A-27776, JULY 26, 1929, 9 COMP. GEN. 35

A-27776: Jul 26, 1929

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TRAVELING EXPENSES - USE OF OWN AUTOMOBILE - NAVY NURSE A MEMBER OF THE NAVY NURSE CORPS (FEMALE) ORDERED ON PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION TO TRAVEL ON A GOVERNMENT VESSEL ON WHICH NO TRANSPORTATION FARE IS CHARGED FOR TRAVEL OF NAVY NURSES WHO IS GRANTED PERMISSION TO TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE AND GRANTED LEAVE EN ROUTE. IS NOT ENTITLED TO 3 CENTS PER MILE OVER THE SHORTEST USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE BETWEEN THE OLD AND THE NEW STATION UNDER THE ACT OF MAY 29. YOU WILL REGARD YOURSELF DETACHED FROM DUTY AT THE U.S. FROM SUCH OTHER DUTY AS MAY HAVE BEEN ASSIGNED YOU. AT SUCH TIMES AS WILL ENABLE YOU TO REPORT TO THE COMMANDANT. YOU WILL PROCEED TO MARE ISLAND. PERMISSION TO PROCEED VIA AUTOMOBILE IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED WITH DELAY FOR A PERIOD OF ONE MONTH EN ROUTE.

A-27776, JULY 26, 1929, 9 COMP. GEN. 35

TRAVELING EXPENSES - USE OF OWN AUTOMOBILE - NAVY NURSE A MEMBER OF THE NAVY NURSE CORPS (FEMALE) ORDERED ON PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION TO TRAVEL ON A GOVERNMENT VESSEL ON WHICH NO TRANSPORTATION FARE IS CHARGED FOR TRAVEL OF NAVY NURSES WHO IS GRANTED PERMISSION TO TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE AND GRANTED LEAVE EN ROUTE, IS NOT ENTITLED TO 3 CENTS PER MILE OVER THE SHORTEST USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE BETWEEN THE OLD AND THE NEW STATION UNDER THE ACT OF MAY 29, 1928, 45 STAT. 975.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, JULY 26, 1929:

THERE HAS BEEN SUBMITTED FOR PREAUDIT VOUCHER STATED IN FAVOR OF CHIEF NURSE SARAH ALMOND, UNITED STATES NAVY, FOR $93.78, REPRESENTING 3 CENTS PER MILE FOR 3,126 MILES FROM NEW YORK TO SAN FRANCISCO, CLAIMED TO BE PAYABLE FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED UNDER THE FOLLOWING ORDERS OF MARCH 26, 1929, ISSUED TO CHIEF NURSE ALMOND:

1. UPON THE REPORTING OF YOUR RELIEF, YOU WILL REGARD YOURSELF DETACHED FROM DUTY AT THE U.S. NAVAL HOSPITAL, NEW YORK, N.Y., AND FROM SUCH OTHER DUTY AS MAY HAVE BEEN ASSIGNED YOU, AT SUCH TIMES AS WILL ENABLE YOU TO REPORT TO THE COMMANDANT, THIRD NAVAL DISTRICT, SOUTH AND WHITEHALL STREETS, NEW YORK, N.Y., FOR PASSAGE VIA THE ARMY TRANSPORT CHATEAU THIERRY SAILING ON 18 APRIL, 1929.

2. UPON ARRIVAL AT SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF., YOU WILL PROCEED TO MARE ISLAND, CALIF., AND REPORT TO THE MEDICAL OFFICER IN COMMAND OF U.S. NAVAL HOSPITAL FOR DUTY.

3. IN CARRYING OUT THE ABOVE ORDERS, PERMISSION TO PROCEED VIA AUTOMOBILE IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED WITH DELAY FOR A PERIOD OF ONE MONTH EN ROUTE, SUCH DELAY TO COUNT AS LEAVE WITH PAY.

4. YOU ARE DIRECTED TO KEEP AN ACCURATE STATEMENT OF YOUR EXPENSES WHILE PERFORMING THIS DUTY, AND UPON COMPLETION THEREOF SUBMIT A CLAIM, ACCOMPANIED BY RECEIPTS WHERE PRACTICABLE, IN ACCORDANCE WITH INCLOSED SCHEDULE, TO THE NAVY DISBURSING OFFICE, BUREAU OF SUPPLIES AND ACCOUNTS.

THE CLAIM IS APPARENTLY PRESENTED UNDER THE AMENDMENT OF MAY 29, 1928, 45 STAT. 975, OF SECTION 12 OF THE JOINT PAY ACT, BY WHICH THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH WAS INSERTED IN THE SECTION:

INDIVIDUALS BELONGING TO ANY OF THE SERVICES MENTIONED IN THE TITLE OF THIS ACT, INCLUDING THE NATIONAL GUARD AND THE RESERVES OF SUCH SERVICES, TRAVELING UNDER COMPETENT ORDERS WHICH ENTITLE THEM TO TRANSPORTATION OR TRANSPORTATION AND SUBSISTENCE AS DISTINGUISHED FROM MILEAGE, WHO, UNDER REGULATIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT CONCERNED, TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE SHALL BE ENTITLED, IN LIEU OF TRANSPORTATION BY THE SHORTEST USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE NOW AUTHORIZED BY LAW TO BE FURNISHED IN KIND, TO A MONEY ALLOWANCE AT THE RATE OF 3 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE SAME DISTANCE: PROVIDED, THAT THIS PROVISION SHALL NOT APPLY TO ANY PERSON ENTITLED TO TRAVELING EXPENSES UNDER THE "SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE ACT OF 1926.'

HAD CHIEF NURSE ALMOND PROCEEDED BY THE ARMY TRANSPORT AS DIRECTED IN HER ORDERS, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO EXPENSE TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR SUCH TRANSPORTATION, BUT HAVING PROCEEDED FOR HER OWN CONVENIENCE AND PLEASURE OVERLAND BY PRIVATE CONVEYANCE, IT IS NOW PROPOSED TO COLLECT FROM THE GOVERNMENT 3 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE LAND TRAVEL. HAD SHE TRAVELED BY RAIL FOR HER OWN CONVENIENCE AND PLEASURE, THERE IS NO QUESTION SHE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ENTITLED TO ANY FORM OF REIMBURSEMENT, TRANSPORTATION BY PUBLIC VESSEL HAVING BEEN TENDERED HER, AND THE DIFFERENCE IN THE SITUATION ARISES ENTIRELY BECAUSE SHE HAS USED A PRIVATE CONVEYANCE FOR THE TRAVEL.

IF THE ORDER WAS INTENDED TO LEAVE IT TO THE WILL OF THE EMPLOYEE WHETHER TO TRAVEL BY GOVERNMENT VESSEL OR PRIVATE CONVEYANCE AND THUS AT THE WILL OF THE EMPLOYEE SAVE IN COST OR INCREASE IN COST TO THE GOVERNMENT--- THE ORDER MUST BE PRONOUNCED AS TO THIS FEATURE AS INDEFINITE, IRREGULAR AND VOID AS AGAINST THE INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES.

UNDER SECTION 12 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1922, 42 STAT. 631, IT WAS HELD THAT OFFICERS ORDERED TO TRAVEL BETWEEN POINTS IN THE UNITED STATES ON GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTS WERE ENTITLED TO MILEAGE AT 8 CENTS PER MILE, LESS 3 CENTS PER MILE FOR TRANSPORTATION FURNISHED, THUS ALLOWING THE OFFICER 5 CENTS PER MILE BY THE SHORTEST USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE. IN THE NAVAL APPROPRIATION ACT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1927, ACT OF MAY 21, 1926, 44 STAT. 595, IT WAS PROVIDED THAT---

* * * HEREAFTER OFFICERS PERFORMING TRAVEL BY GOVERNMENT-OWNED VESSELS FOR WHICH NO TRANSPORTATION FARE IS CHARGED, SHALL ONLY BE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF ACTUAL AND NECESSARY EXPENSES INCURRED; * * *.

A SIMILAR CLAUSE WAS INCLUDED IN THE APPROPRIATION ACTS OF ALL OF THE SERVICES INCLUDED IN THE JOINT SERVICE PAY ACT; FOR THE ARMY, 44 STAT. 259; FOR THE MARINE CORPS, 44 STAT. 611; FOR THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, 44 STAT. 147; FOR THE COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY, 44 STAT. 362; AND FOR THE COAST GUARD, 44 STAT. 144. THE EFFECT OF THESE VARIOUS PERMANENT LIMITATIONS WAS TO AMEND SECTION 12 OF THE JOINT SERVICE PAY ACT TO PROVIDE THAT FOR TRAVEL BETWEEN POINTS IN THE UNITED STATES ON GOVERNMENT- OWNED VESSELS ON WHICH NO TRANSPORTATION FARE IS CHARGED OFFICERS SHALL BE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT ONLY OF THE ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED. UNDER THE CONSTRUCTION CONTENDED FOR IN THE PENDING CLAIM OF THE AMENDMENT OF MAY 29, 1928, THE EFFECT WOULD BE TO RESTORE TO OFFICERS MILEAGE AT THE RATE OF 3 CENTS PER MILE WHERE TRAVEL IS ORDERED ON A GOVERNMENT VESSEL AND IS PERFORMED WITH PERMISSION BY THE OFFICER BY PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE.

THE AMENDMENT OF MAY 29, 1928, ORIGINATED IN A RECOMMENDATION BY THE SECRETARY OF WAR TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE MILITARY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. IN HIS LETTER OF OCTOBER 17, 1927, THE SECRETARY OF WAR STATED, IN EXPLANATION OF THE PURPOSE OF THE PROPOSED LEGISLATION, AND WHICH WAS ADOPTED IN THE EXACT LANGUAGE SUBMITTED, AS FOLLOWS:

AT THE PRESENT TIME OFFICERS OF THE REGULAR ARMY AND OF THE OFFICERS' RESERVE CORPS TRAVELING BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES RECEIVE REIMBURSEMENT FOR GAS AND OIL PURCHASED AND GARAGE SPACE HIRED IN LIEU OF RAILWAY AND PULLMAN FARE PROVIDED THE COST IS NOT IN EXCESS OF WHAT IT WOULD HAVE COST THE GOVERNMENT HAD THE TRAVEL BEEN BY RAILROAD, PLUS ACTUAL EXPENSES FOR SUBSISTENCE AND HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS NOT TO EXCEED $7 PER DAY, OR IN LIEU THEREOF, A MAXIMUM OF $6 PER DIEM.

ENLISTED MEN OF THE REGULAR ARMY ASSIGNED TO THE NATIONAL GUARD FOR DUTY AS INSTRUCTORS WHEN TRAVELING BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES ALSO RECEIVE REIMBURSEMENT FOR GAS AND OIL PURCHASED AND GARAGE SPACE HIRED IN LIEU OF RAILWAY AND PULLMAN FARE, PROVIDED THE COST IS NOT IN EXCESS OF WHAT IT WOULD HAVE COST THE GOVERNMENT HAD THE TRAVEL BEEN BY RAILROAD. THEY ALSO RECEIVE ACTUAL EXPENSES FOR SUBSISTENCE AND HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS NOT TO EXCEED $6 PER DAY, OR IN LIEU THEREOF, A MAXIMUM OF $5 PER DIEM. THEREFORE WHEN ENLISTED MEN ELECT TO TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE THEY ARE FULLY REIMBURSED FOR ALL EXPENSES INCURRED, EXCEPT REPAIRS, REPLACEMENTS AND WEAR AND TEAR ON CONVEYANCE.

UNDER EXISTING LAW AND REGULATIONS THE OFFICERS OF THE NATIONAL GUARD WHEN TRAVELING TO AND FROM NATIONAL MATCHES ARE ONLY FURNISHED TRANSPORTATION AND PULLMAN ACCOMMODATIONS. THEY ARE PERMITTED, HOWEVER, TO RECEIVE IN LIEU THEREOF REIMBURSEMENT FOR OIL AND GAS, GARAGE HIRE, ETC.

THE ADMINISTRATIVE DIFFICULTIES TO BE MET IN CONNECTION WITH REIMBURSING OFFICERS UNDER THE PRESENT SYSTEM WHERE THEY HAVE TO SHOW THE EXACT AMOUNT OF GAS AND OIL USED, THE PRICE PER GALLON PAID, THE PLACES BETWEEN WHICH TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED, THE DISTANCE TRAVELED, THE MAKE OF THE AUTOMOBILES, AND ANY UNUSUAL CONDITIONS EXISTING AT THE TIME AND PLACE OF TRAVEL, ETC., IN ORDER TO GET THEIR VOUCHERS PASSED, WOULD BE LARGELY IF NOT ENTIRELY ELIMINATED BY A FLAT ALLOWANCE OF 3 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE TRAVEL PERFORMED BY MOTOR VEHICLE INSTEAD OF RAILWAY AND PULLMAN FARE.

FURTHERMORE, AS EXPERIENCE HAS SHOWN THAT THE AVERAGE COST OF TRANSPORTATION, EXCLUSIVE OF PULLMAN FARE, TO THE GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN MORE THAN 3 CENTS, IT IS TO BE ANTICIPATED THAT REIMBURSEMENT AT 3 CENTS PER MILE, IN ADDITION TO REMOVING THE MANY DIFFICULTIES MENTIONED ABOVE, WILL OPERATE TO EFFECT A SAVING OVER WHAT IT WOULD HAVE COST THE GOVERNMENT HAD THE TRANSPORTATION NOW AUTHORIZED BY RAIL BEEN USED. THIS EXPECTATION IS ESPECIALLY APPARENT IN SHORT TRIPS WHICH CAN BE MADE MORE QUICKLY AND CONVENIENTLY BY AUTOMOBILE WHICH MAY REASONABLY BE REFLECTED IN A SAVING OF PULLMAN FARE, SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE, AND HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS. I AM CONVINCED THAT THE ELIMINATION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE DIFFICULTIES REFERRED TO, THE DESIRABILITY AND FAIRNESS OF INSURING UNIFORM TREATMENT IN THE MATTER OF REIMBURSEMENT TO ALL, TOGETHER WITH THE SAVINGS THAT WILL BE EFFECTED, GIVES THE LEGISLATION SUCH MERIT AS TO FULLY WARRANT ITS ENACTMENT.

FROM THESE STATEMENTS IT IS APPARENT THAT THE PAYMENT AUTHORIZED "IN LIEU OF TRANSPORTATION BY THE SHORTEST USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE NOW AUTHORIZED BY LAW TO BE FURNISHED IN KIND" HAD REFERENCE TO TRANSPORTATION OVER RAIL CARRIERS FURNISHED ON GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS, OR FOR WHICH THE TRAVELER WAS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT AS PART OF HIS ACTUAL AND NECESSARY EXPENSES OF TRAVEL, AND FOR WHICH THE GOVERNMENT WOULD BE COMPELLED TO PAY. THE ENTIRE STATUTE WAS INTENDED TO ESTABLISH A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE PRACTICE THERETOFORE IN EXISTENCE OF REIMBURSING THE PERSONNEL INCLUDED WITHIN THE ACT THE COST OF GAS, OIL, GARAGE, ETC., NOT EXCEEDING THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT OF RAIL AND PULLMAN FARE. IT WAS NOT INTENDED TO AND DOES NOT AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF 3 CENTS PER MILE FOR TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WHERE THE TRAVEL WAS ORDERED TO BE PERFORMED BY GOVERNMENT VESSEL ON WHICH NO FARE WOULD BE CHARGED. THE PAYMENT OF 3 CENTS PER MILE THEREUNDER IS AUTHORIZED ONLY WHERE THE "TRANSPORTATION IN KIND" WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT WOULD REQUIRE A PAYMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT OF A CHARGE FOR THE FARE OF THE TRAVELER. THE VOUCHER IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO BE PAID AND THE OFFICER SUBMITTING IT WILL BE SO INFORMED.