B-115282, JULY 20, 1953, 33 COMP. GEN. 39

B-115282: Jul 20, 1953

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A PERSON EMPLOYED AS A CONSULTANT WITHOUT COMPENSATION WHO WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS FROM A POINT OTHER THAN HOME OR REGULAR PLACE OF BUSINESS TO ATTEND A WORK CONFERENCE MAY BE REIMBURSED THE EXPENSE OF SUCH TRAVEL. 1953: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED MAY 13. IT APPEARS FROM THE RECORD THAT PRELIMINARY ARRANGEMENTS WERE MADE IN MAY 1951. WAS ISSUED ACCORDINGLY AUTHORIZING TRAVEL FROM LOS ANGELES TO WASHINGTON AND RETURN TO LOGAN. IT IS FURTHER STATED THAT MR. TAYLOR WAS IN LOS ANGELES WITH OTHER MEMBERS OF HIS COLLEGE STAFF. HE WOULD HAVE RETURNED TO LOGAN IN A STATE-OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT NO PERSONAL COST. - APPARENTLY WAS NOT KNOWN TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS AT THE TIME THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION WAS ISSUED.

B-115282, JULY 20, 1953, 33 COMP. GEN. 39

TRAVELING EXPENSES - PERSONS SERVING WITHOUT COMPENSATION - TRAVEL FROM PLACE OTHER THAN HOME OR REGULAR PLACE OF BUSINESS UNDER SECTION 5 OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ACT OF 1946, WHICH AUTHORIZES PAYMENT OF TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES AND PER DIEM TO PERSONS SERVING WITHOUT COMPENSATION WHILE AWAY FROM HOMES OR REGULAR PLACES OF BUSINESS, A PERSON EMPLOYED AS A CONSULTANT WITHOUT COMPENSATION WHO WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS FROM A POINT OTHER THAN HOME OR REGULAR PLACE OF BUSINESS TO ATTEND A WORK CONFERENCE MAY BE REIMBURSED THE EXPENSE OF SUCH TRAVEL, EVEN THOUGH SUCH EXPENSE EXCEEDS THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF TRAVEL BETWEEN HOME OR REGULAR PLACE OF BUSINESS AND THE SITE OF THE CONFERENCE.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL FISHER TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, JULY 20, 1953:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED MAY 13, 1953, FROM THE UNDER SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, REQUESTING (1) REVIEW OF AUDIT EXCEPTION OF JANUARY 28, 1953, TAKEN TO A PAYMENT FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES MADE BY THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE TO MR. STERLING A. TAYLOR, A MEMBER OF THE STAFF OF THE UTAH STATE AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE, LOGAN, UTAH, FOR TRAVEL FROM LOS ANGELES, CALIF., TO WASHINGTON, D.C., THENCE TO HIS HOME IN LOGAN, UTAH, UNDER THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES HEREINAFTER RELATED, AND (2) "ADVICE ON THIS MATTER FOR OUR FUTURE GUIDANCE.'

IT APPEARS FROM THE RECORD THAT PRELIMINARY ARRANGEMENTS WERE MADE IN MAY 1951, FOR MR. TAYLOR TO PARTICIPATE, WITHOUT COMPENSATION, IN A WORK CONFERENCE ON SOIL PHYSICAL RESEARCH TO BE HELD IN WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 25, 1951. MR. TAYLOR, BY LETTER OF MAY 29, 1951, ADVISED THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE THAT HE WOULD BE IN LOS ANGELES, CALIF., ON JUNE 22, FOR THE MEETING OF THE WESTERN SOCIETY OF SOIL SCIENCE AND THAT IN ORDER TO REACH WASHINGTON BY JUNE 25, IT WOULD BE NECESSARY FOR HIM TO TRAVEL BY AIR, DEPARTING JUNE 23. HE THEREFORE REQUESTED PERMISSION TO FLY DIRECTLY FROM LOS ANGELES, STATING THAT OTHERWISE IT WOULD BE NECESSARY FOR HIM TO FLY AT HIS OWN EXPENSE FROM LOS ANGELES TO SALT LAKE CITY, AND FROM THERE TO WASHINGTON AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE. TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION NO. 744-51, DATED JUNE 13, 1951, WAS ISSUED ACCORDINGLY AUTHORIZING TRAVEL FROM LOS ANGELES TO WASHINGTON AND RETURN TO LOGAN, UTAH. IN THE UNDER SECRETARY'S LETTER OF MAY 13, 1953, IT IS FURTHER STATED THAT MR. TAYLOR WAS IN LOS ANGELES WITH OTHER MEMBERS OF HIS COLLEGE STAFF, AND THAT HAD NOT THE CONFERENCE IN WASHINGTON NECESSITATED TRAVEL BY AIR, HE WOULD HAVE RETURNED TO LOGAN IN A STATE-OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT NO PERSONAL COST. THIS FACT--- WHICH, ORDINARILY, WOULD BE A FACTOR AFFECTING THE COSTS WHICH THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD BEAR IN THE MATTER--- APPARENTLY WAS NOT KNOWN TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS AT THE TIME THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION WAS ISSUED.

THE EXCEPTION OF JANUARY 28, 1953, WAS STATED IN THE AMOUNT OF $35.91, WHICH REPRESENTED THAT PORTION OF THE TRANSPORTATION COST EXCEEDING THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF THE ROUND TRIP BETWEEN LOGAN AND WASHINGTON, AND WAS ISSUED UPON THE BASIS THAT PAYMENT FROM OTHER THAN MR. TAYLOR'S HOME OR REGULAR PLACE OF BUSINESS CONSTITUTED A VIOLATION OF SECTION 5 OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ACT OF 1946, 60 STAT. 808. THE NOTICE OF EXCEPTION ALSO CITED DECISION OF NOVEMBER 18, 1943, 23 COMP. GEN. 374. THAT DECISION WAS BASED UPON THE LANGUAGE "WHILE AWAY FROM THEIR HOMES" AND THEREFORE IS NOT FOR APPLICATION HERE. IT IS NOTED, HOWEVER, THAT THE RECORDS OF THIS OFFICE SHOW THAT CERTAIN FACTUAL INFORMATION IS CONTAINED IN THE UNDER SECRETARY'S LETTER OF MAY 13 WHICH HAD NOT, HERETOFORE, BEEN PRESENTED TO THE AUDITORS OF THIS OFFICE.

SINCE THE TRAVEL HERE INVOLVED WAS DULY AUTHORIZED AND PERFORMED IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT, THE ONLY QUESTION HERE FOR CONSIDERATION IS WHETHER, UNDER SECTION 5 OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ACT OF 1946, MR. TAYLOR MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR TRAVEL FROM A POINT OTHER THAN LOGAN, UTAH, THE LOCATION OF HIS HOME AND THE COLLEGE AT WHICH HE IS EMPLOYED.

SECTION 5 OF THE ABOVE-CITED ACT, IN PERTINENT PART, AUTHORIZES PAYMENT OF TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES AND PER DIEM TO PERSONS SERVING WITHOUT COMPENSATION "WHILE AWAY FROM THEIR HOMES OR REGULAR PLACES OF BUSINESS.' WITH RESPECT TO THIS CASE AND FOR YOUR FUTURE GUIDANCE, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT IN CONSIDERING SIMILAR LANGUAGE IT WAS RECOGNIZED IN DECISION OF AUGUST 5, 1943, B-35873, THAT IT IS POSSIBLE FOR A BUSINESSMAN TO HAVE MORE THAN ONE REGULAR PLACE OF BUSINESS--- EITHER PERMANENT OR TEMPORARY-- - AND IT WAS HELD THAT THE WORDS "REGULAR PLACE OF BUSINESS" NEED NOT BE APPLIED IN SUCH A RESTRICTED SENSE AS TO LIMIT REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES TO TRIPS FROM AND TO THE HEADQUARTERS OFFICE OF A BUSINESSMAN WHO IS SERVING THE GOVERNMENT AS A CONSULTANT. THERE IS NOTHING IN THE LANGUAGE OF SECTION 5 OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ACT OF 1946, OR IN THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY THEREOF, THAT REQUIRES A DIFFERENT INTERPRETATION. MOREOVER, THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF SECTION 5 INDICATES THAT THE WORD "REGULAR" WAS USED IN THE SENSE OF ,PRIVATE.' ACCORDINGLY, REIMBURSEMENT NEED NOT BE RESTRICTED TO TRAVEL WHILE AWAY FROM ONE "REGULAR PLACE OF BUSINESS," IN THIS CASE, LOGAN, UTAH.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, AND SINCE THE TRAVEL HERE INVOLVED WAS AUTHORIZED AS REQUIRED BY THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, THE EXCEPTION WILL BE REMOVED. THE CERTIFYING OFFICER CONCERNED WILL BE NOTIFIED OF SAID REMOVAL ACTION IN DUE COURSE.