B-173762, SEP 13, 1971

B-173762: Sep 13, 1971

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ABSENT A CERTIFICATE FROM THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY THAT SUCH EXPENSE WAS NECESSARILY INCURRED. KENNEDY: THIS WILL REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 30. THE RECORD INDICATES THAT THREE LONG-DISTANCE TELEPHONE CALLS WERE MADE AT MR. WHERE HE WAS TO COMMENCE A TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT ON THE MONDAY FOLLOWING THE SUBJECT "WEEK-END.". MILLER WAS UNABLE TO SECURE A COMMERCIAL FLIGHT FROM KANSAS CITY TO LOUISVILLE DUE TO SEVERE WEATHER CONDITIONS AND PLACED TWO OF THE CALLS FOR THE PURPOSE OF INSTRUCTING COLLEAGUES ON HOW TO PROCEED IN HIS ABSENCE AND TO REQUEST ANOTHER PERSON TO HANDLE THE "BRIEFING AND ENTRANCE INTERVIEW" AT THE TEMPORARY DUTY SITE. THE THIRD CALL WAS PLACED TO MR. THE CLAIM WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DENIED ON THE BASIS THAT THE EXPENSE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN INCURRED HAD MR.

B-173762, SEP 13, 1971

TELEPHONE CALLS - REIMBURSEMENT FOR LONG-DISTANCE CHARGES DECISION DENYING CLAIM OF ALPHONSO T. MILLER FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF $8.90 IN LONG-DISTANCE CHARGES FOR TELEPHONE CALLS MADE IN THE COURSE OF PERFORMING AUTHORIZED TRAVEL AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE OFFICE OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY. SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF MAY 10, 1939, 31 U.S.C. 608A, PROVIDES IN PART THAT NO APPROPRIATION SHALL BE USED FOR THE PAYMENT OF LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE TOLL CALLS EXCEPT FOR THE TRANSACTION OF PUBLIC BUSINESS WHICH THE INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT REQUIRE TO BE SO TRANSACTED. ABSENT A CERTIFICATE FROM THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY THAT SUCH EXPENSE WAS NECESSARILY INCURRED, THE CLAIM MAY NOT BE PAID.

TO MR. JAMES A. KENNEDY:

THIS WILL REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 30, 1971, REFERENCE 4/PS/FMP, REQUESTING OUR DECISION ON THE CLAIM OF MR. ALPHONSO T. MILLER, A FORMER EMPLOYEE OF YOUR OFFICE, FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF $8.90 IN LONG DISTANCE CHARGES FOR TELEPHONE CALLS MADE IN THE COURSE OF PERFORMING AUTHORIZED TRAVEL.

THE RECORD INDICATES THAT THREE LONG-DISTANCE TELEPHONE CALLS WERE MADE AT MR. MILLER'S EXPENSE AS A CONSEQUENCE OF TRAVEL COMPLICATIONS STEMMING FROM HIS PERSONAL DECISION TO SPEND THE "WEEK-END" AT KANSAS CITY IN CONJUNCTION WITH PERFORMING AUTHORIZED TRAVEL BETWEEN ATLANTA, GEORGIA, HIS PERMANENT DUTY STATION, AND LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, WHERE HE WAS TO COMMENCE A TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT ON THE MONDAY FOLLOWING THE SUBJECT "WEEK-END." MR. MILLER WAS UNABLE TO SECURE A COMMERCIAL FLIGHT FROM KANSAS CITY TO LOUISVILLE DUE TO SEVERE WEATHER CONDITIONS AND PLACED TWO OF THE CALLS FOR THE PURPOSE OF INSTRUCTING COLLEAGUES ON HOW TO PROCEED IN HIS ABSENCE AND TO REQUEST ANOTHER PERSON TO HANDLE THE "BRIEFING AND ENTRANCE INTERVIEW" AT THE TEMPORARY DUTY SITE. THE THIRD CALL WAS PLACED TO MR. MILLER, CHARGES COLLECT, BY HIS STAND-IN FOR THE STATED PURPOSE OF OBTAINING ADDITIONAL INFORMATION TO CONDUCT THE "TEAM BRIEFING." THE CLAIM WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DENIED ON THE BASIS THAT THE EXPENSE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN INCURRED HAD MR. MILLER NOT MADE A PERSONAL CHOICE TO PROCEED TO LOUISVILLE VIA KANSAS CITY. THE BURDEN OF GIVING NOTICE OF HIS ANTICIPATED ABSENCE FROM DUTY IN LOUISVILLE WAS THEREFORE CONSIDERED HIS OWN RESPONSIBILITY.

SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF MAY 10, 1939, 53 STAT. 738, 31 U.S.C. 680A, PROVIDES IN PART THAT:

" *** NO PART OF ANY APPROPRIATION FOR ANY EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, ESTABLISHMENT, OR AGENCY SHALL BE USED FOR THE PAYMENT OF LONG-DISTANCE TELEPHONE TOLLS EXCEPT FOR THE TRANSACTION OF PUBLIC BUSINESS WHICH THE INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT REQUIRE TO BE SO TRANSACTED; AND ALL SUCH PAYMENTS SHALL BE SUPPORTED BY A CERTIFICATE BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT, ESTABLISHMENT, OR AGENCY CONCERNED, OR SUCH SUBORDINATES AS HE MAY SPECIALLY DESIGNATE, TO THE EFFECT THAT THE USE OF THE TELEPHONE IN SUCH INSTANCES WAS NECESSARY IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT."

WE HAVE PREVIOUSLY STATED THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF SUCH A CERTIFICATE WE WOULD NOT SUBSTITUTE OUR JUDGMENT FOR THAT OF THE AGENCY OFFICIAL CONCERNED. SEE 44 COMP. GEN. 595 (1965) AND DECISIONS CITED THEREIN.

SECTION 8.2 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, REVISED MARCH 1, 1965, DOES NOT PROVIDE AN ALTERNATIVE BASIS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF SUCH EXPENSES. THE LANGUAGE "ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS" IN THAT SECTION HAS BEEN IMPLICITLY RECOGNIZED AS COMPREHENDING THE STATUTORY REQUIREMENT OF CERTIFICATION AS PRESCRIBED IN 31 U.S.C. 680A. SEE B-157312, MAY 23, 1966, COPY ENCLOSED. COMPLIANCE WITH THE OTHER EVIDENTIARY STANDARDS OF SECTION 8.2 CANNOT THEREFORE EXCUSE SUBMISSION OF THE CERTIFICATE REQUIRED BY 31 U.S.C. 680A.

WE CONCLUDE THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF SAID CERTIFICATE THE VOUCHER MAY NOT BE PROPERLY CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.