B-131525, JUL. 17, 1957

B-131525: Jul 17, 1957

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CONWAY'S TRAVEL ACCOUNT YOU SAY CERTAIN FACTS MAY INDICATE THAT HE WAS OVERPAID PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE ON PRIOR VOUCHERS. YOUR QUESTION IS WHETHER MR. CONWAY MAY BE REIMBURSED THE EXPENSES OF HIS WIFE'S TRAVEL WHICH SHE PERFORMED PRIOR TO THE DATE HIS DUTY STATION WAS CHANGED FROM SKAGWAY TO WRANGELL. CONWAY WAS APPOINTED AS CONSTRUCTION INSPECTOR IN APRIL 1956 FOR DUTY IN ALASKA. WHICH EVIDENTLY WAS ISSUED JUNE 3. IT IS. THE CONTRACTOR'S METHOD OF OPERATING AND PARTICULARLY WITH THE OFFICIALS OF THE MUNICIPALITIES WHO ARE PAYING HALF THE COST OF THE PROJECT UNDER THE ALASKA PUBLIC WORKS ACT. THAT IS. WE BELIEVE THIS POLICY IS ADVISABLE DUE TO THE FACT THAT IF THE INSPECTOR DOES NOT WORK WELL WITH THE LOCAL OFFICIALS.

B-131525, JUL. 17, 1957

TO MR. CHARLES BONNEVILLE, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR:

YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 16, 1957, REQUESTS OUR DECISION WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT THE VOUCHER THEREWITH TRANSMITTED IN FAVOR OF LEO D. CONWAY IN THE AMOUNT OF $45.80 REPRESENTING THE COST OF AIRLINE TRANSPORTATION OF HIS WIFE FROM SKAGWAY TO JUNEAU, ALASKA, AND FROM JUNE AUTO WRANGELL, ALASKA. IN YOUR REVIEW OF MR. CONWAY'S TRAVEL ACCOUNT YOU SAY CERTAIN FACTS MAY INDICATE THAT HE WAS OVERPAID PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE ON PRIOR VOUCHERS. HOWEVER, AS TO THE SUBMITTED VOUCHER, YOUR QUESTION IS WHETHER MR. CONWAY MAY BE REIMBURSED THE EXPENSES OF HIS WIFE'S TRAVEL WHICH SHE PERFORMED PRIOR TO THE DATE HIS DUTY STATION WAS CHANGED FROM SKAGWAY TO WRANGELL, WHICH CHANGE, WE UNDERSTAND, BECAME EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 31, 1956.

THE RECORD SHOWS MR. CONWAY WAS APPOINTED AS CONSTRUCTION INSPECTOR IN APRIL 1956 FOR DUTY IN ALASKA. THE INITIAL TRAVEL ORDER NO. AAA. I-56- 119, DATED APRIL 6, 1956, NAMING FAIRBANKS, ALASKA, AS HIS "OFFICIAL STATION" AUTHORIZED TRAVEL FROM NAMPA, IDAHO, TO FAIRBANKS VIA SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, WITH STOP-OVER AT JUNEAU FOR INDOCTRINATION. THEREAFTER, PURSUANT TO VARIOUS TRAVEL ORDERS HE VISITED SKAGWAY, WRANGELL AND JUNEAU.

IN THE TRAVEL ORDER WHICH AMENDED NO. AAA. I-56-119 DATED APRIL 6, 1956- -- WHICH EVIDENTLY WAS ISSUED JUNE 3, 1956--- SKAGWAY BECAME HIS "OFFICIAL STATION, (NEW)" EFFECTIVE MIDNIGHT JUNE 2, 1956. TRAVEL ORDER NO. AAA. -56-127 "TO COVER TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENT WIFE * * *," GAVE HIS OFFICIAL STATION AS WRANGELL, ALASKA, STATING THAT IT HAD BEEN CHANGED TO THAT PLACE DECEMBER 31, 1957 (DECEMBER 31, 1956).

BY LETTER OF JUNE 4, 1957, OUR OFFICE REQUESTED ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR CONCERNING THE EFFECTIVE DATES OF THE TRANSFERS OF STATION. THE REPLY FROM THE DIRECTOR, ALASKA PUBLIC WORKS, JUNEAU, ALASKA, SAYS IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"3. IT IS, IN GENERAL, THE POLICY OF THIS OFFICE THAT AN INSPECTOR BE SENT TEMPORARILY TO A PROJECT FOR THE PURPOSE OF ACQUAINTING HIMSELF WITH THE PROJECT, THE CONTRACTOR'S METHOD OF OPERATING AND PARTICULARLY WITH THE OFFICIALS OF THE MUNICIPALITIES WHO ARE PAYING HALF THE COST OF THE PROJECT UNDER THE ALASKA PUBLIC WORKS ACT. IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE, MR. CONWAY HAD BEEN APPOINTED TO POSITION OF CONSTRUCTION INSPECTOR WITH ALASKA PUBLIC WORKS LAST SPRING AND WE HAD NOT HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO WITNESS HIS PAST PERFORMANCE IN OUR TYPE OF WORK, THAT IS, CONSTRUCTION INSPECTION. WE BELIEVE THIS POLICY IS ADVISABLE DUE TO THE FACT THAT IF THE INSPECTOR DOES NOT WORK WELL WITH THE LOCAL OFFICIALS, IT IS BETTER TO DISCOVER THIS BEFORE GOING TO THE EXPENSE OF TRANSFERRING THE EMPLOYEE, HIS FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS TO THE NEW LOCATION. IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT AMICABLE RELATIONSHIP BE MAINTAINED BETWEEN THE REPRESENTATIVE OF ALASKA PUBLIC WORKS AND THE LOCAL TOWNSPEOPLE. IN THE SPECIFIC INSTANCE OF MR. CONWAY'S TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION TO SKAGWAY, THERE ARE ATTACHED TWO PHOTOSTATIC COPIES OF NOTICES SENT TO MR. CONWAY ADVISING HIM OF THIS ACTION.

"4. IN THE INSTANCE OF TRANSFERRING MR. CONWAY TO WRANGELL, MR. CONWAY LEFT JUNEAU FOR WRANGELL ON NOVEMBER 30, 1956. I FIND NO SPECIFIC LETTER IN OUR FILES WRITTEN TO MR. CONWAY STATING THAT WE WERE MAKING HIS OFFICIAL STATION WRANGELL, SO PRESUMABLY HE WAS ADVISED VERBALLY. THE STANDARD FORM 50, THROUGH OVERSIGHT, WAS NOT PREPARED UNTIL FEBRUARY 11, 1957; HOWEVER, THE CHANGE WAS EFFECTIVE MIDNIGHT, DECEMBER 31, 1956. WRANGELL HAS ALWAYS BEEN AND IS PRESENTLY, A VERY DIFFICULT PLACE TO MAINTAIN HARMONY. THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERABLE FRICTION BETWEEN THE CONTRACTOR AND THE CITY OFFICIALS WHICH ALASKA PUBLIC WORKS HAS RESOLVED. IT WAS WITH THIS IN MIND THAT MR. CONWAY WAS SENT TO WRANGELL ON A MORE OR LESS "TRIAL RUN" BEFORE ACTUALLY TRANSFERRING HIM TO WRANGELL. WITH REFERENCE TO PARAGRAPH 2 OF THE JUNE 4 LETTER, IT WAS "CONTEMPLATED" THAT A PERMANENT ASSIGNMENT WOULD BE MADE IN WRANGELL FOR A CONSTRUCTION INSPECTOR. MR. CONWAY'S APPOINTMENT TO THIS POSITION WAS CONTINGENT ON THE WORKING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MR. CONWAY, THE CONTRACTOR AND THE LOCAL OFFICIALS AND HIS ABILITY TO MAINTAIN JOB CONTROL. AS SOON AS THIS WAS SATISFACTORILY ESTABLISHED THE OFFICIAL TRANSFER WAS THEN MADE.'

IN THE LIGHT OF THE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, THE SHORT PERIODS OF TRAVEL AUTHORIZED, AND OF THE NATURE OF THE DUTIES MR. CONWAY WAS ORDERED TO PERFORM AT THE LOCATIONS SPECIFIED THEREIN, THE TEMPORARY DUTY ORDERS APPEAR PROPER. ACCORDINGLY, BASED UPON THE PRESENT RECORD, WE ARE NOT INCLINED TO QUESTION THE ADMINISTRATIVE PURPOSE OF SUCH ORDERS AND THE ALLOWANCE OF PER DIEM THEREUNDER. 30 COMP. GEN. 94 (B-96669) AND 32 ID. 493.

REGARDING THE UNPAID VOUCHER COVERING THE TRANSPORTATION OF MR. CONWAY'S WIFE FROM SKAGWAY TO WRANGELL, SECTION 1 (A) OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 1, 1946, AS AMENDED, 5 U.S.C. 73B-1, PROVIDES THAT UNDER REGULATIONS OF THE PRESIDENT THE DESIGNATED OFFICIALS OF AN AGENCY MAY AUTHORIZE OR APPROVE THE EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION OF AN EMPLOYEE'S IMMEDIATE FAMILY WHEN THE EMPLOYEE IS TRANSFERRED FROM ONE OFFICIAL STATION TO ANOTHER FOR PERMANENT DUTY. ALTHOUGH MRS. CONWAY PERFORMED HER TRAVEL TO WRANGELL PRIOR TO THE DATE MR. CONWAY'S OFFICIAL STATION WAS CHANGED TO THAT PLACE, SUCH TRAVEL APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN REASONABLY IN ANTICIPATION OF THAT CHANGE OF DUTY STATION. THE TRAVEL ORDER SUBSEQUENTLY ISSUED CONSTITUTES AN APPROVAL OF SUCH TRAVEL. SEE GENERALLY 25 COMP. GEN. 444, 27 ID. 97, 29 ID. 160, AND 232.

ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHER WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT. THE COPIES OF THE TRAVEL ORDERS SUBMITTED BY YOU ALSO ARE RETURNED.