B-172048, MAR 29, 1971

B-172048: Mar 29, 1971

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CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES - TRAVEL EXPENSES - TERMINATION DUE TO DEATH ADVISING THAT EMPLOYEES OF THE ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION (AEC) WHO WERE AUTHORIZED OFFICIAL TRAVEL TO ATTEND SYMPOSIUM AND INSPECT REACTORS (FROM WASHINGTON D.C. COLORADO) BUT WERE FORCED TO ABANDON THEIR TEMPORARY DUTY STATIONS PRIOR TO THE TERMINATION DATE OF THE ASSIGNMENT DUE TO DEATH IN THE FAMILY MAY BE REIMBURSED RETURN TRAVEL EXPENSES IF THE PURPOSES OF THE TRAVEL WERE SUBSTANTIALLY FULFILLED OR THE DUTIES THE EMPLOYEE WAS TO PERFORM WERE COMPLETED AT NO ADDITIONAL EXPENSE TO THE GOVERNMENT. LEITH: THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 26. THE PERTINENT FACTS ARE AS FOLLOWS: "UNDER TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION WA 719. HE WAS NOTIFIED OF A DEATH IN HIS FAMILY.

B-172048, MAR 29, 1971

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES - TRAVEL EXPENSES - TERMINATION DUE TO DEATH ADVISING THAT EMPLOYEES OF THE ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION (AEC) WHO WERE AUTHORIZED OFFICIAL TRAVEL TO ATTEND SYMPOSIUM AND INSPECT REACTORS (FROM WASHINGTON D.C. TO IDAHO FALL, IDAHO; AMES, IOWA; AND FT. COLLINS, COLORADO) BUT WERE FORCED TO ABANDON THEIR TEMPORARY DUTY STATIONS PRIOR TO THE TERMINATION DATE OF THE ASSIGNMENT DUE TO DEATH IN THE FAMILY MAY BE REIMBURSED RETURN TRAVEL EXPENSES IF THE PURPOSES OF THE TRAVEL WERE SUBSTANTIALLY FULFILLED OR THE DUTIES THE EMPLOYEE WAS TO PERFORM WERE COMPLETED AT NO ADDITIONAL EXPENSE TO THE GOVERNMENT.

TO MR. ROBERT L. LEITH:

THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 26, 1971, AND ENCLOSURES, REQUESTING AN INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS (SGTR) TO TRAVEL EXPENSES CLAIMED ON VOUCHERS SUBMITTED BY MR. S. E. TATALOVICH, MR. GEORGE S. FRIEND, AND MR. BRUCE B. BOECKER, EMPLOYEES OF THE ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION. THE PERTINENT FACTS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

"UNDER TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION WA 719, COPY ENCLOSED, MR. TATALOVICH PROCEEDED TO AMES, IOWA ON AUGUST 24, 1969 FOR THE PURPOSE OF ATTENDING A THREE-DAY SYMPOSIUM (AUGUST 25 - 27) ON REPROCESSING OF NUCLEAR FUELS. DEPARTED DULLES AIRPORT AT 6:45 P.M. AND ARRIVED AT AMES, IOWA AT 11:15 P.M. WHILE ATTENDING THE MORNING SESSION ON AUGUST 25, 1969, HE WAS NOTIFIED OF A DEATH IN HIS FAMILY. HE IMMEDIATELY TERMINATED HIS OFFICIAL MISSION, ATTEMPTED TO CONTACT HIS SUPERVISOR BUT WITHOUT SUCCESS, AND THEN PROCEEDED TO MCKEESPORT, PENNSYLVANIA WHERE THE DEATH OCCURRED. ULTIMATELY RETURNED TO WASHINGTON, D.C. ON AUGUST 30, 1969.

"THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING MR. FRIEND'S TRAVEL ARE QUITE SIMILAR TO THOSE OUTLINED ABOVE. HE WAS AUTHORIZED TRAVEL TO IDAHO FALLS, IDAHO BEGINNING ON OR ABOUT NOVEMBER 30, 1969 AND ENDING ON OR ABOUT DECEMBER 6, 1969 FOR THE PURPOSE OF REVIEWING CERTAIN REACTOR CORE TESTING AND CYCLING MATTERS. SEE COPY OF TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION WA 3360 ENCLOSED. HE DEPARTED WASHINGTON NATIONAL AIRPORT AT 11:20 A.M. AND ARRIVED IDAHO FALLS, IDAHO AT 6:47 P.M. ON NOVEMBER 30, 1969. HE HELD A MEETING THIS SAME EVENING (9:30 P.M. - 12:30 A.M.) WITH OTHER INTERESTED PERSONNEL. DUE TO NOTICE OF SUDDEN DEATH OF HIS MOTHER, HE DEPARTED IDAHO FALLS AT 8:00 A.M. ON DECEMBER 1, 1969 WITH ULTIMATE ARRIVAL AT WASHINGTON, D.C. AT 6:31 P.M. THIS SAME DATE.

"UNDER TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION WA 1661, MR. BRUCE B. BOECKER WAS AUTHORIZED TRAVEL TO FT. COLLINS, COLORADO BEGINNING ON OR ABOUT SEPTEMBER 9, 1970 AND ENDING ON OR ABOUT SEPTEMBER 11, 1970. HE DEPARTED DULLES AT 5:15 P.M. ON SEPTEMBER 9 AND ARRIVED DENVER AT 8:45 P.M. HE ARRANGED FOR A RENTAL VEHICLE AT 9:30 P.M. AND PROCEEDED TO FT. COLLINS WHICH IS LOCATED ABOUT 62 MILES FROM DENVER. FOR PERSONAL REASONS, UNDERSTOOD TO BE A DEATH IN HIS FAMILY, HE DEPARTED FT. COLLINS AT APPROXIMATELY 7:00 A.M. ON SEPTEMBER 10, 1970 AND ARRIVED CHICAGO, ILLINOIS AT 12:00 NOON THIS SAME DATE WITH ULTIMATE ARRIVAL AT HIS RESIDENCE IN GAITHERSBURG, MARYLAND ON SEPTEMBER 20, 1970."

IN EACH OF THESE CASES THE EMPLOYEE DEPARTED HIS TEMPORARY DUTY STATION PRIOR TO THE TERMINATION DATE OF HIS TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT BECAUSE OF THE DEATH OF A FAMILY MEMBER. THESE EMPLOYEES FEEL THAT THEY COMPLETED THE ESSENTIAL PURPOSE OF THEIR TRAVEL AND THAT THEY ACCORDINGLY SHOULD NOT BE ASSESSED THE COST OF RETURNING FROM THEIR TEMPORARY DUTY STATIONS.

THE GENERAL RULE IS THAT WHEN AN EMPLOYEE ABANDONS HIS OFFICIAL TRAVEL STATUS BECAUSE OF DEATH OR ILLNESS OF A MEMBER OF HIS FAMILY HE MAY BE REIMBURSED ONLY THE COST OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL TO THE POINT OF ABANDONMENT. SEE 47 COMP. GEN. 59, 60 (1967), AND DECISIONS CITED THEREIN. HOWEVER, AN EXCEPTION IS MADE IN CASES WHERE THE EMPLOYEE HAS SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLETED THE PURPOSE OF THE TRAVEL OR THE DUTIES HE WAS TO PERFORM ARE COMPLETED AT NO ADDITIONAL EXPENSE TO THE GOVERNMENT. SEE B-166301, APRIL 15, 1969; B- 155977, FEBRUARY 18, 1965; AND B 144865, FEBRUARY 16, 1961; COPIES ENCLOSED.

A MEMORANDUM ATTACHED TO MR. TATALOVICH'S VOUCHER INDICATES THAT HE REGISTERED FOR THE SYMPOSIUM, PAID THE REGISTRATION FEE, AND RECEIVED A COPY OF PROCEEDINGS WHICH CONTAINED ALL PAPERS PRESENTED. WHILE ATTENDING THE MONDAY MORNING SESSION, THE FIRST OF THE SYMPOSIUM, HE RECEIVED NOTIFICATION OF A DEATH IN HIS FAMILY. IT IS MR. TATALOVICH'S CONTENTION, CONCURRED IN BY HIS IMMEDIATE SUPERVISOR, THAT BY REGISTERING, ATTENDING THE OPENING MORNING SESSION AND PARTICIPATING IN THE SEVERAL PAPERS PRESENTED, AND BY RECEIPT OF THE COMPLETE PROCEEDINGS OF THE SYMPOSIUM AT THE TIME OF REGISTRATION, HE ESSENTIALLY ACCOMPLISHED HIS MISSION.

IN REGARD TO MR. FRIEND, IT APPEARS FROM THE RECORD THAT ON THE EVENING OF ARRIVAL AT IDAHO FALLS, HE HELD A MEETING WITH OTHER PERSONNEL AND NECESSARY BUSINESS RELATING TO ATR WAS DISCUSSED AND COURSES OF ACTION ESTABLISHED. THE TRAVELER STATES THAT HE RETURNED TO WASHINGTON DECEMBER 1 AFTER COMPLETING THE ESSENTIAL PURPOSE OF THE TRIP.

WE FIND NO INDICATION IN THE RECORD THAT ADMINISTRATIVE CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN AS TO WHETHER THE ABOVE TWO CASES WOULD QUALIFY FOR EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL RULE ON THE BASIS OF COMPLETION OF THE ESSENTIAL PURPOSES OF THE TRAVEL OR THAT THE DUTIES THE TRAVELER WAS TO PERFORM ARE COMPLETED AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. IF IT IS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT SUCH CASES FALL WITHIN THE EXCEPTION, NO OBJECTION WILL BE RAISED BY OUR OFFICE TO CERTIFICATION OF TRAVEL VOUCHERS PRESENTED BY MR. TATALOVICH AND MR. FRIEND.

THE FACTS AS STATED IN MR. BOECKER'S CASE INDICATE THAT HE ABANDONED HIS OFFICIAL MISSION BEFORE PERFORMANCE OF ANY DUTY. CONSEQUENTLY, THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS TO CHARGE THE GOVERNMENT WITH THE RETURN TRAVEL AND, THEREFORE, HIS VOUCHER MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. SEE B 161873, FEBRUARY 22, 1971, COPY ENCLOSED.

THE VOUCHERS ARE RETURNED HEREWITH FOR HANDLING IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOREGOING.