B-154343, OCT. 16, 1964

B-154343: Oct 16, 1964

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A COPY OF WHICH WAS FORWARDED TO OUR OFFICE BY MR. TRANSMITTED THEREWITH WAS A TRAVEL VOUCHER IN THE AMOUNT OF $25. THE RECORD SHOWS THAT YOU WERE RETIRED FOR DISABILITY FROM THE FEDERAL AVIATION AGENCY AT BALBOA. AIRLINE TICKETS FOR YOURSELF AND FAMILY WERE PURCHASED BY YOU ON A GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUEST. SINCE YOU HAD BEEN UNDER MEDICAL TREATMENT UNTIL JUNE 1963 AND THEREFORE WERE UNABLE TO TRAVEL PRIOR TO THAT TIME. IT IS YOUR BELIEF THAT OUR DECISION TO ABANDON FURTHER COLLECTION ACTION IN YOUR CASE CONSTITUTED AN APPROVAL BY THIS OFFICE OF THE TRAVEL YOU PERFORMED IN JUNE 1963. WAS NOT INTENDED TO CONVEY SUCH AN IMPRESSION. EXCEPT THAT FOR EMPLOYEES (A) WHO ENTER UPON ACTIVE MILITARY SERVICE AT ANY TIME PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION OF SUCH PERIOD AND ARE FURLOUGHED FOR THE DURATION OF SUCH DUTY.

B-154343, OCT. 16, 1964

TO MR. EUGENE BERGERON:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 30, 1964, A COPY OF WHICH WAS FORWARDED TO OUR OFFICE BY MR. G. F. THOMPSON, FEDERAL AVIATION AGENCY, ATLANTA, GEORGIA. TRANSMITTED THEREWITH WAS A TRAVEL VOUCHER IN THE AMOUNT OF $25, REPRESENTING VARIOUS EXPENSES INCURRED BY YOU IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR TRAVEL FROM THE CANAL ZONE TO THE UNITED STATES IN JUNE 1963.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT YOU WERE RETIRED FOR DISABILITY FROM THE FEDERAL AVIATION AGENCY AT BALBOA, CANAL ZONE, ON MARCH 16, 1961. A TRAVEL ORDER ISSUED ON SEPTEMBER 24, 1962, AUTHORIZED TRAVEL FOR YOU AND YOUR DEPENDENTS TO THE UNITED STATES. AIRLINE TICKETS FOR YOURSELF AND FAMILY WERE PURCHASED BY YOU ON A GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUEST. HOWEVER, PRIOR TO THE DATE OF YOUR TRAVEL, THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE DETERMINED THAT THE TRANSPORTATION REQUEST HAD BEEN ISSUED IN ERROR AND REQUESTED YOU TO RETURN THE TICKETS. YOU RETURNED THE TICKETS PURCHASED FOR YOUR DEPENDENTS BUT REFUSED TO RETURN YOUR OWN TICKET SAYING THAT YOUR ENTITLEMENT TO RETURN TRAVEL HAD NOT EXPIRED, SINCE YOU HAD BEEN UNDER MEDICAL TREATMENT UNTIL JUNE 1963 AND THEREFORE WERE UNABLE TO TRAVEL PRIOR TO THAT TIME.

BY LETTER DATED OCTOBER 30, 1963, THE FEDERAL AVIATION AGENCY REPORTED YOUR INDEBTEDNESS TO OUR OFFICE. AFTER A THOROUGH INVESTIGATION AND REVIEW OF THE EVIDENCE, WE CONCLUDED THAT THE PARTICULAR FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES IN YOUR CASE DID NOT WARRANT FURTHER COLLECTION ACTION BY THIS OFFICE. BY LETTER DATED JULY 10, 1964, WE ADVISED YOU OF OUR DECISION IN THE MATTER.

APPARENTLY, IT IS YOUR BELIEF THAT OUR DECISION TO ABANDON FURTHER COLLECTION ACTION IN YOUR CASE CONSTITUTED AN APPROVAL BY THIS OFFICE OF THE TRAVEL YOU PERFORMED IN JUNE 1963. OUR LETTER OF JULY 10, 1964, WAS NOT INTENDED TO CONVEY SUCH AN IMPRESSION.

SECTION 1.6 OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR A-56, CONTAINING REGULATIONS GOVERNING PAYMENT OF TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES OF CIVILIAN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES, PROVIDES:

"TIME LIMIT. ALL TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWABLE UNDER THESE REGULATIONS SHALL BEGIN WITHIN TWO YEARS FROM THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE TRANSFER OR APPOINTMENT OF THE EMPLOYEE, EXCEPT THAT FOR EMPLOYEES (A) WHO ENTER UPON ACTIVE MILITARY SERVICE AT ANY TIME PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION OF SUCH PERIOD AND ARE FURLOUGHED FOR THE DURATION OF SUCH DUTY, THE TWO-YEAR PERIOD SHALL BE EXCLUSIVE OF THE TIME SPENT ON SUCH FURLOUGH, AND (B) FOR EMPLOYEES WHO ARE TRANSFERRED OR APPOINTED TO POSTS OF DUTY OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, THE TWO-YEAR PERIOD SHALL BE EXCLUSIVE OF ANY TIME DURING WHICH SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS MAKE THE TRAVEL OR TRANSPORTATION IMPOSSIBLE. ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS SHALL ENDEAVOR TO COMPLETE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION AT THE EARLIEST PRACTICABLE DATES.'

IN OUR DECISION 28 COMP. GEN. 285, WE INTERPRETED THE ABOVE-QUOTED LIMITATION AS IT APPLIED TO SEPARATIONS FROM THE SERVICE AND RULED THAT RETURN TRAVEL BY A FORMER EMPLOYEE MUST BE INCIDENT TO HIS SEPARATION AND WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME THEREAFTER. THAT DECISION, HOWEVER, DID NOT AND COULD NOT ENLARGE THE 2-YEAR PERIOD PRESCRIBED BY THE STATUTORY REGULATION. REGARDLESS OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN A PARTICULAR CASE, OUR OFFICE HAS NO AUTHORITY TO WAIVE THE MANDATORY PROVISIONS OF THE REGULATION OR GRANT EXTENSIONS BEYOND THE PRESCRIBED TIME LIMITATION.

WHILE THE PARTICULAR FACTS OF YOUR CASE DID NOT WARRANT FURTHER ATTEMPTS BY THIS OFFICE TO COLLECT YOUR INDEBTEDNESS, WE HAVE NO LEGAL AUTHORITY TO ALLOW THE PAYMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED FOR TRAVEL WHICH WAS PERFORMED MORE THAN 2 YEARS FROM THE DATE OF SEPARATION.