A-89143, A-88938, OCTOBER 5, 1937, 17 COMP. GEN. 307

A-88938,A-89143: Oct 5, 1937

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MILEAGE - TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE - DETERMINATION OF ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE - COMMON CARRIER FARES OF OFFICIAL PASSENGERS TRAVEL ORDERS ISSUED PURSUANT TO A DEPARTMENTAL REGULATION BY SUBORDINATE SUPERVISORY OFFICIALS TO WHOM THE REGULATION WAS DIRECTED. MUST BE CONSTRUED IN THE LIGHT OF THAT REGULATION IRRESPECTIVE OF HOW THE INDIVIDUAL ORDERS WERE WORDED. IS AS FOLLOWS: COPIES OF SEVERAL NOTICES OF EXEMPTION HAVE BEEN RECEIVED IN THIS DEPARTMENT COVERING SUSPENSIONS MADE BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN THE ACCOUNT OF UNITED STATES MARSHAL M. INVOLVING OFFICIAL TRAVEL OF A CLERK TO THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY IN HER PERSONALLY -OWNED AUTOMOBILE THE EXPLANATION OF THE SUSPENSION READING AS FOLLOWS: "THE TRAVEL ORDER AUTHORIZING THE EMPLOYEE TO USE HER PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WAS ISSUED PURSUANT TO CIRCULAR 2576 DATED JUNE 28.

A-89143, A-88938, OCTOBER 5, 1937, 17 COMP. GEN. 307

MILEAGE - TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE - DETERMINATION OF ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE - COMMON CARRIER FARES OF OFFICIAL PASSENGERS TRAVEL ORDERS ISSUED PURSUANT TO A DEPARTMENTAL REGULATION BY SUBORDINATE SUPERVISORY OFFICIALS TO WHOM THE REGULATION WAS DIRECTED, MUST BE CONSTRUED IN THE LIGHT OF THAT REGULATION IRRESPECTIVE OF HOW THE INDIVIDUAL ORDERS WERE WORDED, AND THE PROVISION IN THE REGULATION THAT REIMBURSEMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR USE OF PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILES SHOULD NOT EXCEED THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION BY COMMON CARRIER, IN THE ABSENCE OF QUALIFYING LANGUAGE, MEANS THE COST BY COMMON CARRIER OF ONE FARE AND NOT THE FARES OF ALL PERSONS OFFICIALLY TRAVELING WITH THE OWNER OF THE VEHICLE.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, OCTOBER 5, 1937:

YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 4, 1937, IS AS FOLLOWS:

COPIES OF SEVERAL NOTICES OF EXEMPTION HAVE BEEN RECEIVED IN THIS DEPARTMENT COVERING SUSPENSIONS MADE BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN THE ACCOUNT OF UNITED STATES MARSHAL M. F. HAMMOND, HOUSTON, TEX., FOR THE QUARTER ENDED JUNE 30, 1936, VOUCHERS NOS. 2309, 2329, AND 2505, INVOLVING OFFICIAL TRAVEL OF A CLERK TO THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY IN HER PERSONALLY -OWNED AUTOMOBILE THE EXPLANATION OF THE SUSPENSION READING AS FOLLOWS:

"THE TRAVEL ORDER AUTHORIZING THE EMPLOYEE TO USE HER PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WAS ISSUED PURSUANT TO CIRCULAR 2576 DATED JUNE 28, 1934, WHICH LIMITS THE CHARGE THEREFOR NOT TO EXCEED THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION BY COMMON CARRIER. T.R. PAR. 12 (A); 15 COMP. GEN. 261.'

UPON RECEIPT IN THE DEPARTMENT OF YOUR RULING DATED DECEMBER 8, 1933 (A- 50711), ALLOWING SAVINGS MADE ON OTHER TRAVELING PERSONNEL TO BE INCLUDED IN DETERMINING THE ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT OF TRAVEL IN THE PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE OF ONE OF THE TRAVELERS, DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 2576 (COPY ENCLOSED), DATED JUNE 28, 1934, WAS ISSUED, DELEGATING AUTHORITY TO VARIOUS COURT OFFICIALS FOR AUTHORIZING THEIR PERSONNEL TO USE THEIR PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILES INCIDENT TO OFFICIAL TRAVEL, THE STATEMENT BEING MADE THEREIN,"SUBJECT TO THE CONDITION THAT THE CHARGE WILL NOT EXCEED THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION BY COMMON CARRIER BETWEEN THE POINTS OF TRAVEL," THIS CONDITION BEING INTENDED TO INCLUDE THE COST BY COMMON CARRIER OF ALL PERSONS OFFICIALLY TRAVELING WITH THE OWNER OF THE AUTOMOBILE. THIS INTENTION HAS BEEN REITERATED MANY TIMES, BOTH VERBALLY AND BY LETTER, SINCE THE ISSUANCE OF THE SAID CIRCULAR.

UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, IT IS REQUESTED THAT THE ACTION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN THIS MATTER BE RECONSIDERED, OR, IF IT IS HELD THAT THE STATEMENT CONTAINED IN CIRCULAR 2576 MUST LIMIT EXPENSES BY COMMON CARRIER TO THE ONE PERSON, AN OPPORTUNITY BE GIVEN THIS DEPARTMENT TO ISSUE AMENDED INSTRUCTIONS CORRECTING THE STATEMENT IN QUESTION, AND SUSPENSIONS MADE BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, WITH RESPECT THERETO, BE REMOVED PENDING ISSUANCE OF SUCH INSTRUCTIONS, AS THE CIRCULAR IN QUESTION AFFECTS PRACTICALLY THE ENTIRE FORCE OF THE VARIOUS COURT OFFICIALS. FURTHER, SUCH CHARGES HAVE BEEN UNIFORMLY ALLOWED HERETOFORE, ON THE BASIS OF A PROPER INDIVIDUAL TRAVEL ORDER, THIS BEING THE FIRST INSTANCE BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF THIS DEPARTMENT WHERE THE CIRCULAR ITSELF HAS BEEN USED AS A BASIS FOR THE SUSPENSIONS.

IN THIS CONNECTION IT MAY BE STATED THAT THE DECISION CITED BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, 15 COMP. GEN., 261, IS NOT BELIEVED TO BE APPLICABLE IN THIS CASE, AS THE INDIVIDUAL TRAVEL ORDERS ISSUED IN EACH OF THE CASES HEREIN MENTIONED WERE APPARENTLY SO WORDED AS TO PERMIT OF THE SAVINGS ON ACCOUNT OF OTHER TRAVELING PERSONNEL BEING CONSIDERED, NO QUESTION HAVING BEEN RAISED AS TO THEIR SUFFICIENCY.

WHEN A TRAVEL ORDER IS DIRECTED TO AND AUTHORIZES TRAVEL BY BUT ONE PERSON AT A SPECIFIED MILEAGE RATE SUBJECT TO THE CONDITION THAT THE AMOUNT ALLOWED MAY NOT EXCEED THE COST BY COMMON CARRIER, SUCH ORDER IS CONSTRUED AS A DETERMINATION BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE THAT THE ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE OF THAT MODE OF TRAVEL IS LIMITED TO THE COST OF ONE FARE BETWEEN THE POINTS CONNECTED BY COMMON CARRIER, THAT IS, THAT IT WOULD NOT BE TO THE ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE OF THE UNITED STATES IF THE AMOUNT TO BE REIMBURSED SHOULD EXCEED ONE FARE BY RAIL. 13 COMP. GEN. 165; 15 ID. 261; 16 ID. 8. HOWEVER, WHERE THE TRAVEL ORDER, OTHERWISE PROPERLY ISSUED, AUTHORIZES TRAVEL AT A FIXED MILEAGE RATE SUBJECT TO A DETERMINATION OF ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE AFTER THE TRAVEL HAS BEEN COMPLETED AND THE TRAVELER IS ACCOMPANIED BY OTHER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES ALSO TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS THE ESTIMATED COST BY COMMON CARRIER FOR THE WHOLE NUMBER OF PERSONS SO OFFICIALLY TRANSPORTED MAY BE USED FOR THE PURPOSE OF DEMONSTRATING THE ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE FROM THAT MODE OF TRANSPORTATION. 13 COMP. GEN. 163.

THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE CIRCULAR NO. 2576, ISSUED JUNE 28, 1934, PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH 1 THEREOF:

PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPH 12-A OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS AMENDED, AND IT HAVING BEEN DETERMINED TO BE MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES, AUTHORITY IS HEREBY DELEGATED TO EACH OF YOU TO AUTHORIZE EMPLOYEES SERVING UNDER YOU TO USE THEIR PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILES IN MAKING OFFICIAL TRAVEL, AND BE REIMBURSED THEREFOR AT THE RATE OF 5 CENTS PER MILE, SUBJECT TO THE CONDITION THAT THE CHARGE WILL NOT EXCEED THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION BY COMMON CARRIER BETWEEN THE POINTS OF TRAVEL, CONSIDERATION ALSO BEING GIVEN ANY INCREASE OR DECREASE IN THE NUMBER OF PER DIEMS IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE INCIDENT THERETO. PARTICULAR ATTENTION IS CALLED TO THE FACT THAT, UNDER EXISTING REGULATIONS, THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY, FOR THAT METHOD OF TRAVEL, MUST BE IN ADVANCE AND THAT A COPY THEREOF SHOULD BE ATTACHED TO ANY VOUCHER IN WHICH CREDIT IS CLAIMED FOR MILEAGE IN CONNECTION WITH THE OFFICIAL USE OF A PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE.

THIS CIRCULAR BEING A GENERAL REGULATION, EXCEPTIONS THERETO COULD NOT BE MADE BY ANY SUBORDINATE OFFICER AND TRAVEL ORDERS ISSUED THEREAFTER BY THE SUPERVISORY OFFICIALS TO WHOM DIRECTED, MUST BE CONSTRUED IN THE LIGHT OF THAT REGULATION IRRESPECTIVE OF HOW THE INDIVIDUAL ORDERS WERE WORDED. ACCORDINGLY, THE FACT THAT IN SOME CASES THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY IN ISSUING THE TRAVEL ORDERS TO OTHER EMPLOYEES AUTHORIZES THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES AT RATE OF 5 CENTS PER MILE "PROVIDED SAME IS SHOWN ON THE VOUCHER TO BE MORE ADVANTAGEOUS AND ECONOMICAL TO THE GOVERNMENT" WOULD NOT BE EFFECTIVE TO OVERCOME THE LIMITATION IN CIRCULAR 2576 THAT REIMBURSEMENT SHOULD NOT EXCEED THE COST BY COMMON CARRIER, WHICH LIMITATION, IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY QUALIFYING LANGUAGE, CAN ONLY BE CONSTRUED TO MEAN THE COST BY COMMON CARRIER OF ONE FARE. HOWEVER, IN VIEW OF YOUR STATEMENT AS TO YOUR INTENTION THAT THE REGULATION SHOULD AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT OF THE COST BY COMMON CARRIER OF THE TRANSPORTATION OF ALL OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES TRANSPORTED IN THE VEHICLE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE VOUCHERS CLAIMING MILEAGE FOR THE USE OF PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILES PRIOR TO NOVEMBER 1, 1937, WILL BE APPROVED FOR PAYMENT OR CREDITED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER WHERE THE ONLY OBJECTION IS THAT THE MILEAGE CLAIMED, WHILE EXCEEDING THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION OF ONE PERSON BY COMMON CARRIER, DOES NOT EXCEED THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION OF THE NUMBER OF PERSONS ACTUALLY USING THE AUTOMOBILE FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL, WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT CIRCULAR NO. 2576 WILL BE AMENDED BY NOVEMBER 1, 1937, BY INSERTING AFTER THE PHRASE "BETWEEN THE POINTS OF TRAVEL" THE FOLLOWING "OF ALL PERSONS OFFICIALLY TRAVELING WITH THE OWNER OF THE VEHICLE.'