The new spending limits for U.S. government travelers are now in effect, with the standard lodging rate inching up from $94 to $96. Revised annually, the per diem rates set maximum amounts that can be reimbursed to federal employees for lodging and meals while on official travel.
The standard lodging rate for fiscal year 2020, which began Oct. 1, applies to approximately 2,600 counties across the country. The cap for meals and incidentals remains the same, at $55 per day. With a total per diem of $151, government travelers to these destinations may spend $96 for lodging, $50 for meals and $5 for daily incidental expenses such as tips.
For the 2020 fiscal year, 322 destinations have higher-than-standard per diem rates. For example, the lodging cap in the Washington, D.C., metro area (which varies by specific location and month), ranges from $184 to $256, up from a range of $181 to $251 in 2019.
Lodging per diems are based on local averages for mid-priced hotels and reduced by 5 percent as a savings measure. Hotels are not required to honor federal per diem rates.
The General Services Administration establishes per diem rates only for the 48 states within the continental United States. The Defense Travel Management Office sets rates for Alaska, Hawaii and all U.S. territories. Reimbursable rates for foreign travel are determined by the U.S. Department of State.
For easy access to rates, the GSA now offers a mobile app for government travel.