A-17984, APRIL 28, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 701

A-17984: Apr 28, 1927

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TO AWAIT A VESSEL FOR SAN FRANCISCO WHICH WAS NOT DUE TO LEAVE UNTIL APRIL 6. IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT ANY RESPONSE WAS MADE TO THIS TELEGRAM. CLAIMS TO HAVE BEEN ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IN WASHINGTON FROM THAT TIME. STATED THAT HE WAS ON ANNUAL LEAVE APRIL 1 TO 5. IN PROCEEDING TO BALBOA AND UP UNTIL THE TIME HE WOULD HAVE BEEN REQUIRED TO WAIT THERE FOR THE VESSEL FOR SAN FRANCISCO HE WAS ACTING PURSUANT TO HIS TRAVEL ORDERS AND WAS ENTITLED TO ALL NECESSARY EXPENSE INCURRED. FROM THE TIME HE FORSOOK THE ROUTE PRESCRIBED IN HIS ORDERS HE WAS NOT ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND CAN ONLY BE CONSIDERED AS HAVING BEEN IN A LEAVE STATUS AND NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF ANY EXPENSE INCURRED NOR TO PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE.

A-17984, APRIL 28, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 701

TRAVELING EXPENSES - ROUTE AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE ORDERED TO RETURN TO WASHINGTON, D.C., FROM PERU VIA SAN FRANCISCO AND OTHER PACIFIC COAST CITIES FOR PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTY, BUT WHO, WHILE EN ROUTE, RECEIVED WORD OF THE ILLNESS OF A RELATIVE AND ABANDONED THE OFFICIAL ROUTING, RETURNING TO WASHINGTON WITHOUT THE PERFORMANCE OF FURTHER OFFICIAL DUTY, MUST BE CONSIDERED AS IN A LEAVE OF ABSENCE STATUS AND NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR ANY OF THE EXPENSES OF THE TRAVEL OR SUBSISTENCE FROM THE TIME HE DEPARTED FROM THE OFFICIAL ROUTE.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, APRIL 28, 1927:

W. N. PEARCE REQUESTED, FEBRUARY 4 AND MARCH 9, 1927, REVIEW OF SETTLEMENTS C-41838-C OF JULY 13, 1926, AND C-46052-C OF JANUARY 24, 1927, DISALLOWING CREDIT IN HIS ACCOUNTS AS SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, FOR $74.95 AND $62.50, REPRESENTING PAYMENTS MADE TO HIMSELF AS REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSE AND PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE, AND COMPENSATION FOR EXCESS TRAVEL TIME, IN CONNECTION WITH HIS RETURN TO WASHINGTON, D.C., FROM LIMA, PERU, IN APRIL, 1925.

IT APPEARS FROM THE RECORD THAT W. N. PEARCE WHILE ON DUTY AT LIMA, PERU, RECEIVED INSTRUCTIONS AS PER THE FOLLOWING TELEGRAM DATED JANUARY 21, 1925:

24 INSTRUCT PEARCE RETURN WEST COAST, VISITING SAN FRANCISCO AND OTHER PACIFIC COAST PORTS. INSTRUCTIONS SENT TO SAN FRISCO.

PURSUANT TO THESE INSTRUCTIONS PEARCE PROCEEDED BY VESSEL TO BALBOA, CANAL ZONE, AND DISEMBARKED THERE MARCH 30, 1925, TO AWAIT A VESSEL FOR SAN FRANCISCO WHICH WAS NOT DUE TO LEAVE UNTIL APRIL 6. THREE DAYS AFTER ARRIVAL AT BALBOA HE RECEIVED A CABLE NOTIFYING HIM OF THE ILLNESS OF A MEMBER OF HIS FAMILY, WHEREUPON, ON APRIL 5, HE TELEGRAPHED TO WASHINGTON-

OWING SERIOUS ILLNESS MOTHER, RETURNING DIRECT STEAMER ESSEQUIBO, DUE NEW YORK FOURTEENTH.

IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT ANY RESPONSE WAS MADE TO THIS TELEGRAM, AND PEARCE RETURNED TO NEW YORK BY THE STEAMER MENTIONED WITHOUT PROCEEDING FURTHER ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS. ACCORDING TO HIS EXPENSE VOUCHER HE ARRIVED IN WASHINGTON, D.C., 7 A.M. APRIL 15, AND CLAIMS TO HAVE BEEN ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IN WASHINGTON FROM THAT TIME. HE CLAIMED AND PAID HIMSELF PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE FOR NINE DAYS, APRIL 6 TO 14, INCLUSIVE, BUT STATED THAT HE WAS ON ANNUAL LEAVE APRIL 1 TO 5.

IN PROCEEDING TO BALBOA AND UP UNTIL THE TIME HE WOULD HAVE BEEN REQUIRED TO WAIT THERE FOR THE VESSEL FOR SAN FRANCISCO HE WAS ACTING PURSUANT TO HIS TRAVEL ORDERS AND WAS ENTITLED TO ALL NECESSARY EXPENSE INCURRED; BUT FROM THE TIME HE FORSOOK THE ROUTE PRESCRIBED IN HIS ORDERS HE WAS NOT ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND CAN ONLY BE CONSIDERED AS HAVING BEEN IN A LEAVE STATUS AND NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF ANY EXPENSE INCURRED NOR TO PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE. THE EXPENSE OF TRANSPORTATION FROM BALBOA TO WASHINGTON, D.C., AMOUNTED TO $175.65 AND HE PAID HIMSELF PER DIEM FOR THE PERIOD OF TRAVEL AMOUNTING TO $36, MAKING A TOTAL OF $211.65. THE SETTLEMENTS WERE ERRONEOUS IN SO FAR AS THEY DISALLOWED ONLY THE EXCESS OVER WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE COST OF THE DIRECT ROUTE FROM PERU TO NEW YORK, AS THERE WAS NO VESTED RIGHT IN THE EMPLOYEE TO BE RETURNED TO THE UNITED STATES AT THE EXPENSE OF THE GOVERNMENT AT HIS OWN PERSONAL CONVENIENCE. A-6938, FEBRUARY 9, 1925; A-7362, FEBRUARY 17, 1925; A-7886, FEBRUARY 21, 1925.

AS THE QUESTION OF GRANTING LEAVE WITH PAY IS A MATTER PRIMARILY FOR ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION, THE DISALLOWANCE OF CREDIT FOR THE COMPENSATION PAID DURING THE TRAVEL PERIOD SHOULD BE DISCONTINUED IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT THAT HE WAS NOT ENTITLED TO LEAVE WITH PAY AND RECOMMENDING THE RAISING OF A CHARGE THEREFOR.

UPON REVIEW THE SETTLEMENT IS MODIFIED AND THE DISALLOWANCE INCREASED TO $211.65.