Defence Accounts Department has been one of the pioneers in adopting and leveraging new and emerging technologies in all areas including Accounting, Internal Audit, and Payment and Financial Advice functions. The purpose is to provide value-added services to the Services in an efficient and effective manner. In furtherance of this objective the Defence Account Department came up with the idea of replacing the existing system of manual railway ticketing on warrants/Form D / concession vouchers with an electronic web-based system not only to address issues related to accounting, audit & monitoring in manual system but also to meet the current requirement of Services in a digitally enabled environment.
2. The Background
The manual system of rail ticketing based on railway warrants involves a very complicated system of payments, accounting and virtually no budgetary control. Warrants are issued for moves on temporary duty, permanent transfers, annual leave and LTC. In addition to these, form D and CVs are also available. Foils of Railway warrants of various types are presented by defence functionaries at PRS (Passenger Reservation System) counters and against these warrants, tickets for rail journey are issued by Indian Railway. After zone-wise consolidation of these used Railway warrants, references are made by Zonal Railways to RBI Nagpur who credits their accounts based on claims made by them. Subsequently, bills are sent to PCA (Fys) for debiting the Defence Budget. The sheer volume of vouchers/warrants handled by Railways and Defence Account Department is huge i.e. about 70 lakh vouchers per year amounting to more than Rs. 1,000 crores approximately. The total value spent by defence services can potentially exceed the budgetary allocations of the year as the budget holder, budget spending authorities and payment and accounting agencies are not able to compile the inputs in time.
3. New Defence Travel System
To mitigate various constraints like time consuming manual process, waste of precious man-hours in visiting the PRS counters, difficulty in tracking of manual warrant, lengthy accounting process, budgeting and monitoring issues and with the aim of providing cashless travel booking facility to the units/formations for their employees’ to meet all their travel needs, a new project ‘Defence Travel System’ was conceptualized by Defence Accounts Department in as early as 2009 by making use of latest digital technologies. The Defence Travel System was a major and right step in the direction of e-governance and digitization towards which a renewed thrust and focus is being laid by the Govt. of India. The services of DTS are available under DTS Travel portal on 24X7X365 days anywhere in India where this facility has been enabled.
Keeping in view the resources available, wide changing technology and initial constraints from all stakeholders it was thought to implement the project in phases in the following manner:
- Phase I : Implementation of e-Ticketing platform for three Defence Services for rail travel in lieu of railway warrant.
- Phase II : Extending the system to cover Air Travel.
- Phase III : Extending the system to Defence Civilians
- Phase IV: Online submission of TA/DA Claims
The first phase of the project covering Rail Travel was launched in December 2009 in collaboration with IRCTC. Phase-II covering Air Travel has been launched in May 2015 in collaboration with M/s Balmer & Lawrie Co. Around 3200 units have been issued login IDs for using the system so far and approx 5.10 lakh user profile has been created so far and count on this account is increasing day by day. Further, training is being organized by CGDA at 27 stations across India for all Services in coordination with DG (OL & Strategic Move) in parallel to training at Delhi centre.
Extension of the system to defence civilians (Phase-III) is under implementation. As part of the fourth phase of online submission of TA/DA claims, a module for on-line requisitioning of DA advance is being developed which will subsequently be integrated with the Pay Accounts Office for proper accounting and monitoring.
The Defence Travel system allows travel by rail, air and mix mode. The Rail Travel Module w
as developed via web services integration offered by IRCTC and has been upgraded with the latest features of Next generation E-Ticketing System (NGeT) with provisions for i-tickets and Tatkal facility etc. The Air Travel Module
has been developed in collaboration with Balmer Lawrie & Co. In both the travels front end is DTS portal. Tickets can be booked by any unit over the internet through a centralized portal (pcdatravel.gov.in). To ensure proper audit of tickets being purchased, including the entitlement audit as per the Travel Regulations and the accounting of the same, robust software has been developed. The data is being stored in a central server. The requisite MIS in soft data are being generated by the system and being forwarded through the system to the concerned stakeholder. The exception reports/MIS generated from the system can be analyzed in detail to support the decision making process.
Availability of travel planning and on-line reservation system to Defence personnel in remote and far flung areas of their posting is a widely acceptable benefit that has accrued from the project. It has also saved the time required to visit to PRS counters. Further, audit of the travel entitlement and authorization is automatically carried out before allowing the booking itself and real time accounting is possible as rules and regulations are inbuilt in the system. Proper budgetary control can be exercised and different MIS can be generated for informed decision making. Cash handing is nil as all debits and credits are done through pay bills/ledger accounts and hence, possibility of fraud/wrong claim is also completely eliminated.
6. Process Flow Diagram
A. Process Flow for Booking for Air Tickets for entitled DAD Officers.
B. Work Flow-Accounting, Payment and Settlement in DTS for the PAO.
7. Security Features
Entry to the portal www.pcdatravel.gov.in is through e-Token only by the authorized user. The domain is not made available to the public and https secured protocol is followed for transmission. Three layers security features are available for role based access into DTS Portal:
- Digital Certificate -Without digital certificate (e-Token), DTS Portal cannot be accessed.
- Login Credentials-Credential needs to be provided before entered into DTS portal.
- Security Question- At third layer security question/answer that is randomly generated is asked from the user. If user is not having actual answer, he cannot login to the site.
Once all the above stated conditions are passed, then only the user will be able to log into the DTS portal. Further, User Audit log (with IP address, time and date stamp) is maintained. Exchange with IRCTC is through SSL. At the time of launching of the system in 2010, security vetting of DTS portal was done by Army Cyber Security Establishment of Army HQ, NTRO and also by Cert-In, the nodal agency of Govt. of India. Presently also, security audit for additional features is in progress.
8. Future of the System
The system has enormous potential as it not only caters for meeting the travel need of Defence Personnel’s and Defence Civilians but also has inbuilt features of accounting, audit, authorization and entitlement checks which facilitate generation of different types of MIS and thus enables rule based decision making at all levels. Once the system for on-line submission of DA advance and subsequently TA/DA adjustment claim is developed and implemented (work for which is in progress), the cumbersome system of manual TA/DA Claim will be eliminated and it will complete the cycle of cashless, error free and transparent system of travelling for all the users. This will also ensure better monitoring of available budget by the management who can plan the travel needs in a more effective manner.