GSA FAS Focus

Travel, Transportation, and Logistics with Charlotte Phelan

May 20, 2021 U.S. General Services Administration Season 1 Episode 7
GSA FAS Focus
Travel, Transportation, and Logistics with Charlotte Phelan
Chapters
GSA FAS Focus
Travel, Transportation, and Logistics with Charlotte Phelan
May 20, 2021 Season 1 Episode 7
U.S. General Services Administration

Our guest today is GSA Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Travel, Transportation, and Logistics Charlotte Phelan. The Office of Travel, Transportation and Logistics encompasses a lot more than the GSA Fleet.

Upcoming Training

Show Notes Transcript

Our guest today is GSA Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Travel, Transportation, and Logistics Charlotte Phelan. The Office of Travel, Transportation and Logistics encompasses a lot more than the GSA Fleet.

Upcoming Training

>> I'm Joan Kornblith and welcome to GSA FAS Focus, a look at what's happening in and around the U.S. General Services Administration's Federal Acquisition Service. Our guest today is GSA assistant commissioner for the Office of Travel, Transportation, and Logistics, Charlotte Phelan. TTL is made up of the Office of Fleet Management, the Office of Travel, Employee Relocation and Transportation. We also have an Office of Acquisition Operations and the FAS Emergency Management Program Office, which means Charlotte has been heavily involved in GSA's COVID-19 response effort. We'll hear about that, as well as learn more about what going green means for GSA fleet. That's a topic that's been in the news a lot lately. We'll also learn what attracted Charlotte to public service in the first place, and we'll run down some of the webinars and CLP opportunities coming up in the next couple of weeks. And of course, put a few fascinating facts in FAS Focus. Welcome back to FAS Focus, a look at what's happening throughout GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. I'm Joan Kornblith, and in just a couple of minutes, I'll be talking with Charlotte Phelan about her role as GSA's Assistant Commission for the Office of Travel, Transportation, and Logistics. But first, are you looking for your place in the federal marketplace? We have got an event for you. It is GSA's virtual FAS Training Conference coming up June fifteenth through seventeenth and it's an afternoon only event, from 1:00 on each of those days. This is your chance to join GSA's acquisition and category experts as they explore the buyer and seller journey in the federal marketplace. So whether you're translating business needs into requirements, executing a buy, managing supplier performance, or exploring emerging trends, this is the place to be to find out about the tools and techniques that you need to be successful. Learn straight from the GSA experts. The FAS Conference is free for agency and industry partners, and participating in each of the three days -- all three of them -- makes you eligible for 11.5 continuous learning points, or CLPs. Reserve your virtual seat today. More info is available at [email protected] or just visit GSA.gov/events to read more about it. The dates, again, Tuesday, June fifteenth through Thursday the seventeenth and everything begins at 1 P.M. So no crazy early morning sessions, unless you happen to be living, say, in Sydney, Australia where it's 3 A.M. Welcome back to FAS Focus, a look at what's happening in and around GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. I'm Joan Kornblith and joining me, now, is GSA Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Travel, Transportation, and Logistics, Charlotte Phelan. Welcome to the show, Charlotte. >> Thank you, Joan. I'm happy to be here. >> Before we go any further, I think it is safe to say that you are our only guest, so far at least, who shares her name with the character of a hit book and movie. Has anybody commented about that recently? Or does it only happen every time The Help gets a replay on TV or on a streaming service? >> It's funny that you should bring it up, because it's super annoying when I pick up an article or someone says, "hey, you were quoted" and I do a name search. The Help comes up. And she wasn't the best character. She was kind of a protagonist of that story, although she came around in the end. But yes, that happens a lot. >> If anybody needs a refresher or doesn't know what we're talking about, Charlotte Phelan was played by Allison Janney in the movie, The Help. She's the mother of the main character, Skeeter. And you're right, she wasn't necessarily the most sympathetic, shall we say, character in the movie or the book, but she did come around at the end. Anyway, enough about that, even though I would love to do a book review program one time. Let's talk about you for a minute. You've been with GSA since late 2019. You joined the agency after working in the department of Navy. What were you doing there? Tell us a little bit about your career pre-GSA. >> So I had only ever worked for the Navy. I was one of those individuals. I joined up active duty the -- maybe three weeks after I turned 18. I actually went into the delayed entry program in March the year I turned 18, and then left for boot camp sometime that following summer. So it was literally all that I knew. I spent eight years active duty. I was a cryptologist, which was a very, very fascinating and high-octane, high-profile position, I was in the Navy during both Desert Storm and Desert Shield, so we were very active during that time. I spent eight years and got out at the end of eight years primarily because I was a mother by that point. My husband was also active duty. He rode submarines, so he would go to sea for three or four months at a time. And during, again, during that window of time in the '90s when the submarines were under the water, you really had no contact with them. So if things were occurring in our personal life, it was pretty stressful because I was managing that myself, plus my own active duty career. So it was challenging and I just kind of -- I hate to say this to all of my 30-year vets who I respect very much -- but I kind of got tired of it and I just wanted to have a normal life. That the pace of commitment was outweighing my desire to be more committed to my family. And so I made the decision at the eight year point to get out, but I did not step too far away from mother Navy. I took a job as a civilian working for the department of the Navy and pretty much just stayed in that lane until about six years ago. My youngest child, who is my only daughter, decided at the age of twelve that she wanted to move away and attend a ballet academy. And so we looked into that as a family, and we ended up choosing a ballet academy in Pennsylvania. In the summer that she turned thirteen, she moved away from home. And that first year I only saw her three times, because we were in South Carolina, and she was in Pennsylvania. And I -- that wasn't working for me. It worked for her. She was thriving. It did not work for me. So at the -- about the end of that first year, I started looking for an opportunity where we could live as close to where she was as possible and advance our careers, and just kind of looking for that next thing. And I took -- I competed for a rotation that was occurring in the Pentagon, again, for Department of the Navy. And I was selected for that rotation. And we went through a lot of decision as a family on what that would look like. My -- I have five children. Four sons and then a daughter, and my youngest son, at that point, was a sophomore in college. The other sons had all graduated and were on with their adult lives, but I still had a young son. And so we debated as a family what it would look like. In the end, we left our home in South Carolina kind of intact because we intended to return to it. And my husband and I took out a rental up here in D.C. and I took a job at the Pentagon, and then he went into a full-time telework model. Still working for the Navy. They were really good to us, actually. And I realized, then, as I was in the Pentagon and I was there for just under three years, that I really loved the more intense pace of D.C. So I started looking for what is my next role? What do I want to do? And I became fascinated with the other federal agencies because the Navy and DOD is so big. It -- you really have to be incredibly senior before you feel like you're impacting great change. And I don't know, we all get to a point in our life where we kind of want to go into legacy mode, a little bit. And so I wanted to do something bigger with my career. And so I applied with GSA and was selected. And like you said, I joined them in late 2019. It was actually end of November, beginning of December of 2019 and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it is the best career decision that I have made, and I cannot say too many -- I just can't say enough good things about GSA. It was a great experience to move over here. It was a transition. It's a real culture change coming from DOD into a civilian agency. The culture is very different, but it's very good. And so if you're willing to make the adjustment, it -- anyway, it's been a great career choice and I am really glad I did it. I know that was a long and rambling answer. >> It's a fascinating answer, and you know, this is an agency, GSA, that seems to put a lot of emphasis on work-life balance for a federal agency. I'm going to backtrack a little bit because I know we have a lot of mothers and fathers listening to this. How could you manage active duty, education -- because you signed up when you were 18 -- and parenting? That's a huge plate. >> Yeah. It was. And I didn't do parenting in a small way. You know, five kids is a lot of kids. And we did not stair stack them. My first two are within two years of each other, but then we had like a three-year gap before the third one and then another three-year gap before the fourth one, and then a six-year gap between the fourth and the fifth. So that's, you know, that -- I always joke that I've been raising children for over 30 years. You know, my daughter literally turned 18, yesterday was her birthday and so I finally have all adults. And it has been a long and very fruitful journey. The balancing -- what I tell young people with children is give yourself an opportunity to raise your children, because your career will be there at the end of it. So take the responsibility and the pleasure of having a family very seriously, and do what you have to do to keep yourself viable, but don't think that you're going to be damaged because you're choosing to focus on your family. You know, I actually did not complete my first college degree until I was in my 40's. So -- and now I'm in a doctorate program. So you know, I'll have a PhD here in another, probably year and a half. So my advice to young families is let your career play out. Don't be impatient. Don't sacrifice your family for your career. It's hard when your babies are young. In my opinion, it's even harder when they're teenagers. So focus on your family and you get one chance to raise your children and have them turn out well. You have multiple chances to have a good career. And you're right. I'm fortunate. I've been able to do both, but I think it's because my emphasis was always on family first. And you are right about GSA. Their culture of understanding that we have work-life balance and the goodness of that and the importance of it is very rare, and it's very precious and we need to always value it greatly. It doesn't exist everywhere. >> I'm Joan Kornblith. This is GSA FAS Focus, and we are talking with Charlotte Phelan. We've been billing this show as a chance to talk about GSA Fleet and also your role as assistant commissioner for TTL, the Office of Travel, Transportation, and Logistics. That encompasses a lot more than just GSA Fleet. That's a job in itself. Before we tackle Fleet, unpack all of TTL for us. What's included under that umbrella? >> TTL is an interesting portfolio because it is incredibly diverse. We have -- as you said, we have travel, and that is the support for all federal agencies and DOD on how to make their travel reservations, what hotels to stay in, basically supporting those government trips that occur and the foundation for how to get it reserved, what airlines to choose, etcetera, how to do your hotel reservations, all of that is managed within, kind of behind the curtain, within the travel part of my portfolio. We also do transportation from the perspective of employee relocations. That is pretty complex. You know, you see people move under the government umbrella from one state to another within the United States and that's complex enough for anyone who's done it, but we're moving huge household goods shipments from one part of the world to another. You know, during COVID -- I have a great story about that. During COVID, we had to get a doctor, his family, his household goods, and his vehicle from the United States to a part of inner-Africa, and doing it during COVID was incredibly complex. The shipment had to follow certain routes. It could no longer do a direct freighter, we had to literally move it in multiple stops around the world to get it into Africa so he could complete his mission of caring for people who were desperately ill with COVID. And those stories have occurred over and over again during the pandemic. We also do logistics. And within Fleet, there's short term rentals. I know we're blending everything, but again, short term rentals have been incredibly needed during our COVID response. Another thing that we just did was we set up what's called an airbridge between points of Europe and points within the United States that allow for a corridor of sanitary managed function to allow for the transmission of vaccines all around the world. It was incredibly complex to set up because you have to have each stop and each entity certify that they're COVID safe. So you can imagine the complexity in that, when you're -- we're not just sending people in an airline. That's been occurring. But we're sending, in many instances, the components that pertain to the successful deployment of the vaccine, and we're sending them around the world. So it's been a really interesting challenge during COVID. Another part, just to segue, of my portfolio is the emergency management program management office, so the EMPMO. We coordinate with OMA, our internal office who is our focal point in our external facing point of contact for FEMA, but then we, within my office, coordinate FAS's COVID response for all the customers. Primarily, FEMA, but really any agency that needs help with that. Now, we're not doing it exclusively because that's what the whole, big FAS machine has done incredibly effectively, but we're a coordination point. So most of the briefing out, most of the keeping track of the sit reps, and if we have a major new initiative that comes in, it comes into my office. We triage it to see where it needs to go within the FAS organization, and we send it out. We also do any of the coordinating that has occurred with PBS is not totally done in my office, but often coordinated through my office to get to the right FAS component for successful execution. We've changed the way we deal with FEMA. We used to work under a inter-agency agreement which still exists, but we've added a component of what's called a mission assignment that allows for a speed to execution that was not there before. That was a big agency lift to get set up that was done very successfully, but the pandemic was a great opportunity to look at what can we do better, faster, more efficiently, and putting a mission assignment in place was a way to do that. So there's been a lot of just incredible work by FAS for the pandemic response, and we did it all within the posture of going from being in the office to full time telework. And when you're within an agency, and that's really what you know, and that's the culture that you're coming from, it -- you cannot really explain well how different that was than the majority of our peer group agencies. They all had some struggles going to full time telework, and GSA just basically flipped a switch one day and there were, I know some hiccups, but nothing severe and we were able to absolutely continue our mission without missing a step. And that to me, again, is just another highlight of how effective GSA operates as an agency. So then that's those two things. The third thing that is the big component of my portfolio is Fleet. So GSA Fleet provides all of the procuring of vehicles across the federal government except for the Post Office, and we also have a huge leasing capability, which is a third of the federal fleet is leased and managed via GSA. And with President Biden's initiative to do aggressive climate initiatives, greening the federal fleet is right up there as a primary initiative. >> Well, we're going to talk about that in just a couple of minutes. I'm Joan Kornblith. You are listening to GSA FAS Focus, and if you've got questions about anything you're hearing today or somebody you'd like to hear featured on the program, send us a note. The email address is [email protected] That is [email protected] Today, we are talking with Charlotte Phelan, GSA's assistant commissioner for TTL, the Office of Travel, Transportation, and Logistics. We already talked a bit about your background and the general business of TTL. Right now, we're talking in specifics about GSA Fleet and the Fleet program. First of all, we should also say that OMA, which we were talking about before as the Office of Mission Assurance. I know that some of these can be asking us about that. But GSA Fleet, I bet it's even bigger than I think. We're not just talking about a couple of sedans to get people to meetings between office buildings here in D.C. How many vehicles across government are we talking about and what kind of vehicles? And what is GSA's role in managing this whole fleet? Give us the basics first, and then we can talk about the future of the fleet. >> So the overarching number is roughly 645,000 vehicles. Out of that, about 220-ish are United States Postal Service vehicles, so we're not going to talk about those. Those are not in the rest of the numbers that we're going to talk about. So the rest of the federal fleet is roughly 450,000 vehicles. Out of that 450,000 vehicles, 240-some-ish are leased by GSA fleet, and 221,000, roughly, are agency owned. So those two distinctions are important, because on the GSA leased side of the house -- roughly 240,000 -- we do everything for the support, pretty much soup to nuts. We buy them and then we lease them to the agency. And for one price they get maintenance, telematics, recall notice support, and then when it comes time to change that vehicle out for a newer model, that happens seamlessly. So that is a huge benefit to the agencies. For the other 221,000, we are the procurement arm for that, and we are responding to the procurement needs that come in from the various agencies. So once we buy them, we don't have a lot to do with those vehicles once we assign them back to the agencies. They then take care of the maintenance, the fueling, everything that kind of pertains to the lifecycle of that vehicle. It's a difficult model in today's, now focus on electrification because the coordination with the agencies to help them determine what they need, what kind of infrastructure, charging stations, support they need becomes a little more complicated when you're dealing with vehicles that, at times, even the agency has lost track of, to some extent. So it's a more complicated model. On the leasing side, it's super easy. We know where every vehicle is. We know where it's at in its lifecycle, we know if it's located near to available charging infrastructure, etcetera. So we're kind of having to manage those two categories separately. An agency can, at any time, choose to change from agency owned to leasing. It is a at times a complicated change for an agency, because funding has to come via a different route. It has to be moved around within the agency, but we're seeing with this new emphasis to do electrifications, we believe a lot of agencies will choose to lease with us because a one-stop shop, in the end, is easier for them. And at an opportunity where they have to make the transition from one model to another, they now have this external emphasis that now is maybe a good time to do it. You also asked about what types of vehicles are out there, and I think you are correct. There is a perception that we have a lot of four-door sedans, which we do have, and that's kind of what the fleet is made up of. But in reality, the fleet is a working fleet. Two-thirds of our vehicles are working vehicles. We do have a bunch of light duty trucks, but we also have a significant amount, a third of the fleet, medium and heavy-duty trucks. Those are big -- those are big vehicles. They are the vehicles you see on flight lines when you're at the airport. They are the vehicles that the Department of Agriculture is using to move big equipment around the country. They're the trucks and the vehicles used by the park service to manage and get to the furthest reaches of unpopulated park terrain. We have dump trucks, ambulances, fire trucks, heavy moving equipment -- although, to be quite honest about that, not many agencies own those anymore because it makes a lot more sense just to lease them when you need them. Kind of, you know, rent on demand, which we also do. So the vehicle component is very -- oh, we have over 90,000 law enforcement vehicles. Now, law enforcement vehicles is a big category. There's a lot of different types of vehicle that can be considered law enforcement. The most difficult one to procure or look at as an EV vehicle are law enforcement vehicles that are used for pursuit. There are all sorts of different speed and power requirements for pursuit vehicles. They're coming. Manufacturers are starting to respond to that demand, but right now there's nothing available right now that we can procure in the electric vehicle market that would meet most of the needs for a law enforcement or a pursuit vehicle, but they're coming. So there are a few light duty trucks that were just put on the market as EVs that we have now put on contract. So we do have some availability to procure those, but they -- the majority of our medium and heavy vehicles that are out there have not yet been designed and manufactured by the industry. They're coming. So it's a real balancing act with a lot of different factors that have to be taken into consideration to do this big electrification initiative. The biggest, longest pole in the tent is charging infrastructure. You know, you can't supply an agency with a bunch of electric vehicles if they have no way to charge them. And so when I'm briefing this, I always say the infrastructure needs to show up a moment before the cars get rolled off the truck. So that's been a very complicated thing to get our arms wrapped around. There are so many complexities to charging infrastructure. We're working closely with PBS. There's power draw. There are just availability of location. Not all locations where you need charging infrastructure are created equal. So one area, it may just cost 30,000 dollars to put in infrastructure that's going to work and be exactly what the agency needs. And then in another location, it could cost one -- you know, one and a half million to put in the same amount of charging ports because of the complexity of getting all of that trenching and all of the set up in place. It -- so every situation is new and has to be evaluated individually. So -- and the other thing that's kind of interesting that's going on right now is nobody is currently funded to do this. So in FY21, which of course we received that funding last year, no one was funded to electrify the fleet. So everything that we're doing now is very preliminary. We're working with a bunch of agencies to do what we're calling early wins. In order to just pilot, what is it going to take to get an agency 100% electric? What does that look like? What does it cost? What kind of roadblocks and difficulties are we going to encounter? Because we can repeat that model multiple times as we march out. The biggest part that we need to remember is that we respond to the needs of our customer agencies. So we cannot be prescriptive with an agency and tell them, "we want to electrify you, and here is all your vehicles". They have to come to us. We have to work together to ensure that their mission is met and that they're getting the product and the service that they are asking for. Not every agency is going to want to electrify quickly. They're going to be a lot more deliberate and have a longer plan and a longer goal in order to ensure, again, that they're meeting their mission in the interim. So it's an incredibly complex problem and there's a lot to it that we're juggling to be successful. But we've kicked it off, and so far, I'm very pleased with the progress. I tell my team, "this is our moonshot". You know, I started in the beginning saying I wanted to do something that had a legacy component to it. This is it. This is like our legacy event, and it is incredibly exciting. >> It really is. And it's interesting to even just muse or think about how different that fleet is going to look in five years, three years, five years, ten years. And there's so much to think about. You have to look at the financial end of things. I mean, is it prudent to swap out vehicles that are healthy and low mileage and working, simply because they are not zero emission. That's not really a green thought to get rid of something. >> Agreed. And there's actually statutes and laws that govern when we are allowed, in a vehicle's lifecycle, when we're allowed to actually change it out. And those laws are still in place, and we're still, you know, we're following them. So you are right, there are so many variables that lead into the decision. And we're in a frame of mind that every vehicle counts. Every vehicle is counted, and that is a -- so if an agency comes to us and they want to change out five of their five-thousand vehicles, we're all about it and we're giving them the same level of service as we would if they came and said, "we're ready to do five-thousand', because in order to ensure that this initiative is successful, we -- every vehicle counts. >> So what everyone has to remember is this is not as easy as when you're simply buying a new vehicle for personal use. >> Not even close. It's incredibly complex. >> We've been talking with Charlotte Phelan, assistant commissioner for TTL, the Office of Travel, Transportation, and Logistics, about her role with the agency, and specifically the move to green the federal fleet, to meet the Biden-Harris administration goal of one that is based on zero emission vehicles. If you have any questions for Charlotte or would like to learn more about any of the things that we've been talking about today, or just want to drop us a line, the address is [email protected] We are just about out of time, Charlotte. Is there anything else that you'd like to talk about today about greening the fleet, or logistics, or TTL related topics? >> I just am really grateful for this opportunity to talk with you and discuss it. Greening the fleet is -- it is so exciting. We as the agency, as GSA, are making changes that will have an impact for years and years into the future. I feel so grateful and humbled to have been given the opportunity to lead this effort. It's interesting, I -- it's interesting. You were telling me before about my work-life balance and that you're -- you find that kind of impressive. Well, this is -- these are the sort of things I always seem to be gifted. I came to GSA, they put me in TTL, which was a vibrant, high-functioning portfolio. It really -- successful. So it was a great place to start at GSA. And in the midst of that, they said, "oh, we've made a decision before you got here that we're going to move our emergency response group into TTL, but it's okay Charlotte, because hurricanes won't really happen until sometime in the, you know, early fall and you'll have plenty of time to absorb them and learn about them". That was in February, and in March, COVID kicked off. And there was this huge initiative, as you know, and this huge response. And we kind of, we've kind of got that under our belt. Everyone is still really working hard on our COVID support, but we've gotten all the kinks worked out of it, and then all of the sudden electrifying the fleet becomes an initiative. So I kind of got my first year under my belt, and here I have this second awesome thing that I get to help shape and lead. And what a privilege that is. And I hope that I'm worthy of it, and I hope that we can help make a real change, you know, with GSA, make a real change for the nation. That's what it feels like. So it's pretty exciting stuff. >> This is a really exciting project, and we look forward to having you back again so we can talk about the next phase of greening the fleet and what's happening with TTL. >> Thank you so much. >> We've been talking with Charlotte Phelan. Coming up, news of another great training opportunity and some fascinating FAS facts. I'm Joan Kornblith, and you are listening to GSA FAS Focus. [ Music ] Welcome back to FAS Focus, a look at what's happening throughout GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. I'm Joan Kornblith, and as always, we have got a full plate of FAS specific webinars and trainings coming up. I am joined, now, by our producer Max Stempora, who is here with information about another training, specifically for people interested in the multiple awards schedule. Am I right about that? >> That's right, Joan. And this is a popular one, and one we've talked about in the past, but we like to bring it up because it's, you know, so sought after. The monthly mass office hours, featuring their Mass Ask Me Anything session, the next one is scheduled from 2 to 3 P.M. eastern daylight time on Thursday, June seventeenth. There's always something new happening with GSA's multiple awards schedule. So if you've got a question about a solicitation refresh or just need a simple clarification of an abbreviation you see popping up in a solicitation or interact post, here's your chance to engage with mass experts and policy makers for a live Ask Me Anything, and to get your questions answered. >> Okay, I have a question. I have a question I need answered. >> Okay. >> What happens if I'm busy then? >> That's not a problem, Joan. This live Ask Me Anything is also taped. That means you can still gain some knowledge even if you can't make the live broadcast. >> So it is a win-win proposition. >> Absolutely. So either way, you're going to get the information you need. The next Mass Office Hours session is scheduled from 2 P.M. eastern on Thursday, June seventeenth. >> And I will take it from here. The next Mass Office Hours session is scheduled for 2 P.M. eastern, that is 1 P.M. central, 12 noon mountain, 11 A.M. pacific on Thursday, June seventeenth. And what, you tell me you are working from Juno through June? That is okay. The AMA gets underway at 10 A.M. So wherever you are, just remember to visit GSA.gov events page at GSA.gov/events to learn more and register for the next Mass Office Hours coming up on Thursday, June seventeenth. I'm Joan Kornblith. Coming up on FAS Focus, we have got a few fascinating FAS Facts. [ Music ] Welcome back to GSA FAS Focus. I'm Joan Kornblith along with Max Stempora. We are almost out of time for today. I did want to leave you with a few fascinating FAS Facts. And since we were speaking with Charlotte Phelan earlier, GSA's assistant commissioner for the Office of Travel, Transportation, and Logistics, I thought it might make sense to talk about something travel related today. I know we discussed some flight facts a few programs ago, talking about the city pair program, let's dig into FedRooms today. FedRooms is a subject that almost anyone who has traveled on official federal business knows something about. You know something about FedRooms, I bet. >> Yeah, yeah. >> FedRooms is a program that provides hotel rooms at or below per diem rates with standardized amenities. They are available for U.S. government and military personnel while they're on official business travel. They're a great deal for travelers and also for taxpayers because in addition to being at or below the per diem travel rate, FedRooms don't charge an early departure fee. So say I was going out on official business, and I had reserved a three night stay at a hotel, but my work wrapped up on day two, I could just leave when I'm done. No early departure fees means I could leave and there was no charge for the night that I didn't use. But I know from my leisure travel that other hotels might ding me for wanting to cut my stay short. There are also no additional fees, and that means no resort fees charged to the federal traveler who is out on official business, and that is huge. That's going to save you $20, $25, up to $50 a night. So that makes taxpayers very happy. Well, we've got numbers for you from fiscal year 2020. Do you want to guess how many official FedRoom nights were sold in FY2020? Remember, you got to think back, but there was a lot of official travel happening then. 2020. >> So in 2020. Oh, I was thinking that was during COVID times, but I guess that's -- that was before. So -- >> Yeah, because it started -- remember the fiscal year starts before the, you know, before January first. >> Yeah. So there was some travel happening. Yeah. I'm going to guess maybe 4 million nights. >> Overly optimistic. >> Overly. Okay. By a lot or a little? >> About 40%. Math was not my strong suit, though. >> Well, neither was it for me. >> I'm a creative type. >> Yeah, exactly. So let's -- 40%, 2.5 million. >> You're very, very close, 2.66 million. I think the 4 million would be more of an average year; 2.66 million nights sold in fiscal year 2020. Do you want to try and put a dollar figure on how much was saved, approximately, by using FedRooms versus any other hotel booking? >> That seems hard to me. Like, I don't have any -- I have no baseline. Can you give me, give me a ballpark to play in, maybe? >> Oh my goodness. Because it's been a, you know, in the old days, before I worked at GSA when I was at Voice of America, I travelled a lot because I was out covering stories, and I could tell you at that point, you know, in New York, the official travel figure was $198 for a room most of the year. And in Los Angeles, it was about the same. But I could go to Branson, Missouri and it was about $55. Nashville was -- in Nashville, it's interesting. It used to be $125 and then it went up to almost 200, and then it backed down a little bit. Austin, Texas could range, depending on what year it was, you know, it was $138 or then it shot up to closer to 200. So but the minimum for many years was about $55 a night, and rarely would you see an official travel room over $200. >> Okay. So I've been -- I don't know if any of that was helpful for me, but let's think. >> Because remember, you know, a non FedRoom rate could be $500 a night, but you would not find a federal traveler staying at one of those places because that would be a lot of out-of-pocket dollars. Right? You wanted to stay at a place with per diem rates. >> Let's just take, you know, you said it was 2.6 million nights. And let's assume, you know, a few hundred dollars savings on each night. Right? >> Yeah, yeah. >> So I would guess maybe, 15 to 20 million in savings. >> Thirty-seven. Thirty-seven million dollars. >> Thirty-seven. >> By using FedRooms. Yeah. That's huge! That's huge! And I'll leave you with some facts. There were 6,800 FedRooms properties available. So 6,800 properties participated. More than 2,400 markets across the country were participating. So these were hotels that went out of their way to say, "we're guaranteeing last room available for any federal traveler who's going out on business". You know, they walk up and knock on the door, we're never going to say it's sold out. There it is. Those, again, were figures for FY2020. And those are all the fascinating FAS Facts I have for you today. Don't forget, if there is anything else FAS related you'd like to learn about, even GSA related you'd like to learn about, or somebody you'd like to hear featured on FAS Focus, let us know. Send a note to [email protected] That's [email protected] I'm Joan Kornblith. I put the words together. Max Stempora is our producer. Domine Artis handles our social media. Thank you to Charlotte Phelan for joining us in the studio this week. FAS Focus is a production of the U.S. General Services Administration's Office of Strategic Communication.