A-59135, MARCH 11, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 687

A-59135: Mar 11, 1935

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TRAVELING EXPENSES - PERSONAL - EXTRA FARE TRAIN WHERE AN EMPLOYEE IS ORDERED TO TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND DUE TO SICKNESS IN HIS FAMILY REQUESTS CANCELLATION OF THE ORDER. IS LATER ORDERED TO PROCEED BY EXTRA FARE TRAIN. THE DELAY IN PERFORMING THE TRAVEL IS FOR PERSONAL REASONS AND REIMBURSEMENT TO THE EMPLOYEE FOR THE EXTRA COST IS NOT AUTHORIZED. AS FOLLOWS: REFERENCE IS MADE TO DECISION A-59135 OF JANUARY 17. THE FACTS SUBSTANTIALLY ARE AS FOLLOWS AND IT IS BELIEVED JUSTIFY A RECONSIDERATION OF THE DECISION TO DR. THESE ORDERS WERE CANCELLED BY HIS OFFICIAL SUPERIOR. HE WAS UNDER NO OBLIGATION WHATSOEVER TO NOTIFY HIS OFFICIAL SUPERIOR TO THAT EFFECT OR TO REPORT FOR DUTY UNTIL 8:00 A.M.

A-59135, MARCH 11, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 687

TRAVELING EXPENSES - PERSONAL - EXTRA FARE TRAIN WHERE AN EMPLOYEE IS ORDERED TO TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND DUE TO SICKNESS IN HIS FAMILY REQUESTS CANCELLATION OF THE ORDER, AND IS LATER ORDERED TO PROCEED BY EXTRA FARE TRAIN, THE DELAY IN PERFORMING THE TRAVEL IS FOR PERSONAL REASONS AND REIMBURSEMENT TO THE EMPLOYEE FOR THE EXTRA COST IS NOT AUTHORIZED.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, MARCH 11, 1935:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 15, 1935, AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO DECISION A-59135 OF JANUARY 17, 1935, DISALLOWING $7.20 ON VOUCHER 1265, MARCH 1932 ACCOUNTS OF W. E. THOMPSON, FISCAL AGENT, FOREST SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, AGAINST THE PAYEE DR. FREDERICK L. BROWNE, FOREST PRODUCTS LABORATORY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, MADISON, WISCONSIN. THE FACTS SUBSTANTIALLY ARE AS FOLLOWS AND IT IS BELIEVED JUSTIFY A RECONSIDERATION OF THE DECISION TO DR. BROWNE.

AN OFFICIAL CONFERENCE HAD BEEN ARRANGED FOR DR. BROWNE OF THE SECTION OF WOOD PRESERVATION IN NEW YORK FOR 8:30 A.M. TUESDAY, FEB. 23, 1932 AND VERBAL ORDERS HAD BEEN GIVEN HIM TO PERFORM THE NECESSARY TRAVEL UNDER HIS REGULAR LETTER OF AUTHORIZATION. THESE ORDERS WERE CANCELLED BY HIS OFFICIAL SUPERIOR, THE CHIEF OF THE SECTION OF WOOD PRESERVATION, BECAUSE OF SERIOUS ILLNESS OF A MEMBER OF DR. BROWNE'S FAMILY. LATE ON SUNDAY, FEB. 21, A CHANGE IN THE SITUATION MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR DR. BROWNE TO LEAVE. HE WAS UNDER NO OBLIGATION WHATSOEVER TO NOTIFY HIS OFFICIAL SUPERIOR TO THAT EFFECT OR TO REPORT FOR DUTY UNTIL 8:00 A.M. WED. FEB. 23 SINCE AS FAR AS HE WAS CONCERNED HIS TRIP HAD BEEN CANCELLED. HOWEVER HE DID GET IN TOUCH WITH HIS OFFICIAL SUPERIOR AND RECEIVED NEW VERBAL ORDERS FOR HIS TRAVEL. SINCE OFFICIAL NECESSITY AT THAT TIME UNDER THOSE ORDERS REQUIRED TRAVEL ON EXTRA FARE TRAIN FROM CHICAGO TO NEW YORK HIS OFFICIAL SUPERIOR AUTHORIZED SUCH TRAVEL IN ADVANCE. PARAGRAPH 15 OF THE GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS IN EFFECT AT THAT TIME READ AS FOLLOWS:

"15. EXTRA-FARE TRAINS.--- TRAVEL ON EXTRA-FARE TRAINS WILL BE ALLOWED ONLY WHERE OFFICIAL NECESSITY REQUIRES SUCH MEANS OF TRAVEL, AND CHARGES FOR THE SAME WILL BE ALLOWED ONLY WHEN AUTHORIZED IN ADVANCE OR A SATISFACTORY EXPLANATION IS SUBMITTED SHOWING THAT THE GOOD OF THE SERVICE REQUIRED THE TRAVEL TO BE PERFORMED IN THAT MANNER.'

THE TRAVEL AS PERFORMED CAME SQUARELY WITHIN THE ABOVE QUOTED PROVISION OF THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS. THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL ORDERS HAD BEEN CANCELLED BY PROPER AUTHORITY. AT THE TIME DR. BROWNE RECEIVED THE NEW TRAVEL ORDERS OFFICIAL NECESSITY REQUIRED TRAVEL BY EXTRA FARE TRAIN AND SUCH TRAVEL WAS AUTHORIZED IN ADVANCE BY COMPETENT AUTHORITY.

IT IS SUBMITTED THAT YOUR PREVIOUS DECISION IGNORES THE FACT THAT THE ORIGINAL ORDERS FOR TRAVEL HAD BEEN CANCELLED. CERTAINLY IT WAS WITHIN THE AUTHORITY OF THE DEPARTMENT TO TAKE SUCH ACTION AND LIKEWISE IT WAS WITHIN THE AUTHORITY OF THE DEPARTMENT AT THE TIME THE NEW ORDERS WERE ISSUED TO DECIDE THAT OFFICIAL NECESSITY REQUIRED TRAVEL VIA EXTRA-FARE TRAIN.

IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE EXPLANATION AS TO THE AUTHORITY FOR TRAVEL BY EXTRA- FARE TRAIN IT IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED THAT THE DISALLOWANCE BE REMOVED.

ASIDE FROM THE FACT THAT THERE IS NOT MADE APPARENT IN YOUR LETTER THE REASON WHY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE REQUESTS RECONSIDERATION OF THE ACTION TAKEN BY THIS OFFICE NOTWITHSTANDING SUCH RECONSIDERATION IS NOT IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT, IT MAY BE STATED THAT ALL THE FACTS STATED IN YOUR LETTER ARE OF RECORD IN THIS OFFICE AND WERE FULLY CONSIDERED WHEN THE DECISION OF JANUARY 17, 1935, WAS RENDERED.

IN A CASE SUCH AS THAT PRESENTED BY THE INSTANT MATTER, THE ACTUAL FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES INCIDENT TO TRAVEL GOVERN, RATHER THAN WRITTEN ORDERS OF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS, AS IN THIS CASE, IN WHICH APPARENTLY THERE WAS AN ATTEMPT TO CREATE A BASIS FOR PAYMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES NOT AUTHORIZED BY LAW AND REGULATIONS. IN OTHER WORDS, STRIPPED OF ALL TECHNICALITIES IT IS READILY APPARENT FROM THE RECORD THAT THE REASON WHY THE TRAVEL WAS NOT PERFORMED AS ORIGINALLY ORDERED WAS BECAUSE OF SICKNESS IN THE FAMILY OF THE EMPLOYEE RATHER THAN ON ACCOUNT OF OFFICIAL BUSINESS, AND INCIDENTALLY THAT THE TRAVEL WAS CANCELLED AND SUBSEQUENTLY AUTHORIZED AT A HIGHER RATE OF TRANSPORTATION FOR THE SAME REASON. IT MAY BE TRUE, AS YOU STATE, THAT DR. BROWNE WAS UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO NOTIFY HIS OFFICIAL SUPERIOR OF THE CHANGED CONDITION SINCE, INSOFAR AS HE WAS CONCERNED, THE TRIP HAD BEEN CANCELLED. PROBABLY THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE PROCEDURE ACCEPTED, SINCE NO OFFICIAL NECESSITY APPEARS FOR REQUIRING THE PRESENCE OF DR. BROWNE IN NEW YORK ON FEBRUARY 23. HOWEVER THAT MAY BE, THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED UNDER THE ORIGINAL AUTHORIZATION, AND THE DELAY REQUIRING THE USE OF EXTRA -FARE TRAIN WAS OCCASIONED BY PERSONAL REASONS, AS HERETOFORE STATED IN THE PREVIOUS DECISION. IN THIS CONNECTION SEE DECISION OF NOVEMBER 7, 1931, A-39292, IN WHICH IT WAS HELD THAT PAYMENT WAS UNAUTHORIZED WHERE EVIDENCE FAILED TO SHOW THAT THE USE OF AN EXTRA-FARE TRAIN WAS FOR THE GOOD OF THE SERVICE OR THAT ITS USE EFFECTED A SAVING TO THE GOVERNMENT.

ACCORDINGLY, UPON RECONSIDERATION, THE ACTION TAKEN IN DECISION OF JANUARY 17, 1935, MUST BE, AND IS, AFFIRMED.