DOD’s Defense Logistics Agency Shows How
To Run A Successful Travel Card Program
It’s a common question among GSA and DOD agencies: “How do I develop and maintain a successful, well-run Government Travel Charge Card program?”
One of the best ways to do so is by emulating the Government Travel Charge Card Program at the DOD’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). Headquartered in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, this DOD Independent Agency provides logistics, acquisition and technical services to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, other federal agencies, and combined and allied forces.
Wherever the U.S. has a military presence, the DLA’s 27,000 employees are there as well, sourcing and providing America’s military forces with nearly all the consumable items they need to operate – from food, fuel and energy to uniforms, medical supplies, and construction equipment.
16,000 road warriors
A key component of the DLA’s smooth logistical operations is the agency’s Government Travel Charge Card Program. Administered by Citi since 2008 under its SmartPay 2 initative with the agency, the program is managed by the DLA’s Travel Services Team, which implements travel policy for the Defense Travel System.
Among the DOD’s 36 Independent Agencies, the DLA’s Government Travel Charge Card program is the largest. Of 75,000 total such cards handed out by Independent Agencies, over 16,000 of them are in the wallets of DLA employees, who used those cards to charge $38 million in travel expenses last year.
Over 16,000 DLA employees used their cards to charge
$38 million in travel expenses last year.
Delinquency is not tolerated
The DLA’s Government Travel Charge Card Program massive, requiring meticulous care and oversight. And by nearly any measure, it is managed with superior skill and results. One metric in particular bespeaks the success of the program: an astonishingly low 0.3% payment delinquency rate, nearly unheard of in a program with 16,000 cardholders.
“We tell our employees, ‘Avoid delinquencies at all costs, because if your card is not in good standing, you’re not mission-ready,’” says Kathy Windsor, DLA Component Program Manager for the Government Travel Charge Card Program. “That’s why we impress upon our people to pay their bills on time.” Windsor also serves as DLA Program Manager for Defense Travel Management Office Commercial Travel Office contracts, Quality Assurance Expert for the Headquarters CTO, and Travel Team Analyst for travel policy issues.
How does the DLA maintain such a tight rein on its highly successful program? “Command involvement and the dedication of our 60-plus agency program coordinators (APCs) are keys to the success of our program,” Windsor says. Those APCs are held strictly accountable for program performance.
A 0.3% payment delinquency rate is astonishingly low in a program of 16,000 cardholders.
Reporting is key
One secret to program success is a rock-solid system of reports to identify trends, issues and potential problem areas. The DLA uses Citi’s Electronic Access System (EAS) to pull key performance data, then generate and analyze multiple reports on an ongoing basis. Among them:
- Monthly Delinquency Reports, which flag payment delinquencies issues for immediate remediation
- Non-Travel Activity Reports, which pinpoint card misuse and unapproved spending
- Returned Mail Reports, which keep cardholder addresses up to date
- Loss/Separation Reports, which identify employees who leave the DLA and/or DOD.
Training is ongoing
Another key to program success is education. Every new DLA employee is trained on the Government Travel Charge Card program, required to sign a Statement of Understanding to ensure familiarity with it, and instructed to keep both their Card program and Defense Travel System profiles updated. “If a cardholder’s number and expiration date are inaccurate in the Defense Travel System, they can’t get airline tickets, they can’t travel, they’re not mission-ready,” according to Windsor.
In addition, APCs receive their own specialized program management training, by both DLA and Citi, to ensure they are fluent in the workings of the Government Travel Charge Card Program and the Citi EAS that provides the information for reporting. “It’s critical that APCs maintain access to Citi’s EAS system, that they know it frontwards and backwards, so that they can do increases and activations and pull reports and management records when needed,” Windsor says.
Stringently administered processes. Meticulous report generation and analysis. And an unwavering focus on accountability. That is how the DLA maintains its successful Government Travel Charge Card Program.
For more information on how your organization can do the same, please contact your Citi representative.
Over 16,000 DLA employees used their cards to charge $38 million in travel expenses last year.