Saturday, January 16, 2016
Ever wonder where all the money goes as the government goes deeper into debt each day?
Traveling around the world on the U.S. taxpayers’ dime can be quite a profitable experience for federal employees, thanks to extremely generous per diem reimbursement rates set by the Department of State.
Generous maximum per diems mean travelers to most countries can afford to lodge in five-star hotels and spend more than $100 a day on meals and incidentals. They can also spend up to 300 percent of their max per diem rates with advanced approval, usually for special events like the G8 Summit, which can mean more than $1,700 per day for lodging and meals.
State Department officials calculate per diem rates after surveying U.S. government employees abroad on the cost of moderately priced hotels and restaurants. A department spokesperson declined to provide information on how the rates are calculated.
An analysis by the Daily Caller News Foundation found the per diem rates usually cover considerably more than required for moderately priced hotels and meals.
Federal employees staying in Mumbai, India, for instance, can spend up to $389 a night on lodging, plus $126 for meals and incidentals. That compares to the $130 average cost of a five-star hotel in Mumbai, according to the travel booking site Travelocity. TheDCNF couldn’t find a single five-star hotel in Mumbai that cost more than $275 on a Saturday night in February, one of Mumbai’s cooler months.
An average five-star hotel runs $130 a night in Istanbul, Turkey, according to Travelocity, but federal civil servants get $299 a night for hotels and another $131 for food and other incidentals, for a grant daily total of $430.
Federal workers going to Petersburg, Russia, where a five-star averages $155 on a weekend night in its warmest month of July, can spend up to $352 a night, plus $134 for meals and other expenses.
The average per diem rate for the more than 1,100 locations calculated by the State Department is $265, including lodging, meals and incidentals.
I once applied for a government job. At the time the government paid a little less than the private sector but job security was much greater and the benefits were better. It was considered a trade-off. Today, the pay and benefits of the typical government employee significantly exceed that of the typical private sector employee.
From the Cato Institute:
The study found that federal government workers earned an average of $84,153 in 2014, compared to the private sector’s average of $56,350. Cato based its findings on figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).But when adding in benefits pay for federal workers, the difference becomes more dramatic. Federal employees made $119,934 in total compensation last year, while private sector workers earned $67,246, a difference of over $52,000, or 78 percent.
From the Congressional Budget Office:
Nice work if you can get it.