B-177735, MAR 21, 1973

B-177735: Mar 21, 1973

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SINCE THE INTENT OF CONGRESS IN ENACTING 5 U.S.C. 5704(A)(2) WAS TO PLACE OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANE OR AUTOMOBILE IN THE SAME STATUS. GREENE WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AIRCRAFT ROUND TRIP FROM ATLANTA. GREENE WAS REIMBURSED FOR HIS TRAVEL ON THE BASIS OF AIR MILEAGE (410 NAUTICAL MILES) AT THE RATE OF 12 CENTS A MILE. HE NOW IS CLAIMING AN ADDITIONAL 61 MILES AT 12 CENTS PER MILE BASED UPON STATUTE MILES BETWEEN FULTON COUNTY AIRPORT AND SPENCE AIR BASE AND RETURN. TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION AS TO WHETHER THE EMPLOYEE IS ENTITLED TO THE ADDITIONAL REIMBURSEMENT CLAIMED IT IS NECESSARY TO EXAMINE THE INTENT OF THE GOVERNING REGULATION. IS AS FOLLOWS: 4.1 BASIC RULES.

B-177735, MAR 21, 1973

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE - MILEAGE ALLOWANCE - OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANE DECISION ALLOWING THE CLAIM OF HOWARD B. GREENE FOR ADDITIONAL MILEAGE FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL BETWEEN ATLANTA, GA., AND MOULTRIE, GA., IN A PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANE. SINCE THE INTENT OF CONGRESS IN ENACTING 5 U.S.C. 5704(A)(2) WAS TO PLACE OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANE OR AUTOMOBILE IN THE SAME STATUS, PAYMENT OF MILEAGE FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANE SHOULD BE BASED UPON STATUTE MILES NOT NAUTICAL MILES.

TO MR. ROBERT J. SCHULLERY:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 29, 1972, IN WHICH YOU REQUESTED OUR DECISION WHETHER STATUTE OR NAUTICAL MILES SHOULD BE USED FOR COMPUTING MILEAGE PAYMENTS FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED BY AN EMPLOYEE USING A PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANE AS HIS MODE OF TRANSPORTATION. YOUR LETTER PRESENTS THE QUESTION AS FOLLOWS:

MR. GREENE WAS AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AIRCRAFT ROUND TRIP FROM ATLANTA, GEORGIA, TO SPENCE AIR BASE, MOULTRIE, GEORGIA, FOR THE PURPOSE OF PERFORMING TEMPORARY DUTY. HE TRAVELED BY HIS PRIVATELY OWNED AIRCRAFT FROM THE FULTON COUNTY AIRPORT TO SPENCE AIR BASE AND RETURNED. MR. GREENE WAS REIMBURSED FOR HIS TRAVEL ON THE BASIS OF AIR MILEAGE (410 NAUTICAL MILES) AT THE RATE OF 12 CENTS A MILE. HE NOW IS CLAIMING AN ADDITIONAL 61 MILES AT 12 CENTS PER MILE BASED UPON STATUTE MILES BETWEEN FULTON COUNTY AIRPORT AND SPENCE AIR BASE AND RETURN.

TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION AS TO WHETHER THE EMPLOYEE IS ENTITLED TO THE ADDITIONAL REIMBURSEMENT CLAIMED IT IS NECESSARY TO EXAMINE THE INTENT OF THE GOVERNING REGULATION, SUBSECTION 4.1B(2) OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-7, WITH RESPECT TO MEASUREMENT OF MILEAGE FLOWN IN PRIVATE AIRCRAFT. THE REGULATION, IN PERTINENT PART, IS AS FOLLOWS:

4.1 BASIC RULES. A. MILEAGE PAYMENTS. WHEN EMPLOYEES AND OTHERS RENDERING SERVICE TO THE GOVERNMENT USE PRIVATELY OWNED MOTOR VEHICLES OR AIRPLANES IN THE CONDUCT OF OFFICIAL BUSINESS WITHIN OR OUTSIDE THEIR DESIGNATED POSTS OF DUTY OR PLACES OF SERVICE, AND SUCH USE IS AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED AS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT OR AS AN AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED EXERCISE OF THE EMPLOYEE'S PREFERENCE, PAYMENT SHALL BE MADE ON A MILEAGE BASIS UNLESS PAYMENT ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS IS SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY LAW.

(2) AIRPLANE TRAVEL. THE AIR MILEAGE BETWEEN THE ORIGIN AND DESTINATION AIRPORTS, AS DETERMINED FROM AIRWAYS CHARTS ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, WILL BE REPORTED ON THE REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHER AND USED IN COMPUTING PAYMENT FOR THE USE OF A PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANE. ***

WEBSTER'S NEW INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY, SECOND EDITION, DEFINES THE TERMS IN QUESTION AS FOLLOWS:

*** THE ENGLISH STATUTE MILE, USED IN GREAT BRITAIN, THE UNITED STATES, ETC., IS EQUAL TO 320 RODS OR POLES, 1,760 YARDS, OR 5,280 FEET (1,609.3 METERS) *** THE GEOGRAPHICAL, NAUTICAL OR SEA MILE IS THE LENGTH OF A MINUTE OR 1 OVER 21600 OF A GREAT CIRCLE OF THE EARTH, BUT, BECAUSE THE EARTH IS NOT A PERFECT SPHERE, SEVERAL DIFFERENT VALUES ARE IN USE *** THAT OF THE UNITED STATES COAST SURVEY IS 6,080.20 FEET (1,853.248 METERS)

REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL VIA PRIVATELY OWNED AIRCRAFT WAS AUTHORIZED ORIGINALLY BY PUBLIC LAW 78-536, APPROVED DECEMBER 22, 1944, 58 STAT. 908. IN THE REPORT OF BOTH THE HOUSE (REPORT NO. 1933) AND SENATE (REPORT NO. 1377) COMMITTEES ON EXPENDITURES IN THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS THE INTENT OF THE LEGISLATION IS STATED AS BEING "TO PLACE OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANE IN THE SAME STATUS AS NOW PROVIDED BY LAW FOR TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE." THE RATE OF REIMBURSEMENT WAS SPECIFIED AS THE SAME AS THAT FOR AUTOMOBILE MILEAGE, OR 5 CENTS PER MILE. SUBSECTION 5704(A)(2) OF TITLE 5, U.S.C. NOW AUTHORIZES REIMBURSEMENT OF MILEAGE FOR TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE OR AIRPLANE AT THE SAME RATE, OR 12 CENTS PER MILE.

NOTHING IN THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE AUTHORIZING LEGISLATION INDICATES THAT ANY CONSIDERATION WAS GIVEN TO THE QUESTION OF WHETHER MILEAGE TRAVELED BY AIR SHOULD BE MEASURED IN STATUTE MILES OR NAUTICAL MILES AT THE TIME IT WAS FIRST ENACTED OR IN THE COURSE OF SUBSEQUENT AMENDMENTS. ALSO, WE FIND NO DECISION OF THIS OFFICE INTERPRETING THE STATUTORY REGULATION IN ITS PRESENT FORM WHICH BEARS ON THE PRECISE QUESTION PRESENTED. IN 3 COMP. GEN. 742 (1924) WE DID, HOWEVER, CONSIDER WHETHER A STATUTE PROVIDING FOR MILEAGE PAYMENTS TO DESTITUTE SEAMEN FOR TRANSPORTATION BY SEA SHOULD BE COMPUTED BY STATUTE OR NAUTICAL MILES, AND IT WAS THERE DETERMINED THAT THE STATUTE CONTEMPLATED STATUTE OR LAND MILES AND IT HAD ALWAYS BEEN SO CONSTRUED.

ALTHOUGH YOUR LETTER STATES THAT THE AERONAUTICAL CHARTS REQUIRED BY THE REGULATION TO BE USED FOR PURPOSES OF COMPUTING MILEAGE SHOW DISTANCE BETWEEN AIRPORTS IN NAUTICAL MILES, OUR OBSERVATION OF THE ATLANTA SECTIONAL CHART PREPARED BY THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, 9TH EDITION, EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 12, 1972, DISCLOSES THAT DISTANCES MAY BE COMPUTED, FROM SCALES SUPPLIED ON THE CHART, IN KILOMETERS AND STATUTE MILES AS WELL AS IN NAUTICAL MILES.

SINCE AS HEREINABOVE INDICATED THE INTENT OF THE LEGISLATION AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL VIA PRIVATELY OWNED AIRCRAFT WAS TO MAKE SUCH REIMBURSEMENT EQUIVALENT TO THAT AUTHORIZED FOR USE OF PRIVATE AUTOMOBILES, IT MAY REASONABLY BE CONCLUDED THAT DISTANCES SHOULD BE MEASURED IN STATUTE OR LAND MILES.

ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHER IS RETURNED HEREWITH AND MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IF OTHERWISE PROPER.