A-68420, FEBRUARY 25, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 726

A-68420: Feb 25, 1936

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TRAVELING EXPENSES - TRANSFERS BETWEEN DUTY STATIONS WHERE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED BY AN INSPECTOR OF LOCOMOTIVES OF THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION FOR THE PURPOSE OF ACCEPTANCE OF A POSITION TO WHICH NOMINATED AND UNDER ORDERS NOT SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES AS REQUIRED BY STATUTE WHEN TRANSFERS BETWEEN OFFICIAL DUTY STATIONS ARE TO BE AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE. THE FACT THAT SOME OFFICIAL BUSINESS MAY HAVE BEEN REMOTELY INVOLVED IN THE TRIP DOES NOT AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE EXPENSES INCURRED. DURING WHICH TIME HE WAS IN THE SERVICE OF THE COMMISSION IN THE CAPACITY OF INSPECTOR OF LOCOMOTIVES. THE LOCOMOTIVE INSPECTION BUREAU IS ONE OF THE ACTIVITIES UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION AND BY ORDER THE COMMISSION HAS ASSIGNED ALL MATTERS RELATING TO THE WORK OF THAT BUREAU TO ME FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTION.

A-68420, FEBRUARY 25, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 726

TRAVELING EXPENSES - TRANSFERS BETWEEN DUTY STATIONS WHERE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED BY AN INSPECTOR OF LOCOMOTIVES OF THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION FOR THE PURPOSE OF ACCEPTANCE OF A POSITION TO WHICH NOMINATED AND UNDER ORDERS NOT SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES AS REQUIRED BY STATUTE WHEN TRANSFERS BETWEEN OFFICIAL DUTY STATIONS ARE TO BE AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE, THE FACT THAT SOME OFFICIAL BUSINESS MAY HAVE BEEN REMOTELY INVOLVED IN THE TRIP DOES NOT AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE EXPENSES INCURRED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION, FEBRUARY 25, 1936:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED THE FOLLOWING LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 23, 1935, FROM COMMISSIONER FRANK MCMANAMY, ADDRESSED TO THE AUDIT DIVISION OF THIS OFFICE:

THIS LETTER HAS REFERENCE TO THE THREE VOUCHERS ATTACHED OF MR. JOHN B. BROWN FOR EXPENSES DURING THE PERIOD JULY 23 TO AUGUST 6, 1935, DURING WHICH TIME HE WAS IN THE SERVICE OF THE COMMISSION IN THE CAPACITY OF INSPECTOR OF LOCOMOTIVES.

FOR MANY YEARS MR. BROWN HAS BEEN EMPLOYED IN THE SAME CAPACITY, WITH HEADQUARTERS AT PORTLAND, OREG., UNDER A STATUTE WHICH READS, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

EACH INSPECTOR SHALL RECEIVE A SALARY OF $4,000 PER YEAR AND HIS TRAVELING EXPENSES WHILE ENGAGED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTY.

THE LOCOMOTIVE INSPECTION BUREAU IS ONE OF THE ACTIVITIES UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION AND BY ORDER THE COMMISSION HAS ASSIGNED ALL MATTERS RELATING TO THE WORK OF THAT BUREAU TO ME FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTION. PURSUANT TO THE ABOVE AUTHORITY I DIRECTED THAT MR. BROWN REPORT TO MY OFFICE, AND DURING THE PERIOD IN QUESTION HE WAS LAWFULLY EMPLOYED AS AN INSPECTOR OF LOCOMOTIVES, WAS ABSENT FROM HIS OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS, AND THEREFORE ENTITLED TO EXPENSES UNDER THE LAW. THE FACT THAT HE HAD BEEN NOMINATED BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE POSITION OF ASSISTANT CHIEF INSPECTOR WAS NOT CONTROLLING AND IT WAS NOT AT ALL NECESSARY FOR HIM TO BE BROUGHT TO WASHINGTON TO ASSUME THE DUTIES OF THAT OFFICE. HE COULD HAVE BEEN SWORN IN BEFORE ANY NOTARY IN PORTLAND AND ASSUMED HIS NEW DUTIES WHICH ARE LARGELY IN THE FIELD WITHOUT THE NECESSITY OF COMING TO WASHINGTON.

UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES IT IS REQUESTED THAT THIS MATTER BE GIVEN FURTHER CONSIDERATION AND THAT THE ACCOUNT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT TO MR. BROWN. IF THIS FURTHER EXPLANATION IS NOT SUFFICIENT FOR THE PREAUDIT DIVISION TO ALLOW THIS, I ASK THAT IT BE REFERRED TO THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL FOR HIS REVIEW OF THE ACTION OF THE PREAUDIT DIVISION.

I AM ATTACHING COPY OF A MEMORANDUM TO ME BY MR. BROWN IN WHICH HE REFERS TO HIS CONVERSATION WITH YOU, AND WHICH I UNDERSTAND GIVES ADDITIONAL INFORMATION WHICH YOU DESIRED IN CONNECTION WITH FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF THE MATTER.

THE REFERRED-TO MEMORANDUM OF MR. BROWN READS AS FOLLOWS:

ON JULY 22 I RECEIVED A TELEGRAM FROM MR. A. G. PACK, THEN CHIEF INSPECTOR OF LOCOMOTIVES, I.C.C., AS FOLLOWS:

WASHINGTON, JULY 22, 1935--- 10:30 A.M. JOHN B. BROWN,

528 P.O. BUILDING, PORTLAND, OREG.

COMMISSIONER MCMANAMY DIRECTS THAT YOU REPORT TO HIS OFFICE HERE NOT LATER THAN MORNING OF JULY TWENTY NINE. ANSWER.

PACK.

IN VIEW OF THE TERSENESS OF THE INSTRUCTION RECEIVED AND THE LIMITED TIME INVOLVED, I HAD NO RECOURSE BUT TO OBEY THEM IMPLICITLY, WHICH I DID. THESE INSTRUCTIONS WHILE VERY BRIEF WERE ALONG THE LINES OF SIMILAR INSTRUCTIONS SENT OUT AT DIFFERENT TIMES TO THE VARIOUS FIELD MEN WHEN DESIRING THEIR PRESENCE IN WASHINGTON AND IT IS SELDOM, IF EVER, STATED TO ONE OF THEM WHY THEY ARE "ORDERED IN.' I HAVE BEEN AN EMPLOYEE OF THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION, BUREAU OF LOCOMOTIVE INSPECTION, SINCE JANUARY 16, 1912, AND HAVE NEVER QUESTIONED "WHY" I WAS ORDERED TO DO ANYTHING; IT IS NOT CUSTOMARY.

THERE WAS NOTHING IN THIS MESSAGE TO ME INDICATING DEFINITELY WHY I WAS ORDERED TO REPORT TO WASHINGTON, SO IN ACCORDANCE WITH ESTABLISHED PRACTICE I PURCHASED A TICKET FROM PORTLAND, OREGON, TO WASHINGTON, D.C., AND RETURN VIA THE SHORTEST AND DIRECT ROUTE AND TRANSACTED OFFICIAL BUSINESS, WITH OFFICIALS OF THE OREGON SHORT LINE R.R., AND WITH INSPECTOR OF LOCOMOTIVES S.F. SNODGRESS AT POCATELLO, IDAHO, AND WITH OFFICIALS OF THE UNION PACIFIC SYSTEM AT CHEYENNE, WYO.

FROM THE FOREGOING STATEMENT OF FACTS YOU CAN READILY SEE THAT I DID NOT HAVE ANY DEFINITE KNOWLEDGE AS TO WHY I WAS ORDERED TO REPORT TO COMMISSIONER MCMANAMY AND AS I PURCHASED A ROUND TRIP TICKET THERE WAS IN MY MIND A RETURN TO PORTLAND, OREGON.

I WOULD THEREFORE REQUEST THAT THE ACCOUNTS BE RESUBMITTED WITH THE REQUEST THAT THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL REVIEW THE ACTION OF THE PREAUDIT OFFICE OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE.

IT IS TO BE NOTED THAT THE TELEGRAM DIRECTING MR. BROWN TO REPORT TO WASHINGTON, D.C., DID NOT SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES AND/OR PER DIEM, AS REQUIRED BY STATUTE WHEN TRANSFERS BETWEEN OFFICIAL DUTY STATIONS ARE TO BE AUTHORIZED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE. MUCH STRESS IS LAID ON THE ASSERTION THAT MR. BROWN DID NOT HAVE ANY KNOWLEDGE OF THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH THE TELEGRAM OF JULY 22, 1935, ORDERED HIM TO WASHINGTON--- ALTHOUGH IT IS PERTINENT TO NOTE IN THAT CONNECTION THAT HIS NAME HAD BEEN SUBMITTED TO THE SENATE JULY 18, 1935, AS A NOMINEE FOR THE POSITION OF ASSISTANT CHIEF INSPECTOR OF LOCOMOTIVES. WHETHER HE KNEW THE PURPOSE OF THE ORDER IS NOT MATERIAL -- THE CONTROLLING FACTOR BEING THE OBJECT FOR WHICH THE TRAVEL WAS DIRECTED. THAT IS TO SAY, WHILE REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES IS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE APPLICABLE STATUTE WHEN THE TRAVEL IS PERFORMED UPON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND PURSUANT TO PROPER ORDERS, THERE MUST CLEARLY APPEAR IN SUCH CASES THAT "OFFICIAL BUSINESS" IS THE PRIMARY OBJECT OF THE TRIP AND NOT MERELY THE REMOTE OR INCIDENTAL OBJECT.

IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT A GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IS REQUIRED TO PLACE HIMSELF AT HIS FIRST PLACE OF DUTY UNDER A NEW APPOINTMENT AT HIS OWN EXPENSE, SUCH TRAVEL BEING CONSIDERED AS INVOLVING A "PERSONAL" EXPENSE AS DISTINGUISHED FROM A "PUBLIC" EXPENSE. THERE IS NOTHING IN THE RECORD IN THIS CASE TO INDICATE THAT ANY OFFICIAL BUSINESS AS AN INSPECTOR OF LOCOMOTIVES REQUIRED THE TRIP TO WASHINGTON, D.C., OR THAT SAID TRIP WAS FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE THAN THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE POSITION TO WHICH HE HAD BEEN NOMINATED; AND THE FACT THAT SOME "OFFICIAL" BUSINESS MAY HAVE BEEN REMOTELY INVOLVED IN THE TRIP IS NOT DECISIVE OF THE REAL OR TRUE CHARACTER OF THE TRIP.

THE PREAUDIT ACTION IN CHARGING MR. BROWN WITH THE COST OF THE TRANSPORTATION FROM PORTLAND, OREG., TO WASHINGTON, D.C., PROCURED UPON GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS, AMOUNTING TO $161.77, AND THE CERTIFICATION FOR PAYMENT IN FAVOR OF THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES IN LIQUIDATION OF THAT INDEBTEDNESS, OF AMOUNTS OTHERWISE FOUND DUE MR. BROWN ON VOUCHERS, AS FOLLOWS, $30 ON VOUCHER NO. 1903, $37.15 ON VOUCHER NO. 1904, 87 CENTS ON VOUCHER NO. 1496, AND $93.75 ON VOUCHER NO. 3269 (TOTALING IN ALL, $161.77) WAS CORRECT AND PROPER AND IS HEREBY SUSTAINED. SEE 10 COMP. GEN. 184; ID. 222.