B-161732, OCT. 5, 1967

B-161732: Oct 5, 1967

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WHO WERE PAID IN EXCESS OF $6.00 PER DAY FOR AIR TRAVEL BETWEEN U.S. PHILIPPINES ON THE BASIS THAT THE $6.00 LIMIT IN THE REGULATIONS WAS ONLY APPLICABLE TO TRAVEL BY BOAT MAY NOT BE RELIEVED FROM LIABILITY FOR EXCESS PAYMENT SINCE LIMITATION IS CONSTRUED AS APPLICABLE TO ALL TRAVEL OUTSIDE U.S. SINCE IT IS INDICATED THAT SIMILAR PAYMENTS TO OTHER EMPLOYEES ARE INVOLVED AS WELL AS A CONTROVERSY BETWEEN AGENCY OFFICIALS AS TO THE PROPER INTERPRETATION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS WE BELIEVE IT IS APPROPRIATE TO ADDRESS OUR DECISION IN THE MATTER TO YOU. GEORGE'S TRAVEL AND PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WAS AUTHORIZED. GEORGE IN TRAVELING TO THE UNITED STATES AND RETURN TO MANILA WAS PAID PER DIEM COVERING HIMSELF AND FAMILY AT THE RATES OF $18.

B-161732, OCT. 5, 1967

PER DIEM - RATES DECISION TO ADMINISTRATOR OF V.A. CONCERNING PROPER RATE OF PER DIEM FOR ROUND TRIP TRAVEL BETWEEN U.S. AND MANILA. EMPLOYEES, U.S. CITIZENS, WHO WERE PAID IN EXCESS OF $6.00 PER DAY FOR AIR TRAVEL BETWEEN U.S. AND PHILIPPINES ON THE BASIS THAT THE $6.00 LIMIT IN THE REGULATIONS WAS ONLY APPLICABLE TO TRAVEL BY BOAT MAY NOT BE RELIEVED FROM LIABILITY FOR EXCESS PAYMENT SINCE LIMITATION IS CONSTRUED AS APPLICABLE TO ALL TRAVEL OUTSIDE U.S.

TO MR. DRIVER:

IN A LETTER DATED MAY 23, 1967, REFERENCE 3058/24, MR. ROBERT H. WELCH, CHIEF, FINANCE AND DATA PROCESSING DIVISION, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION, APO SAN FRANCISCO 96528, TRANSMITTED HERE FOR CONSIDERATION A REQUEST FROM MR. DONALD L. GEORGE FOR REVIEW OF HIS INDEBTEDNESS FOR EXCESSIVE PER DIEM PAYMENTS TO HIM DURING A PERIOD OF TRAVEL AUTHORIZED TO BEGIN ON OR ABOUT MAY 19, 1966. SINCE IT IS INDICATED THAT SIMILAR PAYMENTS TO OTHER EMPLOYEES ARE INVOLVED AS WELL AS A CONTROVERSY BETWEEN AGENCY OFFICIALS AS TO THE PROPER INTERPRETATION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS WE BELIEVE IT IS APPROPRIATE TO ADDRESS OUR DECISION IN THE MATTER TO YOU.

THE TRAVEL ORDERS SHOW THAT MR. GEORGE'S TRAVEL AND PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WAS AUTHORIZED--IN ACCORDANCE WITH VOLUME 6, FOREIGN AFFAIRS MANUAL 100--BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION REGIONAL OFFICE (3058) MANILA, PHILIPPINES. HIS TRAVEL EXPENSE VOUCHER REFLECTS THAT MR. GEORGE IN TRAVELING TO THE UNITED STATES AND RETURN TO MANILA WAS PAID PER DIEM COVERING HIMSELF AND FAMILY AT THE RATES OF $18, $16, $12, AND $14, PER DAY, BY THE ABOVE REGIONAL OFFICE, TOTALING $625. HOWEVER, WHEN SUCH VOUCHER, ALONG WITH OTHER SIMILAR VOUCHERS, WERE SUBMITTED TO THE FIELD DIRECTOR, AREA 4, VA CENTRAL OFFICE FOR POST AUDIT, EXCEPTIONS WERE TAKEN TO THE PER DIEM PAID IN EXCESS OF $6 A DAY FOR AIR TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES WITH THE EXCEPTION OF AUTHORIZED STOPOVERS. MR. GEORGE OBJECTS TO HIS INDEBTEDNESS ON THE GROUND THAT HE WAS PAID PER DIEM AS AUTHORIZED BY HIS TRAVEL ORDERS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE APPLICABLE PROVISIONS OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS MANUAL 100, VOLUME 6, AS AUTHORIZED BY 38 U.S.C. 235 (A). THE LATTER READS, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"THE ADMINISTRATOR MAY, UNDER SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS AS MAY BE PRESCRIBED BY THE PRESIDENT OR HIS DESIGNEE, PROVIDE TO PERSONNEL OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION WHO ARE UNITED STATES CITIZENS AND ARE ASSIGNED BY THE ADMINISTRATOR TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION OFFICE IN THE REPUBLIC OF PHILIPPINES * * * BENEFITS SIMILAR TO THOSE PROVIDED BY THE FOLLOWING SECTIONS OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE ACT OF 1946: * * *

"/5) SECTION 911 (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (7), AND (9) (RELATING TO TRAVEL EXPENSES).'

THE FOREGOING STATUTORY PROVISION IS PERMISSIVE NOT MANDATORY. IN THAT CONNECTION THE FILE CONTAINS A COPY OF DVB CIRCULAR 25-65-8, DATED NOVEMBER 2, 1965, WITH ATTACHMENT A, SIGNED BY THE CHIEF BENEFITS DIRECTOR, COVERING ALLOWANCES, INCLUDING PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE, TO UNITED STATES CITIZENS EMPLOYED IN THE VA REGIONAL OFFICE, MANILA, PHILIPPINES. WE ASSUME SUCH CIRCULAR WAS PROPERLY ISSUED UNDER A DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY FROM YOU AND IS TO BE REGARDED AS AN ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATION BINDING ON ALL EMPLOYEES IN THE MANILA OFFICE. ATTACHMENT A OF THE CIRCULAR IS, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE PER DIEM RATES FOR EMPLOYEE AND MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY ARE AS FOLLOWS:

"FOR TRAVEL WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, THE RATE IS $16.00 PER DAY. FOR TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES, THE RATE IS $6.00 PER DAY, EXCEPT FOR BOAT TRAVEL OF MORE THAN 9 SUCCESSIVE DAYS (IN ADDITION TO THE FRACTIONAL DAYS OF EMBARKATION AND DEBARKATION) WHEN THE RATE FOR THE SUCCEEDING CALENDAR DAYS IS $2.00 PER DAY. UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES, A MAXIMUM PER DIEM PAYMENT OF $14.00 MAY BE AUTHORIZED FOR THE DAY OF DEBARKATION AT MANILA.

"PER DIEM RATES FOR MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY BELOW 11 YEARS OF AGE ARE ONE- HALF OF THE RATES APPLICABLE TO ADULT MEMBERS.'

IT IS CONTENDED BY THE MANAGER OF YOUR MANILA OFFICE THAT THE PER DIEM RATE OF $6 SPECIFIED IN THE ABOVE REGULATION APPLIED ONLY TO BOAT TRAVEL. OUR VIEW IS THAT SUCH RATE APPLIED TO ALL TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES WITH EXCEPTIONS NOTED THEREIN. COMPARE THE LANGUAGE OF SECTION 6.2C OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. APPARENTLY THE CHIEF BENEFITS DIRECTOR IS OF A SIMILAR VIEW. SEE HIS LETTER TO OUR OFFICE DATED AUGUST 4, 1967, REFERENCE 047A2.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING THERE APPEARS NO BASIS FOR RELIEVING MR. GEORGE AND THE OTHER EMPLOYEES OF LIABILITY FOR THE OVERPAYMENTS OF PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE DURING THE PERIODS INVOLVED. MR. GEORGE AND THE OTHER EMPLOYEES SHOULD BE FURNISHED COPIES OF THIS DECISION.