A-80418, OCTOBER 20, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 395

A-80418: Oct 20, 1936

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TRANSPORTATION - EXCESS COSTS - GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS - DISBURSING OFFICER'S LIABILITY WHERE EVIDENCE OF EXCESS COST OF TRANSPORTATION FURNISHED ON GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUEST IS NOT AVAILABLE TO THE DISBURSING OFFICER MAKING PAYMENT TO THE CARRIER FOR THE TRANSPORTATION INVOLVED. SUCH EVIDENCE IS AVAILABLE TO THE DISBURSING OFFICER PAYING THE TRAVEL EXPENSE VOUCHER OF THE EMPLOYEE CONCERNED. SUSPENSION OF CREDIT FOR THE EXCESS COST IS PROPERLY FOR MAKING AGAINST THE DISBURSING OFFICER PAYING THE TRAVEL EXPENSE VOUCHER. 1936: THERE IS FOR CONSIDERATION A LETTER DATED JULY 27. IT IS URGED THAT AS CARRIERS BILLS. ARE USUALLY PAID BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER ON DUTY IN THE FINANCE OFFICE.

A-80418, OCTOBER 20, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 395

TRANSPORTATION - EXCESS COSTS - GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS - DISBURSING OFFICER'S LIABILITY WHERE EVIDENCE OF EXCESS COST OF TRANSPORTATION FURNISHED ON GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUEST IS NOT AVAILABLE TO THE DISBURSING OFFICER MAKING PAYMENT TO THE CARRIER FOR THE TRANSPORTATION INVOLVED, BUT SUCH EVIDENCE IS AVAILABLE TO THE DISBURSING OFFICER PAYING THE TRAVEL EXPENSE VOUCHER OF THE EMPLOYEE CONCERNED, SUSPENSION OF CREDIT FOR THE EXCESS COST IS PROPERLY FOR MAKING AGAINST THE DISBURSING OFFICER PAYING THE TRAVEL EXPENSE VOUCHER.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR, OCTOBER 20, 1936:

THERE IS FOR CONSIDERATION A LETTER DATED JULY 27, 1936, FILE 132.6/224050 FAA, FROM THE OFFICE OF CHIEF OF FINANCE TO THIS OFFICE, CONCERNING SUSPENSIONS IN THE ACCOUNTS OF DISBURSING OFFICERS FOR PAYMENT OF PER DIEM ALLOWANCES, OR OTHER TRAVEL EXPENSES, TO CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES IN CONNECTION WITH TRAVEL FOR WHICH IT APPEARS TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS, AS ISSUED, INVOLVE PAYMENT OF EXCESS COST OF TRANSPORTATION. IT IS URGED THAT AS CARRIERS BILLS, PRESENTED TO THE WAR DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION CHARGES, ARE USUALLY PAID BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER ON DUTY IN THE FINANCE OFFICE, WASHINGTON, D.C., WHEREAS, THE EXPENSE ACCOUNTS OF THE EMPLOYEES FOR THE TRAVEL CONCERNED ARE FREQUENTLY PAID BY OTHER DISBURSING OFFICERS, NO SUSPENSION SHOULD BE MADE FOR PAYMENT OF THE EXPENSE ACCOUNT BECAUSE OF EXCESS COST OF TRANSPORTATION PAID BY ANOTHER DISBURSING OFFICER. ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE MATTER, THE LETTER FROM THE OFFICE OF CHIEF OF FINANCE REFERS TO A SUSPENSION OF CREDIT IN CONNECTION WITH VOUCHER 10244 IN THE ACCOUNTS OF MAJ. W. H. KASTEN (CAV.) FOR APRIL 1935, AND STATES:

2. THE DISBURSING OFFICER CHARGED WITH THE DUTY OF REPLYING TO THE CITED SUSPENSION HAS RAISED THE QUESTION AS TO HIS JURISDICTION BASED ON THE GROUND THAT THE PAYMENT SUSPENDED IS A PAYMENT OF PER DIEM PAID IN THE PROPER AMOUNT, WHILE THE SUSPENSION ACTUALLY RELATES TO PAYMENT TO THE CARRIERS BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE FINANCE OFFICE, U.S. ARMY, WASHINGTON, D.C., FOR THE SERVICE RENDERED ON THE TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS, IN AN AMOUNT APPARENTLY IN EXCESS OF THE COST OF AUTHORIZED TRANSPORTATION FOR THE DIRECTED TRAVEL. THE FINANCE OFFICER, U.S.A., CHICAGO, ILL., COMMENTS THAT SINCE HIS OFFICE MAKES NO PAYMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ACCOUNTS AND HAS NO RAILROAD TARIFFS AVAILABLE, IT SEEMS ILLOGICAL THAT SUCH OFFICE BE CHARGED WITH ADJUSTMENT OF ACCOUNTS IT DOES NOT PAY, OVER WHICH IT HAS NO CONTROL, AND CONCERNING WHICH IT HAS NO RESPONSIBILITY. THIS OFFICE IS OF THE OPINION THAT THERE IS MUCH MERIT IN THIS POSITION.

THE LETTER OF JULY 27, 1936, RECOMMENDS THAT IN LIEU OF SUSPENDING CREDIT FOR PAYMENT OF OTHERWISE PROPER TRAVEL-EXPENSE ACCOUNTS THERE BE ESTABLISHED A PROCEDURE FOR COLLECTION OF EXCESS COST OF TRANSPORTATION THROUGH CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE FINANCE OFFICE SIMILAR TO THAT APPLIED WITH RESPECT TO SHIPMENTS OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS OF ARMY OFFICERS IN EXCESS OF AUTHORIZED ALLOWANCES.

CONSIDERING THE SPECIFIC INSTANCE MENTIONED ABOVE, STATED TO BE TYPICAL, THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE CHICAGO AND NORTH WESTERN RAILWAY CO. WAS PAID $10.86 ON ITS BILL GS-7780 BY MAJ. E. C. MORTON ON VOUCHER 15317, MAY 1935 ACCOUNT, FOR SERVICE PURSUANT TO TRANSPORTATION REQUEST NO. A-763078, ISSUED BY W. G. WILT, CALLING FOR TRANSPORTATION FOR HIMSELF FROM MILWAUKEE, WIS., TO AMES, IOWA, MARCH 17, 1935. THE SAME CARRIER WAS PAID A LIKE SUM ON ITS BILL GS-7823 BY MAJOR MORTON ON VOUCHER 12153, MAY 1935 ACCOUNT, FOR SERVICE PURSUANT TO TRANSPORTATION REQUEST NO. A-763080, ISSUED BY MR. WILT FOR TRANSPORTATION FOR HIMSELF FROM AMES, IOWA, TO MILWAUKEE, WIS., MARCH 29, 1935. THESE REQUESTS, SEPARATELY DRAWN, WERE PAID FOR ON SEPARATE VOUCHERS, EACH ON THE BASIS OF THE ONE-WAY FARE.

IN PRESENTING HIS VOUCHER FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES, MR. WILT LISTED TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS A-763078 AND A-763080, SHOWING THE DATES OF THE TRAVEL AND THE POINTS BETWEEN WHICH TRANSPORTATION HAD BEEN FURNISHED. THE EXPENSE ACCOUNT BORE THE FOLLOWING NOTATION:

ROUND-TRIP TICKET NOT PURCHASED FOR REASON NOT KNOWN THAT WOULD RETURN DIRECT FROM AMES TO MILWAUKEE, NOR WHETHER RETURN TRIP WOULD BE MADE BY TRAIN OR AVAILABLE AUTO WITH OTHER OFFICERS.

AS THE SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES OR FACTS CONSIDERED AS ESTABLISHING THAT RETURN-TRIP TRAVEL WOULD NOT BE REQUIRED WERE NOT SHOWN, A SUSPENSION WAS MADE IN THE DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNT FOR $3.62 AS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE COST OF THE TWO ONE-WAY TICKETS AND AN AVAILABLE ROUND-TRIP FARE AND THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE AMOUNT IN QUESTION HAS BEEN COLLECTED.

YOUR PRESENT SUBMISSION CONCERNS THE PROCEDURE INVOLVED RATHER THAN THE MERITS OF ANY PARTICULAR SUSPENSION. AS TO THE SUGGESTION THAT THE OFFICER CHARGED WITH THE PAYMENTS TO THE CARRIER IS THE OFFICER THROUGH WHOM THE COLLECTION OF EXCESS COST OF TRANSPORTATION SHOULD BE MADE, IT IS FOR NOTING THAT IN THE INSTANCE CITED TWO SEPARATE TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS WERE ISSUED EACH CALLING FOR ONE-WAY TRANSPORTATION AND THE CHARGES FOR THE SERVICE FURNISHED WERE CLAIMED BY THE CARRIER IN SEPARATE BILLS. THERE IS NOTHING IN THE RECORD TO SUGGEST THAT THE CARRIER WAS NOT ENTITLED TO PAYMENT ON THE BASIS OF THE SEPARATE ONE-WAY FARES. ON THE OTHER HAND THE TRAVEL-EXPENSE VOUCHER SHOWED EXPLICITLY THAT TWO REQUESTS FOR ONE-WAY TICKETS HAD BEEN ISSUED, INSTEAD OF ONE REQUEST FOR A ROUND- TRIP TICKET, AND IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, THE DISBURSING OFFICER TO WHOM THE TRAVEL-EXPENSE VOUCHER WAS PRESENTED FOR PAYMENT WAS GIVEN ACTUAL NOTICE OF THE PROBABILITY THAT AN EXCESS COST OF TRANSPORTATION WAS INVOLVED. HAVING PAID THE EXPENSE VOUCHER AS PRESENTED, INSTEAD OF REQUIRING THE EMPLOYEE TO PRESENT HIS CLAIM TO THIS OFFICE FOR SETTLEMENT, IN WHICH EVENT THE QUESTION OF THE JUSTIFICATION FOR THE FAILURE TO OBTAIN ROUND- TRIP TRANSPORTATION WOULD HAVE BEEN DETERMINED BEFORE PAYMENT OF THE TRAVEL-EXPENSE VOUCHER OR A DEDUCTION OF THE EXCESS COST OF TRANSPORTATION WOULD HAVE BEEN MADE IN CONNECTION WITH THE PAYMENT OF HIS CLAIM, THE SUSPENSION OF CREDIT WAS PROPERLY MADE AGAINST THE VOUCHER SO PAID BY HIM RATHER THAN AGAINST EITHER OF THE TWO TRANSPORTATION VOUCHERS PAID BY ANOTHER DISBURSING OFFICER. ACCORDINGLY, THE ADOPTION OF A DIFFERENT PROCEDURE FOR RECOVERY OF EXCESS TRANSPORTATION COST IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, DOES NOT APPEAR JUSTIFIED.