B-142320, APR. 13, 1960

B-142320: Apr 13, 1960

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YOU SAY THAT PAYMENT OF THE RECLAIM WOULD RAISE THE FOLLOWING SPECIFIC QUESTIONS WHICH DO NOT APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN ANSWERED BY OUR OFFICE: "1. OR MUST PER DIEM BE COMPUTED FROM THE HOUR THE AIRCRAFT IS SCHEDULED TO LEAVE ITS TERMINAL AT FRIENDSHIP AIRPORT? WE HAVE INFORMALLY ASCERTAINED THAT MR. TANSILL WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL BY FIRST CLASS. SECTION 3.6C OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDES THAT ONE FIRST TRAVEL SEAT WILL BE ALLOWED FOR AIR TRAVEL UNLESS THE TRAVEL ORDER OR OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION SPECIFIES A CHEAPER ACCOMMODATION. TANSILL ALSO COULD HAVE DEPARTED FOR WASHINGTON. TANSILL USED A JET AIRCRAFT (ONE WAY FIRST CLASS AND ONE-WAY COACH) IN PERFORMING THE ROUND TRIP TRAVEL BETWEEN WASHINGTON AND THE WEST COAST WHICH WAS CHEAPER THAN FIRST CLASS ROUND TRIP FARE BY CONVENTIONAL PROPELLER DRIVEN AIRCRAFT.

B-142320, APR. 13, 1960

TO MR. H. E. CLEEK, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION:

YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 17, 1960, WITH ENCLOSURES, REQUESTS OUR DECISION CONCERNING THE PROPRIETY OF CERTIFYING FOR PAYMENT A RECLAIM VOUCHER FOR $12.99 IN FAVOR OF MR. XAVIER B. TANSILL, COVERING COST OF TRANSPORTATION FROM SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, TO LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.

YOU SAY THAT PAYMENT OF THE RECLAIM WOULD RAISE THE FOLLOWING SPECIFIC QUESTIONS WHICH DO NOT APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN ANSWERED BY OUR OFFICE:

"1. IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION AS TO THE ADVANTAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT, MAY THE TRAVELER BE PERMITTED TO USE JET AIRCRAFT (MIXED CLASS), IF SUCH ROUND-TRIP FARE DOES NOT EXCEED THE FIRST-CLASS ROUND-TRIP FARE BY CONVENTIONAL AIRCRAFT?

"2. MAY PER DIEM BE COMPUTED FROM THE TIME OF DEPARTURE FROM THE MOTOR BUS TERMINAL AT 1508 L STREET, N.W., WASHINGTON, D.C., OR MUST PER DIEM BE COMPUTED FROM THE HOUR THE AIRCRAFT IS SCHEDULED TO LEAVE ITS TERMINAL AT FRIENDSHIP AIRPORT?

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION NO. CO-A-71, DATED DECEMBER 22, 1959, AUTHORIZED MR. TANSILL TO TRAVEL FOR TEMPORARY DUTY FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., TO SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, FRESNO, CALIFORNIA, SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, AND SUCH OTHER PLACES AS MAY BE NECESSARY AND RETURN TO WASHINGTON, D.C. THE TRAVEL ORDER AUTHORIZED THE TRAVELER TO INCUR "NECESSARY TRAVEL EXPENSES IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAW, S.B.A. REGULATIONS, AND STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.' AT THE COMPLETION OF HIS TEMPORARY DUTY AT SAN FRANCISCO ON FRIDAY, JANUARY 22, 1960, MR. TANSILL PROCEEDED TO LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, FOR PERSONAL REASONS AT A COST OF $12.99 (FOR THE STOPOVER PRIVILEGE) AND LEFT THERE SUNDAY, JANUARY 24, 1960, AT 11:15 P.M., ARRIVING IN WASHINGTON, D.C., THE FOLLOWING DAY AT 8:30 A.M. WE HAVE INFORMALLY ASCERTAINED THAT MR. TANSILL WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL BY FIRST CLASS. IN THAT REGARD, SECTION 3.6C OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDES THAT ONE FIRST TRAVEL SEAT WILL BE ALLOWED FOR AIR TRAVEL UNLESS THE TRAVEL ORDER OR OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION SPECIFIES A CHEAPER ACCOMMODATION. OTHER MEMBERS OF MR. TANSILL'S PARTY ON THE COMPLETION OF THEIR TEMPORARY DUTY LEFT SAN FRANCISCO JANUARY 22, 1960, AND TRAVELED TO WASHINGTON, D.C., ARRIVING THERE SATURDAY, JANUARY 23, 1960. THEREFORE, WE ASSUME MR. TANSILL ALSO COULD HAVE DEPARTED FOR WASHINGTON, D.C., AT THE SAME TIME. THE RECORD INDICATES THAT MR. TANSILL USED A JET AIRCRAFT (ONE WAY FIRST CLASS AND ONE-WAY COACH) IN PERFORMING THE ROUND TRIP TRAVEL BETWEEN WASHINGTON AND THE WEST COAST WHICH WAS CHEAPER THAN FIRST CLASS ROUND TRIP FARE BY CONVENTIONAL PROPELLER DRIVEN AIRCRAFT.

SECTIONS 3.2 AND 3.3 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDE IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

"3.2. ROUTING OF TRAVEL.--- ALL TRAVEL MUST BE BY A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE. * * *

"3.3. INDIRECT-ROUTE OR INTERRUPTED TRAVEL.--- IN CASE A PERSON FOR HIS OWN CONVENIENCE TRAVELS BY AN INDIRECT ROUTE OR INTERRUPTS TRAVEL BY DIRECT ROUTE, THE EXTRA EXPENSE WILL BE BORNE BY HIMSELF. REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES SHALL BE BASED ONLY ON SUCH CHARGES AS WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED BY A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE. * * *"

WE HAVE INFORMALLY ASCERTAINED THAT ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS GOVERNING TRAVEL OF EMPLOYEES OF THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION ARE PATTERNED AFTER THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

THE ABOVE-QUOTED REGULATIONS LIMIT THE ALLOWABLE TRAVEL EXPENSES TO NOT EXCEED THOSE ALLOWABLE OVER A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE. AS STATED ABOVE, THE EMPLOYEE WAS AUTHORIZED TO USE FIRST CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS WHEN TRAVELING. THEREFORE, THAT CLASS OF ACCOMMODATIONS SHOULD BE USED TO DETERMINE THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF ALLOWABLE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES OVER THE USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE. CF. 37 COMP. GEN. 113; 33 ID. 553.

THEREFORE, SINCE THE COST OF THE ROUND TRIP MIXED CLASS JET ACCOMMODATIONS, PLUS THE $12.99 TRANSPORTATION COST, DID NOT EXCEED THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF TRAVEL BY THE CLASS OF TRAVEL AUTHORIZED, NO SPECIFIC DETERMINATION OF ADVANTAGE WAS REQUIRED AND THE VOUCHER, WHICH TOGETHER WITH RELATED PAPERS IS RETURNED, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT, IF CORRECT IN OTHER RESPECTS. YOUR FIRST QUESTION IS ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY.

CONCERNING YOUR SECOND QUESTION, SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, 55 STAT. 876, GRANTS A RIGHT TO CERTIFYING OFFICERS "TO APPLY FOR AND OBTAIN A DECISION BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL ON ANY QUESTION OF LAW INVOLVED IN A PAYMENT ON ANY VOUCHERS PRESENTED TO THEM FOR CERTIFICATION.' IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT THE RECLAIM VOUCHER COVERS THE PER DIEM ITEM. THEREFORE, THE MATTER IS NOT PROPERLY BEFORE US FOR ADVANCE DECISION UPON YOUR SUBMISSION.