In November 2014, the Department of Defense (DOD) instituted reductions in temporary duty assignment (TDY) per diem allowances and lodging stipends in an effort to reduce departmental spending in a time of restricted budgets. Civilian employees on TDY between 30 and 180 days have seen their per diem and stipends reduced by 25 percent, and those over 180 days, face a 45 percent reduction. Because of these reductions, managers within DOD are seeing reductions in volunteers for TDY as upfront costs are the burden of the employee. House and Senate Appropriations Committees are currently examining spending levels that are in line with the Bipartisan Budget Act (P.L. 114-74). The Federal Managers Association (FMA), along with other federal workforce advocacy groups and travel industry associations, urged appropriators to restore the funding for TDY per diems and stipends.
As Congress is currently examining appropriations for the remainder of fiscal year 2016 and fiscal year 2017, the group expressed to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees leadership, “These cuts unfairly burden DOD military and civilian employees and frustrate the ability of the hotel industry to offer a government rate for DOD travel.” The letter continued, “If savings are to be achieved through the travel budget they should not come at the expense of the people who regularly travel for extended periods of time.” The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 included the repeal of the cuts, however, it was not included in the conference language.
FMA previously reached out to Members of Congress on this issue, urging per diem allowances and stipends to be restored. From discussions with FMA members, these DOD restrictions limit personnel available for TDY. As it is a voluntary position, DOD civilian managers struggle to find qualified employees who are willing to disrupt their family life while taking on this financial burden. Additionally, the reductions made by DOD are not in line with the General Service Administration’s Government-Wide Travel Advisory Committee. Per diem rates are set based upon contractor-provided average daily rate data of local lodging properties. DOD did not utilize this method when establishing new TDY per diem allowance rates.
To read the full letters from FMA regarding TDY, please visit the Legislative Action Center of FMA’s website,www.fedmanagers.org.