B-171328, FEB 2, 1971

B-171328: Feb 2, 1971

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TRANSPORTATION WOULD HAVE BEEN FURNISHED TO MEMBER TO NORTON AFB EXCEPT FOR HIS LATE REPORTING. SINCE MEMBER WAS NEITHER REQUIRED NOR DIRECTED TO TRAVEL BY A CIRCUITOUS ROUTE AND SINCE HE COULD HAVE LOADED OFF AT SEATTLE UPON ARRIVAL THERE RATHER THAN CONTINUING ON TO THE EAST COAST. THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO ALLOW MILEAGE IN EXCESS OF DISTANCE OF DIRECT ROUTE. WEBB: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 6. YOU WERE ASSIGNED ON PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION TO 2791 USAF HOSPITAL (AFSC). YOU WERE DIRECTED TO REPORT TO YOUR NEW ASSIGNMENT NO LATER THAN 32 DAYS AFTER ARRIVAL AT AERIAL PORT OF EMBARKATION. NO SPECIAL MODE OF TRANSPORTATION WAS DIRECTED. YOU WERE IN A LEAVE STATUS UNTIL YOU REPORTED AT YOUR NEW DUTY STATION AT HILL AIR FORCE BASE.

B-171328, FEB 2, 1971

TRANSFERS - SHORTEST USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE REAFFIRMING PRIOR DECISION DISALLOWING CLAIM OF MEMBER OF THE AIR FORCE FOR THE DIFFERENCE IN MILEAGE FROM QUONSET POINT, R.I., AND FROM NORTON AFB, CALIF., TO HILL AFB, UTAH, RELATING TO TRAVEL PERFORMED PURSUANT TO PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION FROM DA NANG AIR BASE, RVN, TO HILL AFB, UTAH. ACCEPTING THE FACTS AS PRESENTED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE, ABSENT SUFFICIENTLY CONVINCING CONTRARY EVIDENCE, TRANSPORTATION WOULD HAVE BEEN FURNISHED TO MEMBER TO NORTON AFB EXCEPT FOR HIS LATE REPORTING. SINCE MEMBER WAS NEITHER REQUIRED NOR DIRECTED TO TRAVEL BY A CIRCUITOUS ROUTE AND SINCE HE COULD HAVE LOADED OFF AT SEATTLE UPON ARRIVAL THERE RATHER THAN CONTINUING ON TO THE EAST COAST, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO ALLOW MILEAGE IN EXCESS OF DISTANCE OF DIRECT ROUTE.

TO CAPTAIN THOMAS S. WEBB:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 6, 1970, REQUESTING RECONSIDERATION OF THE SETTLEMENT BY OUR CLAIMS DIVISION, DATED NOVEMBER 3, 1970, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR THE DIFFERENCE IN MILEAGE FROM QUONSET POINT, RHODE ISLAND, AND FROM NORTON AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA, TO HILL AIR FORCE BASE, UTAH.

BY SPECIAL ORDER NO. AC-7593, HEADQUARTERS 366 CSG (PACAF), APO SAN FRANCISCO, 96337, DATED OCTOBER 27, 1969, YOU WERE ASSIGNED ON PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION TO 2791 USAF HOSPITAL (AFSC), HILL AIR FORCE BASE, UTAH, WITH EFFECTIVE DATE OF TRANSFER SHOWN AS NOVEMBER 10, 1969. YOU WERE DIRECTED TO REPORT TO YOUR NEW ASSIGNMENT NO LATER THAN 32 DAYS AFTER ARRIVAL AT AERIAL PORT OF EMBARKATION, WITH TWO DAYS' TRAVEL TIME AUTHORIZED. NO SPECIAL MODE OF TRANSPORTATION WAS DIRECTED.

YOUR ITINERARY SHOWS THAT YOU SIGNED OUT AT DA NANG AIR BASE, REPUBLIC OF VIET NAM, ON NOVEMBER 3, 1969, AND DEPARTED THEREFROM ON NOVEMBER 4, ARRIVING THE NEXT DAY AT QUONSET POINT, RHODE ISLAND. THEREAFTER, YOU WERE IN A LEAVE STATUS UNTIL YOU REPORTED AT YOUR NEW DUTY STATION AT HILL AIR FORCE BASE, UTAH, ON DECEMBER 12, 1969.

YOU WERE PAID $141 FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED FROM QUONSET POINT, RHODE ISLAND, TO HILL AIR FORCE BASE, UTAH. LATER AN ADJUSTMENT WAS MADE TO ALLOW MILEAGE FOR THE DISTANCE FROM NORTON AIR FORCE BASE, SPECIFIED AERIAL PORT OF DEBARKATION, TO HILL AIR FORCE BASE, IN THE AMOUNT OF $41.64.

THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT FROM DA NANG AIR BASE TRANSMITTED BY THE AIR FORCE ACCOUNTING AND FINANCE CENTER, DENVER, COLORADO, STATES THAT YOU FAILED TO APPEAR FOR YOUR SCHEDULED FLIGHT PRIOR TO THE MANIFEST CLOSE OUT AT 1530 HOURS. IT IS FURTHER REPORTED THAT WHEN YOU FINALLY REPORTED FOR YOUR SCHEDULED FLIGHT FROM DA NANG TO NORTON AIR FORCE BASE ON NOVEMBER 3, 1969, YOU WERE ADVISED THAT NO MORE SEATS WERE AVAILABLE AND THAT THE NEXT AVAILABLE FLIGHT WAS TO YOKOTA, JAPAN, THE FOLLOWING DAY ON WHICH FLIGHT YOU WERE SCHEDULED. IT APPEARS THAT AFTER ARRIVAL AT YOKOTA, YOU OBTAINED A SEABEES FLIGHT SCHEDULED FOR ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES VIA SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, TO PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND.

THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT INDICATES FURTHER THAT YOU WERE NOT LISTED ON THE STANDBY REGISTER AT YOKOTA AIR BASE FOR FLIGHT TO TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA, THE DESIGNATED PORT OF ENTRY FOR MEMBERS BEING TRANSFERRED FROM JAPAN, ALTHOUGH A FLIGHT WAS AVAILABLE TO THOSE ON THAT REGISTER ON A MISSION THAT DEPARTED ONE HOUR EARLIER THAT DAY THAN THE ONE WHICH YOU TOOK TO THE EAST COAST. ALSO, ANOTHER FLIGHT TO THAT PORT WAS SCHEDULED TO DEPART THE NEXT DAY. THERE APPEARS TO BE SOME QUESTION IN THE REPORT AS TO WHY YOU SELECTED THE EAST COAST MISSION WHEN AIRLIFT TO TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE WAS AVAILABLE WITHIN THE SPECIFIED TIME FOR PERMANENT CHANGE-OF-STATION PASSENGERS. IT APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN THE ADMINISTRATIVE OPINION THAT YOU MAY HAVE CHOSEN THAT FLIGHT TO ARRIVE NEARER TO YOUR DELAY ENROUTE ADDRESS IN GEORGIA. IT WAS STATED FURTHER THAT IF YOU HAD NO DESIRE TO CONTINUE YOUR TRAVEL WHEN THE PLANE REACHED SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, YOU COULD HAVE OFF LOADED AT THAT TIME.

IN A LETTER PRESENTING YOUR CLAIM FOR REFUND OF THE AMOUNT COLLECTED AS EXCESS MILEAGE PAID YOU, YOU SAY THAT YOU REPORTED ON TIME AT THE PORT FACILITIES AT DA NANG, BUT DUE TO A LONG WAIT FOR BOARDING YOU WERE ADVISED TO RETURN LATER. HOWEVER, WHEN YOU RETURNED, YOU SAY YOU WERE TOLD THAT NO SPACE WAS AVAILABLE BECAUSE OF HIGHER PRIORITIES OF PERSONNEL RETURNING ON EMERGENCY LEAVE. YOU RELATE THAT YOU WERE UNABLE TO BOARD TWO CARGO FLIGHTS LEAVING LATER BECAUSE OF THE SAME CONDITIONS AND THAT THE FOLLOWING DAY, YOU OBTAINED THE ONLY AVAILABLE TRANSPORTATION WHICH WAS TO YOKOTA, JAPAN.

UPON ARRIVAL AT YOKOTA, YOU STATE THAT YOU DISCUSSED YOUR SITUATION WITH THE AERIAL PORT PERSONNEL AND WERE PLACED ON A SEABEES FLIGHT SCHEDULED FOR QUONSET POINT, RHODE ISLAND. THE PLANE MADE A BRIEF STOP AT SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT FOR A CUSTOMS CHECK FOR SEVERAL PASSENGERS BEFORE CONTINUING NONSTOP TO QUONSET POINT. YOU THEREFORE CONTENDED THAT YOU WERE PLACED ON THE FLIGHTS YOU USED WITHOUT ANY REQUEST ON YOUR PART AND SHOULD BE PAID MILEAGE FOR THE DISTANCE FROM QUONSET POINT, INSTEAD OF FROM NORTON AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA.

BY SETTLEMENT DATED NOVEMBER 3, 1970, YOUR CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED FOR THE REASONS STATED. IN YOUR LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 6, 1970, YOU REQUEST RECONSIDERATION OF YOUR CLAIM CONTENDING THAT YOU DID NOT REQUEST PASSAGE TO QUONSET POINT BUT WERE PLACED ON THAT FLIGHT. YOU STATE THAT SINCE YOU HAD PURCHASED AIRLINE TICKETS FROM LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, TO SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, IT CAN HARDLY BE CLAIMED THAT YOU BOARDED THE FLIGHT TO THE EAST COAST FOR PERSONAL BENEFIT.

PARAGRAPH M4159-1, JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, PROMULGATED PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 404 OF TITLE 37, U.S.C. PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART THAT A MEMBER TRAVELING UNDER PERMANENT CHANGE-OF STATION ORDERS TO, FROM, OR BETWEEN POINTS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES, WHICH ORDERS DO NOT SPECIFY GROUP TRAVEL OR DIRECT TRAVEL BY A SPECIFIC MODE OF TRANSPORTATION, WILL BE ENTITLED TO APPLICABLE ALLOWANCES FOR THE OFFICIAL DISTANCE BETWEEN THE OLD PERMANENT STATION AND THE APPROPRIATE AERIAL PORT OF EMBARKATION SERVING THE OLD DUTY STATION; TRANSPORTATION BY GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT, IF AVAILABLE, FOR THE TRANSOCEANIC TRAVEL INVOLVED, PLUS PER DIEM IF APPLICABLE, AND THE APPLICABLE ALLOWANCES FOR THE OFFICIAL DISTANCE BETWEEN THE APPROPRIATE AERIAL PORT OF DEBARKATION SERVING THE NEW STATION AND THE NEW PERMANENT STATION.

THE NORMAL ROUTING OF MILITARY PERSONNEL TO AND FROM OVERSEAS IS CONTAINED IN ATTACHMENT 36 TO AIR FORCE MANUAL 75-4. PARAGRAPH 1B THEREOF, PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART, THAT THE ROUTES AND MODES OF TRAVEL PRESCRIBED THEREIN WILL BE USED BY ALL MILITARY PERSONNEL WHEN TRAVELING IN CONNECTION WITH A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION. ANY DEVIATION FROM THESE ROUTES, WITH CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS NOT PERTINENT, WILL BE CONSIDERED AS CIRCUITOUS ROUTING WHICH IS NOT AUTHORIZED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE EXCEPT WHEN AUTHORIZED IN ADVANCE UNDER CONDITIONS OUTLINED IN PARAGRAPH 3308 OF THAT REGULATION (WHICH IS NOT APPLICABLE HERE). THE NORMAL ROUTING AND MODE OF TRAVEL SHOWN IN ATTACHMENT 36 FOR TRAVEL TO AND FROM DA NANG, REPUBLIC OF VIET NAM, IS BY MILITARY AIRLIFT COMMAND THROUGH NORTON AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA.

UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 37 U.S.C. 404 AND THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROMULGATED THEREUNDER, THE GOVERNMENT'S OBLIGATION UPON PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION IS LIMITED TO FURNISHING TRANSPORTATION TO A MILITARY MEMBER FROM HIS OLD TO THE NEW DUTY STATION VIA THE DIRECT OR SHORTEST USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE, OR TO REIMBURSEMENT THEREFOR COMPUTED ON THAT BASIS. WHEN TRAVEL IS PERFORMED BY A ROUTE OTHER THAN THE DIRECT ROUTE, A MEMBER IS ENTITLED TO SUCH TRAVEL AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE ONLY TO THE EXTENT THAT IT DOES NOT EXCEED THE COSTS THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN NECESSARILY INCURRED FOR TRAVEL BY THE DIRECT ROUTE TO HIS NEW DUTY STATION. 47 COMP. GEN. 440 (1968); B-166200, DATED MARCH 20, 1969, COPY ENCLOSED.

IN INSTANCES IN WHICH THERE IS A CONFLICT BETWEEN THE FACTS REPORTED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE AND THOSE STATED BY A CLAIMANT, IT HAS LONG BEEN THE ESTABLISHED RULE OF THIS OFFICE TO RELY ON THE REPORT OF THE FACTS SUBMITTED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE, IN THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE SUFFICIENTLY CONVINCING TO OVERCOME THE PRESUMPTION OF THE CORRECTNESS OF THE REPORT. 16 COMP. GEN. 325 (1936); 19 ID. 88 (1939), AND 38 ID. 527 (1959).

IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES PRESENTED, WE MUST ACCEPT THE FACTS AS PRESENTED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE TO THE EFFECT THAT TRANSPORTATION WOULD HAVE BEEN FURNISHED TO NORTON AIR FORCE BASE EXCEPT FOR YOUR LATE REPORTING AND THAT WHEN YOU REPORTED AT THE YOKOTA AIR BASE, JAPAN, FLIGHTS WERE READILY AVAILABLE TO TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA. FURTHERMORE, SINCE YOU WERE NEITHER REQUIRED NOR OFFICIALLY DIRECTED TO TRAVEL BY A CIRCUITOUS ROUTE TO YOUR OFFICIAL DESTINATION AND SINCE IT IS REPORTED THAT YOU COULD HAVE OFF LOADED AT SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, UPON ARRIVAL THERE RATHER THAN CONTINUING ON THE FLIGHT TO THE EAST COAST, THERE WOULD BE NO AUTHORITY TO ALLOW YOU MILEAGE IN EXCESS OF THE DISTANCE FROM SEATTLE TO HILL AIR FORCE BASE EVEN IF IT WERE ESTABLISHED THAT NO FLIGHTS WERE AVAILABLE FOR YOUR TRAVEL FROM OVERSEAS TO NORTON AIR FORCE BASE OR TO TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE.

ACCORDINGLY, ON THE RECORD BEFORE US THE SETTLEMENT DATED NOVEMBER 3, 1970, WAS CORRECT AND IS SUSTAINED.