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New law ensures U.S. federal employees to be reimbursed for traveling with Uber & Lyft

American federal employees using government travel can be repaid expenses incurred for using ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Even though practically nothing changes for officials in this regard, the right to reimbursement has now been signed into law.

Travel for business purposes reimbursed for federal employees

The General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees civilian travel programs, ‘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 grown over the years, ‘federal employees have lacked certainty about whether they can access these platforms for official travel.’

The law that President Donald Trump signed, also guarantees reimbursement for other transportation options used for government business. Bike-sharing programs, for example, are referred to in the Senate report as being recognized and allowed for compensation. Any other innovative mobility technology company, that ‘applies technology to expand and enhance available transportation choices,’ is cleared for reimbursement.

However, the law also added requirements for reporting on travel. Every year, the head of the federal agency must submit a report, which will be made public, covering the agency’s total travel expenditure to the GSA administrator. The average trip cost, duration, and purposes for employee travel also need to be outlined in the report.

In July, the GSA already issued a clarification of the administration policy that allows federal employees to be reimbursed for the use of new transportation network companies (TNC). 'Currently, the regulations allow for federal travelers to use TNCs,' the GSA stated. 'The simple answer is that: yes, as a federal employee traveling on official business, you can be reimbursed for rideshares following your agency procedures and local laws.'

Representative Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) introduced the Modernizing Government Travel Act in January, and it almost immediately passed the House. This month, the bill cleared the Senate and was signed into law by the President.

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