Bureaucracies have a reputation for moving slowly and deliberately. Waiting for a federal agency to make an official decision can take weeks, months or years. It can be agonizing and it can be maddening–even infuriating.
But a federal agency making a decision that impacts the entire federal workforce in a couple of days or a few hours? It is practically unheard of.
But "practically unheard of" and "never happens" are not the same thing. Welcome to the age of the internet where news and reports travel around the globe within seconds.
Here is good news for the federal workforce from your colleagues at the General Services Administration. The agency has followed the IRS move of last Friday (September 9th) to increase the mileage rate for American taxpayers. And, lo and behold, now posted on the GSA web site is the new mileage rate for federal workers using their own cars for government business.
If you looked at the site yesterday morning, the rate for federal employees driving their own cars was 40.5 cents per mile. But if you look today, you will see the new rate, effective as of September 1st, is 48.5 cents per mile.
Unfortunately, for the multitude of those federal employees flying their own airplanes on government business, the rate remains the same at $1.07.
It may be coincidental but on August 31st, FedSmith.com ran an article on the low mileage rate being received by federal employees (and the rest of the American taxpaying public) despite the rapid rise in gas rates as officially documented by the Department of Energy (and as anyone who drives a car already knew from paying the high-flying gas bills). We followed up with a second article on the morning of September 12 noting that GSA had not yet followed the IRS guideline but was free to do so.
When writing the article, I assumed GSA would get around to making the change. Perhaps they would do it next week, more likely next month but the wheels of the bureaucracy were probably moving toward that end. Having used the GSA motor pool a few times and having encountered the GSA bureaucracy on several occasions during my federal career, it did not occur to me the agency could make and implement a decision within 48 hours.
But that may have been the "old GSA." Perhaps with news and events being reported on the internet instantaneously to people around the world, the government bureaucracy is capable of changing and responding quickly in the new environment.
In any event, congratulations to the people at the IRS and GSA who were able to move the federal machinery and put a little more money into the pockets of those that use the mileage reimbursement fees as part of their expense reimbursement.