B-147893, MARCH 20, 1962, 41 COMP. GEN. 605

B-147893: Mar 20, 1962

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IS DELAYED EN ROUTE BECAUSE OF BAD WEATHER AND THE EMPLOYEE IS FURNISHED MEALS AND LODGINGS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE AIRLINE. THE PERIOD OF DELAY IS NOT CONSIDERED TO BE FOR THE PERSONAL BENEFIT OF EMPLOYEE AND IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY PROVISION IN THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949. THE EMPLOYEE IS ENTITLED TO PER DIEM FOR THE PERIOD OF THE DELAY. THAT AMOUNT REPRESENTS THREE-FOURTHS OF ONE DAY'S PER DIEM WHICH WAS DISALLOWED ADMINISTRATIVELY ON HIS PRIOR CLAIM COVERING TRAVEL EXPENSES INCURRED INCIDENT TO TEMPORARY DUTY AT AUSTIN. THE VOUCHER IS APPROVED ADMINISTRATIVELY BY THE ASSISTANT TO THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR. ON THE BRANIFF AIRWAYS FLIGHT WHICH WAS SCHEDULED TO ARRIVE THAT DAY AT AMARILLO AT 8:29 P.M.

B-147893, MARCH 20, 1962, 41 COMP. GEN. 605

SUBSISTENCE - PER DIEM - DELAYS - ACTS OF GOD, ETC. WHEN AN EMPLOYEE, DURING OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY AIRPLANE, IS DELAYED EN ROUTE BECAUSE OF BAD WEATHER AND THE EMPLOYEE IS FURNISHED MEALS AND LODGINGS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE AIRLINE, THE PERIOD OF DELAY IS NOT CONSIDERED TO BE FOR THE PERSONAL BENEFIT OF EMPLOYEE AND IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY PROVISION IN THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, THE REGULATIONS OR ADMINISTRATIVE INSTRUCTIONS REQUIRING EITHER THAT A REDUCTION IN THE FIXED RATE OF PER DIEM BE MADE OR THAT PER DIEM BE ALLOWED ONLY FOR THE USUAL OR SCHEDULED TRAVEL TIME, THE EMPLOYEE IS ENTITLED TO PER DIEM FOR THE PERIOD OF THE DELAY.

TO C. L. HARRIS, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, MARCH 20, 1962:

YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 3, 1962, REQUESTS OUR DECISION WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT THE ENCLOSED RECLAIM TRAVEL VOUCHER FOR $12 IN FAVOR OF KENNETH C. BLAKE, A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION. THAT AMOUNT REPRESENTS THREE-FOURTHS OF ONE DAY'S PER DIEM WHICH WAS DISALLOWED ADMINISTRATIVELY ON HIS PRIOR CLAIM COVERING TRAVEL EXPENSES INCURRED INCIDENT TO TEMPORARY DUTY AT AUSTIN, TEXAS. THE VOUCHER IS APPROVED ADMINISTRATIVELY BY THE ASSISTANT TO THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR.

MR. BLAKE SAYS HIS RETURN TRAVEL FROM AUSTIN TO AMARILLO, TEXAS, HIS OFFICIAL STATION, VIA DALLAS, BEGAN AT 3:26 P.M., DECEMBER 8, 1961, ON THE BRANIFF AIRWAYS FLIGHT WHICH WAS SCHEDULED TO ARRIVE THAT DAY AT AMARILLO AT 8:29 P.M. BECAUSE OF INCLEMENT WEATHER, ALL FLIGHTS FROM DALLAS TO AMARILLO WERE CANCELED A FEW MINUTES BEFORE HIS ARRIVAL (5:30 P.M.) DALLAS. IT DEVELOPED THAT NO OTHER FLIGHT WAS AVAILABLE FROM DALLAS TO AMARILLO UNTIL 11:00 A.M. THE NEXT DAY, WHICH FLIGHT HE USED, ARRIVING IN AMARILLO AT 12:15 P.M. ON DECEMBER 9, 1961. THE POINT OF FACT IN QUESTION IS THAT BECAUSE OF THE DELAY AT DALLAS, BRANIFF AIRWAYS FURNISHED HIM HIS MEALS AND OVERNIGHT LODGING ,AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT.' BECAUSE OF THAT FACT THREE-FOURTHS ($12) OF THE $16 DAILY RATE OF AUTHORIZED PER DIEM CLAIMED FOR DECEMBER 9 ADMINISTRATIVELY WAS DISALLOWED REPRESENTING THE PERIOD FROM 12 TO 12:15 P.M. THAT DAY. THAT DISALLOWANCE, HE SAYS, ALLOWED HIM PER DIE ONLY THROUGH THE QUARTER DAY COVERING THE NORMALLY SCHEDULED ARRIVAL TIME AT AMARILLO (8:29 P.M. OF DECEMBER 8).

REGARDING THE "ADMINISTRATIVE PRACTICE" OF DISALLOWING SIMILAR CLAIMS TO WHICH YOU REFERRED--- THE PERTINENT REGULATION OR WRITTEN POLICY NOT CITED BY YOU--- WE REQUESTED FROM THE COMMISSIONER OF RECLAMATION AN EXPLANATION AND COPY OF THE BUREAU'S REGULATIONS ISSUED FOR GUIDANCE OF ITS REGIONAL OFFICES IN PROCESSING SIMILAR CLAIMS. ON FEBRUARY 23, 1962, THE COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE INFORMED US THERE IS NO BUREAU-WIDE REGULATION OR PRACTICE CALLING FOR DISALLOWANCE OF PER DIEM IN A TRAVEL SITUATION SUCH AS OCCURRED HERE.

SECTION 3 OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, 63 STAT. 166, AS AMENDED, 5 U.S.C. 836, PROVIDES THAT CIVILIAN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES WHILE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AWAY FROM THEIR DESIGNATED POSTS OF DUTY "SHALL BE ALLOWED, IN LIEU OF THEIR ACTUAL EXPENSES FOR SUBSISTENCE * * * A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE TO BE PRESCRIBED BY THE DEPARTMENT OR ESTABLISHMENT CONCERNED, NOT TO EXCEED THE RATE OF $16 WITHIN THE LIMITS OF THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES * * *.' SECTION 7 OF THAT ACT, 63 STAT. 167, 5 U.S.C. 840, PROVIDES THAT THE FIXING AND PAYMENT OF TRAVEL ALLOWANCE AND REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES UNDER THE ACT SHALL BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH REGULATIONS OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET. THE ACT, THE STANDARDIZED REGULATIONS THEREUNDER, AND THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION'S INSTRUCTIONS DO NOT CONTEMPLATE THAT A RETROACTIVE REDUCTION IS TO BE MADE IN THE FIXED RATE OF PER DIEM OR REQUIRE THAT PER DIEM BE ALLOWED ONLY FOR THE USUAL OR SCHEDULED TRAVEL TIME IN CIRCUMSTANCES SUCH AS HERE INVOLVED. MOREOVER, THE TRAVELER WAS ON OFFICIAL TRAVEL AND THE DELAY EN ROUTE WAS NOT FOR PERSONAL REASONS OF THE TRAVELER. COMPARE 16 COMP. GEN. 628; 19 ID. 414.

UNDER THE ABOVE RELATED CIRCUMSTANCES, AND IN THE ABSENCE OF A REGULATORY RESTRICTION REQUIRING AN ADJUSTMENT IN THE PERIOD OR RATE OF PER DIEM OTHERWISE DUE, THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.