The General Services Administration (GSA) per diem rates play a crucial role in facilitating official travel for federal employees and government contractors. “Per diem” is a term that refers to the daily allowance provided to cover lodging, meals, and incidental expenses incurred by travelers while on official travel.
However, dealing with government per diems can be a complex task, especially when faced with changing rates, multi city travel, non-standard areas, and other unique requirements. In this guide, we'll delve deeper into non-standard areas, explain why per diem rates change annually, and showcase how DATABASICS can help you overcome these challenges with ease.
Non-Standard Areas and Determining Per Diem Rates
Non-standard areas, also known as high-cost areas, have per diem rates that are above the standard rates set by the General Services Administration (GSA). These rates are typically applicable to regions with higher-than-average costs for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses.
You can easily identify non-standard areas by visiting the GSA's official website, which provides a searchable database and a comprehensive list of locations with fluctuating per diem rates. It's crucial to familiarize yourself with these areas to ensure compliance when managing employee expenses. You can also visit our blog on per diem rates for the current year here.
Why Per Diem Rates Change Annually
Per diem rates are adjusted annually to account for inflation, economic fluctuations, and changes in regional costs. These adjustments ensure that rates remain reflective of the current market and that employees can fairly cover their expenses while traveling for work. Staying informed of these changes is essential for organizations to ensure accurate expense reporting and effective cost management.
Understanding CONUS and OCONUS
When managing employee travel expenses, it is essential to be aware of the distinctions between Continental United States (CONUS) and Outside Continental United States (OCONUS) regions. Each of these areas has its own specific per diem rates, which vary based on location and time of the year. These rates are determined by the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) for government employees and contractors, affecting both lodging and meal expenses.
CONUS encompasses the 48 contiguous United States, and its per diem rates are generally consistent for standard areas, with certain non-standard areas (NSAs) having higher reimbursement rates due to increased costs of living. These rates are reviewed and updated annually or as market conditions change, impacting businesses whose employees travel frequently within the United States.
On the other hand, OCONUS includes Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. territories, as well as foreign countries. OCONUS per diem rates are more complex since they involve fluctuating exchange rates and the inclusion of incidental expenses. Adhering to these guidelines is crucial for organizations that require employee travel to these locations.
DATABASICS: Simplifying Government Per Diem Management
DATABASICS understands the complexities of government per diem management and has developed customizable expense reporting software to address these challenges. From adapting to annual rate changes to handling non-standard areas and partial days, DATABASICS offers a comprehensive solution for organizations of all sizes, including federal contractors.
DATABASICS delivers time and leave tracking, expense reporting, and employee purchasing management solutions that lead the industry in value, performance, and adaptability. Integrations are offered for major accounting, payroll, and HR providers. DATABASICS’s customers range from regional businesses and nonprofits to global enterprises.