Walworth County Federal Per Diem Rate Status
October 8, 2014 


Dear WH&LA Lodging Member in Walworth County:

As you know from our September 4 WH&LA Capitol Insider, upon seeing the reduction in the Federal Lodging Per Diem Rate in Walworth County, WH&LA contacted AH&LA to use their connections to try to cause another review. We compiled specialized data and outlined reasoning for the federal General Services Administration (GSA) to reconsider their actions, which AH&LA remitted and followed up with a conversation with the manager in charge of the Per Diem rate-setting.

While the manager acknowledged that our data demonstrates higher rates, she noted that there are some technicalities in their methodology that justify their lower rates: 
  • Branded hotels in the county set the maximum and minimum range, after removal of rates from properties in the luxury (highest rates) and economy (lowest rates) designations. Independent properties are only included if they fall within this rate range.
  • This year, no independents were included because they did not fall in the rate range. While they acknowledged that this area has a larger than average number of high-end independent properties with higher rates, they must follow their uniform methodology.
What does this mean? While WH&LA and AH&LA went in a different door to gain a review, which the manager was willing to do because of a strong working relationship with AH&LA, their gathered data under the current methodology could not allow her to change at this time. This means that now only the standard procedure for considering change would give them a reason to impact change, as it allows a type of waiver of the methodology.

What is the standard procedure for considering changes to the Federal Lodging Per Diem rate once the year has started? Only a federal agency may submit a review request to pursue a higher rate, and this must include reasoning for such a request. Usually this results from a difficulty in federal employees traveling on business finding acceptable lodging in the area of work at the federal lodging per diem rate. When complaints like this occur, the federal agency can formalize a request for change.

Where does this leave Walworth County? Unfortunately, until such time as a federal agency submits a request for change and the GSA approves a change based on actual experiences in addition to their rate date, the Federal Lodging Per Diem Rate for Walworth County is the general continental U.S. (CONUS) Rate of $83. This is the maximum rate a federal employee can be reimbursed for work-related lodging in the county, unless the employee is able to gain approval of a waiver from a supervisor.

When will this be up for re-evaluation? The CONUS rate is re-evaluated every three years, and the last increase was in October 2013. That means that the next CONUS rate change would not occur before October 2016; however, the "Non-Standard Area (NSA)" areas are determined each year, meaning if Walworth County is deemed eligible for NSA status by next fall, the county could be re-instated as an NSA with higher rates (and likely seasonal differences) once again.

As a cautionary reminder to our members, the federal Anti-Trust law prohibits competitors from discussing or agreeing to rate acceptance conditions or rate-setting actions of any kind for their customers.


Contact: Trisha Pugal
Wisconsin Hotel & Lodging Association