A-38650, OCTOBER 3, 1931, 11 COMP. GEN. 121

A-38650: Oct 3, 1931

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SECTION 12 (A) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS DO NOT PRECLUDE REIMBURSEMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WITHIN THE CONFINES OF A CITY OR TOWN AT WHICH AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IS TEMPORARILY ON DUTY WHICH IS WITHIN THE TOUR OF DUTY ASSIGNED IN HIS TRAVEL ORDER. IF THE PERIOD IS NOT IN FACT OF SUCH DURATION. WHO IS NOW ENGAGED IN FIELD WORK ON THE NATIONAL DRUG STORE SURVEY. MESEROLE IS ONE OF A GROUP OF FIVE FIELD INVESTIGATORS WHO ARE USING OR PLANNING TO USE PERSONAL AUTOMOBILES IN CARRYING OUT ASSIGNMENTS ON THIS SURVEY OF NATION- WIDE SCOPE. AN INTENSIVE PHASE OF THIS STUDY IS BASED ON TEST STORES IN ST. THEY ARE SO WIDELY SCATTERED IN ST.

A-38650, OCTOBER 3, 1931, 11 COMP. GEN. 121

MILEAGE - TRAVEL BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE - TEMPORARY DUTY STATION THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, AND SECTION 12 (A) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS DO NOT PRECLUDE REIMBURSEMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WITHIN THE CONFINES OF A CITY OR TOWN AT WHICH AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IS TEMPORARILY ON DUTY WHICH IS WITHIN THE TOUR OF DUTY ASSIGNED IN HIS TRAVEL ORDER, IF THE PERIOD IS NOT IN FACT OF SUCH DURATION, OR THE DUTY OF SUCH A NATURE AS TO SHOW THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A ,DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY" AT THAT PLACE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, OCTOBER 3, 1931:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 10, 1931, AS FOLLOWS:

NOTICE HAS BEEN RECEIVED OF DISALLOWANCE OF EXPENSES ON A PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE IN THE CASE OF MR. W. H. MESEROLE, WHO IS NOW ENGAGED IN FIELD WORK ON THE NATIONAL DRUG STORE SURVEY, VOUCHER RED NO. 18526, ACCOUNTS OF C. E. MOLSTER, DISBURSING CLERK. MR. MESEROLE IS ONE OF A GROUP OF FIVE FIELD INVESTIGATORS WHO ARE USING OR PLANNING TO USE PERSONAL AUTOMOBILES IN CARRYING OUT ASSIGNMENTS ON THIS SURVEY OF NATION- WIDE SCOPE. THE DEPARTMENT ASKS A RECONSIDERATION OF THE DECISION OF YOUR OFFICE IN THIS CASE, SINCE AS A MATTER OF PRECEDENT IT WOULD GREATLY HAMPER OUR FIELD STAFF IN CARRYING ON A MERCHANDISING SURVEY OF THIS SORT.

THE NATIONAL DRUG STORE SURVEY EMBRACES WITHIN ITS SCOPE CONDITIONS IN THE DRUG TRADE THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. AN INTENSIVE PHASE OF THIS STUDY IS BASED ON TEST STORES IN ST. LOUIS AND SURROUNDING COUNTRY WITHIN A RADIUS OF TWO HUNDRED MILES. THIS TERRITORY COMPRISES THE DISTRIBUTION AREA SERVED BY WHOLESALE DRUGGISTS FROM ST. LOUIS. SUPERVISORY CALLS MUST BE MADE ON THESE STORES AT FREQUENT INTERVALS. THEY ARE SO WIDELY SCATTERED IN ST. LOUIS AND ENVIRONS THAT THE ONLY FEASIBLE WAY OF HANDLING THEM IS THROUGH USE OF AUTOMOBILES. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT THE COST OF MAKING THESE CALLS BY THE USUAL MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION WOULD BE NEARLY THREE TIMES AS GREAT IN SALARY AND SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE, SO THAT THE PRESENT MEANS IS ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES AS REQUIRED BY THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, AND PARAGRAPH 12A OF THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

ST. LOUIS IS NOT THE TEMPORARY DUTY STATION OF THIS FIELD STAFF WITHIN THE USUAL MEANING OF THIS TERM. THIS STAFF IS IN ST. LOUIS INTERMITTENTLY AND ONLY LONG ENOUGH TO COMPLETE THE INVESTIGATIONS NECESSARY, IN A MANNER IDENTICALLY ANALOGOUS TO ANY OTHER TRAVELER MAKING INVESTIGATIONS AWAY FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION. NONE OF THESE MEN ARE ATTACHED TO THE DISTRICT OFFICE, WHICH THE BUREAU OF FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC COMMERCE MAINTAINS IN ST. LOUIS, AS THEY WOULD BE IF THIS CITY WAS CONSIDERED THEIR TEMPORARY DUTY STATION. EVERY MAN REPORTS DIRECTLY TO WASHINGTON AND IS SUBJECT TO BEING SENT ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE UNITED STATES ON DRUG SURVEY DUTIES AT A MOMENT'S NOTICE.

ALL OF THE FIELD STAFF WORKING IN THE ST. LOUIS AREA ARE ON FULL TRAVEL STATUS. IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE, DUE TO THE NATURE OF THE WORK AND THE FACT THAT STORES TO BE VISITED ARE SCATTERED IN VARIOUS PARTS OF ST. LOUIS AND ADJACENT TERRITORY, THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION BY USUAL MEANS WOULD EXCEED THAT OCCASIONED BY THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES. MOREOVER, THE TIME NECESSARILY CONSUMED IN USING STREET CARS OR BUSES WOULD INVOLVE EXTENDING THE TIME NECESSARY TO COMPLETE THIS PARTICULAR PIECE OF WORK AND CONSEQUENTLY GREATLY ADD TO THE COST OF THE SURVEY.

THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, AUTHORIZED REIMBURSEMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES ONLY WHILE AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IS TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS "AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY.' SECTION 12 (A) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS USES THE TERM "DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY OR OFFICIAL STATION," WHICH ARE CONSIDERED AS SYNONYMOUS. IN DECISION OF AUGUST 29, 1931, A-38080, 11 COMP. GEN. 19, QUESTION AND ANSWER 6 ARE STATED AS FOLLOWS:

(6) DO THE PROVISIONS OF STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS AMENDED, AUTHORIZED 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?

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 A-6311, AUGUST 11, 1931. 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 DOMICILIARY 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 WERE DUE TO THE USE OF THE AUTOMOBILE UPON PERSONAL OR PRIVATE BUSINESS OR PLEASURE. 2 COMP. GEN. 329.

SEE ALSO DECISION OF SEPTEMBER 8, 1931, A-38422.

RULES FOR DETERMINING THE DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY OR OFFICIAL STATION OF AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE, AND WHETHER THEY ARE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AWAY FROM THEIR DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY OR OFFICIAL STATION, UNDER THE AUTOMOBILE MILEAGE LAW, ARE THE SAME AS HAVE BEEN IN FORCE IN THE APPLICATION OF OTHER STATUTES AND ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS GOVERNING REIMBURSEMENT FOR OTHER TRAVELING EXPENSES. THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL OF THESE RULES MAY BE STATED BY QUOTING THE FOLLOWING FROM DECISION OF MAY 15, 1923, 2 COMP. GEN 757, 758:

* * * I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT THE OFFICER'S STATUS WITH RESPECT TO SUCH EXPENSES SHOULD BE DETERMINED BY THE ACTUAL FACTS OR CIRCUMSTANCES RATHER THAN BY ANY ARBITRARY DESIGNATION OF A POST OF DUTY. IF THE DETAIL IS OF SUCH A PERMANENT CHARACTER AS TO AMOUNT TO A CHANGE OF DUTY STATION RATHER THAN A MERE TEMPORARY ABSENCE FROM HIS REGULAR POST OF DUTY, HE WOULD NOT WHILE ON DUTY AT THE PLACE DESIGNATED IN THE DETAIL BE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSES FOR SUBSISTENCE OR A PER DIEM IN LIEU THEREOF.

SEE ALSO 1 COMP. GEN. 426; 3 ID. 331; ID. 907; 4 ID. 711; AND 5 ID. 337.

THE STATUTE AND REGULATIONS DO NOT PRECLUDE REIMBURSEMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WITHIN THE CONFINES OF A CITY OR TOWN AT WHICH AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IS TEMPORARILY ON DUTY WHICH IS WITHIN THE TOUR OF DUTY ASSIGNED IN HIS TRAVEL ORDER, IF THE PERIOD IS NOT IN FACT OF SUCH DURATION, OR THE DUTY OF SUCH A NATURE AS TO SHOW THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A "DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY" AT THAT PLACE. WHERE IT IS CONTEMPLATED THAT AN ASSIGNMENT OF DUTY TO AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE WILL NECESSITATE STOPPING AT A NUMBER OF CITIES OR TOWNS FOR PERIODS OF DUTY, THE TRAVEL ORDER SHOULD CONTAIN FACTS AS TO THE CHARACTER AND NATURE OF THE DUTY, THE PROBABLE LENGTH OF STAY AT THE PLACES DESIGNATED IN THE ORDER, ETC., AS A BASIS FOR DETERMINING WHETHER THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IS ACTUALLY IN A TRAVEL STATUS AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY WHILE ENGAGED ON TEMPORARY DUTY AT THE CITIES OR TOWNS IN QUESTION, SUCH A DETERMINATION BEING ESSENTIAL AS A BASIS FOR REIMBURSING HIM ON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR THE USE OF HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE.

IN THIS CASE THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN FURNISHED, ALSO, EITHER AS A PART OF THE TRAVEL ORDER OR IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, AND TRANSMITTED TO THIS OFFICE WITH THE ACCOUNTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER, A SHOWING OF FACTS THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER AUTHORIZED TO ISSUE THE TRAVEL ORDER HAD DETERMINED IN ADVANCE THAT THE TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WOULD BE MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES THAN OTHER MEANS OF TRAVEL. DECISION OF AUGUST 29, 1931, SUPRA.

ON THE BASIS OF THE FACTS CONTAINED IN THE ABOVE-QUOTED LETTER, SHOWING WASHINGTON, D.C., THE PLACE DESIGNATED IN THIS TRAVEL ORDER, AS THE DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY, AND IN VIEW OF THE NATURE OF THE ASSIGNED DUTIES INVOLVING INVESTIGATION OF A NUMBER OF STORES IN ST. LOUIS AND ELSEWHERE, CREDIT FOR THE PAYMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS TO W. H. MESEROLE WHILE IN ST. LOUIS WILL BE ALLOWED IF OTHERWISE CORRECT AND PROPER.