B-158617, MAR. 17, 1966

B-158617: Mar 17, 1966

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YOU WERE AUTHORIZED TO PROCEED FROM FORT GEORGE G. PARAGRAPH 12 OF THE TRAVEL ORDER WHICH PROVIDES FOR THE AUTHORIZATION OF PER DIEM WAS LEFT BLANK. IT IS NOTED THAT THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED ON AUGUST 24. 26 AND 27 AND THAT THE TRAVEL ORDER WAS DATED AUGUST 31. YOUR TRAVEL ORDER WAS AMENDED TO PROVIDE: "PER DIEM AUTHORIZED. YOU SAY THAT THE STATEMENT "NO PER DIEM AUTHORIZED" IS AN ADMITTED ERROR. THERE IS NO STATEMENT FROM THE SHOP SUPERINTENDENT WHO ORDERED THE TRAVEL AS TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE FAILURE OF THE TRAVEL ORDER TO AUTHORIZE A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE. IT IS THE ESTABLISHED RULE THAT THE SPECIFIC PROVISIONS IN A TRAVEL ORDER WITH RESPECT TO THE RATE OF PER DIEM TO BE ALLOWED OR THE DENIAL OF PER DIEM MAY NOT BE CHANGED RETROACTIVELY. 23 COMP.

B-158617, MAR. 17, 1966

TO MR. WALTER SWYTAK:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 18, 1966, REQUESTING RECONSIDERATION OF THAT PART OF OUR SETTLEMENT OF JANUARY 13, 1966, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WHILE PERFORMING TEMPORARY DUTY AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY.

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

YOU SAY THAT THE STATEMENT "NO PER DIEM AUTHORIZED" IS AN ADMITTED ERROR. THE CLERK WHO TYPED THE ORDER DOES NOT REMEMBER WHO ORDERED THIS DEPARTURE FROM ESTABLISHED PROCEDURES. MOREOVER, THERE IS NO STATEMENT FROM THE SHOP SUPERINTENDENT WHO ORDERED THE TRAVEL AS TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE FAILURE OF THE TRAVEL ORDER TO AUTHORIZE A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE.

IT IS THE ESTABLISHED RULE THAT THE SPECIFIC PROVISIONS IN A TRAVEL ORDER WITH RESPECT TO THE RATE OF PER DIEM TO BE ALLOWED OR THE DENIAL OF PER DIEM MAY NOT BE CHANGED RETROACTIVELY. 23 COMP. GEN. 713. IN A LIMITED NUMBER OF CASES WHERE IT HAS BEEN SHOWN THAT THERE WAS A VERBAL AUTHORIZATION IN ADVANCE OF TRAVEL OR THAT A CLERICAL ERROR WAS MADE IN THE WRITTEN ORDER, SUCH EVIDENCE HAS BEEN ACCEPTED AS VARYING THE TERMS OF THE WRITTEN ORDER. HOWEVER, IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT SIGNED BY LIEUTENANT COLONEL D. N. COLE, FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICER, FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, WHICH ACCOMPANIED THE VOUCHER TO OUR OFFICE, RECOMMENDATION WAS MADE OF PAYMENT ONLY FOR MILEAGE OF 173 MILES AT THE RATE OF 10 CENTS PER MILE PLUS $1.75 FOR TOLL FEES.

THEREFORE, IN THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE TO SHOW THAT A CLERICAL ERROR HAD BEEN MADE BY THE CLERK IN PROCESSING YOUR ORIGINAL TRAVEL ORDER WE HAVE NO ALTERNATIVE BUT TO SUSTAIN OUR PRIOR ACTION OF DISALLOWING THAT PART OF YOUR CLAIM FOR PER DIEM.