B-140061, AUGUST 19, 1959, 39 COMP. GEN. 117

B-140061: Aug 19, 1959

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THE ITEM IS REPORTED TO REPRESENT ONE HALF OF 70 PERCENT DEDUCTED FROM CLAIMANT'S PER DIEM BECAUSE HIS WIFE. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES YOU ASK IF THE ADDITIONAL 35 PERCENT DEDUCTION SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE FROM THE EMPLOYEE'S PER DIEM ALLOWANCE BASED ON MANUAL ORDER 560.2. YOU POINT OUT THAT EVEN THOUGH THE GOVERNMENT MAY NOT HAVE INCURRED ANY ADDITIONAL EXPENSES RESULTING FROM THE EMPLOYEE'S WIFE OCCUPYING GOVERNMENT QUARTERS. READS AS FOLLOWS: * * * AUTHORIZING OFFICERS SHOULD SEE THAT TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS PERMIT ONLY SUCH PER DIEM ALLOWANCES AS ARE JUSTIFIED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF TRAVEL. THIS IS ALSO TRUE WITH RESPECT TO AUTHORIZATIONS COVERING TRAVEL BY LOCAL EMPLOYEES. WHERE MEALS AND/OR LODGING ARE OFFICIALLY FURNISHED BY A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY WITHOUT CHARGE.

B-140061, AUGUST 19, 1959, 39 COMP. GEN. 117

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - WIFE ACCOMPANYING HUSBAND ON OFFICIAL TRIP - LODGING FURNISHED WIFE - CHARGE IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY LAW OF GENERAL APPLICATION WHICH PERMITS THE FURNISHING OF GOVERNMENT QUARTERS TO PRIVATE PERSONS WITHOUT CHARGE, THE JOINT OCCUPANCY OF GOVERNMENT-FURNISHED QUARTERS BY A WIFE WHO ACCOMPANIES HER EMPLOYEE-HUSBAND DURING AN OFFICIAL TRIP AT HIS OWN PERSONAL EXPENSE REQUIRES A CHARGE AGAINST THE EMPLOYEE FOR THE REASONABLE VALUE OF THE LODGING FURNISHED TO THE WIFE, IN ADDITION TO THE DEDUCTION FROM PER DIEM REQUIRED BY THE REGULATIONS TO BE MADE FOR LODGING FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT TO THE EMPLOYEE.

TO NEAL J. PRICE, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION ADMINISTRATION, AUGUST 19, 1959:

ON JUNE 26, 1959, YOU REQUESTED OUR DECISION WHETHER AN ITEM IN THE AMOUNT OF $77.85 SHOWN ON AN ENCLOSED RECLAIM VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF MR. GEORGE B. BEITZELL MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. THE ITEM IS REPORTED TO REPRESENT ONE HALF OF 70 PERCENT DEDUCTED FROM CLAIMANT'S PER DIEM BECAUSE HIS WIFE, WHO HAD NO GOVERNMENT TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION, SHARED WITH HIM GOVERNMENT FURNISHED QUARTERS DURING THE PERIOD OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTY IN MOGADISCIO, SOMALIA.

YOU SAY THAT MRS. BEITZELL ACCOMPANIED HER HUSBAND AT HIS OWN EXPENSE. HOWEVER, SHE DID SHARE GOVERNMENT FURNISHED QUARTERS FROM JANUARY 28, TO MARCH 13, 1959, THE PERIOD OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTY IN MOGADISCIO. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES YOU ASK IF THE ADDITIONAL 35 PERCENT DEDUCTION SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE FROM THE EMPLOYEE'S PER DIEM ALLOWANCE BASED ON MANUAL ORDER 560.2. YOU POINT OUT THAT EVEN THOUGH THE GOVERNMENT MAY NOT HAVE INCURRED ANY ADDITIONAL EXPENSES RESULTING FROM THE EMPLOYEE'S WIFE OCCUPYING GOVERNMENT QUARTERS, IT ELIMINATED THE NECESSITY FOR THE EMPLOYEE TO PAY FOR HER ACCOMMODATIONS ELSEWHERE.

THE PERTINENT PROVISIONS OF ICA MANUAL ORDER NO. 560.2, PARAGRAPH II, G. A, READS AS FOLLOWS:

* * * AUTHORIZING OFFICERS SHOULD SEE THAT TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS PERMIT ONLY SUCH PER DIEM ALLOWANCES AS ARE JUSTIFIED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF TRAVEL. THIS IS ALSO TRUE WITH RESPECT TO AUTHORIZATIONS COVERING TRAVEL BY LOCAL EMPLOYEES. THE RATE ALLOWED SHOULD NOT BE IN EXCESS OF THAT REQUIRED TO MEET NECESSARY SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES. WHERE MEALS AND/OR LODGING ARE OFFICIALLY FURNISHED BY A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY WITHOUT CHARGE, OR AT A NOMINAL COST, THE PER DIEM WILL BE REDUCED BY 15 PERCENT FOR EACH MEAL AND 35 PERCENT FOR LODGING, LESS THE ACTUAL AMOUNTS PAID BY THE TRAVELER FOR SUCH MEALS AND/OR LODGING. * * *

WHILE THE ABOVE-QUOTED REGULATION CLEARLY REQUIRES A DEDUCTION OF 35 PERCENT FROM AN EMPLOYEE'S PER DIEM FOR LODGING FURNISHED WITHOUT CHARGE BY A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY, THE REGULATION DOES NOT REQUIRE AN ADDITIONAL 35 PERCENT CHARGE FOR THE OCCUPATION WITHOUT CHARGE OF GOVERNMENT QUARTERS BY THE EMPLOYEE'S WIFE. HOWEVER, WE KNOW OF NO LAW OF GENERAL APPLICATION UNDER WHICH PRIVATE PERSONS MAY BE FURNISHED GOVERNMENT LODGING WITHOUT CHARGE. IN FACT, IF THIS WERE PERMITTED UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN THIS CASE, IT WOULD HAVE THE EFFECT OF GIVING PRIVATE PERSONS A DISTINCT ADVANTAGE OVER A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE WHO MUST HAVE HIS PER DIEM REDUCED BY 35 PERCENT WHEN GOVERNMENT LODGING IS FURNISHED WITHOUT CHARGE OR AT A NOMINAL COST.

THEREFORE, OUR VIEW IS THAT THE EMPLOYEE IN THIS CASE, WHOSE WIFE OCCUPIED GOVERNMENT QUARTERS, SHOULD BE CHARGED THE REASONABLE VALUE OF THE LODGING FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT. SINCE IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE CONCERNED TO ASCERTAIN THE REASONABLE VALUE OF SUCH LODGING, WE WILL NOT QUESTION THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION IN THIS CASE THAT 35 PERCENT OF THE EMPLOYEE'S PER DIEM SHOULD BE USED AS THE MEANS OF DETERMINING THE REASONABLE VALUE OF THE LODGING FURNISHED THE EMPLOYEE'S WIFE. HOWEVER, CONSIDERATION SHOULD BE GIVEN AS TO WHETHER AN ADDITIONAL 35 PERCENT REDUCTION MIGHT BE EXCESSIVE IN VIEW OF THE CLAIMANT'S ALLEGATION THAT HE PROVIDED LINENS AND OTHER ITEMS NOT FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT.

WE HAVE NOT VERIFIED THE COMPUTATIONS AND DEDUCTIONS MADE BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE ON THE ORIGINAL VOUCHER NO. 9214053 WHICH APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN PAID, HOWEVER, IT APPEARS THAT AN INSUFFICIENT AMOUNT MAY HAVE BEEN DEDUCTED FROM THE EMPLOYEE'S PER DIEM FOR THE GOVERNMENT FURNISHED QUARTERS DURING THE PERIOD OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTY IN MOGADISCIO. THEREFORE, WE SUGGEST THAT THE COMPUTATIONS ON SUCH VOUCHER BE VERIFIED AND COLLECTION ACTION BE INSTITUTED FOR ANY OVERPAYMENTS WHICH MAY HAVE BEEN MADE.