A-36165, JULY 2, 1931, 11 COMP. GEN. 4

A-36165: Jul 2, 1931

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WHERE TRAVEL BY THE OFFICIAL OR DIRECT ROUTE COULD HAVE BEEN PERFORMED ON A VESSEL REGISTERED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES. THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED UNDER AUTHORITY OF ORDERS DATED DECEMBER 15. PERMISSION FOR THE RETURN TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES VIA CIRCUITOUS ROUTE HAD BEEN GRANTED BY THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR AS FOLLOWS: IT WILL BE ENTIRELY AGREEABLE TO US IF YOU RETURN TO THE STATES WITH YOUR MOTHER BY WAY OF EUROPE. PROVIDED OF COURSE THE ADDITIONAL EXPENSE IS PAID BY YOU PERSONALLY AND THE ADDITIONAL TIME REQUIRED IS TAKEN FROM YOUR ANNUAL LEAVE. * * * THE JOURNEY VIA EUROPE INVOLVED TRAVEL BY A VESSEL OF FOREIGN REGISTRY BETWEEN RIO DE JANEIRO AND LISBON. THE STATED COST OF SUCH CIRCUITOUS TRAVEL BY THE EMPLOYEE AND HER DEPENDENT MOTHER IS SHOWN TO HAVE BEEN IN EXCESS OF WHAT THE TRAVEL WOULD HAVE COST BY THE DIRECT ROUTE.

A-36165, JULY 2, 1931, 11 COMP. GEN. 4

TRAVELING EXPENSES - VESSELS OF FOREIGN REGISTRY REIMBURSEMENT MAY NOT BE ALLOWED UNDER SECTION 601 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT OF MAY 22, 1928, 45 STAT. 697, FOR EXPENSES INCURRED BY AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE, OR FOR DEPENDENTS, TRAVELING AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE, FOR TRAVEL ON A FOREIGN VESSEL BY A CIRCUITOUS ROUTE FOR THE PLEASURE OR CONVENIENCE OF THE EMPLOYEE OR OFFICER, WHERE TRAVEL BY THE OFFICIAL OR DIRECT ROUTE COULD HAVE BEEN PERFORMED ON A VESSEL REGISTERED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, JULY 2, 1931:

FLAVIA WIGGINS, FORMER CLERK AND SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, HAS REQUESTED REVIEW OF THE DISALLOWANCE OF CREDIT IN THE SETTLEMENT OF HER ACCOUNTS FOR MARCH QUARTER, 1930, FOR ITEMS AGGREGATING $129.67, REPRESENTING REIMBURSEMENT TO HERSELF, IN PART, OF EXPENSES INCURRED FOR HERSELF AND DEPENDENT MOTHER FOR TRAVEL UPON A VESSEL OF FOREIGN REGISTRY WHEN RETURNING BY A CIRCUITOUS ROUTE TO THE UNITED STATES FROM RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL.

THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED UNDER AUTHORITY OF ORDERS DATED DECEMBER 15, 1929, OF THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC COMMERCE, WHICH DIRECTED TRAVEL BY THE EMPLOYEE AND HER DEPENDENT MOTHER BY THE SHORTEST AND MOST DIRECT ROUTE FROM RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, TO NEW YORK, WASHINGTON, AND SUCH POINTS EN ROUTE AS MIGHT BE NECESSARY, AND FROM RIO DE JANEIRO TO NEW YORK AND SAN ANTONIO, TEX., RESPECTIVELY. IT APPEARS, HOWEVER, THAT UNDER DATE OF OCTOBER 15, 1929, PERMISSION FOR THE RETURN TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES VIA CIRCUITOUS ROUTE HAD BEEN GRANTED BY THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR AS FOLLOWS:

IT WILL BE ENTIRELY AGREEABLE TO US IF YOU RETURN TO THE STATES WITH YOUR MOTHER BY WAY OF EUROPE, PROVIDED OF COURSE THE ADDITIONAL EXPENSE IS PAID BY YOU PERSONALLY AND THE ADDITIONAL TIME REQUIRED IS TAKEN FROM YOUR ANNUAL LEAVE. * * *

THE JOURNEY VIA EUROPE INVOLVED TRAVEL BY A VESSEL OF FOREIGN REGISTRY BETWEEN RIO DE JANEIRO AND LISBON, PORTUGAL, LAND TRAVEL IN EUROPE, AND WATER TRAVEL BY AN AMERICAN VESSEL FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK. THE STATED COST OF SUCH CIRCUITOUS TRAVEL BY THE EMPLOYEE AND HER DEPENDENT MOTHER IS SHOWN TO HAVE BEEN IN EXCESS OF WHAT THE TRAVEL WOULD HAVE COST BY THE DIRECT ROUTE, AND, ACCORDINGLY, THE SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT REIMBURSED HERSELF FOR SUCH ACTUAL EXPENSES IN THE AMOUNT THE TRAVEL SUPPOSEDLY WOULD HAVE COST BY THE DIRECT ROUTE. HOWEVER, IF THERE BE EXCLUDED FROM THE ACTUAL EXPENSES BY THE CIRCUITOUS ROUTE, THE COST OF TRAVEL ON THE FOREIGN VESSEL FROM RIO DE JANEIRO TO LISBON, THE STATED ACTUAL EXPENSES BY THE CIRCUITOUS ROUTE ARE LESS THAN THE COST WOULD HAVE BEEN BY THE DIRECT ROUTE. IN THE AUDIT OF THE VOUCHERS THE COST OF TRAVEL ON THE FOREIGN VESSEL TO LISBON, WAS EXCLUDED, AND CREDIT WAS ALLOWED ONLY FOR THE REMAINING EXPENSES OTHERWISE PROPER AND CORRECT, WHICH, AS JUST STATED, WERE LESS THAN IT WOULD HAVE COST TO HAVE TRAVELED BY THE DIRECT ROUTE. THE SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT URGES THAT THE EXPENSE OF TRAVEL ON THE FOREIGN VESSEL SHOULD NOT BE EXCLUDED BUT THAT CREDIT IN AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO THE ENTIRE COST OF TRAVEL WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED BY THE DIRECT ROUTE SHOULD BE ALLOWED FOR THE REASON THAT THERE WAS NO LINE OF AMERICAN VESSELS OPERATING BETWEEN THE PORTS OF RIO DE JANEIRO AND LISBON.

SECTION 601 OF THE ACT OF MAY 22, 1928, 45 STAT. 697, PROVIDES:

ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS OVERSEAS TO FOREIGN COUNTRIES, OR TO ANY OF THE POSSESSIONS OF THE UNITED STATES, SHALL TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT HIS PERSONAL EFFECTS ON SHIPS REGISTERED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES WHEN SUCH SHIPS ARE AVAILABLE, UNLESS THE NECESSITY OF HIS MISSION REQUIRES THE USE OF A SHIP UNDER A FOREIGN FLAG: PROVIDED, THAT THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES SHALL NOT CREDIT ANY ALLOWANCE FOR TRAVEL OR SHIPPING EXPENSES INCURRED ON A FOREIGN SHIP IN THE ABSENCE OF SATISFACTORY PROOF OF THE NECESSITY THEREFOR.

THE PURPOSE OF THIS ACT IS TO REQUIRE OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES TO TRAVEL ON AMERICAN REGISTERED VESSELS, WHEN SUCH VESSELS ARE AVAILABLE, WHERE THERE IS ACTUAL TRAVEL BY WATER TO AND FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES OR POSSESSIONS OF THE UNITED STATES, AND IT MANDATORILY REQUIRES THE DENIAL OF CREDIT FOR "ANY ALLOWANCE FOR TRAVEL OR SHIPPING EXPENSES INCURRED ON A FOREIGN SHIP" IN THE ABSENCE OF SATISFACTORY PROOF OF THE NECESSITY THEREFOR. IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT UNDER THIS STATUTE THE NECESSITY FOR TRAVEL ON A VESSEL OF FOREIGN REGISTRY MUST RELATE SOLELY TO THE TRAVELER'S MISSION AND NOT TO HIS PERSONAL CONVENIENCE OR PREFERENCE. 10 COMP. GEN. 245. IT HAS BEEN HELD, ALSO, THAT THE STATUTORY RESTRICTION APPLIES TO THE TRAVELING EXPENSES OF DEPENDENTS PAYABLE UNDER GOVERNMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS. 9 COMP. GEN. 210. THEREFORE, CREDIT MAY NOT BE ALLOWED FOR THE EXPENSE OF TRAVEL INCURRED ON A FOREIGN VESSEL BY A CIRCUITOUS ROUTE FOR THE PLEASURE OR CONVENIENCE OF THE EMPLOYEE OR DEPENDENTS TRAVELING AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE WHERE, AS HERE, TRAVEL BY THE OFFICIAL OR DIRECT ROUTE COULD HAVE BEEN PERFORMED ON A VESSEL REGISTERED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES, BECAUSE, UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, THERE IS NO NECESSITY FOR TRAVEL BY A FOREIGN VESSEL.

ACCORDINGLY, THE DISALLOWANCE OF CREDIT FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN THIS CASE FOR TRAVEL ON THE FOREIGN VESSEL MUST BE AND IS SUSTAINED. THE AMOUNT INVOLVED SHOULD BE DEPOSITED WITHOUT DELAY.