B-141708, FEB. 11, 1960

B-141708: Feb 11, 1960

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AFTER CREDITING THE SUM OF $112.70 ALLOWED ON THE ORIGINAL VOUCHER THE NET RECLAIM IS FOR $5.25. PROPERLY IS CHARGEABLE FOR ANY EXCESS TIME REQUIRED FOR TRAVEL FOR PERSONAL REASONS. HE WAS IN FAIRBANKS AND ANCHORAGE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS UNTIL APRIL 23. BECAUSE BY AN ADMINISTRATIVE CONSTRUCTIVE DIRECT-ROUTE SCHEDULE BY THE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION USED BY THE EMPLOYEE THROUGHOUT THE TRAVEL HE WOULD HAVE ARRIVED IN WASHINGTON. AMONG THE ENCLOSURES ACCOMPANYING YOUR SUBMISSION IS A MEMORANDUM DATED NOVEMBER 24. ACCORDING TO SGTR 6.3 WHICH PROVIDES "IF LEAVE OF ABSENCE DOES NOT BEGIN OR TERMINATE WITHIN THE TRAVELERS PRESCRIBED HOURS OF DUTY THE TRAVELER WILL BE ENTITLED TO PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES UNTIL MIDNIGHT OF THE LAST DAY PRECEDING THE LEAVE OF ABSENCE AND FROM 12:01 A.M.

B-141708, FEB. 11, 1960

TO MR. LESTER H. THOMPSON, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION:

YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 14, 1960, WITH ENCLOSURES, YOUR FILE FB:HS, REQUESTS OUR DECISION WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT THE SUBMITTED RECLAIM BUREAU VOUCHER NO. 27,498, FOR $117.95 (ADMINISTRATIVELY REDUCED TO $6), STATED IN FAVOR OF AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION. THE RECLAIM VOUCHER RESTATES THE ENTIRE CLAIM, WITH ADJUSTMENTS AS HEREINAFTER SHOWN. AFTER CREDITING THE SUM OF $112.70 ALLOWED ON THE ORIGINAL VOUCHER THE NET RECLAIM IS FOR $5.25. ALSO, YOU REQUEST OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE ANNUAL LEAVE, AS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED, PROPERLY IS CHARGEABLE FOR ANY EXCESS TIME REQUIRED FOR TRAVEL FOR PERSONAL REASONS.

THE EMPLOYEE DEPARTED FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., HIS OFFICIAL DUTY STATION AT 8:15 P.M., ON APRIL 19, 1959, TO PERFORM OFFICIAL DUTIES IN FAIRBANKS AND ANCHORAGE, ALASKA, AND SEATTLE, WASHINGTON. HE ARRIVED AT SEATTLE 7:30 A.M., APRIL 20; DEPARTED THEREFROM 10:15 A.M., AND ARRIVED AT FAIRBANKS 5:30 P.M. THE SAME DAY. HE WAS IN FAIRBANKS AND ANCHORAGE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS UNTIL APRIL 23. HE LEFT ANCHORAGE 5:30 P.M., APRIL 23, AND ARRIVED AT SEATTLE 12:30 A.M., THE NEXT DAY. UPON COMPLETION OF HIS ASSIGNED DUTIES IN SEATTLE THE EMPLOYEE DEPARTED THEREFROM AT 12:00 MIDNIGHT ON APRIL 24, 1959, AND ARRIVED IN CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, AT 6:45 A.M., ON SATURDAY, THE FOLLOWING DAY. INSTEAD OF CONTINUING HIS JOURNEY TO WASHINGTON, D.C. HE, FOR PERSONAL REASONS, BOARDED A PLANE IN CHICAGO AT 7:15 A.M., ON SATURDAY, APRIL 25, 1959, FOR SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, AND ARRIVED THERE THE SAME DAY AT 8:00 A.M. HE STAYED IN SOUTH BEND SATURDAY AND SUNDAY. ON MONDAY, APRIL 27, 1959, HE LEFT SOUTH BEND AT 7:50 A.M., AND ARRIVED IN WASHINGTON, D.C., AT 12:15 P.M. HE CLAIMED ON HIS ORIGINAL VOUCHER ONE-HALF DAY PER DIEM($6) FOR APRIL 25 AND ONE-HALF DAY PER DIEM ($6) FOR APRIL 27, 1959. THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE SUSPENDED THE $6 CLAIMED FOR APRIL 27, 1959, BECAUSE BY AN ADMINISTRATIVE CONSTRUCTIVE DIRECT-ROUTE SCHEDULE BY THE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION USED BY THE EMPLOYEE THROUGHOUT THE TRAVEL HE WOULD HAVE ARRIVED IN WASHINGTON, D.C. AT 11:00 A.M., ON SATURDAY, APRIL 25, 1959.

AMONG THE ENCLOSURES ACCOMPANYING YOUR SUBMISSION IS A MEMORANDUM DATED NOVEMBER 24, 1959, FROM THE EMPLOYEE TO YOU, IN SUPPORT OF HIS CLAIM, READING IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"* * * AFTER MY REVIEW OF THE ORIGINAL VOUCHER WHICH I SUBMITTED, I FELT THAT I HAD IMPROPERLY CLAIMED PER DIEM FOR SATURDAY MORNING, APRIL 25TH, ACCORDING TO SGTR 6.3 WHICH PROVIDES "IF LEAVE OF ABSENCE DOES NOT BEGIN OR TERMINATE WITHIN THE TRAVELERS PRESCRIBED HOURS OF DUTY THE TRAVELER WILL BE ENTITLED TO PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES UNTIL MIDNIGHT OF THE LAST DAY PRECEDING THE LEAVE OF ABSENCE AND FROM 12:01 A.M. OF THE DAY FOLLOWING THE LEAVE OF ABSENCE.' I, THEREFORE, COMPUTED MY PER DIEM IN THE AMENDED VOUCHER UP TO MIDNIGHT, APRIL 24, 1959, CLAIMING NO PER DIEM FOR APRIL 25 AND 26 WHICH WERE SATURDAY AND SUNDAY. I THEN CLAIMED PER DIEM RESUMING AT 12:01 A.M. ON MONDAY, APRIL 27TH, 1959. SATURDAY AND SUNDAY BEING NON-WORK DAYS, NO FORMAL REQUEST FOR LEAVE OF ABSENCE WAS DEEMED NECESSARY. * * *"

SECTION 1.1 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS CONSISTENTLY HAS BEEN HELD BY OUR OFFICE AS REQUIRING A RETURN TO HEADQUARTERS UPON COMPLETION OF TEMPORARY DUTY WITHOUT UNREASONABLE DELAY. WE RECOGNIZE THAT APPLICATION OF THE RULE MAY REQUIRE TRAVEL ON NON-WORKDAYS IN CERTAIN INSTANCES. THE GENERAL RULE IS SUBJECT, HOWEVER, TO THE QUALIFICATIONS THAT AN EMPLOYEE IN A TRAVEL STATUS ORDINARILY IS NOT REQUIRED TO PERFORM TRAVEL OVER UNUSUALLY LONG PERIODS OR DURING UNREASONABLE HOURS IF SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS ARE NOT AVAILABLE. IN OUR DECISION OF APRIL 29, 1959, B-138856, REFERRED TO BY YOU, AND INVOLVING A SOMEWHAT SIMILAR SITUATION TO THE ONE HERE, WE HELD THAT AN EMPLOYEE WHO HAD COMPLETED HIS ASSIGNMENT ON THE WEST COAST ON FRIDAY WAS REQUIRED TO RETURN TO HIS HEADQUARTERS WITHOUT UNREASONABLE DELAY (IN THAT CASE SATURDAY MORNING SINCE NO SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS WERE AVAILABLE BY THE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION USED), NOTWITHSTANDING TRAVEL ON A NONWORKDAY RESULTED. WE FIND NO FACTS IN THE PRESENT CASE WHICH WOULD WARRANT A DIFFERENT VIEW. CONCERNING SECTION 6.3 OF THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS IT SUFFICES TO SAY THAT SINCE NO "LEAVE OF ABSENCE" IS INVOLVED IN THE CASE WITHIN THE MEANING OF THAT SECTION, IT HAS NO APPLICATION HERE. RECOGNIZE THAT HONEST DIFFERENCES OF OPINION MAY ARISE IN THIS TYPE OF CASE, AND WE ARE SATISFIED THAT THE TRAVELER HERE ACTED IN GOOD FAITH. NEVERTHELESS, AS INDICATED ABOVE, WE ARE OF THE VIEW THAT UNDER THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS THE ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION ALLOWING PER DIEM ONLY THROUGH NOON, SATURDAY, APRIL 25, WAS CORRECT.

WE NOTE THAT THE EMPLOYEE IN HIS RECLAIM VOUCHER HAS ADJUSTED HIS CLAIM FOR APRIL 20, 1959, FROM $12.75 TO $16.50 AND ON APRIL 24, 1959, FROM $10.50 TO $12. THOSE CHANGES RESULT FROM HIS USE OF THE RATES OF THE DESTINATION POINTS ON THOSE DAYS RATHER THAN THE AIR TRAVEL RATE OF $6 AS USED ON THE ORIGINAL VOUCHER. BUREAU OF THE BUDGET TRANSMITTAL MEMORANDUM NO. 9, ATTACHMENT A, CIRCULAR A-7, EFFECTIVE MARCH 1, 1959, SETTING FORTH THE MAXIMUM PER DIEM RATES FOR TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, PROVIDES THAT "THESE PER DIEM RATES ARE NOT APPLICABLE WHILE TRAVELERS ARE EN ROUTE BY AIRPLANE, TRAIN, OR BOAT TO OR FROM, OR BETWEEN, LOCALITIES BEYOND THE LIMITS OF THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, AND IN ALASKA, IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 6.2C OF STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS EFFECTIVE AUGUST 1, 1956.' SECTION 6.2C REQUIRES A $6 RATE FOR SUCH TRAVEL TIME UNLESS THERE BE AN AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL OF A DIFFERENT RATE, NOT TO EXCEED THE MAXIMUM RATE APPLICABLE TO THE LOCALITY TO WHICH THE TRAVELER IS EN ROUTE, WHEN THE $6 RATE IS NOT COMMENSURATE WITH A TRAVELER'S SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES. NO SUCH AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL IS OF RECORD HERE IN THIS CASE. FURTHER, SECTION 6.11 OF THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS SAYS THAT "WHEN CHANGE IN PER DIEM RATE IS MADE DURING A DAY, THE RATE OF PER DIEM IN EFFECT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE QUARTER IN WHICH THE CHANGE OCCURS SHALL CONTINUE TO THE END OF SUCH QUARTER.' ON APRIL 20, THEREFORE, THE $12 RATE APPLICABLE TO TRAVEL IN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES CONTINUED UNTIL 12 NOON. SINCE AT NOON THE TRAVELER WAS EN ROUTE TO ALASKA FROM SEATTLE BY AIR THE $6 RATE COMMENCED AT THAT TIME. THE CHANGE TO THE FAIRBANKS RATE OF $21 BECAME EFFECTIVE AT 6 P.M., ARRIVAL THERE HAVING BEEN AT 5:30 P.M. A SIMILAR SITUATION EXISTS ON APRIL 24. OF THE BEGINNING OF THE FIRST QUARTER OF THAT DAY THE EMPLOYEE WAS TRAVELING BY AIR FROM ALASKA TO SEATTLE AND WAS SUBJECT TO (AND CLAIMED) THE $6 RATE; THEREFORE, THAT RATE CONTINUED UNTIL 6 A.M. ON THE 24TH. THE ORIGINAL WAS SO COMPUTED AND WAS CORRECT IN THAT RESPECT.

IN LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING COMMENTS, THE RECLAIM VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

REGARDING YOUR SECOND QUESTION, IT APPEARS THAT THE EXCESS TRAVEL TIME PROPERLY WOULD BE FOR CHARGING TO ANNUAL LEAVE. HOWEVER, THE CHARGING OF ANNUAL LEAVE FOR SUCH PURPOSES IS A MATTER PRIMARILY FOR ADMINISTRATIVE CONSIDERATION. SEE 18 COMP. GEN. 755, 759; 26 ID. 463, 466; AND 29 ID. 205.