A-29776, FEBRUARY 27, 1930, 9 COMP. GEN. 366

A-29776: Feb 27, 1930

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IS FURNISHED WITHOUT CHARGE A MEAL AS THE GUEST OF ANOTHER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE. IS REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 47 (C) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS TO BE REDUCED ONE-FIFTH FOR EACH MEAL SO FURNISHED. UPON WHICH DATE THE CLAIMANT WAS THE LUNCHEON GUEST OF B. IN YOUR REQUEST FOR REVIEW IT IS STATED: MR. IT IS A WELL-KNOWN FACT THAT WHEN SUPERVISORY OFFICIALS IN THE COURSE OF THEIR WORK CONFER WITH EMPLOYEES UNDER THEIR JURISDICTION AT THEIR (THE EMPLOYEES-) POINT OF DUTY. THEY ARE VERY APT TO BE INVITED TO TAKE A MEAL WITH THEM. WHEN THE CONDITIONS ARE REVERSED. IF THE ACTION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IS CARRIED TO A LOGICAL CONCLUSION. IT WILL MEAN THAT EVERY TIME AN EMPLOYEE IS THE GUEST OF A BROTHER EMPLOYEE HE WILL BE PENALIZED FOR ACCEPTING A MEAL OR LODGING.

A-29776, FEBRUARY 27, 1930, 9 COMP. GEN. 366

TRAVELING EXPENSES - MEALS FURNISHED BY ANOTHER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE THE PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE OF AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT WHO, WHEN TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, IS FURNISHED WITHOUT CHARGE A MEAL AS THE GUEST OF ANOTHER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE, IS REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 47 (C) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS TO BE REDUCED ONE-FIFTH FOR EACH MEAL SO FURNISHED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO GUY L. SEAMAN, DISBURSING CLERK, INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION, FEBRUARY 27, 1930:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 4, 1929, REQUESTING REVIEW OF THE ACTION OF THIS OFFICE IN REFUSING TO CERTIFY UPON PREAUDIT SO MUCH OF THE OCTOBER, 1929, EXPENSE ACCOUNT OF HARVEY BOLTWOOD AS REPRESENTS ONE-FIFTH OF THE PER DIEM ALLOWANCE IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE FOR OCTOBER 29, 1929, UPON WHICH DATE THE CLAIMANT WAS THE LUNCHEON GUEST OF B. S. ROBERTSON, SERVICE AGENT OF THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION IN NEW YORK CITY.

IN YOUR REQUEST FOR REVIEW IT IS STATED:

MR. BOLTWOOD HAS SUBMITTED AN EXPLANATORY STATEMENT WHICH I AM TRANSMITTING WITH THE VOUCHER, AND IN CONNECTION THEREWITH I WISH TO CALL YOUR ATTENTION TO THE SITUATION THAT HAS DEVELOPED BECAUSE OF THE INTERPRETATION PLACED BY THE AUDIT SECTION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE ON THAT PORTION OF PARAGRAPH 47-C OF THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS REFERRED TO. IT IS A WELL-KNOWN FACT THAT WHEN SUPERVISORY OFFICIALS IN THE COURSE OF THEIR WORK CONFER WITH EMPLOYEES UNDER THEIR JURISDICTION AT THEIR (THE EMPLOYEES-) POINT OF DUTY, THEY ARE VERY APT TO BE INVITED TO TAKE A MEAL WITH THEM, AND CONTRARY WISE, WHEN THE CONDITIONS ARE REVERSED, THE OFFICIAL HAS THE EMPLOYEE AS A GUEST. IF THE ACTION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IS CARRIED TO A LOGICAL CONCLUSION, IT WILL MEAN THAT EVERY TIME AN EMPLOYEE IS THE GUEST OF A BROTHER EMPLOYEE HE WILL BE PENALIZED FOR ACCEPTING A MEAL OR LODGING, AND WHEN HE RECIPROCATES, THERE WILL BE NO MEANS OF REIMBURSEMENT. IT CAN NOT BE QUESTIONED THAT WHERE ONE EMPLOYEE IS A REGULAR GUEST OF ANOTHER--- THAT IS, WHERE HIS STAY IS SOMEWHAT EXTENDED--- AND THE VISITING EMPLOYEE AFFECTS AN ACTUAL SAVING, IT WOULD BE ONLY RIGHT THAT A CORRESPONDING DEDUCTION BE MADE FROM HIS PER DIEM.

I AM SURE THAT IT WILL BE IMPRACTICABLE TO MAKE A REASONABLY ACCURATE CHECK ON THE EMPLOYEES WHO TAKE AN OCCASIONAL MEAL WITH ANOTHER, AND IT WOULD NOT SEEM FAIR TO PENALIZE THOSE FEW WHO ARE HONEST ENOUGH TO ADMIT THAT THEY HAVE TAKEN SUCH MEALS.

BECAUSE OF THE CONDITIONS OUTLINED ABOVE, AND SHOWN IN THE CLAIMANT'S LETTER ATTACHED TO THE ACCOUNT, I AM ASKING FOR A REVIEW OF THE ACTION OF THE AUDIT SECTION.

IN THE LETTER OF ASSISTANT DIRECTOR BOLTWOOD, ATTACHED TO THE VOUCHER IS SUBMITTED THE FOLLOWING:

MY KNOWLEDGE OF GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS EXTENDS BACK TO 1911 AND IN THAT TIME IT HAS BEEN THE CUSTOM AND PRACTICE AMONG MEN OF ANY BUREAU OR ORGANIZATION TO EXTEND COURTESIES IN THE WAY OF A MEAL OR HOME ENTERTAINMENT TO VISITORS OR TRAVELERS FROM OUT OF TOWN. AND INVARIABLY SUCH COURTESIES ARE RETURNED IN SOME MANNER BY THE VISITOR EITHER AT THAT TIME OR AT SOME FUTURE TIME WHEN THE THEN VISITOR CAN ACT AS HOST AT HIS OWN HEADQUARTERS.

THE THOUGHT OF PERSONAL GAIN ON THE PART OF ONE OR THE EXPENSE INVOLVED ON THE PART OF THE OTHER DOES NOT ENTER INTO CONSIDERATION, AS ANY COURTESIES RECEIVED ARE ALWAYS OFFSET BY COURTESIES EXTENDED. THE THOUGHT OF COMMERCIALIZING OR PUTTING A PRICE ON PERSONAL FRIENDSHIP IS REPULSIVE. IN MY OWN PARTICULAR CASE I HAVE FRIENDS IN THE SERVICE WITH WHOM I WORKED IN RAILROAD SERVICE BEFORE WE TOOK UP GOVERNMENT WORK.

IF THE RULE IN QUESTION IS INTENDED TO CONVEY AN IMPLICATION THAT THE ACCEPTANCE OF A MEAL OR OTHER COURTESIES WHILE AWAY FROM HOME OR HEADQUARTERS INVOLVES OBLIGATIONS OR RESPONSIBILITIES THAT COULD BE CONSIDERED AS BUYING FAVORS, THEN I PROTEST MOST VIGOROUSLY.

THE DEDUCTION FROM MY EXPENSE ACCOUNT APPARENTLY WAS NOT MADE BECAUSE I WAS A LUNCHEON GUEST, BUT WAS MADE SOLELY BECAUSE I ATE WITH A COWORKER IN THE SAME BUREAU. HAD I ACCEPTED AN INVITATION FROM A RAILROAD OFFICIAL OR A SUPPLY MAN OR MANUFACTURER OR SHIPPER THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO QUESTION INVOLVED.

THIS DEDUCTION APPEARS TO ME TO BE INCONSISTENT WITH THE ESTABLISHED PRACTICES WITH REGARD TO PAYMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSE BY A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE INSTEAD OF ACTUAL EXPENSE, AND IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING STATEMENTS IT IS UNREASONABLE AND UNJUST.

PARAGRAPH 47 (C) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 1, 1929, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

* * * ACTUAL EXPENSES ARE NOT PAYABLE FOR MEALS AND (OR) LODGING FURNISHED WITHOUT CHARGE TO A TRAVELER BY A MEMBER OF HIS FAMILY, BY ANOTHER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE, OR BY A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY OF ANOTHER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE, NOR WHEN SO FURNISHED WITH CHARGE IN THE ABSENCE OF A SATISFACTORY SHOWING THAT NOT SO PROCURED BECAUSE OF SUCH PERSONAL OR OFFICIAL RELATIONSHIP AND OF IMPRACTICABILITY TO OTHERWISE PROCURE, AND THAT THE MEMBER OF THE FAMILY SO FURNISHING WAS NOT DEPENDENT UPON THE TRAVELER FOR SUPPORT. IN THE ABSENCE OF SUCH SATISFACTORY SHOWING, ACTUAL EXPENDITURES FOR OTHER AUTHORIZED SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES ONLY WILL BE ALLOWED, AND THE PER DIEM SHALL BE ONE-FIFTH LESS FOR EACH NIGHT'S LODGING AND FOR EACH MEAL SO FURNISHED. * * * THE MATERIAL FACTS SHALL BE REPORTED IN THE ACCOUNT.

THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS REGULATION ARE DEFINITE AND MANDATORY, AND THE REGULATION WAS APPROVED BY THE PRESIDENT AND PROMULGATED BY HIS DIRECTION PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF JUNE 3, 1926, 44 STAT. 688. THEREFORE, THIS OFFICE HAS NO CHOICE BUT TO DISAPPROVE OR DISALLOW ANY PAYMENT IN CONTRAVENTION, THEREOF, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE REGULATION MAY OR MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS JUST AND EQUITABLE TO THE TRAVELER.

THE EMPLOYEE IN THIS INSTANCE WAS FURNISHED A MEAL WITHOUT CHARGE BY ANOTHER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE AND THE REGULATIONS REQUIRE IN SUCH A CASE THE DEDUCTION OF ONE-FIFTH OF THE PER DIEM ALLOWANCE FOR THE DAY ON WHICH A MEAL IS SO FURNISHED.

THE STANDARD TRAVEL VOUCHER FORM, WHICH WAS USED BY THE EMPLOYEE IN SUBMITTING HIS ORIGINAL EXPENSE ACCOUNT IN THIS INSTANCE, PROVIDES FOR AN AFFIDAVIT, TO BE EXECUTED BY THE EMPLOYEE, AS FOLLOWS:

I DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR (OR AFFIRM) THAT THE ABOVE ACCOUNT AND SCHEDULE ANNEXED ARE JUST AND TRUE IN ALL RESPECTS; * * * THAT EXCEPT AS SHOWN NO LODGINGS WERE SHARED JOINTLY WITH OTHERS NOR WERE MEALS OR LODGINGS FURNISHED WITHOUT CHARGE BY A GOVERNMENT AGENCY OR WITH OR WITHOUT CHARGE BY A MEMBER OF MY FAMILY, BY ANOTHER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE OR A MEMBER OF HIS FAMILY; * * *

EVIDENTLY YOU OVERLOOKED THIS REQUIREMENT OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSE VOUCHERS WHEN YOU MADE THE STATEMENT APPEARING IN YOUR SUBMISSION THAT "IT WOULD NOT SEEM FAIR TO PENALIZE THOSE FEW WHO ARE HONEST ENOUGH TO ADMIT THAT THEY HAVE TAKEN SUCH MEALS.' IT IS NOT TO BE PRESUMED THAT GOVERNMENT OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES WILL COMMIT PERJURY IN THE EXECUTION OF THEIR TRAVEL EXPENSE VOUCHERS FOR THE SMALL ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS WHICH MIGHT BE SECURED THEREBY. SEE IN THIS CONNECTION TITLE 18, PARAGRAPH 80, OF THE U.S.C. WITH RESPECT TO THE PRESENTATION OF FALSE CLAIMS.

THE ACTION OF THIS OFFICE IN DISAPPROVING OR DISALLOWING THE ITEM OF $1.20 IN THIS CASE IS SUSTAINED.