The General Services Administration (GSA) has just released Government per diem rates for fiscal year 2016. As most Government contractors are aware, travel costs charged to Government contracts are reasonable and allowable only if they do not exceed these rates. See FAR 31.205-46. FAR contains mechanisms to claim higher than Government per diem when justified and contemporaneously documented. Most contractors though try to avoid the extra Government scrutiny that comes with claiming lodging and meals that exceed the GSA maximums.
The basic per diem rate is $140 per day broken down between lodging at $89 and meals and incidental expenses at $51. This rate represents an 8 percent bump from the fiscal year 2015 rate and applies to about 2,600 locations throughout the lower 48. However, those 2,600 locations are not places where contractor are likely to travel. The preponderance of contractor travel is to the 400 or so locations that justify higher rates based on higher cost of lodging and meals. These 400 locations include all of the major U.S. cities.
Most of the cities have different rates depending upon the time of the year. For example, the lodging rate for Las Vegas is $108 per night from September through January dropping to $93 from February through August. Seattle's lodging rate is $157 from November through March, increasing to $202 per night during the summer tourist season, May through October. Going to New York at certain times of the year gets you $304 per night.
All of the fiscal year 2016 per diem rates are now available. Click here and follow the instructions.