A GAO report has lent some support to critics of a DoD policy in effect since late 2014 of paying reduced per diem for long-term temporary duty assignments, a policy that DoD said was designed to encourage use of extended-stay type lodging.
Under the policy, for TDY assignments 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.
However, since the policy change employee organizations and some members of Congress have sought to overturn it, out of concern about employees being unwilling to volunteer for long-term projects such as ship overhauls and certain depot work. Language was added to the DoD budget allowing military services discretion to pay full rates, but legislation already has been offered once again to repeal the 2014 change.
The GAO report centered on technical difficulties of carrying out the policy and said it’s unclear whether projected savings will be achieved. However, it also found that officials from nine of 16 depots it polled “reported that the policy has affected civilian employees’ willingness to volunteer for long-term TDYs” although none had documented the difference.
Several other agencies pay lower per diem rates for long-term temporary assignments under long-standing policies. Specifics vary.