B-160561, OCT. 23, 1970

B-160561: Oct 23, 1970

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A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE IS REQUIRED TO PROCEED AS EXPEDITIOUSLY AS HE WOULD IF TRAVELING ON HIS PERSONAL BUSINESS. WHERE CLAIMANT HAS BEEN GIVEN SOME DISCRETION AS TO DATE OF DEPARTURE AND THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT REASONABLE DRIVING TIME WAS THE BASIS FOR THE APPROXIMATE DATE SUGGESTED BY THE GOVERNMENT. A CLAIM FOR PER DIEM EXPENSES FOR TRAVEL TIME IN EXCESS OF ACTUAL TRAVELING TIME WILL BE DISALLOWED. YOU WERE AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE FROM WASHINGTON. ITEM 10 OF THAT ORDER PROVIDED THAT TRAVEL WAS TO "BEGIN ON OR ABOUT MARCH 9. SINCE YOU WERE NOT REQUIRED TO REPORT FOR DUTY UNTIL MONDAY MORNING. YOUR ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE DENIED PER DIEM FOR MARCH 9 AND 10 ON THE BASIS THAT YOU COULD HAVE DEPARTED WASHINGTON ON FRIDAY.

B-160561, OCT. 23, 1970

PER DIEM ALLOWANCE - EXCESS TRAVEL TIME DECISION TO WILLIAM R. DOLBY DISALLOWING HIS CLAIM FOR ADDITIONAL PER DIEM ALLOWANCE FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION BETWEEN WASHINGTON, D.C. AND CAPE KENNEDY, FLORIDA. IN PERFORMING OFFICIAL TRAVEL, A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE IS REQUIRED TO PROCEED AS EXPEDITIOUSLY AS HE WOULD IF TRAVELING ON HIS PERSONAL BUSINESS, AND WHERE CLAIMANT HAS BEEN GIVEN SOME DISCRETION AS TO DATE OF DEPARTURE AND THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT REASONABLE DRIVING TIME WAS THE BASIS FOR THE APPROXIMATE DATE SUGGESTED BY THE GOVERNMENT, A CLAIM FOR PER DIEM EXPENSES FOR TRAVEL TIME IN EXCESS OF ACTUAL TRAVELING TIME WILL BE DISALLOWED.

TO MR. WILLIAM R. DOLBY:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF MAY 8, 1970, WITH ENCLOSURES, REQUESTING REVIEW OF GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE SETTLEMENT DATED FEBRUARY 13, 1967, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR ADDITIONAL PER DIEM FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION.

BY TRAVEL ORDER DATED MARCH 1, 1966, YOU WERE AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., TO CAPE KENNEDY, FLORIDA, AND RETURN FOR THE PURPOSE OF PERFORMING TEMPORARY DUTY. ITEM 10 OF THAT ORDER PROVIDED THAT TRAVEL WAS TO "BEGIN ON OR ABOUT MARCH 9, 1966". PURSUANT THERETO YOU DEPARTED WASHINGTON AT 8 A.M. ON WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9, AND ARRIVED AT CAPE KENNEDY AT 8:30 P.M. ON FRIDAY, MARCH 11. SINCE YOU WERE NOT REQUIRED TO REPORT FOR DUTY UNTIL MONDAY MORNING, MARCH 14, YOUR ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE DENIED PER DIEM FOR MARCH 9 AND 10 ON THE BASIS THAT YOU COULD HAVE DEPARTED WASHINGTON ON FRIDAY, MARCH 11, AND ARRIVED AT CAPE KENNEDY AT A REASONABLE HOUR ON SUNDAY, MARCH 13.

IN DISALLOWING YOUR CLAIM THE CLAIMS DIVISION OF OUR OFFICE ADVISED YOU THAT WE CONSISTENTLY HAVE HELD THAT IN PERFORMING OFFICIAL TRAVEL A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE IS REQUIRED TO PROCEED AS EXPEDITIOUSLY AS HE WOULD IF TRAVELING ON HIS PERSONAL BUSINESS. 31 COMP. GEN. 278 (1952); 39 ID. 250 (1959); 46 ID. 425 (1966); SECTION 1.2, STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. HOWEVER, YOU POINT OUT THAT IN OUR DECISION B 167650, DATED SEPTEMBER 29, 1969, WE ALLOWED PAYMENT OF PER DIEM UNDER FACTS SIMILAR TO THOSE INVOLVED IN YOUR CASE.

IN B-167650 WE AUTHORIZED PAYMENT OF ADDITIONAL PER DIEM EVEN THOUGH THE EMPLOYEES HAD DEPARTED THEIR OFFICIAL STATION TWO DAYS EARLIER THAN WAS NECESSARY. HOWEVER, OUR ACTION IN THAT CASE WAS PREDICATED UPON THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEES WERE ORDERED TO COMMENCE TRAVEL ON A SPECIFIC WORKDAY. ALSO, IN THAT CASE THE ORDERS TO THAT EFFECT APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN BASED UPON REASONABLE DRIVING TIME BETWEEN THE LOCATIONS INVOLVED. IN YOUR CASE THE TRAVEL ORDER PROVIDED ONLY THAT YOU SHOULD COMMENCE TRAVEL "ON OR ABOUT MARCH 9, 1966" THEREBY GIVING YOU SOME DISCRETION IN THE MATTER AND THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT REASONABLE DRIVING TIME WAS THE BASIS FOR USING THAT DATE. AS PREVIOUSLY INDICATED YOU WERE ALLOWED PER DIEM FOR THE THREE DAYS YOU UTILIZED IN GETTING TO CAPE KENNEDY AT 8:30 P.M. ON FRIDAY, MARCH 11, A DISTANCE OF 940 MILES. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN UNREASONABLE FOR THE OFFICIAL WRITING YOUR ORDERS TO ESTIMATE FIVE DAYS FOR THE DISTANCE INVOLVED.

WE HAVE HELD THAT A PROVISION IN A TRAVEL ORDER SUCH AS YOURS, STANDING ALONE, MAY NOT BE CONSTRUED AS AUTHORIZING THE TRAVELER TO INCREASE HIS ENTITLEMENT TO PER DIEM BY DEPARTING HIS OFFICIAL STATION EARLIER THAN NECESSARY. SEE B-168520, FEBRUARY 13, 1970, COPY HEREWITH.

ACCORDINGLY, THE DISALLOWANCE OF YOUR CLAIM IS SUSTAINED.