Traveling federal employees now have a new tool they can use for planning their trips. The General Services Administration has released apps for the iPhone and BlackBerry that allow users to look up per diem rates by state and zip code in the United States and its territories. Both apps are free.
The GSA Web site noted that in order to download the GSA BlackBerry app, users have to have the BlackBerry App World installed first. BlackBerry App World can be downloaded from www.blackberry.com/appworld/download.
I downloaded and tested the iPhone app (sorry BlackBerry users; I don’t own one and couldn’t test it!). The app was easy enough to install and use and does exactly what it claims to.
Don’t expect anything very fancy – all you can do is look at meal and lodging rates. You won’t be booking hotels, integrating with TripIt, reviewing restaurants you’ve tried on your meal per diem, etc. That aside, it is a quick and simple way to find the rates at a particular location.
The biggest downside I noticed is that overseas travelers will be left out. The app only includes the United States and its territories (Guam, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Puerto Rico).
For the areas it does cover though, execution was quick and straightforward: you browse the list of states, tap one, then enter a city (or leave the city off to see all available areas for the selected state) and pick which fiscal year’s rates you want to see (it defaults to the current FY).
Searching by zip is much the same, except you just enter the zip code and pick the fiscal year. The interfaces for each type of search look like the following:
Search by State/City
Search by Zip Code