The General Services Administration released new per diem rates for fiscal year 2012 last week, to take effect this Oct. 1. While most regions changed very little, federal employees will have more travel funds to spend in some major meeting destinations about five weeks from now. In Chicago, for instance, the lodging rate of $190 represents a $17 hike over last fall’s per diem. New York City’s Oct. 1 – Dec. 31 rate of $295 increased nearly 10 percent over last fall’s $269. And in Washington, D.C., the October per diem rate rose $15 over last year’s, to $226. The GSA bases per diem rates on industry average daily rate data, which has recovered in only some cities; overall, says the agency, per diem rates in most locations did not increase or decrease by more than $5. For an updated definition of nonstandard areas as defined by the agency, as well as the new rates, see gsa.gov/perdiem.