B-167743, SEP 15, 1969

B-167743: Sep 15, 1969

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A TRIP UNDERTAKEN BY EMPLOYEE AND HIS WIFE FOR PURPOSE OF INTERVIEW FOR TRANSFER AND WHICH TRIP MATERIALIZED IN TRANSFER AND LOCATION OF HOME MAY HAVE TRAVEL REGARDED AS FOR HOUSE-HUNTING TRIP UNDER SECTION 2.4 OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56 AND BE PAID SUBSISTENCE FROM TIME OF ADVICE THAT TRANSFER WAS APPROVED. SINCE AGENCY SUGGESTED WIFE ACCOMPANY HUSBAND AND AMOUNT CLAIMED IS LESS THAN EXPENSE IF SEPARATE HOUSE-HUNTING TRIP HAD BEEN UNDERTAKEN. RETURN IS CONNECTION WITH HIS TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION WHICH WAS EFFECTIVE OF AUGUST 11. AS WAS SUGGESTED BY OFFICIALS OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE HIS WIFE AND YOUNG CHILD ACCOMPANIED HIM ON THAT TRIP. FOYTIK WAS ADVISED THAT HE HAD BEEN ACCEPTED FOR THE POSITION IN MEMPHIS.

B-167743, SEP 15, 1969

CIVIL PAY - TRAVEL INCIDENT TO TRANSFER INTERVIEW DECISION TO CERTIFYING OFFICER OF INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE AUTHORIZING CERTIFICATION OF VOUCHER FOR EXPENSES INCURRED BY EMPLOYEE FOR TRAVEL FROM WASHINGTON TO MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE AND RETURN INCIDENT TO TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION TO MEMPHIS. A TRIP UNDERTAKEN BY EMPLOYEE AND HIS WIFE FOR PURPOSE OF INTERVIEW FOR TRANSFER AND WHICH TRIP MATERIALIZED IN TRANSFER AND LOCATION OF HOME MAY HAVE TRAVEL REGARDED AS FOR HOUSE-HUNTING TRIP UNDER SECTION 2.4 OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56 AND BE PAID SUBSISTENCE FROM TIME OF ADVICE THAT TRANSFER WAS APPROVED. SINCE AGENCY SUGGESTED WIFE ACCOMPANY HUSBAND AND AMOUNT CLAIMED IS LESS THAN EXPENSE IF SEPARATE HOUSE-HUNTING TRIP HAD BEEN UNDERTAKEN.

MISS MILDRED J. KELL:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 15, 1969, YOUR REFERENCE ADFF:LM, BY WHICH YOU REQUEST OUR ADVANCE DECISION WHETHER YOU MAY PROPERLY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT THE ENCLOSED VOUCHER OF MR. JERRY J. FOYTIK, JR., AN EMPLOYEE OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF CERTAIN EXPENSES HE INCURRED IN TRAVEL FROM WASHINGTON, D. C., TO MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, AND RETURN IS CONNECTION WITH HIS TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION WHICH WAS EFFECTIVE OF AUGUST 11, 1968.

MR. FOYTIK TRAVELED FROM WASHINGTON TO MEMPHIS ON JULY 28, 1968, ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS FOR THE PURPOSE OF BEING INTERVIEWED FOR TRANSFER TO A POSITION AT MEMPHIS. AS WAS SUGGESTED BY OFFICIALS OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE HIS WIFE AND YOUNG CHILD ACCOMPANIED HIM ON THAT TRIP. THE INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE ON JULY 29 AND AT ABOUT NOON ON JULY 30 MR. FOYTIK WAS ADVISED THAT HE HAD BEEN ACCEPTED FOR THE POSITION IN MEMPHIS. HE SIGNED A SERVICE AGREEMENT AT THAT TIME AND WAS ADVISED THAT A TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION INCLUDING AUTHORITY FOR A HOUSE HUNTING TRIP WOULD BE ISSUED. SUCH AN AUTHORIZATION WAS SIGNED IN NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, ON JULY 31. MR. FOYTIK REMAINED IN MEMPHIS UNTIL THE EVENING OF JULY 31 AND WAS ABLE TO FIND SUITABLE PERMANENT QUARTERS BEFORE HIS RETURN TO WASHINGTON.

ON THE VOUCHER PRESENTED, IN ADDITION TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR HIS OFFICIAL TRAVEL TO MEMPHIS, MR. FOYTIK CLAIMS REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF HIS WIFE'S RETURN TRAVEL AND PER DIEM FOR HIMSELF AND HIS WIFE ON JULY 30 AND 31 UNDER THE HOUSE HUNTING TRIP PROVISIONS OF SECTION 2.4 OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56. THE PER DIEM CLAIMED IS FOR 1 1/2 DAYS FROM NOON JULY 30, THE TIME HE WAS NOTIFIED THAT HE WOULD BE TRANSFERRED, TO 8:20 P.M. JULY 31, THE TIME OF HIS ARRIVAL BACK IN WASHINGTON. THE COST OF HIS WIFE'S RETURN TO WASHINGTON WOULD BE PAID ON THE BASIS OF THE COST OF ONE-WAY AIR FARE INSTEAD OF MILEAGE AT 8 CENTS PER MILE, AS CLAIMED, IF OTHERWISE PROPER.

SECTION 2.4C (1) OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, REVISED OCTOBER 12, 1966, PROVIDES:

"A TRIP FOR FINDING RESIDENCE QUARTERS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE UNTIL AFTER AN EMPLOYEE HAS AGREED TO THE TRANSFER AND THE DATE OF THE TRANSFER HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED, AND SHALL NOT BE AUTHORIZED UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE A PURPOSE OF THE TRIP IS TO PERMIT THE EMPLOYEE TO DECIDE WHETHER HE WILL ACCEPT THE TRANSFER. IF AN EMPLOYEE ACCEPTS A TRANSFER AND, AFTER MAKING A TRIP TO THE NEW STATION FOR THE PURPOSE OF FINDING PERMANENT QUARTERS, OR AFTER THE SPOUSE HAS MADE SUCH A TRIP, DECLINES THE TRANSFER, HE IS LIABLE UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SUBSECTION 1.3C(1)."

IN THE DECISION OF MARCH 5, 1968, B-163516, WE SAID THE FOLLOWING WITH REGARD TO THE GENERAL INTENT OF SECTION 2.4:

"WE BELIEVE THAT A CAREFUL CONSIDERATION BY YOU OF THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 2.4 OF THE CIRCULAR WILL LEAD YOU TO AGREE THAT THE SECTION CONTAINS BASIC PROVISIONS THAT WERE DESIGNED BY THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET TO REQUIRE ADEQUATE ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL OF THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZED BY THAT SECTION SO AS TO REASONABLY PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES. IN EACH PARTICULAR CASE THE HOUSE HUNTING TRIP MUST HAVE BEEN AUTHORIZED IN ADVANCE - AS DISTINGUISHED FROM ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL AFTER THE FACT OF TRAVEL - BY AN APPROPRIATE OFFICIAL OF THE DEPARTMENT CONCERNED AFTER HE DECIDES THAT, AMONG ALTERNATIVES, SUCH A TRIP IS ACTUALLY NEEDED IN THE CASE. FURTHER, THE EMPLOYEE MUST HAVE AGREED IN ADVANCE OF THE TRIP TO ACCEPT THE TRANSFER AND MUST HAVE SIGNED THE NECESSARY AGREEMENT TO SERVE FOR A SPECIFIC PERIOD OF TIME. IN THAT REGARD, THE REGULATIONS SPECIFICALLY SAY THAT A TRIP FOR FINDING RESIDENCE QUARTERS SHALL NOT BE AUTHORIZED UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE THE PURPOSE OF THE TRIP IS TO PERMIT THE EMPLOYEE TO DECIDE WHETHER HE WILL ACCEPT THE TRANSFER."

THE SITUATION INVOLVED IN THE CASE PRESENTED IS NOT CLEARLY COVERED BY THE APPLICABLE REGULATION, ALTHOUGH IT SEEMS TO US THAT AS A GENERAL RULE THE ROUND-TRIP TRAVEL SHOULD BE PERFORMED AFTER THE EMPLOYEE HAS AGREED TO THE TRANSFER AND SIGNED THE REQUIRED AGREEMENT AND THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION HAS BEEN ISSUED. HOWEVER, IN THIS CASE MR. FOYTIK WAS APPARENTLY INDUCED TO TAKE HIS WIFE ALONG TO MEMPHIS WHEN HE TRAVELED THERE TO BE INTERVIEWED ON THE BASIS THAT AT LEAST PART OF HER TRAVEL WOULD BE COVERED BY SECTION 2.4 IF HE WAS ACCEPTED FOR A POSITION THERE. THEREFORE, AND SINCE THE AMOUNT CLAIMED IS LESS THAN COULD HAVE BEEN PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT HAD A SEPARATE HOUSE HUNTING TRIP BEEN UNDERTAKEN, WE WILL NOT OBJECT TO YOUR CERTIFYING FOR PAYMENT APPROPRIATE REIMBURSEMENT UNDER SECTION 2.4 FOR TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE FROM NOON ON JULY 30, 1968, THE TIME MR. FOYTIK WAS ADVISED (PRESUMABLY BY COMPETENT AUTHORITY) THAT HE WAS AUTHORIZED TO TAKE A HOUSE HUNTING TRIP IN CONNECTION WITH AN APPROVED TRANSFER TO MEMPHIS. REIMBURSEMENT FOR MRS. FOYTIK'S TRAVEL FROM MEMPHIS TO WASHINGTON SHOULD BE ON THE BASIS OF AIR FARE AS YOU PROPOSE.

THE VOUCHER WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH TOGETHER WITH SUPPORTING PAPERS MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT ONLY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ABOVE IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.