Jump to content
The Wifcon Forums and Blogs

Recommended Posts

Regarding FAR 31-205.46 Travel Cost:  The issue before me pertains to 'maximum per-diem rates' for a given destination a gov't contractor can claim as allowable. In the past I have used the schedules found in the Joint Travel Regulations, ran down the table to find the location, lined up the dates of travel, read across the table for the lodging, meals and incidentals. Done, one of the simplest cost elements of a proposal to determine allowability & reasonableness. So I thought.  In the 2014 -2017 time period, the JTR tables were broken down by the length of stay 0-30 days,  beyond 31 days, and beyond 180 days.  With the longer length of stay the max per diem rates were reduced, the expectation that one will get a better rate for staying longer. The tables for + 180 days reduced rates by 55%, it makes sense. The tables were changed after 2017 and they no longer show those discounts for longer stays.  However, in this instance I am working with contractor costs for those years 2014- 2017.

Then I ran across the following in a well respected gov't contracting reference " Some gov't personnel have attempted to apply FTR/JTR rules to reduce the published per diem rates for a trip that exceeds beyond 31 days. They have used the JTR or FTR to question TDY assignments in excess of 180 days. The regulations that apply to civil service and military (not contractors) set the reimbursement at 55% of the per diem rate.  This is not required of contractors by the FAR.  However, contractors seeking to reduce travel costs may find fertile ground in the FTR/JRT rules".    This well respected gov't contracting reference was released in 2021, but it doesn't exactly point to where in the JTR that it doesn't apply to contractors.

I know I must be missing something, as I cannot connect the dots to show me where the in JTR it allows the contractor to incur whatever....  Does the JTR apply to gov't contractors or not? Or is it a matter of what parts apply to contractor?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

57 minutes ago, LuketheNuke said:

Does the JTR apply to gov't contractors or not?

See FAR 31.205-46(a)(2)(ii):

Quote

(2) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, costs incurred for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses (as defined in the regulations cited in paragraphs (a)(2)(i) through (iii) of this section) shall be considered to be reasonable and allowable only to the extent that they do not exceed on a daily basis the maximum per diem rates in effect at the time of travel as set forth in the... (ii) Joint Travel Regulations, Volume 2, DoD Civilian Personnel, Appendix A, prescribed by the Department of Defense, for travel in Alaska, Hawaii, and outlying areas of the United States, available on a subscription basis from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Publishing Office, Washington, DC 20402, Stock No. 908–010–00000–1....

Emphasis added.

See also the Dept. of Energy Acquisition Regulation (DEAR) at FAR 970.3102-05-46(a)(2)(ii).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well aware of the 31.205-46(a)(2)(ii), however, I am having trouble locating JTR Volume 2, ( I do see the JTR I don't see a volume 2) and Appendix A is 'definitions', I don't see where the 'definitions' provide guidance to invoke per diem rates on the KTR.?   The  DOE reference above would be outside of my sandbox.     It then becomes how does one 'parse' maximum rates (on a daily basis), is it the maximum show in JTR (which would not have any decrement applied for length of stay) or is the maximum rate for the length of stay?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, LuketheNuke said:

This well respected gov't contracting reference was released in 2021, but it doesn't exactly point to where in the JTR that it doesn't apply to contractors.

It's found in the FAR, not the JTR. 31.205-46

Quote

(4) Paragraphs (a)(2) and (3) of this section do not incorporate the regulations cited in paragraphs (a)(2)(i), (ii), and (iii) of this section in their entirety. Only the maximum per diem rates, the definitions of lodging, meals, and incidental expenses, and the regulatory coverage dealing with special or unusual situations are incorporated herein.

Emphasis added, of course

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If this was for travel "in the contiguous U.S.", refer to the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR), not the JTR, as stated in FAR 31.205-46(a)(2)(i).  Sometimes even COs gloss over this and assume it varies by agency, so of course be sure to read your contract/solicitation and see if it required JTR.  Either way, unless you are trying to justify a higher cost than the maximums, all you need to know from the FTR/JTR is how it defines lodging, meals, and incidental expenses (M&IE) so you can properly account for the costs contributing to the maximums for each.  Those definitions are found under "Per diem allowance" in the link to the FTR's glossary I provide above.  Of particular note, is that "lodging" does not include lodging tax.

The FTR, at Appendix A to Chapter 301, provides a link to a webpage where you can query maximum lodging, M&IE by location.

(Deleted text)

Edited by WifWaf
Removed bad advice
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, WifWaf said:

The CO can request that the lodging, M&IE be based on actuals if he/she knows a particularly extended stay will be required, pursuant to FAR 31.205-46(a), which says, "Costs for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses may be based on per diem, actual expenses, or a combination thereof, provided the method used results in a reasonable charge."  

No. The CO lacks authority to direct the contractor's cost accounting practices. This is particularly true where the FAR states that a contractor has discretion to choose its own practices, as it does in the sentence you quoted.

The contractor should price its proposed costs in accordance with the cost accounting practices it intends to use during performance, as required by 9904.401 (CAS 401).

That is not to say that the CO can't negotiate prices based on what they believe is reasonable. But direct the actual practices that a contractor uses to reimburse its employees for travel expenses? No.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to everyone, your comments are helping me to connect the dots.  The KTR's  travel in question is to Hawaii, and this is the reason for zeroing in on the JTR rather than the FTR.   I couldn't see (back in the years 2014-2017) where in the JTR the reduced per diem rates are discussed (in section 4250 Long Term TDY Flat Rate Per Diem), and I couldn't see where in FAR or the JTR those reduced rates are applicable to gov't contractors.  The answer is those reduced rates are not mandatory for gov't KTRS.

The key for me was shown above by Here2Help, within 31.205-46, at paragraph "(a)(4) Paragraphs (a)(2) and (3) of this section do not incorporate the regulations cited in paragraphs (a)(2)(i), (ii), and (iii) of this section in their entirety."    There it is ...' of this section do not incorporate the regulations cited',  only the 'definitions' in the JTR is applicable and the sections dealing with special situations.  That doesn't mean the KTR can incur lodging at whatever rates they want and expect the gov't to find those costs allowable, there are still several wickets to get through.  There are locations where it may not be possible to get lodging at gov't per diem rates, like Pearl Harbor, but the KTR still needs to get the gov't's buy-in see   "(a)(3)(iii) If it becomes necessary to exercise the authority to use the higher actual expense method repetitively or on a continuing basis in a particular area, the contractor must obtain advance approval from the contracting officer."

Thanks again

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, LuketheNuke said:

only the 'definitions' in the JTR is applicable and the sections dealing with special situations. 

Careful not to miss the below from H2H.  Didn’t see from your post that you acknowledged it:

18 hours ago, here_2_help said:

Only the maximum per diem rates, the definitions of lodging…

Maybe you’re dealing with a special or unusual situation since you quoted (a)(3)(iii) of the cost principle, which begins, “In special or unusual situations…”.  In that case, don’t miss this from H2H:

18 hours ago, here_2_help said:

…meals, and incidental expenses, and the regulatory coverage dealing with special or unusual situations are incorporated herein.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 minutes ago, WifWaf said:

Careful not to miss the below from H2H.  Didn’t see from your post that you acknowledged it:

Maybe you’re dealing with a special or unusual situation since you quoted (a)(3)(iii) of the cost principle, which begins, “In special or unusual situations…”.  In that case, don’t miss this from H2H:

Note that special or unusual situations are fairly well defined in the travel regs. It's not something that I would expect a CO to assert during negotiations, unless circumstances matched or were close to what the regs say.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Adding for the benefit of all --

There are certain circumstances where it is literally impossible for a contractor to comply with the prescriptions found in the FAR or the travel regs.

I first experienced this situation when we were dealing with FUDS (formerly utilized defense sites) in the wilds of Alaska. There were places where people wouldn't take credit cards or even cash. What they wanted was groceries -- a barter. In other places, no lodging was available, at any price. We had to improvise.

In those circumstances, an understanding CO was key to negotiating employee per diem payments that were acceptable to the employees and both contracting parties. When the auditors showed up and were befuddled by what they found, the CO backed us up.

My point is ... not every answer is found in the regulations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...