B-174983, MAR 31, 1972

B-174983: Mar 31, 1972

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IT APPEARS THAT YOUR HEADQUARTERS IS WASHINGTON. YOU HAVE BEEN ALLOWED PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE (WHEN SOME OF YOUR TRAVEL INCLUDED LODGING COSTS AWAY FROM YOUR HOME) ON THE BASIS OF THE AVERAGE COSTS OF YOUR LODGING. NO COST WAS ATTRIBUTED TO NIGHTS SPENT AT YOUR HOME IN STAMFORD EVEN THOUGH SUCH NIGHTS WERE INCLUDED IN COMPUTING THE AVERAGE. SUCH AVERAGE AMOUNT WAS THEN ALLOWED FOR THE NIGHTS SPENT AT YOUR HOME. YOU WERE ALSO ALLOWED CERTAIN TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES FOR THE NIGHTS SPENT AT YOUR HOME. IN THAT CONNECTION YOU POINT OUT THAT IT WOULD COST THE GOVERNMENT MORE IF YOU WERE TO STAY IN NEW YORK CITY. YOU REFER TO INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE RULINGS AND COURT DECISIONS TO THE EFFECT THAT WHEN ONE IS AWAY FROM HOME.

B-174983, MAR 31, 1972

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE - LODGING EXPENSES INCURRED AT FAMILY RESIDENCE - REIMBURSEMENT DECISION SUSTAINING PRIOR DENIAL OF A CLAIM OF GEORGE F. BLAKE, JR., FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF LODGING EXPENSES WHILE STAYING AT HIS FAMILY RESIDENCE DURING PERIODS OF TEMPORARY DUTY AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPH 6.2, SGTR, AND 7 AR 550, IT SEEMS REASONABLE TO ASCRIBE A "NO COST" FACTOR TO THOSE NIGHTS AN EMPLOYEE SPENDS AT HIS FAMILY RESIDENCE IN COMPUTING AVERAGE COST OF LODGING SINCE THE EXPENSES INCURRED IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES WOULD BE INCONSEQUENTIAL. ACCORDINGLY, THE PRIOR DISALLOWANCE MUST BE SUSTAINED.

TO MR. GEORGE F. BLAKE, JR.:

WE REFER FURTHER TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 29, 1971, WHEREIN YOU REQUESTED RECONSIDERATION OF THAT PART OF THE CLAIM SETTLEMENT ACTION OF AUGUST 30, 1971, ISSUED BY OUR CLAIMS DIVISION WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM IN THE AMOUNT OF $330.15 REPRESENTING LODGING EXPENSES WHILE STAYING AT YOUR FAMILY RESIDENCE DURING PERIODS OF TEMPORARY DUTY AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.

FROM THE RECORD BEFORE US, IT APPEARS THAT YOUR HEADQUARTERS IS WASHINGTON, D.C., AND WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY FOR VARIOUS PERIODS IN NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, AND VICINITY DURING 1970, YOU SPENT THE NIGHTS IN YOUR RESIDENCE IN STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT. IN ACCORDANCE WITH YOUR AGENCY REGULATIONS, YOU HAVE BEEN ALLOWED PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE (WHEN SOME OF YOUR TRAVEL INCLUDED LODGING COSTS AWAY FROM YOUR HOME) ON THE BASIS OF THE AVERAGE COSTS OF YOUR LODGING. IN COMPUTING SUCH AVERAGE COST OF LODGING, NO COST WAS ATTRIBUTED TO NIGHTS SPENT AT YOUR HOME IN STAMFORD EVEN THOUGH SUCH NIGHTS WERE INCLUDED IN COMPUTING THE AVERAGE. HOWEVER, SUCH AVERAGE AMOUNT WAS THEN ALLOWED FOR THE NIGHTS SPENT AT YOUR HOME. YOU WERE ALSO ALLOWED CERTAIN TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES FOR THE NIGHTS SPENT AT YOUR HOME.

YOU CONTEND THAT $3.04 PER DAY FOR EACH NIGHT YOU SPENT AT YOUR RESIDENCE SHOULD BE USED IN ARRIVING AT THE AVERAGE COST OF LODGING. IN THAT CONNECTION YOU POINT OUT THAT IT WOULD COST THE GOVERNMENT MORE IF YOU WERE TO STAY IN NEW YORK CITY. YOU REFER TO INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE RULINGS AND COURT DECISIONS TO THE EFFECT THAT WHEN ONE IS AWAY FROM HOME, EVEN THOUGH HE MAY STAY AT HIS FAMILY RESIDENCE, HE MAY DEDUCT FROM INCOME THAT PORTION OF HIS FAMILY LIVING EXPENSES FOR MEALS AND LODGINGS ATTRIBUTABLE TO HIS PRESENCE. YOU MAINTAIN THAT AT LEAST $3.04 PER NIGHT MAY BE ATTRIBUTED TO LODGING EXPENSES AT HOME.

DURING THE PERIOD IN QUESTION, THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, PARAGRAPH 6.2, PROVIDED:

"A. THE PER DIEM ALLOWANCES PROVIDED IN THESE REGULATIONS REPRESENT THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EACH DEPARTMENT AND AGENCY TO AUTHORIZE ONLY SUCH PER DIEM ALLOWANCES AS ARE JUSTIFIED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES AFFECTING THE TRAVEL. TO THIS END, CARE SHOULD BE EXERCISED TO PREVENT THE FIXING OF PER DIEM RATES IN EXCESS OF THOSE REQUIRED TO MEET THE NECESSARY AUTHORIZED SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES."

AS YOU POINT OUT, THE APPLICABLE AGENCY ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS - CITED AS 7AR 550 - PROVIDED FOR A PER DIEM RATE EQUAL TO THE AVERAGE DAILY LODGING COST PLUS $8 SUBJECT TO A MAXIMUM OF $25.

ADDITIONALLY, THE REGULATIONS PROVIDED IN 7AR 550 -

"(1) DETERMINATION OF AVERAGE DAILY LODGING COSTS. AVERAGE DAILY LODGING COSTS WILL BE DETERMINED BY DIVIDING THE TOTAL COST OF LODGING INCLUDING LOCAL TAXES (BUT EXCLUDING TIPS, PORTERS' FEES, ETC.) BY THE NUMBER OF NIGHTS LODGING WHILE IN OFFICIAL TRAVEL STATUS DURING THE PERIOD COVERED BY THE TRAVEL VOUCHER. WHEN LODGING IS SHARED BY OTHERS, ONLY A PRO RATA SHARE OF THE COST WILL BE USED IN DETERMINING THE AVERAGE DAILY RATE EXCEPT THAT WHEN THE LODGING IS SHARED BY MEMBERS OF THE TRAVELER'S FAMILY THE SINGLE OCCUPANCY RATE WILL BE USED.

"(2) DETERMINATION OF PER DIEM RATE. THE PER DIEM RATE WILL BE DETERMINED BY ROUNDING THE AVERAGE DAILY LODGING COST TO THE NEXT HIGHER DOLLAR AND ADDING $8.00. THIS RATE WILL APPLY TO ALL TRAVEL WITHIN THE VOUCHER PERIOD UPON WHICH THE AVERAGE LODGING COST COMPUTATION IS BASED.

"(4) COMPUTATION EXAMPLE. TRAVELER LEAVES OFFICIAL STATION MONDAY AT 1:00 P.M., RETURNS THE FOLLOWING FRIDAY AT 5:00 P.M. LODGING COSTS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

MONDAY $11.50

TUESDAY 14.50

WEDNESDAY 0 (E.G., STAYED WITH RELATIVES)

THURSDAY 19.00

TOTAL $45.00

AVERAGE LODGING COSTS: $45.00 DIVIDED BY 4 NIGHTS $11.25

PER DIEM RATE: $11.25 ROUNDED TO $12.00 PLUS $8.00 $20.00

PER DIEM ALLOWANCE: 4 1/4 DAYS AT $20.00 $85.00

"(5) ZERO LODGING COSTS. TRAVELERS WHO INCUR NO LODGING COSTS (E.G., STAY WITH RELATIVES OR FRIENDS) WHILE IN AN OFFICIAL TRAVEL STATUS MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR TRANSPORTATION COSTS (TAXICAB, SUBWAY, MILEAGE IN PERSONAL AUTO, ETC.) TO AND FROM THEIR PLACE OF FREE LODGING NOT TO EXCEED THE AVERAGE DAILY LODGING COSTS WHICH WOULD NORMALLY BE INCURRED. IF THE EMPLOYEE HAS INCURRED LODGING COSTS IN THE SAME CITY IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE FREE LODGING, THE REIMBURSEMENT WILL BE LIMITED TO THIS DAILY AVERAGE. IF DURING THE ENTIRE TRIP THE EMPLOYEE INCURS NO COST FOR LODGING, THE REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION COSTS WILL BE LIMITED TO AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED $10.00 PER DAY."

WHILE WE RECOGNIZE THAT POSSIBLY SOME ADDITIONAL LODGING EXPENSES ARE INCURRED BY AN INDIVIDUAL WHEN HE SPENDS THE NIGHT AT HIS HOME AS OPPOSED TO STAYING SOMEWHERE ELSE, NEVERTHELESS, WE BELIEVE SUCH EXPENSES WOULD BE INCONSEQUENTIAL. THEREFORE, UNDER THE REGULATIONS PREVIOUSLY QUOTED, IT IS REASONABLE TO ASCRIBE A "NO COST" FACTOR TO THOSE NIGHTS AN EMPLOYEE SPENDS AT HIS HOME IN COMPUTING AVERAGE COST OF LODGING.

ACCORDINGLY, THE SETTLEMENT OF AUGUST 30, 1971, DENYING YOUR CLAIM IS SUSTAINED.