B-125896, DEC. 19, 1955

B-125896: Dec 19, 1955

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MACBAIN'S HEADQUARTERS ARE AT THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL. TRAVEL ORDERS WERE ISSUED INSTRUCTING HIM TO MAKE REGULAR INSPECTION TRIPS TO OTHER DESIGNATED VETERANS BUREAU FIELD STATIONS. THE VALUE OF THE QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE IS FIXED AND PRESCRIBED BY ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS. IT IS ALSO STATED THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS PROVIDED IN THE EVENT AN EMPLOYEE RECEIVING SUBSISTENCE AS COMPENSATION IN KIND WAS ON TEMPORARY DUTY AT ANOTHER FIELD STATION HE WOULD BE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE WITHOUT ADDITIONAL CHARGE THE CLASS OF SUBSISTENCE AND NUMBER OF MEALS PER DAY HE WOULD HAVE RECEIVED AT HIS HOME STATION. THE REGULATIONS FURTHER PROVIDED WITH RESPECT TO ABSENCES BECAUSE OF TEMPORARY OFFICIAL DUTY AT ANOTHER FIELD STATION THAT ADJUSTMENTS WOULD BE MADE IN THE CHARGES FOR QUARTERS PROVIDED THE QUARTERS WERE MADE AVAILABLE FOR OTHER OCCUPANCY.

B-125896, DEC. 19, 1955

TO THE HONORABLE H. V. HIGLEY, ADMINISTRATOR, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION:

BY LETTER OF OCTOBER 25, 1955, THE ASSISTANT DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR REQUESTS OUR DECISION CONCERNING PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE PAID TO W. A. MACBAIN, AN EMPLOYEE OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION, DURING THE PERIOD SEPTEMBER 1, 1951, TO JANUARY 31, 1955.

THE LETTER STATED THAT MR. MACBAIN'S HEADQUARTERS ARE AT THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL, LYONS, NEW JERSEY, AND TRAVEL ORDERS WERE ISSUED INSTRUCTING HIM TO MAKE REGULAR INSPECTION TRIPS TO OTHER DESIGNATED VETERANS BUREAU FIELD STATIONS. THE ORDERS AUTHORIZED A PER DIEM OF $6. THE EMPLOYEE'S CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT PROVIDED THAT QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE WOULD BE FURNISHED HIM BY THE GOVERNMENT, THE VALUE OF THE QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE BEING REGARDED AS A PART OF THE COMPENSATION OF THE POSITION AND DEDUCTED FROM THE TOTAL SALARY OF THE POSITION PURSUANT TO THE ACT OF MARCH 5, 1928, 45 STAT. 193. THE VALUE OF THE QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE IS FIXED AND PRESCRIBED BY ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS. IT IS ALSO STATED THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS PROVIDED IN THE EVENT AN EMPLOYEE RECEIVING SUBSISTENCE AS COMPENSATION IN KIND WAS ON TEMPORARY DUTY AT ANOTHER FIELD STATION HE WOULD BE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE WITHOUT ADDITIONAL CHARGE THE CLASS OF SUBSISTENCE AND NUMBER OF MEALS PER DAY HE WOULD HAVE RECEIVED AT HIS HOME STATION. THE REGULATIONS FURTHER PROVIDED WITH RESPECT TO ABSENCES BECAUSE OF TEMPORARY OFFICIAL DUTY AT ANOTHER FIELD STATION THAT ADJUSTMENTS WOULD BE MADE IN THE CHARGES FOR QUARTERS PROVIDED THE QUARTERS WERE MADE AVAILABLE FOR OTHER OCCUPANCY. IN THIS CASE IT IS REPORTED THAT THE QUARTERS AT THE HOME STATION WERE AVAILABLE FOR OCCUPANCY DURING THE EMPLOYEE'S ABSENCE ON OFFICIAL DUTY, HOWEVER, DURING SUCH ABSENCE DEDUCTIONS WERE MADE FROM THE EMPLOYEE'S SALARY AT HIS HOME STATION. HE WAS FURNISHED QUARTERS AT THE STATION VISITED WITHOUT ANY ADDITIONAL CHARGE. SPECIFICALLY ANSWERS ARE REQUESTED TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:

"1. IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE'S ABSENCE FROM HIS HEADQUARTERS ON TEMPORARY DUTY DID NOT INCREASE HIS ACTUAL EXPENSES FOR SUBSISTENCE AND LODGING WOULD IT BE LEGALLY PROPER AT THIS TIME TO REDUCE THE $6.00 ALLOWANCE AND THUS CREATE AN OVERPAYMENT TO THE EMPLOYEE.

"2. IF IT BE DETERMINED THAT THE PAYMENT OF A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE OF $6.00 WAS IMPROPER UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THE PAYMENT BE ADJUSTED AS PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH 47 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, NOTWITHSTANDING HE WAS NOT FURNISHED MEALS OR LODGING "WITHOUT CHARGE BY A GOVERNMENT AGENCY" OR SHOULD THE $6.00 PER DIEM BE REDUCED BY THE VALUE OF THE SUBSISTENCE AND QUARTERS AT THE RATE DEDUCTIONS WERE MADE FROM HIS (THE EMPLOYEE-S) SALARY AND THE APPROPRIATE AMOUNT RECOVERED FROM HIM.'

THE BASIS FOR AUTHORIZING THE $6 PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE DURING THE PERIOD IN QUESTION IS NOT APPARENT FROM THE WRITTEN RECORD BEFORE US. WE UNDERSTAND FROM INFORMATION OBTAINED INFORMALLY FROM YOUR ADMINISTRATION, HOWEVER, THAT THE APPARENT PURPOSE OF THE PER DIEM AUTHORIZATION WAS TO AUGMENT THE SALARY OF THE EMPLOYEE BECAUSE OF THE TRAVEL ASPECT OF HIS JOB RATHER THAN TO REIMBURSE HIM THE APPROXIMATE ADDITIONAL COST OF SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE ITEMS WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY. THE CIRCUMSTANCES, AND ON THE PRESENT RECORD, WE FIND NO SOUND BASIS FOR THE PER DIEM PAYMENTS. THE ENTIRE AMOUNT OF THE PAYMENTS SHOULD BE RECOVERED BY APPROPRIATE ..END :