The nature of work has evolved in recent years due to the rise of remote work and the gig economy's growth. And as part of that evolution, more people are collaborating with experts and stakeholders who are not necessarily their colleagues. They’re independent contractors, and as of 2021, there are approximately 23.9 million occasional independent contractors in the United States.
While some of this work is done virtually, many industries still operate in person and require travel to collaborate or complete tasks in person. When that happens, the employer or contracting officer is usually responsible for managing travel and expenses for the contractor.
Many employers need to partner with a corporate travel agency to provide travel services, but even when traveling for a federal government contract, the Navan Guest Invite is the perfect solution for contractor travel.
After all, the contracted worker generally needs to book air travel, a hotel room, and, sometimes, a rental car to reach their destination. There may also be additional expenditures for gas, meals, and incidental expenses paid for on a personal credit card. Even if the contractor is local, the employer is still responsible for the cost of travel to arrive at the site, which could include public transportation, tolls, or mileage reimbursement if the contractor is driving their own vehicle.
A future blog post will detail why it’s essential to create a policy specifically for independent contractor travel reimbursement that’s separate from the travel policy used for employees. What’s most important to note, however, is that every company and organization should have clear guidelines around reimbursement rates and policies for booking.
Government organizations rely on the federal travel regulations set by the U.S. General Services Administration, or GSA, which outlines all of its travel policies, per diem rates, and more at gsa.gov. The GSA is responsible for promoting management best practices and efficient operations through developing governmentwide policies—including the government’s travel program.
Federal per diem reimbursement rates consist of a maximum lodging allowance and a meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) component. For travel to most counties in the United States, the standard per diem rate is $157—$98 for lodging and $59 for meals and incidentals, though this changes annually. Currently, 316 counties have higher rates, given the higher cost of living and actual expenses in those areas.
While GSA sets per diem rates for most federal government travel, the Department of Defense sets rates for Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. Territories and Possessions. If a contract requires international travel, rates for foreign countries are set by the Department of State.
Here is an example of the FDIC’s travel reimbursement guidelines for government contracts. It states that independent contractors must be temporarily assigned at least 50 miles from their residence or office to be entitled to per diem reimbursement for business travel. It then goes on to detail limits and policies around air travel (coach class only, booked as far in advance as possible), car rentals (no larger than a mid-size vehicle), and hotel rooms (“not extravagant”).
For payments, government agencies can obtain charge cards to pay for official travel and travel-related expenses. The GSA SmartPay 3 program provides charge cards to U.S. government agencies through master contracts negotiated with major banks. There are currently 560+ Federal agencies, organizations, and Native American tribal governments participating in the program, spending $30 billion annually through 100 million transactions on more than three million cards.
The Navan Guest Invite solution streamlines the process of booking contractor travel—even for government agencies. It empowers those who book travel to invite contractors to book their travel arrangements while following company travel policies. The Guest Invite solution minimizes the back-and-forth necessary to book travel for non-employees and provides a better overall experience for both travel arrangers and guests.
By simplifying travel arrangements, Navan helps hosts and travel managers save time and energy while giving their guests and contractors the most streamlined experience with their company—no messy reimbursements or expense reports are needed for travel expenses.
Travel arrangers save time with straightforward custom travel policy and spend limit controls for expense reimbursement; contractors enjoy booking on a best-in-class platform backed by 24/7 travel agent support.
The Navan Guest Invite solution removes the complexity of arranging travel, manages costs for guest travel, gives contractors a great experience with their employer, and offers 24/7 support for guests, contractors, and teams.
Learn more about how the Navan Guest Invite solution works.