A-15746, SEPTEMBER 24, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 212

A-15746: Sep 24, 1926

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VEHICLES - USE OF OWN - POSTAL SERVICE THERE IS NO LEGAL OBJECTION TO ADOPTION FOR THE POSTAL SERVICE OF A TRAVEL REGULATION PROVIDING FOR THE USE OF OFFICERS' AND EMPLOYEES' PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCES AS A MEANS OF ACCOMPLISHING SPECIFIC TRAVEL NECESSARY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTY AWAY FROM OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS OR DUTY STATION. WHEREIN REIMBURSEMENT IS AUTHORIZED FOR OPERATING EXPENSES. THERE IS INCLUDED THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH: 12. WHEN AN EMPLOYEE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IS AUTHORIZED TO USE HIS OWN CONVEYANCE. HE WILL BE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION ON THE BASIS OF ITS ACTUAL OPERATING EXPENSES (SUCH AS GASOLINE. A COMMUTED EXPENSE RATE WILL NOT BE ALLOWED.

A-15746, SEPTEMBER 24, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 212

VEHICLES - USE OF OWN - POSTAL SERVICE THERE IS NO LEGAL OBJECTION TO ADOPTION FOR THE POSTAL SERVICE OF A TRAVEL REGULATION PROVIDING FOR THE USE OF OFFICERS' AND EMPLOYEES' PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCES AS A MEANS OF ACCOMPLISHING SPECIFIC TRAVEL NECESSARY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTY AWAY FROM OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS OR DUTY STATION, IDENTICAL OR SIMILAR TO THAT CONTAINED IN SECTION 12 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS APPROVED BY THE PRESIDENT AUGUST 11, 1926, EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 1, 1926, WHEREIN REIMBURSEMENT IS AUTHORIZED FOR OPERATING EXPENSES, SUCH AS GASOLINE, OIL, GARAGE RENT, FEED AND STABLING OF HORSES, AND BRIDGE, FERRY, AND OTHER TOLLS, NOT IN EXCESS OF LOCALLY PREVAILING RATES NOR OF THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION BY PUBLIC CONVEYANCE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, SEPTEMBER 24, 1926:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 16, 1926, AS FOLLOWS:

IN THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, APPROVED BY THE PRESIDENT ON AUGUST 11, 1926, AND TO BECOME EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 1, 1926, THERE IS INCLUDED THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH:

12. USE OF OWN CONVEYANCE OR THAT OF FAMILY OF HIMSELF OR OF ANOTHER EMPLOYEE: UNLESS OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY LAW, WHEN AN EMPLOYEE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IS AUTHORIZED TO USE HIS OWN CONVEYANCE, HE WILL BE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION ON THE BASIS OF ITS ACTUAL OPERATING EXPENSES (SUCH AS GASOLINE, OIL, GARAGE RENT, FEED AND STABLING OF HORSES, AND BRIDGE, FERRY, AND OTHER TOLLS) NOT IN EXCESS OF LOCALLY PREVAILING RATES, NOR OF THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION BY PUBLIC CONVEYANCE. A COMMUTED EXPENSE RATE WILL NOT BE ALLOWED, NOR CHARGES FOR REPAIRS, DEPRECIATION, REPLACEMENTS, GREASE, ALCOHOL, FLUSHING CRANKCASES,TOWAGE, AND LIKE SPECULATIVE EXPENSES, USE OF OWN CONVEYANCE (OTHER THAN ACTUAL EXPENSE OF AS ABOVE AUTHORIZED), OR FOR HIRE OF THAT OF ANOTHER EMPLOYEE OR MEMBER OF THE FAMILY OF HIMSELF OR ANOTHER EMPLOYEE. (SEE PAR. 105- E.)

THE STANDARDIZED TRAVEL REGULATIONS CITED ABOVE COVER THE TRAVEL EXPENSES OF OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF ALL EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENTS, INCLUDING THEIR FIELD SERVICES, BUT THE POSTAL SERVICE IS SPECIFICALLY EXCEPTED. TRAVEL REGULATIONS SIMILAR TO THOSE APPROVED BY THE PRESIDENT HAVE BEEN PREPARED FOR THE POSTAL SERVICE AND THE QUESTION OF INCLUDING THEREIN THE ABOVE-QUOTED SECTION 12 IS NOW UNDER CONSIDERATION.

IT HAS BEEN SUGGESTED THAT SUCH PROVISION CAN NOT LEGALLY BE INCLUDED IN THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS FOR THE POSTAL SERVICE ON ACCOUNT OF PROHIBITIONS CONTAINED IN THE LEGISLATIVE, EXECUTIVE, AND JUDICIAL ACT OF JULY 16, 1914, SECTION 5, 38 STAT. 508. IT APPEARS THAT THE RESTRICTIONS PROVIDED IN THE LAW JUST CITED MAY APPLY ONLY TO THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND OFFICES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND NOT TO THE FIELD SERVICES.

I HAVE TO REQUEST YOUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE ABOVE-QUOTED SECTION 12 MAY LEGALLY BE INCLUDED IN THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE POSTAL SERVICE AND WILL VERY MUCH APPRECIATE EARLY ACTION ON THIS REQUEST.

SECTION 5 OF THE ACT OF JULY 16, 1914, 38 STAT. 508, CONTAINS THE GENERAL PROHIBITION AGAINST THE USE OF APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR PURCHASE, MAINTENANCE, REPAIR, OR OPERATION OF MOTOR-PROPELLED OR HORSE-DRAWN PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES UNLESS THE SAME IS SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY LAW. DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE HAVE DISTINGUISHED BETWEEN THE USE OF A PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE FOR OFFICIAL BUSINESS AT THE OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS OR DUTY STATION OF AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE. THE FORMER IS WITHIN THE PROHIBITION OF THE 1914 STATUTE AS BEING TANTAMOUNT TO THE MAINTENANCE OR OPERATION OF A PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLE, BUT THE LATTER IS NOT WITHIN THE PROHIBITION, FOR THE REASON THAT THE TRAVEL IS CONSIDERED AS IN LIEU OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER OR OTHER PUBLIC CONVEYANCE AUTHORIZED BY LAW, REIMBURSEMENT FOR AUTHORIZED ITEMS OF OPERATING EXPENSES BEING LIMITED TO NOT IN EXCESS OF WHAT IT WOULD HAVE COST THE GOVERNMENT HAD TRAVEL BEEN PERFORMED BY COMMON CARRIER OR OTHER PUBLIC CONVEYANCE. 4 COMP. GEN. 836; 5 ID. 183.

THERE IS PRIMARILY FOR CONSIDERATION, THEREFORE, WHETHER THE USE OF A PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE IS FOR GENERAL OFFICIAL USE IN AND ABOUT THE DUTY STATION OF AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE, OR WHETHER THE USE IS FOR PERFORMING SPECIFIC TRIPS OF AUTHORIZED TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS OR DUTY STATION.

IF THE FORMER, THE PROHIBITION CONTAINED IN THE 1914 STATUTE ATTACHES UNLESS SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY LAW. AS AN INSTANCE WHERE THE PROHIBITION HAS BEEN CONSIDERED AS APPLICABLE IN THE POSTAL SERVICE AT OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS OR DUTY STATION, SEE 5 COMP. GEN. 980. AS INSTANCES WHERE STATUTES HAVE SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED THE USE OF APPROPRIATIONS FOR OPERATION OF PRIVATE CONVEYANCE, SEE 2 COMP. GEN. 329; ID. 339.

IF THE LATTER, THE APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR TRAVELING EXPENSES MAY BE USED TO REIMBURSE THE OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES FOR AUTHORIZED ITEMS OF OPERATING EXPENSES OF THEIR PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILES OR OTHER CONVEYANCES ONLY AS A MEANS OF ACCOMPLISHING SPECIFIC TRAVEL NECESSARY IN PERFORMING OFFICIAL DUTY AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS OR DUTY STATION. IT IS ON THIS LATTER BASIS ONLY THAT THE QUOTED PARAGRAPH FROM THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS MAY BE APPLIED. AND ON SUCH BASIS THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF JULY 16, 1914, SUPRA, WOULD NOT PRECLUDE ADOPTION OF THE SAME OR SIMILAR REGULATIONS FOR THE POSTAL SERVICE. ACCORDINGLY THERE WOULD APPEAR TO BE NO LEGAL OBJECTION TO THE ADOPTION OF THE QUOTED REGULATION FOR THE POSTAL SERVICE.