Monday, August 14, 2017

GSA Releases Per Diem Rates for Fiscal Year 2018

The General Services Administration (GSA) just released Government per diem rates for fiscal year 2018 (effective October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018). Most Government contractors are well aware that travel costs charged to Government contracts are considered reasonable and allowable as long as they do not exceed the maximum rates in the JTRs (Joint Travel Regulations) and the FTRs (Federal Travel Regulations). Although FAR 31.205-46 provides for situations where higher rates are justified, many contractors will go out of their way to avoid the extra Government scrutiny that such justification attracts.

The basic per diem rate is now $144 per day broken down between lodging at $93 and meals and incidental expenses at $51. This rate represents a nominal increase from the current $142 per day and applies to about 2,600 locations throughout the lower 48. However, those 2,600 locations are not places where Government contractors frequently travel. The preponderance of contractor travel is to the 332 non-standard areas (NSAs) that have higher per diem rates than the standard (or basic) rate. These 332 locations include all of the major U.S. cities.

Most of the 332 NSAs have different rates depending upon the time of the year. For example, the lodging rate for San Francisco ranges from $222 per night to $302 per night depending upon the season. These rates are significantly higher than the fiscal year 2017 rates ranging from $172 to $242. For comparison, New York City ranges from $164 per night to $291 per night, dropping from $168 to $301 from fiscal year 2017.

As a reminder, the travel cost principle at FAR 31.205-46 is written in such a way that contractors are limited to the sum of lodging and per diem, not the individual components. The cost principle also requires an adjustment to the maximum rates when  no lodging is incurred. For simplicity purposes, many contractors reduce the rates to 75% on the first and last day of travel.

The fiscal year 2018 rates are available now. Click here to access them.

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