B-127710, MAY 28, 1956

B-127710: May 28, 1956

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AULT: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 5. THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED PURSUANT TO TRAVEL ORDERS NOS. 5-12912-A. TO PARTICIPATE IN A CONSULAR CONFERENCE WHICH WAS TO BE HELD DURING THE PERIOD JANUARY 17 TO 21. WHERE IT IS UNDERSTOOD YOU HAD PLANNED TO STOP EN ROUTE TO YOUR DESTINATION AT MEXICO CITY. TO WHICH POINT YOU WERE ADVISED BY A STATE DEPARTMENT PERSONNEL OFFICER YOUR PASSPORT WOULD BE SENT. YOU WERE ADMITTED INTO MEXICO ON JANUARY 17. AS PAYMENT FOR PER DIEM WAS BASED UPON A CONSTRUCTIVE TRAVEL SCHEDULE AS SHOWN IN THE SETTLEMENT. THE AMOUNT WAS LIMITED TO FOUR DAYS. WHICH IS THE LENGTH OF TIME IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN FOR DIRECT TRAVEL THERETO BY COMMON CARRIER. WAS NOT AUTHORIZED IN THE SETTLEMENT.

B-127710, MAY 28, 1956

TO MISS DOROTHY L. AULT:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 5, 1956, WITH ENCLOSURE, REQUESTING RECONSIDERATION OF THAT PART OF OUR SETTLEMENT OF FEBRUARY 3, 1956, WHICH DISALLOWED A PORTION OF AN ACCOUNT CLAIMED BY YOU FOR PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE INCIDENT TO TRAVEL FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., TO MEXICO CITY, VIA ORLANDO, FLORIDA, AND VICTORIA, TEXAS, PERFORMED DURING THE PERIOD SEPTEMBER 27, 1954, TO JANUARY 19, 1955, AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE. THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED PURSUANT TO TRAVEL ORDERS NOS. 5-12912-A, DATED AUGUST 11, 1954, AND OCTOBER 28, 1954, RESPECTIVELY.

YOU LEFT WASHINGTON, D.C., ON OCTOBER 5, 1954, AND ARRIVED AT ORLANDO, FLORIDA, FOR AN INTERIM PERIOD OF LEAVE PRIOR TO REPORTING TO THE AMERICAN EMBASSY IN MEXICO CITY, TO PARTICIPATE IN A CONSULAR CONFERENCE WHICH WAS TO BE HELD DURING THE PERIOD JANUARY 17 TO 21, 1954. ON JANUARY 1, 1955, YOU DEPARTED BY AUTOMOBILE FROM ORLANDO, FLORIDA, AND ARRIVED JANUARY 6, 1955, AT VICTORIA, TEXAS, WHERE IT IS UNDERSTOOD YOU HAD PLANNED TO STOP EN ROUTE TO YOUR DESTINATION AT MEXICO CITY. YOU REMAINED IN VICTORIA, TEXAS, FROM JANUARY 6 TO 16, 1955, TO WHICH POINT YOU WERE ADVISED BY A STATE DEPARTMENT PERSONNEL OFFICER YOUR PASSPORT WOULD BE SENT. HOWEVER IT APPEARS THAT SUBSEQUENTLY, THROUGH ARRANGEMENTS BETWEEN THE VICE CONSUL AT NUEVO LAREDO, TEXAS, AND CUSTOMS OFFICIALS OF THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT, YOU WERE ADMITTED INTO MEXICO ON JANUARY 17, 1955, WITHOUT A PASSPORT.

THE AMOUNT AUTHORIZED IN THE SETTLEMENT OF FEBRUARY 3, 1956, AS PAYMENT FOR PER DIEM WAS BASED UPON A CONSTRUCTIVE TRAVEL SCHEDULE AS SHOWN IN THE SETTLEMENT. IN COMPUTING THE PER DIEM AUTHORIZED FOR YOUR TRAVEL FROM ORLANDO, FLORIDA, TO MEXICO CITY, THE AMOUNT WAS LIMITED TO FOUR DAYS, WHICH IS THE LENGTH OF TIME IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN FOR DIRECT TRAVEL THERETO BY COMMON CARRIER. PER DIEM FOR THE TIME YOU REMAINED IN VICTORIA, TEXAS, WAS NOT AUTHORIZED IN THE SETTLEMENT, SINCE NO PER DIEM MAY BE ALLOWED FOR DELAYS EN ROUTE OCCASIONED BY PREMATURE DEPARTURE OF AN EMPLOYEE.

IN YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 5, 1956, YOU APPEAR TO BE OF THE OPINION THAT YOU ARE ENTITLED TO PER DIEM FOR THE TIME YOU REMAINED IN VICTORIA, TEXAS, AWAITING THE PASSPORT. IN THIS CONNECTION, YOU STATE THAT YOU DEPARTED FROM ORLANDO, FLORIDA, ON JANUARY 1, 1955, BECAUSE YOU WERE EXPECTED AT THE AMERICAN EMBASSY IN MEXICO ON JANUARY 10, 1955. YOU FURTHER STATE THAT INASMUCH AS YOU HAD BEEN INSTRUCTED BY A RESPONSIBLE OFFICER OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT TO REMAIN IN VICTORIA, TEXAS, UNTIL THE ARRIVAL OF YOUR PASSPORT, YOU SHOULD NOT BE PENALIZED FOR OBEYING HIS INSTRUCTIONS.

REGARDING YOUR STATEMENT THAT THE AMERICAN EMBASSY IN MEXICO EXPECTED YOU ON THE 10TH OF JANUARY, IT APPEARS FROM THE RECORD THAT THIS WAS DUE TO ADVICE FROM YOU CONTAINED IN A LETTER OF DECEMBER 28, 1954, TO THE EMBASSY.

THE FILE BEFORE OUR OFFICE CONTAINS NO INFORMATION SHOWING THAT THE STATE DEPARTMENT REQUIRED YOU TO DEPART FOR MEXICO CITY AT THE EARLY DATE OF JANUARY 1, 1955, SO THAT YOU WOULD BE THERE FOR A CONFERENCE SCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 17, 1955. NOR CAN THE REPORTED ADVICE TO YOU BY THE STATE DEPARTMENT PERSONNEL OFFICER IN THIS MATTER BE CONSTRUED AS AN ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER FOR SUCH PREMATURE DEPARTURE. MOREOVER, IT HAS BEEN INFORMALLY ASCERTAINED FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT THAT SEVEN OF THE DAYS YOU REMAINED IN VICTORIA, TEXAS, WERE CHARGED AGAINST YOUR ANNUAL LEAVE, FOR WHICH PERIOD NO PER DIEM MAY BE PAID. SEE 29 COMP. GEN. 493.

ON THE BASIS OF THE PRESENT RECORD YOUR STOPOVER IN VICTORIA, TEXAS, MUST BE CONSIDERED PERSONAL, AND THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR APPROVAL OF PER DIEM FOR THE PERIOD INVOLVED.

ACCORDINGLY, THE SETTLEMENT OF FEBRUARY 3, 1956, IS FOUND CORRECT, AND IS SUSTAINED.