B-171804, MAR 2, 1971

B-171804: Mar 2, 1971

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ON PERSONAL BUSINESS LATER LEARNING THAT HIS PARTICIPATION IN THE MEETING IS NO LONGER REQUIRED MAY STILL BE REIMBURSED TRAVEL EXPENSES PROVIDED THAT HE WOULD NOT HAVE PERFORMED THE TRAVEL TO THE LEAVE POINT BUT FOR THE OPPORTUNITY OFFERED BY THE OFFICIAL TRIP. WAS ADVISED BY LETTER DATED OCTOBER 9. WHEN ATTEMPTING TO REACH THE EMPLOYEE IN SEATTLE (APPARENTLY FROM THE WASHINGTON OFFICE) TO ADVISE HIM THAT HIS PARTICIPATION WAS NOT REQUIRED. IT WAS LEARNED THAT HE HAD TAKEN ANNUAL LEAVE AND DEPARTED FROM SEATTLE VIA ATLANTA. HE WAS REACHED IN ATLANTA ON THE MORNING OF OCTOBER 23. ADVISED OF THE CANCELLATION OF THE MEETING AND WAS INSTRUCTED TO RETURN TO SEATTLE. IS STATED THAT HAD HE NOT BEEN AUTHORIZED TO PERFORM THE OFFICIAL TRAVEL HE WOULD NOT HAVE MADE THE PERSONAL TRIP TO ATLANTA.

B-171804, MAR 2, 1971

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES - TRAVEL EXPENSES - EARLY DEPARTURE AND CANCELLATION AUTHORIZING PAYMENT OF A VOUCHER FOR AMOUNTS SPENT FOR TRAVEL FROM SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, TO ATLANTA, GEORGIA, AND TO WASHINGTON, D.C., AND BACK TO SEATTLE. AN EMPLOYEE WHO, INCIDENT TO ATTENDING A MEETING IN WASHINGTON, D.C., DEPARTS EARLY ON ANNUAL LEAVE TO GO TO ATLANTA, GEORGIA, ON PERSONAL BUSINESS LATER LEARNING THAT HIS PARTICIPATION IN THE MEETING IS NO LONGER REQUIRED MAY STILL BE REIMBURSED TRAVEL EXPENSES PROVIDED THAT HE WOULD NOT HAVE PERFORMED THE TRAVEL TO THE LEAVE POINT BUT FOR THE OPPORTUNITY OFFERED BY THE OFFICIAL TRIP.

TO MR. JOHN C. MACKALL:

YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 26, 1971, WITH ENCLOSURES, REQUESTS AN ADVANCE DECISION WHETHER A VOUCHER IN THE AMOUNT OF $49.28 IN FAVOR OF MR. WILLIAM C. STRICKLAND, JR., AN EMPLOYEE OF YOUR AGENCY, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

MR. STRICKLAND, WITH HEADQUARTERS IN SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, WAS ADVISED BY LETTER DATED OCTOBER 9, 1970, RECEIVED ON OCTOBER 13, 1970, TO BE IN WASHINGTON, D.C., TO PARTICIPATE IN A MEETING TO BE HELD OCTOBER 26 THROUGH OCTOBER 28, 1970. RESERVATIONS HAD BEEN MADE BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE FOR HOTEL ROOMS FOR THE EMPLOYEE WHILE ATTENDING THE MEETING. WITH PRIOR APPROVAL OF ANNUAL LEAVE THE EMPLOYEE DEPARTED IN ADVANCE (OCTOBER 21, 1970) OF THE NORMAL TIME REQUIRED TO ATTEND THE MEETING. WHEN ATTEMPTING TO REACH THE EMPLOYEE IN SEATTLE (APPARENTLY FROM THE WASHINGTON OFFICE) TO ADVISE HIM THAT HIS PARTICIPATION WAS NOT REQUIRED, IT WAS LEARNED THAT HE HAD TAKEN ANNUAL LEAVE AND DEPARTED FROM SEATTLE VIA ATLANTA, GEORGIA, FOR PERSONAL CONVENIENCE. HE WAS REACHED IN ATLANTA ON THE MORNING OF OCTOBER 23, 1970, AND ADVISED OF THE CANCELLATION OF THE MEETING AND WAS INSTRUCTED TO RETURN TO SEATTLE. IS STATED THAT HAD HE NOT BEEN AUTHORIZED TO PERFORM THE OFFICIAL TRAVEL HE WOULD NOT HAVE MADE THE PERSONAL TRIP TO ATLANTA. THE EMPLOYEE HAD PROCURED A TICKET ON A GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUEST FROM SEATTLE TO ATLANTA, GEORGIA, TO WASHINGTON, D.C., AND RETURN TO SEATTLE. HAD HE ATTENDED THE MEETING HIS REIMBURSEMENT WOULD HAVE BEEN REDUCED BY $38 THE AMOUNT OF EXCESS CHARGES TO THE GOVERNMENT REPRESENTED BY THE ROUTING THROUGH ATLANTA.

FOR MR. STRICKLAND'S RETURN TO SEATTLE HE HAD HIS TICKET REISSUED AND OBTAINED A REFUND VOUCHER HAVING A VALUE OF $54 WHICH HE SURRENDERED TO YOUR AGENCY. IN ADDITION TO TRANSPORTATION TO AND FROM THE SEATTLE AIRPORT, HE IS CLAIMING PER DIEM FOR 1-1/2 DAYS, REPRESENTING TRAVEL TIME BETWEEN SEATTLE AND ATLANTA AND RETURN, WHICH WAS NOT COVERED BY ANNUAL LEAVE OR NONWORKDAYS. UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, AND PARTICULARLY SINCE MR. STRICKLAND'S EARLY DEPARTURE FROM SEATTLE WAS FOR THE PURPOSE OF LEAVE, THERE IS INVOLVED HEREIN THE QUESTION OF WHETHER THE TRIP TO ATLANTA AND RETURN SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS OFFICIAL BUSINESS.

IN 30 COMP. GEN. 56 IT WAS HELD THAT WHEN AN EMPLOYEE DEPARTS PREMATURELY FOR LEAVE PURPOSES PURSUANT TO PROPER AUTHORIZATION - TRAVEL AND LEAVE - AND IT IS SHOWN THAT HAD HE NOT BEEN ORDERED TO UNDERTAKE THE OFFICIAL TRIP HE WOULD NOT HAVE PERFORMED THE TRAVEL TO THE LEAVE POINT, HE SHOULD NOT BE PENALIZED BY REASON OF THE SUBSEQUENT CANCELLATION OF THE TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT.

IN VIEW OF THE CLAIMANT'S STATEMENT TO THE EFFECT THAT HE WOULD NOT HAVE UNDERTAKEN THE TRAVEL TO ATLANTA, WHEN HE ENTERED A LEAVE STATUS, HAD HE NOT BEEN ORDERED TO TEMPORARY DUTY AT WASHINGTON, D.C., AND HAVING REGARD FOR THE FACT THAT THE ANNUAL LEAVE IN QUESTION WAS PROPERLY AUTHORIZED IN ADVANCE OF THE TRAVEL, IT IS CONCLUDED THAT THE CLAIMANT'S CASE FALLS WITHIN THE PRINCIPAL ENUNCIATED IN 30 COMP. GEN. 56.

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