by Michael C. Lowe | February 01, 2011

More than 4,000 hotels nationwide have agreed to honor federal per diem rates for city and state officials, thanks to an initiative from the Western States Contracting Alliance, a subsidiary of the National Association of State Procurement Officials. Previously, many of the hotels had been offering the rate for federal workers, but not their city or state counterparts, said Doug Richins, executive director for WSCA.

"The goal is to create a cost-effective system for government workers of all levels, from city representatives to university employees, by securing standard lodging rates," said Tim Hay, WSCA lead procurement analyst for Oregon.

In addition to standardizing hotel pricing, the alliance established a comprehensive database allowing government planners to find qualified hotels.

Online since the first of the year, the database features properties across 32 brands, including Accor Hotels, Best Western, Carlson Hotels, Choice Hotels International, InterContinental Hotels Group and Red Roof Inns.Hay expects several more brands and potentially up to 3,000 additional properties to sign on by year's end.

"Participating in this program gives us unique access to the state government market," noted Alice McQuade, director of government sales with InterContinental, which has enrolled some 1,700 properties to date.

The WSCA database not only provides a link to eligible properties, but also designates specialty icons for those hotels with free Internet access, no blackout dates and environmentally friendly initiatives. Hay said an icon for properties with substantial meeting space now is in the works.