B-132331, AUGUST 15, 1957, 37 COMP. GEN. 113

B-132331: Aug 15, 1957

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OVERSEAS EMPLOYEES - TRAVEL EXPENSES - HOME LEAVE - CONSTRUCTIVE TRAVEL COSTS - TOURIST RATES - ALTERNATE DESTINATION THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES OF OVERSEAS EMPLOYEES RETURNING TO THE UNITED STATES ON HOME LEAVE DEPENDS UPON THE MODE OF TRAVEL AUTHORIZED IN THE ORDERS AND IS LIMITED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES ACTUALLY INCURRED IN AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF TRAVEL BY THE MODE AUTHORIZED OVER THE USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE BASED ON THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE. OVERSEAS EMPLOYEES WHO USE LESS THAN FIRST-CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS ON HOME- LEAVE TRAVEL (TOURIST OR FAMILY PLAN RATES) ARE ENTITLED TO TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT BASED ON FIRST-CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS UNLESS A MORE RESTRICTIVE REGULATION HAS BEEN ADOPTED OR UNLESS THE ORDERS LIMIT THE COST COMPARISON TO THE CLASS OF ACCOMMODATIONS ACTUALLY USED.

B-132331, AUGUST 15, 1957, 37 COMP. GEN. 113

OVERSEAS EMPLOYEES - TRAVEL EXPENSES - HOME LEAVE - CONSTRUCTIVE TRAVEL COSTS - TOURIST RATES - ALTERNATE DESTINATION THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES OF OVERSEAS EMPLOYEES RETURNING TO THE UNITED STATES ON HOME LEAVE DEPENDS UPON THE MODE OF TRAVEL AUTHORIZED IN THE ORDERS AND IS LIMITED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES ACTUALLY INCURRED IN AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF TRAVEL BY THE MODE AUTHORIZED OVER THE USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE BASED ON THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE. OVERSEAS EMPLOYEES WHO USE LESS THAN FIRST-CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS ON HOME- LEAVE TRAVEL (TOURIST OR FAMILY PLAN RATES) ARE ENTITLED TO TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT BASED ON FIRST-CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS UNLESS A MORE RESTRICTIVE REGULATION HAS BEEN ADOPTED OR UNLESS THE ORDERS LIMIT THE COST COMPARISON TO THE CLASS OF ACCOMMODATIONS ACTUALLY USED. SECTION 27 (B) OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9805 WHICH PERMITS PAYMENT OF HOME LEAVE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES TO LOCATIONS OTHER THAN THE PLACE OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE PROVIDED THE COST DOES NOT EXCEED THE COST OF ROUND- TRIP TRAVEL TO THE PLACES OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE WAS NOT INTENDED TO RECOGNIZE TRAVEL TO VARIOUS LOCATIONS FOR PERSONAL CONVENIENCE BUT RATHER REQUIRES THE ELECTION IN ADVANCE OF TRAVEL OF AN ALTERNATE DESTINATION.

TO THE ADMINISTRATOR, HOUSING AND HOME FINANCE AGENCY, AUGUST 15, 1957:

YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 24, 1957, REQUESTS OUR DECISION UPON SEVERAL QUESTIONS REGARDING THE PAYMENT OF TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES FOR HOME LEAVE TO EMPLOYEES IN PUERTO RICO. THE QUESTIONS CONCERN THE PROPER TRAVEL COSTS ALLOWABLE WHEN THE EMPLOYEES DO NOT RETURN TO THE PLACES OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE AT THE TIME OF APPOINTMENT.

THE STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR THE PAYMENT OF TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES OF EMPLOYEES FOR HOME LEAVE PURPOSES IS 5 U.S.C. 73B-3. THAT AUTHORITY PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

* * * THAT EXPENSES OF ROUND TRIP TRAVEL OF EMPLOYEE AND TRANSPORTATION OF IMMEDIATE FAMILY BUT EXCLUDING HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS, FROM THEIR POSTS OF DUTY OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES TO THE PLACES OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE AT TIME OF APPOINTMENT OR TRANSFER TO SUCH OVERSEAS POSTS OF DUTY, SHALL BE ALLOWED IN THE CASE OF PERSONS WHO HAVE SATISFACTORILY COMPLETED AN AGREED PERIOD OF SERVICE OVERSEAS AND ARE RETURNING TO THEIR ACTUAL PLACE OF RESIDENCE FOR THE PURPOSE OF TAKING LEAVE PRIOR TO SERVING ANOTHER TOUR OF DUTY AT THE SAME OR SOME OTHER OVERSEAS POST, UNDER A NEW WRITTEN AGREEMENT ENTERED INTO BEFORE DEPARTING FROM THE OVERSEAS POST: *

REGULATIONS IMPLEMENTING THAT AUTHORITY ARE CONTAINED IN SECTION 27 (B) OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9805, AS ADDED BY BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR A- 4, MAY 2, 1955. THEY PROVIDE IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

* * * IF LEAVE IS TAKEN AT ANOTHER LOCATION WITHIN THE COUNTRY, TERRITORY, OR POSSESSION IN WHICH SUCH PLACE OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE IS LOCATED, THE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES ALLOWABLE SHALL NOT EXCEED THOSE ALLOWED OVER A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE BETWEEN THE POST OF DUTY AND SUCH PLACE OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE AND RETURN TO THE SAME OR A DIFFERENT POST OF DUTY OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES.

THE QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED IN THE ORDER PRESENTED IN YOUR LETTER.

QUESTION 1. WHICH OF THE USUAL MODES OF TRAVEL FROM PUERTO RICO TO THE EMPLOYEES' PLACES OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE MUST BE TAKEN AS THE BASIS FOR COMPUTING THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE TRAVEL COST? FOR EXAMPLE, LET US ASSUME THAT THE USUAL MODES OF TRAVEL FROM PUERTO RICO TO NEW YORK CITY ARE THE FOLLOWING: (1) AIR TRAVEL, DIRECT OR VIA MIAMI, (2) AIR TRAVEL OR SEA TRAVEL TO MIAMI, FOLLOWED BY TRAIN TRAVEL TO NEW YORK, AND (3) SEA TRAVEL DIRECT TO NEW YORK. IF AN EMPLOYEE WHOSE PLACE OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE IS NEW YORK TRAVELS ON HOME LEAVE TO SOME OTHER PLACE,IS THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE AMOUNT THE COST OF THE MOST EXPENSIVE OF THESE MODES OF TRAVELING TO NEW YORK; I.E., TRAVEL BY EA?IS THIS SO EVEN IF HIS ACTUAL TRAVEL WAS BY AIR, OR BY A COMBINATION SUCH AS SEA TRAVEL TO MIAMI FOLLOWED BY TRAIN OR AUTOMOBILE TRAVEL?

THE ABOVE-QUOTED REGULATION LIMITS THE ALLOWABLE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES TO NOT EXCEED THOSE ALLOWED OVER A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE, BUT DOES NOT SPECIFY THE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION TO BE USED. THEREFORE, THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES IN THE ABOVE CASE WOULD DEPEND UPON THE MODE OF TRAVEL AUTHORIZED IN THE EMPLOYEES' TRAVEL ORDERS. THE EMPLOYEE WHO IS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL "BY COMMON CARRIER" WOULD BE ENTITLED TO THE CONSTRUCTIVE TRAVEL COST BY THE MOST EXPENSIVE MODE OVER A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE TO PLACE OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE, REIMBURSEMENT, IN NO EVENT, TO EXCEED THE SUM ACTUALLY EXPENDED. LIKEWISE, THE EMPLOYEE WHO IS AUTHORIZED TO USE AIR TRAVEL IS LIMITED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE EXPENSES ACTUALLY INCURRED IN AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF AIR TRAVEL FROM PUERTO RICO TO NEW YORK. THE EMPLOYEE WHO IS AUTHORIZED TO USE SEA TRAVEL FROM PUERTO RICO TO MIAMI, FOLLOWED BY TRAIN OR AUTOMOBILE TRAVEL TO NEW YORK, IS LIMITED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE EXPENSES ACTUALLY INCURRED IN AM AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF TRAVEL BY THE MODES OF TRANSPORTATION SPECIFIED IN HIS ORDERS.

QUESTION 2. IN THE SAME EXAMPLE, IF THE EMPLOYEE'S ACTUAL TRAVEL (IN WHOLE OR IN PART) IS AT RATES LOWER THAN FIRST-CLASS (E.G., TOURIST OR FAMILY-PLAN RATES), IS THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE AMOUNT NEVERTHELESS BASED ON FIRST-CLASS RATES?

UNLESS A MORE RESTRICTIVE ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATION HAS BEEN ADOPTED, OR UNLESS THE INDIVIDUAL TRAVEL ORDERS LIMIT THE COST COMPARISON TO THE CLASS OF ACCOMMODATIONS ACTUALLY USED THE CORRECT RULE TO BE FOLLOWED SINCE THE REVISION OF STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS IN 1950 IS STATED IN OUR DECISION 33 COMP. GEN. 553. THAT DECISION HELD, QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS---

UNDER SECTION 3 OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9805, AS AMENDED, WHICH PROVIDES THAT THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY OF TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEES SHALL NOT EXCEED THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION BY A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE, AND PARAGRAPH 13A (1) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, WHICH PROVIDES FOR THE ALLOWANCE OF ONE LOWER BERTH FOR EACH TRAVELER, A TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEE WHOSE THREE DEPENDENTS OCCUPIED ONE LOWER AND ONE UPPER BERTH IN THE PERFORMANCE OF TRAVEL OVER A CIRCUITOUS ROUTE MAY BE ALLOWED THE COMPARATIVE COST OF THREE LOWER BERTHS IN THE COMPUTATION OF THE EXCESS COST SUSTAINED BY THE GOVERNMENT ON ACCOUNT OF THE INDIRECT TRAVEL.

UNDER THAT RULE THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE AMOUNT WOULD BE BASED UPON THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE AVAILABLE FOR TRAVEL TO ACTUAL PLACE OF RESIDENCE.

QUESTION 3. IS THERE ANY RESTRICTION AS TO THE PLACES OF ACTUAL TRAVEL SO LONG AS THEY ARE WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES? FOR EXAMPLE, IF AN EMPLOYEE AND HIS FAMILY TRAVEL BY AIR TO MIAMI, THEN MAKE A TOUR (BY ANY MEANS OF TRAVEL, INCLUDING AUTOMOBILE) ENDING AT MIAMI, AND FINALLY RETURN TO PUERTO RICO BY AIR, MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR TRAVEL COSTS IN AN AMOUNT UP TO THE COST OF TRAVEL TO AND FROM HIS PLACE OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE?

IN OUR DECISION OF OCTOBER 28, 1953, 35 COMP. GEN. 244, 246, WE SAID THAT "THE ONLY DETERMINATION NECESSARY REGARDING THE RETURN DESTINATION OF EMPLOYEES ON "HOME LEAVE" TRAVEL IS THAT THE COST THEREOF CHARGEABLE TO THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT EXCEED THE COST OF ROUND TRIP TRAVEL TO THE "PLACES OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE" AT TIME OF APPOINTMENT OR TRANSFER TO OVERSEAS POST OF DUTY.' ( ITALIC SUPPLIED.) THAT STATEMENT WAS NOT INTENDED TO BE CONSTRUED AS RECOGNIZING A "TRAVEL TOUR" CONCEPT. THE STATUTE AUTHORIZES TRAVEL FOR LEAVE PURPOSES TO "PLACES OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE.' AS RECOGNIZED IN 35 COMP. GEN. 246, THAT PHRASE IS NOT VIEWED AS REQUIRING TRAVEL TO THE ACTUAL RESIDENCE BEFORE THE TRAVEL EXPENSES ARE ALLOWABLE. BY ITS TERMS, HOWEVER, THE STATUTORY REGULATIONS, ABOVE, AUTHORIZE TRAVEL ONLY TO "ANOTHER LOCATION.' THE REGULATIONS DO NOT PROVIDE FOR TRAVEL TO VARIOUS LOCATIONS FOR PERSONAL CONVENIENCE. THUS, THE REGULATIONS PERMIT ELECTION OF AN ALTERNATE DESTINATION, WHICH ORDINARILY SHOULD BE SPECIFIED IN ADVANCE OF THE TRAVEL. THE COST PAYABLE BY THE GOVERNMENT FOR TRAVEL TO THE ALTERNATE LOCATION IS RESTRICTED TO COST ACTUALLY INCURRED AND MAY NOT EXCEED CONSTRUCTIVE COST TO ACTUAL PLACE OF RESIDENCE.