A-47822, MAY 13, 1933, 12 COMP. GEN. 634

A-47822: May 13, 1933

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

PROVIDE FOR PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE AS THE ONLY BASIS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES OF CIVILIAN PERSONNEL OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND REIMBURSEMENT ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS IS NO LONGER AUTHORIZED. ANY ARRANGEMENT WHEREBY THIS FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN THE STATUTORY PROVISIONS GOVERNING PAYMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES IS DISREGARDED OR AVOIDED IS NOT AUTHORIZED. IF OTHERWISE AUTHORIZED BY LAW THERE IS NOTHING IN THE ECONOMY ACT TO PRECLUDE CONTRACTS WITH CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES TO FURNISH THEM SUBSISTENCE IN KIND WHILE AT THEIR HEADQUARTERS. AS FOLLOWS: I HAVE RECEIVED YOUR DECISION A-47822 OF APRIL 5 CONCERNING SUBSISTENCE OF EMPLOYEES IN THE SURVEYING SERVICE OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE.

A-47822, MAY 13, 1933, 12 COMP. GEN. 634

ECONOMY ACT, AMENDED - TRAVELING EXPENSES SECTIONS 207 AND 208 OF THE ECONOMY ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932, 47 STAT. 405, PROVIDE FOR PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE AS THE ONLY BASIS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES OF CIVILIAN PERSONNEL OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND REIMBURSEMENT ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS IS NO LONGER AUTHORIZED. ANY ARRANGEMENT WHEREBY THIS FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN THE STATUTORY PROVISIONS GOVERNING PAYMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES IS DISREGARDED OR AVOIDED IS NOT AUTHORIZED. IF OTHERWISE AUTHORIZED BY LAW THERE IS NOTHING IN THE ECONOMY ACT TO PRECLUDE CONTRACTS WITH CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES TO FURNISH THEM SUBSISTENCE IN KIND WHILE AT THEIR HEADQUARTERS, AND NOT IN A TRAVEL STATUS, THE DETERMINED VALUE OF THE SUBSISTENCE TO BE CONSIDERED A PART OF THE TOTAL COMPENSATION UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 5, 1928, 45 STAT. 193. UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 207 AND 208 OF THE ECONOMY ACT SUBSISTENCE IN KIND MAY NOT BE FURNISHED TO EMPLOYEES OF SURVEYING PARTIES WHILE IN CAMP IN A TRAVEL STATUS AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS, BUT REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVELING EXPENSES MAY BE MADE ONLY ON A PER DIEM BASIS AS FIXED BY ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS WITHIN THE LIMITATIONS OF THE STATUTE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, MAY 13, 1933:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 27, 1933, AS FOLLOWS:

I HAVE RECEIVED YOUR DECISION A-47822 OF APRIL 5 CONCERNING SUBSISTENCE OF EMPLOYEES IN THE SURVEYING SERVICE OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE. AS ONE OF THE REASONS GIVEN FOR ANSWERING THE DISBURSING AGENT'S QUESTION IN THE NEGATIVE IS THAT THE ARRANGEMENT SUGGESTED "IS TANTAMOUNT TO THE ALLOWANCE OF ACTUAL EXPENSES INSTEAD OF THE PER DIEM PRESCRIBED BY LAW," I SHOULD LIKE TO PRESENT SOME FACTS RELATING TO THE SUBSISTENCE OF THESE FIELD PARTIES AND TO ASK WHETHER YOUR DECISION IS FOR SUCH BROAD APPLICATION AS TO PROHIBIT PROCUREMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT OF BOARD AND LODGING AT ANY TIME.

DURING THE TIME OCCUPIED IN GOING TO OR RETURNING FROM THE FIELD (THAT IS, DURING PERIODS OF AUTHORIZED TRAVEL BETWEEN HEADQUARTERS AND SURVEYING CAMP) THE REGULATIONS PRESCRIBE THE PER DIEM TO WHICH THE DISBURSING AGENT'S SUBMISSION REFERS, BUT, AS SOON AS THE SURVEYING PARTY CAN ESTABLISH CAMP THE GOVERNMENT UNDERTAKES TO SUBSIST THE MEN, FURNISHING SUBSISTENCE IN KIND, AND SO CONTINUES TILL THE SEASON IS OVER OR THE GROUP COMPLETED. THE PLAN, GENERALLY, IS TO PURCHASE SUPPLIES AND HIRE CAMP COOKS, BUT IT SOMETIMES HAPPENS THAT DURING A PERIOD OF ACTUAL WORK ON THE LINE THERE WILL BE A FEW DAYS WHEN IT IS IMPRACTICABLE TO MAINTAIN A CAMP, OR IT IS LESS FEASIBLE THAN TO ARRANGE WITH A FARMER, RANCHMAN, BOARDING HOUSE, OR TAVERN TO FURNISH MEALS (AND POSSIBLY LODGING) FOR THE WHILE. ALSO IT HAPPENS OCCASIONALLY THAT THE TRUCK DRIVER OR TEAMSTER WILL BE ABSENT FROM CAMP ONE OR TWO MEALS (OR POSSIBLY OVER NIGHT) ON A TRIP TO A TRANSPORTATION LINE FOR SUPPLIES, IRON POSTS, ETC., AND MAY PROCURE A MEAL, OR THE MAKINGS OF A MEAL, AT THE GROCER'S AS A PART OF THE SUPPLY BILL, OR AT A LUNCH ROOM, AND MAYBE A LODGING, AND ALL DURING A PERIOD IN WHICH THE GOVERNMENT UNDERTAKES TO SUBSIST ALL THE MEN OF THE PARTY.

THE LETTER OF JULY 28, 1932, TO WHICH YOUR DECISION REFERS HAS REFERENCE TO MEALS AND LODGING PROCURED UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES; THAT IS, PURCHASED BY OR ON ACCOUNT OF THE GOVERNMENT WHILE IT IS UNDERTAKING TO SUBSIST THE PARTY, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM THE TRAVEL PERIODS AT THE BEGINNING OR END OF THE FIELD SEASONS, OR BETWEEN SURVEYING GROUPS IN MID SEASON.

I THEREFORE REQUEST YOUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER PURCHASE OF SUCH MEALS AND/OR LODGING DURING PERIODS OF FIELD WORK AS DISTINGUISHED FROM PERIODS OF TRAVEL IS OBJECTIONABLE.

SECTIONS 207 AND 208 OF THE ECONOMY ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932, 47 STAT. 405, PROVIDE A PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE AS THE ONLY BASIS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES OF CIVILIAN PERSONNEL OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. REIMBURSEMENT ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSES BASIS IS NO LONGER AUTHORIZED. ANY ARRANGEMENT WHEREBY THIS FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN THE STATUTORY PROVISIONS GOVERNING PAYMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES IS DISREGARDED OR AVOIDED IS NOT AUTHORIZED. THIS WAS THE PURPOSE AND EFFECT OF THAT PART OF THE DECISION OF APRIL 5, 1933, REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER.

IF OTHERWISE AUTHORIZED BY LAW, THERE IS NOTHING IN THE ECONOMY ACT TO PRECLUDE CONTRACTS WITH CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES TO FURNISH THEM SUBSISTENCE IN KIND WHILE AT THEIR HEADQUARTERS, AND NOT IN A TRAVEL STATUS, THE DETERMINED VALUE OF THE SUBSISTENCE TO BE CONSIDERED A PART OF THE TOTAL COMPENSATION UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 5, 1928, 45 STAT. 193.

FROM THE FACTS WHICH HERETOFORE HAVE BEEN PRESENTED TO THIS OFFICE IT IS NOT UNDERSTOOD THAT HEADQUARTERS CAMPS ARE ESTABLISHED FOR THESE GENERAL LAND OFFICE SURVEYING PARTIES IN THE SEVERAL WESTERN DISTRICTS BUT THAT EACH OF THE SEVERAL WESTERN DISTRICTS, INCLUDING ALASKA, HAS A CENTRAL HEADQUARTERS AND THAT THE EMPLOYEES IN THE SURVEYING PARTIES ARE REGARDED AS IN A TRAVEL STATUS WHILE IN CAMP AWAY FROM THE ESTABLISHED HEADQUARTERS FOR THE PARTICULAR DISTRICT. THE FOLLOWING IS QUOTED FROM LETTER DATED JUNE 5, 1931, FROM THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, WHICH FORMED THE BASIS OF DECISION OF JUNE 23, 1931, A 33313:

THE FIELD SURVEYING SERVICE OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE IS DIVIDED INTO NINE DISTRICTS, THE BOUNDARIES OF WHICH ARE DEFINED ON THE ATTACHED MAP. THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE ENTIRE SERVICE IS AT DENVER, COLORADO, IN THE OFFICE OF THE SUPERVISOR OF SURVEYS. EACH DISTRICT HAS ITS ESTABLISHED HEADQUARTERS FROM WHICH THE FIELD EMPLOYEES OF THAT DISTRICT TRAVEL TO THE LOCATION OF THEIR WORK WITHIN THE DISTRICT AS REQUIRED FOR THE PROPER CONDUCT OF THE SURVEYS, RETURNING TO THEIR HEADQUARTERS ON COMPLETION OF THEIR FIELD ASSIGNMENTS.

IT DOES NOT APPEAR, THEREFORE, ON THE BASIS OF THE FACTS WHICH HAVE BEEN MADE AVAILABLE TO THIS OFFICE, THAT SUBSISTENCE IN KIND MAY BE FURNISHED TO THE EMPLOYEES UNDER THE CONDITIONS STATED IN YOUR LETTER. IF AN ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE SHOULD ACTUALLY ESTABLISH HEADQUARTERS CAMPS IN THE WESTERN DISTRICTS ENTIRELY SEPARATE AND DISTINCT FROM ANY OTHER HEADQUARTERS AND COMPLIANCE IS HAD WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATION ACTS REQUIRING AUTHORIZATION BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT TO OBLIGATE APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR THE COST OF TRAVEL BETWEEN SUCH HEADQUARTERS CAMPS, THERE WOULD BE NO LEGAL OBJECTION TO FURNISHING SUBSISTENCE IN KIND TO THE EMPLOYEES WHILE AT THEIR HEADQUARTERS CAMPS AS A PART OF THEIR TOTAL COMPENSATION UNDER THE TERMS OF THE ACT OF MARCH 5, 1928, SUPRA.

ALSO, AS AN ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENT, THE EMPLOYEES MAY BE PERMITTED TO MAINTAIN THEIR OWN MESS AT THE CAMPS, PAYMENTS BEING MADE TO THEM, OF THEIR REGULATION PER DIEMS IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE.