B-155977, FEB. 18, 1965

B-155977: Feb 18, 1965

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IT APPEARS THAT THE VOUCHER HAS BEEN PAID BUT UPON REVIEW THEREOF YOUR HAVE SOME DOUBT AS TO THE CORRECTNESS OF THE ACTION. SMITH WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER AND GOVERNMENT-OWNED CONVEYANCE FROM BARTLESVILLE. THE PERIOD OF TRAVEL WAS SPECIFIED AS BEGINNING ON OR ABOUT SEPTEMBER 25. THE PURPOSE OF THE TRAVEL IS SET FORTH IN ITEM NO. 10 OF THE ORDER AS FOLLOWS: "TO ATTEND THE ASTM COMMITTEE D-2 MEETING IN WASHINGTON. WAS APPARENTLY TERMINATED AT CLOSE OF BUSINESS ON SEPTEMBER 28. COACH SPACE WAS NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE RETURN TRIP AT THE EARLIER DEPARTURE TIME.'. YOU POINT OUT THAT SEPTEMBER 27 WAS A SUNDAY. IF THE MEETING ACTUALLY BEGAN ON MONDAY THE EMPLOYEE COULD HAVE DEPARTED BARTLESVILLE ON SEPTEMBER 27 AS A SAVING IN PER DIEM OF ONE DAY.

B-155977, FEB. 18, 1965

TO MR. W. RULON LEE, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, BUREAU OF MINES, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 18, 1965, PERTAINING TO A VOUCHER IN THE SUM OF $71.18, IN FAVOR OF HAROLD N. SMITH, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU OF MINES, REPRESENTING REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL AND RELATED EXPENSES INCIDENT TO HIS SERVICE. IT APPEARS THAT THE VOUCHER HAS BEEN PAID BUT UPON REVIEW THEREOF YOUR HAVE SOME DOUBT AS TO THE CORRECTNESS OF THE ACTION.

BY ORDER DATED AUGUST 20, 1964, MR. SMITH WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER AND GOVERNMENT-OWNED CONVEYANCE FROM BARTLESVILLE, OKLAHOMA, TO WASHINGTON, D.C., AND RETURN. THE PERIOD OF TRAVEL WAS SPECIFIED AS BEGINNING ON OR ABOUT SEPTEMBER 25, 1964, AND ENDING ON OR ABOUT OCTOBER 1, 1964. THE PURPOSE OF THE TRAVEL IS SET FORTH IN ITEM NO. 10 OF THE ORDER AS FOLLOWS:

"TO ATTEND THE ASTM COMMITTEE D-2 MEETING IN WASHINGTON, D.C., TENTATIVELY SCHEDULED FOR SEPT. 27 THROUGH OCT. 1, 1964, AND TO PARTICIPATE AS CHAIRMAN OF D-2 IN DISCUSSIONS ON AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR TESTING AND MATERIALS PETROLEUM PRODUCTS STANDARDS OF INTEREST TO THE BUREAU IN CONNECTION WITH PETROLEUM RESEARCH; ALSO TO VISIT THE WASHINGTON OFFICE OF THE BUREAU OF MINES, AND TO ATTEND A CRC MEETING ON GASOLINE STABILITY TENTATIVELY SCHEDULED FOR OCT. 1, 1964.'

THE EMPLOYEE DEPARTED BARTLESVILLE BY GOVERNMENT AUTOMOBILE AT 12:40 P.M. ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, BOARDED A PLANE IN TULSA AT 2:40 P.M. FOR WASHINGTON, WHERE HE ARRIVED AT 8:38 P.M. THE SAME DAY. CONCERNING THE TEMPORARY DUTY IN WASHINGTON AND THE RETURN TRAVEL TO BARTLESVILLE YOUR LETTER STATES:

"THE ASSIGNED TEMPORARY DUTY IN WASHINGTON, D.C., WAS APPARENTLY TERMINATED AT CLOSE OF BUSINESS ON SEPTEMBER 28, FOR ON SEPTEMBER 29, AT 10:30 A.M., MR. SMITH LEFT WASHINGTON AND ARRIVED IN BARTLESVILLE AT 3:30 P.M. HE LEFT WASHINGTON BEFORE COMPLETION OF HIS ASSIGNMENT THERE "AS A RESULT OF DEATH IN THE FAMILY.'

"MR. SMITH CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT FOR PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE AT THE RATE OF $16.00 PER DAY FROM TIME OF DEPARTURE UNTIL TIME OF RETURN TO BARTLESVILLE. HE ALSO CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF UPGRADING THE RETURN AIR-COACH TICKET TO FIRST CLASS AIR TRAVEL, PAID TO AMERICAN AIRLINES IN THE AMOUNT OF $11.87, INCLUDING TAX OF .57 CENTS. COACH SPACE WAS NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE RETURN TRIP AT THE EARLIER DEPARTURE TIME.'

IN VIEW OF THE INTERRUPTION OF THE EMPLOYEE'S DUTY YOU PRESENT SEVERAL QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO HIS RIGHT TO TRAVEL AND RELATED EXPENSES FOR THE RETURN TRIP. ALSO, YOU POINT OUT THAT SEPTEMBER 27 WAS A SUNDAY, ORDINARILY A NONWORKDAY, AND IF THE MEETING ACTUALLY BEGAN ON MONDAY THE EMPLOYEE COULD HAVE DEPARTED BARTLESVILLE ON SEPTEMBER 27 AS A SAVING IN PER DIEM OF ONE DAY.

GENERALLY, AN EMPLOYEE WHO ABANDONS OFFICIAL TRAVEL BECAUSE OF THE DEATH OR ILLNESS OF A MEMBER OF HIS FAMILY MAY BE REIMBURSED ONLY THE COST OF HIS TRAVEL TO THE POINT OF ABANDONMENT. 23 COMP. GEN. 237. HOWEVER, EXCEPTION IS MADE IN CASES WHEREIN THE EMPLOYEE HAS SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLETED THE PURPOSE OF THE TRAVEL OR THE DUTIES HE WAS TO PERFORM ARE COMPLETED AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT.

IT IS INDICATED BUT NOT DEFINITELY STATED IN YOUR LETTER THAT THE GOVERNMENT SUFFERED NO ADDITIONAL COST OR OTHER TANGIBLE LOSS BY REASON OF THE EMPLOYEE'S FAILURE TO ACCOMPLISH THE FULL PURPOSE OF HIS TRAVEL. IT IS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT SUCH WAS THE CASE IT IS OUR VIEW THAT THE EMPLOYEE REMAINED IN A TRAVEL STATUS UNTIL HIS RETURN TO HIS PERMANENT DUTY STATION. OTHERWISE HIS TRAVEL STATUS TERMINATED AT THE TIME OF HIS DEPARTURE FROM WASHINGTON AND HE WAS NOT ENTITLED TO THE RETURN TRANSPORTATION NOR PER DIEM FOR ANY PERIOD FOLLOWING THE END OF THE QUARTER IN WHICH HE DEPARTED.

CONCERNING AGENCY AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL OF THE EMPLOYEE'S ACTION IT IS OUR VIEW THAT PERMISSION GIVEN AN EMPLOYEE BY AN AUTHORIZED OFFICIAL TO TERMINATE HIS TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT AND RETURN TO HIS HOME STATION ON ACCOUNT OF A DEATH IN THE EMPLOYEE'S FAMILY IS GRANTED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE EMPLOYEE AND, STANDING ALONE, WOULD NOT JUSTIFY CHARGING THE GOVERNMENT WITH TRAVEL EXPENSES NOT OTHERWISE AUTHORIZED.

AS TO YOUR SUGGESTION THAT THE EMPLOYEE MAY PREMATURELY HAVE DEPARTED BARTLESVILLE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE TRAVEL, IT APPEARS TO US THAT SINCE THE TRAVEL ORDER INDICATED THE MEETING HE WAS TO ATTEND WAS TENTATIVELY SCHEDULED TO BEGIN ON SEPTEMBER 27, 1964, HIS DEPARTURE ON SEPTEMBER 26, 1964, SO AS TO ARRIVE IN WASHINGTON AT 8:30 P.M. THAT EVENING WAS REASONABLE, IN THE ABSENCE OF INFORMATION OTHERWISE THAT THE MEETING ACTUALLY WAS NOT INTENDED TO BEGIN UNTIL SEPTEMBER 28, 1964.

UNDER THE RELATED CIRCUMSTANCES AND IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY AGENCY REGULATION TO THE CONTRARY, WE SEE NO OBJECTION TO THE REIMBURSEMENT TO THE EMPLOYEE FOR THE COST OF UPGRADING HIS AIR-COACH ..END :