B-138071, FEB 27, 1959

B-138071: Feb 27, 1959

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THE AIR JOURNEY TO WASHINGTON WAS COMPLETED VIA BRANIFF INTERNATIONAL AIRWAYS PLANE LEAVING PANAMA AT 2:00 A.M. ALL AIR TICKETS WERE PROCURED ON GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS. THE TRAVEL FROM PANAMA TO WASHINGTON WAS VIA FIRST-CLASS WITH SLEEPER BERTH ACCOMMODATIONS USED BETWEEN PANAMA AND MIAMI. WE UNDERSTAND THAT MIAMI IS THE CARRIER'S FIRST STOP IN THE UNITED STATES FROM PANAMA. ALSO IS THE PLACE WHERE CHANGES IN CARRIER CREWS ARE EFFECTED. WHERE THE TRAVELERS WERE REQUIRED TO CLEAR CUSTOMS. CONTEMPLATE THE USE OF SLEEPER PLANE ACCOMMODATIONS WHEN NIGHT TRAVEL OF SIX OR MORE HOURS DURATION IS INVOLVED. THE FOREIGN SERVICE TRAVEL REGULATIONS WERE AMENDED. IS INVOLVED. ONE STANDARD BERTH SHALL BE ALLOWED FOR EACH TRAVLER 5 YEARS OF AGE OR OVER IF SUCH ACCOMMODATIONS ARE AVAILABLE ***.

B-138071, FEB 27, 1959

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

MR. A. N. FLATEQUAL:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 28, 1958, REQUESTING OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHER FOR $115.50, TRANSMITTED THEREWITH IN FAVOR OF MR. HERBERT W. MUMFORD, JR., PROPERLY MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION DATED SEPTEMBER 12, 1957, AS AMENDED, ASSIGNMENT IN QUITO, ECUADOR, TO PROCEED TO WASHINGTON, D. C., ON OR ABOUT SEPTEMBER 12, 1957, FOR HOME LEAVE AND REASSIGNMENT TO WASHINGTON. THE TRANSFER ORDERS CONTAINED AUTHORITY FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE OFFICER'S HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS BY AIR FREIGHT AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE; AUTHORIZED TRAVEL FOR HIS FAMILY (WIFE, AND TWO CHILDREN, AGES 12 AND 16), BY COMMERCIAL AIR WITH SLEEPER PLANE ACCOMMODATIONS, AND PROVIDED FOR PER DIEM AT THE MAXIMUM RATE PRESCRIBED BY THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS AMENDED.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE OFFICER AND HIS FAMILY TRAVELED FROM QUITO TO PANAMA BY AIR ON NOVEMBER 3, 1957, USING FOUR TOURIST CLASS TICKETS SUPPLIED BY THE PAN AMERICAN-GRACE AIRWAYS, INC. AFTER TWO DAYS OF AUTHORIZED LEAVE IN PANAMA, THE AIR JOURNEY TO WASHINGTON WAS COMPLETED VIA BRANIFF INTERNATIONAL AIRWAYS PLANE LEAVING PANAMA AT 2:00 A.M. AND ARRIVING IN WASHINGTON AT 10:30 A.M., NOVEMBER 6, 1957. ALL AIR TICKETS WERE PROCURED ON GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS; THE TRAVEL FROM PANAMA TO WASHINGTON WAS VIA FIRST-CLASS WITH SLEEPER BERTH ACCOMMODATIONS USED BETWEEN PANAMA AND MIAMI. WE UNDERSTAND THAT MIAMI IS THE CARRIER'S FIRST STOP IN THE UNITED STATES FROM PANAMA, AND ALSO IS THE PLACE WHERE CHANGES IN CARRIER CREWS ARE EFFECTED, AND WHERE THE TRAVELERS WERE REQUIRED TO CLEAR CUSTOMS.

ALTHOUGH THE JOURNEY FROM PANAMA REQUIRED THE TRAVELERS TO REMAIN IN A CONTINUOUS TRAVEL STATUS FOR 8 1/2 HOURS, FROM 2:00 A.M. TO 10:30 A.M., OR ONE 6-HOUR PERIOD (INCLUDING 75-MINUTE STOPOVER), AND A FRACTION, YOUR DOUBT IN THE MATTER CONCERNS THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR SLEEPER BERTH ACCOMMODATIONS, SINCE THE ACTUAL FLIGHT FROM PANAMA TO MIAMI REQUIRED ABOUT FOUR HOURS, WHEREAS THE FOREIGN SERVICE TRAVEL REGULATIONS (SECTION 4.52) IN EFFECT DURING NOVEMBER 1957, CONTEMPLATE THE USE OF SLEEPER PLANE ACCOMMODATIONS WHEN NIGHT TRAVEL OF SIX OR MORE HOURS DURATION IS INVOLVED.

EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 1, 1958, THE FOREIGN SERVICE TRAVEL REGULATIONS WERE AMENDED, AND NOW READ, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"4.52 ACCOMMODATIONS ON PLANES

"EACH AUTHORIZED TRAVELER SHALL BE ALLOWED A STANDARD SEAT ON AN AIRPLANE. WHEN AIR TRAVEL OF MORE THAN 18 HOURS' DURATION, WITHOUT STOPOVER, IS INVOLVED, ONE STANDARD BERTH SHALL BE ALLOWED FOR EACH TRAVLER 5 YEARS OF AGE OR OVER IF SUCH ACCOMMODATIONS ARE AVAILABLE ***. WHEN AIR TRAVEL OF MORE THAN 18 HOURS' DURATION, WITHOUT STOPOVER, IS INVOLVED, AND SLEEPER SEAT ACCOMMODATIONS ARE USED INSTEAD OF BERTHS, EACH AUTHORIZED TRAVLER SHALL BE ALLOWED A SLEEPER SEAT. WHEN A SLEEPER BERTH IS USED FOR NIGHT TRAVEL ON FLIGHTS OF MORE THAN 18 HOURS' DURATION, WITHOUT STOPOVER, ONLY THE COST OF THE STANDARD SEAT, IF AVAILABLE, SHALL BE ALLOWED FOR DAYTIME TRVEL. EXCEPTIONS FOR THE USE OF A SLEEPER BERTH FOR AIR TRAVEL OF LESS THAN 18 HOURS' DURATION MAY BE AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED BY THE AUTHORIZING OR APPROVING OFFICER (SEE FSTR 1.2K) IF IN HIS JUDGMENT THE CIRCUMSTANCES WARRANT. AS USED IN THIS SUBSECTION, 'STOPOVER' IS DEFINED AS ANY SCHEDULED BREAK IN JOURNEY OF 6 HOURS OR MORE."

SINCE THE REGULATIONS LAST QUOTED ARE AT VARIANCE WITH THOSE APPEARING IN SECTION 3.6C(2) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, THEY ARE NOW SPECIFICALLY APPLICABLE TO ALL TRAVEL PERFORMED BY PERSONNEL OF THE FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL SERVICE. CONSEQUENTLY, NO SIMILAR CASE WILL LIKELY BE PRESENTED FOR CONSIDERATION BY YOUR AGENCY FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED ON AND AFTER OCTOBER 1, 1958.

FROM THE CLAIMANT'S STATEMENTS ATTACHED TO THE VOUCHER, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT ALL TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS WERE MADE BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE AMERICAN EMBASSY IN QUITO, WITH FULL KNOWLEDGE OF HIS PLAN FOR TWO DAYS OF ANNUAL LEAVE IN PANAMA. EVIDENTLY HE RELIED UPON THE ADVICE GIVEN HIM BY EMBASSY STAFF CONCERNING THE PLANE ACCOMMODATIONS AVAILABLE FROM PANAMA, SINCE HE INDICATES THAT HE WAS NOT AWARE THAT THEY WOULD BE REQUIRED TO RELINQUISH THEIR SLEEPER ACCOMMODATIONS OR GET OFF THE PLANE AT MIAMI. PARTICULARLY NOTE THAT ALTHOUGH SLEEPER BERTH ACCOMMODATIONS WERE USED ONLY FOUR HOURS, THE FLIGHT FROM MIAMI WAS COMPLETED IN THE SAME PLANE AND THE MIAMI STOPOVER OF 1 1/2 HOURS ALL OCCURRED WITHIN THE FIRST 6-HOUR PERIOD. THE REGULATIONS DO NOT DEFINE THE TERM "NIGHT TRAVEL"; AND, WHILE THE PROPRIETY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE ADVICE IS OPEN TO QUESTION, SUCH ADVICE WAS NOT CLEARLY ERRONEOUS. ALSO, WE NOTE THAT THE STOPOVER WAS LESS THAN SIX HOURS AND THAT PER DIEM FOR THE TRAVEL BETWEEN PANAMA AND WASHINGTON HAS BEEN COMPUTED AT THE $6 RATE.

IN THE LIGHT OF THE RELATED FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES, PAYMENT OF TRANSPORTATION CHARGES INCLUDING THE SLEEPER BERTHS, IF VERIFIED AND FOUND TO BE CORRECT, NEED NOT BE FURTHER QUESTIONED.

THE REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHER CONTAINS SEVERAL PER DIEM COMPUTATION DISCREPANCIES ALTHOUGH THE TOTAL AMOUNT CLAIMED THEREON APPEARS TO BE DUE. UPON MAKING THE NECESSARY CORRECTIONS TO SHOW PER DIEM COMPUTATIONS FOR FOUR INSTEAD OF FIVE INDIVIDUALS FOR NOVEMBER 3 AND FOR ONE-HALF DAY NOVEMBER 6, INCLUDING EIGHT ADDITIONAL DAYS FOR THE OFFICER FROM NOON NOVEMBER 6, THROUGH NOON NOVEMBER 14, 1957, THE VOUCHER, RETURNED HEREWITH, IF OTHERWISE PROPER, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.