B-168884, MAR. 5, 1970

B-168884: Mar 5, 1970

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SINCE TRAVEL ORDER WAS CLEAR. RIGHTS VEST WHEN TRAVEL IS PERFORMED. ORDERS MAY NOT BE REVOKED OR MODIFIED RETROACTIVELY SO AS TO INCREASE OR DECREASE RIGHTS WHICH HAVE BECOME FIXED UNDER STATUTES OR REGULATIONS UNLESS ERROR IS APPARENT ON FACE OF ORDERS OR INTENDED PROVISION WAS OMITTED THROUGH ERROR. COLLINS WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL FROM BARTLESVILLE. HE WAS AUTHORIZED TO USE HIS PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT REIMBURSEMENT OF 7 CENTS PER MILE NOT TO EXCEED THE COST OF COMMON CARRIER. IT WAS DETERMINED THAT THE MILEAGE RATE SHOULD BE INCREASED TO 10 CENTS PER MILE SINCE THE COST OF TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT THE INCREASED RATE WOULD STILL BE LESS THAN THE COST OF COMMON CARRIER.

B-168884, MAR. 5, 1970

MILEAGE--TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE--RATES--INCREASES EMPLOYEE, WHOSE TRAVEL ORDER AUTHORIZED USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT 7 CENTS PER MILE NOT TO EXCEED COST OF COMMON CARRIER, MAY NOT BE PAID DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 7 AND 10 CENTS PER MILE ON BASIS OF ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION AFTER TRAVEL THAT RATE SHOULD BE 10 CENTS INASMUCH AS COST AT INCREASED RATE WOULD STILL BE LESS THAN COMMON CARRIER (17 CENTS), SINCE TRAVEL ORDER WAS CLEAR, RIGHTS VEST WHEN TRAVEL IS PERFORMED, AND ORDERS MAY NOT BE REVOKED OR MODIFIED RETROACTIVELY SO AS TO INCREASE OR DECREASE RIGHTS WHICH HAVE BECOME FIXED UNDER STATUTES OR REGULATIONS UNLESS ERROR IS APPARENT ON FACE OF ORDERS OR INTENDED PROVISION WAS OMITTED THROUGH ERROR. SEE COMP. GEN. DECS. CITED.

TO MRS. JEANNETTE B. WILBANKS:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 22, 1970, WITH ENCLOSURES, REQUESTING A DECISION FROM OUR OFFICE WHETHER THE RECLAIM VOUCHER IN THE AMOUNT OF $120.39 IN FAVOR OF MR. A. GENE COLLINS, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU OF THE MINES, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

BY TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION DATED JULY 1, 1969, MR. COLLINS WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL FROM BARTLESVILLE, OKLAHOMA, TO SEVERAL TEMPORARY DUTY STATIONS AND RETURN. HE WAS AUTHORIZED TO USE HIS PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT REIMBURSEMENT OF 7 CENTS PER MILE NOT TO EXCEED THE COST OF COMMON CARRIER. SUBSEQUENT TO THE TRAVEL, IT WAS DETERMINED THAT THE MILEAGE RATE SHOULD BE INCREASED TO 10 CENTS PER MILE SINCE THE COST OF TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT THE INCREASED RATE WOULD STILL BE LESS THAN THE COST OF COMMON CARRIER. THERE IS A STATEMENT ON THE RECLAIM VOUCHER SIGNED BY MR. JOHN S. BALL, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, WHICH READS AS FOLLOWS:

"JUSTIFICATION

"AT THE TIME THAT THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY T3500003 WAS AMENDED WE MADE AN APPARENT ERROR IN NOT INCREASING THE MILEAGE RATE FROM 7[ TO 10[ PER MILE. THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH CLEARLY DEMONSTRATE THAT THE PREVIOUSLY DETERMINED 7[ PER MILE IS DEFINITELY INADEQUATE TO REIMBURSE THE TRAVELER FOR THE USE OF HIS PRIVATELY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE. REVIEW OF THE COMPARATIVE COST STATEMENT, WHICH IS ATTACHED, CLEARLY PROVES THAT THIS TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER WOULD HAVE COST THE GOVERNMENT 17[ PER MILE TO CONDUCT THE BUSINESS AUTHORIZED. THEREFORE, 10[ PER MILE IS A REASONABLE FIGURE FOR THE MILEAGE ALLOWANCE AND IT IS SO APPROVED."

IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT LEGAL RIGHTS AND LIABILITIES IN REGARD TO TRAVEL ALLOWANCE VEST AS AND WHEN THE TRAVEL IS PERFORMED UNDER THE ORDERS, AND THAT SUCH ORDERS MAY NOT BE REVOKED OR MODIFIED RETROACTIVELY SO AS TO INCREASE OR DECREASE THE RIGHTS WHICH HAVE BECOME FIXED UNDER THE APPLICABLE STATUTES OR REGULATIONS UNLESS ERROR IS APPARENT ON THE FACE OF THE ORDERS, OR ALL THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES CLEARLY DEMONSTRATE THAT SOME PROVISION PREVIOUSLY DETERMINED AND DEFINITELY INTENDED HAD BEEN OMITTED THROUGH ERROR AND INADVERTENCE IN PREPARING THE ORDERS, 23 COMP. GEN. 713, 24 ID. 439, 28 ID. 732. THE ORDER OF JULY 1, 1969, WAS CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS CONCERNING THE RATE OF MILEAGE WHILE TRAVELING ON TEMPORARY DUTY. HENCE, NO AUTHORITY EXISTS FOR PAYMENT OF MILEAGE RATE IN EXCESS OF THE RATE SPECIFIED IN THE TRAVEL ORDER.

THE VOUCHER WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.