I suggest you re-evaluate the Federal Travel system. Under the current system, Feds are unable to take advantage of sales/deals offered by airlines and hotels. Often times, the federal rate is much higher than the sale/deal rate. Savings stemming from changes to the travel system would impact not only the budget for the Department of Commerce but all federal departments.
As a specific example, I recently registered to attend the same conference as my husband who works in the private sector. He was able to purchase his ticket through Southwest Airlines using a promotional code that allowed him to purchase a direct flight for $80 round trip. I, however, am limited to the FedTraveler system which is only finding flights that cost approximately four times as much for the ticket. If the goal is to ensure that tickets are transferrable in the event tickets cannot be used, there is also a solution for that. Airlines like Southwest “bank” unused flights for use at a later date and allow travelers to earn companion tickets. If a Southwest flight must be canceled, the full dollar value spent on that flight can be reapplied to a future ticket for no extra charge.
In addition to saving money, allowing Feds to search for their own flights and be reimbursed (and even rewarded for finding cheap deals) would save time (and indirectly money). As I have not been able to locate any direct flights through FedTraveler, I will be forced to make a connection through a state in the opposite direction and waste 3 to 4 hours of federal time and money.