Standard per diem rates for federal employees on official travel will be unchanged in the new fiscal year starting October 1, GSA has said, with the standard lodging rate for locations without specific rates remaining $96 and the standard “meals and incidental expenses” portion remaining $55.
For locations with specific lodging rates, the M&IE portion will continue to range from $56 to $76 per day; there are about 320 such destinations, some of which have differing rates by season. One new non-standard location is being added, for Albuquerque, N.M.
The highest lodging rates among common travel destinations with specific rates include high-cost cities such as San Francisco, ranging from $270 to $333 by season; New York, $159-$286; and Washington, D.C., $172-$258. The highest rates overall are at resort areas to which there would be relatively little official travel, at least in-season: Telluride, Vail and Aspen, Colo., $418, $397 and $375, respectively, in December-March. Many of the fiscal 2021 rates show increases in the range of $10-$30 per day.
Per diem rates are a long-running issue in the federal workforce because many travelers assert that the amounts are insufficient and they have to make up the difference out of pocket. GSA policy does allow for reimbursement of actual expenses rather than standard rates but separate approval procedures are required.