B-171751, FEB 11, 1971

B-171751: Feb 11, 1971

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES - TRAVEL EXPENSES - PRIVATE CONTRIBUTIONS ADVISING THAT TRAVEL EXPENSES INCURRED BY EMPLOYEES OF THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION IN CONNECTION WITH CONFERENCES SPONSORED BY ORGANIZATIONS WHICH ARE COVERED BY THE PROVISIONS OF 26 U.S.C. 501(C)3 MAY BE PAID BY THOSE ORGANIZATIONS ACCORDING TO THE PROVISIONS OF 5 U.S.C. 4111. IT IS STATED THAT SUCH ACTIVITIES ARE INTIMATELY RELATED TO THE PROGRAM RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE COMMISSION AND STAFF PARTICIPATION THEREIN OFTEN IS IMPERATIVE. THAT THE COMMISSION'S TRAVEL BUDGET IS NOT ADEQUATE TO FUND THE CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF TRAVEL INVOLVED IN ATTENDING THE FREQUENT MEETINGS. THE QUESTION PRESENTED IS IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES CAN THE TRAVEL COSTS INVOLVED BY PARTICIPATION OF THE COMMISSION STAFF BE PAID BY THE HOST ORGANIZATION - NONGOVERNMENTAL ACTIVITIES.

B-171751, FEB 11, 1971

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES - TRAVEL EXPENSES - PRIVATE CONTRIBUTIONS ADVISING THAT TRAVEL EXPENSES INCURRED BY EMPLOYEES OF THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION IN CONNECTION WITH CONFERENCES SPONSORED BY ORGANIZATIONS WHICH ARE COVERED BY THE PROVISIONS OF 26 U.S.C. 501(C)3 MAY BE PAID BY THOSE ORGANIZATIONS ACCORDING TO THE PROVISIONS OF 5 U.S.C. 4111.

TO MR. NASSIKAS:

WE REFER TO THE LETTER OF JANUARY 21, 1971, FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION CONCERNING PAYMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES OF EMPLOYEES OF THE COMMISSION BY PARTIES OUTSIDE THE GOVERNMENT.

THE LETTER SETS FORTH THE INCREASING ACTIVITY OF THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION IN FURNISHING EXPERTS FROM ITS PROFESSIONAL STAFF FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCES, LAND AND WATER USE SEMINARS, ELECTRIC SYSTEMS INTERCONNECTION PLANNING SESSIONS, RIVER BASIN DEVELOPMENT MEETINGS AND THE LIKE HELD WITHIN THE ELECTRIC AND GAS UTILITIES INDUSTRIES. IT IS STATED THAT SUCH ACTIVITIES ARE INTIMATELY RELATED TO THE PROGRAM RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE COMMISSION AND STAFF PARTICIPATION THEREIN OFTEN IS IMPERATIVE. THE LETTER STATES, HOWEVER, THAT THE COMMISSION'S TRAVEL BUDGET IS NOT ADEQUATE TO FUND THE CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF TRAVEL INVOLVED IN ATTENDING THE FREQUENT MEETINGS.

THE QUESTION PRESENTED IS IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES CAN THE TRAVEL COSTS INVOLVED BY PARTICIPATION OF THE COMMISSION STAFF BE PAID BY THE HOST ORGANIZATION - NONGOVERNMENTAL ACTIVITIES.

TWO SPECIFIC CASES ARE SET FORTH IN THE ABOVE LETTER, THE FIRST OF WHICH CONCERNS A CONFERENCE SCHEDULED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN IN MILWAUKEE FOR OCTOBER 4-8, 1971, PERTAINING TO PUMPED STORAGE OPERATIONS. MR. JACK SHEPLEY OF THE COMMISSION'S STAFF WHO IS CITED AS THIS COUNTRY'S FOREMOST EXPERT ON THE DESIGN OF PUMPED STORAGE SYSTEMS HAS BEEN ASKED TO SERVE ON THE CONFERENCE ORGANIZING COMMITTEE AND TO DELIVER A PAPER. THE SECOND CASE THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REGULATORY UTILITY COMMISSIONERS HAS ASKED THAT THE COMMISSION'S CHIEF ACCOUNTANT, ARTHUR LITKE, TEACH A WEEK-LONG COURSE ON A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF ACCOUNTS WHICH THE COMMISSION HAS IMPOSED ON ALL REGULATED UTILITIES. IN EACH CASE THE HOST ORGANIZATION HAS OFFERED TO PAY ALL OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO PARTICIPATION BY THE COMMISSION'S EMPLOYEES.

THE PROVISIONS OF 5 U.S.C. 4111 ARE AS FOLLOWS:

"(A) TO THE EXTENT AUTHORIZED BY REGULATION OF THE PRESIDENT, CONTRIBUTIONS AND AWARDS INCIDENT TO TRAINING IN NON-GOVERNMENT FACILITIES, AND PAYMENT OF TRAVEL, SUBSISTENCE, AND OTHER EXPENSES INCIDENT TO ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS, MAY BE MADE TO AND ACCEPTED BY AN EMPLOYEE, WITHOUT REGARD TO SECTION 209 OF TITLE 18, IF THE CONTRIBUTIONS, AWARDS, AND PAYMENTS ARE MADE BY AN ORGANIZATION DETERMINED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY TO BE AN ORGANIZATION DESCRIBED BY SECTION 501(C)(3) OF TITLE 26 WHICH IS EXEMPT FROM TAXATION UNDER SECTION 501(A) OF TITLE 26.

"(B) WHEN A CONTRIBUTION, AWARD, OR PAYMENT, IN CASH OR IN KIND, IS MADE TO AN EMPLOYEE FOR TRAVEL, SUBSISTENCE, OR OTHER EXPENSES UNDER SUBSECTION (A) OF THIS SECTION, AN APPROPRIATE REDUCTION, UNDER REGULATIONS OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET, SHALL BE MADE FROM PAYMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT TO THE EMPLOYEE FOR TRAVEL, SUBSISTENCE, OR OTHER EXPENSES INCIDENT TO TRAINING IN A NON-GOVERNMENT FACILITY OR TO ATTENDANCE AT A MEETING. PUB. L. 89-554, SEPT. 6, 1966, 80 STAT. 437."

WE INFORMALLY ASCERTAINED THAT BOTH THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN AND THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REGULATORY COMMISSIONERS ARE ORGANIZATIONS DESCRIBED IN 26 U.S.C. 501(C)(3) AND ACCORDINGLY CONTRIBUTIONS MAY BE ACCEPTED AS PROVIDED IN 5 U.S.C. 4111. SEE 47 COMP. GEN. 319 (1967).

IN 46 COMP. GEN. 689 (1967) WE DISCUSSED THE SITUATION OF ACCEPTING REIMBURSEMENT FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL FROM A PRIVATE SOURCE WHICH IS NOT WITHIN 5 U.S.C. 4111. IN THOSE CASES WHERE THE CONCERNED GOVERNMENT AGENCY HAS NO STATUTORY AUTHORITY TO ACCEPT GIFTS, REIMBURSEMENT FROM PRIVATE SOURCES FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL EXPENSES WOULD BE UNAUTHORIZED. ARE UNAWARE OF ANY STATUTORY AUTHORITY PROVIDING FOR THE ACCEPTANCE OF GIFTS BY THE COMMISSION. SEE ALSO IN THIS CONNECTION SECTION 735.202 OF THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION REGULATIONS, TITLE 5, CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS. SHOULD SUCH AUTHORITY EXIST OR BE OBTAINED, THE PROCEDURE ON REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES DESCRIBED IN THE DECISION CITED ABOVE (46 COMP. GEN. 689) SHOULD BE FOLLOWED.