B-131381, JUN. 24, 1957

B-131381: Jun 24, 1957

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PAYMENT OF WHICH WAS REFUSED ADMINISTRATIVELY ON HIS PRIOR TRAVEL VOUCHER. WAS AUTHORIZED TO MAKE AN INTERNAL AUDIT OF SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE OPERATIONS IN THE STATES OF MISSISSIPPI AND LOUISIANA. WHEN HE STATES HE WOULD HAVE LEFT WASHINGTON BUT FOR THE DESIRE TO ATTEND TO HIS PERSONAL AFFAIRS EN ROUTE. IT WAS DETERMINED ADMINISTRATIVELY THAT BY LEAVING WASHINGTON AT 3:35 P.M. HE COULD HAVE ARRIVED AT JACKSON. WAS DEDUCTED. THAT SUM IS THE AMOUNT RECLAIMED. THE GOVERNMENT'S SAVINGS ON SUCH ACCOMMODATIONS SHOULD BE APPLIED AGAINST THE EXCESS PER DIEM CLAIMED IN COMPUTING THE AMOUNT TO WHICH HE IS ENTITLED IN CONNECTION WITH THE TRAVEL. DEALING WITH SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS: "WHERE FOR TRAVELER'S PERSONAL CONVENIENCE OR THROUGH THE TAKING OF LEAVE THERE IS INTERRUPTION OF TRAVEL OR DEVIATION FROM THE DIRECT ROUTE.

B-131381, JUN. 24, 1957

TO MR. S. SCHOFER, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE:

YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 3, 1957, REQUESTS OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT THE VOUCHER THEREWITH TRANSMITTED IN FAVOR OF MR. BURR E. DAVIDSON WHO RECLAIMS $3.00 FOR ONE-FOURTH DAY'S PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE, PAYMENT OF WHICH WAS REFUSED ADMINISTRATIVELY ON HIS PRIOR TRAVEL VOUCHER.

MR. DAVIDSON, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE, WAS AUTHORIZED TO MAKE AN INTERNAL AUDIT OF SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE OPERATIONS IN THE STATES OF MISSISSIPPI AND LOUISIANA. IT APPEARS HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES REQUIRED THAT HE ARRIVE AT HIS FIRST TEMPORARY DUTY STATION, JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI, ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 29, 1956, BUT SINCE HE DESIRED TO ATTEND TO SOME PERSONAL AFFAIRS AT AN INTERMEDIATE POINT HE LEFT HIS OFFICIAL STATION, WASHINGTON, D.C., AT 10:40 A.M., SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27, 1956. ON HIS ORIGINAL TRAVEL VOUCHER HE CLAIMED PER DIEM FROM 10:30 A.M., OCTOBER 28, 1956, SUNDAY, WHEN HE STATES HE WOULD HAVE LEFT WASHINGTON BUT FOR THE DESIRE TO ATTEND TO HIS PERSONAL AFFAIRS EN ROUTE. IT WAS DETERMINED ADMINISTRATIVELY THAT BY LEAVING WASHINGTON AT 3:35 P.M., ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1956, HE COULD HAVE ARRIVED AT JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI, AT 9:05 P.M., OF THAT DAY, IN AMPLE TIME TO GET A NIGHT'S REST SO AS TO BE ABLE TO PERFORM HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES MONDAY. ACCORDINGLY, ONE QUARTER DAY'S PER DIEM CLAIMED FOR THE PERIOD PRIOR TO NOON OCTOBER 28, 1956, WAS DEDUCTED. THAT SUM IS THE AMOUNT RECLAIMED, THE TRAVELER CONTENDING IN EFFECT THAT, SINCE FOR A PORTION OF HIS TRAVELS, HE USED LESS COSTLY TRAVEL ACCOMMODATIONS THAN FIRST CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS, THE GOVERNMENT'S SAVINGS ON SUCH ACCOMMODATIONS SHOULD BE APPLIED AGAINST THE EXCESS PER DIEM CLAIMED IN COMPUTING THE AMOUNT TO WHICH HE IS ENTITLED IN CONNECTION WITH THE TRAVEL. HE REFERS TO 33 COMP. GEN. 553 AS AUTHORITY FOR SUCH CONTENTION AND YOU CITE 35 COMP. GEN. 609 AS POSSIBLY HAVING A BEARING ON THE RECLAIM.

SECTION 6.10 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, DEALING WITH SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"WHERE FOR TRAVELER'S PERSONAL CONVENIENCE OR THROUGH THE TAKING OF LEAVE THERE IS INTERRUPTION OF TRAVEL OR DEVIATION FROM THE DIRECT ROUTE, THE PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE ALLOWED WILL NOT EXCEED THAT WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED ON UNINTERRUPTED TRAVEL BY A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE.'

SINCE THE TRAVELER LEFT WASHINGTON, D.C., AT 11:40 A.M., ON SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27, 1956, IN ORDER TO MAKE A STOPOVER EN ROUTE FOR HIS PERSONAL CONVENIENCE, AND SINCE IT HAS BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY ASCERTAINED THAT A DEPARTURE TIME OF 3:35 P.M., ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1956, WOULD HAVE PROVIDED SUFFICIENT TIME FOR THE CONDUCTING OF OFFICIAL BUSINESS, HIS CLAIM FOR ADDITIONAL PER DIEM COMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF A CONSTRUCTIVE DEPARTURE TIME OF 10:30 A.M., OCTOBER 28, 1956, MAY NOT BE ALLOWED. ALTHOUGH A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE'S TRAVEL STATUS BEGINS WITH THE ACTUAL COMMENCEMENT OF THE NECESSARY TRAVEL, INTERMEDIATE DELAYS OR STOPOVERS ON PERSONAL AFFAIRS MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS NECESSARY IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST, NOR MAY AN ADDITIONAL PAYMENT OF PER DIEM BE MADE ON THE BASIS OF ALLOWING CREDIT FOR MORE EXPENSIVE ACCOMMODATIONS THAN THOSE ACTUALLY USED. SEE IN THIS CONNECTION, IN ADDITION TO PARAGRAPH 6.10 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, 5 U.S.C. 839, PROVIDING AS TO CIVILIAN TRAVEL WITH THE EXCEPTIONS OF PER DIEM AND MILEAGE ALLOWANCES THAT "ONLY ACTUAL AND NECESSARY TRAVELING EXPENSES SHALL BE ALLOWED TO ANY PERSON HOLDING EMPLOYMENT UNDER THE UNITED STATES.' IN BOTH 33 COMP. GEN. 553 AND 35 COMP. GEN. 609 THE TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES ACTUALLY INCURRED IN INDIRECT TRAVEL EXCEEDED THOSE WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWABLE HAD THE TRAVEL BEEN MADE BY DIRECT ROUTE USING THE TYPE OF ACCOMMODATIONS AUTHORIZED FOR SUCH TRAVEL. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES AND CONSIDERING PARAGRAPH 3.3 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, UNDER THE HEADING "ALLOWABLE TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES," THE DECISIONS LIMITED ALLOWABLE TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES TO THE DIRECT TRANSPORTATION COSTS USING THE TYPE OF ACCOMMODATIONS AUTHORIZED FOR SUCH TRAVEL. THE DECISIONS, OF COURSE, DID NOT, AND IN VIEW OF 5 U.S.C. 839 COULD NOT, ALLOW TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES IN EXCESS OF THOSE ACTUALLY INCURRED. ALSO IN VIEW OF PARAGRAPH 6.10 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND 5 U.S.C. 839, THERE MAY NOT BE ALLOWED IN THIS CASE, ANY SAVINGS IN TRANSPORTATION COSTS AGAINST AN OVERCLAIM IN PER DIEM.

THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH TOGETHER WITH SUPPORTING PAPERS, MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.