Although there is no record of a VIP government official perishing from starvation or exposure on an out-of-town trip, the typical U.S. bureaucrat has to count his change when he purchases bed and board while touring on official business.
New expense account (per diem in governmentese) limits for the federal establishment have been painstakingly set. They rate Washington, Las Vegas New Orleans and of course the Big Apple as $75-per-day towns, while advising U.S. travelers to such far-away places as Baltimore, King of Prussia, Pa., and Burlington, Vt., to stay on a tighter budget. Federal travelers in Baltimore, for example, must eat, drink and sleep on a $59 daily limit. Those sent to Boston on official business can get by, according to federal travel officials, on $66 per day.
All of the above is by way of saying that new federal per-diem rules are out. Under legislation signed earlier this year by the president, the maximum per diem for "regular" areas went up to $50, while the high-cost city maximum has risen to $75.
The same regulations boost the mileage allowance government gives personnel who drive their own cars to 22.5 cents per mile. If Uncle Sam lets you use your own motorcycle for official business you can now put in for 20 cents per mile and, in the unlikely event you fly your own airplane on U.S. affairs, you can get 45 cents per mile.
In most U.S. cities the maximum allowance for government travelers is limited to $50. But there are exceptions to the $50 rule. You can, for example, be paid these per-diem levels in various cities:
Tucson, $61; Fresno, $57; Los Angeles, $70; Sacramento, $62; San Diego, $70; Denver, $67; Hartford, $56; New Haven, $63; Wilmington, $62; Miami, $64; Tampa-St. Petersburg, $62; Atlanta, $56; Chicago $74; Indianapolis, $62; Kansas City, $68; Wichita and Louisville, $59; Kalamazoo, $57; Minneapolis, $61; St. Louis, $67; and Kansas City, $68; Atlantic City, $63; (and no gambling with U.S. dollars); Syracuse, $59; Cleveland, $71; Toledo, $59; Harrisburg, $59; Pittsburgh, $65; Dallas-Ft. Worth, $71; Memphis, $61; Houston, $74; and El Paso, $58. Charleston, W. Va., is a $59 town and Cheyenne, according to U.S. statistics, will take care of one for $58 per day.
All of metro Washington is at the $75 limit as are San Francisco-Oakland, Detroit, Philadelphia and Bala Cynwyd, which few visit and even fewer spell correctly. The new rates went into effect October 5 but agencies are just now getting around to telling people about them.
The daily per diem Uncle Sam establishes is of interest to lots of folks, not just government workers. Many hotels base special rates on U.S. expense account levels, as do some corprations, unions and the like. Clip this and take it on your next trip. And if you can stay in Baltimore rather than Washington, remember Uncle Sam thinks it is a better travel deal.