A-60419, NOVEMBER 12, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 395

A-60419: Nov 12, 1935

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- INVOLVES TOO MANY ELEMENTS OF UNCERTAINTY TO SERVE AS A DETERMINING FACTOR WHETHER APPROPRIATIONS ARE LEGALLY AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF THE EXTRA COSTS INVOLVED. 1935: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 7. AS FOLLOWS: I HAVE BEFORE ME YOUR DECISION OF MARCH 9. THE DISALLOWANCE IS CONTINUED BECAUSE THE TRANSPORTATION CHARGES FROM WASHINGTON TO SAN FRANCISCO AND RETURN WERE IN EXCESS OF THE COST OF ROUND-TRIP RAILROAD FARE PLUS PULLMAN. NO ACCOUNT IS TAKEN OF THE RESPONSIBILITIES RESTING UPON THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS OR OF THE VALUE OF THIS OFFICIAL'S TIME WHILE USING THE MORE LEISURELY MEANS OF TRAIN TRANSPORTATION. WERE OFFSET AGAINST THE AMOUNT DISALLOWED. FOLLOWS: "ACTUAL COST OF AIR-LINE TRANSPORTATION MAY BE ALLOWED WHEN IT IS SATISFACTORILY SHOWN * * * THAT THE USE OF AIR-LINE TRANSPORTATION WAS IN ANY CASE DISTINCTLY TO THE ADVANTAGE OF THE UNITED STATES AND SUCH TRAVEL IS DULY AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED IN WRITING.'.

A-60419, NOVEMBER 12, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 395

TRAVELING EXPENSES - AIRPLANE TRANSPORTATION - EXTRA COSTS THE MATTER OF TIME SAVED IN TRAVEL BY AIR OVER TRAVEL BY RAIL--- FOR SPENDING AT HEADQUARTERS OR ELSEWHERE--- INVOLVES TOO MANY ELEMENTS OF UNCERTAINTY TO SERVE AS A DETERMINING FACTOR WHETHER APPROPRIATIONS ARE LEGALLY AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF THE EXTRA COSTS INVOLVED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, NOVEMBER 12, 1935:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 7, 1935, AS FOLLOWS:

I HAVE BEFORE ME YOUR DECISION OF MARCH 9, 1935 (A-60419), CONCERNING THE DISALLOWANCE OF $70.06 IN THE ACCOUNTS OF R. F. LASSLY, FORMERLY CHIEF DISBURSING OFFICER, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, COVERING AIRPLANE TRANSPORTATION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. THE DISALLOWANCE IS CONTINUED BECAUSE THE TRANSPORTATION CHARGES FROM WASHINGTON TO SAN FRANCISCO AND RETURN WERE IN EXCESS OF THE COST OF ROUND-TRIP RAILROAD FARE PLUS PULLMAN, NOTWITHSTANDING THE EXPLANATION MADE BY THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS IN HIS LETTER OF FEBRUARY 9.

YOUR DECISION HAS THE EFFECT OF COMPELLING THE HEAD OF ONE OF THE LARGE BUREAUS OF THE GOVERNMENT SO TO ARRANGE HIS FIELD TRIPS THAT TRAIN TRANSPORTATION MUST BE USED REGARDLESS OF THE AMOUNT OF TIME REQUIRED TO MAKE THE TRIP OR THE CONDITIONS OF THE BUSINESS OF THE BUREAU. NO ACCOUNT IS TAKEN OF THE RESPONSIBILITIES RESTING UPON THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS OR OF THE VALUE OF THIS OFFICIAL'S TIME WHILE USING THE MORE LEISURELY MEANS OF TRAIN TRANSPORTATION. IF THE COMMISSIONER'S SALARY, COMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF THE TIME SAVED IN MAKING THIS TRIP, WERE OFFSET AGAINST THE AMOUNT DISALLOWED, THERE WOULD IN FACT BE A SAVING TO THE GOVERNMENT.

SECTION 7 OF THE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE ACT OF 1926, APPROVED JUNE 3, 1926 (44 STAT., P. 689), PROVIDES THAT THE ALLOWANCE AND PAYMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSES AND THE FIXING AND PAYMENT OF PER DIEM ALLOWANCES SHALL BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH REGULATIONS PROMULGATED BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENTS, THE SAME TO BE STANDARDIZED AS FAR AS POSSIBLE AND TO BE EFFECTIVE WHEN APPROVED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AS AMENDED AND APPROVED BY THE PRESIDENT ON JANUARY 30, 1934, AUTHORIZE TRANSPORTATION BY AIRPLANES. FOLLOWS:

"ACTUAL COST OF AIR-LINE TRANSPORTATION MAY BE ALLOWED WHEN IT IS SATISFACTORILY SHOWN * * * THAT THE USE OF AIR-LINE TRANSPORTATION WAS IN ANY CASE DISTINCTLY TO THE ADVANTAGE OF THE UNITED STATES AND SUCH TRAVEL IS DULY AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED IN WRITING.'

IN MY OPINION, THOSE ASSOCIATED DAILY WITH THE PROBLEMS OF INDIAN ADMINISTRATION ARE IN A POSITION TO DETERMINE THE EXIGENCIES OF THE SERVICE. I ISSUED TRAVEL ORDERS TO THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS WHICH AUTHORIZED HIM TO USE AIRPLANE TRANSPORTATION, KNOWING THAT HIS PRESENCE WAS NEEDED IN THE FIELD FROM TIME TO TIME, BUT LIKEWISE REALIZING THAT HIS ABSENCE FROM WASHINGTON SHOULD BE FOR THE SHORTEST POSSIBLE PERIODS. I HAVE READ THE EXPLANATION MADE BY THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS, WHEREIN HE STATED THAT HIS DEPARTURE FROM WASHINGTON WAS DELAYED BECAUSE OF BUDGET HEARINGS; HIS FIELD ITINERARY HAD BEEN PREARRANGED AND DEFINITE ENGAGEMENTS MADE FOR CONFERENCES IN WASHINGTON ON NOVEMBER 10. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE TRAVEL PERFORMED BY THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS IS CLEARLY AUTHORIZED BY THE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE ACT OF 1926 AND BY THE REGULATIONS ISSUED PURSUANT THERETO.

THERE HAS ALSO BEEN BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION A DISALLOWANCE ON VOUCHER NO. 19053, DECEMBER 1933 IN THE AMOUNT OF $24.23, PAID TO MR. WILLIAM ZIMMERMAN, JR., ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. THIS DISALLOWANCE IS MADE ON THE SAME GROUNDS AND SUGGESTS THAT CERTAIN FIELD CONFERENCES SHOULD HAVE BEEN PREARRANGED SO AS TO PERMIT TRAVEL BY TRAIN. IN THIS CASE, IT WAS FOUND NECESSARY TO DIRECT MR. ZIMMERMAN TO PROCEED TO SOME OF THESE CONFERENCES WHICH HE HAD NOT EARLIER EXPECTED TO ATTEND. GAVE HIM PERSONAL INSTRUCTIONS ON LESS THAN 24 HOURS' NOTICE TO PROCEED TO SOME OF THESE CONFERENCES.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, I REQUEST RECONSIDERATION OF YOUR FORMER ACTION IN DISALLOWING THE AMOUNTS IN QUESTION AND URGE THAT APPROPRIATE STEPS BE TAKEN TO CLEAR THE DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNTS ACCORDINGLY.

THERE IS RELIED UPON FOR IMPOSING THE EXTRA COSTS ON THE GOVERNMENT THE QUOTED PROVISION OF THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS AUTHORIZING TRAVEL BY AIR WHEN "DISTINCTLY TO THE ADVANTAGE" OF THE UNITED STATES, AND THAT THE TRAVEL IN QUESTION, BY AIR, WAS "DISTINCTLY TO THE ADVANTAGE" OF THE UNITED STATES BECAUSE OF THE VALUE OF THE COMMISSIONER'S TIME "WHILE USING THE MORE LEISURELY MEANS OF TRAIN TRANSPORTATION"--- AND IT IS SUGGESTED THE COMMISSIONER'S SALARY, ON THE BASIS OF THE TIME SAVED THROUGH TRAVEL BY AIR, BE USED AS MEASURE IN DETERMINING THE "ADVANTAGE" ACCRUING TO THE UNITED STATES.

THE ADMINISTRATIVE HEAD OF A LARGE GOVERNMENTAL UNIT IS NOT NECESSARY IDLE BECAUSE NOT AT HIS DESK, AND THERE ARE THOSE WHO MAKE SPLENDID USE, IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST, OF THE OPPORTUNITY FOR STUDY AND DELIBERATION AFFORDED BY THE CONVENIENCES OF PRESENT-DAY TRAVEL BY RAIL, BUT HOWEVER THAT MAY BE IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT APPROPRIATIONS ARE NOT LEGALLY AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF THE EXTRA COSTS INVOLVED IN TRAVEL BY AIR OVER TRAVEL BY RAIL UNLESS THE PARTICULAR TRAVEL WAS MADE NECESSARY BY AN UNEXPECTED OCCURRENCE, EMERGENT IN CHARACTER, OR WAS OTHERWISE REQUIRED IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST. IN SUCH CONNECTION IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT THE MATTER OF SAVING TIME--- FOR SPENDING AT HEADQUARTERS OR ELSEWHERE--- INVOLVES TOO MANY ELEMENTS OF UNCERTAINTY TO SERVE AS A DETERMINING FACTOR--- IT BEING A MATTER SUSCEPTIBLE OF DISAGREEMENT AS TO THE RELATIVE VALUE OF A TRAVELER'S PRESENCE AT DIFFERENT PLACES AT A PARTICULAR TIME--- AND THERE IS INVOLVED IN CONNECTION WITH ALL OFFICIAL TRAVEL THE ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBILITY TO SO PLAN, AND IN SUCH CONNECTION TO SO ARRANGE OR INFLUENCE THE FIXING OF APPOINTMENTS, CONFERENCES, ETC., AS NOT TO INFLICT UNNECESSARY BURDENS ON THE PUBLIC TREASURY.

THE STATEMENTS MADE IN YOUR LETTER HAVE BEEN GIVEN CAREFUL CONSIDERATION BUT THEY BRING TO LIGHT NO MATERIAL FACTS NOT TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION IN MY DECISION OF MARCH 9, 1935, WHICH IS AFFIRMED.

AS TO THE DISALLOWANCE OF CREDIT ON VOUCHER NO. 1953, DECEMBER 1933, ACCOUNT OF R. F. LASSLY, IN THE SUM OF $24.23, REPRESENTING EXCESS COST OF TRAVEL PERFORMED BY WILLIAM ZIMMERMAN, JR., ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS, FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., TO ALBUQUERQUE, N.MEX., AND RETURN, BY THE SAME FACILITIES AS IN THE CASE OF COMMISSIONER COLLIER, WITHOUT SHOWING THE EXISTENCE OF AN EMERGENCY REQUIRING THE USE OF THE MORE EXPENSIVE MODE OF TRAVEL, OR THE ADVANTAGE OF SUCH USE TO THE GOVERNMENT, THE SAME RULE APPLIES. HOWEVER, IT APPEARS UPON VERIFICATION OF THE ROUND -TRIP RAILROAD RATES THAT THE CORRECT CHARGE FOR THE 10-DAY ROUND-TRIP TICKET BETWEEN OKLAHOMA CITY AND TULSA WAS $7.10 INSTEAD OF $4.75 ALLOWED, AND THAT THE EXCESS COST RESULTING FROM THE TRAVEL BY AIRPLANE IS $21.88 INSTEAD OF $24.23 AS STATED IN THE NOTICE OF EXCEPTION. THEREFORE, THE DISALLOWANCE IS REDUCED TO $21.88 AND AS SO REDUCED AND FOR THE SAME REASONS HEREINBEFORE STATED MUST BE AND IS SUSTAINED.