B-148712, MAY 23, 1962

B-148712: May 23, 1962

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YOUR REQUEST EXPRESSLY IS PREDICATED UPON THE PROVISIONS OF 31 U.S.C. 82D. WHICH WAS DEDUCTED ADMINISTRATIVELY ON HIS PRIOR CLAIM. - THAT THE TRAIN ALSO WAS DELAYED AND THE SCHEDULED-DELAYED AIR FLIGHT EVENTUALLY ARRIVED AT KNOXVILLE ONE HOUR AHEAD OF THE TRAIN. WITH SCANT TIME TO CHANGE TO A TRAIN WHICH WAS SCHEDULED TO ARRIVE AT 2:20 A.M. THE ADMINISTRATIVE CONCLUSIONS AND REASONS FOR DISAPPROVING THE 3/4 DAY'S PER DIEM HERE IN QUESTION ARE BASED PRIMARILY UPON THE CIRCUMSTANCES (1) THAT ANOTHER EMPLOYEE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AT THE SAME TIME AND SCHEDULED TO RETURN FROM OAK RIDGE TO RICHLAND WAS ABLE TO MAINTAIN HIS TRAVEL CONNECTIONS. THAT REGARD YOUR VIEW IS EXPRESSED. AS FOLLOWS: "THE FACT THAT THE CLAIMANT HELD NO RESERVATIONS AND DID NOT REQUEST RESERVATIONS IS SIMPLE EVIDENCE THAT HE PLANNED TO STOP OFF AT A POINT OR POINTS ENROUTE TO PASCO.

B-148712, MAY 23, 1962

TO AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION:

ON APRIL 19, 1962, FILE OCAC:RDH, THE GENERAL MANAGER OF THE ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION FORWARDED TO US YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 23, 1962, FILE FAC:PAC, REQUESTING OUR DECISION WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT THE ENCLOSED TRAVEL VOUCHER FOR $12 IN FAVOR OF MR. HOWARD R. FREITAG. YOUR REQUEST EXPRESSLY IS PREDICATED UPON THE PROVISIONS OF 31 U.S.C. 82D.

THE GENERAL MANAGER ALSO FORWARDED TO US LETTER DATED APRIL 3, 1962, FROM MR. FREITAG EXPLAINING SOME OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES DESCRIBED IN VARIOUS PARTS OF YOUR LETTER. THIS AMOUNT OF $12 REPRESENTS MR. FREITAG'S RECLAIM OF THE THREE-FOURTHS OF ONE DAY'S PER DIEM FOR FEBRUARY 12, 1962, WHICH WAS DEDUCTED ADMINISTRATIVELY ON HIS PRIOR CLAIM, BUREAU VOUCHER NO. 973 PAID MARCH 12, 1962, INCIDENT TO THE TRAVEL HE PERFORMED UNDER TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION NO. HOO-402 DATED JANUARY 25, 1962.

YOU EXPRESS DOUBT AS TO THE LEGALITY OF THE CLAIM ESSENTIALLY FROM THE FACTS THAT AFTER COMPLETING TEMPORARY DUTY AT OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE, THE TRAVELER ON INFORMATION THAT WEATHER CONDITIONS WOULD CAUSE A DELAY IN ARRIVAL OF THE AIRLINE FLIGHT ON WHICH HE HAD A RESERVATION FROM KNOXVILLE TO CHICAGO, INSTEAD PURCHASED AND USED A TRAIN TICKET TO CHICAGO NOTWITHSTANDING--- AS SUBSEQUENT INVESTIGATION REVEALED--- THAT THE TRAIN ALSO WAS DELAYED AND THE SCHEDULED-DELAYED AIR FLIGHT EVENTUALLY ARRIVED AT KNOXVILLE ONE HOUR AHEAD OF THE TRAIN, AND, HENCE, ARRIVED IN CHICAGO AT APPROXIMATELY 11:00 P.M. FEBRUARY 9. YOU SAY THE DELAYED TRAIN FROM KNOXVILLE DID NOT ARRIVE IN CHICAGO UNTIL 2:45 P.M. THE NEXT DAY, FEBRUARY 10, WITH SCANT TIME TO CHANGE TO A TRAIN WHICH WAS SCHEDULED TO ARRIVE AT 2:20 A.M. FEBRUARY 12 AT PASCO, WASHINGTON. THE TRAVELER SAYS THE TRAIN FROM KNOXVILLE ARRIVED IN CHICAGO AT APPROXIMATELY 1:30 P.M. THE TRAVELER HAS EXPLAINED THE REFUSAL OF THE RAILROAD COMPANY TO ALLOW HIM TO OBTAIN AN EXCHANGE OF HIS TRAIN TICKETS SUBSEQUENTLY TO ANOTHER RAILLINE AND THAT, THEREFORE, HE HAD TO DETRAIN AT ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA. ADDITIONALLY, HE POINTS OUT HIS RELUCTANCE TO FLY UNDER THE THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS, AND HIS PAST EXPERIENCE WITH LONG DELAYS OF FLIGHTS OUT OF KNOXVILLE.

THE ADMINISTRATIVE CONCLUSIONS AND REASONS FOR DISAPPROVING THE 3/4 DAY'S PER DIEM HERE IN QUESTION ARE BASED PRIMARILY UPON THE CIRCUMSTANCES (1) THAT ANOTHER EMPLOYEE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AT THE SAME TIME AND SCHEDULED TO RETURN FROM OAK RIDGE TO RICHLAND WAS ABLE TO MAINTAIN HIS TRAVEL CONNECTIONS, ARRIVED AT PASCO AS SCHEDULED, AND CLAIMED 3/4 PER DIEM LESS THAN MR. FREITAG, (2) OF THE 5-YEAR RESUME OF STOPOVERS AND ANNUAL LEAVE MR. FREITAG HAD TAKEN EN ROUTE ON PREVIOUS OFFICIAL TRIPS BETWEEN VARIOUS DUTY POINTS, AND (3) OF THE FAILURE OF THE EMPLOYEE TO OBTAIN A RESERVATION FOR THE RETURN FROM CHICAGO TO PASCO VIA NORTHERN PACIFIC. THAT REGARD YOUR VIEW IS EXPRESSED, AS FOLLOWS:

"THE FACT THAT THE CLAIMANT HELD NO RESERVATIONS AND DID NOT REQUEST RESERVATIONS IS SIMPLE EVIDENCE THAT HE PLANNED TO STOP OFF AT A POINT OR POINTS ENROUTE TO PASCO, AS HE ACTUALLY DID AND HAS DONE IN THE PAST ON OTHER OFFICIAL TRIPS. THIS IS DEFINITELY TRAVEL FOR PERSONAL CONVENIENCE AND THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT HAVE TO PAY ADDITIONAL PER DIEM BY REASON THEREOF. IT IS BELIEVED THAT WHEN AN EMPLOYEE ALTERS HIS SCHEDULED TRAVEL AND DELIBERATELY FAILS TO OBTAIN RESERVATIONS FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL, HE LOSES CERTAIN RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES HE SHOULD NOT BE ENTITLED NOR ALLOWED TO COLLECT MORE PER DIEM THAN ALLOWED ANOTHER EMPLOYEE, WHO COMPLETED IDENTICAL TRAVEL IN LESS TIME BY REASON OF THE FACT THAT HE DID NOT TRAVEL FOR PERSONAL CONVENIENCE, SECURED RESERVATIONS FOR THE ENTIRE TRIP, AND ADHERED STRICTLY TO HIS SCHEDULE.'

CONCERNING THE QUOTED PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER, THE CLAIMANT SAYS:

"I AGREE WITH THE OPINIONS STATED. HOWEVER, THE REASONS FOR THE ACTION TAKEN ARE NOT GIVEN. NP TRAIN NO. 1 LEAVES CHICAGO AT 10:30 P.M. AS DOES THE GN NO. 27. IT ARRIVES IN PASCO AT MIDNIGHT APPROXIMATELY 50 1/2 HOURS LATER. (ON NO. 27 TAKES 1 1/2 HOURS MORE.) NP TRAIN NO. 25 MAKES THE SAME TRIP IN ABOUT 39 HOURS. THE REASON FOR THIS IS THAT NO NO. 1 RUNS AS A LOCAL AFTER LEAVING MANDAN, NORTH DAKOTA. THEREFORE A TRAVELER CAN TRAVEL TO A NORTH DAKOTA POINT, GET OFF NP NO. 1 FOR APPROXIMATELY 8 HOURS, GET BACK ON NP NO. 25 AND ARRIVE IN PASCO ONLY 1 1/2 HOURS LATER. I HAVE ACQUAINTANCES IN NORTH DAKOTA AND HAVE DONE THIS BEFORE. THE TRIP IS MADE MORE ENJOYABLE, AT NO EXTRA COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. IN FACT, IF A REVIEW OF MY TRAVEL IS MADE IT WILL BE FOUND THAT MY PULLMAN FARES ARE USUALLY LESS THAN THE COST OF A THROUGH CHICAGO TO PASCO PULLMAN FARE. THE GOVERNMENT HAS THEREFORE SAVED MONEY ON THE TRANSPORTATION AND I HAVE NEVER CLAIMED PER DIEM FOR THE EXTRA 1 1/2 HOUR TRAVEL TIME. HAD THE WEATHER PERMITTED AND I HAD BEEN ABLE TO LEAVE KNOXVILLE BY AIR AS ORIGINALLY PLANNED ON MARCH 9, I WOULD HAVE MADE THE SAME FEW HOURS STOP SOMEWHERE IN NORTH DAKOTA WHILE TRAVELING ON NP NO. 1.'

WE NOTE THAT THE ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION MANUAL, PARAGRAPH 1513.14, PROVIDES IN PART THAT IT IS WITHIN ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION TO CHARGE LEAVE TO A TRAVELER USING ANY FACILITY WHEN THERE IS DEVIATION FROM THE NORMAL ROUTE, LATE RETURN TO OFFICIAL STATION, INTERRUPTION OF THE TRIP, ETC., UNLESS OFFICIALLY JUSTIFIED IN WRITING ON THE TRAVEL VOUCHER INVOLVED. SECTIONS 1.1 AND 1.2 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDE THAT OFFICIAL TRAVELERS ARE TO EXERCISE THE CARE IN INCURRING EXPENSES THAT A PRUDENT PERSON WOULD EXERCISE IF TRAVELING ON PERSONAL BUSINESS, AND THAT REIMBURSABLE EXPENSES ARE TO BE CONFINED TO THOSE EXPENSES WHICH ARE ESSENTIAL TO TRANSACTING THE OFFICIAL BUSINESS. WHETHER A TRAVELER USES SUCH DUE CARE AND WHETHER THE EXPENSES (PER DIEM) CLAIMED ARE ALLOWABLE ARE FOR DETERMINATION IN EACH PARTICULAR CASE. COMP. GEN. 221. ALSO, WE RECOGNIZE THAT SECTIONS 3.3 AND 6.10 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS WOULD REQUIRE PAYMENT TO BE LIMITED TO COSTS OF UNINTERRUPTED DIRECT TRAVEL WHERE THERE IS A CLEAR SHOWING THAT THE TRAVELER FOR HIS OWN CONVENIENCE INTERRUPTED HIS OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY DIRECT ROUTE. WE ARE UNABLE TO CONCLUDE FROM THE SUBMITTED RECORD, HOWEVER, THAT SUCH DUE CARE WAS NOT EXERCISED, OR THAT THE TRAVELER KNOWINGLY, OR FOR THE PURPOSES OF INCREASING HIS PER DIEM ALLOWANCE AND/OR AVOIDANCE OF A LEAVE CHARGE, MANIPULATED HIS TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS OR RESERVATIONS SO THAT HE PERFORMED TRAVEL IN A MANNER CLEARLY NOT CONFORMING TO THE ABOVE CITED TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

THEREFORE, ON THE PRESENT RECORD, WE ARE OF THE OPINION THAT THE VOUCHER RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.

COPIES OF MR. FREITAG'S LETTERS OF APRIL 3 AND 27, 1962, TO US, ARE ENCLOSED.