A-14947, AUGUST 19, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 130

A-14947: Aug 19, 1926

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WAS TEMPORARILY ENGAGED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES AT OR NEAR HIS DOMICILE MAY BE PAID THE AUTHORIZED PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE. IN WHICH WAS DISALLOWED IN HIS ACCOUNTS CREDIT FOR PAYMENTS AMOUNTING TO $48 MADE TO WILLIAM J. THE DESIGNATED HEADQUARTERS ARE AT SANTA FE. WERE LOCATED THERE PROBABLY FOR THE REASON THAT THE GREATER PART OF THE WORK OF THE DIVISION IN THE PAST HAS BEEN IN THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO. THERE IS ALSO A LARGE AMOUNT OF FIELD WORK IN ARIZONA WHICH MUST BE DONE. PHOENIX IS LOCATED NEAR THE CENTER OF THE STATE. THAT IS THE LOCATION OF THE UNITED STATES LAND OFFICE. IT IS THE HUB FROM WHICH RADIATE THE VARIOUS RAILROADS AND HIGHWAYS OF THE STATE.

A-14947, AUGUST 19, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 130

SUBSISTENCE - HEADQUARTERS - GENERAL LAND OFFICE INSPECTORS WHERE NOT PROHIBITED BY REGULATION OF THE PARTICULAR DEPARTMENT, AN EMPLOYEE WITH HEADQUARTERS PROPERLY DESIGNATED ELSEWHERE WHO, WHILE IN A TRAVEL STATUS, WAS TEMPORARILY ENGAGED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES AT OR NEAR HIS DOMICILE MAY BE PAID THE AUTHORIZED PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, AUGUST 19, 1926:

J. D. YELVERTON, FORMER SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT, GENERAL LAND OFFICE, BY LETTER OF JUNE 29, 1926, REQUESTED REVIEW OF THE SETTLEMENT, C-36517-I, IN WHICH WAS DISALLOWED IN HIS ACCOUNTS CREDIT FOR PAYMENTS AMOUNTING TO $48 MADE TO WILLIAM J. HANNA, AN INSPECTOR, AS PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE AT THE RATE OF $4 PER DAY FOR SEVEN AND A HALF DAYS DURING THE MONTH OF MARCH, VOUCHER NO. 47, AND FOUR AND A HALF DAYS DURING THE MONTH OF APRIL, 1925, VOUCHER NO. 311, WHILE AT PHOENIX, ARIZ.

THE INSPECTOR MAKES THE FOLLOWING EXPLANATION OF THE DUTIES PERFORMED BY HIM DURING THE MONTHS IN QUESTION AS WELL AS GENERALLY:

THE SANTA FE FIELD DIVISION INCLUDES THE STATES OF NEW MEXICO AND ARIZONA. THE DESIGNATED HEADQUARTERS ARE AT SANTA FE, N.MEX., AND WERE LOCATED THERE PROBABLY FOR THE REASON THAT THE GREATER PART OF THE WORK OF THE DIVISION IN THE PAST HAS BEEN IN THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO. HOWEVER, THERE IS ALSO A LARGE AMOUNT OF FIELD WORK IN ARIZONA WHICH MUST BE DONE. PHOENIX IS LOCATED NEAR THE CENTER OF THE STATE, AND ALL BUSINESS IN THE STATE CENTERS THERE. THAT IS THE LOCATION OF THE UNITED STATES LAND OFFICE, THE CAPITOL, AND THE CENTER OF ALL ACTIVITIES OF BOTH THE STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS. IT IS THE HUB FROM WHICH RADIATE THE VARIOUS RAILROADS AND HIGHWAYS OF THE STATE, AND IS THE LOGICAL POINT FROM WHICH TO WORK, NOT ONLY THE INVESTIGATION OF LAND-FRAUD CASES, BUT ALSO ANY LINE OF BUSINESS. IT IS THE CENTER OF POPULATION OF THE STATE, THE RESIDENCE OF NUMEROUS OFFICIALS AND ATTORNEYS, AND THE HEADQUARTERS OF MANY OF THE COMPANIES WITH WHICH THE AGENTS OF THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT HAVE OFFICIAL BUSINESS. INCIDENTALLY, TOO, IT IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE PLACE IN THE STATE IN WHICH TO LIVE.

DURING THE PROGRESS OF MY WORK IT HAS BEEN NECESSARY TO VISIT PHOENIX FREQUENTLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF EXAMINING RECORDS OF THE LOCAL LAND OFFICE, AND THE VARIOUS STATE OFFICES, AND ALSO TO INTERVIEW THE OFFICERS OF VARIOUS COMPANIES, AND NUMEROUS ATTORNEYS LOCATED THERE WHO HAVE CLIENTS ALL OVER THE STATE. ALSO MANY OF THE PEOPLE WE HAVE TO INVESTIGATE LIVE IN PHOENIX OR THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY. MANY OF OUR INVESTIGATIONS ALSO START FROM OR LEAD TO PHOENIX, AND MY PRESENCE IN PHOENIX IS MADE NECESSARY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN HEADQUARTERS AT SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, AND PHOENIX, ARIZONA, IS NEARLY 700 MILES. THE COST OF THE ROUND TRIP BETWEEN THE TWO POINTS, INCLUDING RAILROAD FARE, PULLMAN, AND INCIDENTALS, IS APPROXIMATELY $68.00. THE TIME CONSUMED IS NEARLY TWO DAYS EACH WAY, OR FOUR DAYS FOR THE ROUND TRIP. FOR EVERY TRIP BETWEEN THESE TWO POINTS, THEREFORE, THERE IS A LOSS OF VIRTUALLY FOUR DAYS' TIME, AND AN EXPENDITURE OF THE EQUIVALENT OF SEVENTEEN DAYS' PER DIEM. FROM OTHER POINTS IN ARIZONA THE EXPENSE WOULD BE GREATER AND THE TIME REQUIRED LONGER, BUT PHOENIX IS NEAR THE CENTER OF THE STATE, AND IS TAKEN AS A GENERAL AVERAGE.

DURING THE PART OF THE YEAR 1923 THAT I WAS IN THIS DIVISION I WAS AT HEADQUARTERS A GREATER LENGTH OF TIME THAN AT PHOENIX. IN 1924, ON ACCOUNT OF UNUSUAL CONDITIONS, I WAS AT PHOENIX LONGER THAN THE WORK OF THE AVERAGE YEAR WOULD REQUIRE. THIS WAS BECAUSE IN MY ASSIGNMENT THERE WERE A NUMBER OF UNFINISHED CRIMINAL, FRAUD, CONSPIRACY, AND COURT CASES THAT WOULD BE INVESTIGATED ONLY IN PHOENIX, OR IN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY. THESE WERE VOLUMINOUS, AND DURING THEIR INVESTIGATION THERE WERE MANY RECORDS TO EXAMINE, WITNESSES TO INTERVIEW, ATTORNEYS TO CONSULT WITH, AND CONFERENCES WITH THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT ATTORNEY.

THESE CASES REQUIRED MY PRESENCE IN PHOENIX MOST OF THE TIME DURING THE SPRING OF 1924, AND MUCH OF THE TIME WHILE THERE THE PER DIEM ALLOWED WAS NOT SUFFICIENT TO COVER THE ACTUAL PERSONAL EXPENSES MADE NECESSARY BY MY OFFICIAL DUTIES.

THE CASES HERE REFERRED TO HAVE ALL BEEN CLEANED UP, AND UNDER THE PRESENT METHOD OF KEEPING CLOSE TAB ON ALL SUSPICIOUS OPERATIONS IN PUBLIC LANDS, AND THE INVESTIGATION OF FRAUDULENT SCHEMES AT THEIR INCEPTION, THE PUBLIC IS BETTER PROTECTED, AND THE SAME CONDITIONS ARE NOT LIKELY TO AGAIN OCCUR.

THE WORK IN ARIZONA IN 1925 WAS NEARER THE AVERAGE. DURING THAT YEAR I WAS IN PHOENIX LESS THAN HALF THE TIME THAT WAS REQUIRED IN 1924, AND THERE WAS AN INCREASE OF SIXTY PERCENT IN MY TIME REQUIRED AT HEADQUARTERS.

IN THE PRESENT CASE SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, IS MY DESIGNATED HEADQUARTERS; NO PER DIEM IS PAID TO ME NOR CLAIMED WHILE THERE. MY ASSIGNMENTS CONTEMPLATE A RETURN TO THAT POINT, AND NEITHER MR. YELVERTON NOR MYSELF HAD ANY VOICE IN THE DESIGNATION OF THIS POST OF DUTY, OR OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS. IN THE SUBMISSION OF MY ACCOUNTS FOR MARCH AND APRIL, 1925, ALL OF THE LAWS GOVERNING THE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM, AS WELL AS THE REGULATIONS PROMULGATED BY MY SUPERIOR OFFICERS, WERE FAITHFULLY FOLLOWED. NO PER DIEM WAS CLAIMED OTHER THAN THAT SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED FOR IN SAID LAWS AND REGULATIONS, AND THE ACCOUNTS WERE PROPERLY PREPARED, CERTIFIED, AND APPROVED.

AS TO MY PLACE OF DOMICILE, PHOENIX MAY PROPERLY BE SO DESIGNATED, FOR,SINCE MOST OF MY WORK DURING THE PAST TWO YEARS HAS BEEN IN ARIZONA, MY FAMILY HAS RESIDED NEAR PHOENIX THE GREATER PART OF THE TIME. DURING PART OF THE TWO MONTHS IN QUESTION, HOWEVER, MY FAMILY WAS NOT A PHOENIX, AND MY EXPENSES FOR SUBSISTENCE EXCEEDED THE AMOUNT OF PER DIEM CLAIMED.

THE SITUATION WITH RESPECT TO THE FIELD INSPECTION WORK OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE IS UNDERSTOOD TO BE AS FOLLOWS:

THE WORK IS CARRIED ON THROUGH LOCAL DISTRICTS OR DIVISIONS EACH HAVING JURISDICTION OVER ALL INSPECTION WORK WITHIN ITS DESIGNATED BOUNDARIES WHICH MAY INCLUDE ONE OR SEVERAL CONTIGUOUS STATES, AS THE NEEDS OF THE SERVICE MAY REQUIRE. EACH FIELD DIVISION IS IN CHARGE OF A CHIEF WHO HAS HIS OFFICE OR HEADQUARTERS AT A DESIGNATED CITY WITHIN THE DISTRICT, WHICH IS ALSO THE DESIGNATED HEADQUARTERS OF ALL INSPECTORS OPERATING WITHIN THAT DISTRICT. THE DISTRICT MAY INCLUDE ONE OR MORE LOCAL LAND OFFICES THROUGH WHICH THE VARIOUS ENTRIES, SELECTIONS, LOCATIONS, OR APPLICATIONS ARE FILED AND RECORDED PRIOR TO THEIR TRANSMISSION TO THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE AT WASHINGTON, D.C. THE WORK OF THE INSPECTORS IS SUCH THAT NO MAJOR PORTION OF IT IS ACTUALLY PERFORMED AT ANY ONE PLACE FOR ANY EXTENDED PERIOD, ALTHOUGH, BY REASON OF THE FACT THAT THE OFFICIAL RECORDS ARE IN THE LOCAL LAND OFFICES, THEY PERHAPS VISIT THE CITIES IN WHICH THE LAND OFFICES ARE LOCATED MORE FREQUENTLY THAN ELSEWHERE. THE RESULTS OF THEIR INVESTIGATIONS ARE, HOWEVER, ALL SUBJECT TO THE DIRECTION OF THE CHIEF OF THEIR RESPECTIVE DIVISIONS AND ARE GENERALLY FORWARDED THROUGH HIS OFFICE, EITHER PERSONALLY OR BY MAIL, THE AGENTS REPORTING TO THAT OFFICE AT INTERVALS FOR INSTRUCTION OR DIRECTIONS.

DURING THE TWO MONTHS' PERIOD IN QUESTION (61 DAYS) THIS INSPECTOR WAS IN SANTA FE, HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY, FOR SEVEN DAYS (FOR WHICH NO PER DIEM WAS CLAIMED), 12 DAYS IN PHOENIX, AND 42 DAYS AT OTHER PLACES. OTHER MONTHS THE TIME SPENT AT THE RESPECTIVE PLACES WOULD VARY ACCORDING TO THE NECESSITIES OF THE PARTICULAR INSPECTIONS TO BE MADE AS THE NATURE OF THE DUTIES OF AN INSPECTOR OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE MAY CARRY HIM ANYWHERE WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF THE FIELD DISTRICT TO WHICH HE IS ASSIGNED. UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, AND IN VIEW OF WHAT IS STATED IN THE PRECEDING PARAGRAPH HEREOF, THERE WOULD APPEAR TO BE NO NECESSITY NOR SUFFICIENT REASON TO FURTHER QUESTION THE ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION IN FIXING THIS INSPECTOR'S HEADQUARTERS AT THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE DISTRICT WITHIN WHICH HE OPERATES, AND AT WHICH PLACE HE MUST NECESSARILY BE FROM TIME TO TIME FOR INSTRUCTION, ASSIGNMENTS, ETC.

THE ACT OF AUGUST 1, 1914, 38 STAT. 680, AUTHORIZED THE ALLOWANCE OF PER DIEM OF NOT EXCEEDING $4 IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE TO PERSONS "ENGAGED IN FIELD WORK OR TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS OUTSIDE OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND AWAY FROM THEIR DESIGNATED POSTS OF DUTY WHEN NOT OTHERWISE FIXED BY LAW.' AS THE INSPECTOR IN QUESTION WAS AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY AT ALL TIMES WHEN ABSENT FROM SANTA FE, THE PAYMENT OF THE PER DIEM ALLOWANCE APPEARS TO BE AUTHORIZED BY THE ACT ABOVE CITED, UNLESS SUCH PAYMENTS SHOULD BE OBJECTIONABLE BECAUSE OF HIS HAVING BEEN, DURING A PART OF SAID PERIOD, AT THE PLACE OF HIS DOMICILE.

IT HAS BEEN HELD IN A NUMBER OF CASES THAT EMPLOYEES ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS ARE NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR SUBSISTENCE WHILE TAKING MEALS AT HOME WHERE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE DEFINITELY TO SEPARATE THE EMPLOYEE'S ACTUAL EXPENSES FROM THOSE OF HIS FAMILY. IT HAS BEEN HELD, ALSO, THAT EMPLOYEES ARE NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES OR PER DIEM IN LIEU THEREOF AT THEIR PLACE OF DOMICILE WHERE THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF THE DUTIES PERFORMED AT THAT PLACE NEGATIVED THE EXISTENCE OF A TRAVEL STATUS WHILE THERE. SEE PARTICULARLY 4 COMP. GEN. 466; A-1907, MAY 7, 1924, AND JUNE 25, 1924; A-11593, NOVEMBER 23, 1925. WHERE, HOWEVER, PROPER EVIDENCE OF ACTUAL AND SEPARABLE EXPENSES OF SUBSISTENCE INCURRED BY THE EMPLOYEE HAS BEEN FURNISHED, REIMBURSEMENT HAS BEEN AUTHORIZED COVERING THE TIME THE EMPLOYEE, ON A BONA FIDE TRAVEL STATUS, IS ENGAGED TEMPORARILY ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AT THE PLACE OF HIS DOMICILE. 4 COMP. GEN. 251, 893. EVIDENCE OF ACTUAL EXPENDITURES IS NOT A CONDITION PRECEDENT TO THE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE TO AN EMPLOYEE SHOWN TO BE IN A BONA FIDE TRAVEL STATUS. ACCORDINGLY, WHERE NOT PROHIBITED BY REGULATION OF THE PARTICULAR DEPARTMENT, AN EMPLOYEE WITH HEADQUARTERS PROPERLY DESIGNATED ELSEWHERE, TEMPORARILY, ENGAGED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES AT OR NEAR HIS HOME, IS ENTITLED TO PER DIEM ALLOWANCE IN A PROPER CASE WHILE SO ENGAGED. 21 COMP. DEC. 785; 25 ID. 240; 1 COMP. GEN. 120.

UPON REVIEW $48 IS CERTIFIED FOR CREDIT IN THE DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNT.