Letters to the Editor
Travel costs could increase
I agree with the opposition of the senators as well as your analysis of
the social impact [a change to travel regulations] would have ["Don't change travel regs," March 20]. However, after reading the article,
I think it is important to realize some of the economic factors that could
be impacted by the change.
A look at economic cause and effect would show that if contractors are "free"
to look for higher-priced accommodations, and do so above the stated government
rate, it would reduce the demand for "moderate accommodations." This would
reduce the corresponding supply in many locations.
Without this downward economic pressure by the government to keep rates
low, the "average" expense of "moderate accommodations" will increase. The
net result could be greater difficulty by government travelers in finding
moderate accommodations within the per diem rate in many places throughout
I would also expect an escalation in the average lodging cost over time,
thereby increasing the government's program costs for its own travelers.
I therefore believe the stated $250 million [in costs for allowing reasonable
rates] to be significantly lower than the overall total cost impact on the
government following a 10 percent increase in contractor reimbursement.
A related observation and possible counterpoint to my statement above: It
has occasioned during some of my government travel, that the accommodation
providers will quote the government rate, once they determine a traveler
is a government employee, when in fact cheaper rates exist and are quoted
for nongovernmental travelers at the same location and for the same time
In fact, several times, I have stayed at locations that charged me within
per diem when the reservation was made "unofficially", but whose stated
"government rate" was higher than that published as the per diem amount.
This seems to indicate either an upward economic pressure at some destinations
resulting from the published per diem rate, or conversely, the desire by
some providers not to rent to the government traveler, depending upon the
I routinely cross-check for cheaper than "government rate" bookings at acceptable
accommodations for locations I travel to.