Per Diem Entitlement While Aboard Activity-Owned Boats
B-193542: Jun 19, 1979
- Full Report:
A Navy commanding officer requested an opinion on the propriety of paying per diem allowances to certain civilian employees working aboard Government vessels. GAO is only permitted to render opinions on unpaid vouchers and the vouchers in this matter were already paid, but the problem is of a recurrent nature, so the agency provided a decision. The Naval Surface Weapons Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, owns and operates three boats, which, with their crews and other facility personnel, engage in research, development, and recovery projects within a 25-mile radius of their home port, returning within 24 hours. On the days for which per diem was claimed, the employees spent approximately 12 hours on the boats. Facility personnel working on the boats are generally assigned to the Afloat Group and expend the major part of their efforts on the boats. Vouchers furnished by the Navy show that travel orders were issued apparently for temporary duty travel with varying subsistence payments for meals. An employee traveling away from his designated duty post is entitled to a per diem allowance, but per diem is not allowed at an employee's permanent duty station where he expects or is expected to spend a greater part of his time. Here, the boats and Fort Lauderdale, the boats' port, were the permanent duty station, and the Government may not pay subsistence expenses or per diem to civilian employees at their official duty station. Therefore, per diem and subsistence would not be authorized in this case, and the issuance of travel orders and payment of subsistence to the employees was improper; collection action should be taken to recoup the erroneous payments.