B-131019, APR. 24, 1957

B-131019: Apr 24, 1957

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ALTHOUGH YOUR LETTER IS NOT SIGNED IN THE CAPACITY OF AN AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER. WE UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ACT AS SUCH AND THAT YOUR REQUEST FOR A DECISION IS SUBMITTED IN THAT CAPACITY. WILKERSON WAS DIRECTED TO PROCEED FROM CINCINNATI. TWO REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHERS WERE RECEIVED CLAIMING PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE. THE PER DIEM CLAIMED FOR TRAVEL BY AUTOMOBILE WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DISALLOWED SINCE IT EXCEEDS THE TRANSIT TIME REQUIRED FOR AIR TRAVEL. OF THE SUM RECLAIMED $101.75 IS FOR PER DIEM (9 1/4 DAYS AT $11). HE STATES THAT THE FAILURE TO AUTHORIZE MILEAGE IN THE TRAVEL ORDER WAS "SIMPLY AN OVERSIGHT ON OUR PART.'. WHENEVER SUCH MODE OF TRANSPORTATION IS AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED AS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT (EXCEPT THAT NO DETERMINATION OF ADVANTAGE IS REQUIRED WHERE PAYMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS IS LIMITED TO COST OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER.

B-131019, APR. 24, 1957

TO MR. WILLIAM L. NORFOLK, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD:

YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 7 (WITH ENCLOSURES) REQUESTS OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE TWO RECLAIM VOUCHERS TRANSMITTED THEREWITH TOTALING $220.65 STATED IN FAVOR OF WILLIAM G. WILKERSON, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. ALTHOUGH YOUR LETTER IS NOT SIGNED IN THE CAPACITY OF AN AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, WE UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ACT AS SUCH AND THAT YOUR REQUEST FOR A DECISION IS SUBMITTED IN THAT CAPACITY.

BY TRAVEL ORDER DATED NOVEMBER 7, 1956, MR. WILKERSON WAS DIRECTED TO PROCEED FROM CINCINNATI, OHIO, HIS OFFICIAL STATION, TO LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, FOR A TEMPORARY DETAIL OF 60 DAYS DURATION. THE WRITTEN ORDER SIGNED BY MR. MCGUINESS, PROVIDED FOR TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER BEGINNING ON OR ABOUT NOVEMBER 13, 1956, AND ENDING ON OR ABOUT JANUARY 20, 1957, AND AUTHORIZE A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE OF $11 PER DAY WHILE ON OFFICIAL DUTY AWAY FROM HIS PERMANENT STATION.

NOTWITHSTANDING THE TERMS OF THE WRITTEN ORDER, THE FACTS AS REPORTED DISCLOSE THAT MR. WILKERSON PERFORMED ROUND TRIP TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE PURSUANT TO VERBAL INSTRUCTIONS; THAT HE DEPARTED FROM CINCINNATI AT 9 A.M., NOVEMBER 13, ARRIVED AT LOS ANGELES, AT 3 P.M., NOVEMBER 18, AND AFTER HAVING COMPLETED THE TEMPORARY DETAIL HE DEPARTED FROM LOS ANGELES AT 10 A.M., DECEMBER 14 AND ARRIVED AT HIS PERMANENT STATION AT 3 P.M., DECEMBER 21, 1956. SUBSEQUENTLY, TWO REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHERS WERE RECEIVED CLAIMING PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE, INCLUDING ACTUAL TRAVEL TIME EN ROUTE BY AUTOMOBILE TO AND FROM LOS ANGELES, PLUS THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF ONE FIRST-CLASS PASSENGER FARE FOR ROUND TRIP AIR TRAVEL BETWEEN THE TWO POINTS. PAYMENT HAS BEEN MADE FOR AIR TRAVEL AS CLAIMED, HOWEVER, THE PER DIEM CLAIMED FOR TRAVEL BY AUTOMOBILE WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DISALLOWED SINCE IT EXCEEDS THE TRANSIT TIME REQUIRED FOR AIR TRAVEL.

OF THE SUM RECLAIMED $101.75 IS FOR PER DIEM (9 1/4 DAYS AT $11), AND $118.90 REPRESENTS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN $235.34, THE SUM HERETOFORE ALLOWED FOR AIR TRAVEL AND $354.24 NOW CLAIMED FOR MILEAGE AT 8 CENTS PER MILE FOR A REPORTED HIGHWAY DISTANCE OF 4,428 MILES, IN SUPPORT OF THE RECLAIM THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED A MEMORANDUM ISSUED BY AUTHORIZING OFFICER, MR. MCGUINESS, DATED JANUARY 22, 1957, WHICH DISCLOSES THAT HE CONFERRED WITH MR. WILKERSON CONCERNING THIS DETAIL PRIOR TO COMMENCEMENT OF THE TRAVEL AND PERSONALLY AUTHORIZED HIM TO PROCEED TO LOS ANGELES BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE. FURTHER, HE STATES THAT THE FAILURE TO AUTHORIZE MILEAGE IN THE TRAVEL ORDER WAS "SIMPLY AN OVERSIGHT ON OUR PART.' IN HIS MEMORANDUM HE REQUESTS THAT APPROPRIATE ACTION BE TAKEN TO ADJUST THE MATTER TO ENABLE THE CLAIMANT TO "RECEIVE MILEAGE, PER DIEM AND RESTORATION OF HIS ANNUAL LEAVE.'

SECTION 4 OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, 63 STAT. 166, AS AMENDED, AND SECTION 3.5B (1) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, PROVIDE FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL ON A MILEAGE BASIS AT NOT TO EXCEED 10 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE, WHENEVER SUCH MODE OF TRANSPORTATION IS AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED AS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT (EXCEPT THAT NO DETERMINATION OF ADVANTAGE IS REQUIRED WHERE PAYMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS IS LIMITED TO COST OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER, INCLUDING PER DIEM IN EACH CASE). WE OBSERVE THAT THE SAME OFFICIAL WHO EXECUTED THE WRITTEN ORDER NOW CONTENDS THAT AUTHORITY TO PROCEED BY AUTOMOBILE WAS INADVERTENTLY OMITTED THEREFROM AND THAT THE USE OF HIS AUTOMOBILE WAS IN COMPLIANCE WITH HIS VERBAL INSTRUCTIONS.

IT IS WELL SETTLED THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS CONCERNED--- NOT THE EMPLOYEE--- HAVE THE RIGHT TO DETERMINE THE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION TO BE USED BY OR FURNISHED IN BEHALF OF AN EMPLOYEE FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL. ALTHOUGH THE STATUTE PROVIDES THAT THE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION MAY BE AUTHORIZED IN ADVANCE OF SUBSEQUENTLY APPROVED, IN ANY CASE WHERE TRAVEL IS PERFORMED BY MEANS OF A PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE WITHOUT LIMITING REIMBURSEMENT COST THEREFOR TO THAT OF COMMON CARRIER, THE LAW SPECIFICALLY REQUIRES AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION UTILIZED WAS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. GENERALLY, AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT TRAVEL BY AUTOMOBILE OR BY SOME OTHER PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE ON A MILEAGE BASIS IS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT QUESTIONED BY OUR OFFICE. BECAUSE OF THE DISCREPANCY BETWEEN THE WRITTEN AND VERBAL AUTHORIZATIONS, OUR OFFICE IS WITHOUT AUTHORITY TO DIRECT PAYMENT OR THE SUM RECLAIMED IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL THEREOF. HOWEVER, NO OBJECTION WILL BE RAISED TO YOUR CERTIFYING THE VOUCHERS FOR PAYMENT, IF OTHERWISE PROPER, PROVIDED THE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION UTILIZED BY MR. WILKERSON IS ADMINISTRATIVELY APPROVED AT 8 CENTS PER MILE AS BEING MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT.

THE ENCLOSURES WHICH ACCOMPANIED YOUR LETTER ARE RETURNED HEREWITH.