How do I know
how much I can spend for meals when traveling overnight?

State Statute
81-1174 (link)
says that State employees will be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred. Therefore, State Accounting cannot place
restrictions on the dollar amount employees can spend for meals, but it is
expected that the expense incurred is reasonable. To help Agencies determine what is
reasonable, we recommend that they review the meal allowances published by the U.S.
General Services Administration which can be found at GSA meal guidelines. (The Federal maximum per diem standard rates
are only a guideline and should not be claimed.) There should be no alcoholic beverages
included in the reimbursable amount.

Agencies are
not required to restrict employees to a specific allowance for breakfast, lunch
and dinner, nor to a specific allowance per day unless they choose to do
so. Example: an agency has a travel policy that states
they expect employee’s expenses to be reasonable for the city to which they are
traveling. An employee leaves on Monday at
6:00 a.m. for overnight travel to a city where the GSA guideline is $55.00 per
day for meals and incidentals. On
Monday, the employee skips breakfast, and eats lunch and dinner and the total
cost for the day is $40. On Tuesday, the
employee eats breakfast, lunch and dinner and the total cost for the day is $60.00. On Wednesday the total cost is $75.00 and on
Thursday (employee flies home) the total cost is 25.00
for the day (returns before dinner). The
total expense for the entire trip for meals and incidentals is $200.00. Agencies may consider this as reasonable for
the four day trip because the total for the entire
trip is reasonable when compared to the GSA guidelines of $192.50 (GSA allows
75% of the per diem on travel days: $55
* 75% = $41.25; Day 1 = $41.25 Days 2 & 3 = $55.00 Day 4 = $41.25 for a
total of $192.50 ).