Q & A Session – How Many Times can a Duty Station Change in a Year?


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


Can a fire lookout be considered a duty station? How many times can a duty station be changed in a year? When I work at a work center early season, I am not paid mileage or per diem. Then, when I go to the lookout, I am told that it is my duty station. I believe my duty station changes so I will not be paid per diem or mileage.


I do not believe your duty station has been changed, as a duty station can comprise a local area rather than just a particular office or lookout post. A fire lookout could certainly be a duty station, but to determine your official duty station, you should review your most recent SF-50. The location listed on your SF-50 is your official duty station.

That being the case, per diem is authorized when you: a) perform official travel away from your official station, or other areas defined by your agency; b) incur per diem expenses while performing official travel; and c) are in a travel status for more than 12 hours. 41 C.F.R. §301-11.1 (emphasis added). I doubt you are entitled to per diem, but it is difficult to be sure without knowing the distance between these work stations.


You may be entitled to mileage, though. An employee who must use a private vehicle for local travel is entitled to reimbursement for travel expenses under rates established by the General Services Administration. The current rate of reimbursement rate is $0.51 per mile when no government vehicle is available, or $0.19 where a government-owned vehicle is available for use but an employee prefers to use a privately owned vehicle.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

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About Author

Debra Roth

Debra L. Roth is a partner at the law firm Shaw Bransford & Roth, a federal employment law firm in Washington, D.C. She is general counsel to the Senior Executives Association and the Federal Managers Association, host of the “FEDtalk” program on Federal News Radio, and a regular contributor to Federal News Radio’s “Federal Drive” morning show. Email your legal questions to lawyer@federaltimes.com.

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