Letters to the editor
I've been a federal contractor for the past nine years, after my retirement
from military service. I couldn't agree more with your stand on travel reimbursement
["Don't change travel regs," March 20].
The last thing I want is for my clients to think I have better accommodations
and perks than they have for the same travel. I routinely travel with my
clients, staying in the same hotels, eating with them at the same restaurants
and sharing the same rental car. Other than shoddy, unresponsiveness business
performance, I can think of no faster way to alienate myself from them than
foster the perception that I'm a "fat cat" contractor getting over on them.
Given this, it annoys me to think that there are contractors actually pushing
for these changes to the Federal Travel Regulations. Publicly embarrassing
them might go a long way in getting them to backpedal. Why don't you post
a list of names in this forum?
I agree with you. I'm a longtime fed and have worked on a billion-dollar
Cost Plus Award-Fee contract at the Internal Revenue Service.
As a fed, I live within the per diem limits set by the government, and I
don't find myself staying at flea-bag hotels or eating at McDonalds. We
get reimbursed sufficiently to live reasonably; that should be adequate
compensation for contractors as well.
Further, I would point out that I sometimes opt to exceed the per diem limits
and "eat" the difference — because I feel like it. I have to eat three meals
a day when I'm not on travel, and it costs me something. If I go on a business
trip and exceed per diem, I probably am not spending more total dollars
than I would at home for the same period. And if I do, it's because it was
worth it to me. The total out-of-pocket expense is never all that much.
Seems to me that contractors can make the same decisions. And if their companies
want to eat some or all of the excess over per diem rates, that's fine with
me, too. But, as the saying goes, "There's no free lunch." It costs something
to live, whether you're on travel or not.
National Credit Union Administration