A-76597, JANUARY 11, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 640

A-76597: Jan 11, 1937

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TRAVELING EXPENSES - COMMUTATION - TRAVEL BETWEEN ADJACENT POINTS OF OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS THERE IS NO AUTHORITY OF LAW UNDER WHICH THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE MAY APPROVE A COMMUTED OR MILEAGE RATE FOR THE USE OF AN EMPLOYEE'S PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE WHEN NOT IN A TRAVEL STATUS. ARE LIMITED TO THOSE LISTED IN PARAGRAPH 12 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AS REIMBURSABLE ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS WHEN IN A TRAVEL STATUS. AS FOLLOWS: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 9. YOUR STATEMENT IS NOTED THAT WHEN THE REGULAR DUTIES OF AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE PERFORMED AT SEVERAL ADJACENT POINTS WITHIN A GIVEN COMMUNITY HIS OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS IS DEEMED TO INCLUDE ALL OF SUCH POINTS AND THEREFORE IN PERFORMING HIS REGULAR DUTY AT THESE POINTS HE MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS BEING IN A TRAVEL STATUS PERMITTING REIMBURSEMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR USE OF HIS PERSONAL VEHICLE.

A-76597, JANUARY 11, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 640

TRAVELING EXPENSES - COMMUTATION - TRAVEL BETWEEN ADJACENT POINTS OF OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS THERE IS NO AUTHORITY OF LAW UNDER WHICH THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE MAY APPROVE A COMMUTED OR MILEAGE RATE FOR THE USE OF AN EMPLOYEE'S PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE WHEN NOT IN A TRAVEL STATUS. EMPLOYEES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE ENGAGED IN THE MAINTENANCE OF AERONAUTICAL FACILITIES, WHOSE OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS INCLUDE SEVERAL ADJACENT POINTS, MAY NOT BE GRANTED A COMMUTED OR MILEAGE RATE FOR THE USE OF THEIR PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILES ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS BETWEEN THESE POINTS, AND ITEMS OF EXPENSE FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT MAY BE MADE FOR SUCH TRANSPORTATION ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS, ARE LIMITED TO THOSE LISTED IN PARAGRAPH 12 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AS REIMBURSABLE ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS WHEN IN A TRAVEL STATUS.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, JANUARY 11, 1937:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 28, 1936, AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 9, 1936, REGARDING THE EXPENSE VOUCHER OF L. N. MILLION CLAIMING THE AMOUNT OF $45.29 AS REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES INCURRED BY HIM IN THE OPERATION OF HIS PERSONAL AUTOMOBILES IN CONNECTION WITH THE MAINTENANCE OF AERONAUTICAL FACILITIES AT HIS OFFICIAL STATION AT BIG SPRINGS, TEXAS.

YOUR STATEMENT IS NOTED THAT WHEN THE REGULAR DUTIES OF AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE PERFORMED AT SEVERAL ADJACENT POINTS WITHIN A GIVEN COMMUNITY HIS OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS IS DEEMED TO INCLUDE ALL OF SUCH POINTS AND THEREFORE IN PERFORMING HIS REGULAR DUTY AT THESE POINTS HE MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS BEING IN A TRAVEL STATUS PERMITTING REIMBURSEMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR USE OF HIS PERSONAL VEHICLE. THIS OFFICE HAS ALSO NOTED YOUR FURTHER STATEMENT THAT REIMBURSEMENT FOR USE OF PERSONAL AUTOMOBILE FOR SERVICES SUCH AS THAT PERFORMED BY MR. MILLION MIGHT BE MADE ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS.

"THE ACTUAL EXPENSE" INCURRED IN THIS TYPE OF SERVICE, IN ADDITION TO COST OF GASOLINE AND OIL CONSUMED, WOULD INCLUDE WEAR AND TEAR ON TIRES AS WELL AS ON THE VEHICLE, AND, NOT INFREQUENTLY, REPLACEMENT OF BROKEN AXLE OR BROKEN SPRING OR OTHER DAMAGE OF LIKE NATURE. IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT ANY CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS MUST BE SUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE THAT THE ITEMS OF THE CLAIM WERE IN FACT INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF THE VEHICLE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND A SHOWING THAT NO PART OF THE AMOUNT CLAIMED WAS INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF THE VEHICLE ON PERSONAL BUSINESS. IT IS BELIEVED THAT IF AN AXLE WERE BROKEN WHILE THE CAR OF THE CLAIMANT WAS BEING USED ON THE BUSINESS OF THE GOVERNMENT, IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THE BREAK WAS IMMEDIATELY DUE TO THE SERVICE PERFORMED AT THE MOMENT OF THE BREAK, OR TO CRYSTALLIZATION RESULTING FROM THE ACCUMULATED EFFECT OF SHOCKS INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH OTHER USES OF THE CAR.

IT HAS BEEN REPRESENTED TO THIS OFFICE THAT THE EMPLOYEES OF THE BUREAU WHO HAVE BEEN USING THEIR PERSONAL CAR IN CONNECTION WITH THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES ON THEIR REGULAR STATION WOULD ACCEPT A FLAT ALLOWANCE OF THREE CENTS PER MILE. IT HAS BEEN NOTED THAT YOUR OFFICE HAS BEEN AGREEABLE TO THE PAYMENT OF THREE CENTS PER MILE FOR THE USE OF PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILES EVEN THOUGH GOVERNMENT CARS WERE AVAILABLE FOR THE SERVICE ON WHICH SUCH PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILES ARE USED. THIS PROMPTS THE THOUGHT THAT YOUR OFFICE HAS PROBABLY RECOGNIZED THREE CENTS PER MILE AS A MINIMUM BELOW WHICH A GOVERNMENT CAR MAY NOT BE OPERATED OR AS REPRESENTING THE EQUIVALENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSE.

IN VIEW OF THE DIFFICULTIES IN THE WAY OF DEFINITELY SUBSTANTIATING ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED IN THIS CLASS OF SERVICE, AND THE WORK INVOLVED INCIDENT TO SUCH SUBSTANTIATION AS MAY BE UNDERTAKEN, IT IS REQUESTED THAT YOU ADVISE WHETHER YOU WOULD ACCEPT THREE CENTS PER MILE AS REPRESENTING ACTUAL EXPENSES. IF THIS WOULD NOT BE ACCEPTABLE TO YOU, PLEASE ADVISE WHETHER YOU WOULD QUESTION AS AN ITEM OF ACTUAL EXPENSE, THE COST OF REPLACING AN AXLE BROKEN WHILE ATTEMPTING TO EXTRICATE A PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE FROM A MUDHOLE WHILE THE CAR WAS ENGAGED ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, OR WHETHER, IF SUCH AN ITEM OF EXPENSE WERE SUBMITTED, YOU WOULD REQUIRE INCONTROVERTIBLE EVIDENCE THAT THE BREAK WAS NOT DUE TO THE CUMULATIVE EFFECT OF SHOCKS INCURRED PRIOR TO THE MOMENT OF THE BREAK.

IT MIGHT BE WELL AT THIS POINT TO EXPLAIN THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THESE PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILES ARE USED IN THE GOVERNMENT INTERESTS AT THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE EMPLOYEES OWNING THE CARS.

IN MANY CITIES, OUR AIRWAY RADIO STATIONS CONSIST OF TWO OR THREE SEPARATE STATIONS MANNED BY ONE GROUP OF PERSONNEL. THE PERSONNEL ARE ALL LOCATED AT ONE OF THE STATIONS WHICH IS KNOWN AS THE CONTROL STATION AND FROM WHICH THE OTHER STATIONS OF THE GROUP ARE REMOTELY CONTROLLED. THE STATIONS WHICH ARE REMOTELY CONTROLLED OPERATE UNATTENDED THROUGHOUT THE DAY EXCEPTING DURING TWO DAILY INSPECTION PERIODS. IN ORDER TO INSURE SATISFACTORY OPERATION OF THE UNATTENDED STATIONS, TWO INSPECTIONS OF THESE STATIONS ARE MADE DAILY BY ONE OF THE OPERATORS BEFORE AND AFTER COMPLETING HIS TOUR OF DUTY AT THE CONTROL STATION. ON THESE INSPECTIONS, THE OPERATOR RECORDS METER READINGS OF THE EQUIPMENT, MAKES ADJUSTMENTS, MAKES ROUTINE REPAIRS AND EMERGENCY REPAIRS WHEN NECESSARY TO INSURE CONTINUED SATISFACTORY OPERATION OF THE EQUIPMENT. AT SOME STATIONS IT IS NECESSARY FOR AN OPERATOR TO MAKE CERTAIN ADJUSTMENTS OF THE EQUIPMENT AT DEFINITE HOURS DURING THE DAY.

THE ROUND TRIP MILEAGE BETWEEN A GROUP OF STATIONS MANNED BY ONE GROUP OF PERSONNEL VARIES FROM APPROXIMATELY TWO TO FORTY-EIGHT MILES. IN SOME CASES, THE CONTROL STATION IS LOCATED AT ONE END OF THE CIRCUIT OF TRAVEL AND IN OTHER CASES IT IS LOCATED BETWEEN THE OTHER TWO STATIONS THUS REQUIRING TRAVEL IN TWO DIRECTIONS FROM THE CONTROL STATION. THESE DAILY TRIPS ARE MADE ON REASONABLY UNIFORM SCHEDULES AND THE DISTANCE TRAVELED ON EACH TRIP IS KNOWN, SO THAT THE TOTAL DAILY MILEAGE INCURRED IS READILY ESTABLISHED. THE OPERATOR PERSONNEL HAVE BEEN USING THEIR PERSONAL CARS IN PERFORMING THIS DUTY BUT THEY VERY PROPERLY INSIST THAT THEY SHOULD BE RECOMPENSED ON A FAIR BASIS FOR THE EXPENSE WHICH THEY ARE UNDER IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF THEIR AUTOMOBILES IN PERFORMING THIS SERVICE. EITHER SOME EQUITABLE BASIS FOR REIMBURSEMENT TO THEM MUST BE WORKED OUT OR THE GOVERNMENT MUST PROVIDE, OPERATE, AND MAINTAIN ITS OWN MOTOR VEHICLE EQUIPMENT FOR USE IN THE SERVICING OF THESE AERONAUTICAL FACILITIES.

THERE ARE NINETY-SEVEN AIRWAYS COMMUNICATION STATIONS TO WHICH THIS TYPE OF SERVICE MUST BE GIVEN AND ON THE BASIS OF SERVICING SCHEDULES, THE TOTAL ANNUAL TRAVEL WOULD BE APPROXIMATELY 598,440 MILES WHICH, AT THREE CENTS PER MILE, WOULD REPRESENT AN ANNUAL TOTAL OPERATING EXPENSE OF $17,953.20. IF THE GOVERNMENT IS TO PROVIDE THE VEHICLES FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF THESE SERVICING TRIPS, THERE WOULD BE REQUIRED AN INVESTMENT IN AUTOMOBILES OF APPROXIMATELY $43,650.00. THE ESTIMATED COST TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR OPERATING ITS OWN CARS ON THIS TYPE OF SERVICE AT THREE CENTS PER MILE WOULD BE THAT MENTIONED ABOVE. IF THE RADIO PERSONNEL CAN BE ALLOWED THIS RATE AS A COMPENSATION FOR THE USE OF THEIR OWN EQUIPMENT, THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT WOULD BE THE SAME AND THERE WOULD BE SAVED TO THE GOVERNMENT THE CAPITAL EXPENDITURE OF $43,650.00.

THERE IS NO AUTHORITY OF LAW UNDER WHICH THIS OFFICE COULD APPROVE A COMMUTED OR MILEAGE RATE OF 3 CENTS, OR ANY OTHER AMOUNT, FOR THE USE OF AN EMPLOYEE'S PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WHEN NOT IN A TRAVEL STATUS. PARAGRAPH 12 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS LISTS THE ITEMS WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT BE ALLOWED ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS IN A TRAVEL STATUS. THE SAME LIMITATIONS ARE APPLICABLE WHEN THE PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE IS USED ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSES BASIS IN AND AROUND HEADQUARTERS.