Department of Defense

Reduce Excessive Travel M&IE

As a federal employee, whenever I travel on official business, I am granted compensation for my meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) at a rate usually set by GSA, but also set by DoD or DoS in some jurisdictions. If I do not spend up to the compensation rate, I pocket any excess (untaxed I might add). At least this is how it works in DoD.


I have rarely ever spent up to the M&IE rates, despite generally eating well. On a recent trip to Germany, I was paid over $140 each day and spent about a third of it averaged over the course of the trip, despite eating very well.


There are several changes to this process which could save the government money:

1) Reevaluate the rates to ensure that they are reasonable.

2) Don’t compensate travelers for breakfast if it is provided for free at their hotel (if a meal is provided at a funded conference the meal’s compensation is currently excluded, but not at a hotel)

3) Include in the travel voucher process a field to specify the amount of M&IE expenses which were actually incurred.

3a) It would be heavily burdensome to track receipts for every meal, so a ‘good faith estimate’ could be used.

3b) Any excess M&IE would be split between the traveler and the government. Splitting the excess portion would encourage the employee to control their costs, while saving the government a significant amount of money compared to the current system.

3c) I would suggest the ratio of the split to be 75% of the excess to the government and 25% to the traveler.



On my recent trip to Germany I was granted about $2,500 for M&IE over about 2.5 weeks. I think I actually spent about $900 and thus pocketed about $1,600. This is not reasonable.


By my calculations,

Suggestion 2 alone would have saved the government about $300.

Suggestion 3 alone would have saved $1,200.

Both suggestion 2 and 3 would have saved the government $1,275.

I agree to have my idea, not my name or information, posted online. YES


Idea No. 5334