Pentagon Quickly Abandons System Meant to Modernize Official Travel

Tech. Sgt poses with faux receipts for travel vouchers.
Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond, a 111th Attack Wing photojournalist, poses with faux receipts for her commentary about submitting vouchers in the Defense Travel System (DTS) at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa., Sept. 1, 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum)

The Pentagon has bailed on a travel system that, when first launched, was aimed at lowering costs and modernizing booking travel for both service members and civilians working for the Department of Defense.

The system -- known as MyTravel -- became mandatory for everyone in the Defense Department last fall, according to a memo written by Gil Cisneros, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness. At the time, Cirsneros argued the move would allow the Pentagon to "retire legacy travel systems while delivering an industry leading product."

According to the contract, the Pentagon allotted just shy of $375 million for the service and expected it to run until fall 2028. Instead, Cisneros wrote a new memo in May saying that MyTravel would be ending and the Pentagon would go back to the old Defense Travel System, having spent just shy of $13 million on the project.

Read Next: Horse-Drawn Funerals at Arlington Suspended Until Mid-2024

Jade Fulce, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon, told that "although the program made significant advancements, continued implementation of MyTravel is no longer in the best interests of the department."

Fulce said a lower amount of travel than what was anticipated at the start of the contract "due to COVID-19 and a shift to virtual meetings" was part of the reason for the cancellation.

The memo issued by Cisneros halting the use of MyTravel did not cite any reasons for the move.

According to Fulce, anyone traveling for the department will shift back to the old Defense Travel System by July 13 and MyTravel will formally go away in September.

However, the legacy system has long been plagued with issues.

Social media is rife with comments from service members and civilians that call the system everything from "overly complicated" and "onerous" to "one of the worst programs I've dealt with in the Army."

Furthermore, a government watchdog found that the system was responsible for an estimated $965 million in improper payments between 2016 and 2018 -- an average of $322 million a year. While the report noted that this figure does not necessarily represent money lost by the department, it is indicative of a major administrative burden that was placed on service members to deal with the issues.

Fulce noted that one of the other reasons that led to the end of MyTravel was a priority by the Pentagon to achieve a clean audit -- a complete accounting of all the money in its care.

The department was finally able to conduct an audit of its massive operations, but it has failed to actually pass the audit five times in a row now.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

Related: 650 Military Promotions Threatened as Senator Shows No Signs of Relenting 

Story Continues