A-7544, MARCH 5, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 735

A-7544: Mar 5, 1925

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THE PLACES BETWEEN WHICH THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED AND THE DISTANCE. 1925: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 15. WHEREIN YOU REQUEST RECONSIDERATION OF MY DECISIONS HOLDING THAT WHEN PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES ARE USED FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL THE MAKE OF THE AUTOMOBILE SHOULD BE SHOWN ON THE VOUCHERS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF GASOLINE. THE PLACES BETWEEN WHICH THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED AND THE DISTANCE. CHARGES FOR SUCH NECESSARY INCIDENTAL EXPENSES INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF OWN CONVEYANCE AS ARE READILY ASCERTAINABLE. CHARGES WHICH ARE SPECULATIVE IN CHARACTER. - * * * IT IS NOT REQUIRED THAT THE MAKE OF AUTOMOBILE USED NOR THE ACTUAL AMOUNT OF GASOLINE AND OIL CONSUMED BE STATED.

A-7544, MARCH 5, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 735

TRAVELING EXPENSES - USE OF OWN AUTOMOBILE VOUCHERS FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR GASOLINE AND OIL USED IN TRAVELING IN THE EMPLOYEE'S OWN AUTOMOBILE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS SHOULD NOT ONLY SHOW THE QUANTITIES OF GASOLINE AND OIL USED, THE UNIT PRICE PER GALLON PAID, AND THE PLACES BETWEEN WHICH THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED AND THE DISTANCE, BUT SHOULD SHOW THE MAKE OF THE AUTOMOBILE AND ANY UNUSUAL CONDITIONS EXISTING AT THE TIME AND PLACE OF TRAVEL.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, MARCH 5, 1925:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 15, 1925, WHEREIN YOU REQUEST RECONSIDERATION OF MY DECISIONS HOLDING THAT WHEN PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES ARE USED FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL THE MAKE OF THE AUTOMOBILE SHOULD BE SHOWN ON THE VOUCHERS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF GASOLINE, OIL, ETC., CONSUMED DURING SUCH TRAVEL. YOU CITE IN PARTICULAR A.D. 8036, DATED JANUARY 14, 1924, THE LAST PARAGRAPH OF WHICH HOLDS:

VOUCHERS FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR GASOLINE AND OIL USED IN TRAVELING IN THE EMPLOYEE'S OWN AUTOMOBILE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS SHOULD SHOW THE QUANTITIES OF GASOLINE AND OIL USED, THE PLACES BETWEEN WHICH THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED AND THE DISTANCE, THE UNIT PRICE PER GALLON PAID, AND THE MAKE OF THE AUTOMOBILE USED * * *.

THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS OF THE BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE RELATING TO THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCES FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL, AS QUOTED BY YOU, PROVIDE:

CHARGES FOR USE OF OWN CONVEYANCE CAN NOT BE ALLOWED AS A TRAVEL EXPENSE IN THE ACCOUNTS OF ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE. (20 COMP. DEC. 666, 696; 21 ID. 219; 22 ID. 325, 378; 74 MS. COMP. DEC. 652.) CHARGES FOR SUCH NECESSARY INCIDENTAL EXPENSES INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF OWN CONVEYANCE AS ARE READILY ASCERTAINABLE, AS FOR GASOLINE, OIL, OR HORSE FEED, USED ON TRIP, CAN BE ALLOWED, BUT ONLY TO THE EXTENT OF THE ACTUAL COST THEREOF AS EVIDENCED BY VOUCHERS. CHARGES WHICH ARE SPECULATIVE IN CHARACTER, SUCH AS REPAIRS, CAN NOT BE ALLOWED. A COMMUTED RATE CHARGE CAN NOT BE ALLOWED IN ANY CASE. (21 COMP. DEC. 1; 74 MS. COMP. DEC. 653; 75 ID. 98.)

YOU STATE IN YOUR LETTER HAVING REFERENCE TO EMPLOYEES OF THE BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE THAT UNDER THE ABOVE REGULATIONS---

* * * IT IS NOT REQUIRED THAT THE MAKE OF AUTOMOBILE USED NOR THE ACTUAL AMOUNT OF GASOLINE AND OIL CONSUMED BE STATED. THIS PHASE OF THE MATTER HAS BEEN MET BY ALLOWING ONE GALLON OF GASOLINE FOR EACH TEN MILES TRAVELED AND ONE QUARTER OF OIL FOR EACH TEN GALLONS OF GASOLINE PURCHASED. * * *

SINCE THE REGULATIONS PROVIDE THAT A COMMUTED RATE CHARGE CAN NOT BE ALLOWED IN ANY CASE AND THAT ONLY THE ACTUAL COST OF GASOLINE, OIL, ETC., USED ON THE TRIP CAN BE REIMBURSED IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE PRACTICE OF ALLOWING A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF GASOLINE AND OIL PER MILE IS IN DIRECT CONTRAVENTION TO THE BUREAU'S REGULATIONS QUOTED ABOVE. IT IS NOT THE INTENT OF THE LAW ALLOWING REIMBURSEMENT FOR ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED BY EMPLOYEES WHILE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS TO HOLD OUT THE GOVERNMENT AS BEING EITHER GENEROUS OR PARSIMONIOUS. THE PURPOSE OF THIS LAW IS TO REIMBURSE THE EMPLOYEE FOR EXTRA EXPENSES INCURRED BY HIM WHEN, BY VIRTUE OF HIS POSITION, HE IS CALLED UPON TO PERFORM DUTIES INVOLVING TRAVEL. THE BASIS FOR REIMBURSEMENT IS THE ACTUAL OUTLAY OF MONEYS CAUSED HIM DURING THE OFFICIAL TRAVEL PERFORMED, AND THIS FUNDAMENTAL BASIS CAN NOT LAWFULLY BE CHANGED TO A COMMUTED RATE PER MILE UNLESS SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY LAW. IF IT IS AND HAS BEEN THE PREVAILING PRACTICE IN THE BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE TO ALLOW A COMMUTED RATE OF 1 GALLON OF GASOLINE FOR EACH 10 MILES TRAVELED AND 1 QUART OF OIL FOR EACH 10 GALLONS OF GASOLINE PURCHASED, IN CASES OF PRIVATELY OWNED MEANS OF CONVEYANCE SUCH PRACTICE IS OBJECTIONABLE AND SHOULD BE DISCONTINUED.

THE OBJECT IN REQUIRING A SHOWING AS TO THE MAKE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES IS NOT NECESSARILY FOR THE PURPOSE OF DETERMINING WHETHER OR NOT THE AMOUNT OF GASOLINE AND OIL CONSUMED IS EXCESSIVE. IT IS TO ENABLE THIS OFFICE TO PROPERLY AUDIT THE VOUCHERS SUBMITTED FOR SUCH REIMBURSEMENT AND RESULTS AS MUCH TO THE ADVANTAGE OF THE EMPLOYEE AS TO THAT OF THE GOVERNMENT. IT IS A MATTER OF COMMON KNOWLEDGE THAT DIFFERENT MAKES OF AUTOMOBILES CONSUME VARYING AMOUNTS OF GASOLINE AND OIL OVER THE SAME NUMBER OF MILES TRAVELED, AND THE FIXING OF A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF EACH INDISCRIMINATELY FOR ALL MAKES OF AUTOMOBILES TENDS TO RESULT IN EITHER A GAIN OR A LOSS TO THE EMPLOYEE PERFORMING THE TRAVEL WHICH IS CONTRARY TO THE THEORY OF REIMBURSEMENT ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS. IF THERE BE UNUSUAL CONDITIONS IN CONNECTION WITH A PARTICULAR TRAVEL CAUSING THE USE OF A GREATER OR LESSER AMOUNT OF FUEL THAN USUAL, IT IS PROPER TO STATE ON THE VOUCHERS THE CONDITIONS IN EXPLANATION OF THE CHARGE AS MADE.

THE DECISION CITED BY YOU IS THEREFORE AFFIRMED AND AMPLIFIED ACCORDINGLY.