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GSA Announces 1998 Per Diem Rates for Federal TravelersNew Rates More Accurate, Fair and Protect Taxpayer Interests

GSA #9452

December 3, 1997
Contact: Bill Bearden (202)501-1231
Bill Rivers (202)208-7631

WASHINGTON, D.C.�The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) today announced updated per diem rates for federal employees on official travel in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. The rates, which are published in the Federal Register, take effect January 1, 1998.

The federal per diem rates are based on a lodgings-plus system, whereby employees are reimbursed for the actual cost of lodging up to a set limit. In addition, they receive a fixed amount for meals and incidental expenses. The lodging limit plus the meal and incidental expenses rate for a given destination equal the maximum per diem rate employees can be paid for official travel.

This year, GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy, which is in charge of setting the rates, has made the process more efficient and accurate, resulting in per diem rates that more closely reflect current market conditions. The office used information from the American Express (AmEx) Government Travel Card and partnered with private sector experts to improve its market research and data analysis.

For instance, the agency made extensive use of 1996 AmEx travel data to better pinpoint where travelers stay and to more accurately determine travel nights. In the larger travel areas, the AmEx data allowed GSA to narrow market research to specific zip codes in locations surveyed.

Using more accurate researching techniques, the 1998 per diem rates have increased as much as $45 in some areas and decreased as much as $30 in others. The 1998 per diem rates compensate travelers fairly and protect the interest of the taxpayers.

The standard rate remains unchanged at a maximum of $ 50 for lodging and $ 30 for meals and incidental expenses.

Individual rates have been set for 447 higher-cost U.S. cities. Lodging in these locations is paid by the government up to a set limit; reimbursement for meals and incidental expenses is $ 30, $ 34, $ 38 or $ 42, depending on the location.

In addition to setting domestic per diem rates, GSA also negotiates discount rates with U.S. air carriers and with hotels and motels nationwide. For fiscal year 1998, GSA unrestricted air fares, on average, are 70 percent less than commercial rates.

GSA's per diem rates also apply to employees of certain government vendors when traveling in connection with federal contracts.

Travel per diem rates for locations outside the continental United States - Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. territories and possessions - are set by the Department of Defense. Rates for international travel are set by the State Department.

The complete list of GSA's new rates is on the World Wide Web at http://www.policyworks.gov/PERDIEM The rates also are available from Federal Information Centers at 1-800-688-9889, or, for the hearing impaired (TDD/TTY users), at 1-800-326-2996. The per diem rates will also be available on a disc upon request.

Examples of New Rates for Some Frequently-Visited Cities

New Rates Current Rates

City Lodging Meals Total Lodging Meals Total
Atlanta 97 38 135 96 38 134
Chicago 120 42 162 119 42 161
Dallas 94 42 136 84 42 126
Denver 92 34 126 92 34 126
Los Angeles 109 42 151 97 42 139
New York 198 42 240 153 42 195
San Diego 93 38 131 84 38 122
Washington, DC 126 42 168 124 42 166