B-140663, SEPTEMBER 30, 1959, 39 COMP. GEN. 250

B-140663: Sep 30, 1959

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IS FOR COMPUTATION FROM THE TIME THE EMPLOYEE BEGAN TRAVEL ON THE BASIS OF THE REASONABLE DRIVING TIME DIRECT TO THE NEW STATION. ARRIVED AT THE NEW STATION WHICH WAS 601 MILES DISTANT AT 2:10 P.M. FOUR DAYS LATER IS ENTITLED TO HAVE THE TRAVEL TIME BASED ON REASONABLE DRIVING TIME COMPUTED FROM THE TIME OF DEPARTURE TO THE BEGINNING OF THE FOURTH DAY. A CHARGE TO ANNUAL LEAVE FOR THE THIRD DAY BASED ON EXCESS TRAVEL TIME COMPUTED ON COMMON CARRIER TIME WAS IMPROPER. A CHARGE TO ANNUAL LEAVE FOR THE FIVE HOURS OF EXCESS TRAVEL TIME ON THE FOURTH DAY IS REQUIRED. THE REQUEST IN THIS INSTANCE WILL BE ANSWERED AS IF IT HAD COME FROM YOU. THE QUESTION INVOLVES AN EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION WHO WAS REASSIGNED FROM OAK VIEW.

B-140663, SEPTEMBER 30, 1959, 39 COMP. GEN. 250

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - TRAVEL TIME - TRANSFERS - EXCESS TRAVEL TIME - CHARGE TO ANNUAL LEAVE - TRAVEL BEGINNING ON NONWORKDAY AN EMPLOYEE WHO, UNDER A TRANSFER TRAVEL ORDER WHICH AUTHORIZED THE USE OF A PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE NOT TO EXCEED THE COST BY COMMON CARRIER, ELECTS TO BEGIN TRAVEL BY AUTOMOBILE ON A NONWORKDAY, EVEN THOUGH THE ORDERS PERMITTED BUT DID NOT DIRECT TRAVEL TO BEGIN AT THAT TIME, HAS PLACED HIMSELF IN A TRAVEL STATUS UPON DEPARTURE WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS WHICH REQUIRE THAT THE EMPLOYEE TRAVEL DIRECTLY AND WITHOUT DELAY SO THAT THE TRAVEL TIME, WHILE NOT LIMITED TO THE TIME BY COMMON CARRIER, IS FOR COMPUTATION FROM THE TIME THE EMPLOYEE BEGAN TRAVEL ON THE BASIS OF THE REASONABLE DRIVING TIME DIRECT TO THE NEW STATION. AN EMPLOYEE WHO, UNDER A TRANSFER TRAVEL ORDER WHICH AUTHORIZED THE USE OF A PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE, NOT TO EXCEED THE COST BY COMMON CARRIER, LEFT HIS OLD STATION ON SATURDAY--- A NONWORKDAY--- AT 8:30 P.M. AND ARRIVED AT THE NEW STATION WHICH WAS 601 MILES DISTANT AT 2:10 P.M. FOUR DAYS LATER IS ENTITLED TO HAVE THE TRAVEL TIME BASED ON REASONABLE DRIVING TIME COMPUTED FROM THE TIME OF DEPARTURE TO THE BEGINNING OF THE FOURTH DAY; THEREFORE, A CHARGE TO ANNUAL LEAVE FOR THE THIRD DAY BASED ON EXCESS TRAVEL TIME COMPUTED ON COMMON CARRIER TIME WAS IMPROPER, BUT A CHARGE TO ANNUAL LEAVE FOR THE FIVE HOURS OF EXCESS TRAVEL TIME ON THE FOURTH DAY IS REQUIRED.

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, SEPTEMBER 30, 1959:

ON AUGUST 31, 1959, THE ACTING ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF RECLAMATION, REFERENCE 540, REQUESTED OUR DECISION CONCERNING TRAVEL TIME ALLOWABLE TO AN EMPLOYEE TRAVELING BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE ON A PERMANENT CHANGE OF DUTY STATION. IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR SUBORDINATE'S REQUEST FOR OUR DECISION, WE DIRECT YOUR ATTENTION TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 8 OF THE ACT OF JULY 3, 1894, 28 STAT. 207, 208 AS AMENDED, 31 U.S.C. 74, WHICH AUTHORIZES ADVANCE DECISIONS BY OUR OFFICE ONLY UPON THE REQUEST OF A DISBURSING OFFICER OR THE HEAD OF ANY EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT OR OTHER ESTABLISHMENT NOT UNDER ANY OF THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS. 26 COMP. GEN. 993. HOWEVER, SINCE THE QUESTION APPEARS PRESENTLY BEFORE YOUR DEPARTMENT, AND IN ORDER TO AVOID DELAY, THE REQUEST IN THIS INSTANCE WILL BE ANSWERED AS IF IT HAD COME FROM YOU.

THE QUESTION INVOLVES AN EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION WHO WAS REASSIGNED FROM OAK VIEW, CALIFORNIA, TO LEWISTON, CALIFORNIA, A DISTANCE OF 601 MILES. HIS USUAL NONWORKDAYS ARE SATURDAY AND SUNDAY. TRAVEL WAS AUTHORIZED BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE, REIMBURSEMENT NOT TO EXCEED THE COST OF COMMON CARRIER. THE TRAVEL ORDER PROVIDED FOR HIS TRAVEL TO BEGIN ON OR ABOUT SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 1959, AND TO END ON OR ABOUT TUESDAY, MARCH 17, 1959. NO DATE WAS FIXED FOR REPORTING TO HIS NEW DUTY STATION. THE EMPLOYEE LEFT HIS OLD STATION AT 8:05 P.M. ON SATURDAY, MARCH 14, AND REPORTED FOR DUTY AT THE NEW STATION AT 2:10 P.M. ON MARCH 17. WE ASSUME THAT NEITHER HIS TRAVEL ORDERS NOR THE ADMINISTRATIVE TRAVEL REGULATIONS REFER SPECIFICALLY TO THE ALLOWABLE TRAVEL TIME WITHOUT CHARGE TO LEAVE IN THIS TYPE OF CASE. THE AGENCY CHARGED HIM 8 HOURS OF ANNUAL LEAVE FOR MARCH 16 AND 5 HOURS OF ANNUAL LEAVE FOR MARCH 17 ON THE BASIS THAT HE COULD HAVE ARRIVED AT HIS NEW STATION IN TIME TO BEGIN WORK ON MARCH 16 IF HE HAD TRAVELED BY COMMON CARRIER DEPARTING, AS HE DID, ON SATURDAY NIGHT.

ALTHOUGH MATTERS OF CHARGING LEAVE TO AN EMPLOYEE ARE PRIMARILY MATTERS FOR THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE, OUR OFFICE WILL IN AN APPROPRIATE FACTUAL SITUATION DISAPPROVE THE GRANTING OF EXCESSIVE TIME OFF WITHOUT A CHARGE TO ANNUAL LEAVE, AS WELL AS AN UNWARRANTED CHARGE OF ANNUAL LEAVE.

SECTIONS 1.1, 1.2, 3.3, AND 6.10 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS REQUIRE THAT AN EMPLOYEE TRAVELING AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE PERFORM THE NECESSARY TRAVEL WITHOUT DELAY AND IN AN ECONOMICAL MANNER.

IN 38 COMP. GEN. 513, 515, WE STATED:

WE KNOW OF NO SOUND OR REASONABLE BASIS UPON WHICH TO CONCLUDE THAT TRAVEL TIME ON PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION MIGHT BE ALLOWED FOR ANY PURPOSE OTHER THAN TO ACCOMPLISH THE TRAVEL REQUIRED UNDER THE CHANGE OF STATION ORDERS. CONSEQUENTLY, UNLESS THE COLLATERAL CONSIDERATION OF CONVENIENCE TO THE TRAVELER CAN FIT WITHIN THAT FRAMEWORK, WE ARE OF THE OPINION THAT ANY TIME FOR TRAVEL ARISING FROM PERSONAL REASONS, TO THE EXTENT THAT IT EXCEEDS THE TRAVEL TIME NECESSARY TO MEET THE BASIC TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS IN A MANNER AND BY A MEANS IN WHICH IT CAN BE SAID THAT THE GOVERNMENT'S INTEREST IS INVOLVED, SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS AUTHORIZED TRAVEL TIME, BUT PROPERLY SHOULD BE A CHARGE AGAINST AUTHORIZED LEAVE OF ABSENCE.

WE HELD IN 31 COMP. GEN. 278 THAT AN EMPLOYEE MAY BE REQUIRED TO TRAVEL ON NONWORKDAYS, AND WE SEE NO REASON WHY THE REQUIREMENT THAT THE EMPLOYEE TRAVEL DIRECTLY AND WITHOUT DELAY SHOULD NOT BE APPLIED BECAUSE HE, ALTHOUGH NOT DIRECTED TO DO SO, BEGINS TRAVEL ON A NONWORKDAY UNDER TRANSFER ORDERS WHICH PERMIT THE OFFICIAL TRAVEL TO BEGIN AT THAT TIME. THE EMPLOYEE, HAVING ELECTED TO BEGIN TRAVEL UNDER HIS TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION ON SATURDAY, IS HELD TO HAVE ENTERED A TRAVEL STATUS AT THAT TIME. THEREFORE, TRAVEL TIME MUST BE COMPUTED IN THIS CASE FROM THE TIME THE EMPLOYEE BEGAN HIS TRAVEL.

38 COMP. GEN. 513, 516, ALSO STATES:

* * * CONSEQUENTLY, WE ASSUME, GENERALLY, THAT AUTHORIZATION TO TRAVEL BY ANY MODE DIRECTED OR PERMITTED BY THE TRAVEL ORDERS HAS BEEN EXTENDED ON THE BASIS OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE USE OF THAT MODE IS IN THE GOVERNMENT'S INTEREST, AND WE WILL NOT OBJECT TO THE COMPUTATION OF TRAVEL TIME REQUIRED TO PERFORM THE NECESSARY TRAVEL BY THAT MODE, UNLESS EVIDENCE IS AVAILABLE WHICH CLEARLY INDICATES THAT THE MODE USED IN A PARTICULAR CASE ACTUALLY WAS AUTHORIZED PRIMARILY FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF THE TRAVELER TO ENABLE HIM TO BE ABSENT FROM HIS ASSIGNED DUTIES FOR PERSONAL REASONS IN CONNECTION WITH MATTERS SUCH AS THE GRANTING OF LEAVE OR THE PERFORMANCE OF CIRCUITOUS TRAVEL. * * * ( ITALICS SUPPLIED.)

THEREFORE, OUR VIEW IS THAT THE EMPLOYEE'S TRAVEL TIME IN THIS CASE IS NOT LIMITED TO THE TIME REQUIRED BY COMMON CARRIER, BUT RATHER IS TO BE BASED ON REASONABLE DRIVING TIME. IN THIS INSTANCE, IT WOULD SEEM REASONABLE TO REQUIRE THE EMPLOYEE TO HAVE TRAVELED 601 MILES BETWEEN 8:05 P.M., MARCH 14 AND THE BEGINNING OF THE WORKING DAY ON MARCH 17.

FOR THE REASONS STATED WE DO NOT CONSIDER THE ANNUAL LEAVE CHARGED THE EMPLOYEE HERE CONCERNED FOR MARCH 16, 1959, WAS PROPER; HOWEVER, OUR VIEW IS THAT ANNUAL LEAVE PROPERLY WAS CHARGED FOR THE 5 HOURS HE WAS ABSENT ON MARCH 17.