B-131177, APR. 25, 1957

B-131177: Apr 25, 1957

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THE INDEBTEDNESS IS COMPUTED ADMINISTRATIVELY AS FOLLOWS: TABLE "PAID: DOV 2215. MELBOURNE/SYDNEY/NY 656.90 SUSPENDED: $213.12" IT IS A STATED POLICY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE THAT ALL OFFICIAL TRAVEL OF FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES BE PERFORMED BY A DIRECT. THE MERE DESIRE OF AN EMPLOYEE IS NOT ACCEPTED AS JUSTIFICATION FOR AN EXCEPTION TO THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS WHICH PROVIDE THAT THE ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CORRECT PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL. REGARDLESS OF WHO MAY HAVE ASSISTED IN MAKING THE TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS. AN EMPLOYEE IS PERMITTED TO ELECT. IN SUCH CASES THE EXPENSES ALLOWABLE ARE NOT PERMITTED TO EXCEED THE COST THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED IN DIRECT AND UNINTERRUPTED TRAVEL BETWEEN THE POINTS SPECIFIED IN THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION.

B-131177, APR. 25, 1957

TO MRS. DANUTE S. HARMON:

YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 9, 1957, REQUESTS RECONSIDERATION OF OUR SETTLEMENT DATED MARCH 4, 1957, WHICH APPLIED THE AMOUNT ALLOWED THEREIN IN PARTIAL LIQUIDATION OF YOUR INDEBTEDNESS ARISING FROM EXCESS TRAVEL COSTS INCURRED AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE DURING THE PERIOD MAY 6 TO 25, 1956.

THE AMOUNT ALLOWED BY OUR OFFICE ($57.58) COVERED THE TRANSPORTATION OF ONE TRUNK AND TWO CRATES FROM NEW YORK, NEW YORK, TO FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA. THE INDEBTEDNESS REPRESENTS THE EXCESS TRAVEL COSTS INCURRED BY YOU IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR TRAVEL, VIA AN INDIRECT ROUTE, FROM MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, TO NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNDER TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION NO. 6-16840- A, DATED MAY 4, 1956. THE INDEBTEDNESS IS COMPUTED ADMINISTRATIVELY AS FOLLOWS:

TABLE

"PAID: DOV 2215, 6/26/56 AT SYDNEY (VIA EUROPE $884.42

LESS REFUND ON TICKET UNUSED NY/DC 14.40

APPROVED: $870.02

TOURIST FARE, MELBOURNE/SYDNEY/NY 656.90

SUSPENDED: $213.12"

IT IS A STATED POLICY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE THAT ALL OFFICIAL TRAVEL OF FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES BE PERFORMED BY A DIRECT, USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE, IF POSSIBLE, AND BY THE MOST EXPEDITIOUS MEANS PRACTICABLE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. THE MERE DESIRE OF AN EMPLOYEE IS NOT ACCEPTED AS JUSTIFICATION FOR AN EXCEPTION TO THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS WHICH PROVIDE THAT THE ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CORRECT PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL, AND FOR THE PAYMENT OF AN CHARGES INCURRED THROUGH FAILURE TO TRAVEL AS PROVIDED BY THE REGULATIONS, RESTS WITH THE EMPLOYEE TRAVELING, REGARDLESS OF WHO MAY HAVE ASSISTED IN MAKING THE TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS. IFSM III 131.

UNDER THE FOREIGN SERVICE REGULATIONS, AN EMPLOYEE IS PERMITTED TO ELECT, WITHOUT AN AMENDMENT TO THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION INVOLVED, TO PERFORM TRAVEL OR INCUR EXPENSES FOR TRANSPORTATION BY OTHER THAN THE USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE. HOWEVER, IN SUCH CASES THE EXPENSES ALLOWABLE ARE NOT PERMITTED TO EXCEED THE COST THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED IN DIRECT AND UNINTERRUPTED TRAVEL BETWEEN THE POINTS SPECIFIED IN THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION. THE CONSTRUCTIVE COSTS FOR THE TRAVEL ARE REQUIRED TO BE COMPUTED UPON THE BASIS OF THE LOWEST FIRST CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS OR, IF LESS THAN FIRST CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS HAVE BEEN USED BY THE TRAVELER, THE CONSTRUCTIVE COSTS ARE REQUIRED TO "BE COMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF THE ACCOMMODATIONS ACTUALLY USED.' IFSM III 137.23 AND 180 FSTR 3.5. IN YOUR CASE, THE RECORD SHOWS YOU TRAVELED BY INDIRECT ROUTE, TOURIST CLASS. ACCORDINGLY, THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE COMPUTED THE ALLOWABLE CONSTRUCTIVE DIRECT TRAVEL COST UPON THE BASIS OF TOURIST FARE.

AS INDICATED, THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS DETERMINED THAT THE EXCESS TRAVEL WAS NOT NECESSARY IN YOUR CASE. A DETERMINATION OF THIS NATURE IS ACCEPTED BY OUR OFFICE IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY INDICATION THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS ACTED IN AN ARBITRARY OR UNREASONABLE MANNER OR UNLESS A CLAIMANT FURNISHES EVIDENCE--- OTHER THAN HIS OWN STATEMENTS--- TO OVERCOME A POSITION TAKEN BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS. THE ADMINISTRATIVE FINDINGS DO NOT APPEAR TO BE ARBITRARY OR CAPRICIOUS AND SINCE YOU HAVE NOT FURNISHED ANY EVIDENCE TO OVERCOME THE DETERMINATION THAT THE EXCESS TRAVEL WAS NOT NECESSARY OR THAT YOU DID NOT TRAVEL TOURIST CLASS, OUR OFFICE HAS NO ALTERNATIVE BUT TO FOLLOW THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION. ACCORDINGLY, OUR SETTLEMENT ACTION OF MARCH 4, 1957, MUST BE AND IS SUSTAINED.