[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 211 (Thursday, October 31, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 65210-65212]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-26014]


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GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION

41 CFR Parts 301-11, 301-74, Appendix E to Chapter 301, 304-3, and 
304-5

[FTR Amendment 2013-01, FTR Case 2012-301; Docket 2012-0011, Sequence 
1]
RIN 3090-AJ27


Federal Travel Regulation; Removal of Conference Lodging 
Allowance Provisions

AGENCY: Office of Government-wide Policy (OGP), General Services 
Administration (GSA).

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: GSA is amending the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) by 
removing the conference lodging allowance reimbursement option for 
employees on temporary duty (TDY) travel. This case is included in 
GSA's retrospective review of existing regulations under Executive 
Order 13563. Additional information is located in GSA's retrospective 
review available at: www.gsa.gov/improvingregulations.

DATES: Effective: October 31, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For clarification of content, contact 
Mr. Cy Greenidge, Program Analyst, Office of Government-wide Policy, at 
202-219-2349. Please cite FTR Amendment 2013-01; FTR case 2012-301. 
Contact the Regulatory Secretariat (MVCB), Attn: Ms. Hada Flowers, 1800 
F Street NW., Washington, DC 20405, 202-501-4755, for information 
pertaining to status or publication schedules.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

A. Background

    GSA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on October 
23, 2012, (77 FR 64791). The proposed rule recommended the removal of 
the conference lodging allowance option from the FTR. While the 
proposed rule indicated the conference lodging allowance allows 
travelers to exceed the lodging rate by up to 25 percent when the 
conference is sponsored by a Federal agency, this allowance also can 
apply to

[[Page 65211]]

travelers attending non-Government sponsored conferences. The proposed 
rule also incorrectly stated that an agency official must approve 
actual expense allowance requests, but there is no such mandate for the 
use of the conference lodging allowance. In actuality, the Government 
agency sponsoring a Government conference or the travel approving 
official of a Government employee attending a non-Government sponsored 
conference must authorize reimbursement of the conference lodging 
allowance when lodging is not available at the established lodging per 
diem rate.
    The public had 60 calendar days to comment on the proposed rule. 
GSA made no significant changes to the substance of this final rule.

B. Analysis of Public Comments

    Comments: Two respondents expressed support for the proposed rule 
by indicating that the conference lodging allowance should be removed 
promptly and that agencies need to have a way to limit and keep track 
of how travel dollars are spent.
    Response: Although no response is required, GSA appreciates all 
comments.
    Comments: One respondent stated that too many Federal employees 
attend conferences wasting taxpayer dollars instead of using 
alternatives (e.g., teleconferencing, video conferencing, webinars).
    Response: Agencies should always ensure and justify that travel is 
necessary to accomplish the agency mission, as well as consider the use 
of technologies (e.g., teleconferencing, video conferencing, webinars) 
in lieu of travel.
    Comments: Three respondents did not want the conference lodging 
allowance provision removed from the FTR. They indicated that the 
proposed rule did not take into account additional transportation costs 
that might occur if employees lodged away from the conference site; 
that removal of the conference lodging allowance would be 
extraordinarily burdensome for little or no financial benefit in terms 
of administrative costs; and that the removal of the conference lodging 
allowance will result in increasing agency travel expenditures for 
transportation.
    Response: This rule amends FTR section 301-74.6 by indicating that 
when lodging is not available at the applicable per diem rate, 
travelers should construct a cost comparison, including all travel-
related costs of the available options. If the cost comparison shows 
that obtaining lodging at the conference facility results in the lowest 
total travel costs, the agency may authorize actual expense 
reimbursement. Agencies must develop internal policies concerning when 
to authorize this method of reimbursement. The preamble to the proposed 
rule was incorrect about approval not being mandatory when using the 
conference lodging allowance; however, this has been addressed in the 
preamble of this final rule.
    Comments: One respondent indicated that this rule would make it 
difficult for the hospitality industry to meet the lodging needs of 
Federal conference attendees.
    Response: Removing the conference lodging allowance provision will 
allow employees to spend taxpayer dollars more prudently when traveling 
for the Federal Government. While industry may offer rates as it sees 
fit, travelers should always look for hotels that are at or below per 
diem when they are on official travel.
    Comments: One respondent expressed frustration with their E-Gov 
Travel System when booking hotels and the costs of contract city pair 
flights.
    Response: The purpose of this rule is to remove the conference 
lodging allowance provisions from the FTR. Therefore, the comments 
about electronic systems and contract carrier prices are beyond the 
scope of this final rule.

C. Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563

    Executive Orders (E.O.s) 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess 
all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives, and if 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). E.O. 
13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, 
of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. 
This is not a significant regulatory action, and therefore, was not 
subject to review under Section 6(b) of E.O. 12866, Regulatory Planning 
and Review, dated September 30, 1993.

D. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities within the meaning of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601, et seq. This final rule is 
also exempt from the Administrative Procedure Act pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 
553(a)(2) because it applies to agency management or personnel.

E. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act does not apply because the changes to 
the FTR do not impose recordkeeping or information collection 
requirements, or the collection of information from offerors, 
contractors, or members of the public that require the approval of OMB 
under 44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.

F. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This final rule is also exempt from Congressional review prescribed 
under 5 U.S.C. 801. This final rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 
804.

List of Subjects in 41 CFR Parts 301-11, 301-74, Appendix E to 
Chapter 301, 304-3, and 304-5

    Acceptance of travel and related expenses from non-Federal sources, 
Administrative practices and procedures, Government employees, Travel 
and Per Diem expenses.

    Dated: August 29, 2013.
Dan Tangherlini,
Administrator of General Services.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 
5701-5709 and 31 U.S.C. 1353, GSA amends 41 CFR parts 301-11, 301-74, 
Appendix E to Chapter 301, 304-3, and 304-5 as set forth below:

PART 301-11--PER DIEM EXPENSES

0
1. The authority citation for 41 CFR part 301-11 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  5 U.S.C. 5707.


Sec.  301-11.5  [Amended]

0
2. Amend Sec.  301-11.5 by--
0
a. Adding the word ``or'' at the end of paragraph (b);
0
b. Removing paragraph (c); and
0
c. Redesignating paragraph (d) as paragraph (c).

PART 301-74--CONFERENCE PLANNING

0
3. The authority citation for 41 CFR part 301-74 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 5707.


0
4. Revise Sec.  301-74.6 to read as follows:


Sec.  301-74.6  What can we do if we cannot find an appropriate 
conference facility at the chosen locality per diem rate?

    While it is always desirable to obtain lodging facilities within 
the established lodging portion of the per diem rate for the chosen 
locality, it may not always be possible. In those instances when

[[Page 65212]]

lodging is not available at the applicable per diem rate, travelers 
should construct a cost comparison of all associated costs, including 
round-trip ground transportation, between finding lodging at the 
applicable per diem rate away from the conference locality and using 
the actual expense method at the conference locality as prescribed in 
Subpart D of Part 301-11 of this chapter.


Sec. Sec.  301-74.7 through 301-74.10, 301-74.12, 301.74-22, and 301-
74.23  [Removed]

0
5. Remove Sec. Sec.  301-74.7 through 301-74.10, 301-74.12, 301.74-22, 
and 301-74.23.


Sec. Sec.  301-74.11, 301-74.13 through 301-74.19, and 301-74.24 
through 301-74.26  [Redesignated as Sec. Sec.  301-74.7, 301-74.8 
through 301-74.14, and 301-74.22 through 301-74.24]

0
6. Redesignate Sec. Sec.  301-74.11, 301-74.13 through 301-74.19, and 
301-74.24 through 301-74.26 as Sec. Sec.  301-74.7, 301-74.8 through 
301-74.14, and 301-74.22 through 301-74.24, respectively. A 
redesignation table is set forth below for the convenience of the 
reader:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Redesignated
                    Old section No.                        section No.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
301-74.11.............................................          301-74.7
301-74.13.............................................          301-74.8
301-74.14.............................................          301-74.9
301-74.15.............................................         301-74.10
301-74.16.............................................         301-74.11
301-74.17.............................................         301-74.12
301-74.18.............................................         301-74.13
301-74.19.............................................         301-74.14
301-74.24.............................................         301-74.22
301-74.25.............................................         301-74.23
301-74.26.............................................         301-74.24
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec.  301-74.9  [Amended]

0
7. Amend newly redesignated Sec.  301-74.9 in the first sentence by 
removing ``Sec.  301-74.15'' and adding ``Sec.  301-74.10'' in its 
place.


Sec.  301-74.10  [Amended]

0
8. Amend the heading to newly redesignated Sec.  301-74.10 by removing 
``Sec.  301-74.14'' and adding ``Sec.  301-74.9'' in its place.

0
9. Revise newly designated Sec.  301-74.11 to read as follows:


Sec.  301-74.11  What must be included in any advertisement or 
application form relating to conference attendance?

    Any advertisement or application for attendance at a conference 
described in Sec.  301-74.9 must include notice of the prohibition 
against using a non-FEMA approved place of public accommodation for 
conferences. In addition, any executive agency, as defined in 5 U.S.C. 
105, shall notify all non-Federal entities to which it provides Federal 
funds of this prohibition.


Sec.  301-74.12  [Amended]

0
10. Amend newly redesignated Sec.  301-74.12 by removing from the Note 
``Sec.  301-74.17(a)'' and adding ``Sec.  301-74.12(a)'' in its place.

0
11. Revise newly designated Sec.  301-74.22 to read as follows:


Sec.  301-74.22  When should actual expense reimbursement be authorized 
for conference attendees?

    You may authorize actual expenses under Sec.  301-11.300 of this 
chapter when the applicable lodging rate is inadequate.

Appendix E, Chapter 301 [Amended]

0
12. Amend Appendix E to Chapter 301 by--
0
a. Under the heading ``Terms'' by removing the paragraph ``Conference 
lodging allowance: The rate that is up to 25 percent above the 
established lodging per diem rate.'', and
0
b. Under the heading ``Notification,'' subheading ``Announcement and/or 
Invitations,'' by removing the paragraph ``Notice that conference 
lodging allowance applies if applicable.''

PART 304-3--EMPLOYEE RESPONSIBILITY

0
13. The authority citation for 41 CFR part 304-3 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  5 U.S.C. 5707; 31 U.S.C. 1353.


Sec.  304-3.11  [Amended]

0
14. Amend Sec.  304-3.11--
0
a. In the heading by removing ``(per diem, actual expense, or 
conference lodging)'' and adding ``(per diem or actual expense)'' in 
its place; and
0
b. In the introductory paragraph by removing ``(per diem, actual 
expense, or conference lodging)'' and adding ``(per diem or actual 
expense)'' in its place.

PART 304-5--AGENCY RESPONSIBILITIES

0
15. The authority citation for 41 CFR part 304-5 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 5707; 31 U.S.C. 1353.


Sec.  304-5.4  [Amended]

0
16. Amend Sec.  304-5.4--
0
a. In the heading by removing ``(per diem, actual expense, or 
conference lodging)'' and adding ``(per diem or actual expense)'' in 
its place; and
0
b. In paragraph (a), in the introductory paragraph by removing ``(per 
diem, actual expense, or conference lodging)'' and adding ``(per diem 
or actual expense)'' in its place.


[FR Doc. 2013-26014 Filed 10-30-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6820-14-P