B-123638, APR 9, 1956

B-123638: Apr 9, 1956

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PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: REFERENCE IS MADE TO MR. THE REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TRAVEL OF MILITARY PERSONNEL ARE PROMULGATED BY THE PER DIEM. THE QUESTIONS WERE REFERRED TO IT FOR COMMENTS. IT IS DESIRED TO POINT OUT THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE IS FULLY IN ACCORD WITH THE PROPOSITION THAT OFFICIAL TRAVEL OF MILITARY PERSONNEL SHOULD BE KEPT TO A MINIMUM CONSISTENT WITH THE ACTUAL NEEDS OF THE SERVICE. THE FIRST PARAGRAPH RECOMMENDS THE USE OF THE RAND MCNALLY HIGHWAY GUIDE AS THE OFFICIAL BASIS FOR COMPUTING DISTANCES IN ALL CASES WHERE REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED BY AUTOMOBILE IS MADE ON A MILEAGE BASIS. IT IS NOT CONSIDERED PROPER TO CHANGE THE OFFICIAL DISTANCES TO HIGHWAY DISTANCES.

B-123638, APR 9, 1956

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO MR. WARREN'S LETTER OF JANUARY 4, 1954, I-17971 AND YOUR LETTER B-123638 DATED APRIL 19, 1955, RELATIVE TO MILITARY TRAVEL COSTS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE.

AS YOU KNOW, THE REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TRAVEL OF MILITARY PERSONNEL ARE PROMULGATED BY THE PER DIEM, TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE. SINCE THE QUESTIONS RAISED IN THE LETTER OF JANUARY 4, 1954, PERTAIN TO THE REGULATIONS DEVELOPED BY THE COMMITTEE, THE QUESTIONS WERE REFERRED TO IT FOR COMMENTS. THE COMMITTEE'S COMMENTS FOLLOW:

"AT THE OUTSET, IT IS DESIRED TO POINT OUT THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE IS FULLY IN ACCORD WITH THE PROPOSITION THAT OFFICIAL TRAVEL OF MILITARY PERSONNEL SHOULD BE KEPT TO A MINIMUM CONSISTENT WITH THE ACTUAL NEEDS OF THE SERVICE. ON THE OTHER HAND, HOWEVER, THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CANNOT, WITH A CLEAR CONSCIENCE, RECOMMEND A CURTAILMENT OR REDUCTION IN THE AMOUNTS ALLOWED INDIVIDUAL SERVICE MEMBERS FOR THEMSELVES OR FOR THEIR DEPENDENTS WITHOUT A MOST CAREFUL CONSIDERATION OF THE EFFECT UPON THE INDIVIDUAL SERVICE MEMBER AS A RESULT OF ANY REDUCTION OF THE PRESENT ALLOWANCES FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL OF SUCH MEMBERS AND THEIR DEPENDENTS.

"WITH RESPECT TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS INCLOSED WITH YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 4, 1954, THE FIRST PARAGRAPH RECOMMENDS THE USE OF THE RAND MCNALLY HIGHWAY GUIDE AS THE OFFICIAL BASIS FOR COMPUTING DISTANCES IN ALL CASES WHERE REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED BY AUTOMOBILE IS MADE ON A MILEAGE BASIS. IT IS NOT CONSIDERED PROPER TO CHANGE THE OFFICIAL DISTANCES TO HIGHWAY DISTANCES, SINCE THE AMOUNT DERIVED AS A TOTAL ALLOWANCE ON THE PRESENT BASIS IS IN FACT A REALISTIC COST OF TRAVEL BY THE TRAVELING PUBLIC UTILIZING COMMON CARRIER, WHEREAS APPLICATION OF A COST PER MILE FOR RAIL TRAVEL AGAINST A HIGHWAY DISTANCE WOULD BE TAKING UNDUE ADVANTAGE OF A MEMBER BY EFFECTING SETTLEMENT FOR LESS THAN THE GOVERNMENT'S ORDINARY OBLIGATION TO HIM.

"PARAGRAPH 2 OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS SUGGESTED THE DISCONTINUANCE OF PAYMENT OF A MONETARY ALLOWANCE IN LIEU OF TRANSPORTATION TO MORE THAN ONE MILITARY MEMBER WHEN TRAVEL IS PERFORMED JOINTLY BY PRIVATELY-OWNED CONVEYANCE, AND PARAGRAPH 3 SUGGESTS DISCONTINUANCE OF PAYMENTS OF MONETARY ALLOWANCE IN LIEU OF TRANSPORTATION FOR DEPENDENTS TRAVELING WITH MEMBERS IN A PRIVATELY-OWNED CONVEYANCE ON PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION. THE RECOMMENDATIONS INCIDENT TO TRAVEL BY PRIVATE CONVEYANCE APPEAR TO BE PREDICATED UPON THE ASSUMPTION THAT ANY SAVING IN THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION SHOULD RESULT IN A SAVING TO THE GOVERNMENT. THERE IS ALSO THE PRESUMPTION THAT A MEMBER WHO ACCOMPANIES ANOTHER BY PRIVATE AUTO HAS NO TANGIBLE EXPENSE TO WHICH THE AMOUNT RECEIVED BY HIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION COULD BE APPLIED. SUCH AN ASSUMPTION IS NOT A FACT BECAUSE CERTAIN AMOUNTS MUST OF NECESSITY BE EXPENDED FOR THE ADDITIONAL MEALS AND QUARTERS REQUIRED BY THIS SLOWER MODE OF TRANSPORTATION AND, NORMALLY, SUCH MEMBER'S CONTRIBUTION TOWARD DEFRAYING THE EXPENSE OF OPERATION OF THE VEHICLE; INCLUDING EXPENSES FOR TOLLS, PARKING AND LIKE EXPENSES INCIDENT TO TRANSPORTATION BY AUTOMOBILE.

"IT WOULD BE UNREALISTIC TO WEIGH THE AMOUNT ALLOWED THE SERVICE MEMBER WHO TRAVELS IN A PRIVATE VEHICLE BELONGING TO ANOTHER WITHOUT TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT IF TRANSPORTATION AND SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS BY COMMON CARRIER HAD BEEN FURNISHED TO HIM AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE. IT SHOULD ALSO BE POINTED OUT THAT IN CONSIDERING THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT, WHERE AN ALLOWANCE IS AUTHORIZED IF TRAVEL IS PERFORMED BY PRIVATELY-OWNED VEHICLE (WHERE THE OVER-ALL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT IS TO BE CONSIDERED), THERE SHOULD BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION THE ADMINISTRATIVE COST INVOLVED IN SETTLING BILLS WITH COMMON CARRIERS. EXPERIENCE HAS FAILED TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THE FIXING OF AN ALLOWANCE ON A MILEAGE BASIS WHERE TRAVEL IS PERFORMED BY SERVICE MEMBERS IN A PRIVATELY- OWNED VEHICLE RESULTS IN AN ADDITIONAL OVER-ALL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. ON THE CONTRARY, A SAVING ON THE PART OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE DENIAL OF ALLOWANCE FOR TRANSPORTATION IN THE MANNER SUGGESTED WILL, IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS, RESULT IN REDUCING THE AMOUNT AVAILABLE TO THE TRAVELER TO A POINT WHERE THE AMOUNT REIMBURSED TO HIM IN SUCH CASE WOULD BE INSUFFICIENT TO DEFRAY HIS PROPER EXPENSES.

"WITH RESPECT TO THE RECOMMENDATION CONTAINED IN PARAGRAPH 3 WHERE THE DEPENDENTS TRAVEL BY AUTOMOBILE WITH THE MEMBER, THE PROPOSAL SUGGESTS THAT ONCE THE GOVERNMENT HAS PAID A MONETARY ALLOWANCE IN LIEU OF TRANSPORTATION, THE GOVERNMENT HAS DISCHARGED ITS RESPONSIBILITIES TO FURNISH TRANSPORTATION TO THE DEPENDENTS WHO RIDE WITH THE MEMBER IN THE SAME AUTOMOBILE. THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CANNOT CONCUR WITH THIS REASONING BECAUSE THE AMOUNT PAID AS A MONETARY ALLOWANCE IS AN AVERAGE AMOUNT PER MILE COMPARABLE TO THE COST BY RAIL RATHER THAN A REALISTIC REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE EXPENSES OF OPERATING A PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE. THERE APPEARS TO BE NO SOUND BASIS FOR THE PRESUMPTION THAT PAYMENT OF SUCH AN ALLOWANCE IS TANTAMOUNT TO THE FURNISHING OF TRANSPORTATION AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE FOR PERSONS OTHER THAN THE SERVICE MEMBER. THE PAYMENT OF THE MONEY ALLOWANCE FOR TRANSPORTATION IN SUCH CASES IS NOT A GRATUITY BECAUSE THE INCREASED COST OF SUBSISTENCE AND THE NECESSITY FOR ACQUIRING SLEEPING ACCOMODATIONS ON THE TRIP ARE PROPERLY FOR CONSIDERATION. THESE FACTORS HAVE ALL BEEN TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION IN THE FIXING OF ALLOWANCES FOR TRAVEL.

"FOR NEARLY HALF A CENTURY THE CONGRESS AND THE MILITARY DEPARTMENTS HAVE RECOGNIZED THAT THERE IS AN OBLIGATION ON THE PART OF THE GOVERNMENT TO DEFRAY THE COST OF TRAVEL OF SERVICE PERSONNEL ON PUBLIC BUSINESS AND TO DEFRAY SUCH COST INCIDENT TO THE TRANSFER OF ITS PERSONNEL FROM ONE POST OR STATION TO ANOTHER. BY THE SAME TOKEN, THIS OBLIGATION IS ALSO RECOGNIZED IN CONNECTION WITH DEFRAYING THE COST OF TRANSPORTING THE DEPENDENTS OF SERVICE PERSONNEL UPON A CHANGE OF STATION. WITH RESPECT TO THE TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS, FOR MANY YEARS PRIOR TO THE DECLARATION OF THE EMERGENCY PRECEDING WORLD WAR II, SERVICE PERSONNEL WERE ENTITLED, UPON PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION, TO BE FURNISHED TRANSPORTATION IN KIND FOR THEIR DEPENDENTS OR, WHERE SUCH TRANSPORTATION IN KIND WAS NOT FURNISHED, TO BE REIMBURSED IN AN AMOUNT COMMENSURATE WITH THE COST WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED BY THE GOVERNMENT IF TRANSPORTATION BY RAIL HAD BEEN FURNISHED FOR THE TRAVEL INVOLVED. WITH THE GREATLY EXPANDING MILITARY FORCES PRIOR TO AND DURING WORLD WAR II, IT BECAME NECESSARY FOR THE CONGRESS TO AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT ON A MONEY-ALLOWANCE BASIS FOR TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS, MAINLY BECAUSE IT WAS NOT FEASIBLE TO MAINTAIN THE SERVICES OF RATE EXPERTS AT THE MANY PAYING ACTIVITIES TO COMPUTE TRAVEL COSTS ON THE INDIVIDUAL'S CLAIMS FOR SUCH RIMBURSEMENT. THESE ALLOWANCES HAVE LONG BEEN INADEQUATE. TRAVEL IS COSTLY REGARDLESS OF THE MODE OF TRAVEL. IT IS PARTICULARLY COSTLY FOR THOSE WHO ARE REQUIRED TO TRAVEL WITH DEPENDENTS AND ESPECIALLY WHERE THE FAMILY INCLUDES MINOR CHILDREN. A REDUCTION IN ANY OF THE ALLOWANCES FOR THE TRAVEL OF DEPENDENTS WOULD EFFECT ADVERSELY THAT CLASS OF PERSONNEL WHICH ARE THE BACKBONE OF ANY MILITARY ORGANIZATION, - THE SERGEANT, THE PETTY OFFICER, AND THE JUNIOR COMMISSIONED OFFICER. THIS IS THE CLASS OF PERSONNEL WHOSE FAMILIES USUALLY INCLUDE MINOR CHILDREN. CONTRARY TO THE STATEMENT TOO OFTEN MADE, PERSONNEL AS A GENERAL RULE DO NOT RECEIVE REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL EITHER FOR THEMSELVES OR DEPENDENTS IN EXCESS OF THE COST INVOLVED INCIDENT TO SUCH TRAVEL. ON THE CONTRARY, IN MANY CASES, SUCH PERSONNEL MUST DEFRAY FROM THEIR PAY ADDITIONAL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO TRAVEL ON PUBLIC BUSINESS. IT IS NOW A MATTER OF HISTORY THAT THE HOOK COMMISSION APPOINTED BY THE LATE MR. FORRESTAL UNDERTOOK A PAINSTAKING AND COMPREHENSIVE STUDY OF THE WHOLE FIELD OF THE PAY AND ALLOWANCES OF SERVICE PERSONNEL. THE STUDY AND RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE PART OF THESE EMINENT BUSINESSMEN AND EDUCATORS IS RECOGNIZED AS THE GREATEST EFFORT EVER ACCOMPLISHED IN CONNECTION WITH THIS IMPORTANT SUBJECT. IN THE ENACTMENT OF THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT THE CONGRESS ADOPTED ALMOST ENTIRELY THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THIS COMMISSION.

"IN THE DISCUSSION OF THE SUBJECT OF TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION, THE COMMISSION STATED IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

'EXPENSES INCURRED IN AUTHORIZED PERSONAL TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS AND GOODS SHOULD NOT BE BORNE BY THE SERVICEMAN; CONVERSELY, REIMBURSEMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT RESULT IN A PAY INCREASE. THESE EXPENSES ARE NOTHING MORE OR LESS THAN ADMINISTRATIVE OR OVERHEAD COSTS FOR OPERATING THE BUSINESS OF THE UNIFORMED FORCES. AS IN INDUSTRY, PAYMENTS FOR SUCH NECESSARY MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE AND PROPERTY SHOULD NOT BE ASSOCIATED WITH OR CHARGED TO INDIVIDUAL BASIC COMPENSATION.

'THE COMMISSION HAS CONSIDERED THE PROBLEM OF THESE ALLOWANCES, HOWEVER, BECAUSE PHYSICAL CHANGES ARE SO INTIMATELY CONNECTED WITH CONDITIONS OF WORK IN THE UNIFORMED FORCES AND, CHIEFLY, BECAUSE INCONSISTENT AND IMPROPER PREPAYMENT OR POSTPAYMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES ACTUALLY AFFECT INDIVIDUAL NET INCOMES. AT PRESENT, ESPECIALLY, IT IS EVIDENT THAT THE MAXIMUM ALLOWANCES ESTABLISHED BY OR UNDER LAW FOR THE VARIOUS TYPES OF TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION APPEAR TO BE INSUFFICIENT TO COVER ORDINARY AND EXPECTED OUTLAYS FOR FOOD AND LODGING REQUIRED FOR SHORT PERIODS.

'ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE INADEQUATE RATES NOW AUTHORIZED IS THE MAXIMUM OF $7 PER DIEM AMOUNT PAID TO OFFICERS FOR TRAVEL ON TEMPORARY DUTY AND TO ENLISTED PERSONNEL TRAVELING BY AIR AND THE MONEY ALLOWANCE OF THREE CENTS PER MILE FOR TRAVEL IN PRIVATELY-OWNED CONVEYANCE. VIRTUALLY ALL THE INDUSTRIAL ESTABLISHMENTS PAY ACTUAL COSTS, AND, FOR THE ENTIRE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, RATES OF $8 AND $10 HAVE RECENTLY BEEN RECOMMENDED BY THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS. THE ALLOWANCE FOR AUTO TRAVEL IS SIMILARLY BELOW THE FIVE-CENT RATE FOR THE FEDERAL CIVIL SERVICE. THE COMMISSION IS DESIROUS OF SEEING THAT JUSTICE IS SERVED BY RECOMMENDING FAIR ALLOWANCES FOR ALL.'

"THE CONGRESS RECOGNIZED AND ACCEPTED THESE RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE ENACTMENT OF THAT PART OF THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT DEALING WITH TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCES. IT VESTED IN THE SECRETARIES OF THE MILITARY DEPARTMENTS AUTHORITY TO PRESCRIBE REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCES OF SERVICE MEMBERS AND THEIR DEPENDENTS AND PRESCRIBED MAXIMUM RATES AND ESTABLISHED BASIC FUNDAMENTALS AS A GUIDE IN THE FORMULATION OF SUCH REGULATIONS. IN ADDITION, THE BASIC LEGISLATION SPECIFICALLY PROVIDES THAT:

'THE SECRETARIES CONCERNED IN ESTABLISHING THE RATES AND TYPES OF ALLOWANCES AUTHORIZED BY THIS SECTION SHALL CONSIDER IN PRESCRIBING (1) MONETARY ALLOWANCE IN LIEU OF TRANSPORTATION-AVERAGE COST OF FIRST CLASS TRANSPORTATION INCLUDING SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS, (2) PER DIEM RATES - THE CURRENT ECONOMIC DATA ON COST OF SUBSISTENCE (INCLUDING LODGING AND OTHER NECESSARY INCIDENTAL EXPENSES RELATED THERETO), AND (3) MILEAGE RATES - AVERAGE COST OF FIRST-CLASS TRANSPORTATION INCLUDING SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS AND CURRENT ECONOMIC DATA ON COST OF SUBSISTENCE (INCLUDING LODGING AND OTHER NECESSARY INCIDENTAL EXPENSES RELATED THERETO).'

"IT IS TRUE, AS STATED IN INCLOSURE TO YOUR LETTER, THAT THERE IS WIDESPREAD USE OF AUTOMOBILES IN TRAVELING BY SERVICE PERSONNEL AND THE SAME IS TRUE WITH RESPECT TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. IF A MEMBER OF THE SERVICE OR A MEMBER WITH DEPENDENTS, IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL, USES PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, EITHER AIR, RAIL OR BUS, THE COST INCIDENT TO SUCH TRAVEL CAN BE FAIRLY ACCURATELY DETERMINED IN ADVANCE. ON THE OTHER HAND, WHERE TRAVEL IS PERFORMED BY AUTOMOBILE, AND PARTICULARLY WHERE THE FAMILY INCLUDES CHILDREN, THERE ARE MANY COSTS ENCOUNTERED WHICH CANNOT ACCURATELY BE CONTEMPLATED IN ADVANCE IN TERMS OF DOLLARS AND CENTS. TOO OFTEN THESE INCIDENTAL COSTS ARE OVER AND ABOVE THE AMOUNT WHICH IS PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT UNDER EXISTING ALLOWANCES. THE ALLOWANCES PROVIDED BY THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS ARE THE RESULT OF A CAREFUL STUDY OF THE COST INCIDENT TO TRAVEL AND BASED UPON THOSE PROVISIONS OF THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT RELATING TO TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCES.

"REFERRING TO THE LETTER OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF DECEMBER 29, 1952, B-112255, CONCERNING THE CASE OF PHILLIP MURPHY, HOSPITAL CORPS 2ND CLASS, U. S. NAVAL RESERVE, ATTENTION IS INVITED TO THE DEPARTMENT'S LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 12, 1953, COPY ATTACHED, WHICH SETS FORTH THE DEPARTMENT'S VIEWS IN DETAIL CONCERNING THIS MATTER.

"IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE IS STRONGLY OF THE OPINION THAT IN CONSIDERATION OF ALL FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES INCIDENT TO THE TRAVEL OF PERSONNEL AND THEIR DEPENDENTS THERE IS NO REAL JUSTIFICATION FOR THE MODIFICATION OF EXISTING INSTRUCTIONS IN THE MATTER SET FORTH IN PARAGRAPHS 1, 2, AND 3 OF THE INCLOSURE TO LETTER OF JANUARY 4, 1954." IN ADDITION TO THE COMMENTS OF THE PER DIEM TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE ON THE USE OF THE STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDE, IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT SECTION 303 OF THE CAREER INCENTIVE ACT OF 1949 PROVIDES THAT MILEAGE BE COMPUTED "IN ACCORDANCE WITH MILEAGE TABLES PREPARED BY THE CHIEF OF FINANCE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY."

ALSO, ATTENTION IS INVITED TO THE FACT THAT THIS MATTER WAS DISCUSSED WITH THE SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE DURING THE HEARINGS ON THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1955 (PAGE 192).

WHILE THERE ARE TWO POINTS IN YOUR FIRST LETTER WHICH THIS OFFICE WISHES FURTHER TO EXPLORE, IT WAS DEEMED DESIRABLE TO SUBMIT THE VIEWS OF THE INDEPARTMENTAL PER DIEM, TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY.