B-170939, DEC. 1, 1970

B-170939: Dec 1, 1970

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WHERE PER DIEM AND ACTUAL EXPENSE METHODS ARE COMBINED TO COMPUTE REIMBURSEMENT. THAT IS. HOGAN: THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 21. WAS AUTHORIZED PER DIEM AT MAXIMUM RATES IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (ESSA) TRAVEL HANDBOOK. PER DIEM RATES FROM $21 TO A MAXIMUM OF $25 ARE PROVIDED. ROETTENBACHER CONTENDS THAT AGENCIES ARE WITHOUT AUTHORITY TO APPROVE PER DIEM ON THE ABOVE BASIS AND THAT A PREDETERMINED PER DIEM RATE MUST BE PRESCRIBED IN THE TRAVEL ORDER PRIOR TO PERFORMANCE OF TRAVEL. THIS CONTENTION IS APPARENTLY BASED ON OUR DECISION IN 49 COMP. WHEN ACTUAL EXPENSES OF SUBSISTENCE WERE BETWEEN $20 AND $25. WERE IMPROPER. THE CONCLUSION IN THAT CASE WAS PREDICATED ON OUR VIEW THAT THE LAW DOES NOT PERMIT AGENCIES TO AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT OF FULL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS UNLESS THE MAXIMUM PER DIEM ALLOWANCE OF $25 WOULD BE SIGNIFICANTLY LESS THAN THE AMOUNT REQUIRED TO MEET ANTICIPATED NECESSARY SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES OF THE TRAVELER.

B-170939, DEC. 1, 1970

COMPENSATION - PER DIEM DENIAL OF CLAIM FOR PAYMENT AT MAXIMUM PER DIEM RATE OF $25 FOR TRAVEL BY EMPLOYEE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE SERVICES ADMIN. WHERE PER DIEM AND ACTUAL EXPENSE METHODS ARE COMBINED TO COMPUTE REIMBURSEMENT, THAT IS, "$20 PER DAY BUT WHERE AVERAGE COST OF LODGING EXCEEDS $10 PER DAY, ROUNDED TO THE NEXT WHOLE DOLLAR, PER DIEM RATES OF $21 TO A MAXIMUM OF $25", SUCH COMBINATION DOES NOT CONTRIDICT 49 COMP. GEN. FEBRUARY 12, 1970, WHICH HELD THAT THE LAW DOES NOT PERMIT AGENCIES TO AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT OF FULL SUBSISTANCE EXPENSES ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS. THEREFORE, TO COLLECT ABOVE THE $20 MINIMUM PER DIEM ALOTTED, CLAIMANT MUST PRESENT SUPPORTING INFORMATION AS TO HOTEL RATES AS REQUESTED.

TO MR. R. P. HOGAN:

THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 21, 1970, REFERENCE AD571, REQUESTING OUR DECISION AS TO THE ALLOWABILITY OF AN ITEM OF $62.50, REPRESENTING PER DIEM, ON A TRAVEL VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF MR. J. S. ROETTENBACHER.

MR. ROETTENBACHER, WHO PERFORMED ROUND-TRIP TRAVEL FROM BOULDER, COLORADO, TO PARAMUS, NEW JERSEY, DURING THE PERIOD SEPTEMBER 8 TO 10, 1970, WAS AUTHORIZED PER DIEM AT MAXIMUM RATES IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (ESSA) TRAVEL HANDBOOK. THE HANDBOOK AND DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE ORDERS PROVIDE THAT PER DIEM FOR TRAVEL SUCH AS THAT PERFORMED BY MR. ROETTENBACHER SHALL BE ALLOWED AT THE RATE OF $20 PER DAY IN THE ABSENCE OF SUPPORTING INFORMATION AS TO HOTEL RATES. WHERE THE AVERAGE COST OF LODGING EXCEEDS $10 PER DAY ROUNDED TO THE NEXT WHOLE DOLLAR, PER DIEM RATES FROM $21 TO A MAXIMUM OF $25 ARE PROVIDED.

MR. ROETTENBACHER HAS NOT FURNISHED ANY INFORMATION REGARDING LODGING COSTS AND HAS CLAIMED THE MAXIMUM PER DIEM RATE OF $25 FOR THE TRAVEL HERE INVOLVED. MR. ROETTENBACHER CONTENDS THAT AGENCIES ARE WITHOUT AUTHORITY TO APPROVE PER DIEM ON THE ABOVE BASIS AND THAT A PREDETERMINED PER DIEM RATE MUST BE PRESCRIBED IN THE TRAVEL ORDER PRIOR TO PERFORMANCE OF TRAVEL. THIS CONTENTION IS APPARENTLY BASED ON OUR DECISION IN 49 COMP. GEN. , FEBRUARY 12, 1970. IN THAT DECISION WE CONCLUDED THAT AN AGENCY'S INSTRUCTIONS PRESCRIBING A PER DIEM RATE OF $20 OR, WHEN ACTUAL EXPENSES OF SUBSISTENCE WERE BETWEEN $20 AND $25, AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT ON AN ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE BASIS, WERE IMPROPER. THE CONCLUSION IN THAT CASE WAS PREDICATED ON OUR VIEW THAT THE LAW DOES NOT PERMIT AGENCIES TO AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT OF FULL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS UNLESS THE MAXIMUM PER DIEM ALLOWANCE OF $25 WOULD BE SIGNIFICANTLY LESS THAN THE AMOUNT REQUIRED TO MEET ANTICIPATED NECESSARY SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES OF THE TRAVELER. WE HAVE RECOGNIZED, HOWEVER, THAT A PER DIEM RATE MAY BE DETERMINED BY REFERENCE TO THE AVERAGE OF THAT PORTION OF A TRAVELER'S ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES REPRESENTED BY LODGING COSTS ONLY.

IN THE INSTANT CASE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER 204 1, AMENDMENT 2, MAY 4, 1970, PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

"SECTION 7. PER DIEM, PARAGRAPH .01 IS AMENDED TO READ:

".01 PER DIEM AT THE RATE OF $20.00 PER DAY IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES SHALL BE AUTHORIZED FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY ALL DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE CIVILIAN PERSONNEL WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE AUTHORIZING OFFICIAL, HOWEVER, TO AUTHORIZE ONLY SUCH PER DIEM ALLOWANCES AS ARE JUSTIFIED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES AFFECTING THE TRAVEL. TO THIS END, CARE SHOULD BE EXERCISED TO PREVENT THE FIXING OF PER DIEM RATES IN EXCESS OF THOSE REQUIRED TO MEET THE NECESSARY AUTHORIZED EXPENSES. *WHEN THE AVERAGE COST OF LODGING INCURRED DURING AN OFFICIAL TRIP EXCEEDS $10.00 PER DAY, THIS AVERAGE SHALL BE ROUNDED TO THE NEXT WHOLE DOLLAR AND THE $20.00 PER DIEM RATE SHALL BE INCREASED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOLLOWING TABLE:

"AVERAGE COST OF LODGING PER DIEM RATE

"UP TO $10.00$20.00

$11.00 $21.00

$12.00 $22.00

$13.00 $23.00

$14.00 $24.00

ABOVE $14.00 $25.00 (MAXIMUM)*

"A. 1. LODGING COSTS WILL NOT INCLUDE TIPS, ROOM SERVICE, CALLS FOR HOTEL RESERVATIONS, ETC., BUT ARE RESTRICTED TO THE ACTUAL ROOM COST PLUS ANY APPLICABLE TAX.

"2. WHEN LODGING IS SHARED BY OTHERS, ONLY A PRO RATA PART OF THE COST WILL BE USED IN DETERMINING THE PER DIEM RATE, EXCEPT THAT WHEN LODGING IS SHARED BY MEMBERS OF THE TRAVELER'S FAMILY, THE SINGLE OCCUPANCY RATE WILL BE USED.

"3. MANY PLACES OF LODGING HAVE A REDUCED RATE FOR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS. PERSONNEL OF THE DEPARTMENT, INSOFAR AS PRACTICABLE, SHOULD TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE REDUCED RATES.

"B. CLAIMS FOR PER DIEM RATES OVER $20.00 MUST BE SUPPORTED EITHER BY APPROPRIATE CERTIFICATION BY THE TRAVELER, INCLUDING IDENTIFICATION OF THE PLACE OF LODGING ON THE TRAVEL VOUCHER, OR BY RECEIPTS, SUBMITTED WITH THE TRAVEL VOUCHER, SHOWING LODGING EXPENSES OF MORE THAN $10.00 PER DAY."

THE QUOTED PROVISIONS GOVERNING THE DETERMINATION OF PER DIEM RATES ARE NOT OBJECTIONABLE AS BEING AN IMPROPER COMBINATION OF PER DIEM AND ACTUAL EXPENSE METHODS FOR REIMBURSING TRAVEL EXPENSES. ACCORDINGLY, IN THE ABSENCE OF COMPLIANCE BY MR. ROETTENBACHER WITH THE ADMINISTRATIVE REQUIREMENTS IMPOSED, THE PER DIEM ON THE VOUCHER RETURNED HEREWITH MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT AT A RATE IN EXCESS OF $20 PER DAY AS PROVIDED FOR IN THE GOVERNING ORDER.