Federal Government Per Diem Rates
issues briefs and talking points

AH&LA supports efforts to ensure federal per diem rates are fair to the lodging industry.

SUMMARY

Each year, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) sets the maximum daily rate at which federal travelers will be reimbursed for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses while on official business for the federal government, known as a per diem rate.

Federal travelers are allowed to stay at properties above per diem, but will only be reimbursed up to the rate; any charges above the per diem are paid out of pocket by the employee. Many properties rely on the federal travel market for a significant portion of their business. An increase or decrease of only a few dollars a night will have a tremendous impact on their bottom line.

AH&LA works with GSA to ensure fair rates for the lodging industry as well as respecting the need of the federal government to conservatively spend taxpayer money. AH&LA also regularly works with the partner state associations and individual members on per diem issues.

STATUS

GSA announced per diem rates for Fiscal Year 2010 (FY2010) on August 24, 2009, with the new rates becoming effective on October 1, 2009.   The new rates take effect on October 1, 2009, and run through September 30, 2010.

The complete FY2010 (and FY2009) federal per diem rates can be viewed on the Internet at the GSA's Website, www.gsa.gov/perdiem

Highlights of the FY2010 per diem rates (from Federal Times):

  • Six of the top 10 federal travel destinations — Washington, New York, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago and Boston — will see lower hotel per diems for at least part of next year, according to GSA's new FY2010 per diem rates.
  • Maximum per diems for Manhattan hotels will drop $76, to $209 per night, between January and March. They will drop $35 per night in Boston, to $168, between November and March. And travelers to Washington will be reimbursed $229 for a night — a $4 drop — in September and October.
  • Cy Greenridge, GSA’s per diem program manager, said at a June conference in San Antonio, Texas, that falling hotel rates would likely result in lower hotel per diems in 2010 or 2011.
  • Despite the nation’s economic downturn, many metropolitan areas saw an increase or no change in per diem lodging rates, according to GSA. San Francisco hotel per diems, for example, will increase by $7 to $192 in October 2009 and September 2010, and increase $2 to $192 from November 2009 to August 2010. Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver and Huntsville, Ala., will see an increase or no change in hotel per diems.
  • Some cities won’t see consistent declines throughout the year. For example, Washington rates will be higher between March 2010 and August 2010 than they were the previous year.

On occasion, AH&LA works with PSA's and local lodging communities to seek mid-year adjustments to per diem rates. For example, in past years AH&LA has worked with the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association to pursue a successful review of the rate for Cincinnati, Ohio.  As a result of AH&LA and Ohio H&LA’s work in 2006-07, GSA officially announced an increase for Cincinnati from $86 to $103.  AH&LA can offer advice to its members on the procedures their government guests must undertake to alter the rate, since only government employees can initiate any requests for change from GSA.  This September 2008 AH&LA Advisory lists a number of ideas that hoteliers can undertake to seek per diem adjustments.

AH&LA will continue to work with GSA to ensure fair rates for the lodging industry as well as respecting the need of the federal government to conservatively spend taxpayer money.


For more information, contact Kevin Maher, AH&LA senior vice president for Governmental Affairs, at (202) 289-3147, kmaher@ahla.com.

(Updated August 2009)