B-153537, MAR. 25, 1964

B-153537: Mar 25, 1964

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THE ONLY ITEM OF REIMBURSEMENT IN DISPUTE IS THE AMOUNT ALLOWED YOU AS MILEAGE FOR USE OF YOUR PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THE TRAVEL IN QUESTION. REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL BY THAT MODE WAS AUTHORIZED AT THE RATE OF 6 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE GOING TRIP AND AT THE RATE OF 10 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE RETURN TRIP. YOU WERE PAID BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION ON THE BASIS OF THE MILEAGE SHOWN IN THE RAND MCNALLY STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDE WHICH GIVES THE HIGHWAY MILEAGE FROM SILVER SPRING. THE AMOUNT DISALLOWED IS COMPUTED AS FOLLOWS: WASHINGTON TO MONTGOMERY. - 898 CLAIMED LESS 812 ALLOWED EQUALS 86 DISALLOWED TIMES 10 CENTS EQUALS 8.60 TOTAL DISALLOWED $12.26 THE RECLAIM VOUCHER SUBMITTED BY YOU IS FOR THAT AMOUNT.

B-153537, MAR. 25, 1964

TO MR. JOHN D. BUNGER:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER RECEIVED FEBRUARY 7, 1964, BY WHICH YOU REQUESTED REVIEW OF OUR CLAIMS DIVISION SETTLEMENT DATED JANUARY 27, 1964, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR ADDITIONAL REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES INCURRED ON OFFICIAL TRAVEL YOU PERFORMED AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., TO MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA, AND RETURN DURING THE PERIOD OCTOBER 4 TO 18, 1963.

THE ONLY ITEM OF REIMBURSEMENT IN DISPUTE IS THE AMOUNT ALLOWED YOU AS MILEAGE FOR USE OF YOUR PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THE TRAVEL IN QUESTION. REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL BY THAT MODE WAS AUTHORIZED AT THE RATE OF 6 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE GOING TRIP AND AT THE RATE OF 10 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE RETURN TRIP. YOU CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE NUMBER OF MILES TRAVELED AS RECORDED ON THE SPEEDOMETER OF YOUR AUTOMOBILE, 873 ON THE GOING TRIP AND 898 ON THE RETURN TRIP. YOU WERE PAID BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION ON THE BASIS OF THE MILEAGE SHOWN IN THE RAND MCNALLY STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDE WHICH GIVES THE HIGHWAY MILEAGE FROM SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND, YOUR PLACE OF RESIDENCE IN THE WASHINGTON AREA, TO MONTGOMERY AS 812 MILES. THE AMOUNT DISALLOWED IS COMPUTED AS FOLLOWS:

WASHINGTON TO MONTGOMERY--- 873 CLAIMED LESS 812 ALLOWED

EQUALS 61 DISALLOWED TIMES 6 CENTS EQUALS $3.66

MONTGOMERY TO WASHINGTON--- 898 CLAIMED LESS 812 ALLOWED

EQUALS 86 DISALLOWED TIMES 10 CENTS EQUALS 8.60

TOTAL DISALLOWED $12.26

THE RECLAIM VOUCHER SUBMITTED BY YOU IS FOR THAT AMOUNT.

SECTION 3.5B. (1) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART:

"* * * WHEN TRANSPORTATION IS AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED BY PRIVATELY OWNED MOTORCYCLES OR AUTOMOBILES, DISTANCES BETWEEN POINTS TRAVELED SHALL BE AS SHOWN IN STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDES OR BY SPEEDOMETER READINGS. ANY SUBSTANTIAL DEVIATIONS FROM DISTANCES SHOWN IN THE STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDES SHALL BE EXPLAINED. * * *"

WE HAVE NOT ESTABLISHED A STANDARD AS TO WHAT CONSTITUTES A SUBSTANTIAL DEVIATION UNDER THAT PROVISION; HOWEVER, THE DETERMINATION OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION THAT THE DEVIATIONS IN YOUR CASE WERE SUBSTANTIAL AND THUS REQUIRED EXPLANATION DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE OPEN TO QUESTION. ON YOUR ORIGINAL VOUCHER YOU EXPLAINED THAT EXCESS MILEAGE WAS CLAIMED BECAUSE YOU HAD TRAVELED BY ,THE FASTEST AND MOST USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTES.' YOU AMPLIFIED THAT EXPLANATION ON THE RECLAIM VOUCHER YOU SUBMITTED DECEMBER 2, 1963, AS FOLLOWS:

"AS PREVIOUSLY INDICATED THE FASTEST AND MOST USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTES WERE TAKEN. THIS WAS DONE UPON THE ADVICE OF THE AAA AND EXPERIENCED TRAVELERS FAMILIAR WITH THE POSSIBLE ALTERNATE ROUTES TOTAL DRIVING TIME GOING TO MONTGOMERY BY WHAT APPEARED TO BE THE MOST DIRECT USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE WAS 21 HOURS. FOLLOWING THE RECOMMENDED ROUTE RETURNING TOOK 16 HOURS DRIVING TIME EVEN THOUGH THE ROUTE WAS 25 MILES MORE. HAD I TAKEN THE SAME ROUTE RETURNING AN ADDITIONAL OVERNIGHT STAY AND A RESULTING INCREASE IN PER DIEM WOULD HAVE BEEN REQUIRED.'

YOUR ORIGINAL EXPLANATION DID NOT SHOW THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY FOR USE OF A LONGER ROUTE OR FURNISH AN EXPLICIT REASON TO JUSTIFY PAYMENT FOR EXCESS MILEAGE, IN FACT, YOU HAVE NO WHERE SHOWN THE EXACT ROUTE TAKEN. YOUR SUPPLEMENTARY EXPLANATION AS QUOTED ABOVE APPEARS TO GIVE A REASON FOR THE FACT THAT YOUR MILEAGE ON THE RETURN TRIP WAS GREATER THAN YOUR MILEAGE ON THE GOING TRIP BUT IT DOES NOT FULLY JUSTIFY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MILEAGE CLAIMED IN EITHER DIRECTION AND THE MILEAGE SHOWN IN THE RAND MCCNALLY STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDE.

THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HAS DETERMINED THAT YOUR EXPLANATIONS OF THE EXCESS MILEAGE CLAIMED ARE NOT SUFFICIENT TO JUSTIFY THE ALLOWANCE OF YOUR CLAIM. ON THE BASIS OF THE INFORMATION BEFORE US WE DO NOT CONSIDER THE DETERMINATION MADE BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION TO BE SO PATENTLY WRONG AS TO WARRANT REVERSAL.

THEREFORE, THE DISALLOWANCE OF YOUR CLAIM BY THE SETTLEMENT OF OUR CLAIMS DIVISION OF JANUARY 27, 1964, IS SUSTAINED.