B-113638, APRIL 8, 1953, 32 COMP. GEN. 438

B-113638: Apr 8, 1953

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- INSTEAD OF AN ALTERNATE FREE HIGHWAY IN CONNECTION WITH OFFICIAL TRAVEL MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR THE TOLL CHARGES IF THERE IS A SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL. IN SUCH CASES THIS OFFICE WILL ASSUME THAT THERE HAS BEEN AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE TOLL ROAD IS A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE OR THAT THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY FOR ITS USE HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED IN ACCORDANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 9 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. MCKENNEY WAS PAID ON THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL VOUCHER THE SUM OF $15.35 REPRESENTING THE PER DIEM AND MILEAGE ALLOWED FOR SUCH TRAVEL TOGETHER WITH AN AMOUNT OF $0.40 TOLL CHARGES FOR ROUND TRIP OVER THE HAVRE DE GRACE BRIDGE. IT IS REPORTED THAT MR. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE TOLLS INCURRED BY MR.

B-113638, APRIL 8, 1953, 32 COMP. GEN. 438

TRAVEL EXPENSES - TOLLS - FREE HIGHWAY V. TOLL HIGHWAY - USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE - ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL OF OTHER THAN USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE A TRAVELER WHO USED THE NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE--- A TOLL HIGHWAY--- INSTEAD OF AN ALTERNATE FREE HIGHWAY IN CONNECTION WITH OFFICIAL TRAVEL MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR THE TOLL CHARGES IF THERE IS A SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL, BY AN OFFICIAL HAVING AUTHORITY TO AUTHORIZE THE TRAVEL, OF THE ROUTE UTILIZED, AND IN SUCH CASES THIS OFFICE WILL ASSUME THAT THERE HAS BEEN AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE TOLL ROAD IS A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE OR THAT THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY FOR ITS USE HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED IN ACCORDANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 9 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO MAJ. M. A. KORDECKI, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, APRIL 8, 1953:

BY ENDORSEMENT DATED JANUARY 30, 1953, THE CHIEF OF FINANCE TRANSMITTED TO THIS OFFICE YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 17, 1952, AND ATTACHED CORRESPONDENCE, FORWARDING FOR ADVANCE DECISION A SUPPLEMENTAL TRAVEL VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF WILLIAM A. MCKENNEY, A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE AT THE ARMY CHEMICAL CENTER, MARYLAND, IN AN AMOUNT OF $2.80 FOR EXPENSES OF TRAVEL BETWEEN THE ARMY CHEMICAL CENTER AND NORTH PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, ON APRIL 17, 1952. MR. MCKENNEY WAS PAID ON THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL VOUCHER THE SUM OF $15.35 REPRESENTING THE PER DIEM AND MILEAGE ALLOWED FOR SUCH TRAVEL TOGETHER WITH AN AMOUNT OF $0.40 TOLL CHARGES FOR ROUND TRIP OVER THE HAVRE DE GRACE BRIDGE.

IT IS REPORTED THAT MR. MCKENNEY TRAVELED TO NORTH PHILADELPHIA VIA THE NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE AND ORIGINALLY CLAIMED AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT OF $2.80 FOR BRIDGE AND ROAD TOLLS FOR THE TRIP. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE TOLLS INCURRED BY MR. MCKENNEY WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN INCURRED IF SUCH TRAVEL HAD BEEN PERFORMED OVER THE USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE BETWEEN THE ARMY CHEMICAL CENTER AND NORTH PHILADELPHIA ( U.S. ROUTE 1), AND THAT THE ROUTE UTILIZED BY THE TRAVELER (VIA THE NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE) INVOLVED APPROXIMATELY 25 PERCENT MORE MILEAGE IN ADDITION TO THE TOLL CHARGES. THE SUPPLEMENTAL TRAVEL VOUCHER IN QUESTION CONTAINS A STATEMENT OVER THE SIGNATURE OF THE TRAVELER TO THE EFFECT THAT THE TOLL HIGHWAY WAS USED FOR THE REASON THAT THE ALTERNATIVE FREE ROUTE PASSED THROUGH SUCH CONGESTED AREAS AS WILMINGTON AND CLAYTON, DELAWARE, MARCUS HOOK, CHESTER AND PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, AND THAT IT WAS HIS EXPERIENCE THAT TRAVEL VIA SUCH ROUTE WOULD HAVE REQUIRED TWO HOURS MORE EACH WAY OR A TOTAL OF FOUR HOURS MORE TRAVEL TIME FOR THE TRIP.

THE QUESTION THEN IS WHETHER, UNDER THE APPLICABLE LAW AND REGULATIONS, A TRAVELER ON A MILEAGE BASIS IS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR TOLLS PAID IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF A TOLL HIGHWAY WHERE A FREE HIGHWAY IS ALSO AVAILABLE FOR USE. SECTION 4 OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, 5 U.S.C. 837, PROVIDES, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

CIVILIAN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEES OF DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS OR OTHERS RENDERING SERVICE TO THE GOVERNMENT SHALL, UNDER REGULATIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET, AND WHENEVER SUCH MODE OF TRANSPORTATION IS AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED AS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT * * * BE PAID IN LIEU OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION NOT TO EXCEED 4 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED MOTORCYCLES, OR 7 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES OR AIRPLANES, WHEN ENGAGED ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS WITHIN OR OUTSIDE THEIR DESIGNATED POSTS OF DUTY OR PLACES OF SERVICE. IN ADDITION TO THE MILEAGE ALLOWANCES PROVIDED FOR IN THIS SECTION, THERE MAY BE ALLOWED REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE ACTUAL COST OF FERRY FARES, AND BRIDGE, ROAD, AND TUNNEL TOLLS.

PARAGRAPH 9 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS AMENDED AUGUST 1, 1952, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

ROUTING OF TRAVEL.--- ALL TRAVEL MUST BE BY A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE. TRAVEL BY OTHER ROUTES MAY BE ALLOWED WHEN THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY THEREFOR IS SATISFACTORILY ESTABLISHED.

A REASONABLE INTERPRETATION OF THE ABOVE-CITED LAW AND REGULATIONS WOULD ENTITLE A TRAVELER TO REIMBURSEMENT OF TOLL CHARGES INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH TRAVEL ON A TOLL HIGHWAY PROVIDED SUCH TOLL HIGHWAY IS A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE BETWEEN THE POINTS INVOLVED. HOWEVER, BETWEEN TWO POINTS OF TRAVEL THERE MAY BE MORE THAN ONE HIGHWAY THAT FALLS WITHIN THE CATEGORY OF A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE AND ONE OF THE ROUTES MAY BE A FREE HIGHWAY WHILE THE OTHER IS A TOLL ROAD. IN SUCH INSTANCES, THIS OFFICE WILL NOT OBJECT TO REIMBURSEMENT OF COSTS INCURRED BY THE TRAVELER IN USING THE TOLL ROAD WHERE THERE IS A SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL, BY AN OFFICIAL HAVING AUTHORITY TO AUTHORIZE THE TRAVEL, OF THE ROUTE UTILIZED. IN SUCH CASES IT WILL BE ASSUMED THAT THERE HAS BEEN AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE TOLL ROAD IS A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE OR, IF NOT, THAT THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY FOR ITS USE HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED AS PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH 9 ABOVE. SUCH DETERMINATION WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED BY THIS OFFICE UNLESS CLEARLY UNREASONABLE. SEE, GENERALLY, PARAGRAPHS 10 AND 12A (1) OF THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS WITH RESPECT TO INDIRECT TRAVEL AND SUBSTANTIAL DEVIATIONS FROM MILEAGE GUIDES, WHICH PARAGRAPHS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED IN ANY ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION OF "OFFICIAL NECESSITY" UNDER PARAGRAPH 9 OF THOSE REGULATIONS.

IN THE INSTANT CASE, THIS OFFICE WOULD NOT OBJECT TO PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM BEING MADE PROVIDED AN ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL OF THE VOUCHER IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOREGOING BE EVIDENCED BY AN OFFICIAL HAVING AUTHORITY TO AUTHORIZE THE TRAVEL.