B-145456, JUL. 3, 1961

B-145456: Jul 3, 1961

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YOU STATE THAT THE EMPLOYEE IN QUESTION IS EMPLOYED BY THE BONNEVILLE POWER ADMINISTRATION AS AN AIRCRAFT PILOT AND OPERATES A GOVERNMENT-OWNED HELICOPTER ON TRANSMISSION LINE PATROL AND FOR TRANSMISSION LINE MAINTENANCE. ONE REQUIREMENT FOR HIS POSITION IS POSSESSION OF A CURRENT AND VALID COMMERCIAL PILOT CERTIFICATE WITH HELICOPTER RATING. WHICH CERTIFICATES ARE ISSUED BY THE FEDERAL AVIATION AGENCY IN ACCORDANCE WITH CIVIL AIR REGULATIONS ESTABLISHED UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE FEDERAL AVIATION ACT OF 1958. THE EMPLOYEE IN QUESTION WAS EXAMINED AT HIS OWN EXPENSE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THIS REQUIREMENT AND THE VOUCHER SUBMITTED WITH YOUR LETTER RESULTED FROM HIS REQUEST FOR REIMBURSEMENT. PRIOR DECISIONS OF OUR OFFICE HAVE HELD THAT WHERE THE PHYSICAL EXAMINATION OF AN EMPLOYEE MAY BE CONSIDERED AS PRIMARILY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN THE EMPLOYEE THE EXPENSE OF SUCH EXAMINATION MAY PROPERLY BE PAID FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS.

B-145456, JUL. 3, 1961

TO MR. J. E. PERRY, BONNEVILLE POWER ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR:

YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 23, 1961, REQUESTED OUR DECISION AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF CERTIFYING FOR PAYMENT A VOUCHER COVERING REIMBURSEMENT TO AN EMPLOYEE OF THE BONNEVILLE POWER ADMINISTRATION FOR PAYMENT OF PHYSICAL EXAMINATION FEES UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES SET FORTH THEREIN.

YOU STATE THAT THE EMPLOYEE IN QUESTION IS EMPLOYED BY THE BONNEVILLE POWER ADMINISTRATION AS AN AIRCRAFT PILOT AND OPERATES A GOVERNMENT-OWNED HELICOPTER ON TRANSMISSION LINE PATROL AND FOR TRANSMISSION LINE MAINTENANCE. ONE REQUIREMENT FOR HIS POSITION IS POSSESSION OF A CURRENT AND VALID COMMERCIAL PILOT CERTIFICATE WITH HELICOPTER RATING, WHICH CERTIFICATES ARE ISSUED BY THE FEDERAL AVIATION AGENCY IN ACCORDANCE WITH CIVIL AIR REGULATIONS ESTABLISHED UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE FEDERAL AVIATION ACT OF 1958. YOU STATE FURTHER THAT, WHILE THE FEDERAL AVIATION AGENCY'S REQUIREMENT THAT A PILOT UNDERGO A PHYSICAL EXAMINATION ANNUALLY DOES NOT APPEAR TO APPLY TO A PILOT OF GOVERNMENT-OWNED AIRCRAFT, ADHERENCE TO SUCH REQUIREMENT PROMOTES SAFETY IN THE OPERATION OF GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT AND PROTECTION OF GOVERNMENT PROPERTY AND PERSONNEL AND THEREFORE THE ANNUAL EXAMINATION HAS BEEN ADOPTED BY THE BONNEVILLE POWER ADMINISTRATION AS AN ADMINISTRATIVE REQUIREMENT. THE EMPLOYEE IN QUESTION WAS EXAMINED AT HIS OWN EXPENSE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THIS REQUIREMENT AND THE VOUCHER SUBMITTED WITH YOUR LETTER RESULTED FROM HIS REQUEST FOR REIMBURSEMENT.

AS INDICATED IN YOUR LETTER, PRIOR DECISIONS OF OUR OFFICE HAVE HELD THAT WHERE THE PHYSICAL EXAMINATION OF AN EMPLOYEE MAY BE CONSIDERED AS PRIMARILY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN THE EMPLOYEE THE EXPENSE OF SUCH EXAMINATION MAY PROPERLY BE PAID FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS. THE GENERAL RULE WITH RESPECT TO THE USE OF APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF THE MEDICAL TREATMENT OR PHYSICAL EXAMINATION OF CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT WAS STATED IN 22 COMP. GEN. 32 AS FOLLOWS:

"IT HAS BEEN LONG RECOGNIZED THAT THE EXPENSE OF MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT IS PERSONAL TO THE EMPLOYEE AND THAT THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE PAYMENT THEREOF FROM PUBLIC FUNDS UNLESS PROVIDED FOR IN THE CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT OR BY STATUTORY ENACTMENT OR VALID REGULATION. 6 COMP. DEC. 955; 8 ID. 296, 11 ID. 177; 16 ID. 99; 3 COMP. GEN. 111; 18 ID. 533.

"HOWEVER, THIS OFFICE HAS HELD THAT WHERE THE CIRCUMSTANCES ARE SUCH THAT MEDICAL ATTENTION TO AN EMPLOYEE--- INCLUDING INOCULATION OR VACCINATION TO WHICH THESE EXAMINATIONS SEEM MORE OR LESS AKIN IN VIEW OF THEIR PRECAUTIONARY NATURE--- MAY BE CONSIDERED AS PRIMARILY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN THE EMPLOYEE, THE EXPENSE THEREOF MAY PROPERLY BE PAID FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS. 2 COMP. DEC. 347; 6 ID. 447; 60 MS COMP. DEC. 1425; A-29752, DECEMBER 17, 1929; A 32786, AUGUST 8, 1930; A-97344, AUGUST 26, 1938. CF. 15 COMP. GEN. 20.'

IN THE PRESENT CASE, YOU STATE THAT ASSURANCE OF THE PHYSICAL FITNESS OF AIRCRAFT OPERATORS IS ADMINISTRATIVELY CONSIDERED ESSENTIAL IN USING HELICOPTERS IN TRANSMISSION LINE WORK. THE TERRAIN TRAVERSED BY SUCH LINES IS RUGGED, MOUNTAINOUS, AND FORESTED, MAKING AERIAL PATROL THEREOF EXTREMELY HAZARDOUS. PATROL FLIGHTS USUALLY ARE MADE BY A CREW CONSISTING OF A PILOT AND AN OBSERVER. THE HELICOPTER IS FLOWN CLOSE TO THE TRANSMISSION LINES, HOVERING NEAR THE TOWER STRUCTURES TO INSPECT FOR DAMAGE TO INSULATORS AND OTHER EQUIPMENT ON THE STRUCTURES. GOOD PHYSICAL CONDITION OF THE PILOT IS A PRIME REQUISITE FOR THE COORDINATION AND ALERTNESS REQUIRED TO PREVENT ACCIDENTS WHICH COULD CAUSE INJURY OR DEATH TO GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL IN THE HELICOPTER, DAMAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED HELICOPTER OR TRANSMISSION LINES OR BOTH, AND INTERRUPTION OF ELECTRIC SERVICE TO LARGE BLOCKS OF CUSTOMERS.

IN VIEW THEREOF, THERE APPEARS TO BE A REASONABLE BASIS FOR HOLDING THAT THE PHYSICAL EXAMINATION IN QUESTION IS PRIMARILY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE EMPLOYEE, IN ORDER TO PREVENT SO FAR AS POSSIBLE DAMAGE OR INJURY TO GOVERNMENT PROPERTY AND PERSONNEL. HENCE THE VOUCHER SUBMITTED BY YOU, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, AND SUBSEQUENT VOUCHERS COVERING SIMILAR EXPENSES, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.