B-155141, OCT. 20, 1964

B-155141: Oct 20, 1964

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WIXEY'S TRAVEL IN ALASKA WAS AUTHORIZED BY SBA FORM 21. A COPY OF THIS AUTHORIZATION IS ATTACHED. UNDER ITEM 17 OF THE AUTHORIZATION IT IS STATED. ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE NOT TO EXCEED $25.00 PER DAY IS AUTHORIZED FOR TRAVEL INVOLVING NECESSARY LODGING COSTS DURING THE SAME DAY AT TWO DIFFERENT POINTS.'. THIS SPECIAL PROVISION WAS INCLUDED IN THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION AS INDICATION OF ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL BUT WITH RESERVATION AS TO PAYMENT BECAUSE OF APPARENT LACK OF AUTHORITY FOR SUCH. "WHILE ANCHORAGE IS THE PRIMARY POINT OF DETAIL. WIXEY IS REQUIRED TO TRAVEL TO OTHER LOCALITIES FOR PERIODS OF SHORT DURATION. EMPLOYEES ON TEMPORARY DETAIL HAVE FOUND IT NECESSARY TO RETAIN LODGING IN ANCHORAGE TO ASSURE THAT THEY WILL HAVE ACCOMMODATIONS AVAILABLE WHEN THEY RETURN TO THAT POINT.

B-155141, OCT. 20, 1964

TO MR. H. E. CLEEK:

YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 9, 1964, TRANSMITTING A TRAVEL VOUCHER FOR $103.50 IN FAVOR OF MR. ELZA M. WIXEY, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, ASSIGNED TO TEMPORARY DUTY IN ALASKA ASKS OUR DECISION WHETHER THE EMPLOYEE, UNDER AN ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORIZATION TO BE REIMBURSED ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE (SECTION 6.12, STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS) NOT TO EXCEED $25 PER DAY, LAWFULLY MAY BE REIMBURSED MORE THAN ONE ITEM OF EXPENSE FOR LODGINGS AT DIFFERENT POINTS ON THE SAME DAY, AS SPECIFIED IN THE AUTHORIZATION.

YOUR LETTER RELATES THE CIRCUMSTANCES GIVING RISE TO THE SUBMISSION, AS FOLLOWS:

"MR. WIXEY'S TRAVEL IN ALASKA WAS AUTHORIZED BY SBA FORM 21, AUTHORIZATION - TRAVEL, DATED AUGUST 3, 1964. A COPY OF THIS AUTHORIZATION IS ATTACHED. UNDER ITEM 17 OF THE AUTHORIZATION IT IS STATED,"SUBJECT TO APPROVAL OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL, ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE NOT TO EXCEED $25.00 PER DAY IS AUTHORIZED FOR TRAVEL INVOLVING NECESSARY LODGING COSTS DURING THE SAME DAY AT TWO DIFFERENT POINTS.' THIS SPECIAL PROVISION WAS INCLUDED IN THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION AS INDICATION OF ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL BUT WITH RESERVATION AS TO PAYMENT BECAUSE OF APPARENT LACK OF AUTHORITY FOR SUCH.

"WHILE ANCHORAGE IS THE PRIMARY POINT OF DETAIL, MR. WIXEY IS REQUIRED TO TRAVEL TO OTHER LOCALITIES FOR PERIODS OF SHORT DURATION. IN MORE NORMAL SITUATIONS THE TRAVELER MIGHT REASONABLY BE EXPECTED TO GIVE UP HIS ROOM ON EACH DEPARTURE FROM ANCHORAGE. HOWEVER, EMPLOYEES ON TEMPORARY DETAIL HAVE FOUND IT NECESSARY TO RETAIN LODGING IN ANCHORAGE TO ASSURE THAT THEY WILL HAVE ACCOMMODATIONS AVAILABLE WHEN THEY RETURN TO THAT POINT. ALSO IT IS NOT CONVENIENT TO REPACK PERSONAL BELONGINGS AND MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THEIR SAFEKEEPING EACH TIME IT BECOMES NECESSARY TO LEAVE ANCHORAGE FOR A DAY OR TWO. THIS BEING NECESSARY THE LODGINGS COSTS HAVE BEEN EQUALING OR IN SOME INSTANCES EXCEEDING THE PER DIEM ALLOWANCE. SINCE OTHER SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES ARE UNUSUALLY HIGH IN ALASKA, IT WOULD SEEM THAT THE PECULIAR CIRCUMSTANCES PRESENT WARRANT SPECIAL CONSIDERATION SO THAT TRAVELERS MAY BE ALLOWED AN AMOUNT COMMENSURATE TO THEIR SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES. HOWEVER, THERE APPEARS A QUESTION WHETHER DUAL LODGINGS MAY BE CONSIDERED AS PROPER ITEMS IN ESTABLISHING THE ALLOWABLE AMOUNT OF ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES.'

THE SPECIFIC QUESTION RAISED BY YOUR LETTER IS NOT COVERED BY THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS; NEITHER DOES IT APPEAR THAT SUCH REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN THE SUBJECT OF AN INTERPRETATION BY OUR OFFICE IN REGARD TO THE PRECISE POINT.

THE LAST PROVISO OF SECTION 3 OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, AS AMENDED, 5 U.S.C. 836, AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT TO MEET THE ACTUAL AND NECESSARY EXPENSES OF A TRIP WITHIN THE PRESCRIBED LIMITATIONS, WAS INTENDED BY THE CONGRESS TO PROVIDE FOR SPECIFIC UNUSUAL SITUATIONS WHERE THE MAXIMUM AUTHORIZED PER DIEM WOULD BE MUCH LESS THAN THE AMOUNT REQUIRED TO MEET THE ACTUAL AND NECESSARY EXPENSES OF THE TRIP. THE HEADS OF DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS MAY, IN ACCORDANCE WITH REGULATIONS PROMULGATED BY THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET, PRESCRIBE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH REIMBURSEMENT ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS MAY BE AUTHORIZED. WE NOTE THAT THE $25 ACTUAL EXPENSE LIMITATION IN THE TRAVEL ORDER IS LESS THAN THE MAXIMUM ACTUAL EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT AUTHORIZED BY THE STATUTE AND REGULATIONS FOR EITHER KODIAK ($29) OR ANCHORAGE ($33).

SECTION 6.12B (2) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS READS, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"/2) * * * BECAUSE HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS CONSTITUTE THE MAJOR PART OF NECESSARY SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES, TRAVEL ON AN ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE BASIS MIGHT APPROPRIATELY BE AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED FOR TRAVEL ASSIGNMENTS WHICH OTHERWISE MEET CONDITIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OR ESTABLISHMENT WHERE THE TRAVELER HAS NO ALTERNATIVE BUT TO INCUR HOTEL COSTS WHICH WOULD ABSORB ALL OR PRACTICALLY ALL OF THE STATUTORY MAXIMUM PER DIEM ALLOWANCE.'

IF IT BE DETERMINED BY THE APPROPRIATE OFFICER (SEE SECTION 6.12B (3) ( THAT MR. WIXEY HAD NO ALTERNATIVE BUT TO RETAIN HIS LODGINGS AT ANCHORAGE TO INSURE THE AVAILABILITY OF LODGINGS UPON HIS RETURN TO THAT POINT FROM TRIPS OF BRIEF DURATION TO OTHER POINTS IN ALASKA WHERE LODGINGS ALSO ARE REQUIRED, WE WILL INTERPOSE NO OBJECTION TO THE ALLOWANCE, SUBJECT TO THE ACTUAL EXPENSE LIMITATION STATED IN THE TRAVEL ORDER, OF EXPENSE ITEMS FOR DUAL LODINGS. IN THAT REGARD OUR VIEW IS THAT THE ELEMENT OF PERSONAL CONVENIENCE REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER IS NOT PROPERLY FOR CONSIDERATION BECAUSE THAT ELEMENT WOULD BE PRESENT IN ANALOGOUS TRAVEL CASES REGARDLESS OF WHETHER LODGING ACCOMMODATIONS ARE AVAILABLE OR NOT.

IN THE ABSENCE OF AN EXPRESS REGULATION BY THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET THIS DECISION IS INTENDED TO APPLY ONLY TO THE CURRENT CONDITIONS IN ANCHORAGE, ALASKA, WHERE, WE UNDERSTAND, THERE IS A TEMPORARY SHORTAGE OF LODGINGS RESULTING FROM THE EARTHQUAKE DISASTER OF LAST SPRING AND THE CONSEQUENTIAL DISASTER RELIEF ACTIVITIES.

SUBJECT TO THE DETERMINATION REFERRED TO ABOVE AND THE CORRECTNESS OF THE VOUCHER IN OTHER ..END :