B-152166, JUN. 25, 1965

B-152166: Jun 25, 1965

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THAT THE TRAVEL BY CERTAIN CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE AIR FORCE TO FINANCE OFFICES TO COLLECT PARTIAL PAYMENTS FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES WAS NOT "OFFICIAL BUSINESS.'. THE POINTS YOU NOW PRESENT ARE AS FOLLOWS: "SECTION 1.2 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS STATES. - TRAVELING EXPENSES WHICH WILL BE REIMBURSED ARE CONFINED TO THOSE EXPENSES ESSENTIAL TO THE TRANSACTING OF THE OFFICIAL BUSINESS.'. THE MEN IN QUESTION WERE ORIGINALLY ADVANCED ABOUT $270.00. FOR A TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT THAT WAS TO LAST ABOUT 116 DAYS. THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL ORDERS HAD OMITTED AUTHORITY TO MAKE THE NECESSARY SIDE TRIPS FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDS AND SO THEY WERE ORDERED TO PROCEED ON THE MISSION WITH VERBAL AUTHORIZATION FOR THE REQUIRED SIDE TRIPS FOR FUNDS.

B-152166, JUN. 25, 1965

TO MR. J. F. GRINER, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES:

YOUR LETTER OF MAY 13, 1965, REFERENCE 4G/L-1592, QUOTED IN PART BELOW, REQUESTS THAT WE RECONSIDER THE CONCLUSION SET FORTH IN OUR LETTER OF APRIL 9, 1965, B-152166, TO YOU, THAT THE TRAVEL BY CERTAIN CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE AIR FORCE TO FINANCE OFFICES TO COLLECT PARTIAL PAYMENTS FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES WAS NOT "OFFICIAL BUSINESS.'

THE MATTER CONCERNS A BRIEFING PRACTICE OF THE LOCAL AIR FORCE COMMAND WHICH PURPORTEDLY GAVE ,VERBAL AUTHORIZATIONS" TO VARIOUS EMPLOYEES OF HILL AIR FORCE BASE TO TRAVEL AWAY FROM DUTY POINTS OR BY INDIRECT ROUTES BETWEEN DUTY POINTS, OR TO USE OFFICIAL DUTY TIME, TO OBTAIN ADDITIONAL TRAVEL FUNDS IN THE NATURE OF EARNED ALLOWANCES OR SUPPLEMENTARY ADVANCES WHILE IN CONTINUOUS TEMPORARY DUTY STATUS DURING CERTAIN PERIODS PRIOR TO JULY 1, 1963. SHORTLY AFTER THAT DATE, WE UNDERSTAND, THAT LOCAL COMMAND DISCONTINUED THE PRACTICE IN QUESTION.

THE POINTS YOU NOW PRESENT ARE AS FOLLOWS:

"SECTION 1.2 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS STATES,"REIMBURSABLE EXPENSES--- TRAVELING EXPENSES WHICH WILL BE REIMBURSED ARE CONFINED TO THOSE EXPENSES ESSENTIAL TO THE TRANSACTING OF THE OFFICIAL BUSINESS.' IN ADDITION THE AIR FORCE MANUAL, CHAPTER 9, SECTION 31 (B) (1) STATES IN PART,"IN INSTANCES OF UNFORSEEN(SIC) CIRCUMSTANCES INCIDENT TO TRAVEL, OR BECAUSE OF INADVERTENT OMISSION OF AUTHORITY IN A TRAVEL ORDER, APPROVALS MAY BE GRANTED SUBSEQUENTLY WHEN JUSTIFIED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THIS MANUAL * * *"

"AS YOU KNOW, THE MEN IN QUESTION WERE ORIGINALLY ADVANCED ABOUT $270.00, ENOUGH TO COVER ABOUT 30 DAYS, FOR A TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT THAT WAS TO LAST ABOUT 116 DAYS. THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL ORDERS HAD OMITTED AUTHORITY TO MAKE THE NECESSARY SIDE TRIPS FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDS AND SO THEY WERE ORDERED TO PROCEED ON THE MISSION WITH VERBAL AUTHORIZATION FOR THE REQUIRED SIDE TRIPS FOR FUNDS. THE TRAVEL ORDER WAS SUBSEQUENTLY AMENDED TO REFLECT THESE VERBAL ORDERS.

"FROM THE EVIDENCE OF THE RECORD WE CONTEND, (1) THAT THE MISSION COULD NOT HAVE BEEN ACCOMPLISHED WITHOUT NECESSARY FUNDS TO SUPPORT IT AND THAT, THEREFORE, ANY DEVIATION FROM THE ITINERARY OF THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL ORDER TO OBTAIN SUCH FUNDS BECAME OF NECESSITY A PART OF THE TRANSACTION OF "OFFICIAL BUSINESS" AS DEFINED IN THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AFOREMENTIONED, (2) THAT THE SUBSEQUENT AMENDMENTS TO THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL ORDER CLEARLY INDICATE THAT PROVISIONS FOR THESE NECESSARY SIDE TRIPS WERE INADVERTENTLY OMITTED FROM THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL ORDER WHICH OMISSION WOULD APPARENTLY JUSTIFY A REFUND UNDER THE REGULATIONS OF THE AIR FORCE MANUEL (SIC), CHAPTER 9, SECTION 31 (B) (1) AND, (3) IF IT IS NOT BELIEVED THAT THE AIR FORCE REGULATION CAN AFFORD RELIEF, WE THEN FEEL THAT THE AFOREMENTIONED TRAVEL REGULATIONS ISSUED BY THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET ARE CONTROLLING, AND RELIEF SHOULD BE GRANTED BY REASON OF THE TRIPS IN QUESTION CONSTITUTING "OFFICIAL BUSINESS.'"

THE PROVISION IN SECTION 1.2 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS (1961 EDITION) HAS THE FORCE AND EFFECT OF LAW BY VIRTUE OF SECTION 7 OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, AS AMENDED, 5 U.S.C. 840. SECTION 1.2 EMBODIES THE CONCEPT STATED IN SECTION 3 OF THE ACT, 5 U.S.C. 836, THAT AN AUTHORIZED PER DIEM ALLOWANCE IS PAYABLE ONLY "WHILE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS.' SIMILARLY, UNDER SECTION 4 (5 U.S.C. 837) MILEAGE FOR TRANSPORTATION BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE IS PROPER ONLY WHEN THE EMPLOYEE IS "ENGAGED ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS.'

AS TO ADVANCEMENTS OF TRAVEL FUNDS (PER DIEM AND OTHER ITEMS OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL), SECTION 5 (5 U.S.C. 838) PROVIDES THE BASIC AUTHORITY FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF "SUCH SUMS AS MAY BE DEEMED ADVISABLE CONSIDERING THE CHARACTER AND PROBABLE DURATION OF THE TRAVEL TO BE PERFORMED.' ,TRAVEL" ADVANCE UNDER THAT AUTHORITY MUST BE CONSIDERED AS PERTAINING ONLY TO OFFICIAL TRAVEL.

REGARDLESS OF THE FORM OR MANNER IN WHICH THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE ISSUES INDIVIDUAL TRAVEL ORDERS THEY MUST BE CONSIDERED IN THE LIGHT OF THE CONTROLLING LAW AND REGULATIONS. THE CONTENTS OF SUCH ADMINISTRATIVE ORDERS AND REGULATIONS, OR THE INTERPRETATION THEREOF, MAY NOT GO BEYOND THE STATUTORY AUTHORITY.

AS TO THE SITUATION YOU DISCUSS (SECOND AND THIRD PARAGRAPHS QUOTED ABOVE), WE POINT OUT THAT THE TRAVEL MANUAL, AFM 40-10, CHAPTER 3, PARAGRAPH IS, EXPRESSLY PROVIDES THAT REQUESTING OFFICIALS WILL INSURE THAT TRAVEL "IS ON ESSENTIAL OFFICIAL BUSINESS THAT CANNOT BE SATISFACTORILY TAKEN CARE OF AT LESS EXPENSE.' WHILE PARAGRAPH 3 OF THAT CHAPTER AUTHORIZES AMENDMENT OF A TRAVELER'S ORDER AND ITINERARY WHEN NECESSARY TO MORE EFFECTIVELY ACCOMPLISH A MISSION, PARAGRAPH 1 (A AND B) OF CHAPTER 6 REQUIRES THAT ALL OFFICIAL TRAVEL BE BY THE USUALLY TRAVELED DIRECT ROUTE, UNLESS OTHER ROUTING IS JUSTIFIED AS NECESSARY FOR EFFECTIVE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF A MISSION OR THE INDIRECT ROUTING IS AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED AS MOST ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT.

ADVANCES OF FUNDS ARE TO ASSIST A TRAVELER'S DEFRAYING HIS OFFICIAL EXPENSES, FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT OTHERWISE IS AUTHORIZED. PARAGRAPH 4, SECTION II, OF CHAPTER 9 CORRECTLY SAYS SUCH ADVANCES ARE NOT A ROUTINE ADJUNCT TO OFFICIAL TRAVEL; HOWEVER, WHEN A TRAVELER'S PAYMENT OF ALLOWABLE EXPENSES FROM PERSONAL FUNDS WILL CREATE FINANCIAL HARDSHIP HE MAY REQUEST AND BE GRANTED EXPENSE ADVANCES IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF SAID SECTION II. SEE PARAGRAPHS 6A, 7A, B, C, 8, 11 AND 12 OF THAT SECTION II; ALSO SECTION V, PARAGRAPH 23D (4) OF CHAPTER 9 OF AFM 40-10.

IN THE ABOVE-CITED PARAGRAPH 7B, ADVANCE OF SUBSISTENCE FUNDS IS "UNLESS FACILITIES FOR PROCESSING PARTIAL PAYMENT TRAVEL VOUCHERS ARE NOT EXPECTED TO BE READILY AVAILABLE.' UNDER PARAGRAPH 7C, ADVANCE OF PROPERLY ESTIMATED MILEAGE ALLOWANCE IS LIMITED TO $300 UNDER AN INDIVIDUAL TRAVEL ORDER. PARAGRAPHS 8, 11 AND 12, CITED ABOVE, PRESCRIBE THE PROCEDURE FOR PROCURING ADVANCES OF FUNDS AND PARTIAL PAYMENT FOR EARNED ALLOWANCES. THE PROVISIONS IN CHAPTER REGARDING VOUCHERING OF REIMBURSEMENT CLAIMS--- PARAGRAPH 31A DISCUSSED IN OUR LETTER OF APRIL 9, 1965, TO YOU, AND PARAGRAPH 31B MENTIONED BY YOU, ABOVE--- SUPPLEMENT THE AUTHORIZING AND PAYING PROCEDURES.

NOWHERE IN THE CITED LAW AND REGULATIONS DO WE FIND ANY PROVISION, EXPRESSLY OR IMPLIEDLY, EMPOWERING ANY OFFICIAL TO GIVE A TRAVELER A VERBAL OR WRITTEN AUTHORIZATION TO CHARGE THE GOVERNMENT WITH SOLELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROCURING PAYMENT OF THE TRAVELER'S EXPENSE LOCALLY WAS "INADVERTENTLY OMITTED" FROM THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL ORDER. HOWEVER, WE POINT OUT THAT EVEN IF THE ORIGINAL WRITTEN ORDERS HAD INDICATED THAT THE TRAVELER COULD MAKE SIDE TRIPS FOR PROCURING FUNDS THE CITED LAW AND REGULATIONS CONTAIN NO AUTHORITY FOR CHARGING THE EXPENSE THEREOF TO THE GOVERNMENT. IF A TRAVELER'S VOUCHER INCLUDES SUCH SIDE TRIPS, THEY LEGALLY DO NOT CONSTITUTE OFFICIAL BUSINESS; HENCE, THEY LEGALLY MAY NOT BE APPROVED AFTER THE FACT BY AMENDMENT OF THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL ORDER, AS WAS DONE IN THE TWO CASES CONSIDERED IN OUR PRIOR CORRESPONDENCE. POINT OUT IN THAT REGARD THAT IN ITS REPORT TO US OF OCTOBER 2, 1963, THE DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE SAYS AS FOLLOWS:

"THE PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPH 9 (NOW PARAGRAPH 12), CHAPTER 9, AFM 40-10, ALLOW CLAIM PROCESSING FOR EARNED REIMBURSEMENT IN ADDITION TO AN INITIAL TOKEN EXPENSE ADVANCE AMOUNT. A PARTIAL PAYMENT CLAIMS VOUCHER MAY BE PRESENTED IN PERSON WHEN THE PAYING OFFICE IS LOCATED AT THE PLACE OF TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT. IF THERE IS NO LOCAL PAYING OFFICE MAIL FACILITIES ARE USED. IT IS NOT INTENDED THAT THE PROVISIONS IN PARAGRAPH 9, CHAPTER 9, AFM 40-10, BE INTERPRETED TO REQUIRE THAT A CLAIM VOUCHER BE HAND CARRIED OR PRESENTED IN PERSON. MAIL HANDLING OF PARTIAL PAYMENT CLAIM VOUCHERS COULD HAVE BEEN ARRANGED BY MR. DUNN WITH APPROPRIATE PAYING OFFICES AND CHECK MAILING COULD HAVE BEEN MADE TO THE SAME LOCATION FROM WHICH THE CLAIM WAS SUBMITTED OR TO THE NEXT PLACE OF ASSIGNMENT. IS CONSIDERED A MATTER OF PERSONAL PEROGATIVE WHEN MR. DUNN PERFORMED TRAVEL FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF PRESENTING PARTIAL PAYMENT CLAIM VOUCHERS IN PERSON AT PAYING OFFICES WHERE HE ELECTED TO OBTAIN SETTLEMENT.'

THEREFORE, WHILE WE RECOGNIZE THE UNUSUAL SITUATION HERE PRESENTED, WE MUST ADHERE TO THE VIEW THAT THE TRAVEL IN QUESTION WAS NOT TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS OF THE GOVERNMENT. THUS, THE AMOUNTS IN QUESTION ARE NOT CHARGEABLE TO APPROPRIATED FUNDS OF THE GOVERNMENT.