B-156047, FEB. 11, 1965

B-156047: Feb 11, 1965

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THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR REVISION AMENDS SECTION 3.5 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS TO PRESCRIBE A METHOD BY WHICH THE CONSTRUCTIVE ALLOWANCES FOR COMMON CARRIER TRANSPORTATION AND PER DIEM ARE TO BE DETERMINED WHEN FOR PERSONAL REASONS EMPLOYEES ELECT TO USE PRIVATELY-OWNED MOTOR VEHICLES FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL. THE CONSTRUCTIVE PER DIEM IS LIMITED TO THE AMOUNT OTHERWISE ALLOWABLE IF THE TRAVELER HAD USED THE CARRIER UPON WHICH THE CONSTRUCTIVE TRANSPORTATION COSTS ARE DETERMINED. THAT BECAUSE OF HIS PHYSICAL CONDITION HE WAS UNABLE TO TRAVEL BY AIR. THE REVISED REGULATIONS FIRST WERE PROMULGATED JULY 20. SHOULD HAVE BEEN RECEIVED IN THE BILLINGS OFFICE WITHIN A FEW DAYS THEREAFTER OR LONG PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE REGULATIONS.

B-156047, FEB. 11, 1965

TO MR. CHARLES H. LUCAS, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE NTERIOR:

YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 29, 1965, REFERENCE 375, TRANSMITTED A RECLAIM TRAVEL VOUCHER FOR $121.09, IN FAVOR OF MR. JOHN F. SEVICK, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, REPRESENTING TRAVEL EXPENSES CLAIMED BUT ADMINISTRATIVELY DISALLOWED PURSUANT TO BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-7, REVISED, TRANSMITTAL MEMORANDUM NO. 29, DATED JULY 7, 1964. YOU ASK WHETHER, UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES RELATED IN YOUR LETTER AND ATTACHMENTS, THE VOUCHER PROPERLY MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT MR. SEVICK DEPARTED HIS OFFICIAL STATION, BILLINGS, MONTANA, ON AUGUST 28, 1964, FOR A TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT OF ABOUT ONE MONTH IN WASHINGTON, D.C. HE TRAVELED BY PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE AS AUTHORIZED BY HIS TRAVEL ORDER, DATED AUGUST 24, 1964, WITH COST OF AUTOMOBILE TRAVEL TO BE LIMITED TO THE COST OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER. MR. SEVICK BASED HIS CLAIM UPON THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF TRAVEL BY RAIL INCLUDING RELATED PER DIEM.

THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR REVISION AMENDS SECTION 3.5 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS TO PRESCRIBE A METHOD BY WHICH THE CONSTRUCTIVE ALLOWANCES FOR COMMON CARRIER TRANSPORTATION AND PER DIEM ARE TO BE DETERMINED WHEN FOR PERSONAL REASONS EMPLOYEES ELECT TO USE PRIVATELY-OWNED MOTOR VEHICLES FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL.

THE REVISION TO THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR, REFERRED TO ABOVE, WHICH BECAME EFFECTIVE ,WITH TRAVEL BEGINNING ON OR AFTER AUGUST 15, 1964," LIMITED REIMBURSEMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS TO THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF TRAVEL BY AIR COACH ACCOMMODATIONS WHEN SCHEDULED ON FLIGHTS SERVING ORIGIN AND DESTINATION POINTS. THE CONSTRUCTIVE PER DIEM IS LIMITED TO THE AMOUNT OTHERWISE ALLOWABLE IF THE TRAVELER HAD USED THE CARRIER UPON WHICH THE CONSTRUCTIVE TRANSPORTATION COSTS ARE DETERMINED. THEREFORE, THE ADMINISTRATIVE PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM EXCLUDED THE EXCESS COST OF TRAVEL BY RAIL OVER THAT OF TRAVEL BY AIR IN DETERMINING THE AMOUNT OF MR. SEVICK'S REIMBURSEMENT.

THE CLAIMANT NOW RAISES TWO POINTS REGARDING HIS RECLAIM OF THE AMOUNT ADMINISTRATIVELY DISALLOWED, THE FIRST BEING THE ABSENCE OF NOTICE IN THE BILLINGS OFFICE THAT THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS HAD BEEN REVISED; THE SECOND, THAT BECAUSE OF HIS PHYSICAL CONDITION HE WAS UNABLE TO TRAVEL BY AIR.

REGARDING THE FIRST POINT, THE REVISED REGULATIONS FIRST WERE PROMULGATED JULY 20, 1964, MORE THAN A MONTH PRIOR TO THE ISSUANCE OF THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION AND, IN ORDINARY COURSE, SHOULD HAVE BEEN RECEIVED IN THE BILLINGS OFFICE WITHIN A FEW DAYS THEREAFTER OR LONG PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE REGULATIONS. MOREOVER, THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR WAS NOT CONTINGENT UPON ITS RECEIPT IN THE FIELD. A CONTRARY VIEW MIGHT HAVE THE EFFECT OF POSTPONING INDEFINITELY A REVISION IN THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

CONCERNING THE SECOND POINT MADE BY THE CLAIMANT, THE REVISION IN THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS DOES NOT REQUIRE THAT AN EMPLOYEE TRAVEL BY AIR; IT MERELY SETS THE LIMITS OF THE ALLOWABLE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER WHEN AN EMPLOYEE ELECTS TO TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE. NO EXCEPTION IS INCLUDED THEREIN TO COVER THE CASE OF THE EMPLOYEE WHO FOR HEALTH REASONS COULD NOT HAVE TRAVELED BY A PARTICULAR MODE OF COMMON CARRIER. THEREFORE, AS TO MATTERS DISCUSSED ABOVE, WE FIND THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE PAYMENT WAS PROPER.

IN THE ALTERNATIVE AND CONTINGENT UPON THE DISALLOWANCE OF HIS CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT BASED ON THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF TRAVEL BY RAIL, MR. SEVICK CLAIMS AN ALLOWANCE FOR EXCESS BAGGAGE COSTS WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED HAD HE ACTUALLY TRAVELED BY AIR. AS WE CONSTRUE THE LAST PARAGRAPH OF SECTION 3.5 (2) (A) OF THE REVISED TRAVEL REGULATIONS, EXCESS BAGGAGE COSTS PROPERLY MAY BE FOR INCLUSION IN THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF AIR TRAVEL. IF IT IS NOW ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT EXCESS BAGGAGE WOULD HAVE BEEN AUTHORIZED HAD MR. SEVICK ACTUALLY TRAVELED BY AIR AND ACCEPTABLE EVIDENCE OF THE WEIGHT OF THE BAGGAGE IS PRESENTED THE CERTIFICATION OF A VOUCHER COVERING THE AMOUNT OF EXCESS BAGGAGE CHARGES WOULD APPEAR TO BE PROPER.

THE VOUCHER AND ENCLOSURES WITH YOUR LETTER ARE RETURNED HEREWITH. THE VOUCHER MAY NOT PROPERLY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT AS DRAWN, BUT MAY BE CERTIFIED IF MODIFIED TO CONFORM WITH THE FOREGOING.