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FTR Final Rules Address Meals and Incidental Expenses Allowance

The General Services Administration has issued two final rules amending the Federal Travel Regulation. FTR Case 2009-303, Furnished Meals at Conferences and Other Events, clarifies the availability of meals and incidental expenses allowance when meals are part of a registration fee or otherwise paid by the government, while FTR Case 2009-304, M&IE Allowance, addresses the M&IE allowance for travel of more than 12 hours but less than 24 hours.

Furnished Meals

The final rule in case 2009-303 clarifies that travelers must deduct the appropriate amounts from their M&IE allowance when meals are part of a registration fee or otherwise paid by the government in conjunction with conferences or other events while on official travel. The rule also provides that, in limited instances, the full M&IE allowance may be claimed when an employee is unable to consume meals furnished by the government due to medical requirements or religious beliefs. The rule is issued in response to a March 14, 2008, Government Accountability Office report entitled "Governmentwide Purchase Cards: Actions Needed to Strengthen Internal Controls to Reduce Fraudulent, Improper, and Abusive Purchases," which recommended that GSA instruct agencies to remind travelers that they must reduce the M&IE claimed on their travel vouchers by the specified amount that GSA allocates when travelers receive government-paid meals at conferences or other events, including continental breakfasts. Revised FTR 300-3.1 adds a definition, revised FTR 301-2.5 addresses the exception for medical requirements and religious beliefs, and revised FTR 301-70.200 adds a requirement for agencies to designate who will determine when an employee may claim the full M&IE. The rule also clarifies, at FTR 301-11.18, the circumstances when employees may claim the full M&IE allowance. This final rule is effective April 10, 2009. For the text of the rule, see 70,030.121.
Short-term Travel

The final rule in case 2009-304 addresses the M&IE allowance when travel is for more than 12 hours but less than 24 hours. GSA has discovered that agencies are inconsistent in calculating the M&IE rate when an employee's travel is for more than 12 hours but less than 24 hours, and spans two calendar days. As a result, it is amending FTR 301-11.101 to clarify that travelers are to be reimbursed 75 percent of the applicable M&IE rate for both calendar days of travel. This final rule goes into effect May 11, 2009. For the text of the rule, see 70,030.122.
Bulletin Notice

GSA has also published GSA Bulletin FTR 09-06, in conjunction with the presidential declaration of disaster areas in North Dakota. The declaration was issued in response to severe storms and flooding and affects 34 counties and 2 Indian reservations. The bulletin waives certain temporary duty and relocation requirements outlined in the FTR. The provisions of the bulletin are effective though March 23, 2010, unless extended or rescinded by GSA. The text of the bulletin may be viewed at http://www.gsa.gov/ federaltravelregulation. For the text of the bulletin notice, see 70,353.104.

(The news featured above is a selection from the news covered in the Government Contracts Report Letter, which is published weekly and distributed to subscribers of the Government Contracts Reporter. )


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