B-167451, SEP. 2, 1969

B-167451: Sep 2, 1969

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CERTIFICATION IS AUTHORIZED ON BASIS OF MILEAGE FOR DISTANCE FROM UKIAH. THAT TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION AS ISSUED WAS FOR THE PURPOSE OF HIS "SEASONAL HIRE" UNDER HIS EXCEPTED TEMPORARY APPOINTMENT AS SURVEYING TECHNICIAN. LATVALA CLAIMED AND WAS PAID $79.50 ON HIS VOUCHER DATED MAY 15. THAT AMOUNT PRESUMABLY IS WHAT THE COST WOULD HAVE BEEN FROM SEATTLE TO FAIRBANKS HAD HE TRAVELED ALONE BY COMMON CARRIER. LATVALA WAS NOT AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT WHEN THE TEMPORARY EXCEPTED APPOINTMENT WAS BEING NEGOTIATED. INDICATED IT WAS EXPECTED THAT THE TEMPORARY WORK WAS NOT TO EXCEED 130 WORKDAYS (MAY 15 TO NOVEMBER 22. ITEMS 17 TO 19 OF THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION (COPY HERE) WERE NOT MARKED TO INDICATE THAT TRANSPORTATION OF FAMILY.

B-167451, SEP. 2, 1969

CIVIL PAY - TRANSPORTATION - AMBIGUIOUS ORDERS DECISION TO A CERTIFYING OFFICER OF BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT CONCERNING CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE OF WIFE OF EMPLOYEE WHO HAD "SEASONAL HIRE" APPOINTMENT CHANGED TO CAREER CONDITIONAL. IN VIEW OF AMBIGUITY IN TRAVEL ORDERS, AND CONFUSION ABOUT APPARENT INTENT TO AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT FOR WIFE'S TRAVEL, CERTIFICATION IS AUTHORIZED ON BASIS OF MILEAGE FOR DISTANCE FROM UKIAH, CALIFORNIA TO FAIRBANKS, ALASKA NOT TO EXCEED COST BY COMMON CARRIER.

TO MRS. LILA B. HANNEBRINK:

YOUR LETTER OF JULY 3, 1969, REFERENCE 1382 (D-832), REQUESTS OUR DECISION WHETHER THE ENCLOSED TRAVEL VOUCHER DATED APRIL 8, 1969, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $99 CLAIMED THEREON BY MR. WARREN P. LATVALA AS REIMBURSEMENT FOR HIS WIFE'S TRANSPORTATION IN ACCOMPANYING HIM BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE ON APRIL 29 TO MAY 9, 1967, FROM UKIAH, CALIFORNIA, TO FAIRBANKS, ALASKA, INCIDENT TO HIS TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION NO. 50-SP-227 DATED APRIL 24, 1967.

THAT TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION AS ISSUED WAS FOR THE PURPOSE OF HIS "SEASONAL HIRE" UNDER HIS EXCEPTED TEMPORARY APPOINTMENT AS SURVEYING TECHNICIAN, GA -817 GRADE 5, WHICH BECAME EFFECTIVE MAY 15, 1967. AS ITEMS 8, 9 AND 16 OF THAT AUTHORIZATION SPECIFIED THE PLACES OF TRAVEL TO BE FROM SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, TO FAIRBANKS, ALASKA, AND THE AUTHORIZED MODE OF TRAVEL INCLUDED PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE AT MILEAGE RATE OF 6 CENTS NOT TO EXCEED COST BY COMMON CARRIER, MR. LATVALA CLAIMED AND WAS PAID $79.50 ON HIS VOUCHER DATED MAY 15, 1967. THAT AMOUNT PRESUMABLY IS WHAT THE COST WOULD HAVE BEEN FROM SEATTLE TO FAIRBANKS HAD HE TRAVELED ALONE BY COMMON CARRIER.

THE ENCLOSURES WITH YOUR LETTER SHOW THAT THE FAIRBANKS DISTRICT AND LAND OFFICE NOTIFIED MR. LATVALA ON FEBRUARY 21 AND MARCH 22, 1967, THAT ONLY TEMPORARY SUMMER EMPLOYMENT WOULD BE AVAILABLE IN MAY 1967 BUT THAT DURING THE SUMMER "WE PROPOSE TO PICK YOU UP AT THAT TIME AS A PERMANENT AT WHATEVER GRADE WE CAN REACH YOU ON THE REGISTER.' IT APPEARS THAT MR. LATVALA WAS NOT AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT WHEN THE TEMPORARY EXCEPTED APPOINTMENT WAS BEING NEGOTIATED, BUT HIS ACCEPTANCE OF THAT APPOINTMENT - - PAPERS SIGNED BY HIM ON OR ABOUT MARCH 30, 1967 - INCLUDED A CADASTRAL SURVEY EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT. THE STANDARD FORM 50-A, ITEMS 33 AND 38, INDICATED IT WAS EXPECTED THAT THE TEMPORARY WORK WAS NOT TO EXCEED 130 WORKDAYS (MAY 15 TO NOVEMBER 22, 1967), WHEREAS ITEM 23 SHOWED EMPLOYMENT NOT TO EXCEED MAY 14, 1968.

IT APPEARS THAT SUCH APPOINTMENT AND AGREEMENT, AND THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION OF APRIL 24, 1967, AS ISSUED FOR THE PURPOSES MENTIONED ABOVE WOULD NOW COME WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF 5 U.S.C. 5722 (A) AND (B) (2). HOWEVER, ITEMS 17 TO 19 OF THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION (COPY HERE) WERE NOT MARKED TO INDICATE THAT TRANSPORTATION OF FAMILY, HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE WAS BEING AUTHORIZED AT THAT TIME.

SECTION 1.3A OF ATTACHMENT A, BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A 56, REVISED, PROVIDES THAT, WHEN AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED BY SUCH OFFICIAL OR OFFICIALS AS THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT MAY DESIGNATE, TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES AND APPLICABLE ALLOWANCES AS PROVIDED THEREIN SHALL BE PAID IN THE CASE OF NEW APPOINTEES "FROM THEIR PLACES OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE AT THE TIME OF APPOINTMENT TO PERMANENT DUTY AT OFFICIAL STATIONS OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES * * *.' IN THAT RESPECT, PERSONNEL ACTION DATED OCTOBER 12, 1967, EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 22, 1967, CONVERTED MR. LATVALA'S APPOINTMENT TO CAREER-CONDITIONAL, GS-817 GRADE 5.

THEREAFTER, TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION NO. 50-216 AS ISSUED ON NOVEMBER 27, 1968, AND AMENDED DECEMBER 31, 1968, INDICATED OFFICIAL APPROVAL OF MR. AND MRS. LATVALA'S TRAVEL FROM UKIAH TO FAIRBANKS. SUCH APPROVAL APPEARS TO BE BASED UPON THAT PART OF OUR DECISION OF JULY 10, 1968, B 164051, WHICH REFERRED TO A PRIOR DECISION AT 26 COMP. GEN. 488 (PAGES 494 AND 495) CONCERNING EXPENSES OF TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION UNDER APPOINTMENTS AND AGREEMENTS FOR LESS THAN 12 MONTHS OF OVERSEAS SERVICE WHICH IS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED TO BE IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT.

THE SUBMITTED FILE DOES NOT INDICATE WHETHER MR. LATVALA SIGNED ANOTHER AGREEMENT TO SERVE A MINIMUM PERIOD OF NOT LESS THAN 1 NOR MORE THAN 3 YEARS IN ALASKA. HOWEVER, MR. LATVALA'S SERVICE IN ALASKA FROM MAY 15, 1967, TO DATE APPARENTLY WILL SATISFY THE REQUIREMENTS OF 5 U.S.C. 5722 (C) (2). THE SITUATION IN THIS CASE IS OTHERWISE SIMILAR TO THAT CONSIDERED IN 27 COMP. GEN. 394. COMPARE 27 COMP. GEN. 509 AND 29 ID. 526.

WE RECOGNIZE THAT THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION CHANGE OF DECEMBER 31, 1968 (NO. 50-216) IS NOT ENTIRELY CLEAR. IF INTERPRETED LITERALLY IT COULD BE SAID TO CANCEL IN ITS ENTIRETY THE AUTHORIZATION OF NOVEMBER 27, 1968, THEREBY ENTITLING THE EMPLOYEE ONLY TO THAT TRAVEL AUTHORIZED IN ORDER NO. 50-227, APRIL 24, 1967. HOWEVER, SUCH AN INTERPRETATION DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE CONSISTENT WITH THE APPARENT INTENTION OF THE AGENCY TO AUTHORIZE TRAVEL OF THE EMPLOYEE'S WIFE FROM UKIAH TO FAIRBANKS.

IN VIEW OF ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING THE CONFUSION RESULTING FROM THE AMBIGUOUS ORDERS, WE ARE OF THE OPINION THAT THE MOST REASONABLE MEANS OF CARRYING OUT THE AGENCY'S INTENTION IS TO AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE WIFE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PRINCIPLE ENUNCIATED IN 27 COMP. GEN. 394. TO THIS END REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE PRIVATE VEHICLE TRAVEL OF BOTH MR. LATVALA AND HIS WIFE SHOULD BE COMPUTED UNDER SECTION 2.3 OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56, REVISED, AT THE RATE OF 8 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE PROPER DISTANCE FROM UKIAH TO FAIRBANKS NOT TO EXCEED THE SUM THAT COMMON CARRIER COST WOULD HAVE TOTALED BETWEEN THOSE POINTS FOR BOTH TRAVELERS, MINUS THE $79.50 PAID ON THE VOUCHER DATED MAY 15, 1967.

THE VOUCHER AND ATTACHMENTS WHICH ARE RETURNED HEREWITH ARE FOR DISPOSITION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ABOVE CONCLUSION.