The House version of the DoD authorization bill (HR-2810) that has passed its Armed Services Committee would overturn a 2014 reduction in per diem rates for long-term temporary assignments at the department and require it to “issue a report on options to reduce travel costs, and require notifications of any subsequent changes to the DoD per diem policies following the report.”
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 reduction has been controversial since it began, out of concern about employees being unwilling to volunteer for long-term projects such as ship overhauls and certain depot work. A GAO report issued earlier this year lent some support to that argument, finding 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.
The bill language is the latest in a series of proposals to eliminate or modify the policy, which is based on the notion that employees on such assignments should stay in lower-cost extended-stay type lodgings. The DoD measure last year 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.