share
by Loren G. Edelstein | August 15, 2012

The U.S. General Services Administration announced Tuesday a decision to freeze government-wide per diem travel reimbursement rates for fiscal year 2013 at the current 2012 levels. This will save an estimated $20 million in avoided costs in 2013, according to a GSA statement, and supports a memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget directing federal agencies to decrease all travel spending in fiscal year 2013 by 30 percent compared with 2010 spending. The GSA had considered dramatically changing its methodology as part of a government-wide initiative to reduce federal conference and travel spending. The agency sets reimbursable limits for lodging, meals and incidentals for federal employees' official government travel.

In a letter to members of the industry yesterday, U.S. Travel president and CEO Roger Dow credited the joint advocacy efforts of many travel industry associations, hotel chains, destination marketing organizations and many others for joining in the effort to "defend against a policy proposal that would have cut federal lodging per diem rates by roughly 30 percent." Had it been approved, that move could have cost the travel industry $885 million in revenue and thousands of American jobs, according to estimates by the U.S. Travel Association. While this is an important victory, said Dow, "There are still difficult challenges ahead. Federal agencies face 30 percent cuts to their travel budgets, and government conferences remain under intense scrutiny. But the per diem debate provides a valuable lesson on what we can accomplish when we speak with one voice."

Current per diem rates, to be held for fiscal year 2013, can be found at http://www.gsa.gov/portal/category/21287.