New law lets federal employees expense Uber & Lyft

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed a law that ensures federal employees traveling on government business can be reimbursed for using Uber, Lyft and other transportation network operators.

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) introduced the Modernizing Government Travel Act in January, and it passed the House that month. This month, the bill cleared the Senate.

Already, the U.S. General Services Administration, which oversees civilian travel programs, had given federal agencies the go-ahead to reimburse for transportation network companies, according to a July 2016 bulletin. Then, the GSA permitted federal agencies to use such operators "when advantageous to the government and permissible under local laws and ordinances."

An April Senate report noted that this year's act "codifies and reinforces the GSA's existing policy to give certainty to agency officials regarding what types of travel can be reimbursed."

The GSA "has historically reimbursed Federal employees for official travel on traditional modes of transportation like a train or taxi cab," according to the Senate report. As new transportation options have proliferated, however, "Federal employees have lacked certainty about whether they can access these platforms for official travel."

The law also affords reimbursement for other transportation options used for government travel. The Senate report referenced bike-sharing programs, for example. The law also clears any other "innovative mobility technology company," defined as an organization "that applies technology to expand and enhance available transportation choices, better manages demand for transportation services, or provides alternatives to driving alone."

The law also added requirements for reporting on travel. Each year, the head of each federal agency must submit to the GSA administrator a report covering the agency's total travel spend, average trip cost and duration and purposes for employee travel. Those reports will be made public.

Source: Business Travel News
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