A-64532, OCTOBER 28, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 349

A-64532: Oct 28, 1935

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TRAVELING EXPENSES - MINIMUM FIRST CLASS FARES - USE OF OWN AUTOMOBILE ON MILEAGE BASIS - STEAMSHIP FREIGHT CHARGES EMPLOYEES PERFORMING OFFICIAL TRAVEL MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED FOR CASH PAYMENTS MADE IN EXCESS OF MINIMUM FIRST CLASS STEAMSHIP FARES NOTWITHSTANDING IT IS ALLEGED THE MINIMUM FIRST CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS WERE USED BY ORIENTALS ONLY. ARE NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR FREIGHT CHARGES FOR TRANSPORTATION OF THEIR AUTOMOBILES FOR THAT PORTION OF THE TRAVEL PERFORMED BY BOAT. BECAUSE THEY REPRESENTED FREIGHT CHARGES BY BOAT FROM HONOLULU TO OTHER ISLANDS AND RETURN IN TRANSPORTING PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILES WHILE THE AGENTS WERE IN A TRAVEL STATUS ON TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT TO SUCH OTHER ISLANDS.

A-64532, OCTOBER 28, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 349

TRAVELING EXPENSES - MINIMUM FIRST CLASS FARES - USE OF OWN AUTOMOBILE ON MILEAGE BASIS - STEAMSHIP FREIGHT CHARGES EMPLOYEES PERFORMING OFFICIAL TRAVEL MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED FOR CASH PAYMENTS MADE IN EXCESS OF MINIMUM FIRST CLASS STEAMSHIP FARES NOTWITHSTANDING IT IS ALLEGED THE MINIMUM FIRST CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS WERE USED BY ORIENTALS ONLY. EMPLOYEES AUTHORIZED TO USE THEIR PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILES ON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL, ARE NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR FREIGHT CHARGES FOR TRANSPORTATION OF THEIR AUTOMOBILES FOR THAT PORTION OF THE TRAVEL PERFORMED BY BOAT, THE MILEAGE ALLOWANCE BEING IN LIEU OF ALL TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, OCTOBER 28, 1935:

WALTER L. SHUCK, INTERNAL REVENUE AGENT IN CHARGE AND SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT, BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE, HONOLULU, T.H., REQUESTED MAY 29, 1935, REVIEW OF THE ACTION OF THIS OFFICE IN DISALLOWING CREDIT ON VOUCHERS NO. 25, IN FAVOR OF CHARLES D. BEDROSIAN, AND NO. 28, IN FAVOR OF LAFAYETTE ALDRICH, INTERNAL REVENUE AGENTS, OF $30 AND $32.50, RESPECTIVELY, BECAUSE THEY REPRESENTED FREIGHT CHARGES BY BOAT FROM HONOLULU TO OTHER ISLANDS AND RETURN IN TRANSPORTING PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILES WHILE THE AGENTS WERE IN A TRAVEL STATUS ON TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT TO SUCH OTHER ISLANDS.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE TWO AGENTS WERE AUTHORIZED TO USE THEIR PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILES ON A MILEAGE BASIS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1933, 47 STAT. 1516, AS IN LIEU OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION.

IN CONNECTION WITH THIS CASE CAREFUL CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO THE LETTER OF THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE ADDRESSED TO THIS OFFICE JULY 30, 1935, AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO NOTICES OF EXCEPTION RELATIVE TO VOUCHERS NOS. 25 (CHARLES D. BEDROSIAN) AND 28 (LAFAYETTE ALDRICH) OF THE NOVEMBER 1934, DISBURSING ACCOUNT OF WALTER L. SHUCK, INTERNAL REVENUE AGENT IN CHARGE, HONOLULU, HAWAII.

THE ITEMS SUSPENDED BY YOUR OFFICE REPRESENT FREIGHT CHARGES PAID BY THE AGENTS FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF THEIR PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILES BETWEEN HONOLULU, THEIR POST OF DUTY, AND OTHER ISLANDS OF THE HAWAIIAN GROUP WHERE THEY WERE TEMPORARILY ASSIGNED FOR OFFICIAL DUTIES. IN MAKING THE SUSPENSIONS YOU REFER TO 11 COMP. GEN. 175 AND TO PARAGRAPH 12 (A) OF GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

THE HAWAII DIVISION, OF WHICH MR. SHUCK IS INTERNAL REVENUE AGENT IN CHARGE, COMPRISES ALL THE MAIN ISLANDS OF THE HAWAIIAN GROUP. THE HEADQUARTERS IS LOCATED AT HONOLULU AND THAT IS THE POST OF DUTY OF ALL OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE AGENTS ASSIGNED TO THAT DIVISION. WHILE MOST OF THEIR DUTIES ARE PERFORMED AT HONOLULU OR OTHER POINTS ON THE ISLAND OF OAHU IT OCCASIONALLY BECOMES NECESSARY FOR THEM TO VISIT OTHER ISLANDS OF THE GROUP ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND TO PERFORM CONSIDERABLE TRAVEL IN CONNECTION WITH THEIR DUTIES THERE.

IT HAS BEEN THE POLICY OF THE AGENT IN CHARGE TO ASSIGN TO THESE TEMPORARY DETAILS ON OTHER ISLANDS OF THE GROUP ONLY AGENTS WHO OWN AND ARE WILLING TO USE THEIR AUTOMOBILES SINCE MOST OF THE POINTS VISITED CANNOT BE REACHED IN ANY OTHER WAY AND THE RATES CHARGED BY THE LOCAL RENTING CONCERNS ARE SO EXORBITANT, ESPECIALLY WHERE, AS IS OFTEN THE CASE, THE TRAVEL IS OVER ROUGH ROADS AND IN MOUNTAINOUS REGIONS, CAUSING ADDITIONAL WEAR AND TEAR TO THE CARS.

IN REPLY TO HIS INQUIRY IN WHICH HE FULLY EXPLAINED THE SITUATION, MR. SHUCK WAS ADVISED THAT IN VIEW OF THE UNUSUAL CONDITIONS EXISTENT IN HIS DIVISION IT WAS BELIEVED THAT THE AGENTS IN TAKING THEIR AUTOMOBILES WITH THEM FOR SUCH OFFICIAL USE WOULD BE ENTITLED TO CLAIM INTER-ISLAND FREIGHTAGE WHEN IT COULD BE SHOWN THAT THE TRANSPORTATION COSTS INCLUDING SUCH FREIGHTAGE WERE LESS THAN IT WOULD COST FOR THE HIRE OF A CAR. SEVERAL CLAIMS OF THIS KIND HAVE BEEN MADE IN THE PAST TWO YEARS AND PASSED WITHOUT QUESTION AND IT WAS THEREFORE BELIEVED THAT YOUR OFFICE CONCURRED IN THE OPINION OF THIS BUREAU.

MR. SHUCK NOW ADVISES THAT IF THESE OCCASIONAL FREIGHT CHARGES FOR TRANSPORTING THE AGENTS' AUTOMOBILES FOR TEMPORARY USE AT SUCH OUT-OF THE- WAY PLACES ARE NOT ALLOWABLE HE CANNOT CONSISTENTLY ASK THE AGENTS TO TAKE THEIR CARS WITH THEM AND PAY THE $30.00 OR MORE OUT OF THEIR OWN FUNDS. EVEN TO PAY THEM AT THE RATE OF 5 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE NUMBER OF MILES THEIR CARS ARE TRANSPORTED BY BOAT WOULD ONLY REIMBURSE THEM FOR A SMALL PART OF THE FREIGHT CHARGE ACTUALLY PAID.

IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE TRANSPORTATION CONDITIONS IN THE TERRITORY OF HAWAII ARE SO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT FROM THOSE ON THE MAINLAND AND EXPENSES SUCH AS THOSE IN QUESTION ARE UNUSUAL AND WOULD NOT BE NECESSARY OR ALLOWABLE IN OTHER PLACES, IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT 11 COMP. GEN. 175 WAS INTENDED TO BE OR IS APPLICABLE TO CASES SUCH AS THE ONES UNDER CONSIDERATION. NEITHER DOES IT APPEAR THAT THE STATEMENT ON THE NOTICES OF EXCEPTION,"THE TRANSPORTATION OF A PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE SO AS TO MAKE IT AVAILABLE FOR LATER USE IS A PERSONAL EXPENSE AND NOT REIMBURSABLE FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS" APPLIES TO THE CASES IN QUESTION AS THESE TRANSPORTATION CHARGES WERE INCURRED FOR OFFICIAL REASONS ONLY AND THERE WAS NO OCCASION FOR THE EMPLOYEES TO USE THEIR CARS FOR PERSONAL REASONS WHILE EMPLOYED ON THESE DETAILS.

SINCE THESE EXPENSES WERE INCURRED IN GOOD FAITH, WITH THE CONSENT OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE AND ENTIRELY IN THE INTEREST OF ECONOMY TO THE GOVERNMENT, IT IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED THAT CREDIT BE ALLOWED FOR THE ITEMS SUSPENDED IN VOUCHERS NOS. 25 AND 28 OF MR. SHUCK'S ACCOUNT.

THE FACTS IN THIS CASE ARE SIMILAR TO THE FACTS IN THE PUBLISHED DECISION OF THIS OFFICE DATED NOVEMBER 12, 1931, 11 COMP. GEN. 175, WHEREIN IT WAS HELD, QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS THAT:

THE MILEAGE ALLOWANCE AUTHORIZED BY THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, FOR THE USE OF AN EMPLOYEE'S OWN AUTOMOBILE IS IN LIEU OF ALL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION AND PRECLUDES ANY ALLOWANCE FOR FERRY FARES IN ADDITION TO MILEAGE. THE MILEAGE IS TO BE COMPUTED OVER THE DISTANCE ACTUALLY TRAVELED, INCLUDING THE DISTANCE TRAVELED BY FERRIES, EVEN THOUGH SUCH DISTANCE IS NOT RECORDED UPON THE SPEEDOMETER OF THE AUTOMOBILE.

AS THE STATUTE PROVIDES THAT THE MILEAGE IS IN LIEU OF ACTUAL OPERATING EXPENSES OF AUTOMOBILES SO USED, THIS OFFICE HAS NO CHOICE BUT TO DISALLOW THE CLAIMS.

IT IS ALSO NOTED THAT ON VOUCHER NO. 25 AND VOUCHER NO. 28 THE TRAVELER CLAIMED AND WAS PAID $2.50 AND $5, RESPECTIVELY, AS REIMBURSEMENT OF CASH PAYMENT IN EXCESS OF THE MINIMUM FIRST-CLASS FARE UPON STEAMSHIPS, IT BEING STATED IN EACH INSTANCE THAT THE MINIMUM FIRST-CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS WERE USED BY ORIENTALS ONLY.

SECTION 10 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1933, 47 STAT. 1516, PROVIDES:

WHENEVER BY OR UNDER AUTHORITY OF LAW ACTUAL EXPENSES FOR TRAVEL MAY BE ALLOWED TO OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES, SUCH ALLOWANCES, IN THE CASE OF TRAVEL ORDERED AFTER THE DATE OF ENACTMENT OF THIS ACT, SHALL NOT EXCEED THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE BY THE TRANSPORTATION FACILITY USED IN SUCH TRAVEL.

AS THIS STATUTE ADMITS OF NO EXCEPTION, CREDIT FOR THE $7.50 WILL BE DISALLOWED IN ADDITION TO THE AMOUNTS CONSIDERED ABOVE.

SEE ALSO SEC. 209 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932, 47 STAT. 405, WHICH PROVIDES:

HEREAFTER, NO LAW OR REGULATION AUTHORIZING OR PERMITTING THE TRANSPORTATION AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE OF THE EFFECTS OF OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, OR OTHER PERSONS, SHALL BE CONSTRUED OR APPLIED AS INCLUDING OR AUTHORIZING THE TRANSPORTATION OF AN AUTOMOBILE: PROVIDED, THAT NOT MORE THAN $5,000 IN ANY FISCAL YEAR MAY BE EXPENDED FOR SUCH PURPOSES BY THE WAR DEPARTMENT, AND NOT MORE THAN $5,000 IN ANY FISCAL YEAR BY THE NAVY DEPARTMENT.