B-162662, NOV. 8, 1967

B-162662: Nov 8, 1967

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RAMSEY: THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 29. JONES' TRAVEL WAS AUTHORIZED IN ACCORDANCE WITH VOLUME 6. THERE WAS NO DETAILING IN SUCH ORDERS OF THE ROUTE TO BE TAKEN IN CROSSING THE UNITED STATES. IT IS NOTED THAT MR. HE STATES THAT THIS WAS DICTATED BY WEATHER CONDITIONS ON THE NORTHERN ROUTES ACROSS THE COUNTRY AT THAT TIME OF THE YEAR (NOVEMBER- DECEMBER). APPARENTLY BECAUSE NO EXPLANATION OF THE EXCESS MILEAGE WAS MADE ON THE TRAVEL VOUCHER. WITH RESPECT TO THE DETERMINATION OF DISTANCES 6 FAM 145.4-1 PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS: "WHEN TRAVEL IS PERFORMED BY A PRIVATELY OWNED MOTOR VEHICLE. DISTANCES ARE TO BE DETERMINED BY USE OF STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDES OR BY SPEEDOMETER READINGS.

B-162662, NOV. 8, 1967

TRAVEL EXPENSES - CIRCUITOUS ROUTES DECISION TO V.A. ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER RE OVERPAYMENT OF MILEAGE TO EMPLOYEE TRANSFERRED FROM WASHINGTON TO MANILA. EMPLOYEE WHO, INCIDENT TO TRANSFER FROM WASHINGTON TO MANILA, TRAVELED BY PRIVATELY-OWNED VEHICLE FROM ALEXANDRIA TO ALBUQUERQUE AND THEN TO SAN FRANCISCO THE SOUTHERN ROUTE BECAUSE OF WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS MAY BE PAID AMOUNT OF OVERPAYMENT ON BASIS OF INFORMATION AS TO DETOURS AND CERTAIN OTHER FACTORS REGARDED AS ADEQUATE EXPLANATION FOR TAKING THE LONGER ROUTES.

TO MR. DONALD R. RAMSEY:

THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 29, 1967, REFERENCE 358- 242A, FORWARDING FOR DECISION THE QUESTION OF OVERPAYMENT OF MILEAGE IN THE AMOUNT OF $22.20 IN THE CASE OF MR. RICHARD T. JONES, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION, FOLLOWING HIS TRANSFER FROM WASHINGTON, D.C. TO MANILA, PHILIPPINES. UPON POST AUDIT THE FIELD DIRECTOR, AREA 4, VA CENTRAL OFFICE TOOK EXCEPTION TO MR. JONES' MILEAGE CLAIM OF 3,154 MILES FOR TRAVEL BETWEEN ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA, AND SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, ON THE GROUND THAT IT CONSTITUTED AN EXCESS OF 185 MILES, AND SET UP AN OVERPAYMENT OF $22.20.

THE TRAVEL ORDERS SHOW THAT MR. JONES' TRAVEL WAS AUTHORIZED IN ACCORDANCE WITH VOLUME 6, FOREIGN AFFAIRS MANUAL (FAM) 100 BY VA REGIONAL OFFICE (3058) MANILA, PHILIPPINES. THERE WAS NO DETAILING IN SUCH ORDERS OF THE ROUTE TO BE TAKEN IN CROSSING THE UNITED STATES. IT IS NOTED THAT MR. JONES ACTUALLY TRAVELED FROM ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA, TO ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, AND FROM THAT POINT TO SAN FRANCISCO ON ROUTE 66, THE LONGER SOUTHERN ROUTE. HE STATES THAT THIS WAS DICTATED BY WEATHER CONDITIONS ON THE NORTHERN ROUTES ACROSS THE COUNTRY AT THAT TIME OF THE YEAR (NOVEMBER- DECEMBER).

THE AGENCY APPROVED MILEAGE OF 2,969 MILES, BASED UPON THE RAND MCNALLY STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDE, APPARENTLY BECAUSE NO EXPLANATION OF THE EXCESS MILEAGE WAS MADE ON THE TRAVEL VOUCHER.

MR. JONES HAD SPEEDOMETER READINGS SHOWING 3,349 MILES BETWEEN ALEXANDRIA AND SAN FRANCISCO AND FROM THIS FIGURE HE DEDUCTED 195 MILES FOR CIRCUITOUS TRAVEL TO ARRIVE AT HIS CLAIMED MILEAGE OF 3,154 MILES.

WITH RESPECT TO THE DETERMINATION OF DISTANCES 6 FAM 145.4-1 PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"WHEN TRAVEL IS PERFORMED BY A PRIVATELY OWNED MOTOR VEHICLE, DISTANCES ARE TO BE DETERMINED BY USE OF STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDES OR BY SPEEDOMETER READINGS. ANY SUBSTANTIAL DEVIATION FROM DISTANCES SHOWN IN THE STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDES SHALL BE EXPLAINED. * * *" SECTIONS 131.2 AND 131.3-1 PROVIDE THAT ALL TRAVEL SHALL BE BY A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE AND IF A TRAVELER DEVIATES THEREFROM FOR HIS OWN CONVENIENCE THEN HE MUST BEAR THE ADDITIONAL COST. SECTION 117V DEFINES USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE AS "ONE OR/MORE ROUTES WHICH ARE ESSENTIALLY THE SAME IN COST TO THE GOVERNMENT AND IN TRAVEL TIME.'

THE INFORMATION NOW CONTAINED IN MR. JONES' LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 25, 1967, TO THE EFFECT THAT THE MILEAGE IN EXCESS OF THAT SHOWN IN THE RAND-MCNALLY STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDE WAS INCURRED BECAUSE OF DETOURS AND CERTAIN OTHER FACTORS IS TO BE REGARDED AS AN ADEQUATE EXPLANATION WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ABOVE REGULATION. IN VIEW THEREOF, THE INDEBTEDNESS SHOULD BE CANCELLED. IF THE AMOUNT THEREOF HAS BEEN COLLECTED REFUND TO MR. JONES WOULD BE AUTHORIZED. SEE GENERALLY 28 COMP. GEN. 708 AND B-162506, OCTOBER 20, 1967 (COPY ENCLOSED). ENCLOSURES ARE RETURNED.