B-154162, JUL. 1, 1964

B-154162: Jul 1, 1964

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THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY REQUESTED OUR DECISION CONCERNING THE PER DIEM RATE PAYABLE INCIDENT TO TRAVEL PERFORMED ON THE ALASKA FERRY ROUTE WHERE THE TRAVEL TIME IS MORE THAN 6HOURS AND LESS THAN 9 SUCCESSIVE DAYS. WE HAVE BEEN INFORMALLY ADVISED THAT THIS MATTER DOES NOT INVOLVE USE OF THE SO-CALLED FERRY BY REASON OF TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE. IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT THE ALASKA FERRY ROUTE IS OPERATED BY THE DIVISION OF MARINE TRANSPORTATION. THE SERVICE IS DESIGNED TO PROVIDE TOURISTS WITH AN ALTERNATE ROUTE TO THE PARALLEL LAND HIGHWAY ROUTE. SEPARATE CHARGES ARE ESTABLISHED FOR PASSENGERS AND VEHICLES. IF SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS ARE REQUIRED. THERE IS A SEPARATE CHARGE FOR THE ACCOMMODATIONS OCCUPIED.

B-154162, JUL. 1, 1964

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR:

ON MAY 8, 1964, THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY REQUESTED OUR DECISION CONCERNING THE PER DIEM RATE PAYABLE INCIDENT TO TRAVEL PERFORMED ON THE ALASKA FERRY ROUTE WHERE THE TRAVEL TIME IS MORE THAN 6HOURS AND LESS THAN 9 SUCCESSIVE DAYS. WE HAVE BEEN INFORMALLY ADVISED THAT THIS MATTER DOES NOT INVOLVE USE OF THE SO-CALLED FERRY BY REASON OF TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT THE ALASKA FERRY ROUTE IS OPERATED BY THE DIVISION OF MARINE TRANSPORTATION, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS, STATE OF ALASKA. PROVIDES SERVICE FROM PRINCE RUPERT, BRITISH COLUMBIA, TO SKAGWAY, ALASKA, WITH INTERMEDIATE PORTS OF CALL AT KETCHIKAN, WRANGELL, PETERSBURG, JUNEAU AND HAINES. THE SERVICE IS DESIGNED TO PROVIDE TOURISTS WITH AN ALTERNATE ROUTE TO THE PARALLEL LAND HIGHWAY ROUTE. IT PROVIDES SERVICE FOR PASSENGERS AND VEHICLES. EACH VESSEL HAS LIMITED SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS; 14 STATEROOMS--- 28 BERTHS. SEPARATE CHARGES ARE ESTABLISHED FOR PASSENGERS AND VEHICLES. THE CHARGE FOR THE VEHICLE DOES NOT INCLUDE THE PASSAGE FARE FOR THE DRIVER OR ANY OTHER PASSENGER. IF SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS ARE REQUIRED, THERE IS A SEPARATE CHARGE FOR THE ACCOMMODATIONS OCCUPIED. THE TARIFF IS SILENT ON THE QUESTION OF MEALS BUT AS WAS STATED IN LETTER OF MAY 8, 1964, MEAL SERVICE IS AVAILABLE AT ADDITIONAL COST TO THE TRAVELER. SECTION 6.2C (3) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENTAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS IN EFFECT PROVIDES THAT FOR TRIPS BY AIRPLANE, TRAIN OR BOAT OF MORE THAN 6 HOURS AND LESS THAN 9 SUCCESSIVE DAYS BETWEEN A DUTY POINT IN CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES AND A DUTY POINT BEYOND THE LIMITS THEREOF OR BETWEEN DUTY POINTS IN DIFFERENT LOCALITIES OUTSIDE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES THE PER DIEM RATE SHALL BE $6. HOWEVER, SECTION 6.2C (3) (B) PROVIDES THAT WHEN THE PRESCRIBED RATE IS NOT COMMENSURATE WITH THE TRAVELER'S SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES A DIFFERENT RATE MAY BE AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED WHICH, FOR BOAT TRAVEL, MAY NOT EXCEED $9.

THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S VIEWS OF THE PROBLEM ARE CONTAINED IN PARAGRAPH THREE OF HIS LETTER AS FOLLOWS:

"WE HAVE NO DOUBT THAT EMPLOYEES COULD COVER THE SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS BY USE OF TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS. HOWEVER, IF TRAVEL BY USE OF THE ALASKA FERRY ROUTE IS CONSIDERED TO BE BOAT TRAVEL WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 6.2C (3), A PER DIEM RATE OF $6 (OR $9 UNDER 6.2C (3) (B) ( WOULD BE IN ORDER. THIS INTERPRETATION WOULD, OF COURSE, PLACE A FINANCIAL HARDSHIP UPON THE EMPLOYEES, SINCE THEY WOULD STILL BE PAYING PERSONALLY FOR SUBSISTENCE FROM A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE WHICH IS INTENDED TO BE OVER AND ABOVE THE COST OF LODGING AND SUBSISTENCE.'

IN VIEW OF THE NATURE AND PURPOSE OF THE SERVICE OF THE CARRIER AS SET FORTH EARLIER HEREIN IT IS OUR VIEW THAT TRAVEL BY USE OF THE NAMED ROUTE MUST BE CONSIDERED TO BE BOAT TRAVEL WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE CITED SECTION OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND THAT THE PER DIEM RATES SET FORTH THEREIN ARE APPLICABLE. HOWEVER, SECTION 3.6B (1) OF THE REGULATIONS PROVIDES FOR SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS FOR BOAT TRAVEL WHETHER INCLUDED IN THE COST OF PASSAGE OR OTHERWISE AND, THEREFORE, WE AGREE THAT SUCH ACCOMMODATIONS WHEN NECESSARY, MAY BE OBTAINED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE.

AS STATED IN THE LETTER THIS INTERPRETATION REQUIRES THAT THE TRAVELER USING THE FERRY ROUTE PAY THE COST OF MEALS WHICH NORMALLY ARE INCLUDED IN THE COST OF BOAT OR STEAMSHIP TRAVEL. HOWEVER, THE PER DIEM RATES AUTHORIZED BY THE REGULATIONS ALSO CONTEMPLATE TRANS OCEANIC TRAVEL, ETC., REQUIRING INCIDENTAL EXPENSES WHICH NORMALLY MAY EXCEED THOSE INCURRED BY THE TRAVELER UNDER CONSIDERATION HERE WHOSE LONGEST TRIP IS SOME 30 HOURS. IN ANY EVENT WE ARE WITHOUT AUTHORITY TO INCREASE THE ESTABLISHED PER DIEM RATES OR TO AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF MEALS, TC., IN ADDITION THERETO.