The annual DoD authorization bill (HR-5515) passed by the House and up for a final vote in the Senate would overturn a reduction in per diem rates for long-term temporary assignments at the department, capping an effort to repeal the reduction that started nearly as soon as it took effect in late 2014.
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.
The policy was based on the notion that employees on such assignments should stay in lower-cost extended-stay type lodgings. However, critics say it has shifted more costs onto employees and has made them less willing to volunteer for long-term projects such as ship overhauls and certain depot work. “This is a change that will immediately help thousands of feds,” the Federal Managers Association said.
The House several times had passed language to repeal the provision but that language ultimately had been dropped in conferences with the Senate. The DoD measure in 2016 allowed the military departments to waive the lower rate under certain circumstances.
Several other agencies pay lower per diem rates for long-term temporary assignments under long-standing policies. Specifics vary.