B-141101, NOV. 30, 1959

B-141101: Nov 30, 1959

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OF WHICH THE ASPECTS PERTINENT TO THE SUBMITTED VOUCHER ARE OUTLINED BELOW. THE AMOUNT OF $39.54 REPRESENTS PART OF THE SUM ($45.80) WHICH WAS DISALLOWED IN YOUR ADMINISTRATIVE AUDIT DIFFERENCE STATEMENT DATED AUGUST 7. ALL OF THE CLAIMANT'S BAGGAGE SERVICE CHARGES WERE DEDUCTED BY YOUR OFFICE UNDER THE RULES OF PARAGRAPHS 5.4 AND 6.1 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND OUR DECISION AT 32 COMP. THE CLAIMANT WAS ADVISED. ALL OF WHICH RELATE TO A DETERMINATION AS TO WHETHER THE CLAIMANT AND HIS FAMILY SHOULD BE LIMITED TO THE COMPARATIVE EXPENSES THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED HAD THEY TRAVELED BY BOAT FROM HONOLULU TO LOS ANGELES. IS THAT SIMILAR BAGGAGE HANDLING CHARGES DOUBTLESS WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED AT EITHER OF THE PORTS OF ENTRY.

B-141101, NOV. 30, 1959

TO MR. O. T. SEELY, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE:

YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 15, 1959, REQUESTS OUR DECISION WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY THE ENCLOSED TRAVEL VOUCHER FOR $39.54 IN FAVOR OF MR. TOM F. MCCOURIN, ASSISTANT STATE CONSERVATIONIST, WHO RECLAIMS THAT AMOUNT IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES DESCRIBED IN YOUR LETTER, OF WHICH THE ASPECTS PERTINENT TO THE SUBMITTED VOUCHER ARE OUTLINED BELOW.

THE AMOUNT OF $39.54 REPRESENTS PART OF THE SUM ($45.80) WHICH WAS DISALLOWED IN YOUR ADMINISTRATIVE AUDIT DIFFERENCE STATEMENT DATED AUGUST 7, 1959, ATTACHED TO THE CLAIMANT'S PRIOR VOUCHER COVERING HIS PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE AND OTHER TRAVEL EXPENSES INCURRED INCIDENT TO HIS TRANSFER OF DUTY STATION UNDER TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION NO. ST-466-59, DATED MAY 7, 1959, FROM HONOLULU, HAWAII, TO ALEXANDRIA, LOUISIANA. THE SPECIFIED ITEMS ON THE SUBMITTED RECLAIM VOUCHER CONCERN CHARGES FOR TRANSPORTATION OF HIS DEPENDENTS' BAGGAGE FROM DOCK TO STATEROOM AT HONOLULU ($2.18), AND FROM DOCK TO HOTEL AT SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA ($7.81), PLUS 1 1/2 DAYS' PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE ($18) AND A CASH PAYMENT THE CLAIMANT MADE FOR THE FIRST CLASS RAIL FARE ($11.55) HE PROCURED FOR TRAVEL BY HIMSELF ALONE FROM SAN FRANCISCO, TO LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, HIS DEPENDENTS HAVING PROCEEDED BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO SPOKANE, WASHINGTON.

AS EXPLAINED IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE AUDIT DIFFERENCE STATEMENT, ALL OF THE CLAIMANT'S BAGGAGE SERVICE CHARGES WERE DEDUCTED BY YOUR OFFICE UNDER THE RULES OF PARAGRAPHS 5.4 AND 6.1 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND OUR DECISION AT 32 COMP. GEN. 357. THE CLAIMANT WAS ADVISED, HOWEVER, THAT IF HE COULD SHOW WHAT PORTION OF SUCH CHARGES REPRESENTED COSTS OF HIS DEPENDENTS' BAGGAGE, UNDER THE RULE AT 33 COMP. GEN. 610, FURTHER CONSIDERATION WOULD BE GIVEN THAT ASPECT OF HIS CLAIM.

YOU RAISE SEVERAL OTHER POINTS, ALL OF WHICH RELATE TO A DETERMINATION AS TO WHETHER THE CLAIMANT AND HIS FAMILY SHOULD BE LIMITED TO THE COMPARATIVE EXPENSES THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED HAD THEY TRAVELED BY BOAT FROM HONOLULU TO LOS ANGELES, RATHER THAN VIA SAN FRANCISCO. OUR VIEW REGARDING THE SUBMITTED ITEMS OF $2.18 AND $7.81, HOWEVER, IS THAT SIMILAR BAGGAGE HANDLING CHARGES DOUBTLESS WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED AT EITHER OF THE PORTS OF ENTRY. IN THE LIGHT OF THE RECORD, CLAIMANT'S COMPUTATION ON THE SUBMITTED VOUCHER OF HIS DEPENDENT'S BAGGAGE COSTS MAY BE ACCEPTED AS REASONABLE AND ALLOWED.

AS TO WHETHER THE CLAIMANT'S TRAVEL VIA SAN FRANCISCO WAS AN INDIRECT ROUTE OR WAS NOT "A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE," OR WAS FOR HIS OWN CONVENIENCE, WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTIONS 3.2, 3.3, AND 6.10 OF THE CITED STANDARDIZED REGULATIONS, THE RECORD DOES NOT CLEARLY SUPPORT THE CONCLUSION REACHED IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE DIFFERENCE STATEMENT, NAMELY, THAT "THE" USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE FROM HONOLULU TO ALEXANDRIA AS CONTEMPLATED BY SECTION 3.2 COULD BE ONLY VIA LOS ANGELES. FURTHER, THE RECORD SHOWS CLAIMANT WAS ADVISED--- ALTHOUGH NOT SO STATED IN HIS FORMAL TRAVEL ORDERS--- THAT HE COULD DELAY HIS DEPARTURE FROM HONOLULU UNTIL AFTER JUNE 11, 1959, THE DATE THE LOCAL SCHOOL TERM ENDED. THE EMPLOYEE SAYS "IT WAS PROFESSIONALLY IMPORTANT" THAT HE ATTEND THE CONFERENCE OF AREA CONSERVATIONISTS AT NEW ORLEANS ON JUNE 24 AND, THEREAFTER, THE MEETING OF THE AREA IV NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICT SUPERVISORS, JUNE 25 AND 26, 1959. YOU SAY THE FACT IS THAT HIS ATTENDANCE AT THOSE MEETINGS WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN FEASIBLE IF HE HAD WAITED FOR A LATER SAILING FROM HONOLULU ON JUNE 17 DIRECT TO LOS ANGELES, AND THAT SUCH ATTENDANCE WAS DESIRABLE FOR ORIENTING HIM TO HIS NEW DUTY ASSIGNMENTS AS ASSISTANT STATE CONSERVATIONIST. ALSO, WE NOTE THAT THE EMPLOYEE SAYS HIS OFFICIAL ASSIGNMENT AT HONOLULU WAS COMPLETED ON JUNE 12 AND THERE WAS NO FURTHER OFFICIAL DUTY AT THAT POINT FOR HIM. ADDITIONALLY, WE HAVE NOTED THE ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVALS OF CLAIMANT'S PRIOR VOUCHERS DATED AUGUST 6, 1959, AND SEPTEMBER 1, 1959. THEREFORE, WE CONCLUDE THAT THE TRAVEL BY BOAT TO SAN FRANCISCO WAS PROPER AND REIMBURSEMENT FOR OTHERWISE CORRECT EXPENSES RESULTING THEREFROM SHOULD BE MADE.

REGARDING COMPUTATION OF THE TRAVEL OF CLAIMANT AND HIS DEPENDENTS FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO ALEXANDRIA, THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF THE GOVERNMENT'S OBLIGATION--- WHICH WOULD BE ALLOWABLE CONSTRUCTIVELY UNDER TRAVEL ORDER NO. ST-466-59, ITEMS 17 (B) AND (C), AND THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS--- COULD HAVE BEEN EITHER THE ALLOWANCE OF 8 CENTS PER MILE AUTHORIZED IN THE ORDER FOR USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE, DIRECT FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO ALEXANDRIA, OR IN LIEU THEREOF, THE LOWEST FIRST CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS AVAILABLE FRIDAY, JUNE 19, VIA THE COMMON CARRIER OR MODE USABLE THAT DATE FROM SAN FRANCISCO, WHICH APPARENTLY WOULD HAVE WARRANTED USE OF THE "EXTRA FARE TRAIN" THE CLAIMANT DID USE FROM LOS ANGELES TO EL PASO, AND WHICH WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY APPROVED ON THIS VOUCHER OF AUGUST 6, 1959.

HOWEVER, IN THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT THE AUTOMOBILE USED BY THE DEPENDENTS FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO SPOKANE, WASHINGTON, WAS OWNED BY CLAIMANT OR WHETHER IT OR ANOTHER VEHICLE WOULD HAVE BEEN AVAILABLE AND USED FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY'S TRAVEL DIRECT TO ALEXANDRIA, WE CANNOT SAY UPON THE BASIS OF THE PRESENT RECORD WHETHER THE CLAIMANT'S EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT SHOULD BE LIMITED TO THE STATED MILEAGE ALLOWANCE. PROVISION APPEARS IN THE ORDER OR THE RECORD OTHERWISE WHICH WOULD LIMIT SUCH MILEAGE TO NOT EXCEED COMMON CARRIER COSTS BETWEEN THE POINTS IN QUESTION. COMPARE S.G.T.R. 3.5A AND B.

ASSUMING, HOWEVER, THAT CLAIMANT DID NOT OWN THE AUTOMOBILE USED ON JUNE 19 TO SPOKANE AND THAT A PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE WAS NOT AVAILABLE OTHERWISE THAT DATE OR REASONABLY THEREAFTER FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY'S TRAVEL DIRECT TO ALEXANDRIA, OR IF AVAILABLE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN USED, THE GOVERNMENT'S MAXIMUM OBLIGATION--- WHICH WOULD BE FOR CONSIDERATION IN CONSTRUCTIVELY COMPUTING THE SUM REIMBURSABLE TO CLAIMANT--- WOULD BE THE OTHERWISE PROPER TRAIN FARES AND INCIDENTAL COSTS INDICATED ABOVE AND ON THE VOUCHER OF AUGUST 6, 1959, FROM SAN FRANCISCO VIA LOS ANGELES AND EL PASO. IN THIS REGARD, OUR DECISION AT 37 COMP. GEN. 113 HELD, IN PART, THAT UNLESS A RESTRICTION BY ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATION OR IN THE TRAVEL ORDER LIMITS THE COST COMPARISON TO THE CLASS OF ACCOMMODATIONS ACTUALLY USED, THE REIMBURSEMENT ALLOWABLE FOR TRAVEL COSTS INCURRED SHOULD BE BASED UPON THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE--- INCLUDING A FAMILY-PLAN RATE WHEN, IN FACT, IT IS THE LOWEST FIRST CLASS RATE FOR THE ACCOMMODATIONS AVAILABLE. IN THIS CASE, HOWEVER, THE RECORD AND OUR FILES SHOW THAT FAMILY-PLAN RATES WERE NOT AVAILABLE FOR TRAVEL BEGINNING ON FRIDAY THROUGH SUNDAY AT SAN FRANCISCO OR AT LOS ANGELES.

THEREFORE, WHILE THE RECLAIM VOUCHER FOR $39.54, RETURNED HEREWITH, PROPERLY MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT, SUCH ACTION SHOULD BE WITHHELD UNTIL YOUR OFFICE COMPLETES ITS CONSIDERATION OF THE DETERMINATIONS AND RECOMPUTATIONS SUGGESTED ABOVE.