B-146532, SEP. 18, 1961

B-146532: Sep 18, 1961

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HE SAYS THIS CONCEPT IS AN INTEGRAL BUT PRELIMINARY PART OF PROPOSALS FOR COMMUTED TRAVEL ALSO CURRENTLY UNDER CONSIDERATION IN THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE. THAT SUCH A RECEIPT WOULD BE THE ONLY SIGNED DOCUMENT REQUIRED AND SHOULD BE SUFFICIENT TO PROTECT THE CERTIFYING OFFICER AT THE TIME THE FUNDS ARE REPLENISHED. PERHAPS IT WOULD BE NECESSARY TO PROVIDE FOR UNFORESEEN OR UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN THE TRAVELER IS REQUIRED TO EXTEND OR DELAY HIS TRIP. OUR OPINION OF THE MATTER IS REQUESTED PRIOR TO PROCEEDING WITH THE DETAILS WHICH AS STATED UNDER PRESENT PLANS MAY INCLUDE BOTH THE INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION ADMINISTRATION AND THE UNITED STATES INFORMATION AGENCY AND WHILE THE PROCEDURE WOULD BE USED PRINCIPALLY IN POSTS ABROAD.

B-146532, SEP. 18, 1961

TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE:

ON JULY 25, 1961, THE ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR ADMINISTRATION REQUESTED OUR APPROVAL OF A PROPOSAL TO ELIMINATE THE REQUIREMENT FOR WRITTEN TRAVEL ORDERS AND THE SUBMISSION OF A CLAIM FOR EXPENSES AND PER DIEM UPON COMPLETION OF A TRIP WHEN THE TOTAL COST DOES NOT EXCEED $100. HE SAYS THIS CONCEPT IS AN INTEGRAL BUT PRELIMINARY PART OF PROPOSALS FOR COMMUTED TRAVEL ALSO CURRENTLY UNDER CONSIDERATION IN THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE.

THE PRESENT PLANNING CONTEMPLATES THE RECEIPT OF VERBAL TRAVEL ORDERS AND THE CASH DISBURSEMENT FROM PETTY CASH OF THE AMOUNT CALCULATED TO BE NECESSARY FOR THE TRIP; THAT THIS WOULD INCLUDE THE COST OF THE TICKET, PER DIEM, AND INCIDENTAL EXPENSES AGAINST A SIMPLIFIED RECEIPT SIMILAR TO THE CURRENT SF-1164 NOW USED FOR LOCAL TRAVEL EXPENDITURES (TAXIS); AND THAT SUCH A RECEIPT WOULD BE THE ONLY SIGNED DOCUMENT REQUIRED AND SHOULD BE SUFFICIENT TO PROTECT THE CERTIFYING OFFICER AT THE TIME THE FUNDS ARE REPLENISHED. UNDER THE PROPOSAL, PERHAPS IT WOULD BE NECESSARY TO PROVIDE FOR UNFORESEEN OR UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN THE TRAVELER IS REQUIRED TO EXTEND OR DELAY HIS TRIP, BUT ORDINARILY NO FURTHER PAYMENT OR ACCOUNTING WOULD BE EXPECTED.

OUR OPINION OF THE MATTER IS REQUESTED PRIOR TO PROCEEDING WITH THE DETAILS WHICH AS STATED UNDER PRESENT PLANS MAY INCLUDE BOTH THE INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION ADMINISTRATION AND THE UNITED STATES INFORMATION AGENCY AND WHILE THE PROCEDURE WOULD BE USED PRINCIPALLY IN POSTS ABROAD, IT WOULD ALSO INCLUDE DOMESTIC TRAVEL.

WHILE THE PROPOSAL INDICATES A PAYMENT TO THE EMPLOYEE PRIOR TO THE TRIP, WE UNDERSTAND THE ADMINISTRATIVE INTENT IS THAT REIMBURSEMENT WOULD BE MADE FROM PETTY CASH UPON COMPLETION OF A TRIP AND THAT THE RECEIPT THEREFORE WOULD BE CERTIFIED BY THE TRAVELER TO BE THE TOTAL AMOUNT EXPENDED BY HIM DURING THE TRIP, BUT THAT IT IS NOT INTENDED THAT THE RECEIPT WOULD SHOW ANY DETAILS REGARDING THE TRAVEL, SUCH AS DATE, THE TIME OF DEPARTURE AND ARRIVAL, MODE OF TRAVEL, ETC.

AT THE OUTSET WE POINT OUT THAT ADOPTION OF A PROPOSAL FOR FINAL PAYMENT IN ADVANCE ON THE BASIS OF THE AMOUNT CALCULATED TO BE NECESSARY FOR THE TRIP WOULD BE PRECLUDED BY THE PROVISIONS OF 5 U.S.C. 839, WHICH READS AS FOLLOWS:

"EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PERMITTED BY SECTION 835-842 OF THIS TITLE OR BY THE LAWS RELATING TO MILITARY PERSONNEL, ONLY ACTUAL AND NECESSARY TRAVELING EXPENSES SHALL BE ALLOWED TO ANY PERSON HOLDING EMPLOYMENT OR APPOINTMENT UNDER THE UNITED STATES.'

BY TREATING THE PROPOSAL AS ONE WHICH CONTEMPLATES REIMBURSEMENT TO THE EMPLOYEE OF HIS ACTUAL EXPENSES, ITS LEGALITY REMAINS QUESTIONABLE. FIND NO CLEAR SHOWING OF PROCEDURES WHICH WOULD REQUIRE COMPLIANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF EXISTING STATUTES RELATING TO PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE, MILEAGE FOR USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES AND USE OF LOWEST AVAILABLE FIRST CLASS COMMON CARRIER ACCOMMODATIONS. SEE 5 U.S.C. 73B; ID. 836, ID. 837. MOREOVER, WE HAVE NOT BEEN FURNISHED WITH INFORMATION SHOWING THE MANNER OF COMPLIANCE WITH VARIOUS PROVISIONS OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, SUCH AS THOSE RELATING TO INDIRECT TRAVEL, LEAVES OF ABSENCE, QUARTERDAY AND OTHER PER DIEM REQUIREMENTS, OR MILEAGE, SPECIAL CONVEYANCE, EXCESS BAGGAGE, TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH DATA.

ASIDE FROM ANY LEGAL QUESTIONS, WE ARE NOT PRESENTLY IN POSSESSION OF ADEQUATE INFORMATION TO PERMIT A PROPER REVIEW AND EVALUATION OF THE PROPOSAL. NO SUCH EVALUATION CAN BE MADE UNTIL THE PROPONENTS OF THE PROPOSAL HAVE MADE AN ADEQUATE STUDY AND PRESENTATION OF SUCH FACTORS AS POSSIBLE SAVINGS, ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS, ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES, AND AUDIT CONSIDERATIONS.