NAO 202-534C: Commuted Subsistence Allowances

Issued 04/20/2022; Effective 04/20/2022; Reviewed Last: 04/20/2022


The purpose of this order is to delegate authority and to detail the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) policy and procedure for the payment of commuted subsistence allowances to civilian professional mariners (wage marine job series) aboard NOAA ships.


Per Title 5 of the United States Code (U.S.C.), the pay of wage marine employees is fixed and adjusted per prevailing rates and practices in the maritime industry as nearly as is consistent with the public interest. (5 U.S.C. § 5348 (a)). In keeping with this concept, meals and lodging, or -payment in lieu thereof, are provided to ship employees in accordance with the rates and practices determined to be current in the industry. General schedule, Commerce Alternative Pay System (CAPS), or wage grade employees aboard NOAA ships are entitled to appropriate allowances as determined by the NOAA “Travel Handbook.” NOAA Corps officers will be paid allowances in accordance with Title 37 of U.S. Code, “Pay and Allowances of the Uniformed Services,” and therefore are beyond the scope of this order.


.01 Ship Employees: Employees responsible for operations and/or maintenance of NOAA ships or ship communications, who are not covered by the general schedule, the CAPS, or any wage grade pay system, and who are therefore paid under authority of 5 U.S.C. § 5348. Uniformed service members, including officers in the NOAA Commissioned Corps, are not ship employees for the purpose of this order.

.02 Commuted subsistence allowances: Meals and lodging, or payment in lieu thereof, payable to ship employees in accordance with rates and conditions current in the applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).


.01 When suitable temporary government lodging and dining facilities are not available aboard ships or on shore, civilian professional mariners who are assigned to full operational status to the ship's complement will receive a daily commuted subsistence allowance on a seven-day week basis. The allowance for meals will be paid at the rate specified in the applicable CBA, or negotiated amendment, for each meal with breakfast, lunch, and dinner equaling one day. Lodging allowance will be paid at the rate specified in the applicable CBA, or negotiated amendment, in units of full days when the commanding officer is unable to arrange other suitable lodging, making it necessary for the employee to be placed in lodging ashore.

.02 The purpose of the commuted subsistence allowance is to defray an unusual expense incurred by the employee. Therefore, if an expense is not incurred, payment is not made. In no case should the employee benefit financially as a result of a commuted subsistence allowance. Thus, NOAA should provide a commuted subsistence allowance only where appropriate.

  1. When government lodging is not made available, an employee who maintains a residence for his or her dependents at his or her assigned port will not be entitled to the lodging allowance and will only be entitled to an allowance for those meals normally eaten aboard the ship.
  2. While in port, payment of the commuted subsistence allowance, or the provision of lodging and meals, will only be made to an employee who would have been at the location of the ship to take advantage of government-furnished rooms and/or meals. If an employee does not normally sleep and/or eat aboard ship during off duty hours, he or she will not be entitled to commuted subsistence allowance or to lodging allowance and/or meals.

.03 Commuted subsistence allowances will be authorized at the rate specified within the applicable CBA after employee signature is obtained acknowledging accuracy of the claim. All commuted subsistence claims are transmitted to the shore side timekeeper from the ship’s Executive Officer (or designee) as part of Time and Attendance submissions and processed through WebTA with payroll.


.01 The authority to grant payment for commuted subsistence allowances within established regulations has been delegated to the Director of the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) and the Deputy Director for Operations of OMAO in Delegation of Authority (DoA) Transmittal Number 86. The OMAO Deputy Director for Operations may delegate authority to the Director of Marine Operations. The Director of Marine Operations may delegate authority to the commanding officers of NOAA ships and to officials at the Marine Centers. The redelegation of authority must be made in writing with copies forwarded to the Director of OMAO and Office of the Chief Administrative Officer (OCAO).


.01 “Collective Bargaining Agreement Between NOAA OMAO and District No. 1 – PCD, MEBA (AFL-CIO)”

.02 “Agreement Between National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of NOAA Corps Operations, Atlantic and Pacific Marine Centers and International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots, ILA (AFL-CIO)”

.03 “Negotiated Agreement Between National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Marine Operations Center and Seafarers International Union (SIU), Atlantic, Gulf, Lakes and Inland Waters (AFL-CIO)”.

.04 Delegation of Authority (Transmittal Number 86) from the NOAA, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere to “The Director of the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and the Deputy Director for Operations, OMAO, is delegated the authority to provide NOAA policy and procedures for the payment of commuted subsistence allowances for NOAA vessel employees”, July 30, 2014.

.05 OMAO Procedure 1202-03 - Wage Marine Commuted Subsistence Payment


.01 The NOAA Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) signs because OMAO does have a delegation of authority for the NAO.

.02 This order supersedes NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 202-534A, dated February 4, 1991.

An electronic copy of this order will be posted on the NOAA Office of the Chief Administrative Officer website under the NOAA Administrative Issuances Section.



Chief Administrative Officer

Office of Primary Interest:

Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO)