B-175433, APR 27, 1972

B-175433: Apr 27, 1972

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IT IS WELL SETTLED THAT TRAVEL ORDERS MAY NOT BE REVOKED OR MODIFIED RETROACTIVELY SO AS TO INCREASE OR DECREASE RIGHTS WHICH HAVE BECOME FIXED UNDER APPLICABLE STATUTES OR REGULATIONS. 47 COMP. SINCE IN THE INSTANT CASE IT WAS PROPERLY DETERMINED AT THE TIME OF TRANSFER THAT TRANSPORTATION WOULD NOT BE AUTHORIZED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE. PELLS WAS TRANSFERRED FROM NORTON AIR FORCE BASE. IT WAS THE POLICY OF YOUR AGENCY NOT TO PAY THE COSTS OF TRANSFER INTO THE AGENCY AND STIPULATIONS WERE OBTAINED FROM APPOINTEES THAT ALL EXPENSES WOULD BE BORNE BY THEM. THIS POLICY WAS SET FORTH IN A DIRECTIVE DATED JANUARY 29. PERSONNEL OF YOUR AGENCY AUTHORIZED TO APPROVE TRAVEL ARE WILLING TO EFFECT POST APPROVAL IF IT WOULD BE PROPER TO DO SO.

B-175433, APR 27, 1972

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE - TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES - PROPOSED POST APPROVAL - REIMBURSEMENT CONCERNING THE PROPRIETY OF PAYMENT TO WILLIAM F. PELLS OF TRANSFER COSTS INCIDENT TO HIS CHANGE OF STATION FROM NORTON AFB, CALIF., TO SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION. IT IS WELL SETTLED THAT TRAVEL ORDERS MAY NOT BE REVOKED OR MODIFIED RETROACTIVELY SO AS TO INCREASE OR DECREASE RIGHTS WHICH HAVE BECOME FIXED UNDER APPLICABLE STATUTES OR REGULATIONS. 47 COMP. GEN. 127 (1967). SINCE IN THE INSTANT CASE IT WAS PROPERLY DETERMINED AT THE TIME OF TRANSFER THAT TRANSPORTATION WOULD NOT BE AUTHORIZED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE, PAYMENT MAY NOT BE MADE ON A POST APPROVAL BASIS.

TO MR. JOHN C. MACKALL:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR LETTER, WITH ENCLOSURE, RECEIVED HERE MARCH 13, 1971, REQUESTING A DECISION WHETHER EXPENSES INVOLVED IN A TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION MAY BE POST APPROVED, AND THE VOUCHERS CLAIMING PAYMENT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT BASED UPON SUCH POST APPROVAL. THE QUESTION ARISES BECAUSE AT THE TIME OF TRANSFER THE EMPLOYEE AGREED TO ASSUME THE COSTS INCIDENT TO THE TRANSFER.

EFFECTIVE APRIL 4, 1971, MR. WILLIAM F. PELLS WAS TRANSFERRED FROM NORTON AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA, TO SEATTLE, WASHINGTON. AT THE TIME OF THE TRANSFER, DUE TO A SHORTAGE OF FUNDS, IT WAS THE POLICY OF YOUR AGENCY NOT TO PAY THE COSTS OF TRANSFER INTO THE AGENCY AND STIPULATIONS WERE OBTAINED FROM APPOINTEES THAT ALL EXPENSES WOULD BE BORNE BY THEM. THIS POLICY WAS SET FORTH IN A DIRECTIVE DATED JANUARY 29, 1971.

WHILE IT HAS BEEN THE ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY OF YOUR AGENCY TO REQUIRE PRIOR APPROVAL OF ALL EXPENSES INVOLVED IN A TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION, PERSONNEL OF YOUR AGENCY AUTHORIZED TO APPROVE TRAVEL ARE WILLING TO EFFECT POST APPROVAL IF IT WOULD BE PROPER TO DO SO.

IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT LEGAL RIGHTS AND LIABILITIES IN REGARD TO TRAVEL ALLOWANCES REST AS AND WHEN THE TRAVEL IS PERFORMED UNDER THE ORDERS AND THAT SUCH ORDERS MAY NOT BE REVOKED OR MODIFIED RETROACTIVELY SO AS TO INCREASE OR DECREASE THE RIGHTS WHICH HAVE BECOME FIXED UNDER THE APPLICABLE STATUTES OR REGULATIONS. AN EXCEPTION MAY BE MADE ONLY WHEN AN ERROR IS APPARENT ON THE FACE OF THE ORDERS AND ALL FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES CLEARLY DEMONSTRATE THAT SOME PROVISION PREVIOUSLY DETERMINED AND DEFINITELY INTENDED HAS BEEN OMITTED THROUGH ERROR OR INADVERTENCE IN PREPARING THE ORDERS. 23 COMP. GEN. 713 (1944), 24 ID. 439 (1944), 47 ID. 127 (1967).

5 U.S.C. 5724 PROVIDES, UNDER SUCH REGULATIONS AS THE PRESIDENT MAY PRESCRIBE, FOR THE PAYMENT OF TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES OF AN EMPLOYEE TRANSFERRED IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT FROM ONE AGENCY TO ANOTHER FOR PERMANENT DUTY WHEN AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED BY THE AGENCY HEAD OR HIS DESIGNEE. IN IMPLEMENTATION OF THAT STATUTE, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, AS REVISED, PROVIDES FOR THE PAYMENT OF SUCH EXPENSES WHEN AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED BY AN OFFICIAL DESIGNATED BY THE AGENCY HEAD.

IN THE DECISION B-170060 DATED AUGUST 5, 1970, CITED IN YOUR LETTER, THE RECORD INDICATED THAT AT THE TIME OF TRAVEL IT WAS UNDERSTOOD THAT THE TRANSFER WOULD BE AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE.

IN THE INSTANT CASE IT WAS DETERMINED AT THE TIME OF TRANSFER THAT TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION WOULD NOT BE AUTHORIZED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE. SINCE THIS DETERMINATION COULD PROPERLY BE MADE UNDER THE APPLICABLE LAW AND REGULATION, AND INASMUCH AS NO ERROR OR OMISSION IS NOW ALLEGED AS A BASIS TO RETROACTIVELY AUTHORIZE SUCH EXPENSES TO BE PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT, PAYMENT MAY NOT BE MADE ON THE BASIS OF A POST APPROVAL OF THE EXPENSES.