B-126870, APRIL 5, 1956, 35 COMP. GEN. 550

B-126870: Apr 5, 1956

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IS LIMITED TO REIMBURSEMENT ON THE BASIS OF THE CONSTRUCTIVE COMMON CARRIER COSTS BY RAIL FOR THE ROUND TRIP. TRAVEL TIME FOR PER DIEM FOR AN EMPLOYEE WHO WAS REIMBURSED ON THE BASIS OF COMPARATIVE COMMON CARRIER COSTS BECAUSE ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS REQUIRED ABANDONMENT OF THE USE OF HIS PRIVATELY-OWNED AIRPLANE SHOULD BE BASED ON THE TIME OF DEPARTURE OF A TRAIN WHICH WOULD HAVE INSURED THE EMPLOYEE'S TIMELY ARRIVAL AT DESTINATION. HUBER WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL TO THE BOSTON AREA TO ATTEND A TRAINING SESSION ON THE SAGE SYSTEM. THE COURSE WAS SCHEDULED TO START ON OCTOBER 17 AT 9:00 A.M. A MILEAGE RATE OF TEN CENTS WAS SUBSEQUENTLY APPROVED. NO DETERMINATION WAS MADE THAT SUCH MODE OF TRANSPORTATION WAS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT.

B-126870, APRIL 5, 1956, 35 COMP. GEN. 550

TRAVELING EXPENSES - AIR - TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY-OWNED AIRCRAFT AN EMPLOYEE WHO, AFTER ABANDONING HIS PRIVATELY-OWNED AIRPLANE BECAUSE OF ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS EN ROUTE TO ATTEND A TRAINING COURSE, TRAVELED BY RAIL ON THE OUTGOING TRIP, AND BY COMMERCIAL AIR ON THE RETURN TRIP TO HIS PLANE UNDER TRAVEL ORDERS WHICH AUTHORIZED THE USE OF HIS PLANE FOR PERSONAL CONVENIENCE, MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED ON A MILEAGE AND ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS FOR THE VARIOUS MODES OF TRANSPORTATION USED, BUT IS LIMITED TO REIMBURSEMENT ON THE BASIS OF THE CONSTRUCTIVE COMMON CARRIER COSTS BY RAIL FOR THE ROUND TRIP. TRAVEL TIME FOR PER DIEM FOR AN EMPLOYEE WHO WAS REIMBURSED ON THE BASIS OF COMPARATIVE COMMON CARRIER COSTS BECAUSE ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS REQUIRED ABANDONMENT OF THE USE OF HIS PRIVATELY-OWNED AIRPLANE SHOULD BE BASED ON THE TIME OF DEPARTURE OF A TRAIN WHICH WOULD HAVE INSURED THE EMPLOYEE'S TIMELY ARRIVAL AT DESTINATION.

TO RICHARD S. GESSFORD, FEDERAL CIVIL DEFENSE ADMINISTRATION, APRIL 5, 1956:

ON JANUARY 31, 1956, YOU REQUESTED OUR DECISION UPON THE PROPRIETY OF CERTIFYING FOR PAYMENT THE RECLAIM VOUCHER THEREWITH SUBMITTED IN FAVOR OF JOHN L. HUBER FOR $37.14. THE VOUCHER REPRESENTS ITEMS ADMINISTRATIVELY SUSPENDED IN REIMBURSING THE EMPLOYEE FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN OFFICIAL TRAVEL FROM BATTLE CREEK, MICHIGAN, TO BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, AND RETURN DURING THE PERIOD OCTOBER 15 THROUGH OCTOBER 29, 1955.

MR. HUBER WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL TO THE BOSTON AREA TO ATTEND A TRAINING SESSION ON THE SAGE SYSTEM. THE COURSE WAS SCHEDULED TO START ON OCTOBER 17 AT 9:00 A.M. HIS TRAVEL ORDERS, IN ADDITION TO AUTHORIZING TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER, INCLUDING COMMERCIAL AIRLINE, AUTHORIZED THE USE OF PRIVATE AIRCRAFT. A MILEAGE RATE OF TEN CENTS WAS SUBSEQUENTLY APPROVED. HOWEVER, NO DETERMINATION WAS MADE THAT SUCH MODE OF TRANSPORTATION WAS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT.

MR. HUBER ELECTED TO USE PRIVATE AIRCRAFT DESPITE HIS KNOWLEDGE OF IMPENDING BAD WEATHER. HE DEPARTED BATTLE CREEK ON OCTOBER 15, 1955, AT 12:00 NOON. ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS FORCED HIM TO LAND AT ROCHESTER, NEW YORK, AT 4:05 P.M. OF THE SAME DAY. SINCE THE CONTINUING BAD WEATHER PRECLUDED FURTHER USE OF PRIVATE AIRCRAFT, HE PERFORMED THE REMAINDER OF THE JOURNEY BY TRAIN, LEAVING ROCHESTER ON OCTOBER 16, AT 11:00 A.M. AND ARRIVING IN BOSTON ON OCTOBER 17 AT 3:00 A.M. THE EMPLOYEE ATTENDED THE TRAINING SESSION AT BOSTON DURING THE PERIOD, OCTOBER 17 TO OCTOBER 28, HE DEPARTED BOSTON BY COMMERCIAL AIRLINE ON OCTOBER 28 AT 5:30 P.M. AND ARRIVED IN BUFFALO, NEW YORK, AT 7:30 P.M. OF THE SAME DAY. HE TRAVELED FROM BUFFALO TO ROCHESTER BY PRIVATE AIRCRAFT, FLYING OVER OR DEPARTING BUFFALO AT 8:30 A.M. ON OCTOBER 29. MR. HUBER ARRIVED AT BATTLE CREEK AT 4:00 P.M. THE SAME DAY. TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS WERE USED FOR THE TRAVEL BY RAIL AND FOR THE AIRLINE TRAVEL FROM BOSTON TO BUFFALO.

THE EMPLOYEE STATES ON THE VOUCHER, IN EXPLANATION OF HIS USE OF PRIVATE AIRCRAFT AND DEPARTURE ON OCTOBER 15, THAT UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES HE ASSUMED ALL TRANSPORTATION IN THE BOSTON AREA WOULD BE INTERRUPTED AND THAT HE FELT THE USE OF PRIVATE AIRCRAFT WOULD PROVIDE MORE FLEXIBILITY IN INSURING HIS TIMELY ARRIVAL IN BOSTON. HE FURTHER EXPLAINS THAT HE CHANGED HIS MODE OF TRANSPORTATION ON THE OUTGOING TRIP BECAUSE OF WEATHER CONDITIONS AND FOR NO OTHER REASON AND THAT THE MIXED MODE OF TRANSPORTATION ON THE RETURN TRIP WAS SOLELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF PICKING UP HIS PRIVATE AIRCRAFT. HE CALLS ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT HIS TRAIN WAS SIX HOURS LATE IN ARRIVING IN BOSTON BECAUSE OF A BRIDGE WASHOUT AND THAT EARLIER AND LATER TRAINS WERE SIMILARLY DELAYED.

MR. HUBER CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT AT THE MILEAGE RATE FOR THE SEGMENTS OF TRAVEL PERFORMED BY PRIVATE AIRCRAFT AND REIMBURSEMENT ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS FOR THE REIMBURSABLE SEGMENTS OF THE TRAVEL PERFORMED BY COMMON CARRIER. IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE AUDIT OF HIS ORIGINAL TRAVEL VOUCHER HIS REIMBURSEMENT WAS LIMITED TO THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST (INCLUDING PER DIEM) OF TRAVEL BY RAIL FROM BATTLE CREEK TO BOSTON AND RETURN, USING 2:04 P.M. OF OCTOBER 16 AS THE CONSTRUCTIVE DEPARTURE TIME FROM BATTLE CREEK, WHICH UNDER NORMAL CONDITIONS, WOULD HAVE PERMITTED TIMELY ARRIVAL AT DESTINATION.

SECTION 4 OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, 63 STAT. 166, 5 U.S.C. 837, AND PARAGRAPH 12B OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF MILEAGE FOR USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANES WITHOUT A DETERMINATION OF ADVANTAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT ONLY "WHERE PAYMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS IS LIMITED TO THE COST OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER, INCLUDING PER DIEM.'

IN THE INSTANT CASE, THERE WAS NO ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION OF ADVANTAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT AND NO BASIS THEREFOR APPEARS TO HAVE EXISTED. THUS, THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF PRIVATE AIRCRAFT IS UNDERSTOOD TO HAVE BEEN ISSUED SOLELY FOR THE PERSONAL CONVENIENCE OF THE TRAVELER. HAD THE ENTIRE TRAVEL BEEN PERFORMED BY PRIVATE AIRCRAFT, THE ABOVE STATUTORY PROVISION WOULD HAVE REQUIRED PAYMENT TO BE LIMITED TO ROUND-TRIP COMMON CARRIER COST. THAT SAME LIMITATION IS FOR APPLICATION WHERE, AS HERE, WEATHER CONDITIONS PERMITTED THE USE OF PRIVATE AIRCRAFT FOR ONLY A PORTION OF THE TRAVEL. TO HOLD THAT THE TRAVEL FOR COST PURPOSES IS TO BE DIVIDED INTO SEGMENTS ACCORDING TO THE MODE OF TRAVEL ACTUALLY UTILIZED WOULD RESULT IN INCREASING THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT BY REASON OF THE USE OF PRIVATE AIRCRAFT FOR PERSONAL CONVENIENCE. THAT THE LAW DOES NOT SANCTION. SEE B-104402, OCTOBER 22, 1951. THEREFORE, PAYMENT HERE MUST BE LIMITED TO CONSTRUCTIVE ROUND-TRIP COMMON CARRIER COST, INCLUDING PER DIEM. THE COMPUTATION OF SUCH ROUND-TRIP CONSTRUCTIVE TRAVEL COSTS ON THE BASIS OF RAIL TRAVEL IS PROPER, SINCE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT COMMERCIAL AIR TRAVEL FROM BATTLE CREEK TO BOSTON WOULD HAVE BEEN FEASIBLE. HOWEVER, UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, CONSTRUCTIVE TRAVEL TIME FOR PER DIEM PURPOSES SHOULD BE BASED ON THE TIME OF DEPARTURE FROM BATTLE CREEK OF A TRAIN THAT THE EMPLOYEE AS A PRUDENT PERSON TRAVELING ON PERSONAL BUSINESS WITH KNOWLEDGE OF IMPEDING TRANSPORTATION DIFFICULTIES WOULD HAVE TAKEN IN ORDER TO INSURE REACHING BOSTON IN TIME TO ATTEND THE OPENING OF THE TRAINING SESSION. SEE PARAGRAPH 1, STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. SUCH A TRAIN WOULD APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN ONE LEAVING BATTLE CREEK AT 2:04 P.M. ON OCTOBER 15. ON SUCH BASIS THE EMPLOYEE IS ENTITLED TO ONE DAY'S PER DIEM ALLOWANCE IN ADDITION TO THAT ORIGINALLY ALLOWED.

THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT ACCORDINGLY, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.