A-41008, MARCH 1, 1932, 11 COMP. GEN. 333

A-41008: Mar 1, 1932

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THAT SUCH MODE OF TRAVEL HAVE BEEN PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED. " AND WHERE TRAVEL IS PERFORMED IN A PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WITHOUT SUCH PREVIOUS AUTHORIZATION MILEAGE IS NOT PAYABLE. WHEREIN WAS DISALLOWED HIS CLAIM FOR $43.57 AS MILEAGE FOR TRAVEL IN HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE FROM SACRAMENTO. IT APPEARS THAT THE CLAIMANT WAS SERVING AS SUBSTITUTE REGISTER OF THE LOCAL LAND OFFICE AT SACRAMENTO UNDER ORDERS DATED NOVEMBER 8. WAS INSTRUCTED BY TELEGRAM DATED JUNE 29. THE CLAIM WAS FILED FOR PER DIEM AND MILEAGE AT THE RATE OF 3 1/2 CENTS PER MILE. THE CLAIM FOR MILEAGE WAS DISALLOWED FOR THE REASON THAT TRAVEL BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE HAD NOT BEEN AUTHORIZED IN ADVANCEAS REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 12 (A) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

A-41008, MARCH 1, 1932, 11 COMP. GEN. 333

MILEAGE - TRAVEL BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, REQUIRES A CONDITION PRECEDENT TO THE PAYMENT OF MILEAGE FOR THE USE OF AN EMPLOYEE'S PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE, THAT SUCH MODE OF TRAVEL HAVE BEEN PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED," AND WHERE TRAVEL IS PERFORMED IN A PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WITHOUT SUCH PREVIOUS AUTHORIZATION MILEAGE IS NOT PAYABLE.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, MARCH 1, 1932:

WALTER SPENCER HAS REQUESTED REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT NO. 0266670OF DECEMBER 5, 1931, WHEREIN WAS DISALLOWED HIS CLAIM FOR $43.57 AS MILEAGE FOR TRAVEL IN HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE FROM SACRAMENTO, LIF., TO DENVER, COLO., DURING JULY, 1931. IT APPEARS THAT THE CLAIMANT WAS SERVING AS SUBSTITUTE REGISTER OF THE LOCAL LAND OFFICE AT SACRAMENTO UNDER ORDERS DATED NOVEMBER 8, 1930, AND WAS INSTRUCTED BY TELEGRAM DATED JUNE 29, 1931, TO RETURN TO DENVER AND RESUME HIS DUTIES AS REGISTER OF THE DENVER LAND OFFICE. THE CLAIM WAS FILED FOR PER DIEM AND MILEAGE AT THE RATE OF 3 1/2 CENTS PER MILE. HIS WIFE ACCOMPANIED HIM. THE CLAIM FOR MILEAGE WAS DISALLOWED FOR THE REASON THAT TRAVEL BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE HAD NOT BEEN AUTHORIZED IN ADVANCEAS REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 12 (A) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. IN HIS REQUEST FOR REVIEW IT IS STATED:

I AM RETURNING HEREWITH NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT OF CLAIM NO. 0316404 AND REQUEST A REVIEW OF THIS CASE.

THE DECISION DISALLOWING TRAVEL FROM SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, TO DENVER, COLORADO, APPEARS TO ME TO BE BASED ON PURELY TECHNICAL GROUNDS AND IN MY ESTIMATION IS NOT A JUST AND REASONABLE ADJUSTMENT OF THE BILL.

MY OFFICIAL POSITION IS REGISTER OF THE UNITED STATES LAND OFFICE AT DENVER, COLORADO. IN THIS POSITION I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND HAVE HAD NO REASON TO STUDY THEM IN A TECHNICAL WAY.

THE CASE OF THE UNITED STATES VS. THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA AND ITS TRANSFEREES, COMMONLY KNOWN AS THE SECTION 36, ELK HILLS CASE, COMING UP FOR HEARING IN THE LAND OFFICE AT SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, JOHN C. ING. THE REGISTER OF THAT OFFICE, DISQUALIFIED HIMSELF AND I WAS SELECTED BY SECRETARY WILBUR TO HEAR THE CASE.

WHILE I WAS IN SACRAMENTO AN ADJOURNMENT OF THE CASE WAS TAKEN FOR SEVERAL MONTHS. I WAS ENTITLED TO EITHER REMAIN THERE IN COMPARATIVE IDLENESS OR RETURN BY RAILROAD TO DENVER AND RESUME MY WORK IN DENVER DURING THE INTERIM. COMMISSIONER MOORE, OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE, KINDLY CONSENTED TO MY RETURN AND, NOT KNOWING THAT HIS CONSENT WAS ALSO NECESSARY TO CHANGE MY MODE OF TRAVEL, I RETURNED TO DENVER IN MY OWN AUTO, PRESUMING THAT A REASONABLE REIMBURSEMENT WOULD BE ALLOWED ME IF NOT IN EXCESS OF RAILROAD FARE.

THE RAILROAD FARE WITH PULLMAN WOULD AMOUNT TO $61.43. I PUT IN MY BILL FOR $43.57, WHICH WAS AT THE RATE OF 3 1/2 CENTS PER MILE, LESS THAN ANY ESTIMATED EXPENSE OF AUTO TRAVEL AND $17.86 LESS THAN THE GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE WILLINGLY PAID IF I HAD RETURNED BY RAIL. ANY PRIVATE ORGANIZATION WOULD HAVE BEEN GLAD TO HAVE ONE OF ITS EMPLOYEES REDUCE ITS LEGITIMATE EXPENSES IN THIS WAY AND WOULD HAVE RECOGNIZED THE JUSTICE OF THE BILL RENDERED.

BUT THERE SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN ONE TECHNICALITY OF WHICH I WAS NOT AWARE. I SHOULD HAVE OBTAINED THE CONSENT OF COMMISSIONER MOORE BEFORE MAKING THE CHANGE IN TRAVEL PLANS.

I WAS ADVISED OF THIS AT THE OFFICE OF THE DISBURSING AGENT FOR THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT (SURVEYS) IN DENVER ON MY RETURN AND WROTE MR. MOORE AS FOLLOWS:

"I AM ENCLOSING VOUCHER FROM JULY 1ST TO MY RETURN TO DENVER FROM SERVICE IN THE SECTION 36, ELK HILLS CASE, BUT AS I AM NOT VERY FAMILIAR WITH GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS I AM NOT CERTAIN WHETHER IT IS PROPERLY PREPARED.

"IN THE FIRST PLACE, I HAD MY AUTO IN SACRAMENTO AND CAME BACK IN IT WITH MY WIFE. I DID NOT KNOW AT THE TIME THAT TO RETURN IN MY OWN CAR I SHOULD HAVE HAD YOUR AUTHORIZATION, BUT HAVE SINCE BEEN SO INFORMED BY MR. LEWIS OF THE ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT OF THE SUPERVISOR OF SURVEYS. I AM THEREFORE TARDILY REQUESTING THAT YOU GRANT ME THIS PRIVILEGE.

"WE LEFT SACRAMENTO LATE IN THE DAY OF JULY 2ND, 1931, ARRIVING IN DENVER JULY 8TH. IF I HAD COME BY TRAIN THE CHARGES WOULD HAVE BEEN: FARE, $46.05; PULLMAN, $15.38; TOTAL $61.43. THE TIME OF TRAVEL WOULD HAVE BEEN: LEAVE SACRAMENTO AT 12:15 A.M. JULY 3RD; ARRIVE DENVER 2:30 P.M. JULY 5TH.

"THE NEAREST AUTO DISTANCE BETWEEN SACRAMENTO AND DENVER IS 1,245 MILES. AT ONE-HALF THE GOVERNMENT RATE OF 7 CENTS A MILE, 3 1/2 CENTS A MILE, THE TRIP WOULD TOTAL $43.57, OR $17.86 LESS THAN BY RAILROAD.

"I HAVE CHARGED PER DIEM AS IT WOULD HAVE BEEN HAD I MADE THE RAILROAD TRIP.

"IF THIS IS NOT SATISFACTORY, KINDLY RETURN THE VOUCHER WITH INSTRUCTIONS.'

SINCE THE VOUCHER WAS NOT RETURNED BY MR. MOORE'S OFFICE, THE PRESUMPTION STANDS THAT THE VOUCHER AND MY EXPLANATION WERE SATISFACTORY TO HIM. I AM THEREFORE REQUESTING A RECONSIDERATION OF THE TRAVEL ITEM IN THE VOUCHER. I HAVE PAID MY OWN EXPENSES IN THIS INSTANCE FROM SACRAMENTO TO DENVER, THE TRIP BEING MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH DEPARTMENTAL AUTHORITY, AND I REQUEST REIMBURSEMENT TO THE VERY REASONABLE EXTENT ASKED FOR IN THE VOUCHER.

THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, PROVIDES:

THAT A CIVILIAN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE ENGAGED IN NECESSARY TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY MAY BE PAID, IN LIEU OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION, UNDER REGULATIONS TO BE PRESCRIBED BY THE PRESIDENT, NOT TO EXCEED 3 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE USE OF HIS OWN MOTOR CYCLE OR 7 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE USE OF HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE FOR SUCH TRANSPORTATION, WHENEVER SUCH MODE OF TRAVEL HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED AND PAYMENT ON SUCH MILEAGE BASIS IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES. THIS ACT SHALL TAKE EFFECT JULY 1, 1931, AND ALL LAWS OR PARTS OF LAWS ARE HEREBY MODIFIED OR REPEALED TO THE EXTENT SAME MAY BE IN CONFLICT HEREWITH.

THE PAYMENT OF MILEAGE IN LIEU OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION IS A COMMUTATION OF SUCH EXPENSES, AND IN THE ABSENCE OF A STATUTE PERMITTING COMMUTATION OF EXPENSES, EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES TRAVELING UPON OFFICIAL BUSINESS ARE LIMITED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES ACTUALLY INCURRED. SEE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1875, 18 STAT. 452. AS A CONDITION PRECEDENT TO THE ALLOWANCE OF MILEAGE, THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, SUPRA, REQUIRES THAT IT BE "PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED.' SEE ALSO PARAGRAPH 12A OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

THE TRAVEL IN THIS CASE WAS PERFORMED PURSUANT TO TELEGRAM DATED JUNE 29, 1931, WORDED AS FOLLOWS:

AFTER DISPOSITION PAPERS IN SECTION THIRTY-SIX CASE AS INDICATED IN OFFICE WIRE JUNE THIRTEEN AND YOUR LETTER JUNE TWENTY-THREE YOU ARE AUTHORIZED RETURN DENVER AND RESUME DUTIES AS REGISTER DENVER OFFICE UNTIL FURTHER ADVISED.

IT IS ACKNOWLEDGED THAT USE OF CLAIMANT'S PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WAS NOT AUTHORIZED IN ADVANCE. NO EVIDENCE IS FOUND IN THE RECORD OF THE AMOUNTS ACTUALLY EXPENDED BY HIM FOR GASOLINE AND OIL CONSUMED ON THE TRIP. THE CLAIM APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN PROPERLY DISALLOWED.