19 January 2010

Enhancement Fail

A buddy recently passed along a newsletter called the "Defense Travel Dispatch," compliments of the DoD Center for Travel Excellence.

The nice people at the Center for Travel Excellence recently updated their online travel system software, which gov'ies use when making travel arrangements. Here's what they have to say about it"

"This release also included an enhancement known as “Tech Refresh,” which led to degraded system performance over a two-month period..."

Um, I don't think they're using the word "enhancement" correctly. I thought enhancements are suppose to improve performance, not degrade it. At least that's what all those spam emails tell me. Anyway, the newsletter got even more specific:

"Release 6... involved transitioning out-dated software language to a more commonly used code that is more efficient and facilitates quicker, simpler, changes to the system. This element led to degraded system performance over a two-month period, causing many users to experience difficulty accessing the system and slow response times."

No doubt the new code is better than the old code, when the new code is working. But when the new code isn't working, it's worse than the old code. If only there was some way to test this sort of thing before fielding it.

And hey, they're the Center for Travel Excellence, not the Center for Excellence of Making Reservations and Booking Travel...


Gabe said...

Pretty retarded. And if they're so excellent at travel, why is it that I just booked travel from Vegas to San Diego, using the offical travel system, at a cost of $396.11 which includes a convenient layover in Phoenix but I'm not allowed to book a Southwest flight, non-stop to San Diego, for a total cost of $299.40? How is the "government approved and agreed to carrier" cheaper for the government in the long hall. I don't see it.

Hey, I got an idea. Why not let people book travel like a private citizen trying to get the best deal they can, thus saving money?

Hey America, want to cover a public health care option or have money to save the environment? How about pressuring the DoD to cut wasteful spending like I describe above.

RhetTbull said...

@Gabe, I am most certainly no fan of the fiasco that is DTS and I too have been at times frustrated by having to take a more expensive and less convenient fare, but overall, the govie approved fares are cheaper and better. The government contract fares offer the convenience of a full-fare ticket at the price of a restricted-fare ticket, which in the long run saves the government quite a bit of cash. How many times have you had to change a ticket, cancel or reschedule a trip, etc? I've had to do it dozens of times. With restricted fare tickets (the kind you would normally go buy on Travelocity, etc.) those changes would be impossible or costly. With the government fare tix, they don't cost a thing. The non-govie business traveler pays much more for the same privileges.

So, it's tradeoff in the end. We, the gov't, promise to give the contract carrier a bunch of business, even when the competition is cheaper at times, and in return, they promise to give us a really good deal most of the time. As a tax payer and a government traveler, I think it's a fair bargain.

Now, regarding the travel system I have to use to actually make those reservations....that's a fiasco that cost the taxpayers $1B. Imagine what Expedia or Travelocity could have done for us if we had given them a fraction of that...I bet their software "enhancements" don't cause "degraded system performance"...