Federal employees going on official travel will soon see a little more wiggle room in their reimbursable travel allowances.
For the second year in a row, the General Services Administration announced an increase to per diem lodging rates for federal employees.
Starting Oct. 1, base daily traveling allowances for feds will increase to $166, from $157 last year. That increase is thanks to an uptick in the standard per diem lodging rate for the Continental United States (CONUS), which will increase from $98 to $107. GSA did not make any changes to the per diem tiers for meals and incidental expenses. Those will remain in the range of $59 to $79, with the standard rate remaining at $59.
Agencies use GSA’s set per diem rates to reimburse employees for expenses during official travel. By law, GSA sets per diem rates each fiscal year, based on average daily rate (ADR) data from the lodging industry.
When the COVID-19 pandemic led to unprecedented declines in ADR, followed by a volatile hotel industry recovery, GSA opted to freeze rates for fiscal 2021. But now, that has been followed by a few years of modest increases.
Because the ADR data available to establish rates for fiscal 2024 came before the expiration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency on May 11, GSA took a similar approach to last year, and made upward adjustments to ensure maximum lodging allowances for federal travelers are sufficient in fiscal 2024.
Most of the United States — about 2,600 counties — are covered by the standard CONUS per diem rates. There are, however, 302 non-standard areas (NSAs), which have higher per diem rates than the standard CONUS allowance.
This year, GSA added two new NSA locations to the list:
Charles Town, West Virginia
There are also 16 locations that were previously NSAs in 2023, but that will now be sorted back into the standard CONUS category:
Hammond / Munster / Merrillville, Indiana
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Baltimore County, Maryland
East Lansing / Lansing, Michigan
Kalamazoo / Battle Creek, Michigan
Eagan/ Burnsville / Mendota Heights, Minnesota
Corpus Christi, Texas
Round Rock, Texas
Brookfield / Racine, Wisconsin
Morgantown, West Virginia
GSA also offers a calculator tool to let feds search by city, state, zip code or map to figure out the exact amount of their per diem.
GSA establishes per diem rates for CONUS, comprising the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. The Defense Department sets rates for Alaska, Hawaii and the U.S. territories, and the State Department handles foreign rates.