B-174805, FEB 17, 1972

B-174805: Feb 17, 1972

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IF IT IS DETERMINED THAT USE OF THE VEHICLES WAS PROPER UNDER PERTINENT REGULATIONS AND TO THE ADVANTAGE OF THE GOVERNMENT. WOODLEY: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR UNDATED LETTER. IS ASKED TO PERFORM NUMEROUS TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENTS WHICH REQUIRE HIM TO TRAVEL EXTENSIVELY THROUGHOUT HIS REGION. IN CONNECTION WITH THIS TRAVEL HE IS AUTHORIZED THE USE OF RENTAL VEHICLES. THAT ON OCCASION HE HAS KEPT THE CARS FOR PERIODS DURING WHICH NO OFFICIAL BUSINESS IS SHOWN. SECTION 3.4 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDES FOR THE RENTAL OF AN AUTOMOBILE "IF AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED AS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT WHENEVER THE EMPLOYEE IS ENGAGED ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS.". IN ADDITION THE OFFICE OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE USE OF RENTAL CARS PROVIDE IN PART THAT "THE RENTAL OF AN AUTOMOBILE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN COMMON CARRIER TERMINAL AND PLACE OF LODGING OR BUSINESS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED IF SCHEDULED LIMOUSINE SERVICE IS AVAILABLE.".

B-174805, FEB 17, 1972

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE - REIMBURSEMENT - OFFICIAL USE OF RENTAL VEHICLES CONCERNING THE PROPRIETY OF PAYMENT TO CHARLES E. CAIN FOR THE AUTHORIZED USE OF RENTAL VEHICLES INCIDENT TO HIS EMPLOYMENT WITH THE VISTA PROGRAM. THE PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY FOR AUTHORIZING PAYMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES RESTS WITH THE AGENCY CONCERNED. IN THE INSTANT CASE, PENDING A FINAL ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION BY THE OFFICE OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY, THE MATTER SHOULD BE SUBMITTED TO AN AGENCY OFFICIAL AUTHORIZED TO APPROVE THE HIRE OF RENTAL VEHICLES. IF IT IS DETERMINED THAT USE OF THE VEHICLES WAS PROPER UNDER PERTINENT REGULATIONS AND TO THE ADVANTAGE OF THE GOVERNMENT, THE COMP. GEN. HAS NO OBJECTION TO CERTIFICATION OF THE VOUCHERS FOR PAYMENT.

TO MR. RALPH E. WOODLEY:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR UNDATED LETTER, WITH ENCLOSURES, RECEIVED IN THIS OFFICE DECEMBER 21, 1971, REQUESTING AN ADVANCE DECISION AS TO WHETHER CERTAIN TRAVEL VOUCHERS SUBMITTED BY MR. CHARLES E. CAIN MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. YOU ALSO ENCLOSE SEVERAL PAID VOUCHERS COVERING SIMILAR TRAVEL EXPENSES.

THE RECORD INDICATES THAT MR. CAIN, EMPLOYED WITH THE VISTA PROGRAM, IS ASKED TO PERFORM NUMEROUS TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENTS WHICH REQUIRE HIM TO TRAVEL EXTENSIVELY THROUGHOUT HIS REGION. IN CONNECTION WITH THIS TRAVEL HE IS AUTHORIZED THE USE OF RENTAL VEHICLES. YOU EXPRESS CONCERN OVER CERTAIN USE BY MR. CAIN OF THE RENTAL CARS, STATING THAT HE DOES NOT APPEAR TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF A QUITE LIMITED LIMOUSINE SERVICE BETWEEN JOLIET, ILLINOIS, HIS RESIDENCE, AND O'HARE AIRPORT, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, AND THAT ON OCCASION HE HAS KEPT THE CARS FOR PERIODS DURING WHICH NO OFFICIAL BUSINESS IS SHOWN. YOU ENCLOSE MEMORANDA DATED AUGUST 25, 1971, AND OCTOBER 5, 1971, ITEMIZING CERTAIN OF MR. CAIN'S TRAVEL EXPENSES DETERMINED BY YOUR AUDIT REVIEW SECTION TO BE DISALLOWABLE.

SECTION 3.4 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDES FOR THE RENTAL OF AN AUTOMOBILE "IF AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED AS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT WHENEVER THE EMPLOYEE IS ENGAGED ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS." IN ADDITION THE OFFICE OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE USE OF RENTAL CARS PROVIDE IN PART THAT "THE RENTAL OF AN AUTOMOBILE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN COMMON CARRIER TERMINAL AND PLACE OF LODGING OR BUSINESS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED IF SCHEDULED LIMOUSINE SERVICE IS AVAILABLE."

THE PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY FOR AUTHORIZING THE PAYMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES IS THAT OF THE DEPARTMENT OR AGENCY CONCERNED. IN THAT REGARD, THE INDIVIDUAL AGENCY IS ALSO IN THE BEST POSITION TO DETERMINE WHICH OF THOSE EXPENSES INCURRED WHILE IN A TRAVEL STATUS WERE INCURRED WHILE IN THE COURSE OF OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND THEREFORE WERE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. THE RECORD INDICATES THAT MR. CAIN WAS AUTHORIZED TO USE RENTAL CAR SERVICES WHEN THERE WAS NO SCHEDULED TRANSPORTATION AVAILABLE IN LATE EVENINGS OR EARLY MORNINGS. THE VOUCHERS SHOW THAT MR. CAIN ON OCCASION LEFT HIS RESIDENCE BY RENTAL VEHICLES FOR TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENTS ON SUNDAY AND AT SUCH TIMES AS 5:40 A.M. AND 9:00 P.M. THE AUDIT REVIEW SECTION IN SUCH CASES HAS INDICATED THAT REIMBURSEMENT SHOULD BE LIMITED TO CONSTRUCTIVE COST BY COMMON CARRIER FROM JOLIET TO CHICAGO AND FROM THERE BY LIMOUSINE TO THE AIRPORT, RATHER THAN BY LIMOUSINE FROM JOLIET TO THE AIRPORT. IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE AND SINCE IT APPEARS THAT NO FINAL ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION IN THE MATTER HAS BEEN MADE, IT SHOULD BE REFERRED TO THE OFFICIAL IN YOUR AGENCY, WHO IS AUTHORIZED TO APPROVE THE HIRE OF RENTAL VEHICLES, FOR A DETERMINATION AS TO WHETHER THE USE OF THE VEHICLES WAS PROPER UNDER PERTINENT REGULATIONS AND TO THE ADVANTAGE OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL BUSINESS. TO THE EXTENT THAT A DETERMINATION IS MADE THAT THE USE OF THE VEHICLES WAS PROPER AND TO THE ADVANTAGE OF THE GOVERNMENT, THE VOUCHERS MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. OTHERWISE, THE QUESTIONED ITEMS SHOULD BE DISALLOWED.

IN ADDITION ANY RENTAL CHARGES INCURRED DURING THE PERIOD COVERED BY THE VOUCHERS, OCTOBER 6, 1970, THROUGH JUNE 6, 1971, WHICH HAVE BEEN PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT AND WHICH ARE DETERMINED TO BE IMPROPER, SHOULD BE COLLECTED FROM MR. CAIN.

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