B-142103, MAR. 15, 1960

B-142103: Mar 15, 1960

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WHILE THE CLAIMANT WAS ASSIGNED TO TEMPORARY DUTY IN ALASKA. THE PER DIEM RATES ABOVE-STIPULATED WERE IN ACCORD WITH THE RATES PRESCRIBED BY BUREAU OF THE BUDGET REGULATIONS AT THE TIME THE TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT WAS AUTHORIZED. WERE REVISED. THAT THE TRAVEL ORDERS WERE NEVER AMENDED. YOUR LETTER INDICATES THAT THE PRACTICE OF YOUR BUREAU IS TO AUTHORIZE THE MAXIMUM PER DIEM RATE FOR SIMILAR TRAVEL IN ALASKA. THAT THE MAXIMUM RATE WOULD HAVE BEEN PRESCRIBED HAD THERE BEEN NO DELAY IN RECEIVING NOTICE THEREOF. YOU DO NOT REFER TO ANY SPECIFIC REQUIREMENT OF YOUR BUREAU THAT ONLY THE MAXIMUM PER DIEM RATES FOR ALASKA ARE TO BE AUTHORIZED FOR TEMPORARY DUTY IN ALASKA. THE CLAIMANT'S CONTENTION THAT IT IS INEQUITABLE AND INCONSISTENT TO DENY A RETROACTIVE INCREASE IN PER DIEM RATES WHILE AT THE SAME TIME APPLY A RETROACTIVE DECREASE.

B-142103, MAR. 15, 1960

TO MR. W. E. CORBIN, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, BUREAU OF SPORT FISHERIES AND WILDLIFE:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 19, 1960, TRANSMITTING A SUPPLEMENTAL TRAVEL EXPENSE VOUCHER FOR $48.75, STATED IN FAVOR OF MR. NOBLE E. BUELL, AN EMPLOYEE OF YOUR AGENCY, AND REQUESTING OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE VOUCHER PROPERLY MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

MR. BUELL OCCUPIES THE POSITION OF CHIEF, BRANCH OF PREDATOR AND RODENT CONTROL, BUREAU OF SPORT FISHERIES AND WILDLIFE, WITH WASHINGTON, D.C., AS HIS PERMANENT STATION. THE SUM RECLAIMED REPRESENTS ADDITIONAL PER DIEM ALLEGED TO BE DUE FOR THE PERIOD MARCH 7 THROUGH APRIL 11, 1959, WHILE THE CLAIMANT WAS ASSIGNED TO TEMPORARY DUTY IN ALASKA, PURSUANT TO TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION DATED DECEMBER 30, 1958. HIS TRAVEL ORDERS PROVIDED FOR A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE, AS FOLLOWS:

"$12 WHILE IN CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES; $6 WHILE ENROUTE BY COMMON CARRIER, U.S. - ALASKA; AND $17 WHILE IN ALASKA.'

THE PER DIEM RATES ABOVE-STIPULATED WERE IN ACCORD WITH THE RATES PRESCRIBED BY BUREAU OF THE BUDGET REGULATIONS AT THE TIME THE TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT WAS AUTHORIZED. HOWEVER, EFFECTIVE MARCH 1, 1959, THE REGULATIONS (BUDGET CIRCULAR A-7, TRANSMITTAL MEMORANDUM NO. 9, DATED FEBRUARY 17, 1959), WERE REVISED, INCREASING THE MAXIMUM PER DIEM ALLOWANCE FROM $17 TO $21 IN ANCHORAGE, FAIRBANKS, AND JUNEAU, ALASKA, AND DECREASING THE PER DIEM RATE FROM $17 TO $15 IN OTHER LOCALITIES IN ALASKA. WE NOTE THAT YOUR BUREAU FAILED TO RECEIVE NOTICE OF THE REVISED REGULATIONS UNTIL MARCH 17, 1959, AFTER THE CLAIMANT HAD PROCEEDED TO ALASKA, AND THAT THE TRAVEL ORDERS WERE NEVER AMENDED. YOUR LETTER INDICATES THAT THE PRACTICE OF YOUR BUREAU IS TO AUTHORIZE THE MAXIMUM PER DIEM RATE FOR SIMILAR TRAVEL IN ALASKA, AND THAT THE MAXIMUM RATE WOULD HAVE BEEN PRESCRIBED HAD THERE BEEN NO DELAY IN RECEIVING NOTICE THEREOF. HOWEVER, YOU EXPRESS DOUBT AS TO WHETHER THE INCREASED RATE PROPERLY COULD BE APPROVED AT THIS TIME. YOU DO NOT REFER TO ANY SPECIFIC REQUIREMENT OF YOUR BUREAU THAT ONLY THE MAXIMUM PER DIEM RATES FOR ALASKA ARE TO BE AUTHORIZED FOR TEMPORARY DUTY IN ALASKA.

IN ANY EVENT, AFTER THE TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT HAD BEEN COMPLETED, THE CLAIMANT PRESENTED AN EXPENSE VOUCHER COMPUTED UPON THE BASIS OF THE REVISED RATES. YOU REPORT THAT THE CLAIMANT HAS RECEIVED PAYMENT AT THE PER DIEM RATE OF $17 FOR TEMPORARY DUTY RENDERED IN ANCHORAGE, FAIRBANKS, AND JUNEAU, AND AT THE $15 RATE IN OTHER LOCALITIES IN ALASKA. WE NOTE, ALSO, THE CLAIMANT'S CONTENTION THAT IT IS INEQUITABLE AND INCONSISTENT TO DENY A RETROACTIVE INCREASE IN PER DIEM RATES WHILE AT THE SAME TIME APPLY A RETROACTIVE DECREASE.

SECTION 6.2 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS IN EFFECT DURING MARCH AND APRIL 1959, READS, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

" * * * A * * * IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EACH DEPARTMENT AND ESTABLISHMENT TO SEE THAT TRAVEL ORDERS AUTHORIZE ONLY SUCH PER DIEM ALLOWANCES AS ARE JUSTIFIED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES EFFECTING THE TRAVEL * *

"C. FOR TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS BEYOND THE LIMITS OF THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE MAY BE AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED AT A RATE NOT TO EXCEED THOSE PRESCRIBED IN APPENDIX I (REVISED) TO THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, PROMULGATED BY BUDGET CIRCULAR A-7, REVISED * * *.'

THE RULE IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT THE RATE OF PER DIEM FIXED BY TRAVEL ORDERS MAY NOT BE INCREASED RETROACTIVELY. 35 COMP. GEN. 148; 28 ID. 732. AS A RESULT OF THE CHANGE IN PER DIEM RATES PRESCRIBED BY BUDGET CIRCULAR A-7, THE PAYMENT OF A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE "FOR OTHER LOCALITIES IN ALASKA" EXCLUDING ANCHORAGE, FAIRBANKS, AND JUNEAU, COULD NOT EXCEED $15, THE DECREASED MAXIMUM RATE. ALSO, THE NEW MAXIMUM RATE OF PER DIEM PRESCRIBED FOR THE ABOVE-NAMED CITIES DID NOT AUTOMATICALLY INCREASE THE PER DIEM ALLOWANCE AUTHORIZED BY THE TRAVEL ORDERS THEN IN EXISTENCE; THAT IS TO SAY, SOME ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION INCREASING THE RATE PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED WAS REQUIRED BEFORE THE HIGHER MAXIMUM RATE COULD BECOME EFFECTIVE. AS A GENERAL RULE, EXCEPT TO CORRECT CLERICAL ERRORS OR OMISSIONS, OR TO COMPLETE THE ORDERS TO SHOW THE ORIGINAL INTENT, TRAVEL ORDERS MAY NOT BE MODIFIED RETROACTIVELY SO AS TO INCREASE OR DECREASE THE RIGHTS WHICH HAVE ACCRUED AND BECOME FIXED UNDER THE APPLICABLE STATUTES, REGULATIONS AND ORDERS FOR TRAVEL ALREADY PERFORMED. SEE 23 COMP. GEN. 713, AT PAGE 716; 24 ID. 439. SINCE THE TRAVEL ORDERS CORRECTLY STATED THE RATE ACTUALLY INTENDED AT THE TIME OF ISSUANCE AND WERE NOT AMENDED NO AUTHORITY EXISTS FOR PAYMENT OF THE INCREASED RATE.

THEREFORE, THE VOUCHER, WHICH, TOGETHER WITH RELATED PAPERS IS RETURNED, MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.