B-124172, AUGUST 12, 1955, 35 COMP. GEN. 92

B-124172: Aug 12, 1955

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MAY BE REIMBURSED PROVIDED THERE IS ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORIZATION OF THE ROUTE USED. REGARDLESS OF WHETHER FREE OR TOLL HIGHWAYS ARE USED. 1955: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED MAY 23. YOU REQUEST A DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE VOUCHERS MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT INSOFAR AS THE SAID TOLLS ARE CONCERNED. - 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.

B-124172, AUGUST 12, 1955, 35 COMP. GEN. 92

TOLLS - HIGHWAY - BRIDGE AND TUNNEL - EMPLOYEES USING GOVERNMENT-OWNED VEHICLES - REIMBURSEMENT EXPENSES FOR HIGHWAY, BRIDGE AND TUNNEL TOLLS INCURRED BY EMPLOYEES TRAVELING IN GOVERNMENT-OWNED VEHICLES ON ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS, PURSUANT TO SECTION 6 OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, MAY BE REIMBURSED PROVIDED THERE IS ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORIZATION OF THE ROUTE USED. TUNNEL AND BRIDGE TOLL EXPENSES WHICH WOULD BE INCURRED BY EMPLOYEES TRAVELING IN GOVERNMENT-OWNED VEHICLES, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER FREE OR TOLL HIGHWAYS ARE USED, MAY BE REIMBURSED AS ACTUAL TRAVEL EXPENSES.

TO MR. N. A. OLMSTEAD, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, AUGUST 12, 1955:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED MAY 23, 1955, TRANSMITTING SEVERAL TRAVEL VOUCHERS CONTAINING AMOUNTS CLAIMED AS REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED FOR BRIDGE AND TUNNEL TOLLS, AS WELL AS ROAD TOLLS IN CONNECTION WITH TRAVEL BY GOVERNMENT-OWNED VEHICLES OVER TOLL HIGHWAYS. YOU REQUEST A DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE VOUCHERS MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT INSOFAR AS THE SAID TOLLS ARE CONCERNED.

YOU REFER IN THE ENCLOSURE TO YOUR LETTER TO 32 COMP. GEN. 438 WHICH HELD (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS):

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. YOU STATE THAT AN EXAMINATION OF THE DECISION SHOWS IT WAS RENDERED IN CONNECTION WITH AN EMPLOYEE TRAVELING ON A MILEAGE BASIS AND EXPRESS SOME DOUBT AS TO ITS APPLICABILITY TO THE EMPLOYEES HERE INVOLVED WHO WERE TRAVELING IN GOVERNMENT-OWNED CARS AND AUTHORIZED TO BE REIMBURSED NECESSARY TRAVEL EXPENSES. THE BASIS FOR THIS DOUBT IS THAT WHILE PARAGRAPH 12 (A) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDES, AS TO EMPLOYEES AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL ON A MILEAGE BASIS, THAT " IN ADDITION TO THE MILEAGE ALLOWANCE THERE MAY BE ALLOWED REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE ACTUAL COST OF FERRY FARES, AND BRIDGE, ROAD, AND TUNNEL TOLLS" THERE IS NO SIMILAR EXPLICIT PROVISION IN THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AS TO EMPLOYEES TRAVELING BY GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE.

YOU STATE THAT YOU BELIEVE THE TRAVELER IS IN THE BEST POSITION TO DETERMINE THE ROUTE TO BE TAKEN WHERE THE TRAVEL IS BEING PERFORMED IN A GOVERNMENT-OWNED VEHICLE AND THE CERTIFYING OFFICER SHOULD NOT BE PLACED IN THE POSITION OF QUESTIONING THE ROUTE TAKEN EVEN THOUGH BRIDGE, ROAD OR TUNNEL TOLLS ARE INVOLVED.

THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, 63 STAT. 166, THE SAME ACT AS IS REFERRED TO IN 32 COMP. GEN. 438, AFTER AUTHORIZING PER DIEM AND MILEAGE ALLOWANCES, PROVIDES:

SEC. 6. EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PERMITTED BY THIS ACT OR BY THE LAWS RELATING TO MILITARY PERSONNEL, ONLY ACTUAL AND NECESSARY TRAVELING EXPENSES SHALL BE ALLOWED TO ANY PERSON HOLDING EMPLOYMENT OR APPOINTMENT UNDER THE UNITED STATES.

SECTION 7 OF THE SAME ACT PROVIDES:

THE FIXING AND PAYMENT UNDER THIS ACT OF TRAVEL ALLOWANCES AND OF ADVANCES AND RECOVERY THEREOF, AND REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES UNDER THIS ACT, SHALL BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH REGULATIONS WHICH SHALL BE PROMULGATED BY THE DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET.

THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS THUS ARE APPLICABLE TO BOTH TRAVEL ON A MILEAGE AND ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS UNLESS THE PARTICULAR SECTION OTHERWISE INDICATES OR THE PARTICULAR SECTION IS INAPPLICABLE TO THE AUTHORIZATION. PARAGRAPH 9 OF THE REGULATIONS PROVIDING THAT " ALL TRAVEL MUST BE BY A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE. TRAVEL BY OTHER ROUTES MAY BE ALLOWED WHEN THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY THEREFOR IS SATISFACTORILY ESTABLISHED" IS APPLICABLE TO BOTH TRAVEL ON A MILEAGE AND AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS.

A REASONABLE INTERPRETATION OF SECTION 6 OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT, 5 U.S.C. 838, AND OF PARAGRAPH 9 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS THUS WOULD ENTITLE A TRAVELER ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS, AS WELL AS ON A MILEAGE BASIS, TO REIMBURSEMENT OF TOLL CHARGES IN CONNECTION WITH TRAVEL ON A TOLL HIGHWAY. HOWEVER, BETWEEN TWO POINTS OF TRAVEL THERE MAY BE MORE THAN ONE HIGHWAY WHICH FALLS WITHIN THE CATEGORY OF A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE AND ONE MAY BE A FREE HIGHWAY WHILE THE OTHER IS A TOLL ROAD. IN SUCH INSTANCES, AND FOLLOWING THE RULE LAID DOWN IN 32 COMP. GEN. 438, WE 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 USED. ALSO, WHERE TOLLS FOR BRIDGES AND TUNNELS WOULD BE INCURRED IN USING SUCH TOLL ROAD, THE AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL OF THE ROUTING WILL BE REGARDED AS AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT OF THE BRIDGES AND TUNNEL TOLLS AS WELL.

HOWEVER, WHERE THE TUNNEL AND BRIDGE TOLLS WOULD BE INCURRED IN TRAVEL REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE FREE OR TOLL HIGHWAY IS USED, REIMBURSEMENT OF SUCH TOLLS IS AUTHORIZED WITHOUT REGARD TO THE AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL OF THE USE OF THE TOLL HIGHWAY, SUCH REIMBURSEMENT BEING PROPERLY FOR REGARDING AS REIMBURSEMENT OF ACTUAL TRAVEL EXPENSES NECESSARILY INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE AUTHORIZED TRAVEL.

ACCORDINGLY, THIS OFFICE WILL NOT OBJECT TO PAYMENT OF THE TOLLS FOR USE OF HIGHWAYS, BRIDGES AND TUNNELS PROVIDED AN ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL OF THE ROUTE UTILIZED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOREGOING IS FURNISHED NOR OF TOLLS FOR BRIDGES AND TUNNELS WHICH NECESSARILY WOULD BE INCURRED REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE TRAVEL WAS ROUTED OVER TOLL OR FREE HIGHWAYS.