B-158631, MAR. 24, 1966

B-158631: Mar 24, 1966

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YOU REQUEST OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE PER DIEM ALLOWED THEREON WAS PROPERLY COMPUTED. THE EMPLOYEE WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL BY AIR FROM IOWA CITY. THE TRAVEL ORDER PROVIDED FOR PER DIEM OF $16 WHILE TRAVELING BUT FURTHER PROVIDED: "IF VA QUARTERS ARE OCCUPIED. YOUR CLAIM FOR PER DIEM WILL BE AS PROVIDED IN VA TRAVEL DIRECTIVES.'. PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS: "WHEN QUARTERS AT A VA FIELD STATION ARE OCCUPIED BY AN EMPLOYEE WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY. THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT THAT MAY BE CLAIMED IS THE COST OF QUARTERS PLUS $7 FOR EACH NIGHT SUCH QUARTERS ARE OCCUPIED. IN NO EVENT WILL THE AMOUNT AUTHORIZED OR CLAIMED EXCEED THE $16 PER DIEM RATE.'. HE WAS REQUIRED TO PAY A CHARGE OF $1.25 PER NIGHT FOR THE GOVERNMENT QUARTERS.

B-158631, MAR. 24, 1966

TO AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL:

BY LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 24, 1966, YOU TRANSMITTED FOR OUR CONSIDERATION A TRAVEL VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF ROBERT W. MATSON FOR $65.50, REPRESENTING PER DIEM AND TAXICAB FARES INCURRED BY MR. MATSON INCIDENT TO A TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL, IOWA CITY, IOWA. ALTHOUGH THE TRAVEL VOUCHER HAS BEEN CERTIFIED BY YOU AND PAID, YOU REQUEST OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE PER DIEM ALLOWED THEREON WAS PROPERLY COMPUTED.

BY TRAVEL ORDER DATED JANUARY 13, 1966, THE EMPLOYEE WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL BY AIR FROM IOWA CITY, IOWA, TO CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, FOR THE PURPOSE OF ATTENDING THE SEVENTH REGIONAL MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE CONFERENCE AT THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL, HINES, ILLINOIS. THE TRAVEL ORDER PROVIDED FOR PER DIEM OF $16 WHILE TRAVELING BUT FURTHER PROVIDED: "IF VA QUARTERS ARE OCCUPIED, YOUR CLAIM FOR PER DIEM WILL BE AS PROVIDED IN VA TRAVEL DIRECTIVES.' IN THAT RESPECT PARAGRAPH 210.02C OF VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MANUAL, MP-1, PART II, AS AMENDED BY TRANSMITTAL MEMORANDUM NO. 119, DATED MAY 10, 1965, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"WHEN QUARTERS AT A VA FIELD STATION ARE OCCUPIED BY AN EMPLOYEE WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY, THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT THAT MAY BE CLAIMED IS THE COST OF QUARTERS PLUS $7 FOR EACH NIGHT SUCH QUARTERS ARE OCCUPIED. AUTHORIZING OFFICIAL MAY SPECIFY LESS THAN THIS AMOUNT WHEN HE CONSIDERS IT APPROPRIATE TO DO SO. HOWEVER, IN NO EVENT WILL THE AMOUNT AUTHORIZED OR CLAIMED EXCEED THE $16 PER DIEM RATE.'

THE EMPLOYEE DEPARTED FROM IOWA CITY BY AIR AT 3:36 P.M. ON JANUARY 30, 1966, AND ARRIVED IN CHICAGO AT 6:10 P.M. THE SAME DAY. WHILE ATTENDING THE CONFERENCE HE OCCUPIED QUARTERS AT THE VA HOSPITAL IN HINES, ILLINOIS, ON THE NIGHTS OF JANUARY 30 THROUGH FEBRUARY 4 (6 NIGHTS). HE WAS REQUIRED TO PAY A CHARGE OF $1.25 PER NIGHT FOR THE GOVERNMENT QUARTERS. ON FEBRUARY 5, 1966, THE EMPLOYEE DEPARTED CHICAGO AT 5:45 P.M. AND ARRIVED IN IOWA CITY AT 7:18 P.M. THE SAME EVENING.

ON HIS TRAVEL VOUCHER MR. MATSON CLAIMED PER DIEM OF $57.50 COMPUTED AS FOLLOWS:

CHART

6 1/2 DAYS AT $16 PER DIEM $104.00

LESS: 6 NIGHTS AT $7.75 PER NIGHT 46.50

PER DIEM CLAIMED $ 57.50

THE DEDUCTION OF $46.50 WAS COMPUTED AS FOLLOWS:

AUTHORIZED PER DIEM $ 16.00

LESS: AUTHORIZED PER DIEM WHEN OCCUPYING

GOVERNMENT QUARTERS - $7 PLUS $1.25 8.25

DEDUCTION FROM PER DIEM FOR EACH NIGHT GOVERNMENT

QUARTERS WERE OCCUPIED $ 7.75

TOTAL DEDUCTION FROM PER DIEM:

6 NIGHTS AT $7.75 PER NIGHT $ 46.50

IT IS YOUR OPINION THAT THE EMPLOYEE'S PER DIEM SHOULD HAVE BEEN COMPUTED THUSLY:

JAN. 30 - 2 QUARTERS AT $16 PER DIEM $ 8.00

JAN. 31 THROUGH FEB. 4 - 5 DAYS AT $8.25 PER DIEM 41.25

FEB. 5 (FROM 12 MIDNIGHT TO 6 P.M.) - 3 QUARTERS

AT $8.25 PER DIEM 6.19

FEB. 5 - ONE QUARTER AT $16 PER DIEM (SINCE

EMPLOYEE DEPARTED CHICAGO AT 5:45 P.M.) 4.00

TOTAL PER DIEM ALLOWABLE $ 59.44

PARAGRAPH 6.2A OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"THE PER DIEM ALLOWANCES PROVIDED IN THESE REGULATIONS REPRESENT THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EACH DEPARTMENT AND AGENCY TO AUTHORIZE ONLY SUCH PER DIEM ALLOWANCES AS ARE JUSTIFIED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES AFFECTING THE TRAVEL. TO THIS END, CARE SHOULD BE EXERCISED TO PREVENT THE FIXING OF PER DIEM RATES IN EXCESS OF THOSE REQUIRED TO MEET THE NECESSARY AUTHORIZED SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES.'

PARAGRAPH 6.7 OF THE SAME REGULATIONS PROVIDES:

"DEDUCTION FROM ALLOWANCE.--- WHERE MEALS AND/OR LODGING ARE FURNISHED WITHOUT CHARGE OR AT A NOMINAL COST BY A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY AT A TEMPORARY DUTY STATION, AN APPROPRIATE DEDUCTION WILL BE MADE FROM THE AUTHORIZED PER DIEM RATE.'

IN EXERCISE OF ITS RESPONSIBILITY UNDER THE ABOVE-QUOTED REGULATIONS, THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HAS PRESCRIBED CERTAIN LIMITATIONS ON THE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM UNDER VARIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES OF TRAVEL AS SET FORTH IN SECTION 210.02 OF VA MANUAL, MP-1, PART II. AS INDICATED ABOVE, PARAGRAPH 210.02C OF VA MANUAL, MP-1, PART II, WAS AMENDED BY TRANSMITTAL MEMORANDUM NO. 119, DATED MAY 10, 1965. THAT MEMORANDUM EXPLAINS THE AMENDMENT TO PARAGRAPH 210.02C, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"* * * THIS CHANGE PROVIDES THAT EMPLOYEES WILL BE ALLOWED THE COST OF THE QUARTERS PLUS $7 (FOR MEALS AND INCIDENTAL EXPENSES), BUT NOT TO EXCEED $16 A DAY, FOR EACH NIGHT QUARTERS ARE OCCUPIED. THIS CHANGE REQUIRES THAT EMPLOYEES WILL REDUCE THEIR ACCRUED PER DIEM BY AN AMOUNT WHICH IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE AUTHORIZED PER DIEM RATES AND THE COST OF THE QUARTERS PLUS $7 FOR EACH NIGHT QUARTERS ARE OCCUPIED.'

IN VIEW OF THE EXPLANATION ABOVE, WE BELIEVE THAT THE BETTER VIEW IN THIS MATTER IS TO REGARD SECTION 210.02C AS REQUIRING A REDUCTION FROM THE RATE OF PER DIEM AUTHORIZED IN THE EMPLOYEE'S TRAVEL ORDER RATHER THAN AS PRESCRIBING A SEPARATE RATE OF PER DIEM WHEN GOVERNMENT QUARTERS ARE OCCUPIED. UNDER THAT VIEW, THE EMPLOYEE'S PER DIEM IN THIS CASE, AS ORIGINALLY COMPUTED AND PAID, WAS CORRECT.