AME's Travel Matrix Research Paper

Pages: 29 (7976 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 20  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Astronomy

¶ … overarching objectives and background and the solution that was developed in response to the problem.

The background of this project concerns a federal contractor, ABC Services ("the company"), which has been in operation since September 1993. The company provides business-driven solutions to government as well as small and medium-sized businesses (ABC Services, 2003). The company currently provides contracting services for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston as well as the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, the latter being the focus of this study. Ames was established on December 20, 1939, as the second in a line of ten field centers for NASA; the center was established as an aeronautics research laboratory and the facility became a part of NASA in 1958 (Ames fact sheet, 2010). The Ames Research Center has several active space missions underway, including GeneSat (which has already been placed in earth orbit), Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (this is a mission to search for water on the moon; and Kepler (this mission is searching for planets in habitable zones beyond the solar system) (Ames fact sheet, 2010).

In 2008, the company was awarded a 5-year financial services support contract by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, valued at $29 million dollars. Pursuant to the provisions of the contract, the company is responsible for the provisions of services in the following areas:

1. Resources Management;

2. Financial Management;

3. Program Analysis and Controls;

4. Business Information Services;

5. Special Financial Analysis; and,

6. Central Travel Office (CTO) (NASA Press, 2008).

The Central Travel Office (CTO) is responsible for processing all travel requests from NASA Ames employees (including contractors); the provisions of ABC's contractual agreement require a 48-hour turnaround time for processing and completing all travel requests forwarded to the CTO. At present, the company does not have a system in place that validate when a request is made. In addition, there is no standard format in place for submitting a travel request. Finally, there remains an absence of accountability for tracking a request within a given timeframe and the company lacks the ability of accurately measuring its monthly metrics to determine performance levels.

There is a clear need for this solution based on the requirements set forth in the contract awarded to ABC as well as NASA Financial Management Manual FMM 9010 (2002), Section 9011-4 wherein it is stipulated that:

Where functions are contracted out which are not inherently governmental, but closely support the performance of inherently governmental functions, management shall provide an enhanced degree of oversight of contractor performance of these activities to ensure that any final action regarding these activities complies with Federal laws and policies and reflects the independent judgment of agency officials and that there is reasonable identification of contractors and their work products. (p. 3).

Other stipulations contained in FMM 9010 (2002) that mandate compliance by ABC with the solution under development include Section 9011-5 which provides: "The accounting system will provide internal controls for safeguarding assets, ensuring that bills are promptly processed for goods and services sold, promoting the accuracy and reliability of financial data, and encouraging adherence to approved policies" (p. 4). In addition, documenting time of transaction preparation is also required by Section 9011-5 wherein it is stipulated: "Recorded transactions will be adequately documented so they may be traced from original documents to financial statements" (2002, p. 4). Therefore, the online transaction resource under development will satisfy these requirements and provide ABC management with timely analysis of quality indicators that can help identify opportunities for improvement as well as serving as benchmarks for future comparisons. To achieve this solution, the project is guided by the objectives that are described further below.

Project Objectives

This section will describe more fully the current objectives of the project which are four-fold as follows:

1. Provide a centralized location (via a web address) where travel preparers can initiate a travel request;

2. Process all travel request within the designated time allowed (48-hour window);

3. Produce an accurate account of all monthly metrics; and,

4. Provide NASA Ames with a summary report of all travel request made and process within the system.

Although these objectives are relatively straightforward, there are a number of systems, networks, databases and individuals affected by the implementation of this solution, and these issues are discussed further below.

Project Solution

Based on the lack of a centralized and standardized method for the Ames team at the Central Travel Office (CTO) in California to validate the precise date or time a travel request is initiated or process by preparers, the solution for the project involved developing a means to capture this historical data to provide the analysis needed to confirm performance levels according to the provisions of the contract with Ames. The envisioned solution will therefore provide the company with the ability to develop and implement a system that will authenticate performance levels with regards to this monthly performance metric.

The solution that was developed to address the problem described above will require the following software and human resources:

1. SQL Server;

2. Database, Software and Web Developer; and,

3. Network and System Administrator.

Because progress in these foregoing areas varies and some steps require completion of certain milestones in order to proceed with subsequent steps, the discussion of these requirements will be based on current levels of progress as well as expectations with regards to ultimate implementation and completion.

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

This chapter will be used to provide a summary of the research, relevant conclusions that result from the analysis of the primary and secondary resources, and a series of recommendations concerning lessons learned and future directions for study.

References

Ames fact sheet. (2010). NASA. Retrieved from http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/pdf/

283944 main_NASA-Ames-factsheet-2008.pdf.

NASA financial management manual. (2002, March). NASA. Retrieved from http://www.

hq.nasa.gov/fmm/9000/9010.pdf.

Progress Report

Aims of the project

The original aims of this project were four-fold as follows:

1. Provide a centralized location (via a web address) where travel preparers can initiate a travel request;

2. Process all travel request within the designated time allowed (48-hour window);

3. Produce an accurate account of all monthly metrics; and,

4. Provide NASA Ames with a summary report of all travel request made and process within the system.

Since these original aims were formulated, a number of new requirements have been added to the solution as follows:

1. Central Travel Office (CTO) Mail box must receive new travel requests instead of users directly creating the travel requests using the travel request form.

2. An individual at the CTO will be identified and assigned responsibility for reviewing new e-mails and travel requests.

3. The designated CTO individual will be tasked with entering new travel requests into the system; the scope of the data entry is therefore limited to just the header information of the travel requests.

4. Once the travel request has been entered into the system, the requests will go through normal processing route of work coordinator and then to the travel preparer.

5. The work coordinator and travel preparer will remain central in processing the travel requests.

6. There will be no change to the available list of travel statuses previously identified in the system.

7. There will be several new travel types available for request: (a) Domestic; (b) Complex Travel; (c) International Travel; and (d) Invitation.

8. The work coordinator role remains unchanged; this individual basically assigns the travel requests to travel preparers based on travel request volumes.

9. The travel preparer screen will incorporate additional activities.

10. Travel preparer will first review the travel request.

11. Each travel request will be associated with a checklist.

12. Travel preparers will have to review the checklist to ensure that a travel request is complete prior to processing it. Cycle time for request processing will trigger when the travel preparer has completed the checklist by ticking all boxes "true" and changing the travel request status from initiate to processing. This allows the time and date the travel request was initiated, a feature that was not available in the existing system.

13. Each day, the system must compile a list of travelers who will be ending their travel on that particular day. This list will be sent to a list of people which the system identifies as being the responsible travel coordinator for managing this list.

14. The travel preparers will be authorized to transfer their tickets to any other travel preparer at any given point in time, other than when the status is complete.

The foregoing subsequent changes to the project's original aims will necessitate several additional changes in the database as follows:

1. New table(s) will be created to handle to checklists for TRW Requests.

2. A new assignment history table will be created.

3. Travel master table(s) will be updated.

4. Based on the requirements changes and screen layout changes, database changes will be done on an as-needed basis.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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