B-158739, MAY 11, 1966, 45 COMP. GEN. 680

B-158739: May 11, 1966

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TRAVEL EXPENSES - FIRST DUTY STATION - SERVICE AGREEMENT - LEAVE WITHOUT PAY EFFECT AN EMPLOYEE WHO WAS PAID TRAVEL EXPENSES TO HIS FIRST POST OF DUTY UPON SIGNING A 12-MONTH EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT BUT WHO SERVED ONLY 3 MONTHS OF THE AGREED SERVICE WHEN HE WAS GRANTED LEAVE WITHOUT PAY FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES MAY HAVE THE LEAVE WITHOUT PAY PERIOD REGARDED AS "IN THE GOVERNMENT SERVICE" AS USED IN SECTION 7 OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ACT OF 1946. RECOVERY OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSES TO THE FIRST DUTY STATION IS NOT REQUIRED. ALTHOUGH HE WAS ON THE BUREAU'S ROLLS MORE THAN 12 MONTHS. THE DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER AND ENCLOSURES SHOW THAT TRAVEL EXPENSES WERE PAID BY THE BUREAU FROM CHARLOTTE.

B-158739, MAY 11, 1966, 45 COMP. GEN. 680

TRAVEL EXPENSES - FIRST DUTY STATION - SERVICE AGREEMENT - LEAVE WITHOUT PAY EFFECT AN EMPLOYEE WHO WAS PAID TRAVEL EXPENSES TO HIS FIRST POST OF DUTY UPON SIGNING A 12-MONTH EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT BUT WHO SERVED ONLY 3 MONTHS OF THE AGREED SERVICE WHEN HE WAS GRANTED LEAVE WITHOUT PAY FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES MAY HAVE THE LEAVE WITHOUT PAY PERIOD REGARDED AS "IN THE GOVERNMENT SERVICE" AS USED IN SECTION 7 OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ACT OF 1946, 5 U.S.C. 73B-3 (B), TO SATISFY THE 12 MONTHS OF SERVICE REQUIREMENT AND, THEREFORE, RECOVERY OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSES TO THE FIRST DUTY STATION IS NOT REQUIRED.

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, MAY 11, 1966:

ON MARCH 11, 1966, THE DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR REQUESTED OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION MUST REQUIRE A REPAYMENT OF THE FUNDS EXPENDED IN CONNECTION WITH THE TRAVEL OF MR. JOHN S. HENDERSON TO HIS FIRST DUTY STATION. MR. HENDERSON SIGNED A 12-MONTH EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT UNDER PUBLIC LAW 86 587, 5 U.S.C. 73B-3 (B), BUT PERFORMED ONLY 3 MONTHS OF ACTIVE SERVICE, ALTHOUGH HE WAS ON THE BUREAU'S ROLLS MORE THAN 12 MONTHS.

THE DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER AND ENCLOSURES SHOW THAT TRAVEL EXPENSES WERE PAID BY THE BUREAU FROM CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA, TO BOISE, IDAHO, MR. HENDERSON'S FIRST POST OF DUTY EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 12, 1963. BY PERSONNEL ACTION AUGUST 21, 1963, EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 12, 1963, MR. HENDERSON WAS GRANTED LEAVE WITHOUT PAY UNTIL JUNE 15, 1964, DESCRIBED AS EDUCATIONAL LEAVE TO OBTAIN A MASTER'S DEGREE AS AN INDUSTRIAL ENGINEER. BY PERSONNEL ACTION DATED JULY 16, 1964, BECAUSE OF COMMISSIONED ACTIVE DUTY IN THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION PLACED MR. HENDERSON ON MILITARY FURLOUGH BEGINNING JUNE 15, 1964. AT THE TIME, IT IS SAID, MR. HENDERSON WAS INFORMED THAT, IN THE EVENT HE DID NOT RETURN TO DUTY WITH THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, IT WOULD BE NECESSARY THAT HE REPAY THE TRAVEL EXPENSES INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH HIS INITIAL APPOINTMENT. THEREAFTER, BY LETTER OF OCTOBER 13, 1965, MR. HENDERSON INFORMED THE BOISE OFFICE THAT HE HAD "ELECTED TO PURSUE A CAREER AS A COMMISSIONED OFFICER WITH THE SERVICE" AND HE REQUESTED INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING REPAYMENT OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSES INCURRED BY THE BUREAU IN HIS BEHALF IN JUNE 1963.

THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE PERSONNEL OFFICE HAS INFORMED US THAT BY PERSONNEL ORDER NO. 118 DATED JUNE 15, 1964, MR. HENDERSON WAS ASSIGNED AS A RESERVE CORPS OFFICER TO THE SANITARY ENGINEERING CENTER, CINCINNATI, OHIO, BUT SUBSEQUENTLY MR. HENDERSON BECAME A COMMISSIONED OFFICER OF THE REGULAR CORPS ASSIGNED TO THAT CENTER.

SERVICE IN THE COMMISSIONED CORPS OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE IS FOR MANY PURPOSES REGARDED AS SIMILAR TO MILITARY SERVICE. 34 COMP. GEN. 287. WE HAVE HELD THAT THE TERM "IN THE GOVERNMENT SERVICE" AS USED IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ACT OF 1946, AS AMENDED, 5 U.S.C. 73B-3 (A), DOES NOT INCLUDE MILITARY SERVICE. 26 COMP. GEN. 488, AT PAGE 494, ANSWER TO QUESTION 4. ALSO, WE POINT OUT THAT THE AGREEMENT OF APRIL 15, 1963, SIGNED BY MR. HENDERSON EXPRESSLY PROVIDED FOR ,TWELVE MONTHS OF SERVICE IN THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION.' 31 COMP. GEN. 588.

ASIDE FROM THE FOREGOING, WE NOTE THAT THE PERIOD OF LEAVE WITHOUT PAY GRANTED TO MR. HENDERSON EXTENDED FROM SEPTEMBER 12, 1963, TO JUNE 14, 1964. THUS, IF SUCH PERIOD OF LEAVE WITHOUT PAY MAY BE ADDED TO THE PERIOD OF ACTUAL SERVICE THE 12 MONTHS' SERVICE REQUIREMENT WILL HAVE BEEN SATISFIED. THE LEAVE WITHOUT PAY STATUS OF A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES IS PARTIALLY CREDITABLE FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES, SUCH AS RETIREMENT, STEP INCREASES AND LEAVE. SEE THE APPLICABLE REGULATIONS OF THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION. ALSO, HE REMAINS ON THE ROLLS OF THE FEDERAL AGENCY AS AN EMPLOYEE UNTIL SEPARATED FROM THE SERVICE. UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES WE SEE NO REASON WHY MR. HENDERSON SHOULD NOT BE REGARDED AS "IN THE GOVERNMENT SERVICE" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE TERM ,IN THE GOVERNMENT SERVICE" AS USED IN 5 U.S.C. 73B-3 (B), FROM WHICH THE REQUIREMENT OF THE AGREED PERIOD OF SERVICE IN THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION WAS DERIVED. THEREFORE, THERE SHOULD BE NO RECOVERY FROM MR. HENDERSON OF THE MONEYS EXPENDED IN PAYMENT OF HIS TRAVEL EXPENSES TO HIS FIRST DUTY STATION WITH THE BUREAU.