A-57622, NOVEMBER 24, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 414

A-57622: Nov 24, 1934

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TRAVEL EXPENSES - GENERAL ORDERS - CUSTOMS SERVICE BLANKET OR GENERAL AUTHORITY ORDERS PERMITTING EMPLOYEES TO TRAVEL AT WILL. ARE NOT IN COMPLIANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 6. REQUIRING THAT THE TRAVEL TO BE PERFORMED BE SPECIFIED AS DEFINITELY AS CIRCUMSTANCES WILL PERMIT. GENERAL TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS STATING NO TIME LIMIT MAY NOT BE RECOGNIZED AS EXTENDING BEYOND THE FISCAL YEAR IN WHICH SUCH ORDERS ARE ISSUED. EXCEPTIONS WERE TAKEN TO PAYMENTS MADE BY HIM ON VOUCHERS NOS. 1007. FOR THE REASON THAT THE GENERAL TRAVEL ORDERS CITED AS AUTHORITY FOR THE DIFFERENT TRAVEL PERFORMED DID NOT STATE A TIME LIMIT AND WERE NOT ISSUED DURING THE FISCAL YEAR CURRENT AT THE TIME OF THE TRAVEL. NO TRAVEL ORDERS WERE SUBMITTED WITH VOUCHERS 1037 AND 1038 AS REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 83 (B).

A-57622, NOVEMBER 24, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 414

TRAVEL EXPENSES - GENERAL ORDERS - CUSTOMS SERVICE BLANKET OR GENERAL AUTHORITY ORDERS PERMITTING EMPLOYEES TO TRAVEL AT WILL, UNLIMITED AS TO TIME OR ASSIGNMENT TO PARTICULAR DUTIES, ARE NOT IN COMPLIANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 6, STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, REQUIRING THAT THE TRAVEL TO BE PERFORMED BE SPECIFIED AS DEFINITELY AS CIRCUMSTANCES WILL PERMIT. GENERAL TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS STATING NO TIME LIMIT MAY NOT BE RECOGNIZED AS EXTENDING BEYOND THE FISCAL YEAR IN WHICH SUCH ORDERS ARE ISSUED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, NOVEMBER 24, 1934:

IN THE AUDIT OF THE NOVEMBER 1933 ACCOUNTS OF HARRY L. SEXTON, COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS, SAN ANTONIO, TEX., EXCEPTIONS WERE TAKEN TO PAYMENTS MADE BY HIM ON VOUCHERS NOS. 1007, 1037, AND 1038 TO ED COTULLA, ASSISTANT COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS, D. S. CONNER, CUSTOMS AGENT, AND H. S. CREIGHTON, SUPERVISING CUSTOMS AGENT, RESPECTIVELY, COVERING TRAVEL EXPENSES AND PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE, FOR THE REASON THAT THE GENERAL TRAVEL ORDERS CITED AS AUTHORITY FOR THE DIFFERENT TRAVEL PERFORMED DID NOT STATE A TIME LIMIT AND WERE NOT ISSUED DURING THE FISCAL YEAR CURRENT AT THE TIME OF THE TRAVEL.

THE TRAVEL ORDER DATED MAY 1, 1933, ATTACHED TO VOUCHER 1007, COVERING EXPENSES INCURRED ON OCTOBER 18 AND 19, 1933, AUTHORIZED THE ASSISTANT COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS TO INCUR NECESSARY TRAVEL EXPENSES AT THE RATE OF $5 IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WHEN ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS FROM HEADQUARTERS PORT TO VARIOUS PORTS AND STATIONS IN DISTRICT NO. 23, AND ALSO WHILE ATTENDING UNITED STATES FEDERAL COURT AT VARIOUS PLACES IN THE DISTRICT. NO TRAVEL ORDERS WERE SUBMITTED WITH VOUCHERS 1037 AND 1038 AS REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 83 (B), STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AND EXCEPT FOR LETTERS DATED OCTOBER 23, 1929, AND SEPTEMBER 30, 1926, AUTHORIZING THE SUBMISSION OF EXPENSE ACCOUNTS OF THE CUSTOMS AGENTS IN QUESTION ON A PER DIEM BASIS, NO REFERENCE TO THE AUTHORITY FOR SUCH TRAVEL IS SHOWN. IN REPLIES TO THE EXCEPTIONS, IT WAS STATED WITH REFERENCE TO THE EXCEPTION ON VOUCHER 1007, THAT THE TRAVEL ORDER WAS ISSUED BY THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS UNDER ARTICLE 1208 OF THE CUSTOMS REGULATIONS, 1931, WHICH PROVIDES---

AUTHORITY FOR OFFICERS TO TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE COLLECTION DISTRICT IN WHICH APPOINTED AND TO INCUR EXPENSES INCIDENT THERETO MUST BE SECURED FROM THE BUREAU OF CUSTOMS IN ADVANCE, EXCEPT IN CASES OF IMPERATIVE EMERGENCY. TRAVEL WITHIN A COLLECTION DISTRICT MAY BE PERFORMED AND EXPENSE INCURRED IN CONNECTION THEREWITH UNDER THE DIRECTION OF COLLECTORS OF CUSTOMS.

AS TO THE OTHER VOUCHERS, IT WAS STATED IN THE REPLIES DATED AUGUST 21, 1934, THAT THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED UNDER AUTHORITY CONTAINED IN TREASURY DECISION 43256, DATED MARCH 14, 1929 (55 T.D. 430), WHICH PROVIDES:

AUTHORITY IS HEREBY GRANTED TO ALL EMPLOYEES OF THE DIVISION OF SPECIAL AGENTS TO PERFORM SUCH TRAVEL WITHIN THEIR RESPECTIVE SPECIAL AGENCY DISTRICTS AND IN THE PROVINCES OF THE DOMINION OF CANADA CONTIGUOUS TO THEIR DISTRICTS, AS MAY BE NECESSARY IN CONNECTION WITH THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES.

THE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE ACT OF 1926, APPROVED JUNE 3, 1926 (44 STAT. 688), AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932 (47 STAT. 405), AUTHORIZES THE PAYMENT OF A PER-DIEM ALLOWANCE IN LIEU OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF SUBSISTENCE AND ALL FEES, ETC., "WHILE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND AWAY FROM THEIR DESIGNATED POSTS OF DUTY.' IT BECOMES NECESSARY, THEREFORE, FOR THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS TO REQUIRE IN SUPPORT OF VOUCHERS FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES, EVIDENCE THAT THE EXPENSES WERE ACTUALLY AND NECESSARILY INCURRED ON OFFICIAL TRAVEL. BLANKET TRAVEL ORDERS PERMITTING EMPLOYEES TO TRAVEL WHOLLY AT WILL ANYWHERE IN THE UNITED STATES HAVE BEEN HELD TOO BROAD TO ENABLE THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS TO CREDIT EXPENSES INCURRED THEREUNDER, AS IT MAY BE DIFFICULT, IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE, TO DETERMINE IN SOME CASES WHETHER THE PARTICULAR EXPENSES WERE DUE TO OFFICIAL NECESSITY OR TO PERSONAL PREFERENCE OR DESIRE OF THE INDIVIDUAL. AS A GENERAL RULE, THEREFORE, TRAVEL ORDERS SHOULD BE LIMITED AS TO ITINERARY TO BE FOLLOWED AND STATE THE NATURE OF THE DUTY TO BE PERFORMED. IT IS RECOGNIZED THAT SUCH A PROCEDURE IS NOT PRACTICABLE IN ALL CASES, PARTICULARLY IN THE CASE OF SUPERVISORY OFFICERS OPERATING FROM FIELD HEADQUARTERS, BUT THE REGULATIONS, PARAGRAPH 6, STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, REQUIRE THAT TRAVEL TO BE PERFORMED BE SPECIFIED AS DEFINITELY AS CIRCUMSTANCES WILL PERMIT, AND IT MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED THAT GENERAL TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS UNLIMITED AS TO TIME AND TO EXTEND AN INDEFINITE TIME IN THE FUTURE ARE A COMPLIANCE WITH SUCH REQUIREMENT. TO MAKE SUCH TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS AS DEFINITE AS CIRCUMSTANCES WILL PERMIT, THEY SHOULD BE RENEWED AT LEAST AS FREQUENTLY AS THERE IS ANY CHANGE IN STATUS AFFECTING THE TRAVEL REQUIRED OF THE EMPLOYEE, AND CERTAINLY NOT LESS OFTEN THAN EACH FISCAL YEAR. WHERE SUCH GENERAL AUTHORIZATIONS DO NOT STATE ANY TIME LIMIT, THEY MAY NOT BE RECOGNIZED AS EXTENDING BEYOND THE FISCAL YEAR, PARTICULARLY AS APPROPRIATIONS GENERALLY ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR LONGER PERIODS WHEN SUCH AUTHORIZATIONS ARE ISSUED (5 COMP. GEN. 255).

IN THE PRESENT CASE, IT APPEARS THAT AT LEAST TWO OF THE EMPLOYEES WERE SUPERVISORY OFFICERS AND IT MAY BE IMPRACTICABLE TO ISSUE SPECIFIC ORDERS AS TO ITINERARY, DUTIES, TIME, ETC., BUT IN SUCH CASES, THE GENERAL AUTHORITY TO PERFORM TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS MAY NOT BE RECOGNIZED AS EXTENDING BEYOND THE FISCAL YEAR. CREDIT FOR THE AMOUNTS IN QUESTION WILL BE ALLOWED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS, BUT THE MATTER IS BROUGHT TO YOUR ATTENTION SO THAT THE PROPER ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION MAY BE TAKEN TO DISCONTINUE THE PRACTICE OF ISSUING GENERAL TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS WITHOUT LIMIT AS TO TIME, ETC. IN THE FUTURE VOUCHERS CLAIMING REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES OR PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WILL BE REQUIRED TO BE SUPPORTED BY SPECIAL TRAVEL ORDERS WHICH WILL ENABLE THIS OFFICE TO DETERMINE THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY FOR THE EXPENSES SO INCURRED.