A-10822, JANUARY 11, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 467

A-10822: Jan 11, 1926

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THERE IS NO AUTHORITY UPON DISCONTINUANCE OF AN OFFICE IN WASHINGTON TO IN SUBSTANCE ASSIGN THE EMPLOYEES THEREOF TO FIELD POSITIONS AND PAY THE EXPENSE OF TRANSPORTATION AND SUBSISTENCE WHILE TRAVELING THERETO. 1926: THERE ARE BEFORE THIS OFFICE A LARGE NUMBER OF VOUCHERS UPON WHICH CREDIT IS CLAIMED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF J. THE METHOD GENERALLY FOLLOWED IN DETACHING THE EMPLOYEES FROM THE DEPARTMENT AT WASHINGTON WAS TO ISSUE A TRAVEL ORDER IN FORM GENERALLY AS FOLLOWS: YOU ARE HEREBY DIRECTED TO PROCEED TO DETROIT. YOU WILL BE ALLOWED ACTUAL NECESSARY TRAVELING EXPENSES. OATH OF OFFICE WAS TAKEN AS AN INTERNAL-REVENUE AGENT AND SUCH PLACE THEREUPON APPARENTLY BECAME THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE EMPLOYEE.

A-10822, JANUARY 11, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 467

TRAVELING EXPENSES - DISTRIBUTION OF EMPLOYEES OF A DISCONTINUED OFFICE THE ACTS OF MARCH 3, 1875, 18 STAT. 452, AND APRIL 6, 1914, 38 STAT. 318, AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRAVEL NOT EXCEEDING $5 PER DAY FOR TRAVEL AWAY FROM THE DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY, AND THERE IS NO AUTHORITY UPON DISCONTINUANCE OF AN OFFICE IN WASHINGTON TO IN SUBSTANCE ASSIGN THE EMPLOYEES THEREOF TO FIELD POSITIONS AND PAY THE EXPENSE OF TRANSPORTATION AND SUBSISTENCE WHILE TRAVELING THERETO.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, JANUARY 11, 1926:

THERE ARE BEFORE THIS OFFICE A LARGE NUMBER OF VOUCHERS UPON WHICH CREDIT IS CLAIMED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF J. L. SUMMERS, DISBURSING CLERK, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, FOR PAYMENTS MADE TO CERTAIN EMPLOYEES OF THE BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE FOR EXPENSES AS IN A TRAVEL STATUS UPON THE EMPLOYEES BEING SENT TO POSITIONS IN THE FIELD BECAUSE OF THE DISCONTINUANCE OF THE OFFICE AT WASHINGTON IN WHICH EMPLOYED IN THE BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE, TREASURY DEPARTMENT.

THE METHOD GENERALLY FOLLOWED IN DETACHING THE EMPLOYEES FROM THE DEPARTMENT AT WASHINGTON WAS TO ISSUE A TRAVEL ORDER IN FORM GENERALLY AS FOLLOWS:

YOU ARE HEREBY DIRECTED TO PROCEED TO DETROIT, MICHIGAN, AND OTHER POINTS ON APRIL 16, 1925, FOR THE PURPOSE OF TRANSACTING INTERNAL REVENUE BUSINESS.

YOU WILL BE ALLOWED ACTUAL NECESSARY TRAVELING EXPENSES, SUBJECT TO THE LIMITATIONS PRESCRIBED BY LAW AND DEPARTMENTAL REGULATIONS, WHEN ABSENT ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS FROM YOUR DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY, PAYABLE FROM THE APPROPRIATION "COLLECTING THE INTERNAL REVENUE.'

ON THE DAY OF REACHING THE DESIGNATED PLACE OR SOON AFTERWARDS, OATH OF OFFICE WAS TAKEN AS AN INTERNAL-REVENUE AGENT AND SUCH PLACE THEREUPON APPARENTLY BECAME THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE EMPLOYEE. THE TRAVEL EXPENSES PAID GENERALLY COVERED THE PERIOD FROM DATE OF DEPARTURE FROM WASHINGTON TO DATE OF ARRIVAL AT THE DESIGNATED PLACE.

IT WILL BE OBSERVED THAT THE TRAVEL ORDER MERELY DIRECTED THE GOING TO A PLACE WITHOUT STATING FROM WHAT PLACE, AND WITHOUT ANY DIRECTION WHERE TO PROCEED OR TO WHAT PLACE TO RETURN UPON COMPLETION OF THE BUSINESS DIRECTED TO BE TRANSACTED, IF IT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THE ORDER TO IN FACT TRANSACT BUSINESS. THE TRAVEL ORDER UNQUESTIONABLY DID NOT DISCLOSE ITS TRUE PURPOSE.

THE QUESTION INVOLVED MAY BE SUCCINCTLY STATED AS WHETHER TRANSPORTATION AND TRAVEL EXPENSES ARE PAYABLE UPON THE TRANSFER OF AN EMPLOYEE FROM A POSITION IN THE DEPARTMENT AT WASHINGTON TO A POSITION IN FIELD SERVICE. THE FACTS INVOLVED DO NOT SHOW ANY QUESTION OF TRAVEL STATUS BASED ON A DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEE HAVING BEEN SENT TO A FIELD OFFICE TO PERFORM SOME DUTIES, RESULTING IN A MORE OR LESS PROLONGED STAY WHICH AFFECTS TRAVEL STATUS AND AS TO WHICH THIS OFFICE HAS IN RECENT DECISIONS POINTED OUT THE OBJECTIONS TO THE DEPARTMENTAL PROCEDURE IN ASSUMING THE TRAVEL STATUS CONTINUED INDEFINITELY.

THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1875, 18 STAT. 452, PROVIDED: HEREAFTER ONLY ACTUAL TRAVELLING-EXPENSES SHALL BE ALLOWED TO ANY PERSON HOLDING EMPLOYMENT OR APPOINTMENT UNDER THE UNITED STATES, EXCEPT MARSHALS, DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, AND CLERKS OF THE COURTS OF THE UNITED STATES AND THEIR DEPUTIES; AND ALL ALLOWANCES FOR MILEAGES AND TRANSPORTATION IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNTS ACTUALLY PAID, EXCEPT AS ABOVE EXCEPTED, 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 ACT OF APRIL 6, 1914, 38 STAT. 318, PROVIDED:

ON AND AFTER JULY FIRST, NINETEEN HUNDRED AND FOURTEEN, UNLESS OTHERWISE EXPRESSLY PROVIDED BY LAW, NO OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES SHALL BE ALLOWED OR PAID ANY SUM IN EXCESS OF EXPENSES ACTUALLY INCURRED FOR SUBSISTENCE WHILE TRAVELING ON DUTY OUTSIDE OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY, NOR ANY SUM FOR SUCH EXPENSES ACTUALLY INCURRED IN EXCESS OF $5 PER DAY; NOR SHALL ANY ALLOWANCE OR REIMBURSEMENT FOR SUBSISTENCE BE PAID TO ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IN ANY BRANCH OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA UNLESS ABSENT FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY OUTSIDE OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND THEN ONLY FOR THE PERIOD OF TIME ACTUALLY ENGAGED IN THE DISCHARGE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES.

THE ACT OF AUGUST 1, 1914, 38 STAT. 680, AUTHORIZED PRESCRIBING A PER DIEM NOT EXCEEDING $4, IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE, BUT THIS HAS NO PARTICULAR APPLICATION IN THE PRESENT MATTER.

THE ACT OF 1875, CITED, DOES NOT DEFINE TRAVEL STATUS. ITS PROVISIONS ARE MAINLY A PROHIBITION UPON ALLOWING ANY EXPENSES OTHER THAN THOSE ACTUALLY INCURRED TRAVELING. THE ACT OF APRIL 6, 1914, CITED, SUPPLEMENTS THE ACT OF 1875, BY A LIMITATION TO NOT EXCEEDING $5 UPON THE ACTUAL TRAVEL EXPENSES THAT MAY BE ALLOWED; BUT ITS PROVISIONS ALSO DEFINE WHAT IS TRAVEL STATUS IN THAT THE EXPENSES ARE FOR SUBSISTENCE "WHILE TRAVELING ON DUTY OUTSIDE OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY.' THE ENACTMENT IN ITS CONCLUDING PROVISIONS ALSO DEFINES THE TRAVEL STATUS OF THOSE IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ABSENT FROM DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY OUTSIDE OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

THESE PROVISIONS CLEARLY CONTEMPLATE THAT FOR TRAVEL TO BE AT THE EXPENSE OF THE UNITED STATES IT MUST BE AWAY FROM THE DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY AND GENERALLY OUTSIDE OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, BUT RECOGNIZES THAT THOSE HAVING A DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY OUTSIDE OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA MAY WITHIN LIMITATIONS TRAVEL TO AND BE TEMPORARILY IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. THESE PROVISIONS ARE IN LARGE MEASURE DECLARATORY OF RULINGS OF THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS.

THEY DO NOT PERMIT NOR HAS IT EVER BEEN CLEARLY ALLOWABLE TO IN SUBSTANCE DISCHARGE AN EMPLOYEE AT ONE PLACE AND AT THE SAME TIME APPOINT OR EMPLOY HIM AT ANOTHER PLACE, THE TRAVEL BETWEEN THE TWO PLACES--- TRANSPORTATION AND SUBSISTENCE--- TO BE AT THE EXPENSE OF THE UNITED STATES. THERE IS IN SUCH AN INSTANCE NO TRAVEL "AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY" AS EXPRESSED BY THE ACT OF 1914; NOR IS THE CONDITION ALTERED BY HOLDING THE EMPLOYEE IN THE POSITION AT THE ONE PLACE UNTIL ARRIVAL AT THE OTHER PLACE DISCHARGE FROM THE ONE POSITION BEING THEN EXPRESSLY MADE OR RESULTING FROM TAKING THE POSITION AT THE OTHER PLACE, WHICH APPEARS TO BE THE INSTANT MATTER.

IT IS PROBABLE THERE HAVE BEEN SINGLE INSTANCES IN THE PAST OF AN EMPLOYEE BEING TRANSFERRED FROM A POSITION AT ONE PLACE TO A POSITION AT ANOTHER PLACE, AND TRANSPORTATION AND SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES WERE FURNISHED BY THE UNITED STATES, BUT WITHOUT NOW DETERMINING ANYTHING IN THAT CONNECTION THE FACTS MUST CLEARLY HAVE SHOWN A NEED OF THE UNITED STATES BEING ACCOMPLISHED RATHER THAN OF THE EMPLOYEE AND SUCH CIRCUMSTANCE CAN GIVE NO SUPPORT TO TRANSFERS ON A WHOLESALE SCALE DUE TO THE DISCONTINUANCE OF AN OFFICE AS IN THE CASE NOW BEFORE ME. IT MAY BE WELL TO BRING TO MIND THAT AT THE CLOSE OF THE RECENT WAR EMERGENCY, THE TRANSPORTATION OF SURPLUS EMPLOYEES TO THEIR HOMES UPON DISCONTINUANCE OF OFFICES, ETC., WAS EXPRESSLY PROVIDED FOR BY THE CONGRESS. ACTS JANUARY 7, 1919; MARCH 1, 1919; 40 STAT. 1052, 1266.

THERE IS SOME SUGGESTION IN THE PRESENT MATTER THAT THE EMPLOYEES OF THE DISCONTINUED OFFICE WERE BETTER QUALIFIED TO PERFORM THE DUTIES IN THE POSITIONS AT THE PLACES WHERE SENT THAN OBTAINING EMPLOYEES LOCALLY. THIS MAY BE A PALLIATION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION, BUT IS NOT ITS LEGALIZATION. THE TRAVEL ORDERS WERE SO LACKING IN DEFINITENESS AS TO REASONABLY HAVE REQUIRED THE DISBURSING OFFICER TO QUESTION THEIR MEANING BEFORE PAYMENT OF THE EXPENSE VOUCHERS PRESENTED TO HIM.

WHAT HAS BEEN SAID IS SUFFICIENT FOR THE PROPER ADMINISTRATIVE AND DISBURSING ACTION HEREINAFTER IN ALL BRANCHES OF THE GOVERNMENT. THE PAYMENTS HERE INVOLVED WILL NOT BE FURTHER QUESTIONED IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.