B-130018, JAN. 30, 1957

B-130018: Jan 30, 1957

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HOUSING AND HOME FINANCE AGENCY: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 5. THE EMPLOYEE WAS AUTHORIZED TO PERFORM TRAVEL FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION. THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION WAS TO BE EFFECTIVE FROM ON OR ABOUT OCTOBER 1. THE PURPOSE OF THE TRAVEL IS SHOWN ON THE ORDER "TO CARRY OUT HIS DUTIES AS LAND APPRAISER IN CONNECTION WITH THE URBAN RENEWAL PROGRAM ASSIGNED TO REGION III.'. THE RECORD ALSO DISCLOSES THAT BEFORE THE EMPLOYEE DEPARTED FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF URBAN RENEWAL WAS AWARE OF THE SCHEDULED DUTY IN MEMPHIS. SMITH WAS ABSENT FROM DUTY ON ANNUAL LEAVE NOVEMBER 13 AND 14. HE IS SHOWN TO HAVE DEPARTED FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION VIA AIR FOR ST. APPARENTLY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS WERE NOT AWARE OF THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE WAS GOING TO ST.

B-130018, JAN. 30, 1957

TO MR. T. F. MURPHY, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, HOUSING AND HOME FINANCE AGENCY:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 5, 1956, TRANSMITTING A VOUCHER STATED IN FAVOR OF CHARLES E. SMITH, FOR $23.20, REPRESENTING EXPENSES FOR TRAVEL, INCLUDING PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE, FOR THE PERIOD NOVEMBER 14-16, 1956, WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY AS AN EMPLOYEE WITH YOUR AGENCY, AND REQUESTING AN ADVANCE DECISION AS TO WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY SAID VOUCHER FOR PAYMENT.

BY TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION DATED SEPTEMBER 26, 1956, THE EMPLOYEE WAS AUTHORIZED TO PERFORM TRAVEL FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION, ATLANTA, GEORGIA, TO POINTS WITHIN THE STATES OF ALABAMA, GEORGIA, KENTUCKY, AND TENNESSEE, AND RETURN, AS OFTEN AS NECESSARY. THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION WAS TO BE EFFECTIVE FROM ON OR ABOUT OCTOBER 1, TO ON OR ABOUT DECEMBER 31, 1956. THE PURPOSE OF THE TRAVEL IS SHOWN ON THE ORDER "TO CARRY OUT HIS DUTIES AS LAND APPRAISER IN CONNECTION WITH THE URBAN RENEWAL PROGRAM ASSIGNED TO REGION III.' THE RECORD ALSO DISCLOSES THAT BEFORE THE EMPLOYEE DEPARTED FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF URBAN RENEWAL WAS AWARE OF THE SCHEDULED DUTY IN MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, ON NOVEMBER 15-16, 1956.

THE FACTS AS REPORTED DISCLOSE THAT MR. SMITH WAS ABSENT FROM DUTY ON ANNUAL LEAVE NOVEMBER 13 AND 14, 1956, FOLLOWING THE AUTHORIZED HOLIDAY FOR VETERANS DAY, NOVEMBER 12, 1956. HE IS SHOWN TO HAVE DEPARTED FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION VIA AIR FOR ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, ON SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11; REPORTED FOR OFFICIAL DUTY AT MEMPHIS AS DIRECTED ON THE MORNING OF NOVEMBER 15; DEPARTED FROM MEMPHIS AT 4:15 P.M., NOVEMBER 16 AND RETURNED TO ATLANTA AT 7:47 P.M. NOVEMBER 16, 1956. APPARENTLY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS WERE NOT AWARE OF THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE WAS GOING TO ST. LOUIS FOR THE PERIOD OF THE AUTHORIZED ANNUAL LEAVE. MR. SMITH USED A GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUEST FOR ROUND TRIP AIR TRAVEL BETWEEN ATLANTA AND MEMPHIS, VALUED AT $44.10. HIS CLAIM IS FOR $21 PER DIEM (1 3/4 AT $12) FOR NOVEMBER 15 AND 16, PLUS $2.20 FOR TAXI-FARES, (2 AT $1.10 EACH). WE NOTE THAT THE GOVERNMENT'S COST FOR TRANSPORTATION IS THE SAME AS WOULD HAVE BEEN CHARGEABLE HAD MR. SMITH PROCEEDED DIRECT TO MEMPHIS ON AUGUST 14, AND THAT A $6 SAVING IN PER DIEM RESULTED IN THAT HE WOULD HAVE BEEN ENTITLED TO $27 PER DIEM (2 1/4 AT $12), EXCEPT FOR THE EARLY DEPARTURE FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION FOR PERSONAL REASONS. ALSO, THE CLAIMANT PAID FROM PERSONAL FUNDS THE EXCESS TRANSPORTATION COSTS OCCASIONED BY THE TRAVEL VIA ST. LOUIS EN ROUTE TO MEMPHIS. MOREOVER, YOU DO NOT REFER TO AN ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY OR REGULATION RESTRICTING REIMBURSEMENT OTHERWISE ALLOWABLE, FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL BECAUSE THE TEMPORARY DUTY IS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWED OR PRECEDED BY A PERIOD OF LEAVE.

PARAGRAPH 2 OF YOUR LETTER READS, AS FOLLOWS:

"CONSIDERABLE DOUBT EXISTS AS TO WHAT ACTION IS PROPER WHEN, AS IN THIS CASE, A PERIOD OF ANNUAL LEAVE IS SCHEDULED WITH TEMPORARY DUTY TO BE PERFORMED AT THE TERMINATION OF THE LEAVE PERIOD PRIOR TO A RETURN TO THE OFFICIAL STATION. THIS DOUBT IS PRIMARILY DUE TO APPARENT CONFLICT OF DECISION NUMBER B-96163 RENDERED AUGUST 1, 1950, WITH DECISION NUMBER B- 102594 RENDERED MAY 9, 1951, AND OTHER PRIOR DECISIONS HOLDING THAT WHEN AN EMPLOYEE ABSENTS HIMSELF FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION FOR PERSONAL REASONS HE MUST BEAR SUCH COSTS AS WOULD ORDINARILY BE REQUIRED FOR RETURN TO THE OFFICIAL STATION.'

IN DECISION B-102594 DATED MAY 9, 1951 (30 COMP. GEN. 443), THE EMPLOYEE WAS ON EXTENDED LEAVE AWAY FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION WHEN FIRST NOTIFIED THAT TEMPORARY DUTY AT PLACE OF LEAVE WOULD BE REQUIRED PRIOR TO HIS RETURN TO HIS OFFICIAL STATION. HE WAS DENIED RETURN TRAVEL EXPENSES TO HIS HEADQUARTERS IN THE ABSENCE OF A SHOWING THAT THE COST OF SUCH TRAVEL, INCLUDING SUBSISTENCE, EXCEEDED THAT WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED HAD HE RETURNED TO HIS OFFICIAL STATION AT THE EXPIRATION OF HIS LEAVE. SUCH ACTION IS IN ACCORD WITH THE WELL ESTABLISHED RULE LONG FOLLOWED BY GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTING OFFICERS WHICH REQUIRES A FEDERAL EMPLOYEE, WHEN ORDERED TO RESUME A DUTY STATUS WHILE ON LEAVE AWAY FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION, TO BEAR THE EXPENSE THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED HAD HE TRAVELED FROM PLACE OF LEAVE DIRECT TO HIS OFFICIAL STATION. THE FACT THAT HE MAY BE REQUIRED TO PERFORM SOME OFFICIAL DUTY BEFORE RETURNING TO HIS HEADQUARTERS DOES NOT TRANSFER THIS EXPENSE TO THE GOVERNMENT.

IN B-96163, AUGUST 1, 1950 (30 COMP. GEN. 56), HOWEVER, THE TRAVELER WAS INFORMED OF THE TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT AT ARKANSAS BEFORE DEPARTING FROM HIS PERMANENT STATION, WASHINGTON, D.C. ALSO, THE RIGHT TO PAYMENT IN THE CASE WAS CONDITIONED UPON A FACTUAL SHOWING THAT HAD THE EMPLOYEE NOT BEEN ORDERED TO UNDERTAKE THE OFFICIAL TRIP TO ARKANSAS HE WOULD NOT HAVE TRAVELED TO CHICAGO AT PERSONAL EXPENSE. SEE GENERALLY 24 COMP. GEN. 443.

IN THE INSTANT CASE, MR. SMITH HAD ADVANCE ORDERS DIRECTING THE TEMPORARY DUTY IN MEMPHIS, AND THE COST OF HIS TRAVEL IS NOT IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT THAT THE GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE EXPENDED HAD HE TRAVELED TO MEMPHIS ON NOVEMBER 14, 1956. ACCORDINGLY, AND IN VIEW OF THE OTHER FACTS OF THE CASE, ABOVE, THE VOUCHER (WITH RELATED PAPERS), RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.