B-155788, JAN. 12, 1965

B-155788: Jan 12, 1965

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THE EMPLOYEE WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL FROM PIERRE. NO OFFICIAL TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED AND NEITHER MILEAGE NOR PER DIEM IS CLAIMED FOR SATURDAY AND SUNDAY. ON WHICH THE EMPLOYEE WAS IN AN ANNUAL LEAVE STATUS. IT CONTAINED STATEMENTS THAT THE USUAL MODE OF TRANSPORTATION IS GOVERNMENT-OWNED VEHICLE AND THAT THE USE OF THE PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE WAS AUTHORIZED FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF THE TRAVELER WHILE ON ANNUAL LEAVE EN ROUTE. WHICH PROVIDED THAT WHEN MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT WAS LIMITED TO THE EXPENSE FOR TRAVEL BY "THE USUAL MODE OF TRANSPORTION" THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT WOULD BE COMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF FARES OR CHARGES FOR THE MOST DIRECT USUAL MODE OF TRANSPORTATION INCLUDING TAXI FARES AND YOU SAY THAT SUCH PROVISION IS INTERPRETED AS REQUIRED SETTLEMENT OF THIS CLAIM ON THE BASIS OF CONSTRUCTIVE COSTS BY GOVERNMENT VEHICLE WHICH UNDER LOCAL ACCOUNTING RECORDS WOULD BE 6.1 CENTS PER MILE.

B-155788, JAN. 12, 1965

TO MR. W. M. WILSON, DISBURSING OFFICER, U.S. ARMY ENGINEER DISTRICT, OMAHA CORPS OF ENGINEERS:

YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 19, 1964, REFERENCE MROCF-E (RECEIVED HERE DECEMBER 16, 1964), REQUESTS OUR DECISION REGARDING PAYMENT OF A VOUCHER IN THE SUM OF $71.40, COVERING MILEAGE AND PER DIEM INCIDENT TO TRAVEL PERFORMED BY LEE R. CRIST, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS, OMAHA DISTRICT.

BY ORDER DATED JUNE 10, 1964, THE EMPLOYEE WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL FROM PIERRE, SOUTH DAKOTA, TO BOWMAN, NORTH DAKOTA, AND VICINITY AND RETURN TO PIERRE. HE DEPARTED PIERRE AT 6:30 A.M. ON FRIDAY, JUNE 12, BY PRIVATELY- OWNED AUTOMOBILE AND RETURNED AT 3 P.M. ON FRIDAY, JUNE 19. NO OFFICIAL TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED AND NEITHER MILEAGE NOR PER DIEM IS CLAIMED FOR SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, JUNE 13 AND 14, NOR FOR JUNE 15, 16, 17 AND 18, ON WHICH THE EMPLOYEE WAS IN AN ANNUAL LEAVE STATUS.

THE ORDER, AS AMENDED ON THE ORIGINAL DATE THEREOF, AUTHORIZED TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY-OWNED VEHICLE AT THE RATE OF 10 CENTS PER MILE BUT LIMITED REIMBURSEMENT TO THE COST OF TRAVEL BY "USUAL MODE OF TRANSPORTATION," INCLUDING PER DIEM. ALSO, IT CONTAINED STATEMENTS THAT THE USUAL MODE OF TRANSPORTATION IS GOVERNMENT-OWNED VEHICLE AND THAT THE USE OF THE PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE WAS AUTHORIZED FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF THE TRAVELER WHILE ON ANNUAL LEAVE EN ROUTE.

YOU REFER TO CIVILIAN PERSONNEL REGULATION T3.7-6B (2), IN EFFECT AT THE TIME OF THE TRAVEL, WHICH PROVIDED THAT WHEN MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT WAS LIMITED TO THE EXPENSE FOR TRAVEL BY "THE USUAL MODE OF TRANSPORTION" THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT WOULD BE COMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF FARES OR CHARGES FOR THE MOST DIRECT USUAL MODE OF TRANSPORTATION INCLUDING TAXI FARES AND YOU SAY THAT SUCH PROVISION IS INTERPRETED AS REQUIRED SETTLEMENT OF THIS CLAIM ON THE BASIS OF CONSTRUCTIVE COSTS BY GOVERNMENT VEHICLE WHICH UNDER LOCAL ACCOUNTING RECORDS WOULD BE 6.1 CENTS PER MILE. HOWEVER, YOU FURTHER POINT OUT THAT MISSOURI RIVER DISTRICT REGULATION NO. 55-1-1, EXPRESSLY PROHIBITS THE USE OF THE COSTS BY GOVERNMENT AUTOMOBILE, INCLUDING GSA VEHICLES, AS A BASIS FOR COMPARISON AND, IN VIEW THEREOF, YOU REQUEST OUR ADVICE AS TO THE PROPER METHOD FOR COMPUTING THE AMOUNT DUE.

SECTION 3.5B/1) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDES FOR PAYMENT OF MILEAGE TO CIVILIAN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES WHO TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS BY PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILES AT A RATE NOT TO EXCEED 12 CENTS PER MILE WHEN SUCH MODE OF TRAVEL IS AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED AS BEING MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. IT ALSO PROVIDES, IN EFFECT, THAT WHEN TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE IS AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED BUT IS NOT DETERMINED TO BE MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT, PAYMENT THEREFOR IS LIMITED TO COST OF THE TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER, INCLUDING PER DIEM IN EACH CASE. NEITHER THE CITED SECTION NOR ANY OTHER PROVISION OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS OF WHICH WE ARE AWARE CONTAINS ANY SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO THE MILEAGE ACCOUNTING COSTS OF OPERATING GOVERNMENT VEHICLES AS A BASIS FOR PAYMENT TO EMPLOYEES FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED IN PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILES. HENCE, THE PHRASE "USUAL MODE OF TRANSPORTATION" AS USED IN TRAVEL ORDERS AND IN THE CITED SECTION OF THE CIVILIAN PERSONNEL REGULATIONS (ARMY) IS VIEWED GENERALLY AS HAVING REFERENCE TO BUSES, TRAINS, ETC., BEING OPERATED AS COMMON CARRIERS RATHER THAN TO A MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION MADE AVAILABLE ONLY TO CERTAIN GROUPS OF ITS EMPLOYEES BY THE GOVERNMENT.

THE TRAVEL ORDER IN THIS CASE CONTAINS NO FINDING THAT TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE IS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. ON THE CONTRARY THE AMENDMENT THERETO SPECIFICALLY RECITES THAT SUCH MEANS IS AUTHORIZED FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF THE EMPLOYEE WHILE ON ANNUAL LEAVE EN ROUTE. UNDER THE USUAL PROCEDURE THERE WOULD BE FOR COMPARISON THE AMOUNT COMPUTED AT THE AUTHORIZED 10 CENTS PER MILE WITH THE CONSTRUCTIVE COSTS TO THE GOVERNMENT BY COMMON CARRIER, PLUS PER DIEM, WITH PAYMENT OF THE LESSER AMOUNT. HOWEVER, THE ORDER DIRECTED TRAVEL TO BOWMAN "AND VICINITY" AND RETURN TO PIERRE FOR THE PURPOSE OF INSPECTING A LEVEE AT SCRANTON. THE REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHER SHOWS THAT THE EMPLOYEE PERFORMED SERVICES AT BOWMAN UPON ARRIVAL AND THAT HE "WORKED ENROUTE TO PIERRE" ON THE RETURN TRIP. IN VIEW THEREOF WE ASSUME THAT EVEN IF COMMON CARRIER SERVICE WAS AVAILABLE TO ALL THE POINTS TO BE VISITED THE SCHEDULES WERE SUCH THAT THE USE OF AN AUTOMOBILE WAS THE ONLY FEASIBLE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION FOR THE PARTICULAR TRAVEL INVOLVED. HOWEVER, WITH GOVERNMENT-OWNED VEHICLES AVAILABLE AT AN OPERATING COST OF 6.1 CENTS PER MILE THE USE OF A PRIVATELY-OWNED VEHICLE AT THE RATE SPECIFIED IN THE ORDER COULD NOT HAVE BEEN JUSTIFIED. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, AS ABOVE OUTLINED, WE VIEW THE ORDER IN THIS CASE AS HAVING AUTHORIZED THE USE OF THE PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT THE RATE OF 6.1 CENTS PER MILE RATHER THAN 10 CENTS PER MILE AS CLAIMED.

UPON MODIFICATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOREGOING, THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED, MAY BE PAID IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.