Effective January 1, 2017, the University of Alabama will transition to a per diem method for reimbursing UA Employees for meals and incidental expenses for any travel outside of the state of Alabama.
What is per diem?
Per diem is the allowance for meals and incidental expenses. The University will follow the below per diems for meals and incidentals for each type of travel.
- The General Services Administration (GSA) establishes per diem rates annually for destinations within the Continental United States (CONUS). GSA rates can be viewed on the GSA website. GSA rates are also available via an app allowing travelers to look up Federal government per diem rates by city/state and ZIP code in locations throughout the United States and its territories. The app is available for both iOS and Android.
- The Department of Defense (DOD) establishes non-foreign rates such as Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam. The DOD rates can be viewed on the DOD’s Per Diem, Travel, and Transportation Allowance website.
- The State Department establishes the foreign rates monthly (for example, Russia, Aruba, Bahamas, Europe, etc.). The State Department rates can be viewed on the State Department’s website.
Why is UA transitioning to the per diem method and away from the actual expenses method for employee travel?
- Reduced Record Keeping. The per diem method simply provides employees with a defined allowance. This reduces the need for travelers to maintain and submit receipts for meals following travel.
- Reduced Processing Time. The per diem method will make travel expense reporting less time consuming and labor intensive for departments.
- Predictable Expenses. This method will allow departments to gain more certainty and predictability in travel budgeting.
GSA Per Diems
GSA will set specific per diems for non-standard areas (NSAs) that are frequently traveled by federal employees. Standard locations are less frequently traveled and are not listed specifically by the GSA. For example, in the state of Tennessee, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, and Brentwood/Franklin are considered non-standard areas, and thus, each has their own M&IE rate in order to cover the costs of travel specific to each city. For all other areas not specifically listed within the state of Tennessee, the CONUS per diem rate will apply at $55 for meals and incidental expenses. (Note: For travel prior to Oct 1, 2018, the CONUS per diem rate of $51 will apply).
Locating Per Diem Amounts
All of the above rates will be housed in Concur and will auto-populate as meal allowances based on the destination and duration of the trip.
For travelers who are not yet active users in Concur, the Travel Vouchers have been adjusted to calculate per diem allowances. However, unlike Concur, the traveler will have to determine and input the correct per diem amount to drive the allowance calculations. The rates can be located at the links above.
Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE) Breakdown
Travelers may have meals provided for them. If this is the case, the traveler should deduct those meals from your per diem. Concur will allow you to easily note the meals that were provided to you and will reduce your per diem accordingly, and the updated Travel Vouchers will assist with the calculations as well.
The table below lists the six M&IE tiers in the continental United States (currently ranging from $55 to $76). If you need to deduct a meal amount, first determine the location where you will be working while on official travel. The M&IE rate for your location will be one of the six tiers listed on this table. Find the corresponding amount on the first line of the table (M&IE Total) and then look below for each specific meal deduction amount.
The table also lists the portion of the M&IE rate that is provided for incidental expenses (currently $5 for all tiers). If all meals are provided for you on a particular travel day, you will receive $5 for incidental expenses.
The GSA rates are also adjusted for the first and last day of travel. On these days, travelers would receive 75 percent of the total M&IE rate for their travel destination. See table below.
|Total||First & Last Day of Travel|
What is included in the M&IE Rate?
Incidental expenses include fees and tips given to porters, baggage carriers, hotel staff, and staff on ships. Taxes and gratuity (tips) are included in the M&IE rate as well, so travelers will not be reimbursed separately for those items.
How are non-employees reimbursed for meals and incidental expenses under the new method?
Non-UA employee travel will not be reimbursed as allowances/per diems. Non-employees will be reimbursed for actual expenses up to the GSA standard M&IE rate of $55.00. (Note: For travel prior to Oct 1, 2018, the CONUS per diem rate of $51 will apply). Non-employee reimbursements will be entered in Concur Invoice as a Payment Request. The Non-Employee Meal Reimbursement Worksheet should be completed and attached to the Payment Request as supporting documentation.