B-166392, APR. 15, 1969

B-166392: Apr 15, 1969

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BRUMLEY AND DETERMINE WHETHER HE IS PROPERLY INDEBTED TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR $221.40. BRUMLEY CLAIMS THAT THE LIMITATION TO COMMON CARRIER COSTS WAS MISTAKENLY INCLUDED ON HIS TRAVEL ORDER. ALTHOUGH THE VOUCHER WAS RECOMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF THE LOWER COST OF AIR TRAVEL THE FULL AMOUNT OF THE DEBT FOR TRAVEL ADVANCE WAS NOT COLLECTED FROM MR. SECTION 3.5B (1) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS INFORCE AT THE TIME TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED PROVIDED IN PERTINENT PART: "CIVILIAN OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS OR OTHERS RENDERING SERVICE TO THE GOVERNMENT. WHENEVER SUCH MODE OF TRANSPORTATION IS AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED AS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT (EXCEPT THAT NO DETERMINATION OF ADVANTAGE IS REQUIRED WHERE PAYMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS IS LIMITED TO COST OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER.

B-166392, APR. 15, 1969

TO MR. R. J. SCHULLERY:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 7, 1969, CONCERNING THE INDEBTEDNESS OF MR. GERALD L. BRUMLEY, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, ARISING OUT OF HIS TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., TO OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA, IN DECEMBER 1963.

YOU ASK THAT WE REVIEW THE AMOUNTS ALLOWED MR. BRUMLEY AND DETERMINE WHETHER HE IS PROPERLY INDEBTED TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR $221.40. OF THE TOTAL DEBT $166.81 REPRESENTS THE BALANCE DUE ON A TRAVEL ADVANCE AFTER DISALLOWING $166.01 OF THE AMOUNT CLAIMED BY THE EMPLOYEE FOR TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AND APPLYING (1) THE AMOUNT OTHERWISE ALLOWABLE ON THE ORIGINAL REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHER, $79.84, AND (2) A CHECK FROM THE EMPLOYEE FOR $25.15. THE REMAINING PORTION OF THE INDEBTEDNESS, $54.59, REPRESENTS THE COST OF TRANSPORTING HOUSEHOLD GOODS IN EXCESS OF THE MAXIMUM WEIGHT ALLOWABLE.

MR. BRUMLEY'S FAMILY TRAVELED FROM WASHINGTON TO OKLAHOMA CITY BY COMMERCIAL AIR AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE, WHILE HE TRAVELED ALONE BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE. THE TRAVEL ORDER INVOLVED PROVIDED THAT REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WOULD BE AT THE RATE OF 12 CENTS PER MILE NOT TO EXCEED COMMON CARRIER COSTS. MR. BRUMLEY CLAIMS THAT THE LIMITATION TO COMMON CARRIER COSTS WAS MISTAKENLY INCLUDED ON HIS TRAVEL ORDER. ON HIS TRAVEL VOUCHER HE CLAIMED MILEAGE AND PER DIEM WITHOUT SUCH LIMITATION AND USED THE REIMBURSEMENT COMPUTED ON THAT BASIS TO OFFSET A TRAVEL ADVANCE. ALTHOUGH THE VOUCHER WAS RECOMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF THE LOWER COST OF AIR TRAVEL THE FULL AMOUNT OF THE DEBT FOR TRAVEL ADVANCE WAS NOT COLLECTED FROM MR. BRUMLEY.

SECTION 3.5B (1) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS INFORCE AT THE TIME TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED PROVIDED IN PERTINENT PART:

"CIVILIAN OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS OR OTHERS RENDERING SERVICE TO THE GOVERNMENT, REGARDLESS OF SUBSISTENCE STATUS AND HOURS OF TRAVEL, SHALL, WHENEVER SUCH MODE OF TRANSPORTATION IS AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED AS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT (EXCEPT THAT NO DETERMINATION OF ADVANTAGE IS REQUIRED WHERE PAYMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS IS LIMITED TO COST OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER, INCLUDING PER DIEM IN EACH CASE) BE PAID IN LIEU OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION NOT TO EXCEED 8 CENTS PER MILE FOR USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED MOTORCYCLES, OR 12 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES OR AIRPLANES, WHEN ENGAGED ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS WITHIN OR OUTSIDE THEIR DESIGNATED POSTS OF DUTY OR PLACES OF SERVICE. * * * IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF PROPER OFFICIALS OF THE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS TO FIX SUCH RATES, WITHIN THE MAXIMA, AS WILL MOST NEARLY COMPENSATE THE TRAVELER FOR NECESSARY EXPENSES. DETERMINING WHETHER SUCH TRANSPORTATION IS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT, CONSIDERATION WILL BE GIVEN TO THE ADVANTAGES RESULTING FROM THE MORE EXPEDITIOUS TRANSACTION OF THE PUBLIC BUSINESS AS WELL AS OTHER ADVANTAGES AND/OR DISADVANTAGES TO THE UNITED STATES IN THE PARTICULAR CASE. * * *.' UNDER THAT PROVISION A POSITIVE DETERMINATION OF ADVANTAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT IS REQUIRED TO SUPPORT PAYMENT TO AN EMPLOYEE FOR TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT THE MILEAGE RATE WITHOUT REGARD TO THE COSTS OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER. THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT A DETERMINATION OF ADVANTAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT WAS MADE IN MR. BRUMLEY'S CASE. FURTHER, THE FILE FORWARDED WITH YOUR LETTER DOES NOT REVEAL ANY FACTS WHICH WOULD HAVE SERVED AS A BASIS FOR A DETERMINATION OF ADVANTAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT. OUR OFFICE DOES NOT USUALLY QUESTION DETERMINATIONS OF ADVANTAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT MADE BY AGENCIES UNDER THE REGULATION IN QUESTION, HOWEVER, A REASONABLE BASIS FOR SUCH A DETERMINATION MUST BE GIVEN. B-151574, AUGUST 12, 1963. FURTHER, IT APPEARS THAT AGENCY TRAVEL REGULATIONS IN FORCE AT THE TIME REQUIRED THAT REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE ON TRANSFER BE LIMITED TO COMMON CARRIER COSTS WHEN THE EMPLOYEE TRAVELED BY AUTOMOBILE AND HIS FAMILY TRAVELED BY COMMON CARRIER. THEREFORE, WE AGREE THERE WAS NO BASIS FOR ALLOWING MR. BRUMLEY'S CLAIM TO THE EXTENT IT EXCEEDED THE COMPARATIVE COST FOR THE TRAVEL INVOLVED IF PERFORMED BY COMMON CARRIER.

SECTION 3.5B (2) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS IN FORCE AT THE TIME TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED DID NOT REQUIRE COST COMPARISONS TO BE BASED ON AIR TOURIST TRAVEL AS IS NOW THE CASE. ACCORDINGLY, WE WOULD NOT OBJECT TO CREDITING THE EMPLOYEE WITH AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT ON THE BASIS OF CONSTRUCTIVE RAIL TRANSPORTATION.

REGARDING THE SHIPMENT AND STORAGE OF AN EXCESS WEIGHT OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS THE BILL OF LADING INVOLVED SHOWS THAT THE WEIGHT OF THE GOODS TRANSPORTED WAS 7,530 POUNDS BASED ON A GROSS WEIGHT OF 31,770 POUNDS AND A TARE WEIGHT OF 24,240 POUNDS. SINCE THE GOODS WERE SHIPPED AND STORED ON A GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING THE FULL CHARGES OF THE CARRIER WERE PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT AND THE EMPLOYEE WAS BILLED FOR THAT PART OF THE COSTS ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE EXCESS WEIGHT. SEE SECTION 2.2E, BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, APRIL 30, 1962. MR. BRUMLEY HAS DECLINED TO PAY FOR THE EXCESS WEIGHT ON THE BASIS OF HIS CONTENTION THAT THE WEIGHT GIVEN ON THE BILL OF LADING WAS INCORRECT IN THAT HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS DID NOT WEIGH IN EXCESS OF 7,000 POUNDS. SINCE THE INFORMATION HE HAS PRESENTED IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO SHOW THAT THE WEIGHT GIVEN ON THE BILL OF LADING WAS IN FACT INCORRECT, THERE IS NO BASIS FOR CANCELLING THE ADDITIONAL COST FOR SHIPMENT OF AN EXCESS WEIGHT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS.

FOR THE REASONS STATED ACTION SHOULD BE TAKEN TO COLLECT MR. BRUMLEY'S DEBT AFTER RECOMPUTATION AS PREVIOUSLY INDICATED OF THE ITEM INVOLVING HIS TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE.