Senator Collins Urges Armed Services Committee to Restore Long-Term Temporary Duty Reimbursement for Shipyard Workers

Senator Collins: ‘I believe that failure to permanently change this policy would place our nation’s Naval fleet readiness at risk, harm mission-essential shipyard workers, and end up costing more money"

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins sent a letter to Senators John McCain and Jack Reed, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to express her support for permanently changing a Department of Defense (DoD) policy that significantly reduced the per diem allowance for public shipyard workers who volunteer for long-term temporary duty (TDY).

“As you finalize your work on the fiscal year (FY) 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, I write in strong support of permanently changing the Department of Defense’s (DoD) long-term temporary duty (TDY) policy under the Joint Travel Regulation (JTR) as it applies to civilian public naval shipyard workers,” Senator Collins wrote.   “While I understand the need to scrutinize costs carefully in order to eliminate waste, I believe that failure to permanently change this policy would place our nation’s Naval fleet readiness at risk, harm mission-essential shipyard workers, and end up costing more money.”

“We owe our dedicated shipyard workers, who make great sacrifices on our behalf, the assurance that they will not be responsible for expenses that should be paid for by the government,” Senator Collins continued.

The Navy uses long-term TDY assignments at shipyards to perform critical ship maintenance and repair work.  These assignments help the Navy to comply with their policy of performing ship repairs within six months at the ship’s homeport.

Senator Collins has consistently advocated for a permanent change to the DoD’s policy to ensure that per diem and lodging rates reflect actual costs and workers are not forced to pay for expenses out of pocket.  Last month, Senator Collins cosponsored legislation that would mandate this policy change.  Senator Collins also cosigned a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in February seeking a waiver of the policy for civilian Naval shipyard workers.

Click HERE for a signed copy of Senator Collins’ letter.  The full text of the letter is below:

 

Dear Chairman McCain and Ranking Member Reed:

As you finalize your work on the fiscal year (FY) 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, I write in strong support of permanently changing the Department of Defense’s (DoD) long-term temporary duty (TDY) policy under the Joint Travel Regulation (JTR) as it applies to civilian public naval shipyard workers.  While I understand the need to scrutinize costs carefully in order to eliminate waste, I believe that failure to permanently change this policy would place our nation’s Naval fleet readiness at risk, harm mission-essential shipyard workers, and end up costing more money.

According to Admiral William Hilarides, Commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, the reduced reimbursement rate for long-term TDY is currently jeopardizing the ability of public naval shipyards to effectively and efficiently conduct Navy ship maintenance, modernization, and repair.  Additionally, the policy is projected to increase end costs of projects, which undermines the intent of implementing the change.     

The Department’s approach is also harming our shipyard workers, who often conduct long-term TDY assignments.  I am concerned that this new policy may reduce the number of shipyard workers who are willing to volunteer to perform long-term TDY travel as the reduced rates are insufficient to cover all TDY expenses.  We owe our dedicated shipyard workers, who make great sacrifices on our behalf, the assurance that they will not be responsible for expenses that should be paid for by the government. 

I appreciate your willingness to consider this request and look forward to working with you to resolve this issue.