Excellence in Practice Awards 2016
THE ELITE: Joint Staff Support Services Office Travel Team
The Elite Award recognizes a local help desk team whose superior efforts resulted in continuous improvement and outstanding customer care.
This year's recipient is the Joint Staff Support Services Office Travel Team.
The Joint Staff Travel Office provided help desk and administrative support to all Joint Staff travelers, Organization Defense Travel Administrators (ODTAs), Authorizing Officials (AOs), and Agency Program Coordinators (APCs). The team also oversaw the Government Travel Charge Card (GTCC) program for the entire Joint Staff and Premium Class Travel reporting for the Joint Staff and nine Combatant Commands. Despite having a customer base with a wide geographical distribution, the Joint Staff Travel Office provided world-class help desk support that balanced mission requirements, regulatory compliance, and individual traveler needs.
The Joint Staff Travel Office was particularly adept in its ability to identify trends and take the necessary steps to enhance the Joint Staff's travel program. The team instituted proactive monitoring that helped the entire Joint Staff achieve an unsubmitted voucher rate of less than 4%. The team was also responsible for increasing the GTCC rebates for the Joint Staff thanks to its vigilance in reconciling centrally-billed accounts and promoting the "Direct to Treasury" program. The Joint Staff Travel Office also implemented a voucher audit initiative that has resulted in a 30% reduction in the most common errors on DTS vouchers.
The team was renowned for sharing targeted, timely information with its customers through a well-refined communication strategy. The backbone of its strategy was leveraging its network of ODTAs, who shared regulatory changes, travel tips, and training information with Joint Staff travelers and AOs. The Joint Staff Travel Office also worked closely with its legal office and the Office of the Inspector General to create a highly-successful and well-received travel ethics training briefing. This briefing, which the team provides regularly to senior leaders and AOs in the Office of the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff and in every Combatant Command, highlights the most commonly-abused areas of travel and provides vignettes of recent breaches of ethics.
The Joint Staff Travel Office was also committed to improving its customer service. Its portal page provided customers with the opportunity to leave feedback, accolades, and constructive criticism. While most of the feedback to the team's customer service was overwhelmingly positive, the team leveraged constructive criticism to improve its services for the Joint Staff's travel program. In fact, as a result of some of the constructive criticism left by customers, the team was able to engage the Defense Travel Management Office and the Joint Staff's Commercial Travel Office contractors to develop long-term solutions to some common difficulties encountered by travelers.
All told, the Joint Staff Travel Office's track record as a proactive, customer-focused team exemplifies what it means to be an elite help desk.