B-140884, DEC. 14, 1959

B-140884: Dec 14, 1959

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HE PRESENTED A CLAIM VOUCHER AND WAS PAID MILEAGE AND PER DIEM PURPORTEDLY COMPUTED UPON THE BASIS OF CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER. IT WAS ASCERTAINED THAT IF MR. HE COULD HAVE LEFT LAMY AT 7:01 A.M. COULD HAVE DEPARTED THEREFROM AT 8 P.M. WAS TO COMPLY WITH SECTION 6.9C OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. AS FOLLOWS: "THE TIME OF ARRIVAL AT AND DEPARTURE FROM A PLACE WILL BE CONSIDERED AS THE HOUR AT WHICH THE TRAIN. IS LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 35 MILES WEST OF SANTA FE. THE CLOSEST AIRLINE TERMINAL SERVING LOS ALAMOS IS LOCATED 10 MILES SOUTH OF SANTA FE. THE MOST CONVENIENT AIRLINE TERMINAL SERVING LOS ALAMOS (SCHEDULE-WISE) IS ALBUQUERQUE. THE RAILROAD TERMINAL SERVING LOS ALAMOS IS LAMY.

B-140884, DEC. 14, 1959

TO MISS ZORA F. SAWYER, ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 24, 1959, WITH ENCLOSURES,REQUESTING OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT THE RECLAIM TRAVEL EXPENSE VOUCHER FOR $3, TRANSMITTED THEREWITH, STATED IN FAVOR OF MR. WALTER G. BUSH, EMPLOYED AS TRANSPORTATION OFFICER, ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION, LOS ALAMOS, NEW MEXICO.

TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION NO. SFE-149, DATED FEBRUARY 12, 1959, DIRECTED THE CLAIMANT TO PROCEED FROM LOS ALAMOS (HIS OFFICIAL STATION AND PLACE OF RESIDENCE), TO DENVER, COLORADO, FOR A TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT OF APPROXIMATELY FIVE DAYS' DURATION. THE ORDER AUTHORIZED TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY-OWNED VEHICLE AT 10 CENTS PER MILE--- NOT TO EXCEED THE COST BY COMMON CARRIER, WITH A PRESCRIBED PER DIEM ALLOWANCE OF $12.

IN COMPLIANCE WITH HIS ORDERS THE CLAIMANT DEPARTED BY AUTOMOBILE FROM HIS STATION AT 5:30 .M., FEBRUARY 15, 1959, AND RETURNED THERETO AT 9:30 P.M., FEBRUARY 19, 1959, AN ABSENCE OF FIVE CALENDAR DAYS. FOLLOWING COMPLETION OF THE TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT, HE PRESENTED A CLAIM VOUCHER AND WAS PAID MILEAGE AND PER DIEM PURPORTEDLY COMPUTED UPON THE BASIS OF CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER, INCLUDING RAIL FARE FROM LAMY, NEW MEXICO, TO DENVER, AND RETURN, MILEAGE AT 10 CENTS PER MILE FOR ROUND-TRIP AUTOMOBILE TRAVEL BETWEEN LOS ALAMOS AND THE RAILROAD TERMINAL AT LAMY, TWO TAXICAB FARES IN DENVER, AND PER DIEM FOR FIVE AND ONE-HALF DAYS--- FROM :30 A.M., FEBRUARY 15 TO 6:05 A.M., FEBRUARY 20, 1959. SUBSEQUENTLY, IT WAS ASCERTAINED THAT IF MR. BUSH HAD USED RAIL TRAVEL AS SCHEDULED, HE COULD HAVE LEFT LAMY AT 7:01 A.M., ARRIVED AT DENVER AT 6:05 P.M., FEBRUARY 15, AND COULD HAVE DEPARTED THEREFROM AT 8 P.M., FEBRUARY 19, AND ARRIVED AT LAMY AT 6:05 A.M., FEBRUARY 20, 1959, OR AN ABSENCE OF FIVE AND ONE-FOURTH DAYS.

THE SUM RECLAIMED REPRESENTS (CONSTRUCTIVE) PER DIEM FOR ONE-FOURTH DAY ADMINISTRATIVELY DEDUCTED ON VOUCHER NO. 1177 OF THE AUGUST 1959 ACCOUNTS OF C. E. EVANS, REGIONAL DISBURSING OFFICER, SYMBOL NO. 9013. THE ADJUSTMENT ACTION, EFFECTING COLLECTION OF THE $3 OVERPAYMENT, WAS TO COMPLY WITH SECTION 6.9C OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, IN EFFECT DURING FEBRUARY 1959, WHICH READS, AS FOLLOWS:

"THE TIME OF ARRIVAL AT AND DEPARTURE FROM A PLACE WILL BE CONSIDERED AS THE HOUR AT WHICH THE TRAIN, BOAT, OR OTHER CONVEYANCE USED BY THE TRAVELER ACTUALLY LEAVES OR ARRIVES AT ITS REGULAR TERMINAL.'

THE FACTS AS REPORTED DISCLOSE THAT LOS ALAMOS, NEW MEXICO, IS LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 35 MILES WEST OF SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO. THE CLOSEST AIRLINE TERMINAL SERVING LOS ALAMOS IS LOCATED 10 MILES SOUTH OF SANTA FE--- A DISTANCE OF 45 MILES FROM LOS ALAMOS. THE MOST CONVENIENT AIRLINE TERMINAL SERVING LOS ALAMOS (SCHEDULE-WISE) IS ALBUQUERQUE, 100 MILES BY ROAD FROM LOS ALAMOS. THE RAILROAD TERMINAL SERVING LOS ALAMOS IS LAMY, NEW MEXICO--- SOME 17 MILES SOUTHEAST OF SANTA FE--- A DISTANCE OF 52 MILES FROM LOS ALAMOS. (TRANSPORTATION FROM SANTA FE TO LAMY IS AVAILABLE BY BUS OPERATED BY THE INDIAN DETOURS TRANSPORTATION COMPANY AT A COST OF 91 CENTS ONE WAY.)

WE NOTE, ALSO, THAT NO COMMON CARRIER FACILITIES SERVE LOS ALAMOS. TRAVELERS MUST USE GOVERNMENT-OPERATED TAXI OR THEIR PRIVATE VEHICLE TO REACH THE RAILROAD OR AIRLINE TERMINALS. THE ROUND TRIP COST OF OPERATING THE GOVERNMENT TAXI TO SANTA FE IS $11.93, TO SANTA FE AIRPORT $13.26, AND TO THE RAILROAD TERMINAL AT LAMY $16.40. YOU POINT OUT THAT IN COMPUTING COMPARATIVE COSTS TRAVELERS ARE ALLOWED 10 CENTS PER MILE FOR TRAVEL BY PRIVATE VEHICLE FROM LOS ALAMOS TO THE TERMINAL USED.

EVEN THOUGH MR. BUSH'S TRAVEL ORDERS PROVIDED FOR MILEAGE AT 10 CENTS PER MILE NOT TO EXCEED THE COST FOR TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER, HE EXPRESSES THE VIEW THAT HE SHOULD RECEIVE PER DIEM FROM THE TIME HE DEPARTED FROM AND RETURNED TO LOS ALAMOS, AND THAT SECTION 6.9C OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS SHOULD NOT BE APPLIED INASMUCH AS NO COMMON CARRIER TERMINAL IS LOCATED IN THE AREA OR WITHIN THE COUNTY IN WHICH LOS ALAMOS IS SITUATED.

IN A NUMBER OF DECISIONS CONSTRUING SECTION 6.9C OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, OUR OFFICE HAS HELD THAT SUCH SECTION RESTRICTS THE COMMENCEMENT OR TERMINATION OF PER DIEM TO THE TIME OF ACTUAL DEPARTURE FROM OR ARRIVAL AT THE REGULAR TERMINAL OF THE TRAIN, BOAT, OR OTHER CONVEYANCE USED BY THE TRAVELER IRRESPECTIVE OF WHETHER THE TERMINAL OR PLACE OF RESIDENCE IS WITHIN OR OUTSIDE THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE EMPLOYEE. SEE 38 COMP. GEN. 511, AND CASES THEREIN CITED. INSUFFICIENT FACTS ARE PRESENTED TO ENABLE US TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT LIMOUSINE SERVICE IS SUCH AS TO PERMIT APPLICATION OF OUR DECISION 31 COMP. GEN. 442. FOR THE REASONS HEREINABOVE INDICATED BASED UPON REGULATIONS IN EFFECT WHEN THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED, WE FIND NO PROPER BASIS FOR PAYMENT OF PER DIEM AS CLAIMED. CONSEQUENTLY, THE VOUCHER WHICH--- WITH RELATED PAPERS--- IS RETURNED HEREWITH MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

UPON EXAMINING PAYMENT VOUCHER NO. 8874 (MARCH 1959 ACCOUNTS OF C. E. EVANS, DISBURSING OFFICER), ON WHICH CONSTRUCTIVE COSTS WERE COMPUTED FOR MR. BUSH'S TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT PERFORMED DURING FEBRUARY 1959, WE FIND THAT THE MILEAGE WAS BASED UPON A ROUND TRIP DISTANCE OF 68 MILES IN LIEU OF 104 MILES, THE REPORTED ROUND TRIP DISTANCE BETWEEN LOS ALAMOS AND LAMY. IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES, AND SINCE IT APPEARS TO HAVE RESULTED FROM AN ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR, WE WILL INTERPOSE NO OBJECTION TO AN APPROPRIATE ADJUSTMENT OF THE PRIOR PAYMENT, IF OTHERWISE PROPER.

OUR AUTHORITY TO RENDER DECISIONS TO CERTIFYING OFFICERS IS EXPRESSLY LIMITED TO QUESTIONS OF LAW INVOLVING PAYMENTS ON VOUCHERS PRESENTED TO THEM FOR CERTIFICATION. SEE SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, 55 STAT. 876 (TITLE 31, SECTION 82D, U.S. CODE-1958 EDITION); 21 COMP. GEN. 1128, DATED DECEMBER 11, 1959, COPY HEREWITH, RESOLVES THE OTHER TWO QUESTIONS SET OUT IN YOUR LETTER.

A COPY OF THE PUBLISHED AMENDMENTS TO THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS DATED JUNE 22 AND SEPTEMBER 3, 1959, EFFECTIVE AUGUST 1, 1959, ARE ATTACHED FOR YOUR INFORMATION.