, but also incorporate program enhancements that ensure a certain level of “duty of care” for its travelers.
An integrated lodging program will:
• Enable travelers to use DTS to find trusted lodging providers, government and preferred commercial.
• Ensure travelers are staying in quality lodging facilities that are close to TDY locations; are protected from certain fees; and provide amenities at no additional cost with room rates below the established government per diem rates.
• Enhance traveler care and satisfaction; provide greater traveler security; reduce lodging spend per night; and improve program management and data collection.
Supporting travel policy
The Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) paragraph 1265 states that service member and civilian travelers who are TDY to a military installation at an Integrated Lodging Program Pilot site are required to first book government lodging if available, and then preferred commercial lodging. If TDY to a pilot site city or metro area, travelers will be directed to use DOD preferred commercial lodging before booking other lodging options. If government or preferred commercial lodging at a pilot location is available and a traveler chooses to stay in other lodging, reimbursement for lodging costs is limited to the amount the government would have paid if the traveler stayed in either government (if available) or a participating preferred commercial lodging property.
• Orders list TDY location as military installation: If a traveler’s orders list the TDY location as an U.S. installation at a pilot site, the traveler is directed to book government lodging if available. If available and the traveler chooses other accommodations, lodging cost reimbursement is limited to the cost of available government lodging.
• Orders list TDY location as pilot site city or metropolitan area: If a traveler’s orders list the TDY location as a pilot site city or surrounding metropolitan area, the traveler is directed to book preferred commercial lodging if available. If preferred commercial lodging is available but not used, lodging cost reimbursement is limited to the highest negotiated rate for preferred commercial lodging.
An authorizing official may authorize exceptions based on mission, distance, lower rate, as well as other exceptions listed in the JTR.
To support this new program, DTS will be modified to guide travelers to selecting the directed lodging at the TDY location. Another welcome feature is that the system will automatically secure a non-availability confirmation number when directed government lodging is not available, as required by policy. This is an added convenience and prevents the traveler from having to contact the facility directly to secure the number as they did before. Additionally, when traveling to non-pilot sites, travelers will be able to book government lodging facilities directly in DTS.
The Integrated Lodging Program Pilot will provide valuable insights for sourcing and managing an enterprise-wide program; it is the genesis of a model for managing the DOD’s future lodging requirements. The pilot is authorized to run through 2019 and the Defense Travel Management Office expects that additional pilot sites will be added along the way. More information, including FAQs and a description of the new DTS functionality, is available on the DTMO website.