Friday, June 18, 2010

EFM: Essentially, a Fraction of a Man

Reality can be harsh. And in the past couple of days, I've learned that for reimbursement purposes, the government doesn't think much of me. I've always had my suspicions - hell, it is kind of the basis of this blog - but I found out exactly how the government views Extra Filing Management (EFM) - 75%.

Beginning with the black-hole period between June 30 (pack-out) and July 9 (exodus day), we will be existing in a state of purgatory sans a home. During this time, the government will be boarding us (thanks, taxpayers!) based on a rate in which Natalie counts as a whole person, and I count as 75% of a person.

And as an extra slap in the face, on July 1, the government will be reducing this per-diem reimbursement significantly. So June 30 will be a good day for us financially, but the remaining week or so will be a little bit tighter.

This is as good of a time as any other, I suppose, to point out the errors in the government's per diem philosophy. It is so faulty, in fact, that the government actually agrees with me.

When we check out of our hotel and start driving on July 9, the reimbursement/per diem policy changes.

In D.C., we get a lump sum per diem that covers food and shelter, which is determined on the rate that Natalie is a whole person and I'm only 75% of her. This is known as the predeparture subsistence expenses allowance, which is a piece of the greater foreign transfer allowance.

But as soon as we started heading in the direction of Hermosillo, we get switched to a second reimbursement rate, or as I like to call it, the one that actually makes sense. This is supposed to be covered in the Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR) section 925, but it isn't done very well, if at all. I'm not too sure what I'm reading in that section as the one thing worse than the government's use of acronyms is its use of jargon.

Instead of charging taxpayers for unknown lodging expenses, we have to keep hotel receipts and get reimbursed for actual expenditures. And then we also get a food per diem in which Natalie is a whole person and I get to eat 75% of what she eats. Though, when it comes to eating, Natalie is more like 25% of a person and I'm more in the range of 100% to 125%.

Fortunately, I'm older than 12, or I wouldn't count as a person. And, in the same vein, it is beneficial that we don't have any children. Anyone older than 12 after the first 75% of a person only counts as 50% of a person.


  1. oh, man. I'm keeping this info from my husband.

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  3. Forgot to change the link in the disclaimer. Sorry here is the corrected version.

    It’s Friday, and that means that the Weekly State Department Blog Roundup is up – and you’re on it!

    Here is the link:

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  4. I wasn't on my husband's orders yet when he had to leave for post, so I didn't get anything at all. *sigh* I was employed, though, so I guess I can't complain.

    Maybe they give you 25% less on the theory that you two are married, so you're sharing a hotel room. But then why would kids get nothing, and why would your food rates be different when you're on the road? It would make more sense to me if they just gave everyone the same amount, even if it meant less for some people, instead of this bizarre tiered system.

  5. Um, how can you possibly complain about this? All the five star hotels in DC will charge you whatever the govt rate is - June 30 or July 1st. My advice - check yourselves into the Ritz and live large your last week - if you want to save $$, two words: Dive Bars.

  6. Not complaining about the money, just the way they calculate it. Actually, my only complaint about the money is that the government is giving it out a little too freely. As you pointed out, the amount covers most all of the nicest hotels around, and we'd still pocket a little in the process. I hate government waste, even when they are wasting on me (not that I'm sending the extra money back...just saying).

    And, we are limited by the fact that not all hotels let dogs stay.

  7. Hi David!

    I wanted to pop in introduce myself.

    I have been reading your blog for a short time now, and just yesterday found out that my dear friend is your aunt! What a small world!

    She thinks very highly of you and Natalie.

    Best wishes in Hermosillo.