Legislation Introduced to Boost Per Diem Rates

Recently introduced legislation has the potential to make next year’s per diem rates higher than they might be otherwise.

Federal employees who travel for work could potentially see higher per diem rates for the upcoming fiscal year than they might otherwise if a new bill were to become law.

Legislation introduced in the House (H.R. 6995) would require the General Services Administration to set next fiscal year’s per diem rates at 2020 levels which is based on data from 2019. Presumably, this would mean that federal employees would get a higher reimbursement rate for meals and lodging when on official travel because of the economic downturn brought on by the government mandated shutdowns in response to the coronavirus.

The bill is sponsored by Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL) and co-sponsored by Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL). They are pitching it as a way to help support the tourism and hospitality industries in Florida, two sectors hit particularly hard by the closures, although federal employees traveling for work could stand to benefit too, again if the per diem rates were higher as a result of the legislation.

“Tourism is the heart of Florida’s economy,” said Crist. “It makes sense for GSA to set a per diem rate that does not take into account the near-term impact of the coronavirus, but rather takes a longer view.”

“Setting per diem rates at the 2020 level is one important way that the federal government can help struggling businesses and their employees recover faster,” added Posey.

The GSA normally releases per diem rates for the coming fiscal year in August. Lodging per diem rates are based on local market costs of mid-priced hotels. Per diem rates provide caps, or maximums, to the amounts that can be reimbursed to federal employees for lodging and meals while on official travel.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. 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.