B-171708, FEB 18, 1971

B-171708: Feb 18, 1971

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SINCE RETURN BY DIRECT ROUTE WAS DELAYED BY A STRIKE AGAINST NORTHWEST ORIENT AIRLINES. TRAVEL BY INDIRECT ROUTE USING ANOTHER AIRLINE WAS JUSTIFIED AND IS WITHIN THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3.2 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. DOHERTY WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL ON OR ABOUT NOVEMBER 16. HE WAS TO PARTICIPATE IN A MIDDLE MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE AND UPON COMPLETION ON OR ABOUT NOVEMBER 20. WAS TO RETURN TO HIS DUTY STATION. A ROUND TRIP AIR FLIGHT TICKET VIA NORTHWEST ORIENT AIRLINES WAS ISSUED FOR HIS TRAVEL. THE EMPLOYEE IS CLAIMING PER DIEM FOR 4-1/2 DAYS AT $22 ($99) PLUS MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES OF $3.75. HE WAS UNABLE TO USE HIS RETURN TICKET DUE TO A STRIKE AFFECTING THE NORTHWEST ORIENT AIRLINES AT THAT TIME.

B-171708, FEB 18, 1971

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES - TRAVEL EXPENSES - INDIRECT ROUTE AUTHORIZING PAYMENT OF A TRAVEL VOUCHER SUBMITTED BY AN EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION FOR TRAVEL FROM HIS STATION AT BILLINGS, MONTANA, TO PORTLAND, OREGON, TO PARTICIPATE IN A MIDDLE MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE AND RETURN TO BILLINGS BY INDIRECT ROUTE THROUGH DENVER, COLORADO. SINCE RETURN BY DIRECT ROUTE WAS DELAYED BY A STRIKE AGAINST NORTHWEST ORIENT AIRLINES, TRAVEL BY INDIRECT ROUTE USING ANOTHER AIRLINE WAS JUSTIFIED AND IS WITHIN THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3.2 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

TO MR. C. H. LUCAS:

YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 31, 1970, REF. NO. 375, REQUESTS A DECISION AS TO WHETHER A TRAVEL VOUCHER FOR $102.75, SUBMITTED BY MR. RICHARD D. DOHERTY, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES PRESENTED.

BY TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION 71-140, DATED OCTOBER 28, 1970, MR. DOHERTY WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL ON OR ABOUT NOVEMBER 16, 1970, FROM HIS STATION AT BILLINGS, MONTANA, TO PORTLAND, OREGON. HE WAS TO PARTICIPATE IN A MIDDLE MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE AND UPON COMPLETION ON OR ABOUT NOVEMBER 20, 1970, WAS TO RETURN TO HIS DUTY STATION. A ROUND TRIP AIR FLIGHT TICKET VIA NORTHWEST ORIENT AIRLINES WAS ISSUED FOR HIS TRAVEL.

THE TRAVEL DIARY BY MR. DOHERTY SHOWS THAT HE TRAVELED BY NORTHWEST ORIENT AIRLINES, ARRIVING IN PORTLAND, OREGON, AT 8:30 P.M., ON NOVEMBER 16, 1970. THE INSTITUTE ENDED AT 12 NOON ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20 AND HE DEPARTED PORTLAND BY UNITED AIRLINES AT 2:30 P.M., THAT DAY, TRAVELING BY INDIRECT ROUTE THROUGH DENVER, COLORADO, ARRIVING AT HIS OFFICIAL DUTY STATION AT 7:30 P.M. THE EMPLOYEE IS CLAIMING PER DIEM FOR 4-1/2 DAYS AT $22 ($99) PLUS MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES OF $3.75, FOR A TOTAL OF $102.75, OFFSET BY A TRAVEL ADVANCE OF $100.

YOU SAY THAT ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20, WHEN THE EMPLOYEE COMPLETED HIS TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT, HE WAS UNABLE TO USE HIS RETURN TICKET DUE TO A STRIKE AFFECTING THE NORTHWEST ORIENT AIRLINES AT THAT TIME. HE THEREUPON ISSUED A TRANSPORTATION REQUEST FOR RETURN TO HIS OFFICIAL DUTY STATION BY UNITED AIRLINES THROUGH DENVER, COLORADO, TO BILLINGS, MONTANA, AN INDIRECT ROUTE AT A COST OF $111. INASMUCH AS THE CANCELLED RETURN TRIP TICKET COST $71, AN ADDITIONAL COST OF $40 WAS INCURRED. HOWEVER, YOU SAY THAT HIS RETURN BY DIRECT ROUTE THE NEXT DAY WOULD HAVE INVOLVED AN ADDITIONAL PER DIEM OF $16.50, THEREBY REDUCING THE EXCESS COST TO $23.50.

YOU SAY FURTHER THAT THE REGULATIONS REQUIRE AN EMPLOYEE TRAVELING BY AN INDIRECT ROUTE FOR PERSONAL REASONS TO BEAR THE EXTRA EXPENSES INCURRED THEREBY. HOWEVER, MR. DOHERTY CONTENDS THAT HIS ACTION IN RETURNING TO HIS STATION ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20, WAS JUSTIFIED, SINCE HIS RETURN BY THE MOST DIRECT ROUTE WOULD HAVE REQUIRED HIM TO REMAIN OVERNIGHT AT HIS TEMPORARY DUTY STATION AND TO TRAVEL ON SATURDAY, WHICH IS A NONWORKDAY. YOU SAY THAT THIS VIEW IS SUPPORTED BY REGULATIONS GOVERNING PAY FOR TIME IN A TRAVEL STATUS PROMULGATED FEBRUARY 2, 1969, BY THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION IN IMPLEMENTING THE PROVISIONS OF PUB. L. 90-206, DECEMBER 16, 1967, 81 STAT. 613, ET SEQ. HOWEVER, YOU EXPRESS DOUBT AS TO WHETHER THE VOUCHER MAY PROPERLY BE CERTIFIED IN VIEW OF THE INDIRECT ROUTE USED IN THE TRAVEL PERFORMED. YOU SAY FURTHER THAT THE EMPLOYEE'S SUPERVISOR HAS APPROVED THE VOUCHER, SUBJECT TO FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF THE INDIRECT TRAVEL.

SECTION 1.2, STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, PROMULGATED PURSUANT TO THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, AS AMENDED, 5 U.S.C. 5701 5708, PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART THAT AN EMPLOYEE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IS EXPECTED TO USE THE SAME CARE IN INCURRING EXPENSES THAT A PRUDENT PERSON WOULD EXERCISE IF TRAVELING ON PERSONAL BUSINESS. SECTION 3.2 OF THE REGULATIONS PROVIDES THAT ALL TRAVEL WILL BE BY A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE AND THAT TRAVEL BY OTHER ROUTES MAY BE ALLOWED WHEN THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY THEREFOR IS SATISFACTORILY ESTABLISHED. SECTION 2.1 PROVIDES THAT ALL TRAVEL WILL EITHER BE AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED BY THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY OR BY AN OFFICER TO WHOM SUCH AUTHORITY HAS BEEN DELEGATED.

IT HAS BEEN INFORMALLY ASCERTAINED THAT PASSENGER SERVICE BY NORTHWEST ORIENT AIRLINES WAS SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCED DUE TO A STRIKE AT THE TIME UNDER CONSIDERATION AND THAT IT CONTINUED FOR A CONSIDERABLE PERIOD THEREAFTER. WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE SERVICE PROVIDED BY THAT AIRLINE DURING THE STRIKE WAS LIMITED, THAT FLIGHT SCHEDULES WERE UNCERTAIN AND THAT NOT ALL DESTINATIONS WERE SERVICED. FOR THAT REASON, THE MATTER OF TRAVELING ON SATURDAY IS NOT MATERIAL SINCE MR. DOHERTY MAY NOT (EVEN ON SATURDAY) HAVE BEEN ABLE TO RETURN TO HIS OFFICIAL STATION IN BILLINGS, MONTANA, BY USING NORTHWEST ORIENT AIRLINES, WHICH WAS THE ONLY DIRECT ROUTE AVAILABLE. THEREFORE, UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES DISCLOSED, IT MAY REASONABLY BE CONCLUDED THAT THE NECESSITY FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY AN INDIRECT ROUTE USING ANOTHER AIRLINE WAS ESTABLISHED WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 3.2 OF THE REGULATIONS.

ALTHOUGH A LOWER COST FLIGHT BY UNITED AIRLINES THROUGH SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, WAS SCHEDULED FOR DEPARTURE ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1970, FROM PORTLAND, OREGON, AT 1:15 P.M., AND ARRIVAL AT BILLINGS, MONTANA, AT 11:02 P.M., THAT DAY, IT MAY HAVE BEEN IMPRACTICAL FOR MR. DOHERTY TO USE SUCH FLIGHT AFTER COMPLETION OF HIS TEMPORARY DUTY AT THE INSTITUTE AT 12 NOON. IN VIEW THEREOF, IT MAY BE CONSIDERED THAT HE EXERCISED THE JUDGMENT REQUIRED OF HIM WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 1.2 OF THE REGULATIONS. COMPARE B-157040, DATED SEPTEMBER 7, 1965, AND B-166451, APRIL 15, 1969, COPIES ENCLOSED.

ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.