B-129659, DEC. 6, 1956

B-129659: Dec 6, 1956

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WERE DAYS OF WORK IN EXCESS OF THE 40-HOUR TOUR OF DUTY AND FOR WHICH COMPENSATORY TIME OFF IN LIEU OF OVERTIME APPARENTLY WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY AUTHORIZED BOTH FOR ACTUAL WORK TIME AND TRAVEL TIME. IT WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT THREE COURSES OF ACTION WERE AVAILABLE: "/1) THAT THE FIELD EXAMINER BE REQUIRED TO RETURN TO HIS PERMANENT DUTY STATION ON FRIDAY AND RETURN TO HIS TEMPORARY DUTY STATION ON MONDAY. "/2) THAT HE REMAIN IN TEMPORARY DUTY IN TRAVEL STATUS OVER SATURDAY AND SUNDAY WITHOUT WORKING. WE UNDERSTAND THAT "THE NECESSARY ACTION" TO PERMIT "COMPENSATORY TIME THEREFOR WAS TAKEN" ON THE BASIS THAT EACH TRIP UNDER EITHER (1) OR (2) ABOVE WOULD HAVE BEEN EXTENDED AT LEAST ONE ADDITIONAL DAY RESULTING IN ADDITIONAL TRAVEL COSTS PLUS A DAY'S SALARY IN EACH INSTANCE.

B-129659, DEC. 6, 1956

TO HONORABLE H. V. HIGLEY, ADMINISTRATOR, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION:

YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 26, 1956, REQUESTS OUR DECISION WHETHER FIELD EXAMINERS MAY BE GRANTED COMPENSATORY TIME IN LIEU OF PAID IRREGULAR OR OCCASIONAL OVERTIME FOR THE TRAVEL TIME INCIDENT TO WORK PERFORMED OUTSIDE OF THEIR REGULAR 40-HOUR TOUR OF DUTY.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE TWO SATURDAYS INVOLVED IN THE TWO CASES PRESENTED IN THE SUBMISSION, DECEMBER 17, 1955, AND FEBRUARY 18, 1956, WERE DAYS OF WORK IN EXCESS OF THE 40-HOUR TOUR OF DUTY AND FOR WHICH COMPENSATORY TIME OFF IN LIEU OF OVERTIME APPARENTLY WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY AUTHORIZED BOTH FOR ACTUAL WORK TIME AND TRAVEL TIME. THE FIELD EXAMINER HAD BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY ASSIGNED CASES FOR THE TWO PERIODS OF TEMPORARY DUTY THAT WOULD TAKE IN EXCESS OF ONE WEEK TO COMPLETE AND WHICH INVOLVED TRAVEL DISTANCE BETWEEN HEADQUARTERS AND TEMPORARY DUTY STATION OF APPROXIMATELY 260 MILES. IT WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT THREE COURSES OF ACTION WERE AVAILABLE:

"/1) THAT THE FIELD EXAMINER BE REQUIRED TO RETURN TO HIS PERMANENT DUTY STATION ON FRIDAY AND RETURN TO HIS TEMPORARY DUTY STATION ON MONDAY.

"/2) THAT HE REMAIN IN TEMPORARY DUTY IN TRAVEL STATUS OVER SATURDAY AND SUNDAY WITHOUT WORKING, AND RESUMING HIS DUTIES ON THE FOLLOWING MONDAY.

"/3) THAT HE REMAIN IN THE FIELD AND PERFORM REGULAR DUTIES ON SATURDAY AND BE ALLOWED COMPENSATORY TIME THEREFOR.' WE UNDERSTAND THAT "THE NECESSARY ACTION" TO PERMIT "COMPENSATORY TIME THEREFOR WAS TAKEN" ON THE BASIS THAT EACH TRIP UNDER EITHER (1) OR (2) ABOVE WOULD HAVE BEEN EXTENDED AT LEAST ONE ADDITIONAL DAY RESULTING IN ADDITIONAL TRAVEL COSTS PLUS A DAY'S SALARY IN EACH INSTANCE.

YOU POINT OUT THAT THE MAJOR DUTY OF A FIELD EXAMINER IS TO DEVELOP EVIDENCE BY PERSONAL INTERVIEWS, SEARCHING RECORDS, ET CETERA, UPON WHICH VETERANS ADMINISTRATION OFFICERS MAY MAKE DETERMINATIONS IN CONNECTION WITH CLAIMS FOR BENEFITS, ADMINISTRATION OF BENEFITS AWARDED FIDUCIARIES IN BEHALF OF MINORS AND INCOMPETENTS AS WELL AS ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS ON ALL PHASES OF ACTIVITIES OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION. YOU SAY THE WORK MUST BE PERFORMED WITH A MINIMUM AMOUNT OF INCONVENIENCE TO THE PUBLIC AND THAT IT NECESSITATES GOING WHERE THE WITNESSES ARE AT THE TIME THEY ARE WILLING AND AVAILABLE TO BE INTERVIEWED. WITHIN THIS POLICY AND A COEXISTING POLICY OF MAXIMUM ECONOMY IN TIME AND TRAVEL COSTS, THE FIELD EXAMINER NECESSARILY DETERMINES HIS COURSE OF ACTIONS IN CONDUCTING HIS INVESTIGATIONS. YOU FURTHER POINT OUT THAT BECAUSE OF THE PROGRESSIVE NATURE OF THE INVESTIGATIONS IT HAS BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT IT IS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR FIELD EXAMINERS TO TRAVEL BY THEIR PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES. THE ADMINISTRATIVE VIEW IS THAT THE TRAVEL REQUIRED OF FIELD EXAMINERS IN CONDUCTING THEIR INVESTIGATIONS IS "INSEPARABLE FROM THEIR EMPLOYMENT.'

SECTION 204 OF THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES PAY ACT OF 1945, AS ADDED BY SECTION 205 (B) OF THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 1, 1954, 68 STAT. 1110, READS AS FOLLOWS:

"FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS ACT, TIME SPENT IN A TRAVEL STATUS AWAY FROM THE OFFICIAL-DUTY STATION OF ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE SHALL BE CONSIDERED AS HOURS OF EMPLOYMENT ONLY WHEN (1) WITHIN THE DAYS AND HOURS OF SUCH OFFICER'S OR EMPLOYEE'S REGULARLY SCHEDULED ADMINISTRATIVE WORKWEEK, INCLUDING REGULARLY SCHEDULED OVERTIME HOURS, OR (2) WHEN THE TRAVEL INVOLVES THE PERFORMANCE OF WORK WHILE TRAVELING OR IS CARRIED OUT UNDER ARDUOUS CONDITIONS.'

UNDER SUBHEADING (2) OF THAT SECTION THE PAYMENT OF OVERTIME COMPENSATION FOR TRAVEL TIME IS ALLOWABLE ONLY WHEN THERE IS AN ACTUAL PERFORMANCE OF WORK OR THE TRAVEL IS CARRIED OUT UNDER ARDUOUS CONDITIONS MAKING THE TRAVEL INSEPARABLE FROM "WORK" OR "EMPLOYMENT" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE OVERTIME STATUTES. SEE 28 COMP. GEN. 547; ID. 183; 33 ID. 274; 34 ID. 696.

WHILE WE AGREE THAT THE FACTS HERE PRESENTED APPEAR TO SUPPORT THE VIEW THAT CONVENIENCE AND ECONOMY TO THE GOVERNMENT MAY BE PRESENT IN CERTAIN INSTANCES OF TRAVEL PERFORMED OUTSIDE THE REGULAR 40-HOUR TOUR OF DUTY WE MUST BE GOVERNED BY THE SPECIFIED LANGUAGE OF THE STATUTE. SEE B-122288, JUNE 28, 1955; B-129453, OCTOBER 29, 1956. WE HOLD THAT THE TRAVEL HERE IN QUESTION DOES NOT MEET THE STATUTORY CONDITIONS. SEE B-124671, NOVEMBER 28, 1955; 30 COMP. GEN. 72. ACCORDINGLY, NO BASIS EXISTS FOR GRANTING COMPENSATORY TIME OFF FOR SUCH TRAVEL.