B-156312, MAR. 31, 1965, 44 COMP. GEN. 595

B-156312: Mar 31, 1965

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TRAVEL EXPENSES - TELEPHONE CALLS INCIDENT TO ARRANGING TRANSPORTATION A LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE CALL WHICH WAS MADE BY AN EMPLOYEE WHILE ON OFFICIAL TRAVEL TO NOTIFY HIS WIFE TO MEET HIM AT THE AIRPORT IN HIS PERSONAL CAR FOR RETURN TO HIS RESIDENCE BECAUSE A FLIGHT CHANGE DUE TO ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS WOULD CAUSE HIS ARRIVAL AT THE AIRPORT AT A TIME WHEN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION WAS NOT AVAILABLE MAY BE ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED TO BE A TELEPHONE CALL ON PUBLIC BUSINESS AND ALLOWABLE AS A TRANSPORTATION EXPENSE UNDER SECTION 3.1A OF THE STANDARDIZED TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDED THAT THE PUBLIC BUSINESS CERTIFICATION REQUIRED UNDER SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF MAY 10. IS MADE. 23 COMP. AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FOREST SERVICE WHOSE OFFICIAL DUTY STATION IS BERKELEY.

B-156312, MAR. 31, 1965, 44 COMP. GEN. 595

TRAVEL EXPENSES - TELEPHONE CALLS INCIDENT TO ARRANGING TRANSPORTATION A LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE CALL WHICH WAS MADE BY AN EMPLOYEE WHILE ON OFFICIAL TRAVEL TO NOTIFY HIS WIFE TO MEET HIM AT THE AIRPORT IN HIS PERSONAL CAR FOR RETURN TO HIS RESIDENCE BECAUSE A FLIGHT CHANGE DUE TO ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS WOULD CAUSE HIS ARRIVAL AT THE AIRPORT AT A TIME WHEN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION WAS NOT AVAILABLE MAY BE ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED TO BE A TELEPHONE CALL ON PUBLIC BUSINESS AND ALLOWABLE AS A TRANSPORTATION EXPENSE UNDER SECTION 3.1A OF THE STANDARDIZED TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDED THAT THE PUBLIC BUSINESS CERTIFICATION REQUIRED UNDER SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF MAY 10, 1939, 31 U.S.C. 680A, IS MADE. 23 COMP. GEN. 549, OVERRULED IN PART; B-132166, JULY 12, 1957, OVERRULED.

TO M. E. BOOTH, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, MARCH 31, 1965:

YOUR LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 25, 1964, REFERENCE 6540 (RECEIVED MARCH 12, 1965), REQUESTS OUR DECISION WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY THE ENCLOSED TRAVEL VOUCHER FOR $1.60 IN FAVOR OF MR. W. Y. PONG, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FOREST SERVICE WHOSE OFFICIAL DUTY STATION IS BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA.

WE ASSUME THAT THE PROVISIONS IN TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION NO. 21-W-1, WHICH IS CITED ON BUT WAS NOT ATTACHED TO THE VOUCHER, WOULD NOT AFFECT THE MATTERS DISCUSSED BELOW.

THE ENCLOSED VOUCHER REPRESENTS A RECLAIM OF THE COST OF A TELEPHONE CALL MADE BY MR. PONG ON OCTOBER 10, 1964, FROM MISSOULA, MONTANA, TO HIS WIFE AT BERKELEY, AND IT IS EXPLAINED IN HIS STATEMENT DATED OCTOBER 19, 1964, AS FOLLOWS:

AS MAY BE SEEN FROM THE ATTACHED COPIES OF THE PLANE TICKETS WHICH WERE ISSUED TO ME ON SEPTEMBER 16, I WAS TO LEAVE MISSOULA ON FLIGHT 45 NW AT 9:05A ON OCTOBER 10, 1964 WITH A FINAL DESTINATION OF BERKELEY. DUE TO FOG THIS FLIGHT COULD NOT LAND IN MISSOULA AS SCHEDULED AND, AS MY DIARY POINTS OUT (SEE TRAVEL VOUCHER), CONTINUED TO SPOKANE WITHOUT THE MISSOULA PASSENGERS. I MADE RESERVATIONS FOR THE ONLY OTHER FLIGHT OUT OF MISSOULA GOING WEST THAT DAY WHICH WAS SCHEDULED TO LEAVE AT 5:15P. I WAS INFORMED THAT CONNECTING FLIGHTS TO SAN FRANCISCO WOULD PUT ME IN SAN FRANCISCO SOMETIME AFTER 3:00A ON OCTOBER 11, 1964. REALIZING THAT AT THIS ARRIVAL TIME THERE WOULD NEITHER BE CONNECTING HELICOPTER SERVICE TO BERKELEY NOR ANY COMMON CARRIER IN OPERATION (SEE COMMON CARRIER SCHEDULE ATTACHED * * * (BETWEEN SAN FRANCISCO AND OAKLAND (THERE IS NO LIMOUSINE SERVICE TO BERKELEY FROM SAN FRANCISCO, THUS A TAXI WOULD HAVE TO BE TAKEN FROM OAKLAND TO BERKELEY), AND SINCE I COULD NOT PHONE MY OFFICE TO ARRANGE FOR TRANSPORTATION (SINCE IT WAS SATURDAY) I PHONED MY WIFE (ABOUT 10:30A, SEE DIARY ON VOUCHER) ASKING HER TO MEET ME AT THE SAN FRANCISCO AIRPORT AT THE EXPECTED ARRIVAL TIME OF 3:19A ON OCTOBER 11, 1964 IN ORDER THAT I WOULD HAVE TRANSPORTATION FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO BERKELEY. AS MY DIARY STATES, I TOOK MY PERSONAL CAR FROM THE SAN FRANCISCO AIRPORT TO BERKELEY TERMINATING MY ORIGINAL TRAVEL PLANS AT :10A ON OCTOBER 11, 1964, APPROXIMATELY 12 HOURS LATE.

YOU SAY THE ITEM OF $1.60 WAS DISALLOWED BASED ON OUR DECISION AT 23 COMP. GEN. 549. THAT DECISION, IN PERTINENT PART, HELD THAT TELEPHONE CALLS BY AN EMPLOYEE TO ARRANGE FOR TRANSPORTATION BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE TO HIS RESIDENCE FROM THE TERMINATION POINT OF A FIELD TRIP--- THE FIELD TRIP ITSELF HAVING BEEN PERFORMED AS A PASSENGER IN THE PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE OF ANOTHER EMPLOYEE--- WERE FOR THE PERSONAL BENEFIT OF THE TRAVELER. HOWEVER, THAT DECISION DID NOT DISCUSS THE PROVISION OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS SIMILAR TO SECTION 3.1A OF THE REGULATION, OR SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF MAY 10, 1939, 31 U.S.C. 680A, REQUIRING A CERTIFICATION THAT A LONG DISTANCE CALL WAS IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT.

AS YOU POINT OUT, SECTION 3.1A (FORMERLY PARAGRAPH 8) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDES THAT ALLOWABLE TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES MAY INCLUDE OFFICIAL TELEPHONE MESSAGES IN CONNECTION WITH ITEMS CLASSED AS TRANSPORTATION. IN A CASE SIMILAR TO THE ONE HERE INVOLVED WE INDICATED THAT THE PROVISION OF SECTION 3.1A MIGHT BE APPLICABLE BUT THAT NEVERTHELESS SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF MAY 10, 1939, 53 STAT. 738, 31 U.S.C. 680A, IMPOSES ON THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS CONCERNED THE RESPONSIBILITY TO DETERMINE WHETHER A LONG DISTANCE CALL WAS ON PUBLIC BUSINESS OR OTHERWISE WAS IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT, AND THAT, IN THE ABSENCE OF SUCH A CERTIFICATE, WE SHOULD NOT SUBSTITUTE OUR JUDGMENT FOR THAT OF THE AGENCY OFFICIAL CONCERNED. SEE B-132166 DATED JULY 12, 1957, AND AUGUST 19, 1957. WE REGARD THOSE DECISIONS AS HAVING SUPERSEDED THE HOLDING IN 23 COMP. GEN. 549. AS TO THE FORM OF THE REQUIRED CERTIFICATE SEE THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE POLICY AND PROCEDURES MANUAL FOR GUIDANCE OF FEDERAL AGENCIES, 7 GAO 5530. THE MERE APPROVAL ON A VOUCHER SUCH AS HERE DOES NOT SATISFY THE CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENT. SEE B-115511 DATED JULY 3, 1953.

ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHER IS RETURNED HEREWITH AND MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT, IF A CERTIFICATE BE OBTAINED AS REQUIRED BY SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF MAY 10, 1939, SUPRA. ..END :