B-140106, OCTOBER 29, 1959, 39 COMP. GEN. 322

B-140106: Oct 29, 1959

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MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR THE TRAVEL NOT TO EXCEED THE PER DIEM WHICH WOULD HAVE ACCRUED HAD THEY REMAINED AT THE TEMPORARY DUTY STATION IS PROPER UNDER SECTION 303 (A) OF THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT OF 1949. 1959: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF JUNE 10. FROM THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY ( FISCAL MANAGEMENT) REQUESTING DECISION AS TO CERTAIN MATTERS WHICH HAVE BEEN ASSIGNED CONTROL NO. 59-26 BY THE PER DIEM TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE. NOT TO EXCEED THE AMOUNT OF PER DIEM WHICH WOULD HAVE ACCRUED TO THEM HAD THEY REMAINED AT THE TEMPORARY DUTY POINT. DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THOSE REGULATIONS MAY BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE THAT MEMBERS WHO ARE ASSESSED FIXED CHARGES FOR QUARTERS AND MEALS.

B-140106, OCTOBER 29, 1959, 39 COMP. GEN. 322

MILITARY PERSONNEL - TRAVEL EXPENSES - RETURN TO OFFICIAL STATION OVER WEEKENDS, ETC. AN AMENDMENT TO THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS TO PROVIDE THAT MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES WHO VOLUNTARILY RETURN FROM TEMPORARY DUTY STATIONS TO THEIR PERMANENT STATIONS OR PLACES OF ABODE OVER WEEKENDS, HOLIDAYS, ETC., MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR THE TRAVEL NOT TO EXCEED THE PER DIEM WHICH WOULD HAVE ACCRUED HAD THEY REMAINED AT THE TEMPORARY DUTY STATION IS PROPER UNDER SECTION 303 (A) OF THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT OF 1949, 37 U.S.C. 253, WHICH NOT ONLY AUTHORIZES PAYMENT OF TRAVEL ALLOWANCES TO MEMBERS AWAY FROM THEIR DESIGNATED POSTS OF DUTY UNDER ORDERS BUT PERMITS THE SECRETARIES CONCERNED TO ESTABLISH OR TO ADJUST THOSE ALLOWANCES BY REGULATION.

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY, OCTOBER 29, 1959:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF JUNE 10, 1959, FROM THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY ( FISCAL MANAGEMENT) REQUESTING DECISION AS TO CERTAIN MATTERS WHICH HAVE BEEN ASSIGNED CONTROL NO. 59-26 BY THE PER DIEM TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE.

THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER REQUESTS DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS MAY BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE THAT MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES WHO VOLUNTARILY RETURN TO THEIR PERMANENT STATIONS OR PLACES OF ABODE DURING PERIODS OF TEMPORARY DUTY MAY BE PAID FOR TRAVEL ON AN "AS-PERFORMED" BASIS, NOT TO EXCEED THE AMOUNT OF PER DIEM WHICH WOULD HAVE ACCRUED TO THEM HAD THEY REMAINED AT THE TEMPORARY DUTY POINT. NOT, DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THOSE REGULATIONS MAY BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE THAT MEMBERS WHO ARE ASSESSED FIXED CHARGES FOR QUARTERS AND MEALS, OR WHO BY NECESSITY MAINTAIN COMMERCIAL LODGINGS, AT A TEMPORARY POINT MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR THE EXPENSE OF THE RETURN TRAVEL NOT TO EXCEED (1) THE PER DIEM WHICH WOULD HAVE ACCRUED; (2) THE FIXED CHARGES (PRORATED) FOR QUARTERS AND MEALS; OR (3) THE CHARGES FOR COMMERCIAL LODGING, WHICHEVER MAY BE THE LEAST. ALSO, RECONSIDERATION IS REQUESTED WITH RESPECT TO THE STATEMENT IN OUR DECISION OF JUNE 3, 1957, B-131414, THAT A PROVISION (IN TEMPORARY DUTY ORDERS) REQUIRING AN OFFICER TO COMMUTE DAILY BETWEEN HIS PERMANENT STATION AND HIS TEMPORARY STATION, UNLESS HE WAS REQUIRED TO PERFORM SOME DUTY AT HIS PERMANENT STATION, WOULD BE OF QUESTIONABLE VALIDITY.

IT IS STATED THAT THE TENOR OF DECISIONS RENDERED BY THIS OFFICE UNDER THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS IS THAT THE VOLUNTARY RETURN OF MEMBERS TO THEIR PERMANENT STATION IS NOT TRAVEL ON PUBLIC BUSINESS AND IS NOT DIRECTED BY COMPETENT ORDERS. IT IS CONTENDED, HOWEVER, THAT MEMBERS FREQUENTLY MAINTAIN COMMERCIAL LODGING AT PERSONAL EXPENSE AT THEIR TEMPORARY STATIONS DURING PERIODS WHEN THEY RETURN TO PERMANENT STATIONS OR PLACES OF ABODE, PARTICULARLY WHEN SUCH RETURNS ARE MERELY OVER WEEKENDS OR HOLIDAYS, AND THAT IN MANY CASES FIXED CHARGES FOR MEALS AND LODGING CONTINUE WHETHER THE MEMBER IS THERE OR NOT. ALSO, IT IS STATED THAT PRIOR TO THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, WHEN MILEAGE OFTEN WAS THE AUTHORIZED FORM OF REIMBURSEMENT FOR TEMPORARY DUTY TRAVEL, THE NECESSITY FOR DENYING PAYMENTS FOR VOLUNTARY RETURNS TO THE PERMANENT STATION COULD BE READILY UNDERSTOOD. NOW, HOWEVER, SINCE PER DIEM PLUS TRANSPORTATION OR REIMBURSEMENT THEREFOR IS THE STANDARD FORM OF REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL OF THIS TYPE, IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THERE WOULD APPEAR NO REASON WHY MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES MAY NOT BE PAID TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR VOLUNTARY RETURNS NOT TO EXCEED THE AMOUNT WHICH WOULD HAVE ACCRUED HAD THEY REMAINED AT THE TEMPORARY DUTY POINT. IT IS SUGGESTED, TOO, THAT THERE SHOULD BE NO CONTRAST BETWEEN MILITARY AND CIVILIAN PERSONNEL IN INSTANCES WHERE RETURN TRAVEL TO THE PERMANENT STATION IS PERFORMED DURING PERIODS OF TEMPORARY DUTY, WHETHER SUCH TRAVEL IS PERFORMED BY DIRECTION OR VOLUNTARILY.

SECTION 303 (A) OF THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT OF 1949, AS AMENDED, 37 U.S.C. 253, PROVIDES, IN PERTINENT PART, THAT UNDER REGULATIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARIES CONCERNED, MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES SHALL BE ENTITLED TO TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCES FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED UNDER COMPETENT ORDERS OR WHEN AWAY FROM THEIR DESIGNATED POSTS OF DUTY. SINCE THE LAW AUTHORIZES PAYMENT OF TRAVEL ALLOWANCES TO MEMBERS WHEN AWAY FROM THEIR DESIGNATED POSTS OF DUTY UNDER ORDERS, AND SINCE THOSE ALLOWANCES MAY BE ESTABLISHED OR ADJUSTED BY REGULATIONS BY THE SECRETARIES CONCERNED, THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS MAY BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE THAT MEMBERS WHO VOLUNTARILY RETURN FROM THE TEMPORARY DUTY POINT MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR THE TRAVEL NOT TO EXCEED THE PER DIEM WHICH WOULD HAVE ACCRUED HAD THEY REMAINED AT THE TEMPORARY DUTY POINT. SEE 27 COMP. GEN. 50.

WITH REFERENCE TO OUR DECISION OF JUNE 3, 1957, B-131414, IT IS TO BE NOTED THAT NO CONCLUSION WAS REACHED AS TO THE MERITS OF THE CASE BECAUSE OF THE VAGUE MANNER IN WHICH THE ORDERS THERE INVOLVED WERE DRAFTED. APPARENTLY, THE TRAVEL DIRECTED BY THE ORDERS WAS CONSIDERED TO BE OF A LOCAL NATURE IN WHICH EVENT IT IS CONSIDERED THAT REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL WOULD BE PRECLUDED BY PARAGRAPH 6450 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. ANY MILEAGE IS TO BE PAID IN SUCH CASES, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT PROVISION THEREFOR SHOULD BE MADE IN REGULATIONS PROMULGATED UNDER SECTION 2 (M) OF THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 1, 1954, 40 U.S.C. 491 (M).