A-81050, NOVEMBER 6, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 473

A-81050: Nov 6, 1936

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ITINERANT GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES - ATTACHING OF PRIVATELY OWNED TRAILERS TO GOVERNMENT-OWNED CARS THE ATTACHING OF PRIVATELY OWNED TRAILERS TO GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILES TO PROVIDE ACCOMMODATIONS TO ITINERANT GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IS MAINLY A MATTER OF ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBILITY. AS FOLLOWS: INFORMATION HAS BEEN REQUESTED BY A FIELD EMPLOYEE OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE OF THIS DEPARTMENT AS TO WHETHER IT WOULD BE PERMISSIBLE FOR THE EMPLOYEE TO ATTACH A PRIVATELY OWNED TRAILER TO A GOVERNMENT OWNED AUTOMOBILE WHILE THE EMPLOYEE IS IN A TRAVEL STATUS. THE PARTICULAR EMPLOYEE IS IN A CONTINUOUS TRAVEL STATUS. TRAVEL IS LARGELY IN UNSETTLED OR SPARSELY SETTLED REGIONS WHERE ACCOMMODATIONS ARE EITHER UNAVAILABLE OR OF A POOR CHARACTER.

A-81050, NOVEMBER 6, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 473

ITINERANT GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES - ATTACHING OF PRIVATELY OWNED TRAILERS TO GOVERNMENT-OWNED CARS THE ATTACHING OF PRIVATELY OWNED TRAILERS TO GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILES TO PROVIDE ACCOMMODATIONS TO ITINERANT GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IS MAINLY A MATTER OF ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBILITY, BUT PAYMENTS OF PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WOULD NOT BE AUTHORIZED WHILE AN EMPLOYEE OCCUPIES SUCH ACCOMMODATIONS.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, NOVEMBER 6, 1936:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 12, 1936, AS FOLLOWS:

INFORMATION HAS BEEN REQUESTED BY A FIELD EMPLOYEE OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE OF THIS DEPARTMENT AS TO WHETHER IT WOULD BE PERMISSIBLE FOR THE EMPLOYEE TO ATTACH A PRIVATELY OWNED TRAILER TO A GOVERNMENT OWNED AUTOMOBILE WHILE THE EMPLOYEE IS IN A TRAVEL STATUS.

THE PARTICULAR EMPLOYEE IS IN A CONTINUOUS TRAVEL STATUS, INSPECTING STATE PARKS, RECREATIONAL DEMONSTRATION OF THE AREAS, TRANSIENT WORK CAMPS, AND OTHER OPERATIONS UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, AND, BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF THE AREAS, TRAVEL IS LARGELY IN UNSETTLED OR SPARSELY SETTLED REGIONS WHERE ACCOMMODATIONS ARE EITHER UNAVAILABLE OR OF A POOR CHARACTER. THE USE OF A TRAILER WOULD PERMIT THE EMPLOYEE TO HAVE ACCOMMODATIONS ON THE SITE OF HIS EMPLOYMENT AND WOULD PRECLUDE THE NECESSITY OF MAKING A TRIP AT THE END OF A DAY TO SECURE LODGINGS. OTHER EMPLOYEES OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE ENGAGED IN FIELD WORK OF A SIMILAR NATURE HAVE INQUIRED REGARDING THE USE OF THE MODERN TRAILERS TO FACILITATE THEIR WORK AND IMPROVE THEIR LIVING CONDITIONS.

THIS DEPARTMENT FEELS THAT THE ATTACHING OF A MODERN TRAILER TO A GOVERNMENT CAR IS JUSTIFIED IN CASES WHERE SUITABLE ACCOMMODATIONS ARE NOT AVAILABLE WITHOUT A LARGE EXPENDITURE OF TIME IN GOING TO AND FROM WORK OVER ROADS FREQUENTLY RENDERED IMPASSABLE BY INCLEMENT WEATHER. THE INCREASED COST OF OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE OF THE GOVERNMENT CAR, IF ANY, DUE TO THE ELIMINATION OF THAT TRAVEL NECESSITATED BY SEEKING ACCOMMODATIONS, WOULD BE INCONSEQUENTIAL AND WOULD BE OFFSET ADMINISTRATIVELY BY A REDUCTION IN THE AMOUNT OF PER DIEM ALLOWED THE EMPLOYEE. AUTHORIZATION FOR THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED TRAILERS IN THE ABOVE-MENTIONED CIRCUMSTANCES WOULD UNDOUBTEDLY BE TO THE INTEREST OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. IT IS, THEREFORE, REQUESTED THAT THIS DEPARTMENT BE INFORMED WHETHER, IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES OUTLINED ABOVE, THERE IS OBJECTION TO THE USE OF A PRIVATELY OWNED TRAILER WHILE AN EMPLOYEE OF THIS DEPARTMENT IS IN A TRAVEL STATUS.

AN EARLY OPINION IN THIS MATTER WILL BE GREATLY APPRECIATED.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD FROM THE FACTS YOU SET FORTH THAT IT IS IN THE INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES THAT THE EMPLOYEE RENDERING SERVICES AS SET FORTH BE PERMITTED ACCOMMODATIONS THROUGH THE USE OF HIS OWN TRAILER RATHER THAN ENDEAVOR TO OBTAIN LODGING AND THAT SUCH USE OF A TRAILER WOULD BE MORE PRACTICABLE AND UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS NECESSARY BECAUSE IF ISOLATED SECTIONS IN WHICH THE EMPLOYEE MAY BE AT THE TIME WITH RESPECT TO OBTAINING LODGING OTHERWISE. THE PAYMENTS OF ANY PER DIEM WHILE AN EMPLOYEE OCCUPIES HIS OWN TRAILER WOULD APPARENTLY HAVE TO BE NEGATIVED. ASIDE FROM THIS QUESTION OF A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF HIS OWN TRAILER IT MAY BE SAID THAT THE ATTACHING OF A PRIVATELY OWNED TRAILER TO A GOVERNMENT CAR PRESENTS AN INTERMINGLING OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE EXPENSES IN USE, ETC., AS TO WHICH THE PRINCIPLE HAS GENERALLY BEEN APPLIED THAT SUCH GENERAL INTERMINGLING PERMITS NO SUCH DIVISION OF EXPENSES AS TO JUSTIFY ANY PAYMENT BY THE UNITED STATES. IF, HOWEVER, THE PRESENT MATTER IS SOLELY ONE OF THE USES OF GOVERNMENT AUTOMOBILE TO HAUL THE TRAILER WITHOUT ANY CHARGE AGAINST THE UNITED STATES OF EXPENSES IN CONNECTION WITH THE TRAILER AND ITS USES, I AM CONSTRAINED TO THE VIEW THAT THE MATTER PRESENTS ONE OF THE USES OF PUBLIC PROPERTY AS TO WHICH THE RESPONSIBILITY IS MAINLY ADMINISTRATIVE.