Once in a while, social media activism works.
Last week, we featured a story about an Air Force ruling forcing pilots attending long-term training to pay for their own lodging. The move put hundreds of pilots behind the 8-ball for thousands of dollars in lodging debt.
Commentary here argued that the ruling, issued by Pentagon financiers, was unlawful. Federal travel regulations give military members the right to make a lodging choice and be reimbursed up to the government rate. This is, in fact, the main lever used to put healthy pressure on base lodging operations to encourage strong performance and a quality lodging experience.
Today comes the news that those empowered in this situation agree with us and not their wayward rule clerks. Here’s an email from within the bowels of the squirrel cage.
Subject: **HOT** Members Elect to Stay Outside of Available Government Lodging on Long Term TDYs – Payments Importance: High
AFIMSC/ANGB/AFRC/Agencies please share with your respective organizations as all base level finance offices need to know this determination and way ahead.
Traveler scenario: Member goes TDY (long term – more than 30 days) to a base, the government lodging is available so there is no Non-Availability provided form lodging. The member elects to stay off base.
When filing the claim (or for supplementals/accruals) the fact that there was no Non-A was questioned. In a short term lodging scenario the JTR is pretty clear in that 2560D applies and the traveler will simply be limited to the on base lodging rate. In a long term TDY scenario though the flat rate per diem would normally be applicable, this caused the 4250B.1 “The lodging portion of flat rate per diem does not apply wen Gov’t Qtrs are available…” to be applied and resulted in the interpretation that FRPD is simply not payable (meaning no lodging payment).
In December the decision was made to deny lodging payments based on the above rationale. Since then the AFFSC has denied payments.
This scenario has garnered much discussion and has resulted in a different DTMO read than what was initially established (that 2560 does not apply in FRPD scenarios). The FRPD is simply not applicable for the lodging portion of per diem in this situation; the member that elected to not use available government quarters will now be reimbursed based on actual expense up to the on base lodging rate.
Just to be clear – This could result in a traveler spending less than the on-base rate and would therefore be “reimbursed” the rate they expensed only. This could also result in a traveler spending more than the on-base rate but would then be limited to the on-base rate. So at no point would they be in a flat rate lodging scenario in this situation as they chose to decline the available on-base lodging.
Any previously denied AFFSC based payments can be resubmitted via FMWF to AFFSC for supplementals. Similarly there is no need for a DOHA on the matter so please return those submissions to any applicable travelers as this payment scenario has been/will be rectified.
Any further questions on the matter should be routed thru your respective AFIMSC Detachment (or parent chain of command) to HQ AFIMSC (or the like) and up to AFAFO as applicable.
Xxxxxxxxxx Xxxxxxxx, CIV, USA
CDFM & DFMCP2 Air Force Travel Pay Policy & Procedures
There it is. Badly written, tries to save face, doesn’t exactly talk straight, but it’s clear enough. You guys reached out. We made a ruckus together. The Air Force had no choice but to remedy the situation. It did so swiftly, and without reservation … which is a positive reflection on acting Secretary Lisa Disbrow and General Goldfein.
Score one for common sense, and splash another idiotic idea.
When we stop seeing these ideas in the first place, we’ll know the culture has shifted.