A-10623, OCTOBER 14, 1925, 5 COMP. GEN. 255

A-10623: Oct 14, 1925

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THE EXPENSE VOUCHERS ARE EXAMINED AND APPROVED BY THE TRAVELER'S OFFICIAL SUPERIOR WHO SHOULD BE THE OFFICER WHO WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE ISSUED THE ORDERS. WILL NOT BE OBJECTED TO AS A GENERAL PROCEDURE. THE RIGHT IS RESERVED. STATE FURTHER: GENERAL TRAVEL ORDERS ARE ISSUED ONLY TO RESPONSIBLE OFFICIALS. EMPLOYEES WHOSE DUTIES ARE OF SUCH A NATURE THAT TRAVELING UPON THEIR OWN INITIATIVE IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY TO THE EFFECTIVE PROSECUTION OF THE WORK. ALTHOUGH THESE TRAVEL ORDERS HAVE AUTHORIZED TRAVEL FROM HEADQUARTERS "TO AND FROM SUCH POINTS IN THE UNITED STATES AS MAY BE NECESSARY IN CONNECTION WITH THE WORK. " WHEN IT BECOMES NECESSARY FOR A PARTICULAR OFFICIAL OR EMPLOYEE TO PERFORM UNUSUAL TRAVEL HIS TRAVEL ORDER IS SUPPLEMENTED BY A LETTER.

A-10623, OCTOBER 14, 1925, 5 COMP. GEN. 255

TRAVELING EXPENSES - BLANKET OR GENERAL TRAVEL ORDERS BLANKET OR GENERAL TRAVEL ORDERS IF ISSUED ONLY TO SUPERVISORY OFFICERS REGULARLY OPERATING FROM FIELD HEADQUARTERS OVER PRESCRIBED AREAS, THE TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF SAID AREAS BEING AUTHORIZED BY SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS AND AUTHORITY, AND THE EXPENSE VOUCHERS ARE EXAMINED AND APPROVED BY THE TRAVELER'S OFFICIAL SUPERIOR WHO SHOULD BE THE OFFICER WHO WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE ISSUED THE ORDERS, WILL NOT BE OBJECTED TO AS A GENERAL PROCEDURE. THE RIGHT IS RESERVED, HOWEVER, BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT TO REQUIRE EXPLANATION OF DOUBTFUL ITEMS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, OCTOBER 14, 1925:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF JULY 25, 1925, REQUESTING DECISION UPON THE QUESTION OF THE RIGHT OF EMPLOYEES TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVELING EXPENSES INCURRED UNDER GENERAL TRAVEL ORDERS AUTHORIZING TRAVEL TO "SUCH POINTS IN THE UNITED STATES AS MAY BE NECESSARY IN CONNECTION WITH THE WORK UNDER YOUR (THEIR) DIRECTION.' YOU REFER PARTICULARLY TO THE RECLAMATION BUREAU, CITING AS EXAMPLES, THE CHIEF ENGINEER, THE DISTRICT COUNSEL, AND TRAVELING AUDITORS OF THAT SERVICE, AND STATE FURTHER:

GENERAL TRAVEL ORDERS ARE ISSUED ONLY TO RESPONSIBLE OFFICIALS, AND EMPLOYEES WHOSE DUTIES ARE OF SUCH A NATURE THAT TRAVELING UPON THEIR OWN INITIATIVE IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY TO THE EFFECTIVE PROSECUTION OF THE WORK; AND ALTHOUGH THESE TRAVEL ORDERS HAVE AUTHORIZED TRAVEL FROM HEADQUARTERS "TO AND FROM SUCH POINTS IN THE UNITED STATES AS MAY BE NECESSARY IN CONNECTION WITH THE WORK," WHEN IT BECOMES NECESSARY FOR A PARTICULAR OFFICIAL OR EMPLOYEE TO PERFORM UNUSUAL TRAVEL HIS TRAVEL ORDER IS SUPPLEMENTED BY A LETTER, TELEGRAM, OR OTHER SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS. FURTHERMORE, HIS CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES IS EXAMINED AND APPROVED BY AN OFFICIAL SUPERIOR. IN THIS WAY EACH TRIP IS EITHER SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED IN ADVANCE OR SUBSEQUENTLY RATIFIED BY AN OFFICIAL TO WHOM PROPER AUTHORITY HAS BEEN DELEGATED.

OF THOSE OFFICIALS WHO ARE GIVEN GENERAL TRAVEL ORDERS PERMITTING THEM TO TRAVEL ANYWHERE IN THE UNITED STATES, TRAVEL IS A PART OF THEIR DUTIES, AND IT IS AS ESSENTIAL THAT THEY BE GIVEN DISCRETION AND RESPONSIBILITY IN THIS FUNCTION AS IN OTHER PHASES OF THEIR WORK. ONLY GENERAL SUPERVISION IS EXERCISED OVER THE WORK IN THEIR JURISDICTION BY THE HEAD OF THE BUREAU, AND IT NATURALLY FOLLOWS THAT IF AN INDIVIDUAL OFFICER IS SUFFICIENTLY TRUSTWORTHY, CAPABLE, AND EFFICIENT TO BE ENTRUSTED WITH THE CONSTRUCTION, OPERATION, CARE, OR OTHER WORK, OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF IRRIGATION WORKS, HE SHOULD HAVE GENERAL AUTHORITY TO PERFORM SUCH TRAVEL AS IS NECESSARY IN THE PROPER PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTIES. OBVIOUSLY IT WOULD BE IMPRACTICABLE IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO COVER EACH BIT OF TRAVEL WITH A SPECIAL TRAVEL ORDER APPROVED IN ADVANCE OF NECESSARY AND FREQUENTLY HURRIED TRAVEL. THEREFORE AN ARRANGEMENT WOULD HAVE TO BE MADE WHEREBY THOSE IN THE FIELD WHO MUST TRAVEL COULD HAVE THE ASSURANCE THAT IF THEY PERFORMED TRAVEL THE NECESSARY AUTHORITY WOULD FOLLOW. THIS WOULD HAVE THE SAME EFFECT AS THOUGH A GENERAL TRAVEL ORDER HAD BEEN ISSUED, AS THE PROCEDURE UNDER A SPECIAL ORDER WOULD, OF NECESSITY, HAVE TO BE A PERFUNCTORY ONE. YEARS OF EXPERIENCE HAVE DEMONSTRATED THE FACT THAT BROAD GENERAL AUTHORITY IS NOT MISPLACED WHEN SUCH AUTHORITY CLOTHES RESPONSIBLE OFFICERS. WHETHER UNDER GENERAL OR SPECIAL TRAVEL ORDER ALL TRAVEL PERFORMED IS DETAILED IN THE EXPENSE ACCOUNT COMING TO YOUR OFFICE, AND WHETHER THE TRAVEL IS AUTHORIZED BY GENERAL OR SPECIAL ORDER APPEARS TO BE AN ADMINISTRATIVE MATTER FOR THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OR BUREAU TO DECIDE.

IT APPEARS THAT THE DOUBT AS TO THE VALIDITY OF THE GENERAL TRAVEL ORDERS ISSUED BY YOUR DEPARTMENT AROSE FROM THE WORDING OF THE DECISION OF APRIL 18, 1925, A-8827, IN WHICH WAS CONSIDERED TRAVEL PERFORMED BY AN EMPLOYEE OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE WITHOUT ANY TRAVEL ORDERS WHATSOEVER, RELYING UPON THE WORDING OF HER ORIGINAL APPOINTMENT. THE FACTS IN THAT CASE, HOWEVER, WERE ESSENTIALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE SITUATION PRESENTED BY YOUR SUBMISSION.

THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1875, 18 STAT. 452, PROVIDES:

* * * ONLY ACTUAL TRAVELING-EXPENSES SHALL BE ALLOWED TO ANY PERSON HOLDING EMPLOYMENT OR APPOINTMENT UNDER THE UNITED STATES, * * * AND ALL ALLOWANCES FOR MILEAGES AND TRANSPORTATION IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT ACTUALLY PAID * * * ARE HEREBY DECLARED ILLEGAL; AND NO CREDIT SHALL BE ALLOWED TO ANY OF THE DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES FOR PAYMENT OR ALLOWANCES IN VIOLATION OF THIS PROVISION.

THE ACTS OF APRIL 6, 1914, 38 STAT. 318, AND AUGUST 1, 1914, 38 STAT. 680, PERMIT REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES ACTUALLY INCURRED FOR SUBSISTENCE, OR PAYMENT OF PER DIEM IN LIEU OF ACTUAL PENSES,"WHILE TRAVELING ON DUTY," OR WHILE "ENGAGED IN FIELD WORK OR TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS.' BECOMES NECESSARY THEREFORE FOR THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS TO REQUIRE IN SUPPORT OF VOUCHERS FOR TRAVELING EXPENSES, EVIDENCE THAT THE EXPENSES WERE ACTUAL AND NECESSARY AND WERE INCURRED ON OFFICIAL TRAVEL. BLANKET TRAVEL ORDERS PERMITTING EMPLOYEES TO TRAVEL WHOLLY AT WILL ANYWHERE IN THE UNITED STATES, AS STATED IN THE DECISION OF APRIL 18, 1925, A-8827, SUPRA, HAVE BEEN HELD TOO BROAD TO ENABLE THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS TO CREDIT EXPENSES INCURRED THEREUNDER, AS IT MIGHT BE DIFFICULT IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO DETERMINE IN SOME CASES WHETHER THE PARTICULAR EXPENSES WERE DUE TO OFFICIAL NECESSITY OR TO PERSONAL PREFERENCE OR DESIRES OF THE INDIVIDUAL. AS A GENERAL PROPOSITION, THEREFORE, TRAVEL ORDERS SHOULD BE LIMITED AS TO THE ITINERARY TO BE FOLLOWED AND STATE THE NATURE OF THE DUTY TO BE PERFORMED. IT IS RECOGNIZED THAT SUCH A PROCEDURE IS NOT PRACTICABLE IN ALL CASES, PARTICULARLY IN THE CASE OF SUPERVISORY OFFICERS OPERATING FROM FIELD HEADQUARTERS. IF THEREFORE THE ISSUANCE OF GENERAL TRAVEL ORDERS IS CONFINED TO SUPERVISORY OFFICERS REGULARLY OPERATING FROM FIELD HEADQUARTERS OVER PRESCRIBED AREAS, TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF SAID AREAS BEING AUTHORIZED BY SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS AND AUTHORITY, AND ALL EXPENSE VOUCHERS BEAR EVIDENCE OF EXAMINATION AND APPROVAL BY THE TRAVELER'S OFFICIAL SUPERIOR WHO SHOULD BE THE OFFICER WHO WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE ISSUED ORDERS FOR THE TRAVEL, ORDERS SO ISSUED WILL NOT BE OBJECTED TO AS A GENERAL PROCEDURE. HOWEVER, THERE MUST BE RECOGNIZED THE RIGHT OF THIS OFFICE IN THE EXAMINATION AND SETTLEMENT OF ACCOUNTS AND CLAIMS TO REQUIRE ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE OR EXPLANATION OF ANY ITEMS IN SUCH EXPENSE VOUCHERS AS DO NOT APPEAR AUTHORIZED BY LAW OR REGULATION OR WHEN THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY FOR THE TRAVEL DOES NOT APPEAR FROM THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY, OR THE VOUCHERS AS SUBMITTED.

THE SUSPENSIONS REFERRED TO BY YOU AS HAVING BEEN RECENTLY MADE IN THE ACCOUNTS OF SEVERAL OF THE SPECIAL FISCAL AGENTS OF THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION WILL BE RECONSIDERED IN THE LIGHT OF WHAT HAS BEEN STATED HEREIN AND THE EXPLANATIONS MADE BY YOU, AND THE ACCOUNTS WILL BE ADJUSTED ACCORDINGLY.