A-67071, JUNE 16, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 1097

A-67071: Jun 16, 1936

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SUBSISTENCE - PER DIEM IN LIEU OF - DUAL HEADQUARTERS AT OTHER THAN HEADQUARTERS ADMINISTRATIVELY DESIGNATED WHERE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES INDICATE A FEDERAL OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE TO HAVE DUAL HEADQUARTERS. NEITHER OF WHICH WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DESIGNATED AS SUCH IN THE TRAVEL ORDER. PER DIEM IS AUTHORIZED WHILE IN A TRAVEL STATUS AWAY FROM BOTH OF THE DUAL HEADQUARTERS. SMITH IS INSTRUCTED TO REFUND THE AMOUNT OF $472.50. WAS NOT IN FACT HIS OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS. WAS TOO GENERAL IN TERMS TO SUPPORT PAYMENT OF PER DIEM AS IN A TRAVEL STATUS AT ANY PLACE. YOU ARE ADVISED THAT AT THE TIME TRAVEL ORDER OF JUNE 6. WAS ISSUED. WHICH WAS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING MR. IT WAS DEFINITELY EXPECTED THAT HE WOULD SPEND THE MAJORITY OF HIS TIME IN LOS ANGELES.

A-67071, JUNE 16, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 1097

SUBSISTENCE - PER DIEM IN LIEU OF - DUAL HEADQUARTERS AT OTHER THAN HEADQUARTERS ADMINISTRATIVELY DESIGNATED WHERE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES INDICATE A FEDERAL OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE TO HAVE DUAL HEADQUARTERS, NEITHER OF WHICH WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DESIGNATED AS SUCH IN THE TRAVEL ORDER, PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WHILE AWAY FROM THE ADMINISTRATIVELY DESIGNATED BUT NOT ACTUAL HEADQUARTERS, IN THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY AT EITHER OF THE ACTUAL HEADQUARTERS, IT UNAUTHORIZED, BUT PER DIEM IS AUTHORIZED WHILE IN A TRAVEL STATUS AWAY FROM BOTH OF THE DUAL HEADQUARTERS.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR, WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION, JUNE 16, 1936:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 25, 1936, AS FOLLOWS:

MY ATTENTION HAS BEEN INVITED TO GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE SETTLEMENT CERTIFICATE DATED MARCH 6, 1936, IN THE CASE OF HOWARD E. SMITH, AN EMPLOYEE OF THIS ADMINISTRATION (CLAIM NO. 0473683), COVERING PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE CLAIMED BY MR. SMITH WHILE ON DUTY AT SAN FRANCISCO AND SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, AND WHILE TRAVELING BETWEEN THOSE PLACES DURING THE PERIOD JULY 1 TO 31, 1934.

IN THE SETTLEMENT OF THIS CLAIM THERE HAS BEEN DISALLOWED THE ENTIRE AMOUNT THEREOF, AND, IN ADDITION, MR. SMITH IS INSTRUCTED TO REFUND THE AMOUNT OF $472.50, REPRESENTING PER DIEM PAID TO HIM FOR THE PERIODS JUNE 9 TO 30, 1934, AND AUGUST 1 TO NOVEMBER 15, 1934.

THE DISALLOWANCES IN THIS CASE APPEAR TO BE BASED UPON TWO POINTS, FIRST, THAT LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, NAMED IN THE TRAVEL ORDER OF JUNE 6, 1934, AS MR. SMITH'S OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS, WAS NOT IN FACT HIS OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS; AND, SECOND, THAT TRAVEL ORDER OF JUNE 5, 1934, WAS TOO GENERAL IN TERMS TO SUPPORT PAYMENT OF PER DIEM AS IN A TRAVEL STATUS AT ANY PLACE.

WITH RESPECT TO THE FIRST POINT, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT AT THE TIME TRAVEL ORDER OF JUNE 6, 1934, WAS ISSUED, WHICH WAS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING MR. SMITH'S APPOINTMENT, IT WAS DEFINITELY EXPECTED THAT HE WOULD SPEND THE MAJORITY OF HIS TIME IN LOS ANGELES. ALTHOUGH IT DEVELOPED THAT HE ACTUALLY SPENT PRACTICALLY ALL OF HIS TIME DURING THE FIRST FEW MONTHS AT OTHER PACIFIC COAST POINTS, THAT CONDITION WAS NOT AND COULD NOT HAVE BEEN FORESEEN. FURTHER, IT WAS BY NO MEANS REASONABLY CERTAIN AT ANY TIME DURING HIS PERIOD OF DUTY AT THE OTHER POINTS, THAT THE CONDITION WOULD OBTAIN FOR ANY APPRECIABLE PERIOD OF TIME. THEREFORE, IT DID NOT APPEAR IN ORDER TO CHANGE THE DESIGNATION OF OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS.

WHILE, AS AFORESAID, DESIGNATION OF LOS ANGELES AS OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS WAS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE VERY BEST ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGMENT AT THE TIME, AS WAS CONTINUATION OF SUCH DESIGNATION FOR THE PERIOD COVERED BY CERTIFICATE OF SETTLEMENT OF MARCH 6, 1936, THIS ADMINISTRATION WOULD, IN VIEW OF SUBSEQUENT DEVELOPMENTS, HAVE RAISED NO QUESTION HAD SETTLEMENT BEEN MADE ON THE BASIS OF SAN FRANCISCO BEING CONSIDERED ACTUAL OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS. HOWEVER, THE HOLDING THAT AN EMPLOYEE, PLACED IN A TRAVEL STATUS BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE ACCORDING TO ITS BEST JUDGMENT AND IN PERFECTLY GOOD FAITH, HAS NO OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS AT ALL, NOT ONLY IMPOSES AN UNDUE HARDSHIP UPON THE EMPLOYEE AS IS THE CASE WITH MR. SMITH BUT MAKES IT EXTREMELY DIFFICULT FOR THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE TO MAINTAIN AN EFFICIENT WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH ITS EMPLOYEES IN THE FIELD.

WITH REFERENCE TO THE STATEMENT THAT TRAVEL ORDER OF JUNE 6, 1934, WAS ENTIRELY TOO GENERAL IN TERMS TO SUPPORT PAYMENT PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE AS IN A TRAVEL STATUS AT ANY PLACE, THIS STATEMENT IS OF CONSIDERABLE CONCERN TO ME SINCE THE FORM OF TRAVEL ORDER IS PRACTICALLY IDENTICAL WITH ORDERS WHICH HAVE SUPPORTED PROBABLY SEVERAL HUNDRED TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHERS PAID AFTER PREAUDIT BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE DURING THE EARLY STAGES OF THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY RELIEF ADMINISTRATION AND FEDERAL CIVIL WORKS ADMINISTRATION, AND IS NOT SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE FORM OF GENERAL TRAVEL ORDER NOW IN USE BY THIS ADMINISTRATION.

I HAVE REVIEWED THE FILE COPIES OF PAID VOUCHERS IN FAVOR OF MR. SMITH IN CONNECTION WITH WHICH REFUND IS REQUIRED BY GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE SETTLEMENT, AND FIND THAT THEY WERE ALL AUDITED BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE AND CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IN THE AMOUNTS PAID. IT IS FURTHER NOTED THAT THE VOUCHERS IN QUESTION WERE RETURNED TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS BY THE AUDIT DIVISION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FOR DIFFERENT REASONS, AND THAT IN CONNECTION WITH MOST OF THEM PRE -AUDIT DIFFERENCE STATEMENTS WERE RECEIVED STATING THAT THE VOUCHERS WERE HELD IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE PENDING FURTHER CONSIDERATION.

IT IS FURTHER NOTED THAT THE VOUCHER COVERING PERIOD JUNE 9 TO 30, 1934, WAS RETURNED UNDER DATE OF AUGUST 20, 1934, WITH PRE-AUDIT DIFFERENCE STATEMENT SPECIFICALLY STATING THAT THE VOUCHER WAS CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT "WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE OFFICIAL STATION ON FACE OF VOUCHER BE CHANGED FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., TO LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, AS SHOWN IN LETTER OF AUTHORITY DATED JUNE 6, 1934.'

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING FACTS, IT IS REQUESTED THAT GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE SETTLEMENT IN THIS CASE BE RECONSIDERED.

IT WILL BE APPRECIATED IF FURTHER DEMANDS UPON THE CLAIMANT FOR A REFUND ON THE BASIS OF THE PRIOR SETTLEMENT MAY BE DEFERRED PENDING RECONSIDERATION BY YOUR OFFICE.

REIMBURSEMENT IS CLAIMED UNDER AUTHORITY OF TRAVEL ORDER ISSUED JUNE 6, 1934, BY THE SECRETARY OF THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY RELIEF ADMINISTRATION, DESIGNATING LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, AS THE EMPLOYEE'S OFFICIAL STATION, AS FOLLOWS:

YOU ARE HEREBY AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED TO PERFORM SUCH TRAVEL AS MAY BE NECESSARY IN YOUR CAPACITY AS ASSISTANT FIELD EXAMINER OF THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY RELIEF ADMINISTRATION DURING THE PERIOD TO DECEMBER 31, 1934, WITHIN THE LIMITATIONS PRESCRIBED BY LAW FOR CIVIL EMPLOYEES IN THE FEDERAL SERVICE.

YOUR ACTUAL AND NECESSARY TRAVEL EXPENSES WILL BE PAID BY THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY RELIEF ADMINISTRATION AND YOU WILL BE ALLOWED $5.00 PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WHILE AWAY FROM YOUR OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.

IN DECISION OF NOVEMBER 24, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 414, IS HELD AS FOLLOWS (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.

GENERAL TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS STATING NO TIME LIMIT MAY NOT BE RECOGNIZED AS EXTENDING BEYOND THE FISCAL YEAR IN WHICH SUCH ORDERS ARE ISSUED.

AS THE TRAVEL ORDER WAS LIMITED AS TO TIME, IT WILL IN THIS INSTANCE BE REGARDED AS NOT TOO GENERAL TO SUPPORT PAYMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES.

THE OFFICIAL DUTY STATION OF A FEDERAL OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE MUST BE DETERMINED ON THE BASIS OF THE ACTUAL FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES RATHER THAN BY AN ARBITRARY ADMINISTRATIVE DESIGNATION OF HIS POST OF DUTY. 2 COMP. GEN. 757; 5 ID. 377. IN THE PRESENT CASE IT IS SHOWN THAT LOS ANGELES, ADMINISTRATIVELY DESIGNATED, WAS NOT IN FACT THE DUTY STATION OF THE EMPLOYEE, BUT THAT HE HAD DURING THE PERIOD, DUAL HEADQUARTERS, VIZ, SAN FRANCISCO AND SACRAMENTO. HENCE, AS NEITHER PLACE WAS DESIGNATED AND OFFICIAL DUTIES WERE PERFORMED AT BOTH PLACES FOR SUBSTANTIAL PERIODS, AND THE TIME OF THE EMPLOYEE WAS DIVIDED BETWEEN THEM, A PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WAS NOT PAYABLE AT EITHER PLACE. A-47726, MARCH 29, 1933. HOWEVER, ALLOWANCE WILL BE AUTHORIZED FOR PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE AND TRAVELING EXPENSES PROPERLY INCURRED WHILE IN TRAVEL STATUS PURSUANT TO SAID ORDER AWAY FROM BOTH SAN FRANCISCO AND SACRAMENTO. THE VOUCHERS INVOLVED WILL BE REAUDITED ACCORDINGLY.