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The Department of Defense plans to award a new contract soon to a company to provide travel agent services in Europe.

Paul Joyce, chief of the commercial travel division for the Defense Travel Management Office, said Thursday that eight companies were asked to submit bids to provide services similar to what SatoTravel currently offers. Carlson Wagonlit/Sato was one of those invited to apply.

Servicemembers and DOD civilian employees based in Europe will be required to use the selected company while making arrangements for official government travel.

Each of the military services in Europe currently has ties with Sato on its own. U.S. Air Forces in Europe, for instance, has had a memorandum of understanding with Sato since 1999 that expires at the end of September.

"For a number of years that has worked nicely," Joyce said.

But he said his office, which manages DOD commercial travel services, was told to consolidate travel services after a survey found more than 100 agreements with travel agencies around the globe. More than 50 organizations managed those agreements under an array of differing terms.

So DOD asked for interested companies to bid on "Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity" contracts in which the department laid out services required in only general terms. Eight companies were selected in September 2007 based on their bids: Bay Area Travel, Carlson Wagonlit/Sato, CI Travel, Duluth Travel, Manassas Travel, Omega World Travel, Tzell/Air Trak Travel and WingGate Travel.

Three contracts to provide services in the States have already been awarded. They are Defense Travel Area 1 (western U.S.), Defense Travel Area 2 (southern U.S.) and Defense Travel Area 6 (Marines and other selected agencies).

Joyce said about a dozen contracts will be awarded. He declined to give a specific timetable for the contract for Europe, but said it was expected to be awarded "soon." It could go into effect at the beginning of the fiscal year when at least some of the individual deals with Sato are due to expire.

Joyce said he could not discuss specific terms of the agreement in the middle of the selection process. But he said the three previous contracts involve the government paying a transaction fee for each service provided, but not paying companies ahead of time to provide services. He said the length of the contract could vary as well, but such contracts typically run for about five years.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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