Federal employees will have a few extra dollars next year to cover hotels and meals during government travel.
The General Services Administration announced its per diem rates for fiscal 2016, starting Oct. 1. The standard lodging rate for the lower 48 Continental United States (CONUS) is now $89, a slight increase over last year’s rate of $83. Meals and incidental expenses range anywhere from $51 to $74, up from last year’s range of $46 to $71.
GSA added two new locations to its list of about 400 Non-Standard Areas (NSAs). Government will cover slightly more in travel expenses for federal employees who travel to Grand Lake, Colorado and Pecos, Texas.
The agency also removed 15 locations that were included in the NSA list last fiscal year: Huntsville, Alabama; Modesto, California; Driggs/Idaho Falls, Idaho; Springfield, Illinois; Convington/Slidell, Louisiana; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Los Alamos, New Mexico; Stateline/Carson City, Nevada; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Greenville, Texas; Fredericksburg, Virginia; Norfolk/Portsmouth, Virginia; Anacortes/Coupeville, Washington and Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
And at a time when commercial airfares have risen about 3 percent in the past year, GSA said federal employees will pay about 3 percent less than last year for pre-negotiated, fixed-price one-way tickets, at a 52 percent discount on commercial fares.
“GSA’s mission is to help federal agencies save money, and that includes getting the best price for government travelers,” Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Tom Sharpe said in a release. “By leveraging the government’s buying power through the City Pair Program, we help federal agencies reduce travel costs and save billions of taxpayer dollars.”
GSA awarded seven contracts to U.S. air carriers, as part of its 2016 City Pair Program. The contracts, GSA said, will save government $2.35 billion next year.
The number of destinations covered under the program has also risen, from 7,894 markets last year to 9,160 in 2016.