In early September,
the Washington, D.C.-based General Services Administration, the arm of the federal government responsible for setting travel policy and regulations for federal employees, released the much-anticipated 2014 federal travel per diem rates. For 2013, the GSA had frozen the rates at 2012 levels, so the new rates, which show some increases, should have many hoteliers across the country heaving a collective sigh.
While the new lodging rates increased an average of 1.9 percent, many cities, like San Francisco, saw much bigger gains. A few, including Washington, D.C., saw their rates drop.
Significant for meetings, however, the GSA is discontinuing a long-established policy that has allowed federal employees to spend up to 25 percent above per diem rates while attending conferences. The agency estimated that the move will save $10 million in fiscal year 2014.
In an Aug. 30 blog post on the GSA's website, Ann Rung, associate administrator of governmentwide policy, noted that the GSA's cost-cutting measures have resulted in a $2 billion reduction in travel spend since 2010, including $28 million in 2012. "As each agency reviews its travel and conference-related activities, they must ensure that any spending serves the American people as efficiently and effectively as possible," she wrote.
Despite the increase, the 2014 per diem rates, which took effect Oct. 1, still are about 5 percent below the average daily market rate, which is based on several factors, including market costs. The chart below highlights the 2014 per diem rate change for 10 major conference cities over the 2013 rates. A complete chart of the 2014 rates can be found at gsa.gov.