B-151361, JUNE 5, 1963, 42 COMP. GEN. 666

B-151361: Jun 5, 1963

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TRAVEL EXPENSES - MILITARY PERSONNEL - LOCAL TRAVEL - VICINITY OF DUTY STATION A MEMBER OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES WHO IS ASSIGNED TO A PERMANENT DUTY STATION (WESTOVER AIR FORCE BASE) TO PERFORM INVESTIGATIONS IN A DEFINITE AREA ENCOMPASSING A PART OF A STATE (WESTERN HALF OF MASSACHUSETTS) AND ALL THE CITIES THEREIN AND WHO. HAS TO PROCURE MEALS IS NOT REQUIRED TO HAVE ALL THE TRAVEL IN THE ENTIRE AREA REGARDED AS IN THE "IMMEDIATE VICINITY" OF HIS DUTY STATION SO AS TO BE PRECLUDED UNDER PARAGRAPH 6450 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS FROM OBTAINING REIMBURSEMENT FOR MEALS. TRAVEL TO A CITY (SPRINGFIELD) WHICH IS 18 MILES AWAY FROM THE BASE AND TAKES 38 MINUTES OF ACTUAL TRAVEL TIME WHERE A NOON MEAL IS PROCURED IS NOT TRAVEL AWAY FROM THE DUTY STATION UNDER 37 U.S.C. 404 AND PARAGRAPH 4205-4 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE MEAL IS NOT AUTHORIZED.

B-151361, JUNE 5, 1963, 42 COMP. GEN. 666

TRAVEL EXPENSES - MILITARY PERSONNEL - LOCAL TRAVEL - VICINITY OF DUTY STATION A MEMBER OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES WHO IS ASSIGNED TO A PERMANENT DUTY STATION (WESTOVER AIR FORCE BASE) TO PERFORM INVESTIGATIONS IN A DEFINITE AREA ENCOMPASSING A PART OF A STATE (WESTERN HALF OF MASSACHUSETTS) AND ALL THE CITIES THEREIN AND WHO, WHILE TRAVELING IN THE AREA AND RECEIVING A SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE, HAS TO PROCURE MEALS IS NOT REQUIRED TO HAVE ALL THE TRAVEL IN THE ENTIRE AREA REGARDED AS IN THE "IMMEDIATE VICINITY" OF HIS DUTY STATION SO AS TO BE PRECLUDED UNDER PARAGRAPH 6450 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS FROM OBTAINING REIMBURSEMENT FOR MEALS; HOWEVER, TRAVEL TO A CITY (SPRINGFIELD) WHICH IS 18 MILES AWAY FROM THE BASE AND TAKES 38 MINUTES OF ACTUAL TRAVEL TIME WHERE A NOON MEAL IS PROCURED IS NOT TRAVEL AWAY FROM THE DUTY STATION UNDER 37 U.S.C. 404 AND PARAGRAPH 4205-4 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE MEAL IS NOT AUTHORIZED, BUT ALLOWANCE FOR MEALS AT OTHER PLACES OUTSIDE THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF THE BASE IS PROPER, LESS A PRORATED REDUCTION FROM THE MEMBER'S SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE FOR SUCH MEALS.

TO MAJOR S. K. HAUGH, DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE, JUNE 5, 1963:

BY SECOND INDORSEMENT DATED APRIL 22, 1963, THE PER DIEM, TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE FORWARDED YOUR LETTER, BDCRF-8, WITH ENCLOSURES, REQUESTING A DECISION WHETHER PAYMENT IS AUTHORIZED ON THE SUBMITTED VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF SPECIAL AGENT RAYMOND A. HOLLAND, FIRST DISTRICT, OFFICE OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS (IG), UNITED STATES AIR FORCE, WESTOVER AIR FORCE BASE, MASSACHUSETTS. THE CLAIM IS FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR NOON MEALS PROCURED WHILE THE MEMBER WAS PERFORMING DUTY OUTSIDE THE ESTABLISHED BOUNDARIES OF HIS PERMANENT DUTY STATION FOR A PERIOD OF 10 HOURS OR LESS IN THE SAME DAY FROM JANUARY 2 TO 30, 1963, AND YOU STATE THAT THE VOUCHER IS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE TYPE OF CLAIMS BEING SUBMITTED TO YOU BY OTHER AGENTS ASSIGNED TO THE FIRST DISTRICT, OFFICE OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS. YOUR REQUEST HAS BEEN ASSIGNED PDTATAC CONTROL NO. 63-9.

BY SPECIAL ORDER NO. TB-1, HEADQUARTERS, 1005TH SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS GROUP (IG) (HQ COMD USAF), WASHINGTON, D.C., DATED JANUARY 1, 1963, SPECIAL AGENT HOLLAND WAS ASSIGNED TO THE FIRST DISTRICT, OFFICE OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS, WITH PERMANENT DUTY STATION AT WESTOVER AIR FORCE BASE, MASSACHUSETTS, AND WAS AUTHORIZED TO PROCEED DURING THE PERIOD JANUARY 1 THROUGH MARCH 31, 1963, TO SUCH PLACES WITHIN HIS DISTRICT AS NECESSARY FOR THE PURPOSE OF CONDUCTING INVESTIGATIONS. INASMUCH AS IT WAS CONSIDERED THAT UTILIZATION OF GOVERNMENT FACILITIES WOULD ADVERSELY AFFECT THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTIES, THE MEMBER WAS AUTHORIZED TO RECEIVE THE BASIC ALLOWANCE FOR SUBSISTENCE OF AN ENLISTED MEMBER WHEN RATIONS IN KIND ARE NOT AVAILABLE.

THE FIRST DISTRICT, OFFICE SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS, CONSISTS OF THE STATES OF MAINE, VERMONT, NEW HAMPSHIRE, MASSACHUSETTS, RHODE ISLAND, AND ALL OF CONNECTICUT WITH THE EXCEPTION OF FAIRFIELD COUNTY, AND IT IS STATED THAT WITHIN THE DISTRICT THE AGENTS OPERATE WITHIN CLEARLY DEFINED BOUNDARIES WHICH IN THE CASE OF THOSE AGENTS STATIONED AT WESTOVER AIR BASE APPEARS TO BE AN AREA CONSISTING OF APPROXIMATELY THE WESTERN HALF OF MASSACHUSETTS. YOU STATE THAT DOUBT EXISTS AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF SPECIAL AGENT HOLLAND'S CLAIM FOR THE REASON THAT HE IS AUTHORIZED TO RECEIVE A BASIC ALLOWANCE FOR SUBSISTENCE AND FOR THE FURTHER REASON THAT SINCE HIS TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED DURING NORMAL WORKING HOURS WITHIN A CLEARLY DEFINED AREA, IT APPEARS THAT THE TRIPS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS TRAVEL IN THE VICINITY OF HIS DUTY STATION FOR WHICH TRAVEL ALLOWANCES ARE NOT PAYABLE UNDER PROVISIONS OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

SECTION 404 OF TITLE 37, U.S.C. PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART THAT UNDER REGULATIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARIES, A MEMBER IS ENTITLED TO ALLOWANCES FOR ORDERED TRAVEL PERFORMED AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY REGARDLESS OF THE LENGTH OF TIME HE IS AWAY FROM THAT POST. PARAGRAPH 4205-4 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, PROMULGATED PURSUANT TO THAT AUTHORITY, AUTHORIZES REIMBURSEMENT FOR NOT IN EXCESS OF TWO MEALS PROCURED BY AN ENLISTED MEMBER AT PERSONAL EXPENSE WHEN AWAY FROM HIS PERMANENT STATION ON ROUND TRIPS OF TEN HOURS OR LESS WITHIN ONE CALENDAR DAY. WHILE AN ENLISTED MEMBER IS ENTITLED TO A BASIC ALLOWANCE FOR SUBSISTENCE UNDER 37 U.S.C. 402, WHEN RATIONS IN KIND ARE NOT AVAILABLE, THAT SECTION FURTHER PROVIDES THAT THE MEMBER IS NOT ENTITLED TO THE ALLOWANCE "WHILE BEING SUBSISTED AT THE EXPENSE OF THE UNITED TES.' HENCE, SECTION 402 HAS NOT BEEN CONSIDERED AS PRECLUDING THE PAYMENT OF ALLOWANCES FOR MEALS OR SUBSISTENCE OTHERWISE AUTHORIZED UNDER SPECIFIED CONDITIONS BUT HAS BEEN VIEWED MERELY AS REQUIRING THE WITHHOLDING OF THE BASIC ALLOWANCE FOR SUBSISTENCE PROVIDED THEREIN WHEN THE MEMBER IS PAID SUCH OTHER AUTHORIZED ALLOWANCES.

CONCERNING YOUR SUGGESTION THAT SPECIAL AGENT HOLLAND'S TRAVEL SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS HAVING BEEN PERFORMED IN THE VICINITY OF HIS PERMANENT STATION, IT IS NOTED THAT THE VOUCHER SHOWS THAT HE MADE ROUND TRIPS FROM WESTOVER AIR FORCE BASE BY GOVERNMENT AUTOMOBILE TO NINE DIFFERENT CITIES OR TOWNS IN HIS DESIGNATED AREA OF OPERATION DURING THE MONTH OF JANUARY 1963. THE CLOSEST CITY INVOLVED IN SUCH TRAVEL IS SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS, WHICH IS SHOWN IN THE OFFICIAL TABLE OF DISTANCES AS SEVEN MILES FROM WESTOVER AIR FORCE BASE, WHILE THE OTHER PLACES VISITED BY THE MEMBER ARE AT HIGHWAY DISTANCES FROM THE BASE RANGING FROM APPROXIMATELY EIGHTEEN MILES TO APPROXIMATELY SEVENTY MILES.

A MEMBER'S ENTITLEMENT TO TRAVEL ALLOWANCES UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 37 U.S.C. 404 AND PARAGRAPH 4205-4, JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, IS DEPENDENT UPON HIS BEING IN A TRAVEL STATUS AWAY FROM HIS PERMANENT STATION. PERMANENT DUTY STATION IS DEFINED IN PARAGRAPH 1150-10A OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AS THE POST OF DUTY OR OFFICIAL STATION TO WHICH A MEMBER IS ASSIGNED OR ATTACHED FOR DUTY OTHER THAN TEMPORARY DUTY OR TEMPORARY ADDITIONAL DUTY AND WHEN NOT STATIONED WITHIN THE CORPORATE LIMITS OF AN INCORPORATED CITY OR TOWN, AS APPEARS TO BE THE CASE AT HAND, THE OFFICIAL STATION IS THE RESERVATION, STATION, OR ESTABLISHED AREA, OR, IN THE CASE OF LARGE RESERVATIONS, THE ESTABLISHED SUBDIVISION THEREOF HAVING DEFINITE BOUNDARIES WITHIN WHICH THE DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY IS LOCATED. ALLOWANCES TO COVER INCURRED EXPENSES ARE AUTHORIZED GENERALLY FOR TRAVEL AWAY FROM THE MEMBER'S DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY; HOWEVER, THE PAYMENT OF TRAVEL ALLOWANCES UNDER 37 U.S.C. 404, IS PROHIBITED BY PARAGRAPH 6450 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS FOR EXPENSES INCURRED INCIDENT TO SHORT TRIPS WITHIN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF THE DUTY STATION.

WHILE WE HAVE RECOGNIZED IN OUR DECISIONS THAT THE AREA OF TRAVEL IN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF A DUTY STATION FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT IS NOT AUTHORIZED UNDER 37 U.S.C. 404, IS NOT SUSCEPTIBLE OF RIGID LIMITATIONS, IT HAS BEEN OUR VIEW THAT SUCH AREA SHOULD ORDINARILY BE LIMITED TO THE METROPOLITAN AREA OF THE CITY IN WHICH THAT STATION IS LOCATED, OR TO A COMPARABLE AREA SURROUNDING THE POST OF DUTY IF NOT LOCATED WITHIN A RECOGNIZED METROPOLITAN AREA. SEE 35 COMP. GEN. 677 AND 41 ID. 588. HENCE, ALTHOUGH SPECIAL AGENT HOLLAND CONDUCTED HIS INVESTIGATIONS WITHIN A CLEARLY DEFINED AREA, UNDER THE ABOVE CONCEPT OF A DUTY STATION AND ITS ENVIRONS, SUCH ENTIRE AREA OF THE MEMBER'S OPERATIONS, WHICH ENCOMPASSES THE WESTERN PART OF MASSACHUSETTS AND ALL OF THE SEPARATE CITIES AND METROPOLITAN AREAS CONTAINED THEREIN, MAY NOT REASONABLY BE CONSIDERED AS COMPRISING THE "IMMEDIATE VICINITY" OF WESTOVER AIR FORCE BASE AS CONTEMPLATED BY THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. ALTHOUGH WESTOVER AIR FORCE BASE IS LISTED AS SEVEN MILES FROM SPRINGFIELD IT APPEARS THAT IT IS SITUATED IN WHAT IS GENERALLY REGARDED AS A COMBINED METROPOLITAN AREA OF SPRINGFIELD, CHICOPEE AND HOLYOKE. FURTHER, IT IS SHOWN THAT WHEN SPECIAL AGENT HOLLAND WENT TO SPRINGFIELD ON JANUARY 22, THE ROUND TRIP TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED IN AN ACTUAL TRAVEL TIME OF ONLY 38 MINUTES. PRESUMABLY, THE TRAVEL COULD HAVE BEEN PERFORMED BY LOCAL CARRIERS. ACCORDINGLY, UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, THE MEMBER IS NOT VIEWED AS BEING ABSENT FROM HIS DUTY STATION IN A TRAVEL STATUS WHILE AT SPRINGFIELD AND PAYMENT OF THE ALLOWANCE PRESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH 4205-4 FOR THE NOON MEAL PROCURED THERE ON JANUARY 22, 1963, IS NOT AUTHORIZED. SINCE THE OTHER COMMUNITIES SHOWN ON THE MEMBER'S VOUCHER APPEAR TO BE OUTSIDE THE SPRINGFIELD, CHICOPEE, HOLYOKE METROPOLITAN AREA AND WHAT MAY REASONABLY BE CONSIDERED AS THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF WESTOVER AIR FORCE BASE, PAYMENT OF THE ALLOWANCE FOR THE MEALS PROCURED AT SUCH PLACES MAY BE MADE ON THE PRESENTED VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED PLACES MAY BE MADE ON THE PRESENTED VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, LESS A PRORATED REDUCTION FOR THE BASIC ALLOWANCE FOR SUBSISTENCE PAID THE MEMBER FOR THE MEALS INVOLVED.