B-137548, NOVEMBER 14, 1958, 38 COMP. GEN. 356

B-137548: Nov 14, 1958

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IS THE BASIS OF DENIAL OF PER DIEM IS ESSENTIALLY A FACTUAL MATTER FOR DETERMINATION IN EACH PARTICULAR CASE AND A TRAVELER WHO INDICATES THAT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE TO REACH THE AIRPORT. TURN IN A GOVERNMENT CAR AND HAVE TIME TO GET THE EARLIER OF TWO FLIGHTS HAS SATISFIED THE REQUIREMENTS OF STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. THE VOUCHER IS FOR $6 AND IT REPRESENTS PER DIEM FOR ONE-HALF DAY WHICH WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DEDUCTED FROM PAYMENT ON THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL VOUCHER BECAUSE MR. KANTNER COULD HAVE TAKEN AN EARLIER PLANE FROM PORTLAND. THE FACTS REPORTED ARE THAT MR. KANTNER WAS DIRECTED TO PROCEED TO ALBANY. SINCE THE MEETINGS WERE SCHEDULED TO LAST UNTIL 5:00 P.M. KANTNER COULD HAVE TAKEN A FLIGHT SCHEDULED TO LEAVE PORTLAND.

B-137548, NOVEMBER 14, 1958, 38 COMP. GEN. 356

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - PER DIEM -DELAYS - EARLIEST SCHEDULED DEPARTURE WHETHER ADDITIONAL TIME SPENT BY A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE IN A TRAVEL STATUS, AS A RESULT OF TAKING THE LATER OF TWO AIRPLANE FLIGHTS, IS THE BASIS OF DENIAL OF PER DIEM IS ESSENTIALLY A FACTUAL MATTER FOR DETERMINATION IN EACH PARTICULAR CASE AND A TRAVELER WHO INDICATES THAT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE TO REACH THE AIRPORT, TURN IN A GOVERNMENT CAR AND HAVE TIME TO GET THE EARLIER OF TWO FLIGHTS HAS SATISFIED THE REQUIREMENTS OF STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, WHICH REQUIRE THE TRAVELER TO USE DUE CARE IN THE INCURRENCE OF EXPENSES, AND PER DIEM FOR THE ADDITIONAL TRAVEL TIME MAY BE PAID.

TO W. F. OWEN, JR., DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, NOVEMBER 14, 1958:

ON SEPTEMBER 30, 1958, YOU REQUESTED OUR DECISION WHETHER THE ENCLOSED RECLAIM VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF MR. FRANK R. KANTNER COULD BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. THE VOUCHER IS FOR $6 AND IT REPRESENTS PER DIEM FOR ONE-HALF DAY WHICH WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DEDUCTED FROM PAYMENT ON THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL VOUCHER BECAUSE MR. KANTNER COULD HAVE TAKEN AN EARLIER PLANE FROM PORTLAND, OREGON, TO WASHINGTON, D.C.

THE FACTS REPORTED ARE THAT MR. KANTNER WAS DIRECTED TO PROCEED TO ALBANY, OREGON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF ATTENDING ADMINISTRATIVE MEETINGS AT THAT STATION DURING THE WEEK OF MAY 19-23, 1958. THE TRAVEL INVOLVED TRANSCONTINENTAL CONNECTIONS; THEREFORE, MR. KANTNER MADE HIS RESERVATIONS WELL IN ADVANCE OF THE MEETINGS AS HE HAS INDICATED ON HIS VOUCHER. SINCE THE MEETINGS WERE SCHEDULED TO LAST UNTIL 5:00 P.M. MAY 23, 1958, MR. KANTNER MADE RESERVATIONS TO DEPART FROM PORTLAND, OREGON, 75 MILES FROM ALBANY, AT 8:45 A.M. MAY 24, 1958, FOR A NONSTOP FLIGHT TO CHICAGO WHERE HE WOULD MAKE CONNECTIONS FOR A FLIGHT ON TO WASHINGTON. THE MEETINGS AT ALBANY ENDED AT ABOUT 3:30 P.M. ON MAY 23, 1958, BUT MR. KANTNER ADHERED TO HIS ORIGINAL FLIGHT SCHEDULE. THE NOTICE OF EXCEPTION SHOWS THAT MR. KANTNER COULD HAVE TAKEN A FLIGHT SCHEDULED TO LEAVE PORTLAND, OREGON, FOR (CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, AT 6:35 ON MAY 23, 1958.

IN REPLY TO THE EXCEPTION MR. KANTNER MAKES THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT ON HIS RECLAIM VOUCHER:

WHEN THE TENTATIVE AGENDA AND THE FINAL PROGRAM FOR THE ADMINISTRATIVE MEETINGS WERE PUBLISHED, WE WERE SCHEDULED FOR WORKSHOP SESSIONS DURING THE AFTERNOON OF MAY 23, UNTIL 5:00 P.M. ON THE BASIS OF THIS INFORMATION, RESERVATIONS WERE MADE, WELL IN ADVANCE, TO DEPART FROM PORTLAND ON THE MORNING OF MAY 24. PORTLAND IS APPROXIMATELY 75 MILES NORTH OF ALBANY. THERE WERE AT LEAST TWELVE BUREAU OF MINES PERSONNEL ON THE SAME FLIGHT AND OTHER BUREAU PERSONNEL WHO LEFT ON SATURDAY MORNING FOR OTHER POINTS. WHEN IT BECAME KNOWN EARLY THE AFTERNOON OF MAY 23, THAT THE MEETINGS MIGHT END EARLIER THAN PLANNED, IT WAS HIGHLY IMPROBABLE THAT TWELVE OR MORE RESERVATIONS FOR SATURDAY MORNING COULD BE CANCELED AND RESCHEDULED FOR A PORTLAND TO CHICAGO FLIGHT LEAVING FRIDAY EVENING, WHICH IS A TIME OF HEAVY WEEKEND TRAVEL. IN ADDITION, THE 6:00 P.M. ARRIVAL SHOWN ON MY ORIGINAL VOUCHER WAS AT THE MULTONOMAH HOTEL IN DOWNTOWN PORTLAND. THE AIRPORT IS LOCATED ON THE NORTHERN LIMITS OF THE CITY AND DURING THE RUSH HOUR WOULD BE A DRIVE OF 45 MINUTES TO 1 HOUR. THEREFORE, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE TO DRIVE TO THE AIRPORT, TURN IN THE GSA CAR TO THE HERTZ PARKING LOT AND STILL HAVE TIME TO MAKE THE 6:35 P.M. FLIGHT. * * *

SECTION 1 (PARAGRAPH 1.1 AND 1.2) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS AMENDED, PROVIDES THAT EMPLOYEES TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS "ARE EXPECTED TO EXERCISE THE SAME CARE IN INCURRING EXPENSES THAT A PRUDENT PERSON WOULD EXERCISE IF TRAVELING ON PERSONAL BUSINESS," AND CONFINES REIMBURSABLE EXPENSES "TO THOSE EXPENSES ESSENTIAL TO THE TRANSACTING OF OFFICIAL INESS.' WHETHER A TRAVELER USES DUE CARE IN THE INCURRENCE OF AN EXPENSE AND WHETHER THE EXPENSE IS ESSENTIAL TO THE TRANSACTION OF THE OFFICIAL BUSINESS ARE ESSENTIALLY FACTUAL MATTERS FOR DETERMINATION IN EACH PARTICULAR CASE. SEE 33 COMP. GEN. 221.

HERE THE TRAVELER HAS STATED HE DID NOT ARRIVE IN PORTLAND, OREGON, UNTIL 6:00 P.M. ON MAY 23, 1958, THAT IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN 45 MINUTES TO ONE HOUR TO GET TO THE AIRPORT, AND THAT UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES IT WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM TO DRIVE TO THE AIRPORT, TURN IN THE GOVERNMENT CAR, AND STILL HAVE TIME TO GET THE 6:35 P.M. FLIGHT TO CHICAGO. WE ARE OF THE VIEW THAT THE TRAVELER'S EXPLANATION OF THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES CONCERNING HIS INABILITY TO GET THE 6:35 P.M. FLIGHT TO CHICAGO ARE REASONABLE AND THAT THEY SATISFY THE ABOVE-CITED REQUIREMENTS OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

THEREFORE, THE VOUCHER WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.