B-147997, FEB. 6, 1962

B-147997: Feb 6, 1962

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WHILE A COPY OF THE TRAVEL ORDER WAS NOT FURNISHED US IT APPEARS FROM OTHER PAPERS IN THE FILE THAT MR. MAHONEY WAS AUTHORIZED ON JUNE 8. " A TRAIN ON WHICH THE LOWEST PRICED SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS ARE ROOMETTES. HE ARRIVED IN KANSAS CITY AT :30 O CLOCK THE FOLLOWING MORNING BUT WAS PERMITTED TO OCCUPY THE ROOMETTE UNTIL 8:00 A.M. SINCE HE COULD HAVE DEPARTED ALBUQUERQUE AT 10:00 A.M. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE COST OF THE ROOMETTE ($17.60) AND A LOWER BERTH ($12.25) WAS DEDUCTED FROM HIS REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHER. HIS CLAIM FOR THE $3 SAVING IN PER DIEM RESULTING FROM HIS LETTER DEPARTURE WAS ALLOWED. SECTIONS 1.1 AND 1.2 STATE THAT THEY ARE EXPECTED TO EXERCISE THE SAME CARE IN INCURRING EXPENSES THAT A PRUDENT MAN WOULD EXERCISE IF TRAVELING ON PERSONAL BUSINESS AND THAT REIMBURSEMENT THEREFOR WILL BE CONFINED TO THOSE EXPENSES ESSENTIAL TO THE TRANSACTING OF THE OFFICIAL BUSINESS.

B-147997, FEB. 6, 1962

TO MRS. ZORA F. SAWYER, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, UNITED STATES ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION:

ON JANUARY 17, 1962, YOU REQUESTED OUR DECISION WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT A RECLAIM VOUCHER FOR $4.85 IN FAVOR OF EDWARD MAHONEY FOR ADDITIONAL TRAVEL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO HIS SERVICES WITH YOUR AGENCY.

WHILE A COPY OF THE TRAVEL ORDER WAS NOT FURNISHED US IT APPEARS FROM OTHER PAPERS IN THE FILE THAT MR. MAHONEY WAS AUTHORIZED ON JUNE 8, 1961, TO TRAVEL FROM ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, TO KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, FOR TEMPORARY DUTY BEGINNING AT 9:30 A.M., SUNDAY JUNE 11.

MR. MAHONEY LEFT ALBUQUERQUE AT 1:10 P.M., ON SATURDAY JUNE 10, ON THE "SUPER CHIEF," A TRAIN ON WHICH THE LOWEST PRICED SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS ARE ROOMETTES. HE ARRIVED IN KANSAS CITY AT :30 O CLOCK THE FOLLOWING MORNING BUT WAS PERMITTED TO OCCUPY THE ROOMETTE UNTIL 8:00 A.M. SINCE HE COULD HAVE DEPARTED ALBUQUERQUE AT 10:00 A.M., ON ANOTHER TRAIN WITH LOWER BERTH ACCOMMODATIONS AND ARRIVED IN KANSAS CITY AT 6:05 A.M., THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE COST OF THE ROOMETTE ($17.60) AND A LOWER BERTH ($12.25) WAS DEDUCTED FROM HIS REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHER. HIS CLAIM FOR THE $3 SAVING IN PER DIEM RESULTING FROM HIS LETTER DEPARTURE WAS ALLOWED.

MR. MAHONEY SAYS HE CHOSE THE LATER TRAIN BECAUSE IT GAVE HIM MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY ON A NONWORKDAY BEFORE LEAVING HOME AND BECAUSE OF THE ADDITIONAL TIME HE COULD OCCUPY THE ROOMETTE UPON ARRIVAL AT KANSAS CITY.

AS STATED IN OUR DECISION OF MARCH 27, 1950, B-93158, COPY HEREWITH, WE DO NOT VIEW THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AS REQUIRING EMPLOYEES PERFORMING OFFICIAL TRAVEL ORDINARILY TO USE COMMON CARRIER TRANSPORTATION REQUIRING DEPARTURES OR ARRIVALS AT UNREASONABLE HOURS AND UNDER CONDITIONS THAT DENY THEM REASONABLE REST PERIODS. SECTIONS 1.1 AND 1.2 STATE THAT THEY ARE EXPECTED TO EXERCISE THE SAME CARE IN INCURRING EXPENSES THAT A PRUDENT MAN WOULD EXERCISE IF TRAVELING ON PERSONAL BUSINESS AND THAT REIMBURSEMENT THEREFOR WILL BE CONFINED TO THOSE EXPENSES ESSENTIAL TO THE TRANSACTING OF THE OFFICIAL BUSINESS. WHETHER A TRAVELER HAS USED DUE CARE AND WHETHER THE EXPENSE WAS NECESSARY TO THE TRANSACTION OF OFFICIAL BUSINESS ESSENTIALLY ARE FACTUAL MATTERS FOR DETERMINING IN THE LIGHT OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE PARTICULAR CASE.

SECTION 3.6A (1) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AUTHORIZES THE USE OF A STANDARD LOWER BERTH WHEN THE TRAVEL OCCURS AT NIGHT. IT ALSO PERMITS THE USE OF THE NEXT LOWEST FIRST CLASS ACCOMMODATION ON CERTIFICATION BY THE TRAVELER ON HIS EXPENSE VOUCHER THAT, AT THE TIME HIS RESERVATION WAS MADE, A LOWER BERTH WAS NOT AVAILABLE AND THAT THE ACCOMMODATION USED WAS THE LOWEST FIRST CLASS ACCOMMODATION SUPERIOR TO A LOWER BERTH.

IN THIS CASE A LOWER BERTH WAS AVAILABLE ON ANOTHER TRAIN AND IN MAKING THE DEDUCTION FROM THE ORIGINAL REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHER APPARENTLY YOU CONCLUDED THAT THE REASONS ADVANCED BY THE EMPLOYEE FOR USING THE ROOMETTE DID NOT MEET THE REQUIREMENT OF SECTION 1 OF THE REGULATIONS. WE AGREE WITH THAT CONCLUSION. WHILE THE EMPLOYEE MAY HAVE PREFERRED TO WAIT FOR THE LATER TRAIN WE DO NOT SEE THAT HE WOULD HAVE BEEN UNDULY INCONVENIENCED BY HIS LEAVING ALBUQUERQUE ON THE 10:00 A.M. TRAIN AND ARRIVING IN KANSAS CITY AT 6:05 A.M. HE HAS BEEN ALLOWED THE PER DIEM SAVING OF $3, AND ON THE FACTS PRESENTED NO FURTHER AMOUNT APPEARS TO BE DUE. CF. 28 COMP. GEN. 393. THEREFORE, THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

OUR AUTHORITY TO RENDER DECISIONS TO CERTIFYING OFFICERS IS EXPRESSLY LIMITED TO QUESTIONS OF LAW CONCERNING PAYMENTS ON VOUCHERS PRESENTED TO THEM FOR CERTIFICATION. SEE 31 U.S.C. 82D. CONSEQUENTLY, WE MAY NOT GIVE AUTHORITATIVE ANSWERS TO THOSE OF MR. MAHONEY'S QUESTIONS WHICH ARE NOT REQUIRED IN THE DISPOSITION OF HIS RECLAIM.