B-168497, DEC. 29, 1969

B-168497: Dec 29, 1969

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

MORE TIME WAS REQUIRED AT LOVE FIELD. BY WHICH YOU REQUEST OUR ADVANCE DECISION WHETHER YOU MAY PROPERLY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT THE VOUCHERS OF THREE EMPLOYEES OF THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (FAA) TO REIMBURSE THEM AT A MILEAGE RATE FOR TRAVEL THEY PERFORMED BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE BETWEEN THEIR RESIDENCES AND A PLACE AT WHICH THEY WERE ASSIGNED TO PERFORM THEIR DUTIES. EMPLOYEES ASSIGNED TO THE UNIT WERE TO ROTATE THROUGH EACH OF THE WORK SITES. ABOUT 90 EMPLOYEES WERE TRANSFERRED TO THE NEW CONSOLIDATED UNIT FROM THE SEPARATE UNITS TO WHICH THEY HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN ASSIGNED BY MEANS OF REDUCTION-IN-FORCE PROCEDURES WHICH BECAME EFFECTIVE JANUARY 22. THIS WAS DONE BECAUSE IT WAS EXPECTED THAT THE EMPLOYEES WOULD SPEND THE GREATER PART OF THEIR TIME AT GSIA WORK SITES.

B-168497, DEC. 29, 1969

MILEAGE--TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE--BETWEEN RESIDENCE AND HEADQUARTERS FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (FAA) TRANSFERRED 90 EMPLOYEES TO CONSOLIDATED UNIT WITH 3 WORK SITES. WHILE REDUCTION-IN-FORCE NOTICES STATED EMPLOYEES WOULD BE ROTATED BETWEEN WORK SITES (LOVE FIELD, DALLAS, AND GREATER SOUTWEST INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FORT WORTH), SF 50'S SHOWED FORT WORTH (GSIA) AS DUTY STATION. MORE TIME WAS REQUIRED AT LOVE FIELD, 15 MILES EAST OF GSIA. TWO EMPLOYEES CLAIM DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 40 AND 10 MILES (ROUND TRIP) BETWEEN HOME AND WORK. THIRD EMPLOYEE CLAIMS 32 MILES (42-10). WHILE FAA ACTIONS ESTABLISHED FORT WORTH AS OFFICIAL STATION, SHOULD FAA APPROVE PAYMENT OF MILEAGE UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES (EMPLOYEES REQUIRED TO WORK AT NEARBY TEMPORARY STATION). GAO WOULD NOT OBJECT ON BASIS OF VIOLATION OF RULE AGAINST PAYING TRAVEL BETWEEN RESIDENCE AND OFFICIAL STATION.

TO MR. R. J. SCHULLERY:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 25, 1969, BY WHICH YOU REQUEST OUR ADVANCE DECISION WHETHER YOU MAY PROPERLY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT THE VOUCHERS OF THREE EMPLOYEES OF THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (FAA) TO REIMBURSE THEM AT A MILEAGE RATE FOR TRAVEL THEY PERFORMED BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE BETWEEN THEIR RESIDENCES AND A PLACE AT WHICH THEY WERE ASSIGNED TO PERFORM THEIR DUTIES.

YOU SAY THAT FAA DECIDED, JUST PRIOR TO THE END OF 1966, TO CONSOLIDATE FOUR FUNCTIONAL UNITS SERVING LOVE FIELD, DALLAS, TEXAS, AND THE GREATER SOUTHWEST INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FORT WORTH, TEXAS (GSIA) INTO ONE OPERATIONAL UNIT WITH THREE WORK SITES, ONE AT LOVE FIELD AND TWO AT GSIA. EMPLOYEES ASSIGNED TO THE UNIT WERE TO ROTATE THROUGH EACH OF THE WORK SITES. ABOUT 90 EMPLOYEES WERE TRANSFERRED TO THE NEW CONSOLIDATED UNIT FROM THE SEPARATE UNITS TO WHICH THEY HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN ASSIGNED BY MEANS OF REDUCTION-IN-FORCE PROCEDURES WHICH BECAME EFFECTIVE JANUARY 22, 1967. THE REDUCTION-IN-FORCE NOTICES STATED THAT THE EMPLOYEES WOULD BE ROTATED BETWEEN WORK SITES AT LOVE FIELD AND GSIA. HOWEVER, THE NOTIFICATION OF PERSONNEL ACTION FORMS (STANDARD FORM 50) ISSUED TO THE EMPLOYEES INDICATED THAT THEIR DUTY STATIONS WOULD BE FORT WORTH (GSIA). THIS WAS DONE BECAUSE IT WAS EXPECTED THAT THE EMPLOYEES WOULD SPEND THE GREATER PART OF THEIR TIME AT GSIA WORK SITES. AS THE RESULT OF UNANTICIPATED TECHNICAL PROBLEMS, MORE EMPLOYEE TIME THAN HAD BEEN EXPECTED WAS REQUIRED AT LOVE FIELD.

THE THREE VOUCHERS PRESENTED ARE FOR REIMBURSEMENT AT 10 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE EXCESS TRAVEL REQUIRED OF THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED INCIDENT TO THEIR REPORTING FOR WORK AT LOVE FIELD RATHER THAN GSIA. DURING THE PERIOD IN QUESTION, TWO OF THE EMPLOYEES APPARENTLY LIVED IN HURST, TEXAS, WHICH IS LOCATED 5 MILES WEST OF GSIA AND WERE ASSIGNED TO GSIA BEFORE JANUARY 22, 1967. AFTER THEIR REASSIGNMENT TO THE CONSOLIDATED UNIT, THEY WERE REQUIRED TO WORK A GREATER PORTION OF THEIR TIME AT LOVE FIELD WHICH IS APPROXIMATELY 15 MILES EAST OF GSIA. THUS, THOSE EMPLOYEES, WHEN ASSIGNED TO DUTY AT LOVE FIELD, WERE REQUIRED TO TRAVEL 40 MILES INSTEAD OF 10 MILES ON THEIR DAILY ROUND TRIPS BETWEEN HOME AND WORK. THEY HAVE CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT FOR 30 MILES EACH DAY THEY WERE ASSIGNED TO LOVE FIELD. THE OTHER EMPLOYEE WAS ASSIGNED TO LOVE FIELD BEFORE JANUARY 22, 1967, AND APPARENTLY LIVED IN DALLAS. IN ACCORDANCE WITH AN OFFICIAL AUTHORIZATION BASED ON A TRANSFER FROM LOVE FIELD, DALLAS TO GSIA, FORT WORTH, HE MOVED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE FROM DALLAS TO GRAND PRAIRIE, TEXAS, ON MAY 30, 1967. THE EMPLOYEE'S CLAIM IS BASED ON A DISTANCE OF 5 MILES BETWEEN HIS RESIDENCE IN GRAND PRAIRIE AND GSIA AND A DISTANCE OF 21 MILES BETWEEN HIS RESIDENCE AND LOVE FIELD. HE HAS CLAIMED ROUND-TRIP REIMBURSEMENT FOR 32 MILES (42 10) EACH DAY HE WAS ASSIGNED TO WORK AT LOVE FIELD AFTER THE DATE HE MOVED HIS RESIDENCE.

YOUR GENERAL QUESTIONS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

"1. ON THE FACTS DESCRIBED ABOVE, WOULD GREATER SOUTHWEST INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (FORT WORTH) AND LOVE FIELD (DALLAS) PROPERLY BE HELD TO BE DUAL HEADQUARTERS OR, IN EFFECT, A SINGLE OFFICIAL STATION FOR THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED, NOTWITHSTANDING THE DESIGNATION OF FORT WORTH ON THE NOTIFICATION OF PERSONNEL ACTION?

"2. IF YOUR DECISION HOLDS THAT THE WORK CIRCUMSTANCES ARE SUCH THAT EITHER LOVE FIELD, DALLAS OR GREATER SOUTHWEST INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FORT WORTH MUST BE DESIGNATED AS THE EMPLOYEE'S OFFICIAL DUTY STATION, ARE EMPLOYEES ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF MILEAGE ALLOWANCE FOR ANY TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE BETWEEN THEIR RESIDENCE AND WORK LOCATION IF THE WORK LOCATION IS OTHER THAN THEIR OFFICIAL DUTY STATION?

"3. IF YOUR DECISION HOLDS THAT DALLAS/FORT WORTH TRACON TOWERS MAY BE CONSIDERED A SINGLE OFFICIAL DUTY STATION, ARE EMPLOYEES ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF MILEAGE ALLOWANCE FOR TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE FROM THEIR RESIDENCE TO ANY WORK LOCATION WITHIN THIS SINGLE OFFICIAL DUTY STATION?"

OUR OPINION IS THAT FAA ACTIONS AT THE TIME THE CONSOLIDATED UNIT WAS ESTABLISHED ARE TO BE CONSIDERED AS ESTABLISHING FORT WORTH (GSIA) AS THE OFFICIAL STATION OF THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED. HOWEVER, IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT THE EMPLOYEES HERE INVOLVED HAVE A RIGHT TO PAYMENT FOR THE MILEAGE CLAIMED ON THE BASIS THAT THEY WERE ASSIGNED TO DUTY AT A NEARBY TEMPORARY DUTY STATION (LOVE FIELD) BECAUSE AN AGENCY MUST DETERMINE WHETHER TO APPROVE OR DISAPPROVE PAYMENT OF MILEAGE WHEN AN EMPLOYEE IS REQUIRED TO PERFORM DUTIES AT A NEARBY TEMPORARY STATION. SEE B-166472, MAY 14, 1969; B-163704, APRIL 1, 1968; 32 COMP. GEN. 235. SHOULD FAA DECIDE TO APPROVE PAYMENT OF MILEAGE IN THE CASES SUBMITTED, WE WOULD SEE NO PROPER BASIS FOR OBJECTING TO PAYMENTS MADE ON THE BASIS OF A VIOLATION OF THE RULE AGAINST PAYING AN EMPLOYEE FOR TRAVEL FROM HIS RESIDENCE TO HIS OFFICIAL STATION. WE RECOGNIZE, THOUGH, THAT THE RECORD IS SILENT AS TO WHY THE EMPLOYEES FAILED TO CLAIM MILEAGE FOR TRAVEL TO LOVE FIELD AT THE TIME THAT TRAVEL WAS BEING PERFORMED. IT MAY BE THAT THEY HAD BEEN SUFFICIENTLY BRIEFED AT THE TIME OF THE FUNCTIONAL CONSOLIDATION SO AS TO UNDERSTAND THAT FAA DID NOT FEEL OBLIGATED TO PAY MILEAGE IN CONNECTION WITH DUTY ASSIGNMENTS AT LOVE FIELD. IF THAT BE SO, OR IF OTHER FACTS ARE PRESENT SO AS TO FORM A BASIS FOR A NEGATIVE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION, OUR OFFICE WOULD NOT BE IN A POSITION TO SUBSTITUTE ITS JUDGMENT OR DETERMINATION FOR THAT OF THE AGENCY.

WE BELIEVE YOUR THREE GENERAL QUESTIONS ARE ANSWERED IN THE ABOVE DISCUSSION TO THE EXTENT NECESSARY FOR APPROPRIATE DISPOSITION OF THE CASES PRESENTED.

FOR THE REASONS STATED YOU MAY CERTIFY THE VOUCHERS PRESENTED FOR PAYMENT ONLY IF AN APPROPRIATE FAA OFFICIAL APPROVES REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE TRAVEL IN QUESTION ON A MILEAGE BASIS. THE VOUCHERS TOGETHER WITH SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS ARE RETURNED.