A-62579, JUNE 15, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 894

A-62579: Jun 15, 1935

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DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE VOUCHER IS SUPPORTED BY A BLANKET ORDER AUTHORIZING THE PAYEE TO TRAVEL ANYWHERE IN THE UNITED STATES. DOUBT IS ENTERTAINED AS TO WHETHER THE AMOUNT CLAIMED MAY BE PAID. IT WILL ALSO BE NOTED THAT TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED BY USE OF TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS FROM OKLAHOMA CITY TO SAN FRANCISCO. RAISING A DOUBT AS TO WHETHER ANY EXCESS EXPENSES ARE INVOLVED. WHETHER THE EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE CASE WERE DUE ENTIRELY TO OFFICIAL NECESSITY OR TO PERSONAL PREFERENCE OR DESIRE OF THE INDIVIDUAL. 3. AN ADVANCE DECISION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED. IN WHOSE FAVOR THE VOUCHER FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL AND OTHER EXPENSES IS STATED. IT IS STATED THAT TRANSPORTATION WAS FURNISHED AT NO EXPENSE TO THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT.

A-62579, JUNE 15, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 894

TRAVELING EXPENSES - GENERAL TRAVEL ORDERS - NATIONAL PARK SERVICE GENERAL TRAVEL ORDERS MAY PROPERLY BE ISSUED TO SUPERVISORY OFFICERS REGULARLY OPERATING FROM FIELD HEADQUARTERS OVER PRESCRIBED AREAS. WHEN TRAVELING BEYOND THE TERRITORY ORDINARILY SUPERVISED FROM THE HEADQUARTERS, PRIOR TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION SHOULD BE OBTAINED AS REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 6 OF STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS AMENDED JANUARY 30, 1934.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO CAPT. LESTER L. BOGGS, UNITED STATES ARMY, JUNE 15, 1935:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED, THROUGH THE CHIEF OF FINANCE, WAR DEPARTMENT, YOUR REQUEST OF MAY 24, 1935, FILE NO. 150-CCC (MAIER, HERBERT), AS FOLLOWS:

1. THE INCLOSED PUBLIC VOUCHER FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL AND OTHER EXPENSES, INCLUDING PER DIEM, HAS BEEN SUBMITTED TO THE UNDERSIGNED DISBURSING OFFICER FOR PAYMENT. DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE VOUCHER IS SUPPORTED BY A BLANKET ORDER AUTHORIZING THE PAYEE TO TRAVEL ANYWHERE IN THE UNITED STATES, DOUBT IS ENTERTAINED AS TO WHETHER THE AMOUNT CLAIMED MAY BE PAID, IN VIEW OF DECISION OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES. (14 COMP. GEN. 414.)

2. IT WILL ALSO BE NOTED THAT TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED BY USE OF TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS FROM OKLAHOMA CITY TO SAN FRANCISCO; BY HIS PERSONALLY OWNED CAR, FROM A POINT FAR DISTANT FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION TO HIS OFFICIAL STATION VIA VARIOUS POINTS, RAISING A DOUBT AS TO WHETHER ANY EXCESS EXPENSES ARE INVOLVED, AND WHETHER THE EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE CASE WERE DUE ENTIRELY TO OFFICIAL NECESSITY OR TO PERSONAL PREFERENCE OR DESIRE OF THE INDIVIDUAL.

3. AN ADVANCE DECISION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED.

FROM THE RECORD IT APPEARS THAT HERBERT MAIER, REGIONAL OFFICER, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, IN WHOSE FAVOR THE VOUCHER FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL AND OTHER EXPENSES IS STATED, DEPARTED FROM HIS OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS AT OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA., WITHOUT PREVIOUS AUTHORIZATION, ON DECEMBER 22, 1934, EN ROUTE TO SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF., ARRIVING AT THE LATTER POINT DECEMBER 24. FROM SAN FRANCISCO HE TRAVELED TO LAMPOC, CALIF., THE TRANSPORTATION BEING FURNISHED BY THE CALIFORNIA STATE PARK COMMISSION. FOR TRAVEL FROM LAMPOC TO BAKERSFIELD, CALIF., ON DECEMBER 31, 1934, IT IS STATED THAT TRANSPORTATION WAS FURNISHED AT NO EXPENSE TO THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT. RETURNING FROM BAKERSFIELD TO OKLAHOMA CITY, VIA MOJAVE, CALIF., OVERTON, NEV., ASHFORK, AND SUPERIOR, ARIZ., EL PASO, BIG SPRING, SWEETWATER, AND ABILENE, TEX., TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED BY THE PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE OF THE CLAIMANT. FOR SUCH TRAVEL CLAIM IS MADE IN THE AMOUNT OF $68.68 (1,908 MILES AT 3.6 CENTS PER MILE). IN SUPPORT OF THE CLAIM THERE HAS BEEN SUBMITTED TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION DATED DECEMBER 29, 1934, SIGNED BY THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, WHICH PROVIDES, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

YOU ARE HEREBY AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL FROM YOUR HEADQUARTERS LOCATED AT OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA, TO AND FROM THE FOLLOWING-NAMED POINTS IN THE UNITED STATES, UPON OFFICIAL BUSINESS OF THIS DEPARTMENT, THE NATURE OF WHICH HAS BEEN COMMUNICATED TO YOU, TO SUCH POINTS IN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES AS MAY BE NECESSARY IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR OFFICIAL DUTIES.

IN THE DECISION OF THIS OFFICE 14 COMP. GEN. 414, CITED IN YOUR LETTER IT WAS HELD (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS/---

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.

PARAGRAPH 6 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS AMENDED, EFFECTIVE JANUARY 30, 1934, PROVIDES THAT:

6. PRIOR AUTHORITY.--- EXCEPT AS PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH 7 FOLLOWING, THE AUTHORITY SHALL BE ISSUED PRIOR TO THE INCURRENCE OF THE EXPENSES, AND SHALL SPECIFY THE TRAVEL TO BE PERFORMED AS DEFINITELY AS CIRCUMSTANCES WILL PERMIT.

UNDER SUCH REGULATION IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT BLANKET TRAVEL ORDERS PERMITTING EMPLOYEES TO TRAVEL WHOLLY AT WILL ANYWHERE IN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES ARE 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. 14 COMP. GEN. 414; 5 ID. 255. IN THE CASE OF SUPERVISORY OFFICERS REGULARLY OPERATING FROM FIELD HEADQUARTERS OVER PRESCRIBED AREAS, IT IS RECOGNIZED THAT GENERAL TRAVEL ORDERS MAY PROPERLY BE ISSUED, SUCH TRAVEL INVOLVING TO SOME EXTENT THE EXERCISE OF INDIVIDUAL DISCRETION.

IN VIEW OF THE REQUIREMENT THAT TRAVEL TO BE PERFORMED BE SPECIFIED AS DEFINITELY AS CIRCUMSTANCES WILL PERMIT, SUPERVISORY OFFICERS WHEN TRAVELING BEYOND THE TERRITORY OVER WHICH THEY EXERCISE SUPERVISORY AUTHORITY SHOULD OBTAIN PRIOR TRAVEL AUTHORITY AS PROVIDED BY PARAGRAPH 6, SUPRA.

IN THE INSTANT CASE THE GENERAL TRAVEL AUTHORITY INCLUDED A SPECIAL PROVISION RELATIVE TO THE OFFICIAL'S PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AS FOLLOWS:

AT TIMES DUE TO THE NATURE OF THE DUTIES TO BE PERFORMED AND THE FACT THAT THE WORK TO BE PERFORMED WILL BE IN ISOLATED AREAS NOT/OR INEXPEDIENTLY SERVED BY COMMON CARRIER, IT IS DETERMINED TO BE MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE U.S. GOVERNMENT FOR THE TRAVELER TO USE HIS PERSONAL AUTOMOBILE.

PARAGRAPH 12 (A), STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, PROVIDES, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

(C) MILEAGE BASIS.--- MILEAGE IN LIEU OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION * * * MAY BE ALLOWED A CIVILIAN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE TRAVELING BY HIS PERSONALLY OWNED * * * AUTOMOBILE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY OR OFFICIAL STATION * * * PROVIDED SUCH MODE OF TRAVEL AND THE RATE PER MILE HAVE BEEN PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OR INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENT OR BY AN OFFICIAL TO WHOM SUCH AUTHORITY HAS BEEN PROPERLY DELEGATED AND PAYMENT ON THE MILEAGE BASIS IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES. * * *

IN THE INSTANT CASE AUTHORIZATION FOR THE TRAVEL BY AUTOMOBILE OR OTHERWISE HAD NOT BEEN GRANTED AT THE TIME THE EMPLOYEE BEGAN THE TRIP. MAJOR PORTION OF THE TRAVEL WAS BEYOND THE AREA THAT WOULD ORDINARILY BE SUPERVISED FROM THE STATED HEADQUARTERS OF THE EMPLOYEE, AND IN THE LIGHT OF PREVIOUS DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE IT MUST BE HELD THAT THE GENERAL TRAVEL ORDER OF DECEMBER 29 MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS AUTHORITY FOR TRAVEL BEYOND THE AREA ORDINARILY SUPERVISED FROM THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE EMPLOYEE. THE AUTOMOBILE WAS USED BY THE EMPLOYEE ONLY FOR THE RETURN PORTION OF THE TRIP, WHICH AT LEAST RAISES A QUESTION WHETHER IT WAS SO USED BECAUSE OF A PERSONAL DESIRE OR PREFERENCE OF THE EMPLOYEE. ACCORDINGLY, ON THE PRESENT RECORD IT MUST BE HELD THAT THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR REIMBURSING THE EMPLOYEE FOR EXPENDITURES MADE IN CONNECTION WITH THE TRAVEL IN QUESTION. IT IS FURTHER HELD THAT SUCH EMPLOYEE SHOULD BE CALLED UPON TO REIMBURSE THE GOVERNMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF THE COST OF THE TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS USED BY HIM IN TRAVELING FROM OKLAHOMA CITY TO SAN FRANCISCO, THERE APPEARING NO AUTHORITY FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF SUCH TRAVEL.

THE ATTENTION OF THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR IS BEING CALLED TO THIS DECISION FOR CONSIDERATION.