A-49910, JULY 20, 1933, 13 COMP. GEN. 17

A-49910: Jul 20, 1933

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS ARE EACH ENTITLED FOR OVERNIGHT TRAVEL TO ONE LOWER BERTH IN A PULLMAN. IF A DRAWING ROOM OR OTHER SUPERIOR ACCOMMODATIONS ARE USED FOR THE TRANSACTION OF OFFICIAL BUSINESS. AS FOLLOWS: THERE IS SUBMITTED FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION A VOUCHER IN MY FAVOR IN THE AMOUNT OF $8.75 COVERING REIMBURSEMENT CLAIMED FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN TRAVELING FROM WASHINGTON. A COPY OF WHICH IS ATTACHED. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE COST OF A STANDARD LOWER BERTH AND THE COST OF A COMPARTMENT WHICH WAS USED AND OBTAINED ON GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS. IT IS HELD THAT REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF A COMPARTMENT IS NOT ALLOWABLE FOR THE REASON THAT THE ACT OF MARCH 3.

A-49910, JULY 20, 1933, 13 COMP. GEN. 17

TRAVELING EXPENSES - LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE IN VIEW OF THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 10 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1933, 47 STAT. 1516, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS ARE EACH ENTITLED FOR OVERNIGHT TRAVEL TO ONE LOWER BERTH IN A PULLMAN, AND IF A DRAWING ROOM OR OTHER SUPERIOR ACCOMMODATIONS ARE USED FOR THE TRANSACTION OF OFFICIAL BUSINESS, SUCH OFFICERS MUST PERSONALLY STAND THE COST THEREOF INSOFAR AS IT EXCEEDS THE COST OF LOWER BERTHS FOR THE RESPECTIVE MEMBERS OF THE OFFICIAL PARTY.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, JULY 20, 1933:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF JULY 8, 1933, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE IS SUBMITTED FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION A VOUCHER IN MY FAVOR IN THE AMOUNT OF $8.75 COVERING REIMBURSEMENT CLAIMED FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN TRAVELING FROM WASHINGTON, D.C. TO CINCINNATI, OHIO, AND RETURNING TO WASHINGTON, D.C. DURING THE PERIOD JUNE 27 TO JUNE 29, 1933, WHICH HAS BEEN SUBMITTED FOR PREAUDIT, AND RETURNED BY PREAUDIT DIFFERENCE STATEMENT, DATED JULY 5, 1933, A COPY OF WHICH IS ATTACHED, HOLDING THAT I MUST PAY FROM MY PERSONAL FUNDS THE SUM OF $20.24, THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE COST OF A STANDARD LOWER BERTH AND THE COST OF A COMPARTMENT WHICH WAS USED AND OBTAINED ON GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS.

IT IS HELD THAT REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF A COMPARTMENT IS NOT ALLOWABLE FOR THE REASON THAT THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1933, 47 STAT. 1516,LIMITS REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN TRAVEL ORDERED AFTER MARCH 3, 1933, TO THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE BY THE TRANSPORTATION FACILITY USED.

THE COMPARTMENT USED IN THIS INSTANCE WAS OCCUPIED JOINTLY WITH J. O-C. ROBERTS, SOLICITOR OF THIS ADMINISTRATION, WHO WAS ALSO TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, AND WAS NOT UTILIZED FOR PERSONAL CONVENIENCE, BUT WAS NECESSARY FROM AN OFFICIAL STANDPOINT TO CARRY OUT THE FUNCTIONS DEVOLVING UPON ME, WHICH CONSISTED OF THE CONFERENCES CONCERNING CONFIDENTIAL MATTERS WITH OTHER OFFICIALS OF THIS ADMINISTRATION EN ROUTE.

WHILE THE LANGUAGE OF THE ABOVE MENTIONED ACT IS UNQUESTIONABLY DESIGNED TO RESTRICT THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES TO THE LOWEST FIGURE CONSISTENT WITH THE PROPER PERFORMANCE OF THE OFFICIAL FUNCTIONS INVOLVED, IT IS DIFFICULT TO CONCEIVE THAT IT WAS THE INTENT OF SAID LAW TO ASSESS THE EXTRA COST OF SUPERIOR FACILITIES WHICH ARE ACTUALLY ESSENTIAL TO CARRYING OUT OFFICIAL FUNCTIONS UPON THE OFFICIALS UPON WHOM THE CARRYING OUT OF SUCH FUNCTIONS IS DEVOLVED.

IT IS REQUESTED THAT THE ATTACHED CLAIM BE RECONSIDERED IN THE LIGHT OF THE ADDITIONAL FACTS HEREIN RECITED.

SECTION 10 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1933, 47 STAT. 1516, PROVIDES:

WHENEVER BY OR UNDER AUTHORITY OF LAW ACTUAL EXPENSES FOR TRAVEL MAY BE ALLOWED TO OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES, SUCH ALLOWANCES, IN THE CASE OF TRAVEL ORDERED AFTER THE DATE OF ENACTMENT OF THIS ACT, SHALL NOT EXCEED THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE BY THE TRANSPORTATION FACILITY USED IN SUCH TRAVEL.

PRIOR TO THE PASSAGE OF THIS ACT, IT WAS CUSTOMARY TO ALLOW REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF A DRAWING ROOM OR OTHER SUPERIOR ACCOMMODATIONS UPON RAILWAY TRAINS OR VESSELS WHEN NECESSITY FOR USE THEREOF FOR OFFICIAL BUSINESS WAS ESTABLISHED. THE PROVISIONS OF THE ABOVE SECTION OF THE STATUTE, HOWEVER, ARE CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS AND ADMIT OF NO EXCEPTION. SEE A-48568, MAY 17, 1933; A-48267, JULY 11, 1933, 13 COMP. GEN. 10. THEREFORE, I HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO HOLD THAT THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES IN EXCESS OF THE LOWEST FIRST CLASS RATE IS NOT A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST APPROPRIATED MONEYS, NOTWITHSTANDING THAT IT MAY HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED NECESSARY FROM AN ADMINISTRATIVE STANDPOINT TO MAKE USE OF A MORE EXPENSIVE ACCOMMODATION FOR THE TRANSACTION OF PUBLIC BUSINESS.

WHEN YOUR VOUCHER FOR $8.75 AS PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WAS FIRST SUBMITTED, THERE WAS NOTHING THEREIN TO INDICATE THAT MORE THAN ONE PERSON OCCUPIED THE DRAWING ROOM AND, CONSEQUENTLY, YOU WERE CALLED UPON TO REFUND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE COST OF ONE LOWER BERTH AND THE COST OF THE DRAWING ROOM. IT APPEARS FROM YOUR PRESENT LETTER, HOWEVER, THAT YOU WERE ACCOMPANIED ON THIS TRIP BY THE SOLICITOR OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION, WHO SHARED THE COMPARTMENT AND HAS SUBMITTED A VOUCHER CLAIMING REIMBURSEMENT OF $9.35 FOR PER DIEM AND TAXI FARES FOR THIS TRIP. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, EACH TRAVELER WAS ENTITLED TO ONE LOWER BERTH AT A COST OF $11.26 EACH FOR THE ROUND TRIP, AND THE EXCESS COST OF THE COMPARTMENT WILL BE DIVIDED BETWEEN THE TWO PARTIES AND DEDUCTED FROM THE AMOUNTS OTHERWISE DUE ON THE RESPECTIVE VOUCHERS. YOUR VOUCHER WILL BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT TO YOU OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN $8.75 CLAIMED, AND THE EXCESS COST OF ONE HALF OF THE COMPARTMENT, $4.49, OR A NET AMOUNT OF $4.26. MR. ROBERTS' VOUCHER WILL BE CERTIFIED FOR THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE AMOUNT OTHERWISE DUE AND $4.49 AND BOTH VOUCHERS WILL BE RETURNED THROUGH THE USUAL CHANNELS FOR PAYMENT.