B-152558, OCT. 31, 1963

B-152558: Oct 31, 1963

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THE VOUCHER FOR WHICH PAYMENT WAS MADE FOR THE TRAVEL INVOLVED AND CERTIFIED CORRECT BY MR. IT WAS DETERMINED THAT A TOURIST FLIGHT WAS AVAILABLE THAT COULD HAVE BEEN USED TO ACCOMPLISH THE MISSION. GALLAGHER TO TRAVEL STATED THAT: "YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO INCUR THE ABOVE EXPENSE SUBJECT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND THE APPLICABLE BULLETINS OF THIS OFFICE.'. SECTION 3.6C OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS WAS AMENDED EFFECTIVE JUNE 1. STATED THAT IT IS THE POLICY THAT COURT PERSONNEL TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS BY AIR PURCHASE ACCOMMODATIONS LESS COSTLY THEN FIRST CLASS WHENEVER POSSIBLE. GALLAGHER NOW SAYS THAT WHEN HE TOOK THE TRIP HE WAS FULLY AWARE OF THE GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AS TO THE USE OF FIRST-CLASS AIR TRAVEL.

B-152558, OCT. 31, 1963

TO DIRECTOR, ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES COURTS:

THIS REFERS TO UNDATED LETTER WITH ENCLOSURES, FROM THE CHIEF OF THE DIVISION OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION REQUESTING OUR DECISION WHETHER UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES RELATED BELOW AN EMPLOYEE OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES COURTS SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO REFUND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FIRST-CLASS AIR SERVICE AND TOURIST FLIGHT BETWEEN WASHINGTON, D.C., AND CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.

THE INFORMATION FURNISHED SHOWS THAT MR. JOSEPH P. GALLAGHER, A U.S. PROBATION OFFICER TRAVELED FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., TO CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS. THE EMPLOYEE TRAVELED BY FIRST-CLASS AIR SERVICE. THE VOUCHER FOR WHICH PAYMENT WAS MADE FOR THE TRAVEL INVOLVED AND CERTIFIED CORRECT BY MR. GALLAGHER THERE APPEARS THE STATEMENT:

"REASON FOR FIRST CLASS AIR TRAVEL. THE ONLY TOURIST FLIGHT FROM WASH. D.C. ON SUNDAY LEAVES THE WASH.NAT.A.P. AT 6:15 AND ARRIVES IN CHICAGO, ILL. AT 9:38 P.M. THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY REQUIRED MY BEING IN CHIC. LATER THAN 6:00 P.M.' SUBSEQUENTLY, HOWEVER, IT WAS DETERMINED THAT A TOURIST FLIGHT WAS AVAILABLE THAT COULD HAVE BEEN USED TO ACCOMPLISH THE MISSION.

THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION AUTHORIZING MR. GALLAGHER TO TRAVEL STATED THAT:

"YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO INCUR THE ABOVE EXPENSE SUBJECT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND THE APPLICABLE BULLETINS OF THIS OFFICE.'

SECTION 3.6C OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS WAS AMENDED EFFECTIVE JUNE 1, 1960, WITH THE IDEA OF ENCOURAGING INCREASED USE BY GOVERNMENT TRAVELERS OF AIRPLANE ACCOMMODATIONS DESIGNATED "AIR COACH," "AIR TOURIST," ETC. THAT SECTION PROVIDES IN PART THAT:

"C. * * * AGENCIES MAY * * * SPECIFY ON TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS THAT AIR ACCOMMODATIONS LESS COSTLY THAN THOSE DESIGNATED "FIRST CLASS" SHALL BE USED. * * *"

BULLETIN NO. 392, SUPPLEMENT NO. 10 OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES COURTS, DATED MAY 24, 1960, STATED THAT IT IS THE POLICY THAT COURT PERSONNEL TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS BY AIR PURCHASE ACCOMMODATIONS LESS COSTLY THEN FIRST CLASS WHENEVER POSSIBLE.

MR. GALLAGHER NOW SAYS THAT WHEN HE TOOK THE TRIP HE WAS FULLY AWARE OF THE GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AS TO THE USE OF FIRST-CLASS AIR TRAVEL, HOWEVER, THE PLANE RESERVATIONS WERE OBTAINED BY A PERSON OTHER HE SAYS HE HAD NO REASON WHATSOEVER TO SUSPECT THAT THE RESERVATIONS SO OBTAINED DID NOT FULLY CONFORM WITH THE GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND THAT, THEREFORE, HE SHOULD NOT BE HELD LIABLE.

THE FACT THAT THE AVAILABILITY OF THE LOWER FARE MAY NOT HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO THE TRAVELER OR THAT HIS RESERVATION WAS MADE BY SOMEONE ELSE AFFORDS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR CHARGING THE GOVERNMENT WITH THE EXCESS COSTS RESULTING FROM THE FAILURE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE TOURIST-CLASS FARE REQUIRED BY ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS.