B-178441, JUN 18, 1973

B-178441: Jun 18, 1973

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YOU HAVE FORWARDED A COPY OF THE CLAIM VOUCHER AND STATE YOU ARE WITHHOLDING PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM PENDING OUR DECISION. IN THIS CONNECTION YOU SHOULD HAVE SUBMITTED THE ORIGINAL VOUCHER WITH THE REQUEST FOR DECISION. 22 COMP. SINCE YOU HAVE A VOUCHER BEFORE YOU WE SHALL COMPLY WITH YOUR REQUEST IN ORDER TO EXPEDITE THE MATTER. LOW AND HIS SPOUSE PERFORMED TRAVEL FOR THE PURPOSE OF SEEKING PERMANENT RESIDENCE QUARTERS IN CONNECTION WITH AN IMPENDING TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS AND THAT ROUND-TRIP TRAVEL FOR HIM AND HIS SPOUSE WAS AUTHORIZED FOR THIS PURPOSE. REIMBURSEMENT IS CLAIMED FOR $289.91 CONSISTING OF 24 QUARTER DAYS PER DIEM FOR MR. THE COPY OF THE TRAVEL ORDERS SUBMITTED IS TOO FAINT TO BE READ COMPLETELY.

B-178441, JUN 18, 1973

CLAIM OF MR. JOHN R. LOW FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR HIMSELF AND HIS SPOUSE TO A CHANGE OF DUTY STATION AUTHORIZED FOR PAYMENT.

TO MR. RONALD I. SHAFFER:

WE REFER FURTHER TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 12, 1973, WITH ENCLOSURES, WHEREIN YOU ASK FOR AN ADVANCE DECISION AS TO WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT A CLAIM OF MR. JOHN R. LOW FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR HIMSELF AND HIS SPOUSE TO SEEK RESIDENCE QUARTERS INCIDENT TO A CHANGE IN DUTY STATION.

YOU HAVE FORWARDED A COPY OF THE CLAIM VOUCHER AND STATE YOU ARE WITHHOLDING PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM PENDING OUR DECISION. IN THIS CONNECTION YOU SHOULD HAVE SUBMITTED THE ORIGINAL VOUCHER WITH THE REQUEST FOR DECISION. 22 COMP. GEN. 588 (1943). HOWEVER, SINCE YOU HAVE A VOUCHER BEFORE YOU WE SHALL COMPLY WITH YOUR REQUEST IN ORDER TO EXPEDITE THE MATTER.

YOU STATE THAT MR. LOW AND HIS SPOUSE PERFORMED TRAVEL FOR THE PURPOSE OF SEEKING PERMANENT RESIDENCE QUARTERS IN CONNECTION WITH AN IMPENDING TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS AND THAT ROUND-TRIP TRAVEL FOR HIM AND HIS SPOUSE WAS AUTHORIZED FOR THIS PURPOSE. PRESUMABLY THERE HAS BEEN COMPLIANCE WITH THE PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS SET FORTH IN SECTION 7.3 OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET (OMB) CIRCULAR NO. A-56, REVISED AUGUST 17, 1971.

THE COPY OF THE VOUCHER SUBMITTED SHOWS THAT MR. LOW DEPARTED FROM HIS RESIDENCE IN SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND, AT 7 A.M., JANUARY 22, 1973, AND ARRIVED IN SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, THE SAME DAY. HIS SPOUSE DEPARTED SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND, AT 10 A.M., JANUARY 25, AND JOINED MR. LOW IN SAN FRANCISCO THE SAME DAY. THEY RETURNED TOGETHER TO THEIR RESIDENCE IN SILVER SPRING ON JANUARY 29, ARRIVING AT 7:20 P.M. REIMBURSEMENT IS CLAIMED FOR $289.91 CONSISTING OF 24 QUARTER DAYS PER DIEM FOR MR. LOW AT $6.25 A QUARTER DAY, 19 QUARTER DAYS FOR HIS SPOUSE AT $4.69 A QUARTER, AND $50.80 TAXI CAB AND LIMOUSINE SERVICE BETWEEN AIRPORTS AND RESIDENCE.

THE COPY OF THE TRAVEL ORDERS SUBMITTED IS TOO FAINT TO BE READ COMPLETELY, HOWEVER, IT DOES APPEAR THAT ROUND-TRIP TRAVEL TO SEEK PERMANENT RESIDENCE QUARTERS WAS APPROVED WITH A PER DIEM RATE OF $25 A DAY FOR MR. LOW AND $18.75 A DAY FOR HIS SPOUSE.

YOU REFER TO THE FIRST SENTENCE OF SECTION 7.1 OF OMB CIRCULAR NO. A 56, WHICH READS:

*** PAYMENT OF TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES OF THE EMPLOYEE AND SPOUSE TRAVELING TOGETHER, OR EITHER ONE OF THEM, FOR ONE ROUND TRIP BETWEEN THE LOCALITIES OF THE OLD AND NEW DUTY STATIONS FOR THE PURPOSE OF SEEKING RESIDENCE QUARTERS MAY BE AUTHORIZED WHEN CIRCUMSTANCES WARRANT.

ADDITIONALLY YOU STATE THAT AN AGENCY REGULATION CONCERNING OFFICIAL TRAVEL OF EMPLOYEES PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

*** IF BOTH THE EMPLOYEE AND SPOUSE MAKE THE TRIP, THEY MAY TRAVEL SEPARATELY; BUT, IN NO CASE SHALL THE REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES EXCEED WHAT IT WOULD HAVE COST HAD THEY TRAVELED TOGETHER.

YOU ASK WHETHER THE ABOVE-QUOTED PROVISIONS OF OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56 PROHIBIT PAYMENT OF ANY OF THE SPOUSE'S EXPENSES OR MAY THE EXPENSES BE REIMBURSED SUBJECT TO THE AGENCY RESTRICTIONS. IN THE EVENT OF ALLOWANCE YOU SEEK INSTRUCTIONS AS TO COMPUTATION OF THE ALLOWABLE PER DIEM. YOU NOTE THAT THE APPLICABLE REGULATIONS ARE SILENT AS TO WHETHER THE ALLOWABLE 6 CALENDAR DAYS ARE TO RUN CONSECUTIVELY AND WHETHER THE SPOUSE'S PER DIEM EXPENSES MUST RUN CONCURRENTLY WITH THE EMPLOYEE'S. YOU INDICATE AN AFFIRMATIVE ANSWER TO BOTH QUESTIONS WOULD REQUIRE A CHARGE TO MR. LOW'S ANNUAL LEAVE ACCOUNT OF AT LEAST ONE DAY AND AN ADJUSTMENT IN THE PER DIEM ALLOWED THE SPOUSE.

IN B-166414, APRIL 9, 1969, INVOLVING THE EARLY TERMINATION OF A HOUSEHUNTING TRIP BY THE EMPLOYEE DUE TO OFFICIAL BUSINESS, WE INDICATED THAT THE SPOUSE COULD HAVE COMPLETED THE HOUSEHUNTING TRIP ALONE. CONSISTENT THEREWITH WE DO NOT BELIEVE THE QUOTED PROVISIONS FROM OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56 ARE SO RESTRICTIVE AS TO PROHIBIT THE PAYMENT OF THE EXPENSES OF THE SPOUSE WHERE BOTH MAKE THE ROUND TRIP BUT DO NOT TRAVEL TOGETHER SO LONG AS THE TOTAL EXPENSES REIMBURSED DO NOT EXCEED WHAT THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE BEEN HAD THEY TRAVELED TOGETHER.

WITH RESPECT TO THE DURATION OF THE TRIP THE APPLICABLE PART OF SECTION 7.2 OF OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56 PROVIDES:

*** IN NO CASE WILL THE PERIOD OF THE ROUND TRIP AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE BE ALLOWED IN EXCESS OF 6 CALENDAR DAYS, INCLUDING TRAVEL TIME. ***

IT IS OUR OPINION THAT, WHILE THE ALLOWABLE 6 CALENDAR DAYS MUST RUN CONSECUTIVELY, THEY MAY BE ANY 6 DAYS DURING THE PERIOD OF TRAVEL PERFORMED BY THE EMPLOYEE OR THE SPOUSE. ALSO, WE SEE NO REASON TO REQUIRE THE SPOUSE'S REIMBURSABLE PER DIEM TRAVEL TO RUN CONCURRENTLY WITH THAT OF THE EMPLOYEE. YOUR QUESTIONS AS TO COMPUTATION ARE ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY. WITH RESPECT TO THE CHARGING OF ANNUAL LEAVE WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY HELD THAT THE CHARGING OF LEAVE TO AN EMPLOYEE IS PRIMARILY A MATTER FOR THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE. 39 COMP. GEN. 250 (1959).

IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE MR. LOW'S CLAIM, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.