B-146053, JUN. 29, 1961

B-146053: Jun 29, 1961

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YOU REQUESTED OUR ADVANCE DECISION WHETHER YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO PAY THE VOUCHER OF MR. FOR ADDITIONAL PER DIEM FOR THE PERIOD HE WAS FLYING A RENTED LIGHT AIRPLANE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS. AT THE BEGINNING OF 2 QUARTER DAYS OF THAT PERIOD HE WAS FLYING IN THE RENTED AIRPLANE. A PER DIEM RATE OF $9 IS PRESCRIBED DURING THE ACTUAL PERIOD OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER (TRAIN BUS. ASSUMING THAT THE RENTED AIRPLANE WAS A "GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT. SUTTON WAS ALLOWED PER DIEM AT THE RATE OF $9 PER DAY FOR THE TWO QUARTERS WHICH BEGAN WHILE HE WAS IN FLIGHT. HE HAS SUBMITTED THE VOUCHER IN QUESTION FOR $1.50 CONTENDING THAT THE RENTED AIRPLANE WAS NOT A "GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT.'. THE TERM "GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT" IN ITSELF CANNOT BE SO WELL DEFINED THAT IT IS CLEARLY APPLICABLE OR INAPPLICABLE TO A RENTED AIRPLANE.

B-146053, JUN. 29, 1961

TO THE DISBURSING OFFICER, U.S. ARMY ENGINEER DISTRICT, NEW ORLEANS:

ON MAY 16, 1961, REFERENCE LMNCF, YOU REQUESTED OUR ADVANCE DECISION WHETHER YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO PAY THE VOUCHER OF MR. SAM R. SUTTON, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE U.S. ARMY ENGINEER DISTRICT, NEW ORLEANS, CORPS OF ENGINEERS, FOR ADDITIONAL PER DIEM FOR THE PERIOD HE WAS FLYING A RENTED LIGHT AIRPLANE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS.

MR. SUTTON CLAIMED PER DIEM AT THE RATE OF $12 PER DAY FOR 1 1/4 DAYS IN CONNECTION WITH HIS TRAVEL AS PILOT OF A RENTED LIGHT AIRPLANE IN THE NEW ORLEANS AREA. AT THE BEGINNING OF 2 QUARTER DAYS OF THAT PERIOD HE WAS FLYING IN THE RENTED AIRPLANE. U.S. ARMY, CIVILIAN PERSONNEL REGULATION T3.4, 4-5A PROVIDES:

"/1) COMMON CARRIER AND GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT. A PER DIEM RATE OF $9 IS PRESCRIBED DURING THE ACTUAL PERIOD OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER (TRAIN BUS, OR COMMERCIAL AIRPLANE) OR GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT.'

UNDER THAT PROVISION, ASSUMING THAT THE RENTED AIRPLANE WAS A "GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT," MR. SUTTON WAS ALLOWED PER DIEM AT THE RATE OF $9 PER DAY FOR THE TWO QUARTERS WHICH BEGAN WHILE HE WAS IN FLIGHT. HE HAS SUBMITTED THE VOUCHER IN QUESTION FOR $1.50 CONTENDING THAT THE RENTED AIRPLANE WAS NOT A "GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT.'

THE TERM "GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT" IN ITSELF CANNOT BE SO WELL DEFINED THAT IT IS CLEARLY APPLICABLE OR INAPPLICABLE TO A RENTED AIRPLANE. AIRPLANE HIRED BY AN EMPLOYEE IN AN OFFICIAL TRAVEL STATUS AS A SPECIAL CONVEYANCE UNDER SECTION 3.4 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS--- AS AN AUTOMOBILE WOULD BE SIMILARLY HIRED OR RENTED--- WOULD NOT BE VIEWED AS GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT WITHIN THE MEANING OF CPR T3.4, 4-5A. HOWEVER, AN AIRPLANE, PROCURED BY THE GOVERNMENT FOR USE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AS THE PROCUREMENT VOUCHER SHOWS IS CLEARLY THE CASE HERE, WOULD SEEM TO BE A GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT WITHIN THE MEANING OF THAT REGULATION.

IN ANY CASE, IT IS WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF THE AGENCY AUTHORIZING TRAVEL TO SET PER DIEM RATES AT LESS THAN THE MAXIMUM AND SINCE THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY HAS SET A LOWER PER DIEM RATE IN CPR T3.4, 4 5A, THE INTERPRETATION OF SUCH REGULATION BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS IN AN APPARENTLY PROPER CASE IS ENTITLED TO SOME WEIGHT AND IT WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED BY US IN THIS INSTANCE.