B-155091, MAY 13, 1965

B-155091: May 13, 1965

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BYRNE HAS BEEN REIMBURSED HAVE BEEN THE SUBJECT OF EXCEPTIONS BY OUR AUDITORS. THE EXCEPTIONS WERE ISSUED AGAINST S. BYRNE AND THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS CONCERNED HAVE BEEN AFFORDED A FULL OPPORTUNITY TO REPLY TO THE EXCEPTIONS. WE HAVE CAREFULLY REVIEWED THE ENTIRE CASE TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FURNISHED BY MR. THE PRIMARY QUESTION IN THIS CASE IS WHETHER MR. WE RECOGNIZE THAT YOUR EMPLOYEES ARE ENTITLED TO STATUTORY LEAVE IN THE UNITED STATES. THAT THEY ARE ENTITLED TO THE USE OF "HOME LEAVE" IN THE UNITED STATES INCIDENT TO SUCH TRAVEL. WE ARE AWARE THAT NEITHER THE LAW NOR REGULATIONS REQUIRE THAT THE LEAVE USED BE TAKEN AT THE RESIDENCE OF RECORD FOR HOME LEAVE PURPOSES.

B-155091, MAY 13, 1965

TO THE HONORABLE CARL T. ROWAN, DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES INFORMATION AGENCY:

WE REFER TO CERTAIN TRAVEL EXPENSES INCURRED BY MR. JAMES F. BYRNE, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES INFORMATION AGENCY, INCIDENT TO HIS TRAVEL FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., TO KARACHI, PAKISTAN, VIA SAN FRANCISCO, IN JANUARY 1963.

THE EXPENSES TO WHICH WE REFER AND FOR WHICH MR. BYRNE HAS BEEN REIMBURSED HAVE BEEN THE SUBJECT OF EXCEPTIONS BY OUR AUDITORS. THE EXCEPTIONS WERE ISSUED AGAINST S. R. RANKLE, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, ON BUREAU VOUCHER NO. 2820-3 IN THE FEBRUARY 1963 ACCOUNT OF J. F. CANNON, WASHINGTON, D.C., AND AGAINST E. J. DONNELLY, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, ON BUREAU VOUCHER NO. 007754 IN THE MARCH 1963 ACCOUNT OF J. F. BRACKMAN, KARACHI, PAKISTAN. MR. BYRNE AND THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS CONCERNED HAVE BEEN AFFORDED A FULL OPPORTUNITY TO REPLY TO THE EXCEPTIONS, AND WE HAVE CAREFULLY REVIEWED THE ENTIRE CASE TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FURNISHED BY MR. BYRNE AND MR. JOSEPH SANDERS, CHIEF, ACCOUNTS BRANCH.

THE PRIMARY QUESTION IN THIS CASE IS WHETHER MR. BYRNE TRAVELED FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., TO KARACHI, PAKISTAN VIA SAN FRANCISO, AN INDIRECT AND MORE COSTLY ROUTE, FOR THE PURPOSE OF TAKING STATUTORY HOME LEAVE AT SAN FRANCISCO, HIS PURPORTED RESIDENCE OF RECORD, OR FOR PERSONAL REASONS.

WE RECOGNIZE THAT YOUR EMPLOYEES ARE ENTITLED TO STATUTORY LEAVE IN THE UNITED STATES, INCLUDING TRAVEL EXPENSES BETWEEN THE OVERSEAS POSTS OF DUTY AND THE UNITED STATES, AND THAT THEY ARE ENTITLED TO THE USE OF "HOME LEAVE" IN THE UNITED STATES INCIDENT TO SUCH TRAVEL, AS WELL AS THE USE OF ANNUAL LEAVE. LIKEWISE, WE ARE AWARE THAT NEITHER THE LAW NOR REGULATIONS REQUIRE THAT THE LEAVE USED BE TAKEN AT THE RESIDENCE OF RECORD FOR HOME LEAVE PURPOSES. OUR PRIMARY CONCERN IS WITH THE ALLOWANCE OF STATUTORY LEAVE TRAVEL AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE TO A DESIGNATED RESIDENCE WHEN THE FACTS SHOW THAT SUBSTANTIALLY THE ENTIRE PERIOD OF LEAVE IN THE UNITED STATES IS TAKEN AT AN ALTERNATE LOCATION, OR WHERE THE STOPOVER AT DESIGNATED RESIDENCE AT THE END OF THE PERIOD OF LEAVE IN THE UNITED STATES IS FOR SUCH A BRIEF PERIOD IN RELATION TO THE TOTAL LEAVE TAKEN IN THE UNITED STATES AS TO SUGGEST THE STOPOVER WAS PRIMARILY TO JUSTIFY PAYMENT OF ADDITIONAL TRAVEL COSTS RESULTING FROM CIRCUITOUS TRAVEL TO A NEW OVERSEAS STATION. RELATIVE THERETO IS THE APPARENT ACCEPTANCE BY AGENCY OFFICIALS OF A CHANGE OF RESIDENCE DESIGNATION IN CASES WHICH DO NOT, IN OUR OPINION, COMPLY WITH THE AGENCY POLICY OR REGULATIONS. OUR EXAMINATION OF THE INSTANT CASE SHOWS WHAT MAY BE A TYPICAL CASE. REGULATION YOUR AGENCY PROVIDES THAT A REQUEST FOR CHANGE OF RESIDENCE "MUST BE FULLY JUSTIFIED BY THE EMPLOYEE.' THE 1957 AND 1959 "RESIDENCE AND DEPENDENCY REPORT" FURNISHED BY MR. BYRNE BOTH GIVE HIS RESIDENCE AT TIME OF APPOINTMENT AS BRADBURY PARK, MARYLAND, AND HIS LEGAL RESIDENCE, RESIDENCE FOR HOME LEAVE AND FOR SEPARATION ARE SHOWN AS "MARYLAND.' 1960 THE REPORT SHOWS LEGAL RESIDENCE AS "NONE - CALIFORNIA AFTER FULFILLING RESIDENCE REQUIREMENT.' CALIFORNIA IS SHOWN AS HIS RESIDENCE FOR HOME LEAVE AND SEPARATION PURPOSES. THE REASON FOR THE CHANGE IS STATED AS "FAMILY WILL MOVE TO WEST COAST.' HOWEVER, IN FEBRUARY 1962 WE FIND THAT THE RESIDENCE REPORT WHILE SHOWING SAN FRANCISCO AS HIS LEGAL RESIDENCE AND RESIDENCE FOR HOME LEAVE GIVES WASHINGTON, D.C., AS HIS RESIDENCE FOR SEPARATION. DURING THE ENTIRE PERIOD 1957-1962 THE EMPLOYEE WAS STATIONED AT ANKARA, TURKEY, AND THE RECORD INDICATES THE EMPLOYEE ARRIVED IN SAN FRANCISCO, APPARENTLY FOR THE FIRST TIME, IN JANUARY 1963 INCIDENT TO HIS TRANSFER TO KARACHI, PAKISTAN. THE PERIOD SPENT AT THAT LOCATION WAS FROM JANUARY 16 TO 21, 1963, WHEREAS HE--- WITH HIS FAMILY--- SPENT SOME 37 DAYS ON HOME LEAVE AND 25 DAYS ON ANNUAL LEAVE--- AN AGGREGATE OF 62 DAYS--- ON THE EAST COAST. THUS, WE FIND NO SUBSTANTIVE BASIS SUPPORTING THE CHANGE OF HIS RESIDENCE FROM MARYLAND TO CALIFORNIA. PARTICULARLY, WE WOULD INVITE YOUR ATTENTION TO THE CHANGE IN 1962 OF THE RESIDENCE FOR SEPARATION PURPOSES TO WASHINGTON, D.C. THE FACT THAT AN EMPLOYEE MAY WISH TO VISIT THE WEST COAST OR OTHER AREA TO ASCERTAIN WHETHER IT WOULD BE A DESIRABLE PLACE TO RESIDE UPON SEPARATION OR CONSIDERS IT A DESIRABLE PLACE FOR VACATION PURPOSES WOULD NOT SEEM TO BE A PROPER BASIS IN SUPPORT OF A CHANGE OF RESIDENCE FOR HOME LEAVE PURPOSES. IN THE INSTANT CASE THE STATED REASON "FAMILY WILL MOVE TO WEST COAST.' WHILE SUSCEPTIBLE OF INTERPRETATION, DOES NOT SATISFY THE TEST OF A REASONABLE JUSTIFICATION WHEN CONSIDERED IN THE LIGHT OF THE REPORTED FACTS. WE WOULD NOTE HERE THAT IN A JANUARY 1963 LETTER FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO MR. SANDERS, CHIEF OF ACCOUNTS, THE EMPLOYEE SAYS "SAN FRANCISCO SEEMS TO BE A BEAUTIFUL CITY; IT IS A SHAME WE DO NOT HAVE MORE TIME TO SPEND HERE.' ALSO, WE REFER BACK TO THE 1962 CHANGE OF RESIDENCE FOR SEPARATION PURPOSES TO WASHINGTON, D.C., WHICH CHANGE APPEARS INCONSISTENT WITH THE STATED PURPOSE OF THE CHANGE OF RESIDENCE FOR HOME LEAVE PURPOSES. THE EMPLOYEE EVIDENTLY HAD IN MIND A CONTEMPLATED CHANGE, IN THE FUTURE, OF HIS RESIDENCE TO SAN FRANCISCO. THAT CHANGE IS NOT SHOWN TO HAVE OCCURRED AND IN FACT THAT THE CHANGE OF HIS RESIDENCE FOR SEPARATION PURPOSES TO WASHINGTON, D.C., STRONGLY INDICATES NO SUCH CHANGE OF RESIDENCE IS EXPECTED TO OCCUR. THUS, WE FIND NO REASONABLE BASIS IN THE RECORD FROM WHICH TO CONCLUDE THAT THE TRAVEL TO SAN FRANCISCO IN JANUARY 1963 WAS OTHER THAN TRAVEL BY A CIRCUITOUS ROUTE TO KARACHI FOR PERSONAL CONVENIENCE. IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES WE MUST ADHERE TO OUR POSITION THAT THE ADDITIONAL TRAVEL EXPENSES RESULTING FROM THE INDIRECT ROUTE TRAVEL ARE FOR RECOVERY FROM THE EMPLOYEE.

THIS CASE HAS BEEN PENDING IN A QUESTIONED STATUS SINCE DECEMBER 24, 1963. WE ARE, THEREFORE, INSTRUCTING OUR INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS DIVISION TO ISSUE FORTHWITH A STATEMENT OF SETTLEMENT REGARDING THE QUESTIONED ITEMS DISALLOWING CREDIT THEREFOR IN THE ACCOUNT OF THE OFFICER CONCERNED FOR THE PURPOSE OF IMPLEMENTING THE ACT OF MAY 26, 1936, 49 STAT. 1374, AS AMENDED, 5 U.S.C. 46B.

WE BELIEVE THAT THE CAUSE CREATING THE SITUATION PRESENTED BY THIS CASE MAY WELL BE IN TOO READY AN ADMINISTRATIVE ACCEPTANCE OF CHANGE OF RESIDENCE CERTIFICATIONS. WE SUGGEST, THEREFORE, THAT TIGHTER CONTROLS BE EXERCISED OVER SUCH CHANGES TO PREVENT EXCESS COSTS TO THE GOVERNMENT ARISING SOLELY FROM PERSONAL CONSIDERATIONS AND WITHOUT CURRENT SUBSTANTIVE BASES. SEE SECTION 1.1, STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND 6 FAM 114. ADDITIONALLY, WE WOULD URGE THE ADOPTION OF A COST LIMITATION OF TRAVEL TO AN ALTERNATE LOCATION, NOT TO EXCEED THE COST TO THE DESIGNATED PLACE OF RESIDENCE, AS IS REQUIRED GENERALLY OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES. SEE 37 COMP. GEN. 113, 115.