A-6949, JANUARY 17, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 613

A-6949: Jan 17, 1925

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TRAVELING EXPENSES - STEAMSHIP FARE - TAXICAB HIRE IN THE ABSENCE OF A SHOWING THAT THE MINIMUM FIRST-CLASS RATE WAS NOT AVAILABLE OR THAT IT WAS NECESSARY TO TRAVEL AT THE HIGHER RATE BY A CERTAIN STEAMSHIP. REIMBURSEMENT OF TAXICAB FARE AT THE TERMINATION OF A TRANS-ATLANTIC VOYAGE MAY BE ALLOWED AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS WHERE SUCH EMPLOYEE IS NECESSARILY ACCOMPANIED BY AN UNUSUAL AMOUNT OF BAGGAGE. 1925: THERE IS FOR CONSIDERATION THE REQUEST OF H. THE DISALLOWANCES ARE SET FORTH AND CONSIDERED AS FOLLOWS: VOUCHER 102. A RECEIPT IS NOW SUBMITTED BEARING SIGNATURE OF THE PAYEE. THEREFORE CREDIT FOR THE ITEM IN THE SUM OF $18.66 WILL NOW BE ALLOWED. NOTE "E" EXPLAINS CHARGE AS FOLLOWS: "SPECIAL CONSIDERATION WAS ACCORDED BY THE CUNARD CO.

A-6949, JANUARY 17, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 613

TRAVELING EXPENSES - STEAMSHIP FARE - TAXICAB HIRE IN THE ABSENCE OF A SHOWING THAT THE MINIMUM FIRST-CLASS RATE WAS NOT AVAILABLE OR THAT IT WAS NECESSARY TO TRAVEL AT THE HIGHER RATE BY A CERTAIN STEAMSHIP, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED IN AN AMOUNT IN EXCESS OF THE MINIMUM FIRST-CLASS RATE FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL PERFORMED ON A TRANS-ATLANTIC LINER. REIMBURSEMENT OF TAXICAB FARE AT THE TERMINATION OF A TRANS-ATLANTIC VOYAGE MAY BE ALLOWED AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS WHERE SUCH EMPLOYEE IS NECESSARILY ACCOMPANIED BY AN UNUSUAL AMOUNT OF BAGGAGE.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, JANUARY 17, 1925:

THERE IS FOR CONSIDERATION THE REQUEST OF H. B. BARTON, SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT, BUREAU OF FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC COMMERCE, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, FOR REVIEW OF CERTAIN ITEMS DISALLOWED IN A SETTLEMENT OF HIS ACCOUNTS, CERTIFICATE NO. C-16809-C, DATED OCTOBER 21, 1924. THE DISALLOWANCES ARE SET FORTH AND CONSIDERED AS FOLLOWS:

VOUCHER 102, H. TATISHVILI, FOR SALARY AS CLERK DECEMBER 1 TO 14, 1923-14 DAYS AT $40 PER MONTH-$18.66. RECEIPT SUBMITTED IN SUPPORT OF THE CHARGE NOT SIGNED BY PAYEE.

A RECEIPT IS NOW SUBMITTED BEARING SIGNATURE OF THE PAYEE, THEREFORE CREDIT FOR THE ITEM IN THE SUM OF $18.66 WILL NOW BE ALLOWED.

(VOUCHER) 133, H. B. BARTON, JUNE, 1923. PASSAGE, LIVERPOOL-NEW YORK, 1ST CL.B. 15 CUNARD FRANCONIA, 50 POUNDS STERLING CONVERTED AT 4.64 EQUALS $232. NOTE "E" EXPLAINS CHARGE AS FOLLOWS: "SPECIAL CONSIDERATION WAS ACCORDED BY THE CUNARD CO. TO ME AS A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT UPON THE MAIDEN VOYAGE OF THE STEAMSHIP FRANCONIA. THE MINIMUM FIRST-CLASS FARE WAS 47 POUNDS STERLING. THE COMPANY ASSIGNED TO ME A VERY BEAUTIFUL ROOM AS A COMPLIMENT, FOR WHICH THEY MADE THE SPECIAL RATE OF 50 POUNDS STERLING.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE "SPECIAL RATE" CHARGED 50 POUNDS STERLING AND THE MINIMUM FIRST-CLASS PASSAGE 47 POUNDS STERLING, OR 3 POUNDS STERLING, EQUALS $13.92, IS NOT ALLOWABLE, AS IT WAS FOR THE PERSONAL CONVENIENCE OF THE OFFICER.

IN ADDITION TO THE NOTE QUOTED, SUPRA, THE SPECIAL AGENT STATES THAT THE FARE AS CHARGED WAS ONE BY "SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT," IMPLYING, IT IS UNDERSTOOD, THAT IT WAS A REDUCTION FROM A STILL HIGHER REGULAR RATE. STATES ALSO, THAT HE IS AWARE OF NO REGULATION REQUIRING UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT SERVANTS TO TRAVEL AT THE MINIMUM FIRST-CLASS RATE. REGARDING THIS LATTER STATEMENT, THE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE PROVIDE, PARAGRAPH 5, THAT:

ALL TRAVEL MUST BE BY THE SHORTEST USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE. THE FARES IN ALL SUCH CASES MUST NOT EXCEED THE REGULAR FIRST-CLASS LIMITED FARES CHARGED THE GENERAL PUBLIC.

IN ADDITION TO THIS THE BASIC ACT CONTROLLING THE PAYMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES, ACT OF MARCH 3, 1875, 18 STAT. 452, PROVIDES:

* * * THAT HEREAFTER ONLY ACTUAL TRAVELLING EXPENSES SHALL BE ALLOWED TO ANY PERSON HOLDING EMPLOYMENT OR APPOINTMENT UNDER THE UNITED STATES * *

AND THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS HAVE PROPERLY INTERPRETED THIS TO MEAN ONLY SUCH EXPENSES AS ARE NECESSARY.

IT IS ADMITTED THAT THE MINIMUM FIRST-CLASS PASSAGE WAS ONLY 47 POUNDS STERLING, AND AS THIS WOULD PROCURE FIRST-CLASS TRANSPORTATION, SUCH AS IS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE REGULATIONS, SUPRA, ANY ADDITIONAL SUM PAID WOULD NOT, UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES HERE SHOWN, CONSTITUTE A NECESSARY OR PROPER EXPENSE FROM THE GOVERNMENT'S STANDPOINT. IT NOT BEING SHOWN THAT THE MINIMUM FIRST-CLASS RATE OF 47 POUNDS STERLING WAS NOT AVAILABLE, OR THAT IT WAS NECESSARY TO TRAVEL BY THIS VESSEL AT THE HIGHER RATE, THE DISALLOWANCE MUST BE AND IS SUSTAINED.

(VOUCHER) 133 H. B. BARTON JULY 4, TAXI, HOTEL TO STATION, WITH BAGGAGE, NEW YORK, $1.35. JULY 4, TAXI, STATION TO HOTEL, WITH BAGGAGE, WASHINGTON, $1.10.

THE SPECIAL AGENT EXPLAINS AS TO THIS CHARGE THAT HE HAD ACCOMPANYING HIM AS BAGGAGE THREE PIECES CONSISTING OF ARMY LOCKER, KIT BAG, AND GRIP, AND THAT IT WOULD COST AS MUCH OR MORE TO TRANSPORT SUCH ARTICLES BY TRANSFER COMPANIES.

THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, PARAGRAPH 31, PROVIDE:

WHENEVER OFFICIAL TRAVEL REQUIRES THE USE OF STREET CARS, OMNIBUS, TRANSFER COACH, HACK OR TAXICABS REASONABLE CHARGES FOR THEIR USE WILL BE ALLOWED. CHARGES FOR CONVEYANCES OF THIS CLASS OTHER THAN STREET CARS MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY A STATEMENT SHOWING THE NECESSITY FOR USE.

COMMENT.--- * * * IT SHOULD BE BORNE IN MIND THAT THE CHARGES FOR THE USE OF LOCAL CONVEYANCES OTHER THAN STREET CARS, MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY A STATEMENT GIVING THE ABSOLUTE OFFICIAL NECESSITY FOR THEIR USE.

IN 23 COMP. DEC. 303 IT WAS SAID:

IT IS WELL SETTLED AND UNIVERSALLY RECOGNIZED IN THE REGULATIONS OF THE VARIOUS EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND OTHER GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENTS THAT CAB HIRE IS NOT A NECESSARY TRAVELING EXPENSE WHEN STREET CARS ARE AVAILABLE. HOWEVER, WHETHER OR NOT A NECESSITY ACTUALLY EXISTED FOR THE USE OF A CAB IS NOT A QUESTION TO BE DETERMINED ABSOLUTELY BY THE APPLICATION OF ANY GENERAL RULE, BUT IS ONE OF FACT, FOR DETERMINATION IN EACH PARTICULAR CASE.

IN THE CASE OF A LIKE CHARGE UNDER SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES APPEARING IN THE ACCOUNTS OF CHARLES S. WILSON, MINISTER TO BULGARIA, DECISION OF MARCH 27, 1923, REVIEW NO. 3646, IT WAS SAID THAT:

TRAVELERS TO FOREIGN POSTS ARE OBLIGED TO CARRY A LARGER AMOUNT OF PERSONAL EFFECTS THAN FOR DOMESTIC TRAVEL, AND BECAUSE OF THE NECESSITY OF ASSURING CONNECTIONS BETWEEN TRAINS AND STEAMERS, AND FOR A PERSONAL ATTENTION INCIDENT TO DEPOSITING ABOARD SHIPS, IT IS PRACTICALLY ESSENTIAL THAT THERE BE NO SEPARATION FROM BAGGAGE. UNDER SUCH CONDITIONS WHERE JUSTIFIED BY THE QUANTITY OF BAGGAGE, I THINK, IT MAY BE SAID THAT THE CHARGE FOR CAB SERVICE CAN BE REGARDED AS PRIMARILY FOR THE BAGGAGE, AND THE PERSON PERMITTED TO ACCOMPANY AS A MATTER OF COURSE. FOR THESE REASONS THE EXPLANATION NOW MADE WILL BE ACCEPTED TO THAT EFFECT, WITHOUT A SHOWING OF THE NONAVAILABILITY OF THE USUAL PUBLIC CONVEYANCES * * *. (SEE ALSO 3 COMP. GEN. 918-919.)

ACCORDINGLY, AS THE INSTANT TRAVEL WAS THE TERMINATION OF A TRANS ATLANTIC TRIP, WHEN THE TRAVELER WAS NECESSARILY ENCUMBERED WITH AN UNUSUAL AMOUNT OF PERSONAL LUGGAGE, THE USE OF A TAXI UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES APPEARS JUSTIFIED, AND THE CHARGE SEEMING REASONABLE, UNDER THE CONDITIONS INVOLVED, CREDIT FOR THE ITEMS IN THE SUM OF $2.45 HERETOFORE DISALLOWED WILL NOW BE ALLOWED.