B-123331, MAY 31, 1955, 34 COMP. GEN. 639

B-123331: May 31, 1955

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TRAVELING EXPENSES - PERSONAL FUNDS - NEGLIGENCE AN EMPLOYEE WHO PURCHASED A SUBSTITUTE AIRLINE TICKET WITH PERSONAL FUNDS BECAUSE A TICKET PREVIOUSLY ISSUED ON A TRANSPORTATION REQUEST WAS UNAVAILABLE BY REASON OF HIS NEGLIGENCE MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED FOR THE EXCESS COSTS WHICH INCLUDED THE FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION TAX. 1955: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR FIRST ENDORSEMENT DATED FEBRUARY 18. REPRESENTING TRANSPORTATION COSTS WHICH WERE ADMINISTRATIVELY SUSPENDED FROM D.O. 331 WAS ISSUED TO BRANIFF AIRWAYS. THE COST IS SHOWN ON THE TICKET AS $48.50. COCHRANE DISCOVERED THAT HE DID NOT HAVE THE AIRLINE TICKET. SINCE THERE WAS NOT SUFFICIENT TIME TO PERMIT HIM TO OBTAIN THE TICKET FROM HIS HOME.

B-123331, MAY 31, 1955, 34 COMP. GEN. 639

TRAVELING EXPENSES - PERSONAL FUNDS - NEGLIGENCE AN EMPLOYEE WHO PURCHASED A SUBSTITUTE AIRLINE TICKET WITH PERSONAL FUNDS BECAUSE A TICKET PREVIOUSLY ISSUED ON A TRANSPORTATION REQUEST WAS UNAVAILABLE BY REASON OF HIS NEGLIGENCE MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED FOR THE EXCESS COSTS WHICH INCLUDED THE FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION TAX.

ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER GENERAL WEITZEL TO MAJOR J. F. VAUGHAN, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, MAY 31, 1955:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR FIRST ENDORSEMENT DATED FEBRUARY 18, 1955 ( FINKK-B 1016), AND ENCLOSURE, FORWARDED TO US BY THE ASSISTANT CHIEF OF FINANCE ( OPERATIONS) BY SECOND ENDORSEMENT DATED MARCH 18, 1955 ( FINEK 248.7 COCHRANE, FRED D.). YOU REQUEST A DECISION AS TO WHETHER PAYMENT PROPERLY MAY BE MADE ON THE RECLAIM VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF FRED D. COCHRANE IN THE AMOUNT OF $9.70, REPRESENTING TRANSPORTATION COSTS WHICH WERE ADMINISTRATIVELY SUSPENDED FROM D.O. VOUCHER NO. 11956.

PURSUANT TO TRAVEL ORDERS NO. 976, MR. COCHRANE PERFORMED OFFICIAL TRAVEL FROM DALLAS TO LAREDO, TEXAS, ON JANUARY 3 AND 4, 1955. GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUEST NO. DA3,494,331 WAS ISSUED TO BRANIFF AIRWAYS, INC., FOR ROUND-TRIP TRANSPORTATION, DALLAS TO LAREDO AND RETURN. BRANIFF ISSUED ITS TICKET NO. 1224405 FOR THE TRANSPORTATION CALLED FOR ON THE REQUEST. THE COST IS SHOWN ON THE TICKET AS $48.50, TAX EXEMPT. UPON ARRIVAL AT LOVE FIELD, DALLAS, TEXAS, ON JANUARY 3, 1955, MR. COCHRANE DISCOVERED THAT HE DID NOT HAVE THE AIRLINE TICKET. SINCE THERE WAS NOT SUFFICIENT TIME TO PERMIT HIM TO OBTAIN THE TICKET FROM HIS HOME, HE PAID PERSONAL FUNDS IN THE AMOUNT OF $55.35 (INCLUDES TRANSPORTATION TAX OF $4.85) FOR A SUBSTITUTE ROUND-TRIP TICKET.

IN THE REIMBURSEMENT OF HIS TRAVEL EXPENSES, MR. COCHRANE WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY ALLOWED $43.65 FOR THE COST OF THE ROUND-TRIP AIR TRANSPORTATION. HE WAS NOT CREDITED WITH $4.85, REPRESENTING THE FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION TAX PAID, OR FOR THE ADDITIONAL AMOUNT OF $4.85, REPRESENTING THE TEN PERCENT DISCOUNT PROVIDED FOR THE MILITARY AGENCIES OF THE GOVERNMENT UNDER JOINT MILITARY AIR TRANSPORTATION AGREEMENT NO. 4 TO WHICH THE BRANIFF AIRWAYS, INC., IS A PARTY. THE ESTABLISHED COMMERCIAL RATE FOR THE TRANSPORTATION FURNISHED IS STATED TO BE $48.50, AND IT THUS APPEARS THAT THE GOVERNMENT WAS OVERCHARGED ON THE ORIGINAL TICKET. THE DISCOUNT PROVIDED IN THE AGREEMENT, WHICH MAY ONLY BE TAKEN WHERE TRANSPORTATION IS EFFECTED ON GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS OR GOVERNMENT BILLS OF LADING, WAS LOST THROUGH THE PURCHASE OF THE SUBSTITUTE TICKET. WHILE IT DOES NOT SO APPEAR FROM THE RECORD, WE PRESUME THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS RECEIVED A FULL REFUND OR CREDIT FOR THE UNUSED TICKET.

YOUR DOUBT IN THE MATTER ARISES FROM OUR DECISIONS WHICH HOLD (1) THAT WHERE TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS ARE NOT AVAILABLE, AN EMPLOYEE IS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION TAXES PAID ON THE BASIS THAT EMPLOYEES WHO PERFORM OFFICIAL TRAVEL ARE ENTITLED TO BE MADE WHOLE FOR THE EXPENSES NECESSARILY INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH SUCH TRAVEL (23 COMP. GEN. 484) AND (2) THAT THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO ASSESS CHARGES AGAINST AN EMPLOYEE TO COVER A PECUNIARY LOSS SUSTAINED BY THE GOVERNMENT AS A RESULT OF AN ERROR IN JUDGMENT OR NEGLECT OF DUTY ON HIS PART IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS ISSUED PURSUANT TO LAW PROVIDING FOR THE ASSESSMENT OF CHARGES UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES (25 COMP. GEN. 299).

THE TRANSPORTATION REQUEST ISSUED IN THE PRESENT CASE MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED TO HAVE BEEN UNAVAILABLE. IT WAS IN FACT AVAILABLE AND USED FOR THE PURPOSE ISSUED. THE FACT THAT THE AIRLINE TICKET PURCHASED THEREWITH WAS NOT AVAILABLE FOR USE WHEN REQUIRED WAS DUE SOLELY TO THE NEGLIGENCE OF THE EMPLOYEE. IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE EXTRA EXPENSES INVOLVED IN THE PURCHASE OF THE SUBSTITUTE TICKET MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED TO HAVE BEEN NECESSARILY INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE TRAVEL. ALSO, OUR DECISION HOLDING THAT EMPLOYEES, GENERALLY, MAY NOT BE CHARGED FOR LOSSES SUSTAINED BY THE GOVERNMENT AS THE RESULT OF AN ERROR IN JUDGMENT OR NEGLECT OF DUTY IS NOT APPLICABLE TO A SITUATION WHERE EXCESS TRAVEL OR TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES RESULT SOLELY FROM THE TRAVELER'S NEGLIGENCE.

ACCORDINGLY, PAYMENT IS NOT AUTHORIZED ON THE SUBMITTED VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETAINED IN THIS OFFICE.

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