Federal per diem rates updated

The annual update of the federal per diem rates by the General Services Administration (GSA) occurred on Oct. 1. The State of Arkansas uses those amounts as a maximum to be reimbursed for meals and lodging. The amount allowed in Pulaski County for a hotel increased from $91 to $94 and the amount allowed for meals remains at $59. The standard Arkansas rate, which applies to all locations without specified rates, increased from $89 to $91 for a hotel and the standard rate for meals remains at $51.

When auditing travel reimbursements, UALR must audit the amounts charged for hotel rooms. Even if the hotel room was paid for by a travel card, the receipt has to be included with the TR-1. The amount is checked against the maximum allowed by the State, and if it exceeds that, the travel accountant will look at the travel authorization (TA) document for the pre-approval and justification for exceeding that amount.

Those justifications are occasionally reviewed by Legislative Audit. It would be unacceptable to an auditor if only a signature approving the hotel rate is included; some justification must be provided. Therefore, when approving the rate to exceed the amount allowed by the State, please provide a signature and justification. An example of acceptable justification is “Conference Hotel” or “Other hotels in area were booked up.”

Finally, we encourage employees to visit our travel website at https://ualr.edu/vcfa/home/resources/travel/ for helpful travel authorization and other related travel information.

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