B-175106, APR 4, 1972

B-175106: Apr 4, 1972

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SHELTON: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED JANUARY 28. ELSON WAS AUTHORIZED TRAVEL FROM HIS OFFICIAL DUTY STATION AT OAK RIDGE. SUCH AUTHORIZATION STATED THAT TRAVEL WAS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED VIA PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE AND THAT MR. ELSON WAS ENTITLED TO SUBSISTENCE NOT TO EXCEED $40 PER DAY. IT IS NOTED THAT THE CONFERENCE MR. (WHICH IS ABOUT 50 MILES EAST OF GREENSBORO). IT IS APPROXIMATELY 325 MILES FROM GREENSBORO TO OAK RIDGE. "IT IS MR. WHICH WAS $1.00 LESS THAN THE RATE AT GREENSBORO). ELSON'S CONTENTION BASICALLY IS THAT: " *** IT IS NOT ONLY A STRAINED BUT INCORRECT INTERPRETATION TO CONCLUDE THAT HE WAS CLEARLY ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR LODGING THE NIGHT OF DECEMBER 10.

B-175106, APR 4, 1972

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE - TRAVEL EXPENSES - REIMBURSEMENT DECISION ALLOWING THE CLAIM OF RALPH ELSON FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES INCURRED INCIDENT TO OFFICIAL DUTY PERFORMED AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION. CLAIMANT MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED FOR EXTRA MILES DRIVEN BETWEEN GREENSBORO AND DURHAM, N.C., SINCE SECTION 2.5B OF OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-7 PROVIDES THAT AN INDIVIDUAL MUST BEAR ANY EXTRA EXPENSE WHICH RESULTS FROM AN INTERRUPTION OF TRAVEL BY DIRECT ROUTE FOR PERSONAL CONVENIENCE. HOWEVER, IN VIEW OF THE TIME AT WHICH THE CONFERENCE ENDED, MR. ELSON WOULD BE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR ROOM THE NIGHT OF DECEMBER 10 AND MEALS ON DECEMBER 11. ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHER MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

TO MR. D. H. SHELTON:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED JANUARY 28, 1972, WITH ENCLOSURES, REQUESTING OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE CLAIM OF MR. RALPH ELSON, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION, OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE, IN THE AMOUNT OF $18.56 FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES HEREINAFTER DESCRIBED.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT BY TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION NO. ORO 72-404, DATED NOVEMBER 23, 1971, MR. ELSON WAS AUTHORIZED TRAVEL FROM HIS OFFICIAL DUTY STATION AT OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE, TO ATLANTA, GEORGIA, GREENSBORO AND WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA, AND BACK TO OAK RIDGE, FOR THE PURPOSE OF ATTENDANCE AT A CONFERENCE SPONSORED BY THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION PERTAINING TO BUSINESS OPERATIONS. SUCH AUTHORIZATION STATED THAT TRAVEL WAS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED VIA PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE AND THAT MR. ELSON WAS ENTITLED TO SUBSISTENCE NOT TO EXCEED $40 PER DAY. FURTHERMORE, IT IS NOTED THAT THE CONFERENCE MR. ELSON ATTENDED BEGAN IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA, AT 6 P.M. ON DECEMBER 5, 1971, AND TERMINATED AT WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA, AT 5 P.M. ON DECEMBER 10, 1971.

AS YOU STATED IN YOUR LETTER, THE RECORD ALSO SHOWS THE FOLLOWING:

" *** AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE CONFERENCE, HE RETURNED BY OFFICIALLY PROVIDED BUS TO THE GREENSBORO HOTEL, ARRIVING THERE ABOUT 6:00 P.M., AND THEN DROVE TO DURHAM, N.C. (WHICH IS ABOUT 50 MILES EAST OF GREENSBORO), WHERE HE SPENT THE NIGHT OF DECEMBER 10, 1971. ON THE MORNING OF DECEMBER 11, 1971, HE DEPARTED FROM DURHAM, PROCEEDING BACK THROUGH GREENSBORO, ON THE RETURN TRIP TO HIS OFFICIAL STATION AT OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE. ARRIVED AT OAK RIDGE AT 4:00 P.M. ON DECEMBER 11, 1971. IT IS APPROXIMATELY 325 MILES FROM GREENSBORO TO OAK RIDGE.

"IT IS MR. ELSON'S CONTENTION THAT HE SHOULD BE REIMBURSED FOR ACTUAL LODGING INCURRED FOR THE NIGHT OF DECEMBER 10, 1971 ($14.56 - SINGLE ROOM RATE FOR MOTEL ROOM AT DURHAM, N.C., WHICH WAS $1.00 LESS THAN THE RATE AT GREENSBORO), PLUS THE COST OF BREAKFAST ($1.50) AND LUNCH ($2.50) INCURRED ON THE FOLLOWING DAY, SATURDAY, DECEMBER 11, 1971 *** "

THEREFORE, MR. ELSON'S CONTENTION BASICALLY IS THAT:

" *** IT IS NOT ONLY A STRAINED BUT INCORRECT INTERPRETATION TO CONCLUDE THAT HE WAS CLEARLY ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR LODGING THE NIGHT OF DECEMBER 10, 1971, AS WELL AS FOR BREAKFAST AND LUNCH THE NEXT DAY, ONLY IF HE STAYED IN GREENSBORO, N.C. HE FEELS THAT SUCH DOES NOT REFLECT REASONABLE JUDGEMENT AND FLEXIBILITY WHICH OUGHT TO BE INHERENT IN APPLICATION OF TRAVEL POLICIES, AND THAT THE POLICY DOES IN FACT CLEARLY PROVIDE FOR THE REIMBURSEMENT HE HAS REQUESTED."

IN PREPARING THE VOUCHER SUBMITTED BY MR. ELSON, ON A CONSTRUCTIVE COST BASIS AS IF DEPARTURE FROM GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA, HAD BEEN PERFORMED BY A COMMON AIR CARRIER, THE RESULTANT CALCULATIONS REDUCED THE ALLOWANCE CLAIMED BY $18.56, WHICH WAS COMPRISED OF THE FOLLOWING:

SINGLE ROOM AT DURHAM FOR NIGHT OF DECEMBER 10, 1971 $14.56

BREAKFAST AND LUNCH 4.00

$18.56

IN YOUR ANALYSIS OF THE CLAIM BY MR. ELSON, YOU STATED THAT:

"WHILE WE REALIZE THAT WHAT CONSTITUTES THE BEGINNING OF TRAVEL OR DEPARTURE FOR RETURN TRIP MAY BE SUBJECT TO INTERPRETATION, THIS OFFICE HAS CONSISTENTLY HELD THAT 'TRAVEL HAS BEGUN' UNDER THE ABOVE CITED PROVISION WHEN, AT THE COMPLETION OF OFFICIAL BUSINESS, THE TRAVELER DEPARTS FROM THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF HIS TEMPORARY DUTY STATION WITHOUT REGARD TO HOW FAR HE MAY TRAVEL ON THE FIRST LEG OF HIS RETURN TRIP, AND WITHOUT REGARD TO THE DIRECTION IN WHICH HE MAY BE TRAVELING."

SECTION 2.5B OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-7, REVISED AUGUST 17, 1971, WHICH WAS THE CONTROLLING REGULATION AT THE TIME OF THE TRAVEL HERE INVOLVED STATES:

"B. INDIRECT-ROUTE OR INTERRUPTED TRAVEL. IN CASE A PERSON FOR HIS OWN CONVENIENCE TRAVELS BY AN INDIRECT ROUTE OR INTERRUPTS TRAVEL BY DIRECT ROUTE, THE EXTRA EXPENSE WILL BE BORNE BY HIM. REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES WILL BE BASED ONLY ON SUCH CHARGES AS WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED BY A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE. *** "

IN SUCH LIGHT MR. ELSON WOULD NOT BE ENTITLED TO ANY REIMBURSEMENT FOR THOSE EXTRA MILES DRIVEN BETWEEN GREENSBORO AND DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA. WE DO AGREE, HOWEVER, THAT DUE TO THE TIME AT WHICH THE CONFERENCE ENDED ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1971, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN REASONABLE FOR MR. ELSON TO STAY THE NIGHT IN GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA, AND THEN PROCEED DIRECTLY BACK TO HIS PERMANENT DUTY STATION AT OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE. CONSEQUENTLY, HE WOULD BE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR ROOM THE NIGHT OF DECEMBER 10, AND BREAKFAST AND LUNCH ON DECEMBER 11.

THE ENCLOSURES FORWARDED WITH YOUR LETTER ARE RETURNED HEREWITH AND PAYMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $18.56 MAY BE MADE AS CLAIMED.