GSA Travel Data Challenge
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Design and create an online, interactive tool that uses federal travel data to increase transparency and accountability, and you could win $90,000.

The GSA’s is looking to bring a quantitative approach to the data the federal government collects in order to help agencies make smarter business decisions, and to allow them to drive greater saving and efficiencies. Enter the GSA Travel Data Challenge, which asks the public “to develop a technology-driven solution using GSA travel data that allows an agency to identify opportunities to reduce costs.” 

This tool is intended to show agencies where and how they can save money on federal travel. One of the key purposes of the tool will be to provide agencies with visibility into their travel spending and recommendations for cost-savings behaviors.  In addition, the tool will enhance internal transparency and hold agencies accountable for their spending – steps which help to save money for American taxpayers. It is not intended to publicly display any agency’s travel data, and users will need to log in via a certified username and password to interact with the tool.


Key questions the tool should address include:

  • Are travelers booking airline reservations far in advance to secure low cost airfare? How many days in advance are travelers booking their trips, taking into consideration industry standards and benchmarks? For example, is there a correlation between booking time and cost?
  • Are travelers using travel services, such as FedRooms®?
  • Are travelers booking online?
  • With regard to data visibility issues, is key data being missed? Highlight where data is missing, such as where a traveler may have not used existing systems and, therefore, data is lacking.
  • What data elements are missing that could be valuable to an agency travel manager or chief financial officer?
  • How much could an agency save if they adjusted one or a set of cost-driving behaviors such as, time of year of travel, booking online, travel to certain cities during certain times, booking in advance?

A second part of the GSA Travel Data Challenge asks the public to identify specific gaps in the travel data collected by the government, and to provide recommendations for how the government can improve insights into federal travel spending through additional data collection. The purpose for this information is to gain an understanding of what the government could do with additional data elements, if those data elements were to be collected by agencies. This will help increase awareness of needed improvements in data collection, and further the goal of leading greater transparency into government spending. 

For challenge details, go to

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at 

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