B-180672, SEP 5, 1974, 54 COMP GEN 190

B-180672: Sep 5, 1974

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185 IN CASH TRAVEL ADVANCE FUNDS WAS STOLEN FROM HIS LOCKED MOTEL ROOM WHILE HE WAS SLEEPING MAY NEVERTHELESS NOT BE RELIEVED OF LIABILITY FOR THE LOSS OF SUCH FUNDS SINCE TRAVEL ADVANCEMENTS ARE CONSIDERED TO BE LIKE LOANS. AS DISTINGUISHED FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS AND HENCE MONEY IN THE WALLET WAS PRIVATE PROPERTY OF THE SPECIAL AGENT AND HE REMAINS INDEBTED TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE LOAN. MUST SHOW EITHER THAT IT WAS EXPENDED FOR TRAVEL OR REFUND AMOUNT NOT EXPENDED. SPECIAL AGENT KOSTECKE WAS ISSUED A TRAVEL ADVANCEMENT OF $1. WHICH WAS TO BE UTILIZED BY HIM TO PAY HIS TRAVEL AND SUBSISTANCE EXPENSES WHILE HE PERFORMED TEMPORARY DUTY AWAY FROM HIS PERMANENT POST OF DUTY. HE WAS ASSIGNED TO THE MOBILE TASK FORCE.

B-180672, SEP 5, 1974, 54 COMP GEN 190

TRAVEL EXPENSES - ADVANCES - ACCOUNTABILITY SPECIAL AGENT OF THE DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION WHOSE WALLET CONTAINING $1,185 IN CASH TRAVEL ADVANCE FUNDS WAS STOLEN FROM HIS LOCKED MOTEL ROOM WHILE HE WAS SLEEPING MAY NEVERTHELESS NOT BE RELIEVED OF LIABILITY FOR THE LOSS OF SUCH FUNDS SINCE TRAVEL ADVANCEMENTS ARE CONSIDERED TO BE LIKE LOANS, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS AND HENCE MONEY IN THE WALLET WAS PRIVATE PROPERTY OF THE SPECIAL AGENT AND HE REMAINS INDEBTED TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE LOAN, AND MUST SHOW EITHER THAT IT WAS EXPENDED FOR TRAVEL OR REFUND AMOUNT NOT EXPENDED.

IN THE MATTER OF THE RELIEF OF LIABILITY FOR LOSS OF TRAVEL ADVANCEMENT, SEPTEMBER 5, 1974:

THIS MATTER INVOLVES A REQUEST FOR A DECISION ON WHETHER THOMAS S. KOSTECKE, A SPECIAL AGENT EMPLOYED BY THE DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION (FORMERLY DESIGNATED AS THE BUREAU OF NARCOTICS AND DANGEROUS DRUGS (BNDD)), UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, MAY BE RELIEVED FROM LIABILITY FOR THE LOSS BY THEFT OF $1,185 IN CASH REPRESENTING A TRAVEL ADVANCEMENT.

SPECIAL AGENT KOSTECKE WAS ISSUED A TRAVEL ADVANCEMENT OF $1,300 ON FEBRUARY 6, 1973, WHICH WAS TO BE UTILIZED BY HIM TO PAY HIS TRAVEL AND SUBSISTANCE EXPENSES WHILE HE PERFORMED TEMPORARY DUTY AWAY FROM HIS PERMANENT POST OF DUTY. HE WAS ASSIGNED TO THE MOBILE TASK FORCE, OPERATION "SANDSTORM" LOCATED AT PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, AND MAINTAINED HIS RESIDENCE AT THE HOLIDAY INN MOTEL, ROOM 230, ROUTE 8, ALLISON PARK, PENNSYLVANIA.

AT APPROXIMATELY 1 A.M., FEBRUARY 16, 1973, SPECIAL AGENT KOSTECKE ENTERED HIS ROOM TO RETIRE FOR THE NIGHT AND SECURED THE SELF-LOCKING DOOR WITH THE "DEAD-BOLT" LOCKING SYSTEM WHICH REQUIRES A MASTER KEY TO BE OPENED FROM THE OUTSIDE. WHEN HE AWOKE AT 4:30 A.M. HE NOTICED THAT THE DOOR TO HIS ROOM WAS OPEN AND AN INVENTORY OF HIS BELONGINGS REVEALED THAT HIS WALLET CONTAINING $1,185 IN TRAVEL ADVANCEMENT FUNDS WAS MISSING. REPORTED THE THEFT TO THE MANAGEMENT AND LOCAL POLICE AND DISCOVERED THAT SIMILAR BURGLARIES HAD RECENTLY OCCURRED AT THIS MOTEL, APPARENTLY THROUGH THE USE OF A MASTER KEY. THE ISSUE IS WHETHER SPECIAL AGENT KOSTECKE, ON THE BASIS OF THE SITUATION DESCRIBED ABOVE, MAY BE RELIEVED OF LIABILITY FOR THE LOST TRAVEL ADVANCEMENT.

TRAVEL ADVANCEMENTS ARE GOVERNED BY THE PROVISIONS OF 5 U.S.C. 5705 WHICH PROVIDES:

5705. ADVANCEMENTS AND DEDUCTIONS.

AN AGENCY MAY ADVANCE, THROUGH THE PROPER DISBURSING OFFICIAL, TO AN EMPLOYEE OR INDIVIDUAL ENTITLED TO PER DIEM OR MILEAGE ALLOWANCES UNDER THIS SUBCHAPTER, A SUM CONSIDERED ADVISABLE WITH REGARD TO THE CHARACTER AND PROBABLE DURATION OF THE TRAVEL TO BE PERFORMED. A SUM ADVANCED AND NOT USED FOR ALLOWABLE TRAVEL EXPENSES IS RECOVERABLE FROM THE EMPLOYEE OR INDIVIDUAL OR HIS ESTATE BY -

(1) SETOFF AGAINST ACCRUED PAY, RETIREMENT CREDIT, OR OTHER AMOUNT DUE THE EMPLOYEE OR INDIVIDUAL;

(2) DEDUCTION FROM AN AMOUNT DUE FROM THE UNITED STATES; AND

(3) SUCH OTHER METHOD AS IS PROVIDED BY LAW.

THIS OFFICE HAS ALWAYS CONSIDERED TRAVEL EXPENSE ADVANCEMENTS IN THE NATURE OF A LOAN, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM "GOVERNMENT FUNDS," WITH RARE EXCEPTIONS WHEN THE TRAVEL FUNDS ADVANCED ARE GREATLY IN EXCESS OF THE TRAVELER'S TRAVEL EXPENSE REQUIREMENTS AND WHEN THE AGENCY HAS STATED THAT THE PURPOSE OF THE EXCESS FUNDS ADVANCED IS TO CREATE AN IMPRESSION OF AFFLUENCE FOR OPERATIONAL PURPOSES. IN THE INSTANT CASE, THE ADVANCE WAS SPECIFICALLY STATED TO HAVE BEEN MADE FOR THE PURPOSE OF ENABLING THE AGENT TO PAY FOR HIS PER DIEM EXPENSES WHILE HE PERFORMED TEMPORARY DUTY. WE MUST THEREFORE CONCLUDE THAT THE AGENT'S WALLET CONTAINED PERSONAL FUNDS ON LOAN FROM THE GOVERNMENT. B-178595, JUNE 27, 1973.

ACCORDINGLY, WE ARE UNAWARE OF ANY AUTHORITY THAT WOULD PERMIT US TO RELIEVE SPECIAL AGENT KOSTECKE OF THIS INDEBTEDNESS, EVEN IF WE WERE TO ASSUME, WITHOUT MAKING A FINDING, THAT HE WAS FREE OF NEGLIGENCE IN REGARD TO THE LOSS.