B-129607, NOVEMBER 21, 1956, 36 COMP. GEN. 421

B-129607: Nov 21, 1956

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RECEIVED NOTICE OF CANCELLATION OF TRAVEL ORDERS MAY HAVE PREMATURE TRAVEL IN ANTICIPATION OF TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT REGARDED AS OFFICIAL TRAVEL AND MAY RECEIVE MILEAGE AND PER DIEM ON BASIS OF TIME AND DISTANCE REQUIRED TO TRAVEL BY AUTOMOBILE FROM HEADQUARTERS TO TEMPORARY DUTY STATION AND RETURN OVER USUALLY TRAVELED HIGHWAY ROUTE. 1956: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED SEPTEMBER 18. THE EMPLOYEES WERE GIVEN TRAVEL ORDERS DATED JULY 30. TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE WAS AUTHORIZED. ORIGINALLY THE ORDERS INDICATED THAT REIMBURSEMENT WAS TO BE LIMITED TO THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT OF TRAVEL BY USUAL COMMON CARRIER. THIS LIMITATION WAS DELETED IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT MR. YOU SAY THAT IT WAS CONSIDERED THAT OFFICIAL TRAVEL TIME SHOULD COMMENCE ON AUGUST 6.

B-129607, NOVEMBER 21, 1956, 36 COMP. GEN. 421

FEDERAL EMPLOYEES - MILEAGE AND PER DIEM - CANCELLATION OF TEMPORARY DUTY ORDERS AFTER COMMENCEMENT OF TRAVEL - PAYMENT BASIS EMPLOYEES WHO, AFTER PREMATURE DEPARTURE FOR TEMPORARY DUTY STATION BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AND WHILE ON ANNUAL LEAVE AT POINT BEYOND TEMPORARY DUTY STATION, RECEIVED NOTICE OF CANCELLATION OF TRAVEL ORDERS MAY HAVE PREMATURE TRAVEL IN ANTICIPATION OF TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT REGARDED AS OFFICIAL TRAVEL AND MAY RECEIVE MILEAGE AND PER DIEM ON BASIS OF TIME AND DISTANCE REQUIRED TO TRAVEL BY AUTOMOBILE FROM HEADQUARTERS TO TEMPORARY DUTY STATION AND RETURN OVER USUALLY TRAVELED HIGHWAY ROUTE.

TO MAJOR A. S. DONNELLY, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, NOVEMBER 21, 1956:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED SEPTEMBER 18, 1956, ORDBA-AA, FORWARDED HERE THROUGH THE CHIEF OF FINANCE, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, TRANSMITTING FOR ADVANCE DECISION VOUCHERS COVERING TRAVEL PERFORMED BY MR. EDWARD W. TIGHE AND MR. SAMUEL J. BRICK, EMPLOYEES OF THE FRANKFORD ARSENAL, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, INCIDENT TO PROPOSED TEMPORARY DUTY AT THE TURTLE MOUNTAIN ORDNANCE PLANT, ROLLA, NORTH DAKOTA.

THE EMPLOYEES WERE GIVEN TRAVEL ORDERS DATED JULY 30, 1956, DIRECTING THEM TO PROCEED FROM PHILADELPHIA TO ROLLA FOR A PERIOD OF TEMPORARY DUTY OF ABOUT 90 DAYS TO ACQUIRE SKILLS NECESSARY FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CERTAIN PRODUCTION FACILITIES. THE ORDER DIRECTED THE TRAVEL TO BEGIN ON OR ABOUT AUGUST 10, 1956; HOWEVER, THE EMPLOYEES RECEIVED VERBAL INSTRUCTIONS THAT THE TEMPORARY DUTY AT ROLLA WOULD COMMENCE ON AUGUST 13, 1956. TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE WAS AUTHORIZED. ORIGINALLY THE ORDERS INDICATED THAT REIMBURSEMENT WAS TO BE LIMITED TO THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT OF TRAVEL BY USUAL COMMON CARRIER. PRIOR TO THE COMMENCEMENT OF TRAVEL, HOWEVER, THIS LIMITATION WAS DELETED IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT MR. TIGHE WOULD BE A PASSENGER IN A CAR TO BE DRIVEN BY MR. BRICK. YOU SAY THAT IT WAS CONSIDERED THAT OFFICIAL TRAVEL TIME SHOULD COMMENCE ON AUGUST 6, 1956, TO ALLOW NORMAL TRAVEL BY PRIVATE AUTOMOBILE AND PERMIT ARRIVAL AT ROLLA BEFORE AUGUST 13; HOWEVER, NO CHANGE WAS MADE IN THE ORDER TO REFLECT THE CHANGE IN BEGINNING DATE. THE EMPLOYEES ACTUALLY DEPARTED FROM PHILADELPHIA ON AUGUST 2, 1956, HAVING BEEN GRANTED ANNUAL LEAVE FOR AUGUST 2 AND 3.

ON AUGUST 9, 1956, THE EMPLOYEES, WHILE AT GRAYBULL, WYOMING, WERE GIVEN VERBAL INSTRUCTIONS TO RETURN TO FRANKFORD ARSENAL WITHOUT FURTHER COMPLIANCE WITH THE TRAVEL ORDERS, SINCE REQUIREMENT FOR THE TRAVEL HAD BEEN CANCELED. NO WRITTEN CANCELLATION OF THE ORDERS WAS ISSUED. MR. TIGHE HAS SUBMITTED A VOUCHER CLAIMING PER DIEM FOR CONSTRUCTIVE TRAVEL TIME OF 8-1/2 DAYS AND MR. BRICK HAS SUBMITTED A VOUCHER CLAIMING PER DIEM FOR 8-1/2 DAYS, REIMBURSEMENT OF THE ACTUAL COST OF TURNPIKE TOLLS AND MILEAGE (2,968 MILES) FOR A ROUND TRIP BETWEEN PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, AND GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA. NO REASON IS GIVEN AS TO WHY GRAND FORKS, RATHER THAN ROLLA, WAS USED IN COMPUTING THE MILEAGE. YOU EXPRESS DOUBT AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF THE CLAIMS IN VIEW OF THE CANCELLATION OF THE TRAVEL REQUIREMENT BEFORE THE TRAVELERS HAD REPORTED TO THE TEMPORARY DUTY STATION. YOU SPECIFICALLY REQUEST OUR DECISION ON THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:

(1) IS PER DIEM PROPERLY PAYABLE?

(2) IF SO, WHAT IS THE PROPER BASIS FOR COMPUTING CONSTRUCTIVE

TRAVEL TIME?

(3) IS MILEAGE PAYABLE FOR THE ROUND TRIP NOT TO EXCEED THE

HIGHWAY DISTANCE FROM PHILADELPHIA TO ROLLA AND RETURN?

SECTION 3 OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, AS AMENDED, 63 STAT. 166, 5 U.S.C.. 836, PROVIDES THAT OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS WHILE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND AWAY FROM THEIR DESIGNATED POSTS OF DUTY SHALL BE ALLOWED A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE IN LIEU OF ACTUAL EXPENSE OF SUBSISTENCE, SUBJECT TO THE LIMITATIONS CONTAINED IN OR AUTHORIZED BY THE ACT AND THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, ISSUED PURSUANT THERETO. ALTHOUGH IT IS NOT EXPRESSLY STATED, WE ASSUME FROM THE FACTS OF THE INSTANT CASE THAT HAD THE EMPLOYEES NOT BEEN ORDERED TO UNDERTAKE THE OFFICIAL TRAVEL TO THE TURTLE MOUNTAIN ORDNANCE PLANT, THEY WOULD NOT HAVE UNDERTAKEN THE TRIP TO GRAYBULL. THUS, THEIR PREMATURE TRAVEL MAY BE CONSIDERED TO HAVE BEEN UNDERTAKEN IN ANTICIPATION OF THE TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT AND THEREFORE, AS BEING IN CONNECTION WITH OFFICIAL BUSINESS. WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY HELD THAT AN EMPLOYEE AUTHORIZED, PRIOR TO DEPARTURE ON ANNUAL LEAVE FROM HIS HEADQUARTERS, TO PROCEED ON OFFICIAL TRAVEL FROM THE PLACE OF LEAVE TO A TEMPORARY DUTY STATION AND RETURN TO HIS HEADQUARTERS IS ENTITLED TO BE PAID TRAVELING EXPENSES NOT TO EXCEED THE EXPENSE THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED HAD HE TRAVELED FROM HEADQUARTERS TO THE TEMPORARY DUTY STATION AND RETURNED BY THE USUALLY TRAVELED DIRECT ROUTE. SEE 24 COMP. GEN. 443; 30 ID. 56; B- 120433, JULY 19, 1954. SEE ALSO SECTIONS 3.3 AND 6.10, STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. ACCORDINGLY, QUESTION (1) IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE.

WHERE, AS HERE, REIMBURSEMENT ON A COMMUTED BASIS FOR TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE IS AUTHORIZED AS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT, THE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM NEED NOT BE RESTRICTED TO THE TIME REQUIRED TO PERFORM THE TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER. COMPARE 26 COMP. GEN. 463, 29 ID. 205. ACCORDINGLY, AND IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE DISTANCE FROM PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, TO ROLLA, NORTH DAKOTA, IS SHOWN IN THE STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDE AS BEING APPROXIMATELY 1,657 MILES, WE ARE NOT REQUIRED TO OBJECT TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION, AS EVIDENCED BY ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL OF THE VOUCHER, THAT AT LEAST A PERIOD OF 8-1/2 DAYS, FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT IS CLAIMED, WOULD BE REQUIRED FOR TRAVEL BOTH WAYS BY THE USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE BETWEEN THESE POINTS. QUESTION (2) IS ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY.

AS TO YOUR QUESTION (3), MILEAGE IS PAYABLE FOR THE ROUND TRIP BETWEEN THE POINTS AS CLAIMED, SINCE IT DOES NOT EXCEED THAT WHICH WOULD BE PAYABLE ON THE BASIS OF THE HIGHWAY DISTANCE BETWEEN PHILADELPHIA AND ROLLA.

THE VOUCHERS, RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY BE PROCESSED FOR PAYMENT IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.