The Federal Times reports that “The General Services Administration is proposing sweeping legislation that could save agencies millions of dollars on official travel and eliminate the lag time in setting a federal mileage reimbursement rate”. There is a bill before Congress called “The General Services Enactment Act” which contains a sweeping set of rules that will alter the way Federal government employees use hotels including dictating which type of hotel they can use.
Under current rules, employees are given per-diems that vary with cities and employees are free to choose a hotel with a mere suggestion from their agencies to utilize a hotel at or below the per-diem. Employees are free to add money from their pocket and stay at hotels whose rates are higher than the per diem.
The article notes that “Agencies are prohibited from regulating hotels by a decades-old law that prevents them from dictating where their employees are “quartered.” GSA’s new legislation would change that; agencies could require travelers to stay at hotels below the per diem rate, or to use the FedRooms hotel booking system”. That could mean better outcomes for “FedRoom” hotels. The underlying premise is that government agencies will be able to negotiate better rates from hotels that are in the FedRoom database. However, it is not clear whether this will, indeed, be a blessing for hotels and, if history is any guide, more likely will result in some amount of wasted taxpayer dollars