B-175436, APR 27, 1972

B-175436: Apr 27, 1972

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IT IS NOTED THAT 15 U.S.C. 1514(A) PROVIDES FOR THE PAYMENT OF EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES TO EMPLOYEES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE STATIONED IN ALASKA AND OTHER POINTS OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES. JR.: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 3. WHILE THE COLLINS FAMILY WAS DRIVING BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE FROM HAINES. SHE WAS TAKEN TO THE NEAREST DOCTOR WHO WAS IN WHITEHORSE. COLLINS THAT THEIR DAUGHTER WAS WELL ENOUGH TO CONTINUE THE TRIP. ANOTHER DOCTOR WAS CONSULTED IN TOK JUNCTION. SO THE DAUGHTER AND HER MOTHER WERE FLOWN BY CHARTERED PLANE TO THE NEAREST ADEQUATE HOSPITAL FACILITIES IN FAIRBANKS. WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN ALONG THE USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE. IN FAIRBANKS THE DAUGHTER UNDERWENT AN OPERATION AND WAS NOT RELEASED FROM THE HOSPITAL UNTIL AUGUST 16.

B-175436, APR 27, 1972

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE - PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION - EMERGENCY MEDICAL EXPENSES - REIMBURSEMENT CONCERNING THE PROPRIETY OF PAYMENT TO JEFFERSON COLLINS OF ADDITIONAL REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES INCURRED INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION FROM KETCHIKAN TO KODIAK, ALASKA, AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION. ALTHOUGH THERE EXISTS NO STATUTORY AUTHORITY UNDER WHICH THE COMP. GEN. MAY ALLOW THE SUBJECT CLAIM, IT IS NOTED THAT 15 U.S.C. 1514(A) PROVIDES FOR THE PAYMENT OF EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES TO EMPLOYEES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE STATIONED IN ALASKA AND OTHER POINTS OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES. CONSEQUENTLY, THE EXPENSES INCURRED BY MR. COLLINS DUE TO THE ILLNESS OF HIS DAUGHTER WOULD MORE PROPERLY BE FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE SECRETARY.

TO MR. JOHN M. PATTON, JR.:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 3, 1972, WITH ENCLOSURES, REQUESTING OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER ALL OR ANY PART OF THE ENCLOSED VOUCHER, IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,539.12, REPRESENTING ADDITIONAL REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES INCURRED BY MR. JEFFERSON COLLINS INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION FROM KETCHIKAN, ALASKA, TO KODIAK, ALASKA, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

PURSUANT TO TRAVEL ORDER NO. PER-99 ISSUED JUNE 11, 1971, MR. COLLINS, HIS WIFE, AND FOUR CHILDREN LEFT KETCHIKAN ON THE ALASKA STATE FERRY AT 4:30 P.M. AUGUST 7, 1971, ARRIVING AT HAINES, ALASKA, AT 8:30 A.M. AUGUST 9, 1971. DURING AUGUST 9, WHILE THE COLLINS FAMILY WAS DRIVING BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE FROM HAINES, ALASKA, TO HAINES JUNCTION, YUKON TERRITORY, CANADA, THE OLDEST DAUGHTER BECAME ILL. AT THE SUGGESTION OF A PUBLIC HEALTH NURSE AT HAINES JUNCTION, SHE WAS TAKEN TO THE NEAREST DOCTOR WHO WAS IN WHITEHORSE, YUKON TERRITORY. THIS DOCTOR ADVISED MR. AND MRS. COLLINS THAT THEIR DAUGHTER WAS WELL ENOUGH TO CONTINUE THE TRIP; SO THE NEXT DAY, AUGUST 10, THE COLLINS RETRACED THEIR ROUTE TO HAINES JUNCTION AND PROCEEDED ONCE AGAIN ON THE USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE TO KODIAK, ARRIVING IN TOK JUNCTION, ALASKA, AT 8:30 A.M. ON AUGUST 11, 1971. THE DAUGHTER'S CONDITION HAVING WORSENED, ANOTHER DOCTOR WAS CONSULTED IN TOK JUNCTION. THIS DOCTOR ADVISED IMMEDIATE HOSPITALIZATION; SO THE DAUGHTER AND HER MOTHER WERE FLOWN BY CHARTERED PLANE TO THE NEAREST ADEQUATE HOSPITAL FACILITIES IN FAIRBANKS, ALASKA. WEATHER PREVENTED THEM FROM FLYING THE DAUGHTER TO ANCHORAGE, ALASKA, WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN ALONG THE USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE.

IN FAIRBANKS THE DAUGHTER UNDERWENT AN OPERATION AND WAS NOT RELEASED FROM THE HOSPITAL UNTIL AUGUST 16, 1971. THE FOLLOWING DAY, AUGUST 17, THE FAMILY TRAVELED FROM FAIRBANKS BACK TO TOK JUNCTION AND FROM THERE RESUMED THE USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE TO KODIAK, ARRIVING AT HOMER, ALASKA, AT 7 P.M. ON AUGUST 21, 1971. THEY WAITED AT HOMER UNTIL THE NEXT FERRY LEFT FOR KODIAK AT 9 A.M. AUGUST 23, 1971, AND ARRIVED IN KODIAK AT 2:30 A.M. AUGUST 24, 1971.

MR. COLLINS IS CLAIMING ADDITIONAL REIMBURSEMENT REPRESENTING THE AMOUNT BY WHICH MILEAGE BASED ON DISTANCE ACTUALLY TRAVELED AND PER DIEM BASED ON THE TIME ACTUALLY SPENT TRAVELING BETWEEN THE OLD AND NEW OFFICIAL STATIONS WOULD EXCEED THE AMOUNT ADMINISTRATIVELY AUTHORIZED FOR MILEAGE AND PER DIEM ALLOWANCES. MR. COLLINS IS ALSO CLAIMING THE COST OF CHARTERING A PLANE TO TAKE HIS WIFE AND DAUGHTER FROM TOK JUNCTION TO FAIRBANKS, ALASKA.

REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED BY MR. COLLINS IN TRAVELING BETWEEN OLD AND NEW OFFICIAL STATIONS INCIDENT TO HIS PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION IS AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 2.1 OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56, REVISED JUNE 26, 1969, WHICH PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART:

"EXCEPT AS SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED IN THESE REGULATIONS, PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES, TRANSPORTATION COSTS AND OTHER TRAVEL EXPENSES OF THE EMPLOYEE, WILL BE ALLOWED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF 5 U.S.C. 5701-5708 AND THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS *** "

SIMILARLY, THE REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED BY MR. COLLINS' IMMEDIATE FAMILY IS AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 2.2A OF THE CIRCULAR WHICH PROVIDES:

"TRANSPORTATION. EXCEPT AS SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED IN THESE REGULATIONS, ALLOWABLE TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR THE EMPLOYEE'S IMMEDIATE FAMILY, INCLUDING TRANSPORTATION, ARE GOVERNED BY 5 U.S.C. 5701-5708 AND THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. TRAVEL OF THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY MAY BEGIN AT THE EMPLOYEE'S OLD OFFICIAL STATION OR SOME OTHER POINT, OR PARTIALLY AT BOTH, OR MAY END AT THE NEW OFFICIAL STATION OR SOME OTHER PLACE SELECTED BY THE EMPLOYEE, OR PARTIALLY AT BOTH. HOWEVER, THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION OF THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY WILL NOT EXCEED THE ALLOWABLE COST BY USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE BETWEEN THE EMPLOYEE'S OLD AND NEW OFFICIAL STATION." REIMBURSEMENT OF THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION IS ALSO LIMITED TO THAT INCURRED IN USING THE "USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE" BY SECTIONS 3.2 AND 3.5B(1) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, REVISED EFFECTIVE MARCH 1, 1965.

A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES IS AUTHORIZED FOR THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY OF THE EMPLOYEE BY SECTION 2.2B OF THE CIRCULAR WHICH PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

"PER DIEM ALLOWANCE WHEN EN ROUTE BETWEEN EMPLOYEE'S OLD AND NEW OFFICIAL STATION. WHEN AN EMPLOYEE IS TRANSFERRED, AN ALLOWANCE SHALL BE PAID FOR PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES INCURRED BY THE EMPLOYEE'S IMMEDIATE FAMILY WHILE TRAVELING BETWEEN THE OLD AND NEW OFFICIAL STATIONS, REGARDLESS OF WHERE THE OLD AND NEW STATIONS ARE LOCATED. THE ACTUAL TRAVEL INVOLVES DEPARTURE AND/OR DESTINATION POINTS OTHER THAN THE OLD OR NEW OFFICIAL STATION, THE PER DIEM ALLOWANCE WILL NOT EXCEED THE AMOUNT TO WHICH MEMBERS OF THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY WOULD HAVE BEEN ENTITLED IF THEY HAD TRAVELED BY USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE BETWEEN THE OLD AND NEW OFFICIAL STATIONS. *** "

WHEN A PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE IS USED FOR TRAVEL INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION, THE PER DIEM ALLOWANCE IS LIMITED BY SECTION 2.3A(2) OF THE CIRCULAR WHICH PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART:

"PER DIEM ALLOWANCES WILL BE PAID ON THE BASIS OF THE ACTUAL TIME USED TO COMPLETE THE TRIP BUT SUCH ALLOWANCES MAY NOT EXCEED AN AMOUNT COMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF A MINIMUM DRIVING DISTANCE PER DAY WHICH IS PRESCRIBED AS REASONABLE BY THE AUTHORIZING OFFICIAL AND IS NOT LESS THAN AN AVERAGE OF 300 MILES PER CALENDAR DAY."

BUT SEE ALSO SECTION 6.5 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS (1965) CONCERNING THE PER DIEM ALLOWABLE WHEN A TRAVELER IS INCAPACITATED BECAUSE OF ILLNESS.

WE HAVE PREVIOUSLY INTERPRETED THE QUOTED REGULATIONS AS LIMITING THE REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES INCURRED WHEN TRAVELING TO A NEW OFFICIAL STATION BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE TO THE EXPENSES TO WHICH THE EMPLOYEE AND THE MEMBERS OF HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY WOULD HAVE BEEN ENTITLED IF THEY HAD TRAVELED BY A USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE BETWEEN THE OLD AND NEW STATIONS AT THE SPECIFIED DISTANCE PER DAY. SEE OUR DECISION OF MARCH 17, 1970, B-169065, COPY ENCLOSED. SEE ALSO OUR DECISION OF APRIL 6, 1962, B- 148398, COPY ENCLOSED, WHICH YOU CITED IN YOUR SUBMISSION. NO BASIS EXISTS UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF CIRCULAR NO. A-56 FOR ADDITIONAL REIMBURSEMENT BECAUSE OF EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES SUCH AS THOSE WHICH OCCURRED DURING MR. COLLINS' TRAVEL.

WHILE THE AUTHORITIES PREVIOUSLY REFERRED TO MAKE NO PROVISION FOR PAYMENT OF MEDICAL EXPENSES OR TRANSPORTATION IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, WE NOTE THAT 15 U.S.C. 1514 AUTHORIZES APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE PURPOSE OF:

"(A) FURNISHING TO EMPLOYEES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE *** AND THEIR DEPENDENTS, IN ALASKA AND OTHER POINTS OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, FREE EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES BY CONTRACT OR OTHERWISE AND FREE EMERGENCY MEDICAL SUPPLIES, WHERE IN THE JUDGMENT OF THE SECRETARY FURNISHING OF SUCH SUPPLIES AND SERVICES IS NECESSARY;"

WE HAVE BEEN INFORMALLY ADVISED THAT THE IMPLEMENTING DEPARTMENTAL REGULATIONS, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 202 792(T), DATED JUNE 8, 1953, AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE TRAVEL OF AN EMPLOYEE OR A DEPENDENT WITH AN ATTENDANT IN A MEDICAL EMERGENCY SITUATION. CONSEQUENTLY, THE EXPENSES INCURRED BY MR. COLLINS DUE TO THE ILLNESS OF HIS DAUGHTER WOULD APPEAR TO BE PRIMARILY FOR CONSIDERATION OF YOUR AGENCY RATHER THAN THIS OFFICE. SEE 35 COMP. GEN. 20 (1955).