A-80876, OCTOBER 23, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 414

A-80876: Oct 23, 1936

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TRAVELING EXPENSES - INTERMINGLING OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER AND PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WHERE A GENERAL TRAVEL ORDER IS ISSUED AUTHORIZING TRAVEL BY PUBLIC CONVEYANCE OR BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE ON A MILEAGE BASIS AND THE TRAVELER INTERMINGLES BOTH METHODS ON THE SAME TRIPS. THE ADMINISTRATIVE FINDING OF ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE AS TO THE WHOLE OF THE AUTHORIZED TRAVEL MAY NOT BE ACCEPTED AS A FINDING THAT SUCH METHOD OF TRAVEL IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES IN THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE SUPPORTING SUCH FINDING. 1936: THERE IS BEFORE ME FOR CONSIDERATION UNDATED LETTER (REF. THE EXCEPTIONS HAVE BEEN NOTED ONLY WITHIN THE LAST FEW WEEKS. IS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE DISALLOWANCE WHICH THREATENS TO CAUSE A LARGE AMOUNT OF TROUBLE AMONG ADMINISTRATIVE TRAVELERS.

A-80876, OCTOBER 23, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 414

TRAVELING EXPENSES - INTERMINGLING OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER AND PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WHERE A GENERAL TRAVEL ORDER IS ISSUED AUTHORIZING TRAVEL BY PUBLIC CONVEYANCE OR BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE ON A MILEAGE BASIS AND THE TRAVELER INTERMINGLES BOTH METHODS ON THE SAME TRIPS, THE ADMINISTRATIVE FINDING OF ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE AS TO THE WHOLE OF THE AUTHORIZED TRAVEL MAY NOT BE ACCEPTED AS A FINDING THAT SUCH METHOD OF TRAVEL IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES IN THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE SUPPORTING SUCH FINDING.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR, WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION, OCTOBER 23, 1936:

THERE IS BEFORE ME FOR CONSIDERATION UNDATED LETTER (REF. FIN: C-I) FROM THE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE, WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION, AS FOLLOWS:

THIS OFFICE HAS BECOME INCREASINGLY CONCERNED OVER A TYPE OF EXCEPTION WHICH HAS BEEN TAKEN BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN THE PREAUDIT OF ADMINISTRATIVE TRAVEL VOUCHERS FOR THIS ADMINISTRATION. BASED ON DECISION OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL 13 CG 430, THE EXCEPTIONS HAVE BEEN NOTED ONLY WITHIN THE LAST FEW WEEKS, AND TAKE PLACE IN INSTANCES WHERE THE TRAVELER BEGINS HIS JOURNEY BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AND MAKES A TRIP BY COMMON CARRIER BEFORE RETURNING TO HIS OFFICIAL STATION, OR VICE VERSA. THE ATTACHED VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF R. D. PITTMAN, INVOLVING TRAVEL FROM JULY 1 TO 31, 1936, IS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE DISALLOWANCE WHICH THREATENS TO CAUSE A LARGE AMOUNT OF TROUBLE AMONG ADMINISTRATIVE TRAVELERS.

SINCE THE INCEPTION OF THE CIVIL WORKS ADMINISTRATION AND CONTINUING THROUGH THE REGIME OF THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY RELIEF ADMINISTRATION AND THE WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION, TRAVELERS HAVE BEEN AUTHORIZED TO USE BOTH PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AND COMMON CARRIER, UNDER ORDERS SIMILAR TO THE BLANK AUTHORIZATION ATTACHED HERETO. IN USING THIS FORM, THE TYPE, SCOPE, AND LOCATION OF THE OFFICIAL DUTIES OF A TRAVELER WERE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION AND THE AUTHORIZATION ISSUED TO PERMIT HIM AT ALL TIMES TO USE THE MOST ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS MEANS OF TRAVEL, ENABLING HIM TO UTILIZE PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE FOR ALL OR ANY PORTION OF THE TRAVEL PERFORMED. FOR NEARLY THREE YEARS TRAVEL OF THE NATURE TO WHICH EXCEPTION WAS TAKEN IN MR. PITTMAN'S VOUCHER WAS PERFORMED WITHOUT BEING QUESTIONED BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, AND IT WAS THE NATURAL ASSUMPTION THAT THE TRAVEL ORDERS PRESCRIBED BY THIS ADMINISTRATION WERE CONSIDERED ADEQUATE TO EXPRESS FULL ADMINISTRATIVE INTENT.

WITHOUT ATTEMPTING TO QUESTION THE VALIDITY OR THE REASONING ENTERING INTO THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL'S DECISION 13 CG 430, THIS OFFICE SEEKS SOME METHOD BY WHICH REIMBURSEMENT MAY BE ACCOMPLISHED IN RECLAIM FOR EXPENSES, ON A MILEAGE BASIS, INCURRED IN TRAVELING FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT WHERE THE DISALLOWANCE IS AS DESCRIBED ABOVE. OBVIOUSLY, WITH FULL ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY TO TRAVEL ON A MILEAGE BASIS, AND BACKED BY NUMEROUS PRECEDENTS ESTABLISHED BY THE PASSING OF COUNTLESS SIMILAR ACCOUNTS BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, MANY TRAVELERS DID NOT TAKE RECEIPTS FOR GASOLINE AND OIL PURCHASED NOR KEEP ANY MEMORANDUM OF EXPENDITURES, THUS RENDERING IMPOSSIBLE REIMBURSEMENT ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS. AS A RESULT, THE PERSONAL FINANCIAL SHOCK TO THE TRAVELERS, IF SOME RECOMPENSE IS NOT ALLOWED, WILL BE EXTREMELY HEAVY.

IT IS NOTED THAT THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 14 STAT. 1103, PROVIDES FOR THE USE OF PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE ON A MILEAGE BASIS "WHENEVER SUCH MODE OF TRAVEL HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED AND PAYMENT ON SUCH MILEAGE BASIS IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES.' FROM THE WORDING OF THE STATUTE IT IS APPARENT THAT IT WAS THE INTENT OF CONGRESS TO SEPARATE THE TWO CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH MILEAGE MAY BE ALLOWED, I.E., THE PRIOR AUTHORIZATION AND THE ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT. THIS SEPARATION APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED IN DECISION OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL, 13 CG 387, THE LAST PARAGRAPH OF WHICH INDICATES THAT PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE MAY BE USED ON A MILEAGE BASIS "WHERE THE AUTHORIZATION TO USE THE AUTOMOBILE IS GIVEN IN ADVANCE OF THE TRAVEL AND THERE IS AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION IN ADVANCE OR A SUBSEQUENT SHOWING THAT THE USE OF THE AUTOMOBILE AT THE PRESCRIBED RATE IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT.' IN OTHER WORDS, THE IMPORTANT POINT IN THE SECOND OF THESE REQUIREMENTS IS THE ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT, NOT THE PREVIOUS DETERMINATION THEREOF.

SINCE, IN EACH CASE WHERE THE ABOVE EXCEPTION HAS BEEN TAKEN, TRAVEL BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE ACTUALLY WAS PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED, IN THE LIGHT OF THE ABOVE INTERPRETATION OF THE GOVERNING STATUTE, AND IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT IN EACH INSTANCE THE ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE OF THE TRAVEL AS PERFORMED WAS PREDETERMINED, ALTHOUGH NOT STATED IN THE TRAVEL ORDER IN THE LANGUAGE APPARENTLY REQUIRED, IT IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED THAT CLEARANCE BE GRANTED TO VOUCHERS RECLAIMING AMOUNTS DEDUCTED ON THE BASIS OF 13 CG 430, WHERE IT IS STATED BY A PROPER ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIAL, SUBSEQUENT TO THE TRAVEL, THAT PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WAS THE MOST ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION FOR ALL OR ANY PORTION OF THE TRAVEL FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT IS CLAIMED ON A PARTICULAR VOUCHER.

IN ORDER THAT THE VOUCHER OF MR. PITTMAN MAY BE MADE A TEST CASE, SUCH A CERTIFICATION IS NOW ATTACHED TO THAT VOUCHER.

YOU ARE ADVISED THAT IN THE FUTURE TRAVEL ORDERS WILL BE WORDED TO AUTHORIZE THE USE OF PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE FOR ALL OR ANY PORTION OF THE TRAVEL TO BE PERFORMED, WHERE FACTS BEAR OUT THE ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE OF SUCH MODE OF TRANSPORTATION.

THE TRAVEL COVERED BY THE SUBJECT VOUCHER WAS PERFORMED PURSUANT TO TRAVEL ORDERS OF JUNE 30, 1936, AND JULY 27, 1936. UNDER THE FIRST DATED ORDER THE TRAVEL WAS AUTHORIZED FROM PHILADELPHIA, PA., THE OFFICIAL STATION OF THE TRAVELER, TO POINTS IN PENNSYLVANIA, DELAWARE, MARYLAND, NEW JERSEY, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA, AS OFTEN AS MIGHT BE NECESSARY DURING THE PERIOD FROM JUNE 30, 1936, TO DECEMBER 31, 1936, AND UNDER THE SECOND DATED ORDER TRAVEL WAS AUTHORIZED FROM BALTIMORE TO POINTS IN THE STATE OF OHIO AND RETURN.

THE TRAVEL ORDER OF JUNE 30, 1936, PROVIDED THAT THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS WOULD BE APPLICABLE TO THE TRAVEL:

(B) YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO PERFORM THE ABOVE TRAVEL BY PUBLIC CONVEYANCE.

(C) YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO PERFORM THE ABOVE TRAVEL BY YOUR PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE, IT HAVING BEEN DETERMINED ADMINISTRATIVELY THAT, IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR WORK, THE USE OF YOUR PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES, AND YOU WILL BE PAID MILEAGE AT THE RATE OF FIVE CENTS PER MILE, IN LIEU OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 12 (A), STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

THE ORDER OF JULY 27, 1936, AUTHORIZED TRAVEL IN ACCORDANCE WITH PARAGRAPH (C), SUPRA.

FROM THE EXAMINATION OF THE VOUCHER IT APPEARS THAT IN PERFORMING THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZED THE TRAVELER OBTAINED, BY USE OF TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS, RAIL TRANSPORTATION AND PULLMAN ACCOMMODATIONS AT A COST OF $57.15 AND USED HIS PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE A DISTANCE OF 1,794 MILES FOR WHICH HE CLAIMS $89.60 MILEAGE. IT APPEARS ALSO THAT THE TRAVEL TO THE STATE OF OHIO WAS PERFORMED BY RAIL, ALTHOUGH IT IS STATED IN THE ORDER AUTHORIZING THE TRAVEL BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE THAT THE LATTER METHOD OF TRAVEL IS "MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES.'

THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 9 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1933, 47 STAT. 1516, AUTHORIZES THE PAYMENT OF MILEAGE FOR THE USE OF AN EMPLOYEE'S OWN AUTOMOBILE ONLY WHEN SUCH USE IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES; THAT IS TO SAY, THE CONVENIENCE OR PERSONAL DESIRES OF THE EMPLOYEE ARE NOT FOR CONSIDERATION. 11 COMP. GEN. 155, A-42009, APRIL 30, 1932; AND A 53421, FEBRUARY 2, 1934. ALSO, IT HAS BEEN UNIFORMLY HELD IN CONSTRUING THE PROVISIONS OF THE MILEAGE ACT THAT IF THE TRAVEL ORDERS LEAVE TO THE DISCRETION OF THE EMPLOYEE WHETHER THE TRAVEL SHALL BE BY COMMON CARRIER OR BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AND HE ELECTS TO USE HIS AUTOMOBILE, HE MAY BE REIMBURSED ONLY ACTUAL EXPENSES, SUCH AS FOR GASOLINE AND OIL, BUT NOT TO EXCEED THE COST BY RAIL. SEE A-53421, SUPRA, AND A-54061, MARCH 21, 1934. IN THE DECISION LAST CITED IT WAS STATED AS FOLLOWS:

* * * OBVIOUSLY, A TRAVEL ORDER AUTHORIZING TRAVEL GENERALLY BY COMMON CARRIER BUT, ALSO STATING THAT THE EMPLOYEE MAY USE HIS PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT A STATED RATE PER MILE AND THAT IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED THAT SUCH METHOD OF TRAVEL, THAT IS, BY AUTOMOBILE, IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES, IS INCONSISTENT AS, IF THE TRAVEL TO BE PERFORMED BY AUTOMOBILE IS THE MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT, THEN NO TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER SHOULD BE AUTHORIZED, AS IT IS ALWAYS THE DUTY OF AN EMPLOYEE TO TRAVEL BY THE MOST ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS ROUTE * * *.

AS STATED ABOVE, MILEAGE IS AUTHORIZED ONLY WHEN TRAVEL BY THAT METHOD IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES AND WHERE THE TRAVEL ORDERS AUTHORIZE THE PAYMENT OF MILEAGE BETWEEN DESIGNATED POINTS AND CONTAINS AN ADMINISTRATIVE FINDING OF ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE, SUCH CERTIFICATE IS NOT ORDINARILY QUESTIONED BY THIS OFFICE WHEN THE TRAVEL PERFORMED IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ORDERS. HOWEVER, WHERE AS IN THE INSTANT CASE A GENERAL TRAVEL ORDER IS ISSUED AUTHORIZING TRAVEL BY PUBLIC CONVEYANCE OR BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE ON A MILEAGE BASIS AND THE TRAVELER INTERMINGLES BOTH METHODS ON THE SAME TRIPS THE ADMINISTRATIVE FINDING OF ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE AS TO THE WHOLE OF THE AUTHORIZED TRAVEL CANNOT BE ACCEPTED AS A FINDING THAT SUCH METHOD OF TRAVEL IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES IN THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE SUPPORTING SUCH FINDING.

ACCORDINGLY, THE SUBJECT VOUCHER IS HEREWITH RETURNED AND MAY BE RESUBMITTED FOR PREAUDIT ACCOMPANIED BY A SHOWING OF COMPARATIVE COSTS OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER AND BY AUTOMOBILE FOR THAT PORTION OF THE JOURNEY WHERE PART OF THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED BY AUTOMOBILE.

WITH RESPECT TO THE REQUEST FOR CLEARANCE OF ALL TRAVEL VOUCHERS RECLAIMING AMOUNTS DEDUCTED ON THE BASIS OF THE RULE AS STATED IN 13 COMP. GEN. 430, WHERE THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE HAS MADE A FINDING OF ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE SUBSEQUENT TO THE PERFORMANCE OF THE TRAVEL YOU ARE ADVISED THAT DISALLOWANCES IN INDIVIDUAL CASES INVOLVING TRAVEL PERFORMED UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES SIMILAR TO THE INSTANT CASE MAY BE RESUBMITTED ACCOMPANIED BY A STATEMENT OF THE COST, ETC., UPON WHICH SUCH FINDING IS BASED, WHEREUPON SUCH ACTION WILL TAKEN AS THE FACTS MAY WARRANT.