B-15357, MARCH 19, 1941, 20 COMP. GEN. 540

B-15357: Mar 19, 1941

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

BECAME ILL AND WERE LANDED OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES FOR HOSPITALIZATION. THEIR TRAVELING EXPENSES BACK TO THEIR OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS IN THE UNITED STATES MAY NOT BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE TO THE BUREAU FOR TRAVELING EXPENSES UNLESS IT CAN BE SHOWN THAT THE DUTY REQUIRED TO BE PERFORMED BY THE EMPLOYEES WHILE IN A TRAVEL STATUS WAS SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLETED AT THE TIME THEY BECAME INCAPACITATED. OR WAS OTHERWISE COMPLETED WITHOUT ADDITIONAL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. WHERE WEATHER BUREAU EMPLOYEES ASSIGNED TO WEATHER OBSERVATION STATIONS ON COAST GUARD SHIPS IN MID-OCEAN BECAME ILL AND WERE HOSPITALIZED OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES. 1941: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 4. THREE OF THE BUREAU'S EMPLOYEES ARE ASSIGNED TO EACH SHIP TO MAKE THE REQUIRED OBSERVATIONS AND TRANSMIT THEM TO WASHINGTON.

B-15357, MARCH 19, 1941, 20 COMP. GEN. 540

TRAVELING EXPENSES AND MEDICAL TREATMENT - WEATHER BUREAU EMPLOYEES BECOMING ILL WHILE ON DUTY AT SEA WHERE WEATHER BUREAU EMPLOYEES, ASSIGNED TO WEATHER OBSERVATION STATIONS ON COAST GUARD SHIPS IN MID-OCEAN, BECAME ILL AND WERE LANDED OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES FOR HOSPITALIZATION, THEIR TRAVELING EXPENSES BACK TO THEIR OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS IN THE UNITED STATES MAY NOT BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE TO THE BUREAU FOR TRAVELING EXPENSES UNLESS IT CAN BE SHOWN THAT THE DUTY REQUIRED TO BE PERFORMED BY THE EMPLOYEES WHILE IN A TRAVEL STATUS WAS SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLETED AT THE TIME THEY BECAME INCAPACITATED, OR WAS OTHERWISE COMPLETED WITHOUT ADDITIONAL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. WHERE WEATHER BUREAU EMPLOYEES ASSIGNED TO WEATHER OBSERVATION STATIONS ON COAST GUARD SHIPS IN MID-OCEAN BECAME ILL AND WERE HOSPITALIZED OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES, THE EXPENSES OF THEIR MEDICAL TREATMENT MAY NOT BE PAID FROM THE BUREAU'S APPROPRIATION, BUT IF CAN BE ESTABLISHED THAT THEIR ILLNESSES RESULTED DIRECTLY FROM THE NATURE OF THEIR EMPLOYMENT, THE AVAILABILITY OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS FOR THE PAYMENT OF SUCH COSTS, INCLUDING NECESSARY TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES, WOULD BE A MATTER FOR CONSIDERATION AND DETERMINATION BY THE UNITED STATES EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION COMMISSION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, MARCH 19, 1941:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 4, 1941, AS FOLLOWS:

THE WEATHER BUREAU OF THE DEPARTMENT, IN COOPERATION WITH THE COAST GUARD, HAS ESTABLISHED TWO WEATHER OBSERVATION STATIONS ON COAST GUARD SHIPS IN MID-1ATLANTIC. THREE OF THE BUREAU'S EMPLOYEES ARE ASSIGNED TO EACH SHIP TO MAKE THE REQUIRED OBSERVATIONS AND TRANSMIT THEM TO WASHINGTON, D.C., FOR DISSEMINATION.

SINCE INITIATING THIS SERVICE, TWO OF THESE EMPLOYEES, WHILE ASSIGNED TO THE SHIP DETAIL HAVE BEEN STRICKEN WITH APPENDICITIS AND LANDED AT BERMUDA FOR HOSPITALIZATION AND SURGICAL CARE. IF SIMILAR CASES SHOULD ARISE IN THE FUTURE, THE MEN MAY BE TAKEN TO THE AZORES OR TO SOME OTHER PORT DEPENDING UPON THE POSITION OF THE SHIP AT THE TIME. UPON RECOVERY, THESE MEN ARE REQUIRED TO REPORT TO THEIR OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS IN THE UNITED STATES.

YOUR DECISION RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER TRAVELING EXPENSES BACK TO OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS OF THESE EMPLOYEES ARE AUTHORIZED, AND ALSO, AS IT IS BELIEVED THAT THE ILLNESSES IN QUESTION ARE THE DIRECT RESULT OF THE SHIP DETAIL, WHETHER GOVERNMENT FUNDS MAY BE USED TO PAY MEDICAL COSTS FOR SUCH ILLNESSES DIRECTLY RESULTING FROM THE NATURE OF THE EMPLOYMENT.

IN DECISION OF OCTOBER 21, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 278, THERE WAS STATED THE GENERAL RULE THAT (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS):

AN EMPLOYEE WHO IS INJURED OR OTHERWISE INCAPACITATED WHILE IN A TRAVEL STATUS NECESSITATING HIS RETURN TO HEADQUARTERS BEFORE COMPLETION OF THE DUTY ASSIGNED IS NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE EXPENSES OF THE RETURN TRIP WHICH IS CONSIDERED A PERSONAL EXPENSE AND NOT TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS.

AN EXCEPTION TO THE STATED GENERAL RULE WAS MADE IN 8 COMP. GEN. 570, WHEREIN IT WAS HELD AS FOLLOWS (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS):

AN EMPLOYEE WHO IS INJURED COINCIDENT WITH THE TERMINATION OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTY IN A TRAVEL STATUS MAY BE REIMBURSED FROM THE ADMINISTRATIVE APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR TRAVELING EXPENSES FOR THE EXPENSE INCURRED IN RETURNING TO HIS HEADQUARTERS, EVEN THOUGH THE TRIP IS DELAYED DUE TO THE INJURY, IN AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED THE AMOUNT THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED IF THE EMPLOYEE HAD RETURNED UNINJURED IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE COMPLETION OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES BY THE SHORTEST USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE. 6 COMP. GEN. 278 DISTINGUISHED.

AN IMPORTANT FACTOR HAVING A BEARING UPON THE RULE, SUPRA, IS THAT, BY THE FAILURE OF AN EMPLOYEE TO COMPLETE THE DUTIES ASSIGNED IN RESPECT OF ANY DETAIL AWAY FROM OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS, AN ADDITIONAL EXPENSE OR BURDEN HAS BEEN PLACED UPON THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH THE ASSIGNING OF OTHER EMPLOYEES TO COMPLETE THE TASK LEFT UNFINISHED BY THE INCAPACITATED EMPLOYEE.

IN THE CASE HERE PRESENTED, UNLESS IT CAN BE SHOWN THAT THE DUTY REQUIRED TO BE PERFORMED BY THE EMPLOYEES WHILE IN A TRAVEL STATUS WAS SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLETED AT THE TIME THEY BECAME INCAPACITATED BY ILLNESS, OR WAS OTHERWISE COMPLETED WITHOUT ADDITIONAL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT, TRAVELING EXPENSES OF THE EMPLOYEES IN QUESTION BACK TO OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS MAY NOT BE PAID FROM THE ADMINISTRATIVE APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE TO THE WEATHER BUREAU FOR TRAVELING EXPENSES.

THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE WEATHER BUREAU (SEE ACT OF JUNE 25, 1940, PUBLIC, NO. 658) IS NOT MADE AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF COST OF MEDICAL TREATMENT OF CIVILIAN PERSONNEL. HOWEVER, IF IT CAN BE ESTABLISHED THAT THE ILLNESS OF THE EMPLOYEES IN QUESTION HERE DIRECTLY RESULTED FROM THE NATURE OF THEIR EMPLOYMENT, THE AVAILABILITY OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS FOR THE PAYMENT OF SUCH COSTS, INCLUDING NECESSARY TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES, WOULD BE A MATTER FOR THE CONSIDERATION AND DETERMINATION OF THE UNITED STATES EMPLOYEE'S COMPENSATION COMMISSION.