B-174005, NOV 18, 1971

B-174005: Nov 18, 1971

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THESE WERE AMENDED SUBSEQUENTLY TO PROVIDE FOR 60. VINES REPORTED THAT HIS WIFE WAS ON THE VERGE OF A SERIOUS ILLNESS. HE IS ENTITLED TO PER DIEM AND OTHER EXPENSES FOR THIS PERIOD UNDER PARAGRAPH C3014. GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS ALLOW REIMBURSEMENT ONLY WHEN MISSION REQUIREMENTS ARE COMPLETED WITH NO ADDITIONAL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN PAID HAD HE COMPLETED HIS MISSION. USAF: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 15. VINES WAS ORDERED TO PROCEED FROM KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE. VINES RECEIVED LETTERS AND CALLS FROM HIS WIFE WHICH INDICATED TO HIM THAT HIS WIFE WAS ON THE VERGE OF SERIOUS ILLNESS AND THAT HIS PRESENCE WAS REQUIRED AT HOME. HE BELIEVED HIS DUTIES WERE ESSENTIALLY COMPLETED AND REQUESTED PERMISSION ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS TO RETURN HOME BECAUSE OF THE PROSPECTIVE ILLNESS OF HIS WIFE.

B-174005, NOV 18, 1971

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE - ABANDONMENT OF TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT - ENTITLEMENT TO PER DIEM AND RETURN TRAVEL DECISION CONCERNING THE TRAVEL AND PER DIEM ENTITLEMENT OF MR. JOHNNY E. VINES, EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE, WHO RETURNED FROM HIS TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT AT WOODBRIDGE AFB, ENGLAND TO HIS PERMANENT DUTY STATION AT KEESLER AFB, MISSISSIPPI WITHOUT PERMISSION. ORIGINAL ORDERS PROVIDED FOR 45 DAYS TEMPORARY DUTY, BUT THESE WERE AMENDED SUBSEQUENTLY TO PROVIDE FOR 60, 70 AND THEN 85 DAYS. MR. VINES REPORTED THAT HIS WIFE WAS ON THE VERGE OF A SERIOUS ILLNESS, REQUESTED PERMISSION TO RETURN TO MISSISSIPPI, AND, WHEN REFUSED RETURNED ANYWAY. WHILE THE RECORD INDICATES MR. VINES IMPROPERLY ABANDONED HIS MISSION, IT ALSO INDICATES THAT HE PERFORMED HIS DUTIES IN A SATISFACTORY MANNER FOR MORE THAN 70 DAYS PRIOR TO LEAVING ENGLAND, A PERIOD WELL IN EXCESS OF THE ORIGINAL DESIGNATION OF 45 DAYS OF TEMPORARY DUTY. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, HE IS ENTITLED TO PER DIEM AND OTHER EXPENSES FOR THIS PERIOD UNDER PARAGRAPH C3014, VOL. 2, JTR. CONCERNING REIMBURSEMENT OF RETURN TRAVEL, GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS ALLOW REIMBURSEMENT ONLY WHEN MISSION REQUIREMENTS ARE COMPLETED WITH NO ADDITIONAL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. IN THIS CASE, INCREASED TRAVEL AND PER DIEM ALLOWANCES OF MEMBERS OF THE TEAM SHOULD BE COMPARED WITH INCREASED PER DIEM AND RETURN TRAVEL OF MR. VINES, WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN PAID HAD HE COMPLETED HIS MISSION, FOR RESOLUTION OF THIS QUESTION.

TO CAPTAIN D. F. ADAMS, USAF:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 15, 1971, REFERENCE ACF, REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO THE TRAVEL AND PER DIEM ENTITLEMENT OF MR. JOHNNY E. VINES, AN EMPLOYEE OF YOUR AGENCY, WHO RETURNED TO HIS PERMANENT POST OF DUTY FROM A TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF HIS SUPERVISOR.

THE RECORD INDICATES THAT BY TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION DATED OCTOBER 1, 1969, MR. VINES WAS ORDERED TO PROCEED FROM KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, MISSISSIPPI, ON OR ABOUT OCTOBER 2, 1969, TO WOODBRIDGE AIR FORCE BASE, ENGLAND, TO PERFORM TEMPORARY DUTY FOR A PERIOD OF ABOUT 45 DAYS. MR. VINES DEPARTED FROM HIS RESIDENCE ON OCTOBER 3, 1969, AND ARRIVED AT HIS TEMPORARY DUTY STATION ON OCTOBER 4, 1969. SUBSEQUENT TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS DATED NOVEMBER 13, 1969, NOVEMBER 26, 1969, AND DECEMBER 9, 1969, INCREASED HIS PERIOD OF TEMPORARY DUTY FROM 45 DAYS TO 60, 70, AND 85 DAYS, RESPECTIVELY. AFTER HIS TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT HAD BEEN EXTENDED MR. VINES RECEIVED LETTERS AND CALLS FROM HIS WIFE WHICH INDICATED TO HIM THAT HIS WIFE WAS ON THE VERGE OF SERIOUS ILLNESS AND THAT HIS PRESENCE WAS REQUIRED AT HOME. HE BELIEVED HIS DUTIES WERE ESSENTIALLY COMPLETED AND REQUESTED PERMISSION ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS TO RETURN HOME BECAUSE OF THE PROSPECTIVE ILLNESS OF HIS WIFE. WHEN HIS REQUESTS WERE REFUSED, MR. VINES DEPARTED FROM ENGLAND ON DECEMBER 14, 1969, AND ARRIVED HOME THE FOLLOWING DAY.

MR. VINES SUBMITTED A TRAVEL VOUCHER FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCIDENT TO HIS RETURN TRIP AND EXPENSES PREVIOUSLY NOT CLAIMED. THE VOUCHER WAS NOT PAID AND IT WAS DETERMINED THAT MR. VINES WAS INDEBTED TO THE GOVERNMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,658.50, REPRESENTING THE TOTAL OF ALL TRAVEL EXPENSES AND ADVANCES MADE IN CONNECTION WITH THE TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT. THE AMOUNT OF $221.85 WAS COLLECTED FROM MR. VINES' PAY ACCOUNT AND IT IS PROPOSED TO BILL HIM FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE INDEBTEDNESS, $1,436.65.

A REPRIMAND WAS PLACED IN MR. VINES' FILE FOR UNAUTHORIZED ABSENCE AND HIS ATTEMPT TO HAVE THE REPRIMAND REMOVED THROUGH A GRIEVANCE ACTION THROUGH NORMAL CIVIL SERVICE PROCEDURES WAS UNSUCCESSFUL. MR. VINES HAS INDICATED THAT HE INTENDS TO FILE A CLAIM. YOU REFER TO PARAGRAPH C3014, VOLUME 2, JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS (JTR), AND REQUEST OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER MR. VINES IS ENTITLED TO TRAVEL EXPENSES AND PER DIEM FOR THE PERIOD PRIOR TO THE TIME HE LEFT HIS TEMPORARY DUTY STATION WITHOUT PERMISSION. YOU ALSO POINT OUT THAT THE CITED REGULATION PERMITS PAYMENT OF RETURN TRAVEL OF THE EMPLOYEE WHO ABANDONS HIS TRAVEL WHEN IT IS DETERMINED ADMINISTRATIVELY THAT THE EMPLOYEE SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLETED HIS MISSION OR SUCH COMPLETION WAS AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. YOU ALSO ASK, ASSUMING THAT THE MISSION WAS NOT SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLETED AND EXPENSES ARE AUTHORIZED TO THE TIME OF ABANDONMENT, WOULD THE MERE INDICATION THAT ADDITIONAL COST WAS INCURRED BE ACCEPTABLE FOR REFUSING PAYMENT OF RETURN EXPENSES.

PARAGRAPH C3014, VOLUME 2, JTR, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"EXCEPT AS PROVIDED IN PAR. C3013, IF AN EMPLOYEE ABANDONS HIS TRAVEL PRIOR TO REPORTING TO A PLACE OF TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT OR PRIOR TO COMPLETION OF DUTIES IN CONNECTION WITH A TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT FOR PERSONAL REASONS WHICH ARE ACCEPTABLE TO THE DEPARTMENT OR AGENCY CONCERNED, SUCH AS ILLNESS IN HIS FAMILY OR SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES, ONLY THE EXPENSE OF TRAVEL TO THE POINT OF ABANDONMENT IS ALLOWABLE. THE COST RELATING TO RETURN OF THE EMPLOYEE TO HIS PERMANENT DUTY STATION WILL NOT BE AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE UNLESS IT IS DETERMINED ADMINISTRATIVELY THAT THE EMPLOYEE SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLETED THE MISSION REQUIREMENTS OF THE TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT OR THAT SUCH COMPLETION WAS AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT (SEE PAR. C11001)."

PARAGRAPH C11001, CITED IN THE ABOVE REGULATION, READS AS FOLLOWS:

"AN EMPLOYEE WHO DOES NOT REPORT TO THE DESIGNATED TEMPORARY OR PERMANENT DUTY STATION OR, WHO, UPON ARRIVAL THERE, REFUSES TO PERFORM HIS MISSION OR RESIGNS, WILL BE REQUIRED TO REIMBURSE THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE REASONABLE VALUE OF TRAVEL EXPENSES, INCLUDING PER DIEM IF PAID. THIS REQUIREMENT WILL NOT BE INVOKED WHEN AN EMPLOYEE IS PRECLUDED FROM PERFORMING TEMPORARY DUTY BECAUSE OF ILLNESS NOT INDUCED BY HIS OWN MISCONDUCT (SEE PAR. C10101-1)."

PARAGRAPH C3014, VOLUME 2, JTR, IS BASED UPON OUR DECISIONS. SEE 32 COMP. GEN. 571 (1953); 23 COMP. GEN. 237 (1943); 47 COMP. GEN. 59 (1967).

IN THE INSTANT CASE MR. VINES REPORTED TO HIS TEMPORARY DUTY STATION AND PERFORMED HIS DUTIES SATISFACTORILY FOR MORE THAN 70 DAYS. DURING THE LATTER PERIOD OF HIS ASSIGNMENT HE REQUESTED PERMISSION ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS TO RETURN HOME BECAUSE HIS FAMILY NEEDED HIM. HOWEVER, HE APPARENTLY GAVE NO SPECIFIC DETAILS AS TO THE NEEDS OF HIS FAMILY, SUCH AS THE STATE OF HIS WIFE'S ILLNESS, AND HIS REQUESTS WERE REFUSED. WHILE THE RECORD INDICATES MR. VINES MAY HAVE ACTED IMPROPERLY IN ABANDONING HIS MISSION WITHOUT PERMISSION, IT ALSO INDICATES THAT HE PERFORMED HIS DUTIES IN A SATISFACTORY MANNER FOR A PERIOD OF TIME IN EXCESS OF THE PERIOD SPECIFIED IN HIS INITIAL TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES HE MAY BE ALLOWED TRAVEL EXPENSES AND PER DIEM UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPH C3014, VOLUME 2, JTR, UP TO THE TIME OF ABANDONMENT OF HIS MISSION.

REGARDING YOUR QUESTION CONCERNING ENTITLEMENT TO RETURN TRAVEL, THE GOVERNING REGULATION PERMITS REIMBURSEMENT FOR SUCH TRAVEL WHEN THE MISSION REQUIREMENTS ARE COMPLETED AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. WHETHER ADDITIONAL COST IS INCURRED SHOULD BE DETERMINED BY A COMPARISON OF COSTS ACTUALLY INCURRED WITH THOSE WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED IF THE EMPLOYEE HAD NOT ABANDONED THE MISSION. SEE B 143396, JULY 21, 1960, COPY ENCLOSED. IN THE INSTANT CASE THE INCREASED TRAVEL AND PER DIEM ALLOWANCES OF MEMBERS OF THE TEAM SHOULD BE COMPARED WITH THE INCREASED PER DIEM AND THE RETURN TRAVEL OF MR. VINES, WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWABLE IF HE HAD COMPLETED HIS MISSION, TO DETERMINE IF THE GOVERNMENT INCURRED ADDITIONAL EXPENSE. APPROPRIATE PAYMENT OR COLLECTION ACTION SHOULD BE TAKEN IN THE LIGHT OF THE FINDING BASED ON THAT COMPARISON.

THE CASH COLLECTION VOUCHER AND ATTACHED FILE SUBMITTED BY YOU ARE RETURNED HEREWITH FOR PROCESSING IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ABOVE.