General Services Administration Will Not Alter Calculating Method for Lodging Per Diems

August 13, 2012

In good news for the travel industry, the U.S. General Services Administration has decided to not change the calculating method for lodging per diems that the U.S. Travel Association said would cost the industry $885 million in revenue and thousands of American jobs.

In a statement released by USTA, Roger Dow, the association’s president and CEO, said,
“Thanks to the joint advocacy efforts of travel industry associations, local hotel owners, national lodging chains, destination marketing organizations and many others, we were able to defend against a policy proposal that would have cut federal lodging per diem rates by roughly 30 percent.”

He added, “The GSA was considering this drastic change as part of a government-wide initiative to reduce federal conference and travel spending.  Instead, the GSA decided to freeze lodging per diem rates at current levels for the upcoming fiscal year.”

USTA worked with the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among others, to send letters to Capitol Hill and meet with members of the administration to express concerns about the proposed change in lodging per diem calculations.

The proposed change in per diems were likely a direct result of a GSA scandal earlier this year that involved spending more than $800,000 on an event in Las Vegas.

Congress demanded answers and there were subsequent calls to severely limit the amount of events government employees could attend that would have a dramatic impact on the travel and meetings industry.

As a result, USTA, as well as other industry associations such as the American Society of Association Executives, sent out calls to action for people within the industry to contact their local congressperson.

In addition, according to Dow, state travel associations and destination marketing organizations from across the nation hosted roundtables with government officials to discuss the importance of federal travel.

All of these efforts worked that led to the freeze on the lodging per diem, but Dow said there were more challenges ahead.

“Federal agencies face 30 percent cuts to their travel budgets and government conferences remain under intense scrutiny,” he added.

Dow said, “But the per diem debate provides a valuable lesson on what we can accomplish when we speak with one voice.”

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