B-166271, MAR. 20, 1969

B-166271: Mar 20, 1969

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REQUESTS A DECISION WHETHER PAYMENT IS PROPER ON THE ACCOMPANYING VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF MR. THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS WERE FOR INTERMITTENT TRAVEL BETWEEN NASA'S LANGLEY RESEARCH CENTER. THE DISTANCE IS 121 MILES EACH WAY REQUIRING TRAVELING THROUGH THE HAMPTON ROADS TUNNEL AND OVER THE CHESAPEAKE BAY BRIDGE AND TUNNEL COMPLEX. THERE IS NO COMMON -CARRIER SERVICE BETWEEN THE CENTER AND THE STATION. YOU STATE THAT IN OCTOBER 1967 IT WAS DETERMINED AT THE LANGLEY CENTER THAT THE USE OF AGENCY-OWNED VEHICLES WOULD BE MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT AND WOULD BE THE REQUIRED MODE OF TRAVEL TO WALLOPS STATION. AUTHORIZATION WAS GIVEN TO USE PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE AS A MATTER OF PERSONAL PREFERENCE.

B-166271, MAR. 20, 1969

TO MR. EDWARD A. HOWE:

YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 11, 1969, FORWARDED HERE BY LETTER OF FEBRUARY 19, 1969, FROM THE DIRECTOR OF FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION (NASA), REQUESTS A DECISION WHETHER PAYMENT IS PROPER ON THE ACCOMPANYING VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF MR. HENRY C. MEYERS FOR $239.58 REPRESENTING A MONETARY ALLOWANCE OF $0.09 PER MILE FOR TRAVEL TOTALING 2662 MILES (11 TRIPS OF 242 MILES EACH) PERFORMED FROM MARCH 1968 THROUGH OCTOBER 1968 UNDER TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS TAL-4000, APRIL 1, 1967, TAL-3100, APRIL 1, 1968, AND TAL-50, JULY 1, 1968.

THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS WERE FOR INTERMITTENT TRAVEL BETWEEN NASA'S LANGLEY RESEARCH CENTER, LANGLEY STATION, HAMPTON, VIRGINIA, AND NASA'S STATION AT WALLOPS ISLAND ON THE EASTERN SHORE OF VIRGINIA. THE DISTANCE IS 121 MILES EACH WAY REQUIRING TRAVELING THROUGH THE HAMPTON ROADS TUNNEL AND OVER THE CHESAPEAKE BAY BRIDGE AND TUNNEL COMPLEX. THERE IS NO COMMON -CARRIER SERVICE BETWEEN THE CENTER AND THE STATION. YOU STATE THAT IN OCTOBER 1967 IT WAS DETERMINED AT THE LANGLEY CENTER THAT THE USE OF AGENCY-OWNED VEHICLES WOULD BE MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT AND WOULD BE THE REQUIRED MODE OF TRAVEL TO WALLOPS STATION. BECAUSE OF THE ISOLATED LOCATION OF THE STATION, THE LACK OF COMMON-CARRIER SERVICE, AND SCARCITY OF PRIVATE TAXICAB SERVICE, AUTHORIZATION WAS GIVEN TO USE PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE AS A MATTER OF PERSONAL PREFERENCE. HOWEVER, NO REIMBURSEMENT WAS ALLOWED FOR MILEAGE SINCE GOVERNMENT VEHICLES WERE AVAILABLE. YOU ALSO INDICATE THAT MR. MEYERS WAS ADVISED ORALLY THAT MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT WOULD NOT BE MADE FOR USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLES WHEN GOVERNMENT VEHICLES WERE AVAILABLE, AND THAT HE WAS SIMILARLY ADVISED AT THE TIME HE REQUESTED INTERMITTENT TRIP AUTHORITY. MEMORANDUM TO THIS EFFECT WAS SENT TO DIVISION CHIEFS AND PROJECT MANAGERS AT LANGLEY RESEARCH CENTER ON FEBRUARY 14, 1968.

SECTION 3.5 (A) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-7, REVISED, EFFECTIVE MARCH 1, 1965, AS AMENDED FEBRUARY 7, 1967, PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART:

"USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES MAY BE AUTHORIZED EVEN THOUGH IT IS DETERMINED THAT GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILES WOULD BE PREFERABLE FROM THE GOVERNMENT'S STANDPOINT, BUT REIMBURSEMENT, WITHIN APPLICABLE STATUTORY LIMITS, FOR SUCH USE SHALL NOT EXCEED THE APPROXIMATE COST WHICH THE AGENCY WOULD INCUR IF INTERAGENCY MOTOR POOL AUTOMOBILES WERE USED.' IMPLEMENTING THIS REGULATION, A TELETYPE MESSAGE DATED APRIL 12, 1967, FROM NASA HEADQUARTERS IN WASHINGTON, D.C., STATED, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"EFFECTIVE APRIL 12, 1967, NASA EMPLOYEES AND OTHER CIVILIAN PERSONNEL WHO ARE AUTHORIZED TO USE PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AS A MATTER OF PERSONAL CHOICE WHEN GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE IS DETERMINED TO BE THE PREFERRED METHOD OF TRANSPORTATION IN PERFORMING TEMPORARY DUTY TRAVEL SHALL BE REIMBURSED AT THE RATE OF $0.09 PER MILE FOR THE FIRST 600 MILES AND AT A RATE OF $0.06 PER MILE FOR ALL MILES IN EXCESS OF 600 MILES. * * *" THIS WAS SUBSEQUENTLY INCORPORATED INTO THE NASA FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT MANUAL, PARAGRAPH 9720-34D. ON SEPTEMBER 23, 1968, LANGLEY REQUESTED AN EXCEPTION TO THE ABOVE PROVISION IN REGARD TO TEMPORARY DUTY TRAVEL TO AND FROM WALLOPS STATION. IT WAS STATED THAT USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE ON A PERSONAL PREFERENCE BASIS SHOULD NOT BE DISCOURAGED AND RECOMMENDATION WAS MADE TO LIMIT THE MILEAGE RATE TO $0.05 PER MILE (A FIGURE COMPARABLE TO AVERAGE GSA MOTOR VEHICLE RENTAL COST FOR THE AREA). THE EXCEPTION WAS GRANTED BY THE DIRECTOR OF FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT AT THE NASA'S HEADQUARTERS ON OCTOBER 11, 1968, AND MADE EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 20, 1968.

BY LETTER OF OCTOBER 3, 1968, THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, NASA LODGE NO. 2755, ACTING ON BEHALF OF MR. MEYERS, CLAIMED MILEAGE AT THE RATE OF $0.09 PER MILE FOR THE INTERMITTENT TRAVEL TO WALLOPS ISLAND. IT IS THEIR CONTENTION THAT FMM 9720-34D (1) SHOULD HAVE BEEN FOLLOWED BY THE LANGLEY RESEARCH CENTER. IN SUBSTANCE THE QUESTION PRESENTED IS WHETHER THE PROVISIONS OF NASA'S FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT MANUAL WHICH PROVIDES FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR MILEAGE REQUIRES MANDATORY APPLICATION WITHOUT LOCAL DISCRETION OR WHETHER THEY ARE MERELY GUIDELINES WHICH MAY BE MODIFIED ORALLY OR BY OFFICE MEMORANDUM AT THE CENTER AS WAS DONE IN THIS CASE.

THE FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT MANUAL CONTAINS MATERIAL REFERRED TO AS NASA TRAVEL REGULATIONS, WHICH IN TURN INCLUDES PARAGRAPH 9720 34DPREVIOUSLY MENTIONED. PAGE I OF SUCH TRAVEL REGULATIONS STATES THAT THE REGULATIONS "ARE APPLICABLE TO NASA HEADQUARTERS AND FIELD INSTALLATIONS * * * AND TO ALL PERSONS TRAVELING UNDER NASA TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS.' THUS, IT CLEARLY APPEARS THAT PARAGRAPH 9720-34D IS IN FACT A REGULATION AND THAT THE TELETYPE MESSAGE OF APRIL 12, 1967, LIKEWISE HAD THE FORCE AND EFFECT OF A REGULATION. MOREOVER, NO AUTHORITY HAD BEEN GRANTED TO THE LANGLEY RESEARCH CENTER TO MODIFY THE AGENCY'S REGULATIONS UNTIL DECEMBER 20, 1968. THE PRACTICE FOLLOWED BY THE CENTER OF ORALLY ADVISING MR. MEYERS (LATER INDICATED IN MEMORANDUM OF FEBRUARY 14, 1968) THAT NO MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT WOULD BE MADE FOR THE TRIPS TO AND FROM WALLOPS STATION IN HIS PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WAS CONTRARY TO THE REGULATION WHICH PROVIDED THAT REIMBURSEMENT "SHALL" BE MADE.

ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHER WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.