The DoD authorization bill (S-2943) undergoing final voting in Congress would allow the military services to make exceptions to a DoD policy of paying its civilian employees lower per diem rates for long-term temporary assignments.

Under the policy, introduced in 2014, for long-term temporary duty of 31 to 180 days, the authorized rate is 75 percent of the locality rate (lodging plus meals & incidental expenses) payable for each full day of temporary duty at that location; for TDY greater than 180 days, it is 55 percent. In making the change, DoD said that for assignments of 31 days or more, savings can be achieved by staying in extended-stay type lodgings that cost less per day than short-term hotel or motel rates.

That policy has been criticized by some federal unions and members of Congress from the outset as merely shifting costs from the government to the employee. Inside DoD concerns also have been raised that the policy has reduced the willingness of civilian employees to take long-term assignments, for example for ship repair projects.

The language in the DoD bill represents a compromise between those who wanted to retain the policy and those who sought to repeal it entirely.

Some other agencies similarly pay lower rates for long-term assignments; those policies vary.