Changes in the Works for Federal Travelers, Child Care Facilities

There are changes on the horizon for federal travelers. The change in the mileage reimbursement rate is already in place but other changes that will be significant for some readers are in the proposal stage.

Here is some good news for those federal employees who drive their own vehicles when working for Uncle Sam. The General Services Administration is raising the mileage rate to $0.505 from the current rate of $0.485. The effective date of the change is March 19, 2008.

GSA is responsible for reviewing the privately owned vehicle mileage reimbursement mileage rate on a yearly basis but it cannot exceed the amount set by the Internal Revenue Service for a privately owned automobile. This often means that the rate for federal employees lags the decision already made by the IRS.

There may also be a change on the way for determining the mileage reimbursement rate for federal employees. Some readers have questioned why the IRS makes its determination and then GSA makes the same determination for federal employees–sometimes implementing the change for federal employees more than a month after the IRS has changed the reimbursement rate it sets for taxpayers. Why not just use the IRS rate for federal employees as well?

That is a reasonable question and it may happen as part of the General Services Enhancement Act if the bill is enacted by Congress.

There are also a couple of other items in this proposal that will interest readers.

The definition of “Federal children” would change when referring to the use of on-site childcare facilities. The definition would be expanded to include the children of federal contractors in addition to the children of federal employees. It would also change the definition of “Onsite Federal Contractors.” The summary of the proposal states that the changes would give agencies “flexibility to extend care to dependent children of more employees, help enable facilities to fully utilize their capacity, improve their financial stability, and manage the inevitable fluctuations in an individual facilities enrollment….”

And, one other change that will interest those traveling while in the service of Uncle Sam’s civilian army: Employees in a travel status may be required by an agency to stay in facilities contracted for by the government.

This is a change that will probably not appeal to some federal travellers as it will limit their flexibility to stay in a hotel of their own choosing. Currently, employees can stay at any hotel within the per diem rate set by GSA for a geographic area. Presumably, this proposed change would require employees to use hotels under the FedRooms program.

For those with an interest in the topic, here is the latest FedRooms® newsletter.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47