B-162506, OCT. 20, 1967

B-162506: Oct 20, 1967

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EMPLOYEE WHO CLAIMS MILEAGE FOR AN ADDITIONAL 200 MILES FOR TRAVEL BASED ON USE OF LONGER INTERSTATE HIGHWAY AND TURNPIKE TOLLS MAY BE PAID MILEAGE FOR SUCH ROUTE WHICH IS A "USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE" IF ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL OF SUCH ROUTE IS FURNISHED AND MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR TOLLS OCCASIONED BY LONGER ROUTE. RAND-MCNALLY ROAD ATLAS IS A STANDARD GUIDE WITHIN THE MEANING OF SEC. 3.5B (1) SGTR. WILBANKS: THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 14. NICHOLLS IS CLAIMING MILEAGE IN EXCESS OF THAT WHICH YOU HAVE ALLOWED HIM AND ALSO ADDITIONAL TOLLS ARISING FROM THE USE OF THE INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM IN CONNECTION WITH A CHANGE OF OFFICIAL STATION FROM COLLEGE PARK. YOU STATE THAT YOU HAVE ALLOWED MR.

B-162506, OCT. 20, 1967

TRAVEL EXPENSES - MILEAGE - ROUTES DECISION TO CERTIFYING OFFICER OF THE BUREAU OF MINES, INTERIOR DEPT., FOR ADDITIONAL MILEAGE AND TOLLS RESULTING FROM TAKING A LONGER TURNPIKE ROUTE ON CHANGE OF STATION FROM COLLEGE PARK, MD. TO DENVER, COLORADO. EMPLOYEE WHO CLAIMS MILEAGE FOR AN ADDITIONAL 200 MILES FOR TRAVEL BASED ON USE OF LONGER INTERSTATE HIGHWAY AND TURNPIKE TOLLS MAY BE PAID MILEAGE FOR SUCH ROUTE WHICH IS A "USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE" IF ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL OF SUCH ROUTE IS FURNISHED AND MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR TOLLS OCCASIONED BY LONGER ROUTE. RAND-MCNALLY ROAD ATLAS IS A STANDARD GUIDE WITHIN THE MEANING OF SEC. 3.5B (1) SGTR.

TO MRS. JEANNETTE B. WILBANKS:

THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 14, 1967, REQUESTING OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT A RECLAIM VOUCHER FOR $31.60 SUBMITTED BY MR. HARRY R. NICHOLLS, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU OF MINES, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. MR. NICHOLLS IS CLAIMING MILEAGE IN EXCESS OF THAT WHICH YOU HAVE ALLOWED HIM AND ALSO ADDITIONAL TOLLS ARISING FROM THE USE OF THE INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM IN CONNECTION WITH A CHANGE OF OFFICIAL STATION FROM COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND, TO DENVER, COLORADO.

YOU STATE THAT YOU HAVE ALLOWED MR. NICHOLLS A DISTANCE OF 1,630 MILES BETWEEN THE TWO POINTS WHICH IS THE MILEAGE SHOWN IN THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS CARRIERS' BUREAU MILEAGE GUIDE NO. 8 AND RAND MCNALLY'S STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDE. MR. NICHOLLS IS MAKING CLAIM FOR 200 ADDITIONAL MILES TRAVELED, MAKING 1,830 IN ALL, AND ADDITIONAL TOLLS RESULTING FROM THE LONGER TURNPIKE ROUTE.

IN HIS MEMORANDUM SUPPORTING THE CLAIM THE EMPLOYEE STATES THAT THE MILEAGE AS RECORDED WAS 1,830 MILES AND THAT THE ODOMETER OF ONE OF THE CARS HAD BEEN CHECKED ON THE TRIP AND FOUND TO HAVE AN ERROR OF LESS THAN ONE-HALF OF ONE PERCENT. HOWEVER, HE SUBMITTED NO ACTUAL SPEEDOMETER READINGS FOR THE TRIP, JUST TOTAL MILEAGE, BUT INSISTS THAT HE TOOK NO SIDE TRIPS. IT IS HIS POSITION THAT A TRAVELER SHOULD BE PERMITTED TO USE THE SAFER BUT LONGER INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM ROADS AND THAT PERSONS AUTHORIZING TRAVEL SHOULD NOT INSIST UPON SHORTER BUT LESS SAFE ROUTES.

YOU INQUIRE AS TO WHAT WOULD BE A REASONABLE NUMBER OF MILES TO ALLOW OVER THAT SHOWN IN THE MILEAGE GUIDES AND AS TO WHETHER MR. NICHOLLS SHOULD BE ALLOWED THE CLAIMED NUMBER OF MILES AND TOLL CHARGES ARISING FROM HIS USE OF THE INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM.

SECTIONS 2.2A AND B OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, REVISED OCTOBER 12, 1966, STATE THAT EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED IN THE REGULATIONS ALLOWABLE TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR AN EMPLOYEE AND HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY ARE GOVERNED BY STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS (SGTR). IN THIS REGARD SECTION 3.5B (1) OF SGTR PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

"WHEN TRANSPORTATION IS AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED BY PRIVATELY OWNED MOTORCYCLES OR AUTOMOBILES, DISTANCES BETWEEN POINTS TRAVELED WILL BE AS SHOWN IN STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDES OR BY SPEEDOMETER READINGS. ANY SUBSTANTIAL DEVIATIONS FROM DISTANCES SHOWN IN THE STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDES WILL BE EXPLAINED.' ALSO, SECTION 3.2 OF SUCH REGULATIONS STATES THAT ALL TRAVEL WILL BE BY A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE WITH CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS NOT HERE MATERIAL.

IN OUR DECISION OF APRIL 8, 1953, 32 COMP. GEN. 438, WE HELD AS FOLLOWS:

"A REASONABLE INTERPRETATION OF THE ABOVE-CITED LAW AND REGULATIONS WOULD ENTITLE A TRAVELER TO REIMBURSEMENT OF TOLL CHARGES INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH TRAVEL ON A TOLL HIGHWAY PROVIDED SUCH TOLL HIGHWAY IS A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE BETWEEN THE POINTS INVOLVED. HOWEVER, BETWEEN TWO POINTS OF TRAVEL THERE MAY BE MORE THAN ONE HIGHWAY THAT FALLS WITHIN THE CATEGORY OF A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE AND ONE OF THE ROUTES MAY BE A FREE HIGHWAY WHILE THE OTHER IS A TOLL ROAD. IN SUCH INSTANCES, THIS OFFICE WILL NOT OBJECT TO REIMBURSEMENT OF COSTS INCURRED BY THE TRAVELER IN USING THE TOLL ROAD WHERE THERE IS A SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL, BY AN OFFICIAL HAVING AUTHORITY TO AUTHORIZE THE TRAVEL, OF THE ROUTE UTILIZED. IN SUCH CASES IT WILL BE ASSUMED THAT THERE HAS BEEN AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE TOLL ROAD IS A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE OR, IF NOT, THAT THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY FOR ITS USE HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED AS PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH 9 ABOVE. SUCH DETERMINATION WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED BY THIS OFFICE UNLESS CLEARLY UNREASONABLE. * * *"

WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE ROUTE TRAVELED BY THE CLAIMANT IN THIS CASE IS A "USUALLY TRAVELED OUTE" IN ADDITION TO OTHER HIGHWAYS BETWEEN THE POINTS INVOLVED. MOREOVER, WE HAVE RECOGNIZED THAT THE RAND-MCNALLY ROAD ATLAS TO WHICH MR. NICHOLLS REFERS IS A STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDE WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ABOVE REGULATION.

A COPY OF MR. NICHOLLS' TRAVEL ORDER WAS NOT FURNISHED WITH YOUR SUBMISSION. THEREFORE, WE ARE UNABLE TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE ROUTE HE TRAVELED WAS AUTHORIZED IN SUCH ORDER. WE NOTE THE RECLAIM VOUCHER HAS BEEN APPROVED BY A MR. PAUL L. RUSSELL. IF THAT APPROVAL WAS INTENDED AS AN APPROVAL OF THE ROUTE USED BY MR. NICHOLLS OR IF IT OTHERWISE BE APPROVED AT THIS TIME THEN HE WOULD BE ENTITLED TO ALLOWANCE OF THE TOLLS AND EXCESS MILEAGE OCCASIONED BY THE USE OF THE LONGER ROUTE. HOWEVER, IN THE ABSENCE OF SPEEDOMETER READINGS HE MAY NOT BE ALLOWED MILEAGE IN EXCESS OF THAT SHOWN BY THE ROAD ATLAS AS REFLECTED AT THE TOP OF PAGE 2 OF MR. NICHOLLS' LETTER OF AUGUST 22, 1967, WHICH, OF COURSE, IS SUBJECT TO VERIFICATION.

WITH RESPECT TO DEVIATION FROM THE DISTANCES SHOWN IN A STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDE OR ROAD ATLAS SEE OUR DECISION OF JUNE 16, 1959, B-139509, COPY HEREWITH.

THE VOUCHER IS RETURNED HEREWITH FOR HANDLING IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOREGOING.