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  4. TRAVEL UPDATE 14-02

TRAVEL UPDATE 14-02 

 
TO: Agency Travel Coordinators
FROM: Simone McNeil, Chairman
DATE: December 5, 2013
SUBJECT: **EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY — Change in reimbursement rate for lodging in Cook County, effective December 2013 and January and February 2014

Please take immediate note of a change impacting state employee travel in Cook County, including within the Chicago Metro area.

As you know, the Governor’s Travel Control Board (the “Board”) periodically negotiates a uniform State rate with participating hotels in Cook County. Because the State Finance Act requires that any hotel charges incurred by State employees in Cook County is to be reimbursed at the maximum reimbursement rate established by the Federal General Services Administration (the “GSA”) for lodging in Cook County, the negotiated rate is intended to be consistent with the lowest rate the Board anticipates the GSA will establish for Cook County during the period the negotiated rate applies.

The negotiated State rate currently in effect for hotels in Cook County, including hotels in the Chicago Metro area, is $130.00 per night. At the time the Board negotiated this rate, $130.00 was the lowest rate set by the GSA for hotels in Cook County. However, the Board recently learned that the GSA has lowered the maximum lodging rate for Cook County hotels during the months of December 2013 and January and February 2014 to $128.00. Accordingly, the negotiated State rate of $130.00 is $2.00 above the maximum lodging rate allowed by State law for the months of December 2013 and January and February 2014.

In light of this change, beginning on December 9, 2013, employees and agencies will be required to follow the procedures for seeking reimbursement for excessive lodging charges incurred during those months, even when the employee stays at a hotel is offering the negotiated State rate of $130.00.

As a reminder, agencies may process requests for excessive lodging charges in Cook County without approval from the Board provided a minimum of five (5) Preferred hotels (i.e., hotels appearing in the latest Travel Guide for State Employees or subsequent Travel Updates) are contacted and none of the five (5) hotels contacted offered a rate of $128.00 or lower. (Upscale or deluxe properties do not count as contacted properties unless they appear on the Preferred Hotel Listing.) Lodging is only allowed at non-Preferred hotels if the rate offered is lower than the rates of Preferred hotels in the same area.

If a request for excessive lodging is determined to be in compliance, agencies may process the claim, provided:

  • a note is placed in the “Comments” field on the travel voucher to reflect agency approval of the excessive lodging amount; and
  • agencies maintain documentation of the justification for all excessive lodging approvals.

Again, the procedure outlined above is required only for lodging booked on or after December 9, 2013. In other words, employees who incurred lodging charges at the negotiated State rate of $130.00 between December 1 and December 9, 2013 will not be penalized or otherwise impacted by this Update. However, pursuant to 80 Ill. Admin. Code 2800.710, agency heads must submit ex post facto exception requests to the Board for any such charges incurred by their employees between December 1 and December 9, 2013.

We reiterate that the change to the GSA-mandated hotel rate in Cook County applies only during the months of December 2013 and January and February 2014. According to the GSA’s website, on March 1, 2014 the Federal Lodging rate for Cook County will increase to $186.00. Thus, it is anticipated that the State’s negotiated rate of $130.00 will again be under the GSA-mandated rate effective March 1, 2014.

As the appointed Travel Coordinator for your agency, it is your responsibility to disseminate this information to all appropriate personnel within your agency. If you have any questions, please contact Kelley Wells, State Travel Coordinator at (217) 782-4705 or by email at Kelley.Wells@illinois.gov.

cc:

Agency Travel Coordinators
Agency Heads
Agency Fiscal Officers
John D’Allesandro, Member
Amanda Sutton, Member