Pay & Benefits

Feds can ditch the drive-thru with new per diem rates

The new rates — which go into effect on Oct. 1 — give employees a bit more for lodging and update the meal per diem methodology for the first time since the 1980s.

Related: Bill rolls back deep cuts to Defense travel per diems

The new standard rate — which applies in about 2,600 counties in the continental U.S. — allows employees to get reimbursed for $89 a day in lodging and $51 in meals. Some 400 counties have higher reimbursement rates.

An interactive map on GSA's website has detailed information for the entire continental U.S. and links to Defense Department for Alaska, Hawaii and the territories and State Department for foreign countries.

Interactive: Per Diem Rates Look-Up

The new rates were set in consultation with the Governmentwide Travel Advisory Committee (GTAC), which provided two key recommendations. The committee suggested reviewing standard lodging rates every year (rather than just non-standard rates) and a wholesale assessment of the per diem rates for meals, which will now be reviewed every three years.

Both recommendations led to a slight increase in rates starting in fiscal 2016.

"GSA developed a new methodology and conducted a pilot and determined that a change would continue to provide fair reimbursement to employees as well as save future taxpayer dollars as compared to using the previous methodology," said Christine Harada, GSA associate administrator of governmentwide policy.

Previous: Travel per diem rates to stay flat in 2015

The updated rates also shift two areas to the non-standard rate list — Grand Lake, Colorado and Pecos, Texas — and 15 areas onto the standard list.

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