Talk about timing! Reading this article on MSNBC this morning made me think about how convoluted most corporate (and government) travel booking sites and policies are. According to the story, booking a trip on the Pentagon's (mostly) online travel system still takes "a half hour" despite testimony provided to "the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, [that it] would take travel professionals only five minutes." How much did this cost taxpayers, you're wondering? Nearly $500 million, in fact, even if you just factor in the cost to build and maintain the system itself through initial deployment, according to government records. The half-billion dollar cock-up has resulted in an online system where, according to MSNBC, "less than 20 percent of travelers used the Defense Travel System as intended, without the travel agents." I bet for a fraction of that amount, Rearden could have deployed a system to enable self-service online booking and travel management -- with adherence to n-tier government travel policy -- in a matter of weeks or months, not years. But hey guys, it's never too late to switch! I know Amex or Rearden would love to take your call. And we'd all -- at least the US readers of Spend Matters -- benefit from it.