A-67401, MARCH 16, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 798

A-67401: Mar 16, 1936

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ON THE BASIS THAT THE SERVICE OFFERED BY THE STANDARD LINE IS SUPERIOR AND RESULTS IN A SAVING OF TIME. IS UNAUTHORIZED WHERE THE ACCOMMODATIONS OFFERED BY THE DIFFERENTIAL LINE ARE FIRST CLASS. RECLAIMING THE AMOUNT OF $2.00 WHICH WAS DEDUCTED FROM HIS ORIGINAL JULY ACCOUNT WHICH WAS PAID ON AUGUST 28TH. IT IS BELIEVED. THAT THE DEDUCTION REALLY REPRESENTS THE DIFFERENCE IN FARES BETWEEN THAT WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN OBTAINED OVER THE NICKEL PLATE RAILROAD AND THAT ACTUALLY PAID TO THE NEW YORK CENTRAL. I AM SUBMITTING THE ACCOUNT DIRECTLY TO YOUR OFFICE BECAUSE IT SEEMS DESIRABLE TO GET A RULING AS TO WHETHER EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE TO BE REQUIRED TO USE THE SO-CALLED DIFFERENTIAL LINES WHERE THERE IS BOTH A STANDARD AND DIFFERENTIAL LINE BETWEEN ANY TWO POINTS.

A-67401, MARCH 16, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 798

TRANSPORTATION - OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES - USE OF SO-CALLED DIFFERENTIAL RAILROAD LINES THE USE OF A STANDARD RAILROAD LINE BY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL AT A HIGHER RATE IN PREFERENCE TO A SO CALLED DIFFERENTIAL LINE, ON THE BASIS THAT THE SERVICE OFFERED BY THE STANDARD LINE IS SUPERIOR AND RESULTS IN A SAVING OF TIME, IS UNAUTHORIZED WHERE THE ACCOMMODATIONS OFFERED BY THE DIFFERENTIAL LINE ARE FIRST CLASS, BUT A DIRECT SAVING TO THE GOVERNMENT IN THE MATTER OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF SUBSISTENCE, OR PER DIEM IN LIEU THEREOF, BY REASON OF THE SHORTER TIME REQUIRED BY THE STANDARD LINE MAY PROPERLY BE CONSIDERED IN ASCERTAINING THE COMPARATIVE COST.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE CHAIRMAN, INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION, MARCH 16, 1936:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO LETTER OF NOVEMBER 1, 1935, FROM GUY L. SEAMAN, CHIEF, SECTION OF AUDITS AND ACCOUNTS, INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION, AS FOLLOWS:

I AM SUBMITTING HEREWITH FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION A SUPPLEMENTAL EXPENSE ACCOUNT FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 1935, FOR HERBERT L. WICK, RECLAIMING THE AMOUNT OF $2.00 WHICH WAS DEDUCTED FROM HIS ORIGINAL JULY ACCOUNT WHICH WAS PAID ON AUGUST 28TH, DO VOUCHER NO. 302919, PAID IN THE ACCOUNTS OF G. F. ALLEN, CHIEF DISBURSING OFFICER, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, UNDER DISBURSING SYMBOL 115-100.

THE PREAUDIT DIFFERENCE STATEMENT ALSO SUBMITTED INDICATES THAT THIS $2.00 DEDUCTION COVERS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TWICE THE ONE-WAY RATE AND AVAILABLE ROUND-TRIP RATE BETWEEN CHICAGO AND CLEVELAND. IT IS BELIEVED, HOWEVER, THAT THE DEDUCTION REALLY REPRESENTS THE DIFFERENCE IN FARES BETWEEN THAT WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN OBTAINED OVER THE NICKEL PLATE RAILROAD AND THAT ACTUALLY PAID TO THE NEW YORK CENTRAL.

I AM SUBMITTING THE ACCOUNT DIRECTLY TO YOUR OFFICE BECAUSE IT SEEMS DESIRABLE TO GET A RULING AS TO WHETHER EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE TO BE REQUIRED TO USE THE SO-CALLED DIFFERENTIAL LINES WHERE THERE IS BOTH A STANDARD AND DIFFERENTIAL LINE BETWEEN ANY TWO POINTS. IT SO HAPPENS THAT THE CHICAGO OFFICE OF THE BUREAU OF ACCOUNTS HAS FREQUENT OCCASION TO ASSIGN MEN FOR DUTY AT CLEVELAND. HERETOFORE SOME MEN HAVE TRAVELED THE NEW YORK CENTRAL AND SOME THE NICKEL PLATE, BUT THE ACCOUNTS HAVE BEEN PASSED WITHOUT QUESTION. AS MR. WICK IS EXAMINER IN CHARGE OF THE CHICAGO OFFICE, HE IS ESPECIALLY ANXIOUS TO HAVE THE MATTER PASSED UPON AS HE HAS THE AUTHORITY TO ORDER THE TRAVEL OF THE EMPLOYEES OF THE CHICAGO OFFICE AND DOES NOT WANT TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR SUSPENSIONS IN THEIR ACCOUNTS.

IN THE INSTANT CASE THE AMOUNT INVOLVED IS SMALL AND IT PROBABLY WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN RECLAIMED IF IT HAD NOT SEEMED BEST TO HAVE A RULING THAT WOULD COVER SUCH CASES IN THE FUTURE.

THE AMOUNT RECLAIMED REPRESENTS THE SUM DEDUCTED FROM VOUCHER NO. 302919, AUGUST 1935, ACCOUNTS OF G. F. ALLEN, TO COVER THE DIFFERENCE IN COST BETWEEN TWO ONE-WAY FARES AND THE ROUND-TRIP FARE BETWEEN CHICAGO AND CLEVELAND, AS EVIDENCED BY PREAUDIT DIFFERENCE STATEMENT DATED AUGUST 22, 1935. HOWEVER, IT APPEARS, AS STATED IN THE SUBMISSION, THAT THE AMOUNT DEDUCTED ACTUALLY REPRESENTS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN OBTAINED OVER THE NICKEL PLATE RAILROAD AND THAT ACTUALLY PAID TO THE NEW YORK CENTRAL RAILROAD, AND IN CONNECTION WITH THE MATTER THE QUESTION IS PRESENTED AS TO WHETHER EMPLOYEES OF THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION ARE TO BE REQUIRED TO USE THE SO-CALLED DIFFERENTIAL LINES WHERE THERE IS BOTH A STANDARD AND DIFFERENTIAL LINE OPERATING BETWEEN ANY TWO POINTS.

IT IS REPRESENTED BY THE EMPLOYEE CONCERNED IN THE CASE AT HAND THAT THE SERVICE OFFERED BY THE STANDARD LINES IS SUPERIOR TO THAT AVAILABLE OVER THE DIFFERENTIAL LINES, AND THAT IN MOST CASES TIME IS SAVED BY THE USE OF THE STANDARD LINES. WITH RESPECT TO TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES GENERALLY, ATTENTION IS INVITED TO PARAGRAPH 9 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS WHICH PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

ALL TRAVEL MUST BE BY THE MOST ECONOMICAL USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE. TRAVEL BY OTHER ROUTES MAY BE ALLOWED WHEN THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY THEREFOR IS SATISFACTORILY ESTABLISHED.

REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED FOR TRANSPORTATION WHILE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IS LIMITED TO SUCH EXPENSES AS ARE SHOWN TO HAVE BEEN ACTUALLY INCURRED AND NECESSARY FOR THE COMFORT OF THE AVERAGE TRAVELER. WHILE IT MAY BE THAT THE STANDARD LINES ACTUALLY FURNISH SERVICE SUPERIOR TO THAT OFFERED BY THE DIFFERENTIAL LINES, SUCH FACT IS NO JUSTIFICATION FOR THE USE OF THE STANDARD LINES, IT OTHERWISE APPEARING THAT THE ACCOMMODATIONS OFFERED BY THE DIFFERENTIAL LINES ARE FIRST CLASS, NOR IS THE SAVING OF TIME OR THE MERE EXPEDITION OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS SUFFICIENT REASON FOR THE USE OF A MORE EXPENSIVE FORM OF TRANSPORTATION. OF COURSE, IT IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD THAT A DIRECT SAVING TO THE GOVERNMENT IN THE MATTER OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF SUBSISTENCE, OR PER DIEM IN LIEU THEREOF, BY REASON OF THE SHORTER TIME REQUIRED BY THE USE OF THE STANDARD LINES, BEING A MATTER COMPARATIVELY EASY OF DETERMINATION, MAY PROPERLY BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION IN ASCERTAINING WHETHER THE COST OF TRAVEL BY SUCH LINES EXCEEDS THE COST BY THE DIFFERENTIAL LINES.

WITH RESPECT TO THE TRAVEL HERE INVOLVED THE EMPLOYEE STATES AS FOLLOWS:

IN THE PARTICULAR CASE HERE INVOLVED, USE OF THE NEW YORK CENTRAL IN PREFERENCE TO THE NICKEL PLATE PERMITTED ARRIVAL AT CLEVELAND AT 7:37 A.M. INSTEAD OF 8:10 A.M., ON JULY 25, AND ARRIVAL AT CHICAGO ON JULY 26 AT 7:15 A.M. INSTEAD OF 7:35 A.M., STANDARD TIME. THE OFFICE IN WHICH I WORKED AT CLEVELAND WAS OPEN AT 8:45 A.M. AND SOME LITTLE TIME WAS NECESSARY TO PERMIT CHECKING INTO A HOTEL AND OBTAINING BREAKFAST. IT IS MY HABIT TO REACH THE OFFICE IN CHICAGO SHORTLY AFTER 8:00 A.M., AND IN THE SUMMER MONTHS WHEN CHICAGO OBSERVES "DAYLIGHT-SAVING TIME" THIS MEANS SHORTLY AFTER 7:00 A.M. STANDARD TIME. SINCE I PROCEEDED TO THE OFFICES IN CLEVELAND AND CHICAGO, RESPECTIVELY, WITHOUT UNNECESSARY DELAY AFTER MY ARRIVAL AT THOSE POINTS, IT IS SUBMITTED THAT IN THIS INSTANCE USE OF THE NEW YORK CENTRAL ENABLED ME TO SAVE 53 MINUTES OF ACTUAL WORKING TIME. $5,400.00 PER ANNUM MY TIME IS WORTH MORE THAN $2.00 PER WORKING HOUR.

WHILE IT IS BELIEVED THAT THE ATTACHED SUPPLEMENTAL CLAIM IS JUSTIFIED BY THE ACTUAL SAVING OF BUSINESS HOURS SHOWN, I AM PRINCIPALLY INTERESTED IN OBTAINING A DECISION IN REGARD TO THE ABSTRACT QUESTION AS TO WHETHER (A) IT IS NECESSARY TO SHOW AN OFFSETTING SAVING TO JUSTIFY THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL VIA THE STANDARD LINES NAMED WHERE SERVICE IS AVAILABLE AT LOWER FARES VIA THE DIFFERENTIAL LINES, AND (B), IF SUCH A SHOWING IS NECESSARY, WILL A COMPUTATION BASED ON THE EMPLOYEE'S SALARY RATE APPLIED TO BUSINESS HOURS SAVED BE ACCEPTABLE AS A FACTOR?

INSOFAR AS THE RELATIVE VALUE TO THE UNITED STATES OF THE EMPLOYEE'S SERVICES WHILE IN A TRAVEL STATUS, AS COMPARED WITH HIS SERVICES AT HIS HEADQUARTERS IN CHICAGO, OR WHILE ON DETAIL IN CLEVELAND, IS CONCERNED, IT NEED ONLY BE HERE STATED THAT THE ACTUAL VALUE TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE TIME SAVED BY THE USE OF THE STANDARD LINE IS TOO PROBLEMATICAL TO PERMIT ITS CONSIDERATION IN DETERMINING WHETHER THE COST OF SUCH TRANSPORTATION EXCEEDS THE COST OF OTHER AVAILABLE FIRST CLASS TRANSPORTATION.

IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES THE ACTION HERETOFORE TAKEN BY THIS OFFICE WITH RESPECT TO THE MATTER MUST BE AND IS SUSTAINED.