B-158966, MAY 4, 1966

B-158966: May 4, 1966

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SUCH TRAVEL WAS AUTHORIZED. IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT IN ARRIVING AT THE ESTIMATED CONSTRUCTIVE COST THE LOCAL AIR CARRIER'S OFFICE WAS CONSULTED AND THE AIR FARES QUOTED FOR TRAVEL BEYOND SEATTLE WERE IN EXCESS OF THOSE ACTUALLY IN EFFECT AT THE TIME OF TRAVEL. LAURENT WAS INFORMED THAT THE COST OF CONSTRUCTIVE ROUND-TRIP TRAVEL TO PAGOSA SPRINGS. IN THE AUDIT OF THE VOUCHER IT WAS FOUND THAT THE QUOTED AIR RATES USED IN THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST ESTIMATE WERE $147.46 IN EXCESS OF THE ACTUAL FAMILY PLAN RATES IN EFFECT BETWEEN SEATTLE AND DENVER AND THE LATTER CITY AND DURANGO. THAT AMOUNT PLUS CONSTRUCTIVE LIMOUSINE FARES IN DENVER ($24) TOTALING $171.46 WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DISALLOWED. THE ROUND-TRIP LEAVE TRAVEL WAS COMPLETED ON JULY 1.

B-158966, MAY 4, 1966

TO THE AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, FOREST SERVICE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE:

YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 14, 1966, REFERENCE 6540, ENCLOSING A RECLAIM TRAVEL VOUCHER FOR $171.46 IN FAVOR OF MR. THOMAS H. LAURENT, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FOREST SERVICE, JUNEAU, ALASKA, AND RELATED DOCUMENTS, ASKS OUR DECISION ON SEVERAL QUESTIONS WHICH AROSE FROM HIS HOME LEAVE TRAVEL IN JUNE AND JULY 1965.

THE RECORD PRESENTED WITH YOUR LETTER SHOWS THAT MR. LAURENT'S ACTUAL PLACE OF RESIDENCE HAD BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED TO BE PAGOSA SPRINGS, COLORADO. APPARENTLY, HE DESIRED TO USE HIS LEAVE AT AN ALTERNATE POINT, VIZ., ATLANTA, GEORGIA, AND SUCH TRAVEL WAS AUTHORIZED, THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT BEING LIMITED TO THE COST OF CONSTRUCTIVE ROUND -TRIP TRAVEL TO PAGOSA SPRINGS.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT IN ARRIVING AT THE ESTIMATED CONSTRUCTIVE COST THE LOCAL AIR CARRIER'S OFFICE WAS CONSULTED AND THE AIR FARES QUOTED FOR TRAVEL BEYOND SEATTLE WERE IN EXCESS OF THOSE ACTUALLY IN EFFECT AT THE TIME OF TRAVEL. AS A CONSEQUENCE MR. LAURENT WAS INFORMED THAT THE COST OF CONSTRUCTIVE ROUND-TRIP TRAVEL TO PAGOSA SPRINGS, BEYOND SEATTLE, WOULD BE $668.60. THE TRAVEL ORDER LIMITED REIMBURSEMENT TO THE PLACE OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE AS AUTHORIZED BY THE STATUTE (5 U.S.C. 73B-3) AND REGULATIONS (BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, SECTION 4.2). IT PROVIDED THAT "COST TO THE GOVERNMENT NOT TO EXCEED THAT OF TRAVEL BY THE MOST DIRECT ROUTE TO PAGOSA SPRINGS, COLO. AND RETURN" AND DIRECTED USE OF LOWEST COST JET TOURIST OR FAMILY PLAN AIR ACCOMMODATIONS.

UPON COMPLETION OF THE HOME LEAVE TRAVEL MR. LAURENT CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $668.60.

IN THE AUDIT OF THE VOUCHER IT WAS FOUND THAT THE QUOTED AIR RATES USED IN THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST ESTIMATE WERE $147.46 IN EXCESS OF THE ACTUAL FAMILY PLAN RATES IN EFFECT BETWEEN SEATTLE AND DENVER AND THE LATTER CITY AND DURANGO. CONSEQUENTLY, THAT AMOUNT PLUS CONSTRUCTIVE LIMOUSINE FARES IN DENVER ($24) TOTALING $171.46 WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DISALLOWED. MR. LAURENT RECLAIMS THE AMOUNT DISALLOWED ON THE GROUND THAT INFORMATION FURNISHED HIM CONCERNING THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF TRAVEL CREATED AN OBLIGATION ON THE PART OF THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY $668.60.

ANOTHER QUESTION AROSE CONCERNING MR. LAURENT'S PREMATURE DEPARTURE ON JUNE 13, 1965, FOR HIS HOME LEAVE, IT APPEARING THAT HE ENTERED ON DUTY AT JUNEAU ON JULY 5, 1963, UNDER AN AGREEMENT TO SERVE TWO YEARS. HOWEVER, THE ROUND-TRIP LEAVE TRAVEL WAS COMPLETED ON JULY 1, 1965, OR PRIOR TO THE COMPLETION OF THE FIRST TOUR OF DUTY.

THE QUESTIONS PRESENTED BY YOUR LETTER ARE AS FOLLOWS:

"1. ARE WE REQUIRED TO MAKE RECOVERY FROM MR. LAURENT OF THE ALLOWED COST OF TRAVEL?

"2. IF THE ANSWER TO (1) IS NEGATIVE, MAY WE ALLOW THE TOTAL TRAVEL COSTS AS STATED ON THE ATTACHMENT TO THE REQUEST FOR TRANSPORTATION?

IN RESPONSE TO QUESTION 1, THE AUTHORITY TO DEPART ON HOME LEAVE PRIOR TO THE COMPLETION OF THE TWO-YEAR DUTY TOUR MAY HAVE BEEN INDUCED BY THE CLAIMANT'S STATEMENT IN HIS APPLICATION OF MAY 21, 1965, FOR HOME LEAVE THAT HE HAD COMPLETED HIS EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT. HOWEVER, HIS ENTITLEMENT TO DEPART ON SUCH LEAVE COULD READILY HAVE BEEN VERIFIED BY REFERENCE TO HIS EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT AND SINCE THE TRAVEL WAS AUTHORIZED NO QUESTION NEED NOW BE RAISED CONCERNING ITS VALIDITY.

QUESTION 2 MUST BE ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE SO FAR AS IT RELATES TO AIR FARES. THE FOREST SERVICE WAS UNDER NO LEGAL OBLIGATION TO OBTAIN AND FURNISH CONSTRUCTIVE TRAVEL COST INFORMATION TO MR. LAURENT AND TO THE EXTENT THAT IT ACCOMMODATED MR. LAURENT IN THAT REGARD IT WAS MERELY ACTING AS HIS AGENT. THE TRAVEL ORDER WAS IN ACCORD WITH LAW (5 U.S.C. 73B-3) AND SECTIONS 3.6C AND 3.9 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. MR. LAURENT WAS ENTITLED THEREUNDER TO BE REIMBURSED ONLY AT THE LOWEST JET TOURIST OR FAMILY PLAN RATES IN EFFECT WHEN THE CONSTRUCTIVE TRAVEL WOULD HAVE BEEN PERFORMED. HE DOES NOT ALLEGE THAT THE FARES ALLOWED ON THE VOUCHER STATEMENT ARE INCORRECT AND THEREFORE HE HAS BEEN ALLOWED THE AIR TRANSPORTATION TO WHICH HE IS ENTITLED. FURTHER, ON THE PRESENT RECORD, WHICH SUGGESTS THAT IT WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT THE WAITING FACILITIES AT THE DENVER AIRPORT WOULD HAVE BEEN ADEQUATE UNDER ALL OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE TRAVEL, WE WILL NOT QUESTION THE DISALLOWANCE OF THE LIMOUSINE ITEMS.

THE RECLAIM VOUCHER, RETURNED HEREWITH WITH ATTACHMENTS, MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.