B-128415, JUL. 9, 1956

B-128415: Jul 9, 1956

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THE LETTER STATES THAT THE PROJECT IS TO BE INAUGURATED IN JULY ON AN EXPEDITED BASIS IN ORDER TO ENABLE YOU TO MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS TO CONGRESS CONCERNING THE MAXIMUM DESIRABLE DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHTS OF VEHICLES OPERATED ON FEDERAL-AID HIGHWAY SYSTEMS. THAT THE MOST PRACTICAL WAY TO STAFF THE PROJECT IN VIEW OF THE SHORTAGE OF ENGINEERS IS BY RESCHEDULING THE TRAINING ASSIGNMENTS OF JUNIOR ENGINEERS WHO ARE BEING GIVEN A THREE-YEAR TRAINING COURSE. IT IS INDICATED THAT THE TRAINING COURSE INVOLVES FIVE PHASES. ONE OF WHICH IS THE "PRODUCTION COST PHASE" LASTING FOR A MAXIMUM OF SIX MONTHS IN CONNECTION WITH WHICH THE JUNIOR ENGINEERS WERE ADVISED UPON RECRUITMENT THAT PER DIEM WOULD BE ALLOWED WHILE AWAY FROM WASHINGTON.

B-128415, JUL. 9, 1956

TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE:

THE LETTER OF JUNE 25, 1956, FROM THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, ADMINISTRATION, REQUESTS OUR ADVICE AS TO WHETHER WE WOULD OBJECT TO PAYMENTS OF PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE TO CERTAIN JUNIOR ENGINEERS DURING ASSIGNMENTS NOT EXCEEDING SIX MONTHS TO A TEST ROAD PROJECT TO BE LOCATED ON A STRIP BETWEEN OTTAWA AND LASALLE, ILLINOIS.

THE LETTER STATES THAT THE PROJECT IS TO BE INAUGURATED IN JULY ON AN EXPEDITED BASIS IN ORDER TO ENABLE YOU TO MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS TO CONGRESS CONCERNING THE MAXIMUM DESIRABLE DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHTS OF VEHICLES OPERATED ON FEDERAL-AID HIGHWAY SYSTEMS; AND THAT THE MOST PRACTICAL WAY TO STAFF THE PROJECT IN VIEW OF THE SHORTAGE OF ENGINEERS IS BY RESCHEDULING THE TRAINING ASSIGNMENTS OF JUNIOR ENGINEERS WHO ARE BEING GIVEN A THREE-YEAR TRAINING COURSE. IT IS INDICATED THAT THE TRAINING COURSE INVOLVES FIVE PHASES, ONE OF WHICH IS THE "PRODUCTION COST PHASE" LASTING FOR A MAXIMUM OF SIX MONTHS IN CONNECTION WITH WHICH THE JUNIOR ENGINEERS WERE ADVISED UPON RECRUITMENT THAT PER DIEM WOULD BE ALLOWED WHILE AWAY FROM WASHINGTON, D.C. (PRESUMABLY CONSIDERED AS THEIR OFFICIAL STATION). THE PROJECT ASSIGNMENT IS TO TAKE THE PLACE OF THE "PRODUCTION COST PHASE" OF THE TRAINING.

THE PRESENT SUBMISSION APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN ENGENDERED BY THE FACT THAT OUR AUDITORS HAD QUESTIONED PAYMENTS OF PER DIEM TO EMPLOYEES ASSIGNED FOR PROLONGED PERIODS--- SOME MORE THAN TWO YEARS--- AT A SIMILAR TEST ROAD PROJECT IN UTAH. WE HAD BEEN ADVISED IN A LETTER OF NOVEMBER 16, 1954, REGARDING THE UTAH MATTER, THAT NO PER DIEM WOULD BE PAID TO EMPLOYEES ASSIGNED TO THE ILLINOIS PROJECT. THE LETTER UNDER REPLY ASSURES US THAT IT IS STILL THE INTENTION THAT ALL THE EMPLOYEES DETAILED TO THIS PROJECT, EXCEPT THOSE JUNIOR ENGINEERS WHO ARE ASSIGNED THERE TEMPORARILY AS A PART OF THEIR TRAINING, WILL BE HEADQUARTERED AT THE PROJECT AND WILL RECEIVE NO PER DIEM.

SECTION 3 OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, 63 STAT. 116, AS AMENDED, AUTHORIZES PAYMENT OF A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE TO CIVILIAN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES "WHILE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND AWAY FROM THEIR DESIGNATED POSTS OF DUTY.' IN KEEPING WITH THE CONDITIONS OF THAT STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION, PARAGRAPH 46 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDES THAT UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE BE ALLOWED AN EMPLOYEE AT HIS PERMANENT STATION. THE QUESTION HERE PRESENTED IS WHETHER UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES INVOLVED, PARTICULARLY THE DURATION OF THE ASSIGNMENT, THE SITE OF THE TEST ROAD PROJECT IS TO BE REGARDED AS A TEMPORARY PLACE OF DUTY FOR THESE JUNIOR ENGINEERS UNDERGOING TRAINING OR WHETHER IT IS TO BE REGARDED AS A PERMANENT STATION AT WHICH NO PER DIEM MAY BE ALLOWED.

FROM THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES RECITED IN THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER, AS SUMMARIZED ABOVE, IT DOES NOT APPEAR UNREASONABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT THE TEST ROAD ASSIGNMENT IS TO BE A TEMPORARY ONE OF SUCH NATURE THAT THE AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATE PER DIEM ALLOWANCES WOULD NOT BE IMPROPER UNDER THE LAW AND REGULATIONS. CF. 18 COMP. GEN. 423, AND SUBPARAGRAPH 4 OF PARAGRAPH 45 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. ACCORDINGLY, WE WOULD NOT BE REQUIRED TO OBJECT TO OTHERWISE PROPER PAYMENTS OF PER DIEM TO THE SUBJECT EMPLOYEES.