Traveling Feds Will Get an Increase in Their Per Diem Rates

The General Services Administration has released the new per diem rates for FY 2016, giving federal employees who travel for work a modest increase over last year’s rates.

The General Services Administration (GSA) has released the new per diem rates for FY 2016. The new rates will provide federal workers with a modest increase over the FY 2015 rates.

For 2016, the standard daily rates go to $89 for lodging and $51 for meals and incidentals. These represent increases over last year of approximately 7% and 11%, respectively.

Critics might look skeptically at these figures when put into perspective with some other statistics regarding federal pay. Most notably, federal employees received a 1% pay raise for the last two years, and a 1.3% pay raise has been proposed by the president for the federal workforce and is looking increasingly likely to become a reality based on the latest actions taken by Congress. On a percentage increase basis, this is obviously far less than the per diem changes.

Also, federal workers saw an average increase of 3.2% in their health insurance premiums for 2015 over the 2014 rates. Higher premiums obviously result in a net drag on one’s overall pay situation.

However, to be fair, the larger percentage increases seen in the per diem rates are taking place on much smaller dollar amounts which allows for more room in the percentage increases; an increase from $46 to $51 as was seen in the standard rate for meals, for example, results in a higher percentage increase than a 1% increase in pay against an annual salary of $60,000 even though the latter is a much higher dollar amount ($600).

The CONUS per diem rate (continental United States) for an area is actually three allowances: the lodging allowance, the meals allowance and the incidental expense allowance. Most of the CONUS (approximately 2,600 counties) are covered by the standard CONUS per diem rate of $140 (the $89 amount for lodging and $51 for meals). In 2016, there will continue to be about 400 Non-Standard Areas (NSAs) that have per diem rates higher than the standard CONUS rate.

GSA noted in its highlights regarding the 2016 per diem rates that two locations will become new nonstandard areas in FY 2016: Grand Lake, CO (Grand County) and Pecos, TX (Reeves County).

Also, 15 locations that were NSAs in FY 2015 will move into the standard CONUS rate category. They are:

  • Destination/State
  • Huntsville, AL
  • Modesto, CA
  • Driggs/Idaho Falls, ID
  • Springfield, IL
  • Covington/Slidell, LA
  • Hattiesburg, MS
  • Los Alamos, NM
  • Stateline/Carson City, NV
  • Oak Ridge, TN
  • Greenville, TX
  • Fredericksburg, VA
  • Norfolk/Portsmouth, VA
  • Prince William/Manassas, VA
  • Anacortes/Coupeville, WA
  • Shepherdstown, WV

Federal employees who will be traveling for work can use GSA’s interactive map tool to locate the per diem rates for their destinations.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.