B-169170, APRIL 10, 1970, 49 COMP. GEN. 692

B-169170: Apr 10, 1970

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THAT FAILED TO DESIGNATE THE TRAVEL AS GROUP TRAVEL WAS CONTRARY TO PARAGRAPH M4100 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. NO EXCEPTION WILL BE TAKEN TO PAYMENTS UNDER THE INVOLVED ORDERS. IF GOVERNMENT MEALS WERE FURNISHED AND NO DEDUCTION MADE FROM THE PER DIEM AUTHORIZED. THE TRAVEL OF 3 OR MORE ARMY MEMBERS WILL BE VIEWED AS GROUP TRAVEL. 1970: IT HAS COME TO OUR ATTENTION THAT PER DIEM PAYMENTS ARE BEING MADE TO ARMY MEMBERS FOR TRAVEL WHEN THREE OR MORE MEMBERS ARE TRAVELING TOGETHER IN A GROUP BY GOVERNMENT CONVEYANCE FROM THE SAME POINT OF ORIGIN TO THE SAME DESTINATION UNDER ONE ORDER. PARAGRAPH M4100 OF THE REGULATIONS DEFINES "GROUP TRAVEL" AS A MOVEMENT OF THREE OR MORE MEMBERS TRAVELING IN A GROUP FOR WHICH TRANSPORTATION WILL BE FURNISHED BY GOVERNMENT CONVEYANCE OR TRANSPORTATION REQUEST UNDER ONE ORDER WHICH IS SPECIFICALLY DESIGNATED BY THE ORDER-ISSUING AUTHORITY AS A "GROUP TRAVEL ORDER.".

B-169170, APRIL 10, 1970, 49 COMP. GEN. 692

SUBSISTENCE -- PER DIEM -- MILITARY PERSONNEL -- GROUP TRAVEL ALTHOUGH THE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM TO ARMY MEMBERS TRAVELING TOGETHER AS A GROUP BY GOVERNMENT CONVEYANCE FROM THE SAME POINT OF ORIGIN TO THE SAME DESTINATION UNDER ORDERS DATED MAY 28, 1969, THAT FAILED TO DESIGNATE THE TRAVEL AS GROUP TRAVEL WAS CONTRARY TO PARAGRAPH M4100 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, THE PAYMENT HAVING BEEN BASED ON THE ERRONEOUS INSTRUCTIONS CONTAINED IN PARAGRAPH 2-2, ARMY REGULATION 310 10, NO EXCEPTION WILL BE TAKEN TO PAYMENTS UNDER THE INVOLVED ORDERS, OR SIMILAR ORDERS, BUT IF GOVERNMENT MEALS WERE FURNISHED AND NO DEDUCTION MADE FROM THE PER DIEM AUTHORIZED, THE VALUE OF THE MEALS SHOULD BE RECOVERED. HOWEVER, THE ARMY INSTRUCTIONS SHOULD BE CHANGED TO AGREE WITH THE NAVY AND AIR FORCE REGULATIONS IMPLEMENTING PARAGRAPH M4100 TO REQUIRE GROUP TRAVEL TO BE SO DESIGNATED IN ORDERS, AND UNTIL SO CHANGED, THE TRAVEL OF 3 OR MORE ARMY MEMBERS WILL BE VIEWED AS GROUP TRAVEL, WHETHER OR NOT SO DESIGNATED. 135534, JUNE 5, 1958, MODIFIED.

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY, APRIL 10, 1970:

IT HAS COME TO OUR ATTENTION THAT PER DIEM PAYMENTS ARE BEING MADE TO ARMY MEMBERS FOR TRAVEL WHEN THREE OR MORE MEMBERS ARE TRAVELING TOGETHER IN A GROUP BY GOVERNMENT CONVEYANCE FROM THE SAME POINT OF ORIGIN TO THE SAME DESTINATION UNDER ONE ORDER.

THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, PROMULGATED PURSUANT TO 37 U.S.C. 404, DO NOT AUTHORIZE PER DIEM FOR GROUP TRAVEL. PARAGRAPH M4100 OF THE REGULATIONS DEFINES "GROUP TRAVEL" AS A MOVEMENT OF THREE OR MORE MEMBERS TRAVELING IN A GROUP FOR WHICH TRANSPORTATION WILL BE FURNISHED BY GOVERNMENT CONVEYANCE OR TRANSPORTATION REQUEST UNDER ONE ORDER WHICH IS SPECIFICALLY DESIGNATED BY THE ORDER-ISSUING AUTHORITY AS A "GROUP TRAVEL ORDER."

AS AN EXAMPLE OF THE CASES BEING ENCOUNTERED, LETTER ORDER NO. 50, HEADQUARTERS 35TH SIGNAL GROUP, FORT BRAGG, NORTH CAROLINA, DATED MAY 28, 1969, DIRECTED 44 MEMBERS TO PROCEED FROM FORT BRAGG TO FORT STEWART, GEORGIA, FOR TEMPORARY DUTY OF APPROXIMATELY 19 DAYS. THE TRAVEL DATA IN THE ORDER SPECIFIED "MILITARY CONVOY" AND THE SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS DIRECTED THE MEMBERS "TO PROCEED BY MILITARY CONVOY," AND STATED THAT QUARTERS WOULD BE FURNISHED AT FORT STEWART.

THE TRAVEL DIRECTED BY THE ORDERS--THREE OR MORE MEMBERS TRAVELING BY GOVERNMENT CONVEYANCE (MILITARY CONVOY) FROM THE SAME POINT OF ORIGIN TO THE SAME DESTINATION UNDER THE SAME ORDER--FALLS SQUARELY WITHIN THE DEFINITION OF GROUP TRAVEL CONTAINED IN PARAGRAPH M4100 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS EXCEPT FOR THE DESIGNATION OF THE ORDERS AS GROUP TRAVEL ORDERS.

VOUCHER 425438 IN THE JUNE 1969 ACCOUNTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER AT FORT BRAGG, SYMBOL NO. I5072, COVERS PAYMENT OF PER DIEM FOR THE DAYS OF TRAVEL TO THREE OF THE MEMBERS NAMED IN THE ORDER. THE VOUCHER SHOWS THAT THE TRAVEL TO FORT STEWART AND RETURN WAS BY GOVERNMENT VEHICLE AND THAT THE TRAVEL IN EACH DIRECTION WAS COMPLETED IN ONE DAY. THE RECORD ALSO INDICATES THAT GOVERNMENT MEALS WERE FURNISHED IN CONNECTION WITH SOME OR ALL OF THE TRAVEL INVOLVED. LODGING EN ROUTE WAS NEITHER ANTICIPATED NOR REQUIRED.

IN REPLY TO AN INQUIRY BY OUR ARMY AUDIT STAFF AS TO THE BASIS FOR PAYMENT OF PER DIEM FOR THE DAYS OF TRAVEL, THE FINANCE CENTER, U.S. ARMY, REFERRED TO A PER DIEM PAYMENT UNDER A SIMILAR FORT BRAGG ORDER (LO NO. 377, JULY 15, 1969). THE REPLY STATED THAT, ALTHOUGH THAT ORDER DIRECTED THE MOVEMENT OF THREE OR MORE MEMBERS TRAVELING IN A GROUP BY MILITARY CONVOY FROM THE SAME POINT OF ORIGIN TO THE SAME DESTINATION, THE TRAVEL WAS NOT GROUP TRAVEL FOR THE REASON THE ORDER LACKED SPECIFIC DESIGNATION THAT IT WAS A "GROUP TRAVEL ORDER" AS REQUIRED BY THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. DECISION B-135534 OF JUNE 5, 1958, WAS CITED AS AUTHORITY FOR THAT STATEMENT.

ON THE BASIS OF THE FACTS AS SET OUT IN THE DECISION OF JUNE 5, 1958, THAT DECISION INVOLVED ORDERS WHICH DIRECTED AN OFFICER AND TWO ENLISTED MEN TO ESCORT THREE PRISONERS FROM FORT SILL, OKLAHOMA, TO FORT LEAVENWORTH, KANSAS, AND TO RETURN TO THEIR STATION. THE ORDERS STATED THAT THE TRANSPORTATION OFFICER SHOULD DETERMINE AND FURNISH NECESSARY TRANSPORTATION AND MEAL TICKETS FOR ALL TRAVELERS. TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS AND MEAL TICKETS WERE FURNISHED TO THE OFFICER FOR TRAVEL OF SIX PERSONS TO FORT LEAVENWORTH AND THE RETURN TRAVEL OF THREE MEMBERS. THE OFFICER RETURNED TO FORT SILL ALONE AT PERSONAL EXPENSE AND TURNED IN UNUSED TRANSPORTATION AND FIVE MEAL TICKETS. THE FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICER, WHO SUBMITTED THE OFFICER'S CLAIM FOR TRAVEL ALLOWANCES FOR THE ROUND TRIP, QUESTIONED WHETHER GROUP TRAVEL WAS INVOLVED.

WE HELD THAT THE TRAVEL IN THAT CASE APPEARS TO HAVE INVOLVED PRECISELY THE GROUP SITUATION CONTEMPLATED BY THE REGULATIONS, BUT THAT SINCE THE ORDER LACKED THE SPECIFIC DESIGNATION THAT IT WAS A "GROUP TRAVEL ORDER," AS APPARENTLY REQUIRED BY THE REGULATIONS TO CONSTITUTE GROUP TRAVEL FOR PER DIEM PURPOSES, THE OFFICER WAS ENTITLED TO PER DIEM FOR TRAVEL. THE TIME THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED PARAGRAPH 16, ARMY REGULATIONS 310-25, JANUARY 18, 1955, PROVIDED THAT GROUP TRAVEL ORDERS MAY BE ISSUED AT THE DISCRETION OF THE COMMANDER AND THAT WHEN SUCH ORDERS ARE ISSUED THE ORDERS SHOULD BE IDENTIFIED AS GROUP TRAVEL ORDERS.

THE CURRENT INSTRUCTIONS TO ARMY ORDER-ISSUING AUTHORITIES ARE CONTAINED IN PARAGRAPH 2-2, ARMY REGULATION 310-10, AS FOLLOWS:

GROUP TRAVEL. GROUP TRAVEL ORDERS MAY BE USED AT THE DISCRETION OF THE COMMANDER TO DIRECT GROUP TRAVEL. SUCH GROUP TRAVEL ORDERS MAY BE USED WHEN THREE OR MORE PERSONS ARE DEPARTING FROM THE SAME STATION, AT THE SAME TIME AND ARE PROCEEDING TO THE SAME DESTINATION ON EITHER PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION OR TEMPORARY DUTY, WITH NO DELAY EN ROUTE INVOLVED AND ARE TO ARRIVE AT THE SAME TIME. PERSONNEL WHO ARE AUTHORIZED OR PERMITTED TO TRAVEL SEPARATELY FROM THE GROUP WILL BE SHOWN IN SEPARATE ORDERS.

THE QUOTED PROVISIONS APPARENTLY ARE INTENDED TO IMPLEMENT PARAGRAPH M4100 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, HOWEVER, DO NOT CONSTITUTE INSTRUCTIONS TO ORDER-WRITING AUTHORITIES. SINCE THE ARMY'S ORDER-WRITING REGULATION DOES NOT REQUIRE THAT ORDERS DIRECTING TRAVEL IN A GROUP TRAVEL STATUS BE SPECIFICALLY DESIGNATED AS GROUP TRAVEL ORDERS IT DOES NOT PROPERLY IMPLEMENT PARAGRAPH M4100. THIS RESPECT THE ARMY REGULATION IS NOT UNIFORM WITH THE GROUP TRAVEL ORDER-WRITING REGULATIONS OF THE OTHER MILITARY DEPARTMENTS.

AIR FORCE MANUAL 10-3, PAGE 2-58, ITEM 18, PROVIDES "(GROUP TRAVEL) IF TRAVEL FALLS WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF PARAGRAPH M4100, JTR, INCLUDE: 'THIS IS A GROUP TRAVEL ORDER.'" BUREAU OF NAVAL PERSONNEL ENLISTED TRANSFER MANUAL (NAVPERS 15909B), ARTICLE 23.21C, LIKEWISE PROVIDES THAT WHEN GROUP TRAVEL IS DIRECTED THE ORDERS "MUST BE SPECIFICALLY DESIGNATED AS A 'GROUP TRAVEL ORDER.'" THUS, BOTH THE NAVY AND THE AIR FORCE HAVE FULLY IMPLEMENTED PARAGRAPH M4100 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS BY ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS.

THE PROVISIONS OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS ARE INTENDED TO APPLY UNIFORMLY TO LIKE TRAVEL IN EACH OF THE MILITARY SERVICES AND WE DO NOT BELIEVE THE INTENT OF THE REGULATIONS MAY BE DEFEATED BY DEFICIENCIES IN THE ORDER-WRITING REGULATIONS OF A PARTICULAR SERVICE.

ACCORDINGLY, UNLESS AND UNTIL THE ORDER-WRITING REGULATIONS OF THE ARMY ARE CHANGED TO REQUIRE THAT GROUP TRAVEL ORDERS BE SPECIFICALLY DESIGNATED GROUP TRAVEL ORDERS, WE WILL, FOR AUDIT PURPOSES, VIEW ANY ARMY TRAVEL ORDER DIRECTING THE MOVEMENT OF THREE OR MORE MEMBERS IN A GROUP FOR WHICH TRANSPORTATION WILL BE FURNISHED BY GOVERNMENT CONVEYANCE OR A TRANSPORTATION REQUEST FROM THE SAME POINT OF ORIGIN TO THE SAME DESTINATION, AS A GROUP TRAVEL ORDER FOR PURPOSES OF PARAGRAPH M4100 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE ORDER IS SPECIFICALLY SO DESIGNATED.

TO THE EXTENT THAT THE DECISION OF JUNE 5, 1958, MAY BE VIEWED AS HOLDING OTHERWISE, IT WILL NO LONGER BE FOLLOWED.

IN VIEW OF THE CONCLUSION IN THE DECISION OF JUNE 5, 1958, IN SITUATIONS OF THIS TYPE, EXCEPTIONS WILL NOT BE TAKEN TO THE PER DIEM PAYMENTS MADE FOR TRAVEL UNDER THE ORDERS OF MAY 28, 1969, OR SIMILAR ORDERS HERETOFORE ISSUED. SEE B-129408 OF JUNE 3, 1957, TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY. HOWEVER, WHERE THE RECORD SHOWS THAT GOVERNMENT MEALS WERE FURNISHED THE MEMBERS WHO WERE PAID PER DIEM IN SUCH GROUP TRAVEL SITUATIONS, THE VALUE OF SUCH MEALS, IF NOT DEDUCTED FROM THE PAYMENT, SHOULD BE RECOVERED. SEE PARAGRAPH M4205-5 (FOOTNOTE W) AND M4451-2 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.