A-54061, MAY 25, 1934, 13 COMP. GEN. 387

A-54061: May 25, 1934

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BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT PRESCRIBED MILEAGE RATES AND NO COMPARATIVE STATEMENT OF COSTS BY COMMON CARRIER WILL BE REQUIRED IF THE ORDERS RECITE THAT IT HAS BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED TO BE MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE TRAVEL TO BE PERFORMED BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE OF THE EMPLOYEE. PROVIDED THE LATTER WAS DETERMINED TO BE MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. IT WAS FULLY REALIZED THAT THE CONVENIENCE OR DESIRE OF AN EMPLOYEE WAS NOT FOR CONSIDERATION TO THE EXTENT THAT TRAVEL BY PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE COULD BE AUTHORIZED FOR SUCH REASONS. THE BUREAU DID NOT UNDERSTAND THAT IT COULD COMPEL AN EMPLOYEE TO USE HIS AUTOMOBILE FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL WHICH APPARENTLY WOULD BE THE EFFECT IF HE WERE ORDERED TO PERFORM TRAVEL AND ONLY ONE METHOD OF TRAVEL (BY HIS PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE) WAS AUTHORIZED.

A-54061, MAY 25, 1934, 13 COMP. GEN. 387

MILEAGE - PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE - ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE MILEAGE MAY BE ALLOWED FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE PURSUANT TO ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, AS AMENDED, WHEN PERFORMED IN ACCORDANCE WITH ORDERS REQUIRING TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER WHEN PRACTICABLE OR, WHEN NOT PRACTICABLE, BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT PRESCRIBED MILEAGE RATES AND NO COMPARATIVE STATEMENT OF COSTS BY COMMON CARRIER WILL BE REQUIRED IF THE ORDERS RECITE THAT IT HAS BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED TO BE MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE TRAVEL TO BE PERFORMED BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE OF THE EMPLOYEE. WHERE THE TRAVEL ORDERS AUTHORIZE OR DIRECT ALL TRAVEL TO BE BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT A PRESCRIBED MILEAGE RATE, BUT IT BECOMES IMPRACTICABLE TO PERFORM ALL OF THE TRAVEL IN THAT MANNER DUE TO ACCIDENTS, IMPASSABLE ROADS, OR SIMILAR CONTINGENCIES, MILEAGE MAY, NEVERTHELESS, BE ALLOWED FOR THE PORTION ACTUALLY PERFORMED BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE, PROVIDED THE ADMINISTRATIVE CERTIFICATE WITH RESPECT TO THE ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE TO THE UNITED STATES BE SO WORDED AS TO BE APPLICABLE TO ALL OR ANY PORTION OF THE TRAVEL PERFORMED BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, MAY 25, 1934:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF MAY 14, 1934, AS FOLLOWS:

REPLYING TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 21, 1934, THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1933, AUTHORIZES THE PAYMENT OF MILEAGE, UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS AND AT CERTAIN RATES, FOR THE USE OF PERSONALLY- OWNED AUTOMOBILES FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL.

UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THIS ACT THE COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY FOR SOME TIME HAS FOLLOWED THE PRACTICE OF AUTHORIZING OFFICIAL TRAVEL EITHER BY COMMON CARRIER OR PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT A STATED MILEAGE RATE, PROVIDED THE LATTER WAS DETERMINED TO BE MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. IT WAS FULLY REALIZED THAT THE CONVENIENCE OR DESIRE OF AN EMPLOYEE WAS NOT FOR CONSIDERATION TO THE EXTENT THAT TRAVEL BY PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE COULD BE AUTHORIZED FOR SUCH REASONS. ON THE OTHER HAND, THE BUREAU DID NOT UNDERSTAND THAT IT COULD COMPEL AN EMPLOYEE TO USE HIS AUTOMOBILE FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL WHICH APPARENTLY WOULD BE THE EFFECT IF HE WERE ORDERED TO PERFORM TRAVEL AND ONLY ONE METHOD OF TRAVEL (BY HIS PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE) WAS AUTHORIZED. BOTH METHODS OF TRAVEL WERE, THEREFORE, AUTHORIZED WITH THE IDEA OF SECURING A MORE ADVANTAGEOUS AND ECONOMICAL ARRANGEMENT FOR THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDING THE EMPLOYEE WAS WILLING TO CONTRIBUTE THE USE OF HIS PRIVATE PROPERTY TO THAT END.

IN A DECISION (A-53421) DATED FEBRUARY 2, 1934, TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL YOU STATED IN EFFECT THAT AN EMPLOYEE CANNOT BE PAID MILEAGE FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE WHEN HIS ORDERS LEAVE TO HIS DISCRETION TRAVEL BY THIS METHOD OR BY COMMON CARRIER. UNDER DATE OF FEBRUARY 26, 1934, I REQUESTED A DECISION FROM YOU REGARDING THE APPLICATION OF THIS RULING TO TRAVEL PERFORMED BY EMPLOYEES OF THE COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY AND OTHER BUREAUS OF THIS DEPARTMENT. YOUR REPLY DATED MARCH 21, 1934, REAFFIRMS THE PRINCIPLE ESTABLISHED BY YOUR DECISION. YOU STATE, HOWEVER, THAT "IT WOULD BE PROPER TO AUTHORIZE TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER WHENEVER PRACTICABLE AND WHEN NOT PRACTICABLE TO AUTHORIZE THE EMPLOYEE TO MAKE USE OF HIS PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE UPON A PRESCRIBED MILEAGE BASIS.'

A SPECIMEN TRAVEL ORDER IS ATTACHED, UNDER WHICH IT IS DESIRED TO AUTHORIZE REPEAT TRAVEL IN CONNECTION WITH INSPECTION TRIPS OF SUPERVISORY OFFICIALS. THESE ORDERS ARE INTENDED TO COVER THE CASE OF TRAVEL IN CONNECTION WITH THE INSPECTION OF MOBILE FIELD SURVEYING PARTIES OPERATING IN VARIOUS SECTIONS OF THE COUNTRY, IN MOST CASES IN REGIONS REMOTE FROM URBAN CENTERS. PLEASE ADVISE ME IF THE WORDING OF THIS ORDER IS IN ACCEPTABLE FORM TO COVER THIS SPECIFIC CASE?

FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED BY PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE UNDER THESE ORDERS IT IS DESIRED TO AUTHORIZE A MILEAGE ALLOWANCE WHICH WILL, AFTER STUDY IN THE BUREAU OF THE COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY, BE DETERMINED TO BE A SAVING TO THE GOVERNMENT OVER THE COST BY ANY OTHER MEANS OF TRAVEL. WILL IT BE NECESSARY TO SUBMIT A SHOWING THAT SUCH A SAVING IS ACTUALLY OBTAINED OR WILL THE STATEMENT "SUCH AN ALLOWANCE HAVING BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED TO BE MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT, THAN THE COST BY ANY OTHER MEANS OF TRAVEL" SUFFICE?

IF SUCH ORDERS ARE APPROVED AND EXPENSE VOUCHERS ARE SUBMITTED FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED BY USE OF PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE, WILL THE SIGNATURE UNDER THE CERTIFICATION ON THE VOUCHER BE SUFFICIENT TO WARRANT PAYMENT?

THE ABOVE CONSIDERS A CERTAIN CLASS OF TRAVEL. INFORMATION IS ALSO REQUESTED ON THE FOLLOWING: WOULD IT BE POSSIBLE TO ADOPT A WORDING, TO COVER A LARGE NUMBER OF CASES WHERE TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER WOULD BE PRACTICABLE BUT LESS ADVANTAGEOUS AND ECONOMICAL THAN TRAVEL BY AUTOMOBILE, AUTHORIZING TRAVEL BY PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE BUT ALSO CONTAINING A PROVISO THAT TRAVEL MAY BE ACCOMPLISHED BY COMMON CARRIER IF CONDITIONS CHANGE SO AS TO RENDER THE USE OF THE AUTOMOBILE INOPERATIVE (I.E., AN ACCIDENT TO AUTOMOBILE, IMPASSABLE ROADS, ETC.). TO CITE A SPECIFIC CASE: AN OFFICIAL IS ORDERED TO TRAVEL FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., USING HIS PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE, AT A MILEAGE RATE THAT INSURES A DISTINCT SAVING TO THE GOVERNMENT, TO INSPECT OFFICES AT NEW YORK, N.Y., BOSTON, MASS., AND PORTLAND, MAINE, WITH SIDE TRIPS EN ROUTE TO INSPECT FIELD SURVEY PARTIES. SHOULD HIS CAR BE WRECKED BETWEEN NEW YORK AND BOSTON, MASS., OR SHOULD THE SIDE TRIPS BE IMPOSSIBLE TO ACCOMPLISH BY AUTOMOBILE BECAUSE OF IMPASSABLE ROADS, IS THERE A GENERAL WORDING OF ORDERS WHEREBY HE MAY BE ALLOWED TO ALSO TRAVEL BY MEANS OF COMMON CARRIER AND IF SO, IN WHAT FORM WOULD SUCH WORDING BE ACCEPTABLE?

THE REQUEST IN MY LETTER OF FEBRUARY 26, THAT APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE ESTABLISHED BY YOUR DECISION OF FEBRUARY 2, IF CONFIRMED, BE POSTPONED IN THE CASE OF THE COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY, WAS NOT CONSIDERED IN YOUR DECISION OF MARCH 21, 1934. THE BUREAU WAS NOT ADVISED OF YOUR DECISION UNTIL THE LATTER PART OF FEBRUARY WHEN IT TOOK IMMEDIATE STEPS TO COMPLY THEREWITH WITH RESPECT TO SUBSEQUENT TRAVEL ORDERS. IN THE MEANTIME A LARGE NUMBER OF PARTIES WERE OPERATING UNDER TRAVEL ORDERS AUTHORIZING TRAVEL EITHER BY COMMON CARRIER OR PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE ON A MILEAGE BASIS. THESE ORDERS WERE ISSUED UNDER AN INTERPRETATION OF THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, WHICH I FEEL WAS NOT UNREASONABLE IN THE LIGHT OF INFORMATION THEN AVAILABLE. I AM SURE IN EVERY CASE OF TRAVEL BY PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE THAT THIS METHOD OF TRAVEL RESULTED IN A SAVING TO THE GOVERNMENT BOTH OF TIME AND MONEY, AND WAS PERFORMED SUBSTANTIALLY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PRINCIPLES SET FORTH IN THE LAST PART OF YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 21, 1934.

WITH FEW EXCEPTIONS THIS TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED BY IMPOVERISHED MEN EMPLOYED DURING THE WINTER AS A PART OF THE RELIEF PROGRAM. THEY ARE NOW OUT OF WORK DUE TO THE TERMINATION OF THE C.W.A. PROJECTS AND URGENTLY NEED EVERY DOLLAR DUE THEM. I WILL BE GRATEFUL IF YOU WILL REVIEW THIS MATTER, AND, IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE EXPLANATION, BE ABLE TO APPROVE FOR PAYMENT THE VOUCHERS COVERING TRAVEL BY PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE UNDER ORDERS ISSUED PRIOR TO THE RECEIPT OF YOUR DECISION OF FEBRUARY 2, 1934. ONE OF THE VOUCHERS IN QUESTION WHICH WAS RETURNED BY YOUR OFFICE WITHOUT APPROVAL IS ATTACHED.

THE SPECIMEN TRAVEL ORDER REFERRED TO IN YOUR SUBMISSION IS WORDED AS FOLLOWS: TO: PROF. N. E. WOLFARD, UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA, NORMAN, OKLAHOMA. FROM: THE DIRECTOR, U.S. COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY. SUBJECT: TRAVEL ORDERS.

YOU ARE HEREBY AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED TO PERFORM SUCH TRAVEL FROM PLACE TO PLACE IN OKLAHOMA AS YOU MAY FIND NECESSARY IN SUPERVISING THE LOCAL CONTROL SURVEYS PARTIES WORKING UNDER THE PROGRAM OF THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY RELIEF ADMINISTRATION, FROM THE PRESENT TIME UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THE PROJECT IS DISCONTINUED. TRAVEL SHOULD BE PERFORMED BY COMMON CARRIER WHENEVER PRACTICABLE. TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS SHOULD BE USED FOR THE PROCUREMENT OF ALL TRANSPORTATION COSTING IN EXCESS OF $1 WHEN TRAVEL IS PERFORMED BY COMMON CARRIER. WHEN NOT PRACTICABLE TO TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO USE YOUR PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT A RATE OF $0.04 PER MILE, SUCH AN ALLOWANCE HAVING BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED TO BE MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT, THAN THE COST BY ANY OTHER MEANS OF TRAVEL.

WHEN TRAVEL IS PERFORMED BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE, A STATEMENT SHOULD BE MADE ON THE TRAVEL VOUCHER SHOWING THE IMPRACTICABILITY OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER.

A SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE OF $4 PER DIEM IS AUTHORIZED WHILE YOU ARE AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS.

THE TRAVEL INCURRED IN THE EXECUTION OF THESE ORDERS IS NECESSARY FOR THE PUBLIC INTERESTS AND IS NOT FOR THE PERSONAL CONVENIENCE OF THE INDIVIDUAL CONCERNED.

THE EXPENSES AUTHORIZED ARE A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE APPROPRIATION NIR 33-35, F.P. 84.

(SIGNED) R. S. PATTON, DIRECTOR.

THE WORDING OF THE SPECIMEN TRAVEL ORDER ABOVE DOES NOT APPEAR OBJECTIONABLE AND NO COMPARATIVE STATEMENT OF COST HAD TRAVEL BEEN BY COMMON CARRIER NEED ACCOMPANY VOUCHERS COVERING TRAVEL PERFORMED BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE PURSUANT TO SUCH ORDERS.

YOUR SECOND QUESTION RELATES TO A SITUATION WHERE TRAVEL BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE MAY BECOME IMPRACTICABLE DUE TO SOME UNFORSEEN HAPPENING, SUCH AS THE WRECKING OF THE AUTOMOBILE OR IMPASSABLE ROADS. SUCH A SITUATION MAY BE MET IN ADVANCE BY SO WORDING THE OFFICIAL CERTIFICATE IN THE TRAVEL ORDERS WITH RESPECT TO ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE AS TO MAKE IT APPLICABLE TO ALL OR ANY PORTION OF THE TRAVEL ACTUALLY PERFORMED BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE, AS, FOR INSTANCE, THAT PORTION OF THE ORDER MAY BE WORDED AS FOLLOWS:

YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO USE YOUR PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE FOR THE TRAVEL DIRECTED AND WILL BE REIMBURSED THEREFOR AT A RATE OF ------ CENTS PER MILE, IT HAVING BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT THE ALLOWANCE AT THAT RATE FOR ALL OR ANY PORTION OF THE AUTHORIZED TRAVEL WILL BE MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT THAT TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER. WHEN THE AUTOMOBILE IS USED FOR A PORTION OF THE TRIP, ONLY CIRCUMSTANCES RENDERING ITS USE IMPRACTICABLE FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE TRAVEL SHOULD BE EXPLAINED IN THE VOUCHER.

WITH RESPECT TO YOUR REQUEST THAT THE RULE STATED IN THE DECISION OF FEBRUARY 2, 1934, A-53421, THAT THE MEANS OF TRAVEL MAY NOT BE LEFT TO THE PERSONAL ELECTION OF THE TRAVELER, BE POSTPONED, YOU ARE INFORMED THAT IT IS NOT DEEMED NECESSARY OR PROPER TO POSTPONE GENERALLY ITS EFFECTIVE DATE. DISALLOWANCES IN INDIVIDUAL CASES INVOLVING TRAVEL PERFORMED UNDER ORDERS ISSUED BEFORE THAT DECISION MAY BE RESUBMITTED WHEREUPON SUCH ACTION WILL BE TAKEN AS THE FACTS MAY WARRANT.

THE TRAVEL ORDERS ATTACHED TO THE VOUCHER OF N. E. WOLFARD, RESUBMITTED WITH YOUR PRESENT LETTER, PROVIDE AS FOLLOWS:

YOU ARE HEREBY AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED TO PERFORM SUCH TRAVEL FROM PLACE TO PLACE IN OKLAHOMA AS YOU MAY FIND NECESSARY IN CARRYING OUT THE ORGANIZATION, AND TO INSPECT THE OPERATIONS OF THE FIELD-SURVEYING PARTIES WORKING UNDER THE PROGRAM OF THE CIVIL WORKS ADMINISTRATION, FROM THE PRESENT TIME UNTIL JUNE 30, 1934. IF TRAVEL IS PERFORMED BY COMMON CARRIER, TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS SHOULD BE USED FOR ALL EXPENDITURES IN EXCESS OF $1. FOR SUCH TRAVEL, IF A PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE IS USED, YOU WILL BE PAID AN ALLOWANCE OF $0.03 PER MILE, THIS FIGURE HAVING BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED TO BE A SAVING TO THE GOVERNMENT OVER THE COST BY ANY OTHER MEANS OF TRAVEL. AN ALLOWANCE OF $4 PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE IS AUTHORIZED WHILE YOU ARE AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS. THE TRAVEL INCURRED IN THE EXECUTION OF THESE ORDERS IS NECESSARY FOR THE PUBLIC INTERESTS, AND IS NOT WRITTEN FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF THE INDIVIDUAL CONCERNED.

THE ORDERS WERE AMENDED DECEMBER 15, 1933, TO PROVIDE FOR A RATE OF4 CENTS INSTEAD OF 3 CENTS PER MILE. THE VOUCHER CLAIMS REIMBURSEMENT AT 3 CENTS PER MILE DECEMBER 1 TO 13, INCLUSIVE, AND 4 CENTS PER MILE THEREAFTER, THE MILEAGE BEING BASED UPON STATED SPEEDOMETER READINGS. WITH RESPECT TO THE OWNERSHIP OF THE AUTOMOBILE IT IS MERELY STATED "PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE USED.' CERTIFICATION UPON PREAUDIT WAS REFUSED FOR THREE REASONS: FIRST, THE ORDERS WERE CONSIDERED AS LEAVING THE FORM OF TRAVEL TO THE DISCRETION OF THE TRAVELER; SECOND, THE OWNERSHIP OF THE CAR IS NOT SHOWN; THIRD, NO DEDUCTION OR ALLOWANCE APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN MADE FROM THE MILEAGE CLAIMED FOR TRAVEL WITHIN THE LIMITS OF THE EMPLOYEE'S POST OF DUTY. 12 COMP. GEN. 423; 453.

THE SUBMISSION UPON WHICH THE DECISION OF FEBRUARY 2, 1934, A-53421, WAS BASED, REQUESTED TO BE INFORMED WHETHER TRAVEL ORDERS PROPERLY MAY BE ISSUED "AUTHORIZING TRAVEL EITHER IN THEIR PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILES, SUBJECT TO THE USUAL RESTRICTIONS, OR BY COMMON CARRIER; IN OTHER WORDS, THE TRAVEL TO BE MADE BY SUCH METHOD AS THE TRAVELER MAY ELECT.' NOTHING WAS SAID IN THE SUBMISSION CONCERNING THE ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT. SAID DECISION IS NOT, THEREFORE, FOR APPLICATION WHERE THE ORDERS PERMIT THE USE, EITHER OF A COMMON CARRIER OR A PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE OF THE TRAVELER AT SPECIFIED MILEAGE RATES, WHERE THE AUTHORIZATION TO USE THE AUTOMOBILE IS GIVEN IN ADVANCE OF THE TRAVEL AND THERE IS AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION IN ADVANCE OR A SUBSEQUENT SHOWING THAT THE USE OF THE AUTOMOBILE AT THE PRESCRIBED RATE IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. THE DECISION OF FEBRUARY 2, 1934, SUPRA, IS NOT APPLICABLE, THEREFORE, TO THE VOUCHER SUBMITTED WITH YOUR LETTER. THE SECOND AND THIRD OBJECTIONS, HOWEVER, HAVE NOT BEEN SATISFACTORILY EXPLAINED, AND PAYMENT UPON THE VOUCHER IN ITS PRESENT FORM IS NOT AUTHORIZED. THE VOUCHER MAY BE RESUBMITTED FOR PREAUDIT ACCOMPANIED BY A STATEMENT OF THE OWNERSHIP OF THE AUTOMOBILE AND WHAT PORTION OF THE MILEAGE CLAIMED REPRESENTS TRAVEL WITHIN THE LIMITS OF THE EMPLOYEE'S POST OF DUTY.