B-161151, APR. 14, 1967

B-161151: Apr 14, 1967

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SUCH A CONCLUSION IS NOT WARRANTED BY THE LANGUAGE OF THE SETTLEMENT OR BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS CONCERNING YOUR CASE. THE FORMER SHOWS THAT THE APPROVAL WAS QUALIFIED AS TO THE EXTENT OF REIMBURSEMENT. THE LATTER STATES UNEQUIVOCALLY THAT YOU WERE INFORMED BY THE TRAVEL APPROVING OFFICER THAT YOUR TRAVEL EXPENSES PROBABLY COULD BE REIMBURSED ONLY TO THE EXTENT AUTHORIZED BY REGULATIONS. IN SUCH CASES THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE REQUIRED TO ACCEPT THE DEPARTMENT'S VERSION IN THE ABSENCE OF DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE ESTABLISHING THAT SUCH VERSION IS INCORRECT. WE DO NOT HAVE BEFORE US FACTS SUFFICIENT TO ENABLE US TO FORM ANY OPINION AS TO THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY OF YOUR TRAVEL ON THE TWO TRIPS IN QUESTION.

B-161151, APR. 14, 1967

TO MR. SAMUEL J. WHITE, FIELD REPRESENTATIVE:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 20, 1967, IN WHICH YOU APPEAL FROM OUR CLAIMS DIVISION SETTLEMENT OF MARCH 17, 1967, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES INCURRED BY YOU INCIDENT TO TWO ROUND TRIPS ON WEEKENDS OR NONWORKDAYS PERFORMED BY YOU BETWEEN YOUR TEMPORARY DUTY STATIONS IN TEXAS AND YOUR OFFICIAL STATION IN MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN.

APPARENTLY, YOU ASSUME FROM THE LANGUAGE OF OUR OFFICE SETTLEMENT THAT YOUR TRAVEL TO YOUR OFFICIAL STATION ON THE OCCASIONS REFERRED TO RECEIVED UNQUALIFIED ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL. SUCH A CONCLUSION IS NOT WARRANTED BY THE LANGUAGE OF THE SETTLEMENT OR BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS CONCERNING YOUR CASE. THE FORMER SHOWS THAT THE APPROVAL WAS QUALIFIED AS TO THE EXTENT OF REIMBURSEMENT. THE LATTER STATES UNEQUIVOCALLY THAT YOU WERE INFORMED BY THE TRAVEL APPROVING OFFICER THAT YOUR TRAVEL EXPENSES PROBABLY COULD BE REIMBURSED ONLY TO THE EXTENT AUTHORIZED BY REGULATIONS. THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT ALSO STATES THAT YOU PERFORMED NO OFFICIAL DUTIES AT YOUR HEADQUARTERS ON EITHER OF THE TRIPS.

IN REGARD TO THE AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL OF YOUR TRAVEL THERE APPEARS TO BE A DISPUTE OF FACT. IN SUCH CASES THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE REQUIRED TO ACCEPT THE DEPARTMENT'S VERSION IN THE ABSENCE OF DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE ESTABLISHING THAT SUCH VERSION IS INCORRECT.

ASIDE FROM THE QUESTION OF APPROVAL, WE DO NOT HAVE BEFORE US FACTS SUFFICIENT TO ENABLE US TO FORM ANY OPINION AS TO THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY OF YOUR TRAVEL ON THE TWO TRIPS IN QUESTION.

WE NOTE FROM YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 20, 1966, TO THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, A COPY OF WHICH WAS FURNISHED US, YOUR COMMENT AS FOLLOWS:

"* * * I DID NOT FEEL THAT THE EXTENSION OF MY DETAIL OUTSIDE REGION V FROM AN ANTICIPATED 2 DAYS TO 90 DAYS LEFT ANY QUESTION OF WHETHER IT WAS IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT FOR ME TO RETURN HOME FOR CLOTHING NECESSARY TO THE MAINTENANCE OF AN ACCEPTABLE APPEARANCE--- AND NO ONE IN DALLAS QUESTIONED IT WHEN WE DISCUSSED PLANS FOR THE TRIP. PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT ACTION IS REQUIRED IN SUPPORT OF THIS TRAVEL.

"CHAPTER 6-20-50, A3A OF THE TRAVEL MANUAL IS INAPPLICABLE. I DID NOT VOLUNTARILY INITIATE EITHER OF THE ABOVE PERIODS OF TRAVEL. THE FIRST WAS A TRUE NECESSITY TO SATISFACTORY PERFORMANCE (APPEARANCE). THE OTHER WAS BEGUN ONLY AFTER I HAD BEEN GIVEN THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE REGIONAL OFFICE WANTED DETAILS FROM OTHER REGIONS TO RETURN HOME FOR A BREAK IN DETAIL.'

WE UNDERSTAND FROM THE QUOTED LANGUAGE THAT THE PURPOSE OF YOUR FIRST TRIP WAS TO ACQUIRE ADDITIONAL APPAREL FROM YOUR HOME, A NEED WHICH YOU INDICATE COULD NOT BE ANTICIPATED. THE SECOND TRIP SEEMINGLY WAS UNDERTAKEN UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH ARE NOT EXPLICIT BUT INDICATE AN ADMINISTRATIVE DESIRE TO INTERRUPT YOUR DETAIL.

WE HAVE NOT BEEN FURNISHED A COPY OF YOUR INITIAL TRAVEL ORDER AND HAVE NO INFORMATION CONCERNING THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH YOU UNDERTOOK YOUR INITIAL TRAVEL AWAY FROM YOUR HEADQUARTERS AND THUS CAN FORM NO REASONABLE OPINION AS TO THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY FOR YOUR RETURN TO YOUR HOME TO PICK UP ADDITIONAL CLOTHING. OF COURSE ALTERNATIVE METHODS OF ACQUIRING THE NEEDED WEARING APPAREL SUGGEST THEMSELVES, SUCH AS HAVING IT SENT TO YOU OR ACQUIRING IT LOCALLY.

WITH REFERENCE TO THE SECOND TRIP, THE RECORD FAILS TO REVEAL CLEARLY WHETHER YOU WERE IN TEXAS ON A TECHNICAL DETAIL, I.E., TO PERFORM DUTIES OTHER THAN THOSE EMBRACED IN YOUR REGULAR POSITION, OR WHETHER YOU WERE THERE MERELY ON TEMPORARY DUTY TRAVEL. IN EITHER CASE, WE ARE NOT AWARE OF A REQUIREMENT OF LAW WHICH WOULD WARRANT A TEMPORARY RECALL TO YOUR OFFICIAL STATION WHEN NO OFFICIAL BUSINESS OR OTHER ADVANTAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT WAS CONTEMPLATED.

GENERALLY, WE WOULD LIKE TO INVITE YOUR ATTENTION TO THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROMULGATED PURSUANT TO THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, AS AMENDED, 5 U.S.C. 5701-5708. AS A RULE, EMPLOYEES ON TRAVEL ASSIGNMENTS ARE CHARGEABLE WITH NOTICE OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS WHICH AS STATUTORY REGULATIONS HAVE THE FORCE AND EFFECT OF STATUTE LAW AND WITHIN THE SCOPE OF WHICH DEPARTMENTAL AND AGENCY REGULATIONS MUST FALL. THOSE SECTIONS OF THE REGULATIONS WHICH MAY HAVE A SPECIAL BEARING ON YOUR CASE APPEAR TO BE CONTAINED IN SECTIONS 1.2 (2D CLAUSE), 2.1, AND 6.4, THE LAST OF WHICH IS SIMILAR TO DHEW TRAVEL MANUAL 6-20, A.3A IN ITS RESTRICTION ON THE REIMBURSEMENT ALLOWABLE IN CASES OF VOLUNTARY RETURN TO HEADQUARTERS ON WEEKENDS.

ON THE RECORD BEFORE US WE WOULD NOT BE WARRANTED IN AUTHORIZING ALLOWANCE OF THE AMOUNTS CLAIMED BY YOU AND, THEREFORE, WE MUST SUSTAIN OUR OFFICE SETTLEMENT OF MARCH 17, 1967, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM.