B-112971, NOV. 18, 1955

B-112971: Nov 18, 1955

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TO THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED JULY 21. THERE WAS ENCLOSED WITH OUR LETTER A SUMMARY OF CERTAIN PAYMENTS MADE DURING THE PERIOD AUGUST 6. IT WAS POINTED OUT THAT UNLIKE THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949. IN HIS LETTER THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY RELATES THAT THIS MATTER WAS BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF THE PER DIEM TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE. HAVE REMOVED SUCH PARAGRAPH FROM THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS EFFECTIVE JULY 1. IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE REGULATION WAS ISSUED IN GOOD FAITH AND NOT QUESTIONED BY OUR OFFICE FOR APPROXIMATELY FOUR YEARS. THAT OTHERWISE PROPER PAYMENTS WHICH WERE MADE UNDER IT NOT BE QUESTIONED IN THE AUDIT OF DISBURSING OFFICERS' ACCOUNTS.

B-112971, NOV. 18, 1955

TO THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED JULY 21, 1955, WITH ENCLOSURES, FROM THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (COMPTROLLER) CONCERNING OUR LETTER OF APRIL 18, 1955, B-112971, ADDRESSED TO YOU, POINTING OUT THAT THERE APPEARS TO BE NO STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR REIMBURSING MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES FOR THE COST OF FERRY FARES AND BRIDGE, ROAD, AND TUNNEL TOLLS IN ADDITION TO MILEAGE, AS PURPORTEDLY AUTHORIZED BY PARAGRAPH 4400-12 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

THERE WAS ENCLOSED WITH OUR LETTER A SUMMARY OF CERTAIN PAYMENTS MADE DURING THE PERIOD AUGUST 6, 1951, TO MARCH 11, 1952, TO SEVERAL MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES OF THE UNITED STATES FOR EXPENSES INCIDENT TO TRAVEL PERFORMED BETWEEN POINTS IN ENGLAND AND THE CONTINENT OF EUROPE, INCLUDING IN EACH CASE AN ITEM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE ACROSS THE ENGLISH CHANNEL BY COMMERCIAL VESSEL, AND MILEAGE AT THE RATE OF 5CENTS PER MILE FOR THE LAND TRAVEL INVOLVED. IT WAS POINTED OUT THAT UNLIKE THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, 63 STAT. 166, APPLICABLE TO CIVILIAN TRAVELERS, SECTION 303 (A) OF THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT OF 1949, 63 STAT. 813, THE STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR THE PAYMENT OF TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCES TO MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL, CONTAINS NO PROVISION FOR ALLOWING FERRY FARES AND BRIDGE, ROAD, AND TUNNEL TOLLS IN ADDITION TO MILEAGE.

IN HIS LETTER THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY RELATES THAT THIS MATTER WAS BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF THE PER DIEM TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE, WHO IN VIEW OF OUR OBJECTION TO THE PROVISIONS IN PARAGRAPH 4400-12, HAVE REMOVED SUCH PARAGRAPH FROM THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1955. FURTHER, HE REQUESTS, IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE REGULATION WAS ISSUED IN GOOD FAITH AND NOT QUESTIONED BY OUR OFFICE FOR APPROXIMATELY FOUR YEARS, THAT OTHERWISE PROPER PAYMENTS WHICH WERE MADE UNDER IT NOT BE QUESTIONED IN THE AUDIT OF DISBURSING OFFICERS' ACCOUNTS.

PARAGRAPH 4400-12 AS PUBLISHED IN THE ORIGINAL JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PURPORTED TO AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT OF THE EXPENSE OF FERRY FARES AND ROAD, BRIDGE, AND TUNNEL TOLLS INCURRED IN PERFORMING TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE WITHOUT QUALIFICATION OTHER THAN THAT SUCH EXPENSES BE ITEMIZED. PRESUMABLY BECAUSE OF QUESTIONS RAISED BY OUR INVESTIGATORS, THE REGULATION WAS MODIFIED BY CHANGE 8, JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS FEBRUARY 1, 1953, TO LIMIT REIMBURSEMENT FOR SUCH EXPENSES TO CASES IN WHICH THE TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE WAS UNDER ORDERS AUTHORIZING SUCH MODE OF TRAVEL AS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. BECAUSE OF THIS CHANGE IN THE REGULATIONS IT SEEMS REASONABLE TO ASSUME THAT PAYMENTS ON ACCOUNT OF FERRY FARES AND ROAD, BRIDGE, AND TUNNEL TOLLS SINCE 1952 HAVE BEEN COMPARATIVELY FEW IN NUMBER. IN VIEW OF OF THE PROBABLE COST OF RECOVERING THESE PAYMENTS WHICH ARE RELATIVELY SMALL INDIVIDUALLY, AND SINCE ACTION HAS BEEN TAKEN TO CORRECT THE OBJECTIONABLE PRACTICE BY REMOVING SUCH PARAGRAPH FROM THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1955, AS SHOWN BY CHANGE 36 DATED JULY 1, 1955, TO THE REGULATIONS, IT IS CONCLUDED THAT SUCH PAYMENTS MADE TO MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES PRIOR TO JULY 1, 1955, NEED NOT BE QUESTIONED IN THE AUDIT OF THE ACCOUNTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICERS CONCERNED, IF SUCH PAYMENTS ARE OTHERWISE CORRECT.