Published: 
Sep 25, 2015

Approval to exceed per diem lodging for DPS 2015

SARA recently received comments that the DPS Meeting Website only provides information for the conference hotel and its rate is $249/night (plus a $15.00 resort fee + tax, which are not included in the 249), but allowed per diem will almost certainly be less than that. I don't actually know for sure what the allowed per diem will be since the max lodging by Month didn't go out to Nov 2015 when last I checked (see http://www.gsa.gov/portal/category/100120 this September is $222 and last November was $177) but they are almost certainly right that actual costs will exceed per diem, wherever they are staying in the DC area. The purpose of this letter from SARA is to issue a waiver for grantees allowing them to be reimbursed out of their grants for their lodging above per diem, or some will have to pay the delta out of pocket. (I did this last year for LPSC, see http://science.nasa.gov/researchers/sara/letters-from-sara/2015/2/2/approval-exceed-gsa-lodging-lpsc-2015/). Federal Travel Regulations allow grantees to be reimbursed no more than 300% of the maximum per diem after staying at the conference hotel. If you didn't get a room in the conference hotel and so are staying at a local hotel that exceeds per diem, this is a little insurance for you. This allows you to be reimbursed by your grant up to the cost of the conference hotel, even if it exceeds per diem, so you will not be forced to pay the difference out of pocket. Note, I have specified grants (including cooperative agreements), not contracts. Ready? OK, here we go:

By the power invested in me by the NSSC to issue approval of the actual lodging costs for a conference in “bulk” instead of individual approvals, I hereby affirm that for DPS 2015, if you are staying at other area hotels than the conference hotel NASA SMD grants may be charged above the normal per diem up to $264 (= 249 + 15) plus tax per night consistent with the actual costs of the conference hotel. Please note that some organizations have written policies that do not allow their employees to charge more than the federal per diem rate for conference or other local area hotels, so please check with your organization about its policy.

- Max Bernstein, SMD lead for research