B-127329, APRIL 5, 1956, 35 COMP. GEN. 554

B-127329: Apr 5, 1956

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PROVIDED THE ABODE IS NOT THE ONE FROM WHICH THE EMPLOYEE REGULARLY COMMUTES WHILE AT HIS HEADQUARTERS. PROVIDED IT IS NOT THE ABODE FROM WHICH HE COMMUTES TO WORK WHILE AT HIS OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS. THE GENERAL RULE IS STATED IN 5 COMP. THE SAME RULE APPLIES WHEN THE TRAVELER LODGES AT HIS HOME PROVIDED HOWEVER THAT IN EACH CASE THE HOME IS NOT THE PLACE FROM WHICH HE COMMUTES TO WORK EACH DAY WHEN ON DUTY AT HEADQUARTERS. 21 COMP. THERE IS NO MANDATORY REQUIREMENT THAT THE TRAVEL ORDERS AUTHORIZE PER DIEM AT THE MAXIMUM RATE. THAT IS A MATTER WITHIN THE ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION WHICH DISCRETION SHOULD BE EXERCISED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DIRECTIVE IN PARAGRAPH 45 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS TO THE EFFECT THAT IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS TO SEE THAT TRAVEL ORDERS AUTHORIZE ONLY SUCH PER DIEM ALLOWANCES AS ARE JUSTIFIED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE TRAVEL WITH THE CAUTION THAT CARE SHOULD BE EXERCISED TO PREVENT THE FIXING OF A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE IN EXCESS OF THAT REQUIRED TO MEET THE NECESSARY AUTHORIZED EXPENSES.

B-127329, APRIL 5, 1956, 35 COMP. GEN. 554

SUBSISTENCE - PER DIEM - TEMPORARY DUTY AT PLACE OF RESIDENCE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES MAY AUTHORIZE THE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM TO EMPLOYEES ON TEMPORARY DUTY AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS, EVEN THOUGH THE EMPLOYEE LODGES AT HOME DURING CERTAIN PORTIONS OF THE TEMPORARY DUTY, PROVIDED THE ABODE IS NOT THE ONE FROM WHICH THE EMPLOYEE REGULARLY COMMUTES WHILE AT HIS HEADQUARTERS; HOWEVER, PURSUANT TO PARAGRAPH 45 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, PER DIEM SHOULD NOT BE FIXED "IN EXCESS OF THAT REQUIRED TO MEET THE NECESSARY AUTHORIZED EXPENSES.'

TO THE ADMINISTRATOR, HOUSING AND HOME FINANCE AGENCY, APRIL 5, 1956:

YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 15, 1956, REQUESTS OUR DECISION WHETHER THE MAXIMUM RATE OF PER DIEM MAY PROPERLY BE AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED WHERE AN EMPLOYEE HAPPENS TO MAINTAIN A HOME AT OR NEAR THE PLACE OF TEMPORARY DUTY WHICH HE USES FOR LODGING DURING THE PERIOD OF SUCH TEMPORARY DUTY, PROVIDED IT IS NOT THE ABODE FROM WHICH HE COMMUTES TO WORK WHILE AT HIS OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS.

THE GENERAL RULE IS STATED IN 5 COMP. GEN. 313, AT PAGE 316, AS FOLLOWS:

WHEN AN EMPLOYEE IN AN AUTHORIZED TRAVEL STATUS ON A PER DIEM BASIS HAS OFFICIAL DUTY TO PERFORM AT THE PLACE WHERE HIS FAMILY RESIDES HE MAY BE PAID THE PER DIEM ALLOWANCES NOTWITHSTANDING THAT HE MAY TAKE HIS MEALS AT HOME.

THE SAME RULE APPLIES WHEN THE TRAVELER LODGES AT HIS HOME PROVIDED HOWEVER THAT IN EACH CASE THE HOME IS NOT THE PLACE FROM WHICH HE COMMUTES TO WORK EACH DAY WHEN ON DUTY AT HEADQUARTERS. 21 COMP. GEN. 697; 31 ID. 264. THERE IS NO MANDATORY REQUIREMENT THAT THE TRAVEL ORDERS AUTHORIZE PER DIEM AT THE MAXIMUM RATE, A LOWER RATE, OR ANY PER DIEM AT ALL, WHILE THE EMPLOYEE LODGES OR SUBSISTS HIMSELF AT HIS HOME. THAT IS A MATTER WITHIN THE ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION WHICH DISCRETION SHOULD BE EXERCISED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DIRECTIVE IN PARAGRAPH 45 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS TO THE EFFECT THAT IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS TO SEE THAT TRAVEL ORDERS AUTHORIZE ONLY SUCH PER DIEM ALLOWANCES AS ARE JUSTIFIED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE TRAVEL WITH THE CAUTION THAT CARE SHOULD BE EXERCISED TO PREVENT THE FIXING OF A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE IN EXCESS OF THAT REQUIRED TO MEET THE NECESSARY AUTHORIZED EXPENSES.

IN THE CASE YOU PRESENT IT APPEARS THAT THE EMPLOYEE'S HEADQUARTERS WERE CHANGED FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., TO PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, BUT THAT HE CONTINUED TO MAINTAIN HIS FAMILY HOME IN WASHINGTON. HIS TRAVEL ASSIGNMENTS INCLUDED VARIOUS POINTS IN PENNSYLVANIA, MARYLAND, AND NEW JERSEY; AND ON ONE OCCASION HE WAS ASSIGNED TO BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, AND THEN TO WASHINGTON, D.C. WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY IN WASHINGTON HE PRESUMABLY LODGED IN HIS HOME, AND WHILE ON DUTY IN BALTIMORE HE MAY HAVE COMMUTED EACH DAY FROM HIS HOME IN WASHINGTON TO BALTIMORE. HIS LODGING IN PHILADELPHIA CONSISTED EITHER OF A RENTED HOTEL ROOM FOR THE TIME HE WAS IN THAT CITY OR RENTAL OF THE ROOM ON A WEEKLY OR MONTHLY BASIS FOR WHICH HE WAS CHARGED NOTWITHSTANDING HIS ABSENCE FROM THE CITY.

ASSUMING FROM YOUR SUBMISSION THAT THIS EMPLOYEE DOES NOT REGULARLY COMMUTE BETWEEN WASHINGTON, D.C., AND PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, OUR OFFICE WOULD NOT BE REQUIRED TO OBJECT, AS A MATTER OF LAW, SHOULD YOU IN HIS TRAVEL ORDERS AUTHORIZE THE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE TO THIS EMPLOYEE WHILE IN A TEMPORARY DUTY STATUS ABSENT FROM HIS PHILADELPHIA HEADQUARTERS NOTWITHSTANDING THAT DURING CERTAIN PORTIONS OF HIS TEMPORARY DUTY HE MAY OBTAIN HIS LODGING OR SUBSISTENCE WITH HIS FAMILY IN WASHINGTON, D.C. THAT IS YOUR ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBILITY, TO BE GUIDED ONLY BY THE DIRECTIVE AND CAUTION CONTAINED IN PARAGRAPH 45 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, NAMELY, THAT TRAVEL ORDERS SHOULD "AUTHORIZE ONLY SUCH PER DIEM ALLOWANCES AS ARE JUSTIFIED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES AFFECTING THE TRAVEL" AND THAT THE FIXING OF A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE SHOULD NOT BE "IN EXCESS OF THAT REQUIRED TO MEET THE NECESSARY AUTHORIZED EXPENSES.'