B-157510, SEP. 14, 1965

B-157510: Sep 14, 1965

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BAKER AND THOMASON INVOLVES CONDUCTING FISCAL AUDITS OF LOCAL HOUSING AUTHORITIES WHICH HAVE FINANCIAL ASSISTANT CONTRACTS WITH THE PUBLIC HOUSING ADMINISTRATION. AUDITORS WHO PERFORM THESE FUNCTIONS ARE ITINERANT EMPLOYEES SINCE ALMOST ALL OF THEIR DUTY HOURS ARE SPENT AT OR TRAVELING TO THE LOCATIONS OF VARIOUS LOCAL AUTHORITIES. PERMANENT DUTY STATIONS ARE DESIGNATED FOR AUDITORS ON THE BASIS OF PROXIMITY TO THE LOCATION OF THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES AUDITED. WHETHER OR NOT THERE IS A PHA OFFICE AT THE PERMANENT DUTY STATION. BAKER'S DESIGNATED PERMANENT DUTY STATION WAS DALLAS. IRVING IS APPROXIMATELY 25 MILES FROM THE PHA REGIONAL OFFICE IN FORT WORTH. HIS NEXT SCHEDULED TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT WAS COLUMBIA.

B-157510, SEP. 14, 1965

TO MR. H. R. DUCKETT, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, HOUSING AND HOME FINANCE AGENCY:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR UNDATED LETTER, WITH ENCLOSURES, RECEIVED IN OUR OFFICE ON AUGUST 18, 1965, REQUESTING WHETHER CERTIFICATION MAY BE MADE ON THE RECLAIM VOUCHERS THEREWITH TRANSMITTED PROPOSING PAYMENT OF $113.78 TO MR. ANDREW J. BAKER FOR TRANSPORTATION COSTS, PREVIOUSLY SUSPENDED, INCIDENT TO TRAVEL PERFORMED DURING THE PERIOD JANUARY 1 TO JANUARY 31, 1965, AND PROPOSING PAYMENT OF $117.18 TO MR. MARVIN W. THOMASON, FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF MILEAGE AND ADDITIONAL PER DIEM SUSPENDED, INCIDENT TO TRAVEL PERFORMED DURING THE PERIOD JANUARY 4 TO JANUARY 31, 1965.

THE RECORD INDICATES THAT THE AUDITING FUNCTION PERFORMED BY MESSRS. BAKER AND THOMASON INVOLVES CONDUCTING FISCAL AUDITS OF LOCAL HOUSING AUTHORITIES WHICH HAVE FINANCIAL ASSISTANT CONTRACTS WITH THE PUBLIC HOUSING ADMINISTRATION. AUDITORS WHO PERFORM THESE FUNCTIONS ARE ITINERANT EMPLOYEES SINCE ALMOST ALL OF THEIR DUTY HOURS ARE SPENT AT OR TRAVELING TO THE LOCATIONS OF VARIOUS LOCAL AUTHORITIES. PERMANENT DUTY STATIONS ARE DESIGNATED FOR AUDITORS ON THE BASIS OF PROXIMITY TO THE LOCATION OF THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES AUDITED, WHETHER OR NOT THERE IS A PHA OFFICE AT THE PERMANENT DUTY STATION.

MR. BAKER'S DESIGNATED PERMANENT DUTY STATION WAS DALLAS, TEXAS, AND HE MAINTAINS HIS RESIDENCE IN IRVING, TEXAS, A SUBURB OF DALLAS. IRVING IS APPROXIMATELY 25 MILES FROM THE PHA REGIONAL OFFICE IN FORT WORTH, TEXAS. MR. BAKER PERFORMED TEMPORARY DUTY AT ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, FROM NOVEMBER 4 THROUGH NOVEMBER 24, 1964. HIS NEXT SCHEDULED TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT WAS COLUMBIA, MISSOURI, A DISTANCE OF 124 MILES FROM ST. LOUIS. HOWEVER, UPON COMPLETION OF THE DUTY AT ST. LOUIS HE WAS IN AN ANNUAL LEAVE STATUS FROM NOVEMBER 24, 1964, THROUGH THE MONTH OF DECEMBER 1964. MR. BAKER APPARENTLY TRAVELED FROM ST. LOUIS TO HIS HOME IN IRVING, TEXAS, SINCE HE VISITED THE PHA'S FORT WORTH REGIONAL OFFICE ON NOVEMBER 30, 1964, TO DISCUSS THE SCHEDULING OF A HEARING ON A GRIEVANCE WHICH HAD BEEN FILED BY HIM. AN AGREEMENT WAS REACHED THAT THE HEARING WOULD PROBABLY BE HELD AT THE CONCLUSION OF MR. BAKER'S LEAVE ON JANUARY 4, 1965, IN THE FORT WORTH REGIONAL OFFICE. NEITHER AT THE NOVEMBER 30 MEETING, NOR AT ANY OTHER TIME PRIOR TO THE HEARING, DID MR. BAKER INDICATE THAT HE WOULD HAVE TO INCUR TRAVEL EXPENSE IN CONNECTION WITH ATTENDANCE AT THE HEARING BEYOND TRAVEL FROM HIS HOME IN IRVING TO THE FORT WORTH OFFICE, NOR DID ANY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS HAVE ANY INTENTION OR EXPECTATION OF THE GOVERNMENT AUTHORIZING TRAVEL BEYOND THIS AMOUNT IN CONNECTION WITH THE HEARING. MR. BAKER ATTENDED THE HEARING IN FORT WORTH ON JANUARY 4, 1965, AND WAS REIMBURSED FOR THE ROUND TRIP TRAVEL EXPENSE BETWEEN HIS HOME IN IRVING AND FORT WORTH.

IN HIS ORIGINAL VOUCHER MR. BAKER CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT IN AN AMOUNT OF $123.70 FOR TRAVEL FROM ST. LOUIS TO HIS PERMANENT DUTY STATION IN DALLAS AND FOR TRAVEL FROM HIS PERMANENT DUTY STATION TO COLUMBIA. HIS VOUCHER INDICATED THAT HE DEPARTED FROM ST. LOUIS ON NOVEMBER 25, 1964, AND ARRIVED IN DALLAS ON JANUARY 2, 1965. HE WAS ALLOWED REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF TRAVEL BETWEEN ST. LOUIS AND COLUMBIA IN THE AMOUNT OF $9.92. IT IS REPORTED THAT MR. BAKER FAILED TO ADVISE THE APPROPRIATE OFFICIALS UNTIL LONG AFTER THE HEARING HELD AT FORT WORTH ON JANUARY 4, 1965, THAT HE WOULD BE IN CALIFORNIA SUBSEQUENT TO NOVEMBER 30, 1964. THE OFFICIAL NOTICE OF THE HEARING WAS MAILED TO HIM AT HIS HOME IN IRVING, ITS TRANSMISSION FROM THERE TO CALIFORNIA HAVING BEEN EFFECTED WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE PHA. THE MEETING WAS SCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 4, 1965, IN FORT WORTH IN CONTEMPLATION OF THE FACT THAT MR. BAKER WAS ON LEAVE IN THE FORT WORTH AREA.

THE GENERAL RULE IS THAT WHEN AN EMPLOYEE PROCEEDS TO A POINT AWAY FROM HIS OFFICIAL DUTY STATION ON ANNUAL LEAVE HE ASSUMES THE OBLIGATION OF RETURNING HIMSELF THERETO AT HIS OWN EXPENSE. ALSO, IT REPEATEDLY HAS BEEN HELD THAT IF, DURING SUCH LEAVE OR AT THE EXPIRATION THEREOF, THE EMPLOYEE IS REQUIRED TO PERFORM TEMPORARY DUTY EITHER AT HIS LEAVE POINT OR SOME OTHER POINT PRIOR TO RETURNING TO HEADQUARTERS OR A TEMPORARY DUTY STATION THE GOVERNMENT IS CHARGEABLE ONLY WITH THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE COST ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE TEMPORARY DUTY AND WHAT IT WOULD HAVE COST THE EMPLOYEE TO RETURN TO HIS HEADQUARTERS OR TEMPORARY DUTY STATION DIRECT FROM THE PLACE WHERE HE WAS ON LEAVE. SEE 30 COMP. GEN. 443 AND CASES CITED THEREIN.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE EMPLOYEE WAS ON AUTHORIZED ANNUAL LEAVE AND AT THE EXPIRATION THEREOF WAS REQUIRED TO PERFORM TEMPORARY DUTY AT FORT WORTH PRIOR TO BEGINNING A NEW TOUR OF TEMPORARY DUTY AT COLUMBIA, MISSOURI. WE HAVE ON FILE A LETTER FROM THE CLAIMANT STATING THAT DURING HIS VACATION HE VISITED RELATIVES IN PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA, AND CALIFORNIA, AND DROVE THROUGH DALLAS, TEXAS, ON FOUR OCCASIONS DURING THAT TIME. FROM THE AVAILABLE INFORMATION IT APPEARS THAT MR. BAKER TERMINATED HIS LEAVE AT HIS HOME (ADJACENT TO HIS PERMANENT DUTY STATION AT DALLAS) AND THAT HE WOULD HAVE FOLLOWED THE SAME PROCEDURE IRRESPECTIVE OF THE REQUIREMENT FOR ATTENDING THE MEETING AT FORT WORTH ON JANUARY 4, 1965. IF SUCH MEETING HAD NOT BEEN SCHEDULED MR. BAKER WOULD HAVE BEEN REQUIRED TO ASSUME THAT PART OF THE EXPENSE INCURRED IN REPORTING TO HIS NEXT TEMPORARY DUTY POINT AT COLUMBIA, MISSOURI, WHICH WAS IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT HE WOULD HAVE BEEN ENTITLED TO IF TRAVEL HAD BEEN PERFORMED DIRECT FROM ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, HIS LAST TEMPORARY DUTY STATION, TO HIS NEW TEMPORARY DUTY STATION AT COLUMBIA, MISSOURI. THEREFORE, THE ONLY ADDITIONAL COST WHICH IS CHARGEABLE TO THE UNITED STATES IS THAT WHICH IS ATTRIBUTABLE TO ATTENDING THE HEARING AT FORT WORTH ON JANUARY 4, 1965. SINCE MR. BAKER HAS BEEN REIMBURSED FOR TRAVELING EXPENSE ON THE BASIS OF THE FOREGOING THE RECLAIM VOUCHER MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

CONCERNING THE SIMILAR RECLAIM OF MR. THOMASON IT APPEARS THAT HIS DESIGNATED PERMANENT DUTY STATION IS DALLAS, TEXAS, WHERE HE MAINTAINS HIS RESIDENCE. DALLAS IS APPROXIMATELY 30 MILES FROM THE PHA REGIONAL OFFICE IN FORT WORTH. MR. THOMASON LEFT NORTH LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS, TO GO ON ANNUAL LEAVE EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 10, 1964. HE REPORTED BACK TO NORTH LITTLE ROCK TO CONTINUE HIS DUTIES ON JANUARY 6, 1965. ON DECEMBER 31, 1964, WHILE ON LEAVE AT HIS PERMANENT DUTY STATION IN DALLAS, MR. THOMASON WAS AUTHORIZED TO APPEAR AS A WITNESS IN THE ANDREW BAKER GRIEVANCE HEARING IN FORT WORTH ON JANUARY 4, 1965, AT THE CONCLUSION OF HIS LEAVE. HE WAS REIMBURSED TRAVEL EXPENSE FROM DALLAS TO FORT WORTH AND RETURN TO ATTEND THE HEARING.

IN THE RECLAIM VOUCHER FROM MR. THOMASON IT IS NOTED THAT IT INCLUDES REIMBURSEMENT FOR MILEAGE AND ADDITIONAL PER DIEM. SINCE YOUR SUBMISSION ONLY REFERS TO THE MILEAGE PART OUR ANSWER WILL BE CONFINED TO THAT SEGMENT OF THE VOUCHER.

SINCE THERE WAS NO ADDED EXPENSE INCURRED BY MR. THOMASON, OTHER THAN THE TRAVEL FROM DALLAS TO FORT WORTH AND RETURN, FOR WHICH HE HAS BEEN REIMBURSED IN RETURNING TO THE POINT WHERE HE INTERRUPTED HIS TEMPORARY DUTY TO GO ON ANNUAL LEAVE, THE RECLAIM VOUCHER MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

THE PAPERS TRANSMITTED WITH YOUR UNDATED LETTER ARE RETURNED HEREWITH AS REQUESTED.