A-70897, DECEMBER 5, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 550

A-70897: Dec 5, 1936

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HE WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE EXCESS COST OF THE TRANSPORTATION USED OVER THE ROUND-TRIP FARE. NOTWITHSTANDING HE WAS INFORMED BY THE TICKET AGENT THAT NO REDUCED ROUND-TRIP FARE WAS AVAILABLE AND WAS UNCERTAIN WHETHER HE WOULD HAVE USE FOR THE RETURN TICKET. STATES: REFERENCE IS MADE TO VOUCHER 9742 IN FAVOR OF BOYD B. WHILE THE TEN DAY ROUND TRIP TICKET RATE WAS $34.17. REPLY TO THE SUSPENSION WAS REJECTED IN THE FOLLOWING LANGUAGE: "REPLY DATED JULY 25. "SINCE THERE WAS AVAILABLE A 10 DAY ROUND TRIP RATE. EMPLOYEE SHOULD HAVE OBTAINED SAME AND IF FOUND NECESSARY THE UNUSED PORTION OF TICKET IS RETURNABLE TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE FOR REFUNDMENT PURPOSES. ALSO SCHEDULE OF RATES ARE ON FILE AND OPEN TO PUBLIC INSPECTION.

A-70897, DECEMBER 5, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 550

TRANSPORTATION - NONPURCHASE OF ROUND-TRIP TICKETS - OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES EXCESS COST LIABILITY AS THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS REQUIRE THE PURCHASE OF ROUND-TRIP TICKETS WHENEVER PRACTICABLE AND ECONOMICAL IN CONNECTION WITH OFFICIAL TRAVEL AND PROVIDE A PROCEDURE FOR THE DISPOSITION OF THE UNUSED PORTION OF THE TICKET, AN EMPLOYEE CONTEMPLATING ROUND-TRIP TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS SHOULD PROCURE THE REQUIRED TRANSPORTATION BY TENDERING TO THE TICKET AGENT A TRANSPORTATION REQUEST CALLING FOR THE REDUCED ROUND -TRIP FARE BETWEEN THE POINTS INVOLVED. IF HE FAILS TO DO SO, HE WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE EXCESS COST OF THE TRANSPORTATION USED OVER THE ROUND-TRIP FARE, NOTWITHSTANDING HE WAS INFORMED BY THE TICKET AGENT THAT NO REDUCED ROUND-TRIP FARE WAS AVAILABLE AND WAS UNCERTAIN WHETHER HE WOULD HAVE USE FOR THE RETURN TICKET.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, DECEMBER 5, 1936:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED THE MATTER OF THE SUSPENSION OF CREDIT IN THE AMOUNT OF $12.50 IN THE ACCOUNTS OF S. E. SCHOONOVER, REGIONAL FISCAL AGENT, FOREST SERVICE, FOR JUNE 1934, VOUCHER 9742, COVERING REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES OF BOYD B. PARKER, FROM COLUMBUS, OHIO, TO RUSSELLVILLE, ARK., AND RETURN, IN MAY AND JUNE 1934, IN CONNECTION WITH WHICH YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 6, 1936, STATES:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO VOUCHER 9742 IN FAVOR OF BOYD B. PARKER, JUNE 1934, ACCOUNTS OF REGIONAL FISCAL AGENT S. E. SCHOONOVER, FOREST SERVICE, MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN, DISALLOWED IN THE AMOUNT OF $12.50 WITH THE REQUEST THAT AN ADDITIONAL TWENTY-THREE CENTS BE COLLECTED ON ACCOUNT OF FAILURE TO PURCHASE A TEN-DAY ROUND TRIP TICKET COLUMBUS, OHIO, TO LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS.

THE TWO ONE WAY TICKETS RESULTED IN A COST OF $46.90, WHILE THE TEN DAY ROUND TRIP TICKET RATE WAS $34.17, A DIFFERENCE OF $12.73. REPLY TO THE SUSPENSION WAS REJECTED IN THE FOLLOWING LANGUAGE:

"REPLY DATED JULY 25, 1935, NOTED.

"SINCE THERE WAS AVAILABLE A 10 DAY ROUND TRIP RATE, EMPLOYEE SHOULD HAVE OBTAINED SAME AND IF FOUND NECESSARY THE UNUSED PORTION OF TICKET IS RETURNABLE TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE FOR REFUNDMENT PURPOSES. T. R. PAR. 32. ALSO SCHEDULE OF RATES ARE ON FILE AND OPEN TO PUBLIC INSPECTION. MERE INQUIRY OF THE AGENT OF THE RAILWAY COMPANY WILL NOT SUFFICE TO RELIEVE AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF LIABILITY FOR THE COST OF EXCESS FARES ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN PAID WHERE CHEAPER FARES ARE IN FACT AVAILABLE. THE ABOVE AMOUNT SHOULD BE DEPOSITED.'

THE ABOVE QUOTATION IS TO THE EFFECT THAT THE TRAVELER HIMSELF MUST INSPECT THE SCHEDULE OF RATES TO DETERMINE WHETHER HE IS BEING GIVEN CORRECT INFORMATION AS TO THE EXISTENCE OF REDUCED FARES AND THAT HE IS NOT JUSTIFIED UPON THE STATEMENTS OF THE RAILROAD REPRESENTATIVE. IT IS GENERALLY RECOGNIZED THAT MOST PERSONS DO NOT HAVE SUFFICIENT FAMILIARITY WITH RATE SCHEDULES TO MAKE SATISFACTORY USE OF THEM, AND AFTER SPENDING CONSIDERABLE TIME IT IS DOUBTFUL WHETHER THE ORDINARY TRAVELER COULD FEEL AT ALL CONFIDENT THAT HE HAD DETERMINED THE MOST ADVANTAGEOUS RATE. THE USUAL PRACTICE IS TO INQUIRE OF THE STATION OR PASSENGER AGENT AND ACCEPT THE INFORMATION OBTAINED FROM HIM. WHILE THESE RAILROAD EMPLOYEES ARE NOT ALWAYS FULLY INFORMED, THEY ARE THE BEST SOURCE OF INFORMATION IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE TO THE TRAVELER CONCERNING EXISTING RATES AND SATISFACTORY ROUTES.

THERE IS ENCLOSED AN AFFIDAVIT DATED DECEMBER 10, 1935, EXECUTED BY BOYD B. PARKER, IN WHICH HE STATES THAT HE INQUIRED OF THE AGENT CONCERNING REDUCED ROUND TRIP FARES AND WAS INFORMED THAT NO SUCH FARES WERE IN EFFECT AND THAT CONSEQUENTLY THERE WOULD BE NO ADVANTAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT IN BUYING A ROUND TRIP TICKET. AS PARKER EXPECTED TO RETURN BY GOVERNMENT CAR WITHOUT ADDITIONAL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT AND HAD BEEN INFORMED THAT NO REDUCED FARE WAS IN EFFECT, HE CONSIDERED IT PREFERABLE TO PROCURE A ONE WAY TICKET. IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT HE FOLLOWED THE USUAL PRACTICE IN ENDEAVORING TO DETERMINE WHAT, IF ANY, REDUCED FARE COULD BE UTILIZED, IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT THE DISALLOWANCE BE REMOVED.

THE AFFIDAVIT OF THE EMPLOYEE IS TO THE EFFECT THAT ON MAY 30, 1934, HE INQUIRED OF THE TICKET AGENT AT THE UNION DEPOT, COLUMBUS, OHIO, AS TO WHETHER THERE WERE ANY ROUND-TRIP REDUCED RATES IN EFFECT BETWEEN COLUMBUS, OHIO, AND LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS, AND WAS INFORMED THAT THERE WERE NONE IN EFFECT AT THAT TIME; AND THAT ACCORDINGLY IN VIEW OF THE POSSIBILITY OF BEING ABLE TO RETURN BY GOVERNMENT CAR IN COMPANY WITH ANOTHER FOREST OFFICER AT NO EXPENSE TO THE GOVERNMENT, AS WELL AS BECAUSE OF THE UNCERTAIN DURATION OF THE TRIP AND THE FACT THAT THE RETURN TRIP MIGHT BE MADE BY A DIFFERENT ROUTE, HE CONCLUDED IT WOULD BE BETTER TO PURCHASE A ONE-WAY TICKET.

NOTWITHSTANDING THE INFORMATION THUS REPORTED TO HAVE BEEN SUPPLIED BY THE CARRIER'S AGENT AT COLUMBUS, THE FACT APPEARS TO BE THAT THERE WAS IN EFFECT AT THE TIME OF THIS TRAVEL A ROUND-TRIP, 10-DAY LIMIT, FARE OF $34.17 PUBLISHED IN SUPPLEMENT NO. 3 TO JOINT PASSENGER TARIFF SPL.NO. 81, BY C. A. FOX, I.C.C. NO. 873. THE TRAVELER LEFT COLUMBUS MAY 30, 1934, AND RETURNED JUNE 2, 1934, TRAVEL HAVING BEEN PERFORMED IN BOTH DIRECTIONS VIA THE ROUTE OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD, COLUMBUS TO ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, AND BY MISSOURI PACIFIC, ST. LOUIS TO LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS. THE CHARGES PAID THE CARRIERS BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER ON OTHER VOUCHERS FOR THE ONE-WAY TICKET FURNISHED ON SEPARATE TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS ISSUED BY THE TRAVELER TOTALED $46.90 ($23.45 EACH WAY) WHICH WAS $12.73 MORE THAN THE ROUND-TRIP FARE THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN AVAILABLE HAD THE TRAVELER ISSUED A REQUEST FOR A 10-DAY ROUND-TRIP TICKET. IN VIEW OF THE EXCESS TRANSPORTATION CHARGE THUS INCURRED CREDIT FOR THE PAYMENT OF $12.50 MADE TO THE TRAVELER ON VOUCHER 9742 BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER IN JUNE 1934 FOR SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE AND REIMBURSEMENT OF OTHER TRAVEL EXPENSES WAS SUSPENDED AND THE OFFICER WAS REQUESTED TO COLLECT AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT OF 23 CENTS TO EFFECT THE TOTAL RECOUPMENT OF THE EXCESS COST.

STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, APPROVED BY THE PRESIDENT JANUARY 30, 1934, PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH 16---

SPECIAL TICKETS.--- THROUGH TICKETS, EXCURSION TICKETS, REDUCED RATE ROUND TRIP OR PARTY TICKETS SHOULD BE SECURED WHENEVER PRACTICABLE AND ECONOMICAL.

IN THE INSTANT MATTER THE FAILURE OF THE EMPLOYEE TO OBSERVE THIS PORTION OF THE REGULATION RESULTED IN THE EXCESS CHARGE OF $12.73 FOR THE TRANSPORTATION REQUIRED. AS TO THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE WAS MISINFORMED BY THE CARRIER'S AGENT CONCERNING THE AVAILABILITY OF THE REDUCED ROUND- TRIP FARE, IT IS TO BE NOTED THAT NOTWITHSTANDING SUCH MISINFORMATION HAD THE TRAVELER ISSUED A REQUEST FOR A ROUND-TRIP TICKET AT LOWEST RATE, THE CHARGES PAYABLE TO THE CARRIER WOULD HAVE BEEN ON THE BASIS OF THE LOWER AVAILABLE ROUND-TRIP FARE. IF, HAVING PURCHASED A ROUND-TRIP TICKET IT THEREAFTER HAD DEVELOPED THAT USE OF THE RETURN PORTION WAS NOT REQUIRED, SAID UNUSED PORTION WOULD HAVE BEEN FOR DISPOSITION IN ACCORDANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 32 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, WHICH PROVIDES---

UNUSED TICKETS.--- UNUSED TICKETS OR PORTIONS THEREOF, WHEN SECURED ON TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS, MUST BE FORWARDED IMMEDIATELY TO THE CENTRAL OFFICE OF THE DEPARTMENT OR INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENT THROUGH THE OFFICIAL WHO FURNISHED THE REQUEST, TOGETHER WITH EXPLANATORY STATEMENT AS TO WHY TICKET OR SUCH PORTIONS THEREOF WERE NOT USED.

THIS PARAGRAPH OF THE REGULATIONS INDICATES THE PROCEDURE THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN FOR APPLICATION HAD THE EMPLOYEE FOUND THAT AT THE TIME OF HIS RETURN THERE WAS AVAILABLE FOR HIM AT NO COST TO THE GOVERNMENT RETURN TRANSPORTATION IN A GOVERNMENT CAR--- A POSSIBILITY WHICH HE STATES IN LETTER OF NOVEMBER 2, 1936, WAS BASED UPON THE FACT THAT SEVERAL MEMBERS OF THE STAFF WERE IN THE FIELD AT THAT TIME AND THAT THERE WAS LARGE AMOUNT OF TRAVEL BETWEEN HEADQUARTERS AT COLUMBUS, OHIO, AND THE BRANCH STATION NEAR RUSSELLVILLE, ARK.

INASMUCH AS THE FAILURE OF THE EMPLOYEE TO COMPLY WITH THE GOVERNING PROVISIONS OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS RESULTED IN THE EXCESS COST OF $12.73 FOR THE TRANSPORTATION REQUIRED, THE ACTION TAKEN TO EFFECT RECOVERY OF THE OVERPAYMENT WAS PROPER. A-68714, FEBRUARY 28, 1936. ACCORDINGLY, THE AMOUNT OF $12.73 SHOULD BE COLLECTED AND DEPOSITED WITHOUT DELAY.