B-175322, APR 28, 1972

B-175322: Apr 28, 1972

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SINCE THERE IS NO BASIS FOR ARRIVING AT THE AMOUNT CLAIMED. IT IS THE OPINION OF THE COMP. THE AGENCY COULD DETERMINE THAT THE LODGINGS-PLUS SYSTEM IS NOT APPROPRIATE AND FIX SPECIFIC PER DIEM RATES FOR EMPLOYEES USING THEIR PERSONALLY OWNED TRAILERS WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY. ROPES WAS AUTHORIZED PER DIEM BY TRAVEL ORDER NO. 1-LSO-0139 WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY FOR THE PERIOD FROM JUNE 28. PAYMENT OF A RATE FROM $21 TO $25 WAS AUTHORIZED. UNDER THOSE REGULATIONS EMPLOYEES WHO USED TRAILERS AND CAMPERS WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY WERE ENTITLED TO A PER DIEM RATE OF $20 PER DAY. NO LONGER AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF A SPECIFIC PER DIEM RATE IN THE ABSENCE OF A PROPER ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE LODGINGS PLUS METHOD IS NOT APPROPRIATE IN GIVEN CIRCUMSTANCES.

B-175322, APR 28, 1972

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE - TRAILER USE FEE - PER DIEM - REIMBURSEMENT DECISION DISALLOWING THE CLAIM OF JAMES G. ROPES FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE USE OF HIS PERSONAL TRAILER WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE LAKE SURVEY CENTER, DETROIT, MICH. SINCE THERE IS NO BASIS FOR ARRIVING AT THE AMOUNT CLAIMED, IT MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS A COST OF LODGING FOR PURPOSES OF REIMBURSEMENT. HOWEVER, IT IS THE OPINION OF THE COMP. GEN. THAT UNDER SECTION 6.3C OF SGTR, THE AGENCY COULD DETERMINE THAT THE LODGINGS-PLUS SYSTEM IS NOT APPROPRIATE AND FIX SPECIFIC PER DIEM RATES FOR EMPLOYEES USING THEIR PERSONALLY OWNED TRAILERS WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY.

TO MR. R. P. HOGAN:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 25, 1972, REFERENCE AD571, REQUESTING AN ADVANCE DECISION WHETHER THE TRAVEL VOUCHER COVERING TEMPORARY DUTY PERFORMED FROM OCTOBER 1 THROUGH OCTOBER 31, 1971, BY MR. JAMES G. ROPES, A CIVIL ENGINEER EMPLOYED BY THE LAKE SURVEY CENTER, DETROIT, MICHIGAN, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

MR. ROPES WAS AUTHORIZED PER DIEM BY TRAVEL ORDER NO. 1-LSO-0139 WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY FOR THE PERIOD FROM JUNE 28, 1971, THROUGH DECEMBER 4, 1971. THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION TRAVEL HANDBOOK AS THEN IN EFFECT PROVIDED FOR PER DIEM AT THE RATE OF $20 PER DAY IN THE ABSENCE OF SUPPORTING INFORMATION AS TO HOTEL RATES. WHERE THE AVERAGE COST OF LODGING EXCEEDED $10, PAYMENT OF A RATE FROM $21 TO $25 WAS AUTHORIZED. UNDER THOSE REGULATIONS EMPLOYEES WHO USED TRAILERS AND CAMPERS WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY WERE ENTITLED TO A PER DIEM RATE OF $20 PER DAY.

AS YOU POINT OUT, THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS (SGTR) REVISED AUGUST 17, 1971, NO LONGER AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF A SPECIFIC PER DIEM RATE IN THE ABSENCE OF A PROPER ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE LODGINGS PLUS METHOD IS NOT APPROPRIATE IN GIVEN CIRCUMSTANCES. SECTION 6.3C THEREOF PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"C. WHEN LODGINGS ARE REQUIRED. FOR TRAVEL IN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES WHEN LODGING AWAY FROM THE OFFICIAL STATION IS REQUIRED AGENCIES SHALL FIX PER DIEM FOR EMPLOYEES PARTLY ON THE BASIS OF THE AVERAGE AMOUNT THE TRAVELER PAYS FOR LODGINGS. TO SUCH AMOUNT, I.E., THE AVERAGE OF AMOUNTS PAID FOR LODGING WHILE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS DURING THE PERIOD COVERED BY THE VOUCHER, SHALL BE ADDED A SUITABLE ALLOWANCE FOR MEALS AND MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES. THE RESULTING AMOUNT ROUNDED TO THE NEXT WHOLE DOLLAR, IF THE RESULT IS NOT IN EXCESS OF THE MAXIMUM PER DIEM, WILL BE THE PER DIEM RATE TO BE APPLIED TO THE TRAVELER'S REIMBURSEMENT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE APPLICABLE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION. IF SUCH RESULT IS MORE THAN THE MAXIMUM PER DIEM ALLOWABLE SUCH MAXIMUM WILL BE THE PER DIEM ALLOWED. NO MINIMUM ALLOWANCE WILL BE AUTHORIZED FOR LODGING SINCE THOSE ALLOWANCES ARE BASED ON ACTUAL LODGING EXPENSES. RECEIPTS FOR LODGING COSTS MAY BE REQUIRED AT THE DISCRETION OF EACH AGENCY, HOWEVER, EMPLOYEES WILL BE REQUIRED TO STATE ON THEIR VOUCHERS THAT PER DIEM CLAIMED IS BASED ON THE AVERAGE COST TO HIM FOR LODGING WHILE ON OFFICIAL TRAVEL WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES DURING THE PERIOD COVERED BY THE VOUCHER. AN AGENCY MAY DETERMINE THAT THE LODGINGS-PLUS SYSTEM AS PRESCRIBED HEREIN IS NOT APPROPRIATE IN GIVEN CIRCUMSTANCES AS WHEN QUARTERS OR MEALS, OR BOTH, ARE PROVIDED AT NO COST OR AT A NOMINAL COST BY THE GOVERNMENT OR WHEN FOR SOME OTHER REASON THE SUBSISTENCE COSTS WHICH WILL BE INCURRED BY THE EMPLOYEE MAY BE ACCURATELY ESTIMATED IN ADVANCE. IN SUCH CASES A SPECIFIC PER DIEM RATE MAY BE ESTABLISHED AND REDUCTIONS MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THIS SECTION PROVIDED THE EXCEPTION FROM THE LODGINGS PLUS METHOD IS AUTHORIZED IN WRITING BY AN APPROPRIATE OFFICIAL OF THE AGENCY INVOLVED."

THE REVISION TO YOUR AGENCY'S TRAVEL HANDBOOK WHICH WAS ISSUED PURSUANT TO THE ABOVE REGULATION ON DECEMBER 14, 1971, PRESCRIBES, WHERE EMPLOYEES USE TRAILERS OR CAMPERS WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY, A RATE OF $10 FOR MEALS PLUS THE COST OF TRAILER PARK FEES.

YOU STATE THAT MR. ROPES AND OTHER EMPLOYEES OF YOUR AGENCY HAVE PURCHASED TRAILERS AND CAMPERS FOR USE IN PERFORMING TEMPORARY DUTY AT LOCATIONS WHERE LODGING FACILITIES MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE WITHIN A REASONABLE DISTANCE OF THE SITE WHERE THEIR SERVICES ARE REQUIRED. MR. ROPES USED HIS TRAILER IN PERFORMING SOME OF THE TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT WHICH IS THE BASIS OF HIS CLAIM AND IN COMPUTING THE LODGING COSTS FOR WHICH HE REQUESTS REIMBURSEMENT HE HAS INCLUDED AN AMOUNT OF $5 PER DAY WHICH IS CHARACTERIZED AS A RATE FOR THE USE OF HIS TRAILER. APPARENTLY TAKES EXCEPTION TO AGENCY REGULATIONS LIMITING REIMBURSEMENT FOR LODGINGS TO TRAILER PARK FEES, CONTENDING, JUSTIFIABLY IN YOUR ESTIMATION, THAT THOSE REGULATIONS DO NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT ALL COSTS INCIDENT TO THE USE OF A PRIVATELY OWNED TRAILER. IN FACT, HE ASSERTS THE TRAILER PARK FEE COVERS ONLY THE USE OF AN EMPTY LOT WITH UTILITY CONNECTIONS WHICH, WITHOUT THE USE OF A TRAILER OR CAMPER, DOES NOT IN ITSELF PROVIDE LODGING.

YOU QUESTION INCLUSION OF THE $5 AMOUNT BECAUSE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS ARE SILENT AS TO THE COSTS WHICH MAY BE CONSIDERED LODGING COSTS WHERE EMPLOYEES USE CAMPERS OR TRAILERS IN THE PERFORMANCE OF TEMPORARY DUTY, AND FURTHER, BECAUSE THE $5 RATE FOR TRAILER USE CANNOT BE SUPPORTED BY RECEIPTED BILLS. YOU POINT OUT HOWEVER THAT TOGETHER WITH THE $10 FOR MEALS AND AN AVERAGE TRAILER PARK FEE OF APPROXIMATELY $3, THE PROPOSED PAYMENT OF A $5 TRAILER USE FEE WOULD RESULT IN SUBSISTENCE PAYMENTS OF $18 PER DAY, WHICH IS LESS THAN WOULD BE INVOLVED IF THE EMPLOYEES WERE TO STAY IN MOTELS AND, THEREFORE, TO THE ADVANTAGE OF THE GOVERNMENT.

THERE IS NO INDICATION AS TO THE BASIS FOR ARRIVING AT THE FIGURE OF $5 PER DAY WHICH IS IN THE NATURE OF RENT FOR THE USE OF AN EMPLOYEE'S TRAILER. THEREFORE, IT MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS A COST OF LODGING. HOWEVER, FOR SIMILAR CASES IN THE FUTURE OUR OPINION IS THAT UNDER SECTION 6.3C OF SGTR YOUR AGENCY COULD DETERMINE THAT THE LODGINGS-PLUS SYSTEM IS NOT APPROPRIATE AND FIX SPECIFIC PER DIEM RATES FOR EMPLOYEES USING THEIR PERSONALLY OWNED TRAILERS WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY.

FURTHER, YOUR AGENCY MAY WISH TO REFER THE MATTER TO THE ADMINISTRATOR, GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, FOR CONSIDERATION OF WHETHER AN AMENDMENT TO SGTR COVERING THIS AREA IS APPROPRIATE AND FEASIBLE.

THE VOUCHER, RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.