A-38080, AUGUST 29, 1931, 11 COMP. GEN. 91

A-38080: Aug 29, 1931

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THAT TRAVEL BY AN EMPLOYEE'S PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE ON A MILEAGE BASIS WOULD BE MORE ADVANTAGEOUS AND ECONOMICAL WILL NOT ORDINARILY BE QUESTION BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS. WILL BE COMPUTED UPON THE ROUTE NECESSARILY USED BY THE AUTOMOBILE. UNLESS CHARGEABLE TO AN APPROPRIATION WHICH IS SPECIFICALLY AVAILABLE FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION OF PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES. WHEN CHARGEABLE TO SUCH AN APPROPRIATION REIMBURSEMENT MAY BE MADE UPON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS FOR GASOLINE AND OIL AND PROVIDED THAT IT IS ESTABLISHED BY COMPETENT EVIDENCE THAT NO PART OF THE ACTUAL EXPENSES CLAIMED WAS DUE TO THE USE OF THE AUTOMOBILE UPON PERSONAL OR PRIVATE BUSINESS OR PLEASURE. AS FOLLOWS: THERE ARE PRESENTED FOR DECISION A NUMBER OF QUESTIONS WHICH HAVE ARISEN IN CONNECTION WITH CONSIDERATION GIVEN TO THE PRACTICABILITY AND DESIRABILITY OF AUTHORIZING TRAVEL OF EMPLOYEES BY PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE ON A MILEAGE BASIS PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPH 12 (A) OF STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

A-38080, AUGUST 29, 1931, 11 COMP. GEN. 91

TRAVELING EXPENSES - MILEAGE FOR USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION IN ADVANCE, IN ACCORDANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 12 (A) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, THAT TRAVEL BY AN EMPLOYEE'S PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE ON A MILEAGE BASIS WOULD BE MORE ADVANTAGEOUS AND ECONOMICAL WILL NOT ORDINARILY BE QUESTION BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS. THE MILEAGE TO BE ALLOWED FOR THE USE OF AN EMPLOYEE'S PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE UNDER THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931 (46 STAT. 1103), WILL BE COMPUTED UPON THE ROUTE NECESSARILY USED BY THE AUTOMOBILE, THE NUMBER OF MILES TO BE ESTABLISHED BY SPEEDOMETER READING, AND CHECKED AGAINST SOME RECOGNIZED AUTHORITY, SUCH AS THE PUBLICATIONS OF THE AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION. REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE USE OF A PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WITHIN THE CONFINES OR CORPORATE LIMITS OF THE EMPLOYEE'S DUTY STATION WOULD BE IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE ACT OF JULY 16, 1914 (38 STAT. 508), UNLESS CHARGEABLE TO AN APPROPRIATION WHICH IS SPECIFICALLY AVAILABLE FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION OF PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES; WHEN CHARGEABLE TO SUCH AN APPROPRIATION REIMBURSEMENT MAY BE MADE UPON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS FOR GASOLINE AND OIL AND PROVIDED THAT IT IS ESTABLISHED BY COMPETENT EVIDENCE THAT NO PART OF THE ACTUAL EXPENSES CLAIMED WAS DUE TO THE USE OF THE AUTOMOBILE UPON PERSONAL OR PRIVATE BUSINESS OR PLEASURE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, AUGUST 29, 1931:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 7, 1931, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE ARE PRESENTED FOR DECISION A NUMBER OF QUESTIONS WHICH HAVE ARISEN IN CONNECTION WITH CONSIDERATION GIVEN TO THE PRACTICABILITY AND DESIRABILITY OF AUTHORIZING TRAVEL OF EMPLOYEES BY PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE ON A MILEAGE BASIS PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPH 12 (A) OF STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS AMENDED, EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1931.

THE FOREGOING REGULATION SPECIFIES AS CONDITIONS PRECEDENT TO THE AUTHORIZATION OF TRAVEL ON A MILEAGE BASIS THAT IT BE DETERMINED THAT THE TRAVEL SO AUTHORIZED IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES. WHILE THE WORK INCIDENT TO THE SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVELING EXPENSES COULD BE MATERIALLY REDUCED BY AUTHORIZING TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE ON A MILEAGE BASIS, PROVIDED THAT AN EQUITABLE, WORKABLE BASIS CAN BE ARRIVED AT, AND WHILE THERE WILL BE NUMEROUS CASES WHEREIN TRAVEL ON A MILEAGE BASIS COULD BE AUTHORIZED TO A DISTINCT ADVANTAGE TO THE ADMINISTRATION, IT IS FELT THAT THE PROPOSITION OF AUTHORIZING TRAVEL INVOLVING CONSIDERABLE DISTANCES ON A MILEAGE BASIS OF 7 CENTS IS OUT OF THE QUESTION FOR THE REASON THAT IN SUCH CASES IT WOULD NOT BE MORE ECONOMICAL THAN TRAVEL AUTHORIZED ON SOME OTHER BASIS.

IN THE EVENT, HOWEVER, THAT THE ADMINISTRATION SHOULD ADOPT A MILEAGE RATE LESS THAN 7 CENTS WHICH WOULD EFFECT THE REQUISITE ECONOMY AND AT THE SAME TIME AFFORD ADVANTAGES, AND IN THOSE CASES WHERE TRAVEL AT 7 CENTS PER MILE WOULD BE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS, THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS WILL BE CONFRONTED WITH THE PROBLEM OF THE INADEQUACY OF THE PRESENT SET- UP TO SOLVE THE PECULIAR PROBLEMS INVOLVED IN MAKING SETTLEMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS. SOME OF THE QUESTION WHICH WILL BE ENCOUNTERED IN THIS CONNECTION HAVE BEEN ANTICIPATED AND ARE PRESENTED FOR DECISION.

(1) IS THE DETERMINATION TO THE EFFECT THAT TRAVEL ON A MILEAGE BASIS IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES PURELY AN ADMINISTRATIVE ONE WHICH THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS NEED NOT QUESTION OR REQUIRE TO BE SUBSTANTIATED?

(2) IF THE DETERMINATION REFERRED TO IN THE PRECEDING QUESTION BE NOT CONSTRUED TO BE ENTIRELY ADMINISTRATIVE, WHAT EVIDENCE MUST THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS REQUIRE FROM THE AUTHORIZING OFFICIAL IN ORDER TO SUPPORT PAYMENT OF CLAIMS FOR THE MILEAGE ALLOWANCE?

THE MEANING OF THE LANGUAGE USED IN PARAGRAPH 12 (A) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE BY ANY MEANS CLEAR ON THE POINTS INVOLVED IN THE FOREGOING QUESTIONS. IT IS RECALLED, HOWEVER, THAT THE LANGUAGE CONTAINED IN THE DRAFT OF SAID PARAGRAPH AT THE TIME THAT IT WAS BEFORE THE INTERDEPARTMENTAL COMMITTEE ON TRAVEL REGULATIONS WAS SUCH AS TO LEAVE NO DOUBT THAT THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS WOULD BE REQUIRED TO MAKE A CALCULATION OF THE EXPENSES WHICH THERE WAS REASON TO BELIEVE WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED IN PERFORMING SIMILAR TRAVEL AUTHORIZED ON ANOTHER BASIS, AND REDUCE THE AMOUNT ALLOWED SO AS NOT TO EXCEED THE SUM WHICH THERE WAS REASON TO BELIEVE WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED IN TRAVELING BY SUCH OTHER MODE.

THE FACT THAT THE LANGUAGE HAS BEEN SO CHANGED TENDS TO LEND COLOR TO THE INTERPRETATION, TO THE EFFECT THAT THE DETERMINATION IS PURELY OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE CHARACTER AND CONSEQUENTLY NOT SUBJECT TO QUESTION BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS, WHICH SEEMS TO BE A REASONABLE CONSTRUCTION OF THE MORE OR LESS AMBIGUOUS LANGUAGE EMPLOYED.

IT WILL BE UNDERSTOOD, OF COURSE, THAT ANY CALCULATION WHICH MIGHT BE REQUIRED FOR THE PURPOSE OF DETERMINING WHAT THE COST OF TRAVEL BY ANOTHER MODE WOULD HAVE BEEN, WOULD IN MOST CASES BE LARGELY CONJECTURAL, FOR THE REASON THAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF EACH INDIVIDUAL CASE WOULD INVOLVE POTENTIAL ITEMS OF EXPENSE SO THAT IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE ACCOUNTING OFFICER TO DETERMINE WITH ANY DEGREE OF ACCURACY THE AMOUNT OF EXPENSE WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED HAD TRAVEL BEEN AUTHORIZED ON SOME OTHER BASIS.

(3) SHOULD THE RAILROAD MILEAGE OR THE HIGHWAY MILEAGE BETWEEN THE RESPECTIVE POINTS INVOLVED BE USED IN COMPUTING THE MILEAGE ALLOWANCE?

(4) IF OTHER THAN RAILROAD MILEAGE BE USED FOR COMPUTING THE MILEAGE ALLOWANCE, WOULD THE USE OF PUBLICATIONS ISSUED BY THE AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION FOR SUCH PURPOSE BE AUTHORIZED?

THE STANDARD TABLE OF DISTANCES COMPILED BY THE WAR DEPARTMENT IS BASED ON RAILROAD MILEAGE AND IS DESIGNED FOR THE PURPOSE OF COMPUTING DISTANCES BETWEEN FORTS, MILITARY RESERVATIONS, AND THE CITIES IN WHICH ARE LOCATED MILITARY DETACHMENTS OR REPRESENTATIVES OF MILITARY ORGANIZATIONS. AS A RESULT, THIS TABLE IS WHOLLY INADEQUATE TO MEET THE NEEDS OF THIS ADMINISTRATION IN COMPUTING MILEAGE TO AND FROM THE SMALLER CITIES AND TOWNS AS WELL AS SUBURBAN POINTS AND RURAL COMMUNITIES WHICH ARE SO FREQUENTLY INCLUDED IN THE ITINERARIES OF THE EMPLOYEES OF THE ADMINISTRATION.

(5) ARE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS JUSTIFIED IN MAKING PAYMENT OF MILEAGE ALLOWANCES COVERING TRAVEL INTO RURAL COMMUNITIES ON THE BASIS OF THE UNVERIFIED STATEMENT OF THE TRAVEL AS TO THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE RESPECTIVE POINTS WHEN IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO VERIFY SUCH DISTANCES BY AN AUTHENTIC PUBLICATION?

MUCH OF THE TRAVEL PERFORMED BY FIELD EXAMINERS, FOLLOW-UP NURSES, AND INVESTIGATORS EXTENDS INTO RURAL COMMUNITIES OUT-OF-THE-WAY PLACES, AND IN SUCH CASES IT WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE AN AUTHENTIC VERIFICATION AS TO THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE POINTS INVOLVED. IN THESE CASES TRAVEL BY EITHER PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE OR BY THE HIRE OF A SPECIAL CONVEYANCE IS IN THE MAJORITY OF INSTANCES NECESSARY; CONSEQUENTLY, IT IS IN THIS CLASS OF CASES THAT TRAVEL CAN BE AUTHORIZED ON A MILEAGE BASIS TO THE GREATEST ADVANTAGE, AND IT IS ALSO IN THESE CASES THAT EMPLOYEES EXPERIENCE THE GREATEST DIFFICULTY IN SECURING RECEIPTS AND EXEMPTION FROM THE PAYMENT OF STATE TAXES ON GASOLINE.

(6) DO THE PROVISIONS OF STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS AMENDED, AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT TO EMPLOYEES FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE WITHIN THE LIMITS OF THEIR OFFICIAL STATIONS ON AND AFTER JULY 1, 1931?

PARAGRAPH 12 OF STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS AMENDED EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1931, READS AS FOLLOWS:

"WHEN AN OFFICIAL OR EMPLOYEE TRAVELS ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY OR OFFICIAL STATION HE MAY BE AUTHORIZED TO USE HIS OWN CONVEYANCE ON AN ACTUAL-EXPENSE BASIS * * *.'

PARAGRAPH 12 (A) PROVIDES:

"MILEAGE IN LIEU OF ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS UNDER PARAGRAPH 12, MAY BE ALLOWED A CIVILIAN OFFICIAL OR EMPLOYEE TRAVELING ON HIS OWN MOTORCYCLE OR AUTOMOBILE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY OR OFFICIAL STATION AT RATES NOT TO EXCEED ?03 PER MILE FOR MOTORCYCLE AND ?07 PER MILE FOR AUTOMOBILE * * *.'

PARAGRAPH 3 PROVIDES:

"UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED, THE LIMITS OF AN OFFICIAL STATION IN A CITY OR TOWN ARE THE CORPORATE LIMITS OF THE CITY OR TOWN WHERE THE OFFICIAL OR EMPLOYEE IS LOCATED.'

IT WILL BE NOTED FROM THE ABOVE THAT BOTH PARAGRAPHS 12 AND 12 (A) OF THE LATEST ISSUE OF STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS CONTAIN THE RESTRICTION "AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY OR OFFICIAL STATION," WHICH WAS NOT INCLUDED IN THE ISSUE EFFECTIVE MARCH 1, 1929. THIS CONDITION NATURALLY GIVES RISE TO THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER THERE IS AUTHORITY FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCIDENT TO OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY PRIVATE AUTOMOBILE WITHIN THE LIMITS OF THE EMPLOYEE'S OFFICIAL STATION SUBSEQUENT TO JULY 1, 1931.

THERE ARE A LARGE NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES OF THIS ADMINISTRATION, SUCH AS FIELD EXAMINERS, FOLLOW-UP NURSES, ETC., WHOSE DUTIES MAKE IT NECESSARY FOR THEM TO PERFORM CONSIDERABLE TRAVEL WITHIN THE LIMITS OF THEIR OFFICIAL STATION. SUCH TRAVEL BY STREET CARS AND TAXICABS IS OFTEN IMPRACTICAL AND THE USE OF PERSONALLY OWNED VEHICLES HAS BEEN FOUND TO BE DECIDEDLY ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT.

WITH RESPECT TO QUESTIONS 1 AND 2, IT WILL BE NOTED THAT THE USE OF AN EMPLOYEE'S AUTOMOBILE ON A MILEAGE BASIS, AS PERMITTED BY THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, IS REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 12 (A) AUTHORIZED BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OR BY AN OFFICIAL TO WHOM SUCH AUTHORITY HAS BEEN DELEGATED AND IS DEPENDENT UPON A DETERMINATION THAT SUCH USE IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES. FOLLOWS THAT THE OFFICIAL AUTHORIZING SUCH USE OF AN AUTOMOBILE IN ADVANCE MUST NECESSARILY DETERMINE THE QUESTION OF ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE. THE RULES FOR SUCH DETERMINATION ARE PRESCRIBED IN THE PARAGRAPH OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS REFERRED TO, AND AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH SUCH REGULATIONS THAT REIMBURSEMENT TO THE EMPLOYEE FOR THE USE OF HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE UPON A MILEAGE BASIS, AT THE RATE PRESCRIBED IN THE TRAVEL ORDERS, WILL BE MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES, WILL NOT ORDINARILY BE QUESTIONED BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS. A-6311, JULY 7, 1931.

WITH RESPECT TO QUESTIONS 3 AND 4, IT MAY BE STATED THAT AS THE MILEAGE IS FOR THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES IT NECESSARILY FOLLOWS THAT IT IS TO BE COMPUTED UPON THE ROUTE NECESSARILY USED BY THE AUTOMOBILE. THE VOUCHER SHOULD CONTAIN A STATEMENT OF THE MILEAGE TRAVELED BETWEEN THE VARIOUS POINTS AS SHOWN BY THE SPEEDOMETER OF THE AUTOMOBILE. THIS MILEAGE SHOULD BE CHECKED AGAINST SOME RECOGNIZED AUTHORITY, AND, FOR THIS PURPOSE, THE PUBLICATION OF THE AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION MAY BE USED.

WITH RESPECT TO QUESTION 5, WHETHER OR NOT THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS WILL ACCEPT AN "UNVERIFIED STATEMENT" OF THE TRAVEL AS TO THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE RESPECTIVE POINTS, WHEN IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO VERIFY SUCH DISTANCES BY AN AUTHENTIC PUBLICATION, WILL BE DEPENDENT UPON THE FACTS IN EACH PARTICULAR CASE, IT BEING ASSUMED THAT YOUR REFERENCE TO UNVERIFIED STATEMENTS DOES NOT MEAN UNSWORN STATEMENTS AS TO THE SPEEDOMETER READINGS AND AS TO THE ACCURACY OF THE SPEEDOMETER.

WITH RESPECT TO QUESTION 6, THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS ARE APPLICABLE TO TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF THE CONFINES OR CORPORATE LIMITS OF THE EMPLOYEE'S OFFICIAL DUTY STATION AND HAVE NO APPLICATION TO TRANSPORTATION WITHIN SUCH LIMITS. REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES FOR TRANSPORTATION WITHIN THE LIMITS OF THE EMPLOYEE'S OFFICIAL DUTY STATION WOULD BE IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE ACT OF JULY 16, 1914, 38 STAT. 508, UNLESS CHARGEABLE TO AN APPROPRIATION WHICH IS SPECIFICALLY AVAILABLE FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION OF PASSENGER- CARRYING VEHICLES. SEE 10 COMP. GEN. 409, AND 11 COMP. GEN. 67. WHERE THE APPROPRIATION TO BE CHARGED IS EXPRESSLY AVAILABLE FOR MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION OF PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES, AS IS THE APPROPRIATION FOR "ADMINISTRATION, MEDICAL, HOSPITAL AND DOMICILARY SERVICES, VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION," 46 STAT. 1373, REIMBURSEMENT MAY BE MADE TO EMPLOYEES FOR THE USE OF THEIR PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES FOR TRANSPORTATION, AT THEIR OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS UPON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS, ONLY, THAT IS, FOR GASOLINE AND OIL ACTUALLY CONSUMED, AND PROVIDED IT IS ESTABLISHED BY COMPETENT EVIDENCE THAT NO PART OF THE ACTUAL EXPENSES CLAIMED WAS DUE TO THE USE OF THE AUTOMOBILE UPON PERSONAL OR PRIVATE BUSINESS OR PLEASURE. 2 COMP. GEN. 329.