B-148108, MARCH 1, 1962, 41 COMP. GEN. 573

B-148108: Mar 1, 1962

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TRAVEL EXPENSES - ILLNESS - EVIDENCE - ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATIONS - CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE MATTERS - INCAPACITY - TRAVEL THE AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL TO CURTAIL TEMPORARY DUTY TRAVEL ON THE ASSUMPTION OF THE INCAPACITY OF AN EMPLOYEE TO PERFORM TEMPORARY DUTY WITHOUT THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE FACT OF THE INCAPACITY IS NOT IN ITSELF SUFFICIENT TO ALLOW PAYMENT FOR THE COST OF RETURN TRAVEL TO HEADQUARTERS UNDER SECTIONS 6.5A AND B OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. WHICH REQUIRE EVIDENCE AS A MATTER OF FACT THAT AN EMPLOYEE IS PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY ILL TO THE EXTENT HE IS INCAPACITATED FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY. WHICH WERE ISSUED ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE EMPLOYEE WOULD BE INCAPACITATED FOR PERFORMANCE OF TEMPORARY DUTY WHEN HE LEARNED OF THE DEATH OF HIS SON.

B-148108, MARCH 1, 1962, 41 COMP. GEN. 573

TRAVEL EXPENSES - ILLNESS - EVIDENCE - ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATIONS - CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE MATTERS - INCAPACITY - TRAVEL THE AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL TO CURTAIL TEMPORARY DUTY TRAVEL ON THE ASSUMPTION OF THE INCAPACITY OF AN EMPLOYEE TO PERFORM TEMPORARY DUTY WITHOUT THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE FACT OF THE INCAPACITY IS NOT IN ITSELF SUFFICIENT TO ALLOW PAYMENT FOR THE COST OF RETURN TRAVEL TO HEADQUARTERS UNDER SECTIONS 6.5A AND B OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, WHICH REQUIRE EVIDENCE AS A MATTER OF FACT THAT AN EMPLOYEE IS PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY ILL TO THE EXTENT HE IS INCAPACITATED FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY; THEREFORE, ORDERS AUTHORIZING AN EMPLOYEE, WHILE EN ROUTE TO HIS TEMPORARY DUTY STATION, TO RETURN TO HEADQUARTERS, WHICH WERE ISSUED ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE EMPLOYEE WOULD BE INCAPACITATED FOR PERFORMANCE OF TEMPORARY DUTY WHEN HE LEARNED OF THE DEATH OF HIS SON, ARE NOT SUFFICIENT TO AUTHORIZE TRAVEL AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE. ALTHOUGH A SUPERVISOR MAY, FOR OFFICIAL REASONS, ORDER THE CANCELLATION OR CURTAILMENT OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL OF AN EMPLOYEE, WHEN THE INCAPACITY OF THE EMPLOYEE BECAUSE OF ILLNESS IS THE REASON FOR THE CANCELLATION OF TRAVEL, THE SUPERVISOR'S AUTHORITY TO ORDER CANCELLATION OR CURTAILMENT OF TRAVEL IS SUBJECT TO THE STATUTORY AND REGULATORY LIMITATIONS APPLICABLE TO THE EMPLOYEE; THEREFORE, AN ORDER TO RETURN TO HEADQUARTERS ISSUED BY A SUPERVISOR ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT AN EMPLOYEE WOULD BE INCAPACITATED UPON LEARNING OF THE DEATH OF HIS SON DOES NOT MEET THE PROVISIONS IN SECTION 6.5 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS WHICH REQUIRE EVIDENCE ESTABLISHING THE FACT OF INCAPACITY OF THE EMPLOYEE TO ENTITLE HIM TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF RETURN TRAVEL.

TO ZORA F. SAWYER, UNITED STATES ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION, MARCH 1, 1962:

ON JANUARY 30, 1962, YOUR REFERENCE AF:MCN, YOU REQUESTED OUR DECISION UPON TWO QUESTIONS INVOLVED IN THE VOUCHER OF MR. JOE T. KNIGHT, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE U.S. ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION AT ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO. THAT VOUCHER REPRESENTS REIMBURSEMENT OF MR. KNIGHT FOR HIS ROUND-TRIP TRAVEL ON OCTOBER 9 AND 10, 1961, BETWEEN ALBUQUERQUE AND MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE.

MR. KNIGHT WAS AUTHORIZED TO PERFORM ROUND-TRIP TRAVEL BETWEEN ALBUQUERQUE AND NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, INCIDENT TO A SHORT PERIOD OF TEMPORARY DUTY IN NASHVILLE. HIS TRAVEL WAS INTERRUPTED AT MEMPHIS BEFORE THE TEMPORARY DUTY HAD BEEN PERFORMED AND HE WAS ORDERED BY MR. BOOK, HIS SUPERVISOR, TO RETURN IMMEDIATELY TO ALBUQUERQUE. MR. BOOK TOOK THAT ACTION BECAUSE HE BELIEVED THAT MR. KNIGHT WOULD BE INCAPACITATED FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS TEMPORARY DUTY WHEN HE LEARNED OF THE ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF HIS INFANT SON.

THE ENCLOSED VOUCHER WOULD AUTHORIZE ALLOWANCE OF PER DIEM AND REIMBURSEMENT OF AUTHORIZED EXPENSES TO THE TIME MR. KNIGHT WAS ORDERED TO RETURN TO ALBUQUERQUE. SINCE THE TICKETS FOR THE ROUND-TRIP TRAVEL INVOLVED WERE PURCHASED WITH A TRANSPORTATION REQUEST THE AMOUNT PROPOSED TO BE ALLOWED WOULD BE APPLIED TO THE COST OF ONE-HALF A ROUND TRIP AIR TICKET BETWEEN ALBUQUERQUE AND MEMPHIS PLUS FEDERAL TAX APPLICABLE TO THAT AMOUNT. THE REMAINDER OF SUCH COST WOULD BE FOR COLLECTION FROM MR. KNIGHT. THUS, THE AMOUNT ALLOWED BY THE VOUCHER IN QUESTION, $11.30, WOULD BE SET OFF AGAINST THE COST OF AIR TRANSPORTATION PLUS TAX, $78.65, LEAVING A BALANCE DUE FROM MR. KNIGHT OF $67.35.

YOU REQUEST OUR DECISION WHETHER THE EXPENSE OF MR. KNIGHT'S RETURN TRIP MAY BE PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT AND, IN THAT CONNECTION, YOU ASK THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:

1. MAY MR. KNIGHT BE REIMBURSED FOR RETURN TRANSPORTATION UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF PARAGRAPH (SECTION) 6.5 OF THE SGTR ON THE BASIS OF THE SUPERVISOR'S DETERMINATION THAT THE TRAVELER WOULD HAVE BEEN INCAPACITATED FOR PERFORMANCE OF DUTY?

2. MAY MR. KNIGHT BE REIMBURSED ON THE BASIS THAT HE WAS SIMPLY FOLLOWING THE ORDERS OF HIS SUPERVISOR IN RETURNING TO HIS OFFICIAL DUTY STATION?

SECTIONS 6.5A AND B OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS ISSUED UNDER SECTION 3 OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF APRIL 26, 1950, 64 STAT. 89, 5 U.S.C. 836, ARE CONSTRUED TO REQUIRE EVIDENCE ESTABLISHING AS A MATTER OF FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE IS PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY ILL TO THE EXTENT THAT HE IS INCAPACITATED FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY. WHEN SUCH FACT IS NOT ESTABLISHED, AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL BY THE PROPER OFFICIAL IS NOT SUFFICIENT IN ITSELF TO ALLOW THE PAYMENT PURSUANT TO EITHER OF THOSE SECTIONS. THEREFORE, YOUR FIRST QUESTION IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE.

A SUPERVISOR FOR OFFICIAL REASONS PROPERLY MAY ORDER THE CANCELLATION OR CURTAILMENT OF TRAVEL. HOWEVER, WHEN THE ISSUE IS INCAPACITY THROUGH ILLNESS THE SUPERVISOR'S AUTHORITY TO ACT WOULD BE SUBJECT TO THE STATUTORY AND REGULATORY LIMITATIONS APPLICABLE TO THE EMPLOYEE. SINCE THE RECORD IN THIS CASE SHOWS THAT THE SUPERVISOR ORDERED THE CURTAILMENT OF MR. KNIGHT'S TRAVEL BECAUSE HE ASSUMED THAT THE LATTER WOULD BE INCAPACITATED UPON LEARNING OF THE DEATH OF HIS SON THE REASON FOR SUCH CURTAILMENT MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS SUFFICIENT TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE APPLICABLE STATUTE AND REGULATIONS. THEREFORE, YOUR SECOND QUESTION ALSO IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE.

THE VOUCHER TRANSMITTED WITH YOUR LETTER IS RETURNED HEREWITH AND IT MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR ALLOWANCE AS A SET-OFF AGAINST MR. KNIGHT'S INDEBTEDNESS FOR RETURN TRANSPORTATION AND TRAVEL EXPENSES.