B-167650, SEP. 29, 1969

B-167650: Sep 29, 1969

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WHERE EMPLOYEES WERE ORDERED TO COMMENCE TRAVEL FROM CHARLESTON. SOUTH CAROLINA TO BOSTON BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE ON WEDNESDAY ALTHOUGH THEY WERE NOT REQUIRED AT TEMPORARY DUTY STATION UNTIL FOLLOWING MONDAY. IS NOT REQUIRED AND THEREFORE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM AND NO CHARGE TO LEAVE IS AUTHORIZED. PRESENTS FOR OUR CONSIDERATION THE QUESTION OF WHETHER ADDITIONAL PER DIEM IS PAYABLE TO CERTAIN WAGE BOARD EMPLOYEES OF THE CHARLESTON NAVAL SHIPYARD. WE NOTE THAT THE MATTER WAS PRESENTED BY THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED TO THE COMMANDER. WE ARE ADDRESSING OUR REPLY TO YOU. THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED WERE OFFICIALLY DIRECTED TO COMMENCE TRAVEL AT CHARLESTON. THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE FOREGOING POINTS IS OVER 900 MILES AND THE ITINERARY IN THE RECORD SHOWS SUCH TRAVEL WAS COMPLETED AT 1815 ON JANUARY 10.

B-167650, SEP. 29, 1969

CIVIL PAY - TRAVEL - PER DIEM - TRAVEL BEGUN EARLIER THAN NECESSARY DECISION TO THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CENTRAL ACCOUNTING, NAVY DEPARTMENT, ALLOWING CLAIM FOR PER DIEM TO WAGE BOARD EMPLOYEES AND PROPRIETY OF ADMINISTRATIVE CHARGE OF ANNUAL LEAVE. WHERE EMPLOYEES WERE ORDERED TO COMMENCE TRAVEL FROM CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA TO BOSTON BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE ON WEDNESDAY ALTHOUGH THEY WERE NOT REQUIRED AT TEMPORARY DUTY STATION UNTIL FOLLOWING MONDAY, DENIAL OF PER DIEM FOR WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY -- DAYS IN ADVANCE OF REQUIRED TRAVEL TIME -- IS NOT REQUIRED AND THEREFORE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM AND NO CHARGE TO LEAVE IS AUTHORIZED.

TO MR. BENJAMIN H. DOZIER:

YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 5, 1969, REFERENCE NAFC-3121, PRESENTS FOR OUR CONSIDERATION THE QUESTION OF WHETHER ADDITIONAL PER DIEM IS PAYABLE TO CERTAIN WAGE BOARD EMPLOYEES OF THE CHARLESTON NAVAL SHIPYARD, CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA, AND THE PROPRIETY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE CHARGE OF 2 DAYS ANNUAL LEAVE TO SUCH EMPLOYEES UNDER THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES HEREINAFTER RELATED. WE NOTE THAT THE MATTER WAS PRESENTED BY THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED TO THE COMMANDER, CHARLESTON NAVAL SHIPYARD, AND THAT IT REACHED YOUR OFFICE THROUGH REQUIRED OFFICIAL CHANNELS FOR PRESENTATION TO US. ACCORDINGLY, WE ARE ADDRESSING OUR REPLY TO YOU.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED WERE OFFICIALLY DIRECTED TO COMMENCE TRAVEL AT CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA, BY PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE DETERMINED TO BE MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT, ON JANUARY 8, 1969, A WEDNESDAY, AND TO REPORT FOR TEMPORARY DUTY AT THE NAVAL SHIPYARD, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, ON MONDAY, JANUARY 13, 1969. THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE FOREGOING POINTS IS OVER 900 MILES AND THE ITINERARY IN THE RECORD SHOWS SUCH TRAVEL WAS COMPLETED AT 1815 ON JANUARY 10, 1969. ADMINISTRATIVE ALLOWANCE OF PER DIEM WAS MADE FOR JANUARY 10, FRIDAY, JANUARY 11, SATURDAY, AND JANUARY 12, SUNDAY, UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPH C10155.1, ALLOWABLE PER DIEM, PART D, JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, CIVILIAN PERSONNEL, VOLUME 2 READING, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"PER DIEM WILL BE ALLOWED AT THE APPROPRIATE RATE FOR THE NUMBER OF DAYS REQUIRED TO COMPLETE TRAVEL BY A PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE THAT IS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT * * *"

FURTHER THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE APPLIED THE PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPH C1051.1 AND 2 OF THE FOREGOING REGULATIONS IN MAKING SUCH DETERMINATIONS. THOSE PROVISIONS READ RESPECTIVELY, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"1. GENERAL. A TRAVELER ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS WILL EXERCISE THE SAME CARE IN INCURRING EXPENSES AND ACCOMPLISHING A MISSION THAT A PRUDENT PERSON WOULD EXERCISE IF TRAVELING ON PERSONAL BUSINESS. EXCESS COSTS, CIRCUITOUS ROUTES, DELAYS, OR LUXURY ACCOMMODATIONS UNNECESSARY OR UNJUSTIFIED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF A MISSION ARE NOT CONSIDERED ACCEPTABLE AS EXERCISING PRUDENCE.

"2. * * * TRAVEL ON AN EARLIER OR LATER WORK DAY TO AVOID TRAVEL ON A NONWORK DAY OR OUTSIDE SCHEDULED HOURS OF DUTY SOLELY FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF THE TRAVELER WILL NOT BE A BASIS FOR EXTENDING A PERIOD OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL FOR PER DIEM ALLOWANCE OR OTHER TRAVEL STATUS PURPOSES (31 COMP. GEN. 278). * * *" AS A RESULT OF THE FOREGOING ALLOWANCE ACTION THE EMPLOYEES WERE ADMINISTRATIVELY PLACED ON ANNUAL LEAVE FOR JANUARY 8 AND 9, 1969.

IT CONSISTENTLY HAS BEEN HELD BY THIS OFFICE THAT IN PERFORMING OFFICIAL TRAVEL A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE IS REQUIRED TO PROCEED AS EXPEDITIOUSLY AS HE WOULD IF TRAVELING ON HIS PERSONAL BUSINESS EVEN THOUGH HE MAY BE REQUIRED TO TRAVEL ON NONWORKDAYS. SEE 2 COMP. GEN. 708; 31 ID. 278 AND SECTION 1.2 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

WE NOTE THAT THE ABOVE RULE WAS ESTABLISHED PRIOR TO THE AMENDMENT OF SECTION 204 OF THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES PAY ACT OF 1945, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 16 OF THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES SALARY ACT OF 1965, PUBLIC LAW 89 301, APPROVED OCTOBER 29, 1965, NOW 5 U.S.C. 6101 (B) (2), WHICH ADDED THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE: "TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PRACTICABLE, THE HEAD OF ANY DEPARTMENT, INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENT, OR AGENCY, INCLUDING GOVERNMENT- OWNED OR CONTROLLED CORPORATIONS, OR OF THE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, OR THE HEAD OF ANY LEGISLATIVE OR JUDICIAL AGENCY TO WHICH THIS TITLE APPLIES, SHALL SCHEDULE THE TIME TO BE SPENT BY AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IN A TRAVEL STATUS AWAY FROM HIS OFFICIAL DUTY STATION WITHIN THE REGULARLY SCHEDULED WORKWEEK OF SUCH OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE.' THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED ARE CLAIMING 2 ADDITIONAL DAYS PER DIEM AND CANCELLATION OF THE CHARGE TO ANNUAL LEAVE ON JANUARY 8 AND 9, 1969, UNDER THAT LANGUAGE.

IN OUR DECISION, B-160258, NOVEMBER 21, 1966 (46 COMP. GEN. 425), INTERPRETING THE ABOVE-QUOTED LANGUAGE, IT WAS STATED THAT:

"WE DO NOT BELIEVE IT WAS INTENDED THAT THE HEAD OF AN AGENCY IN EXERCISING THE ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION UNDER SUCH PROVISION COULD PERMIT A TRAVELER UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES SUCH AS HERE INVOLVED TO DELAY HIS RETURN TO HIS OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS UNTIL THE MONDAY AFTER A WEEKEND SO AS TO INCREASE HIS ENTITLEMENT TO PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE. * * *" HOWEVER, THAT DECISION DID NOT INVOLVE A SITUATION IN WHICH THE EMPLOYEE WAS ORDERED OR AUTHORIZED IN ADVANCE OF THE TRAVEL TO COMMENCE OR PERFORM TRAVEL ON A SPECIFIED WORKDAY WHICH IS THE SITUATION INVOLVED IN YOUR PRESENT SUBMISSION. WHEN AN EMPLOYEE COMMENCES OFFICIAL TRAVEL ON THE WORKDAY SPECIFIED IN HIS ORDERS, WE FIND NO BASIS FOR DENYING HIM THE OTHERWISE AUTHORIZED PER DIEM SOLELY BECAUSE HE COULD HAVE COMMENCED TRAVEL AT A LATER DATE AND ARRIVED AT HIS DESTINATION AT THE TIME REQUIRED BY TRAVELING ON NONWORKDAYS. ACCORDINGLY, THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED IN THE INSTATN CASE SHOULD BE PAID PER DIEM FOR WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 8, AND THURSDAY, JANUARY 9, 1969, WITH NO CHARGE TO LEAVE BEING MADE FOR THOSE DAYS.