B-180936, JAN 6, 1975

B-180936: Jan 6, 1975

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MEMBER WHO IS GIVEN ERRONEOUS PORT CALL INFORMATION WHILE PERFORMING CIRCUITOUS TRAVEL TO NEW DUTY STATION IS NOT ENTITLED TO ADDITIONAL PAYMENTS BASED UPON SUCH ERRONEOUS INFORMATION UNDER 37 U.S.C. 404 AND THE IMPLEMENTING JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. WHEN AUTHORIZED TRAVEL IS PERFORMED ON A CHANGE OF PERMANENT STATION FROM THE OLD TO THE NEW DUTY STATION BY OTHER THAN THE DIRECT ROUTE. MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES GENERALLY ARE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION COSTS ACTUALLY INCURRED. NOT TO EXCEED THOSE THAT NECESSARILY WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED FOR TRAVEL BY THE DIRECT OR OFFICIAL ROUTE. 2. MEMBER WHO WAS NOT GIVEN PORT CALL INFORMATION BEFORE DEPARTURE FROM OLD DUTY STATION BUT WAS ERRONEOUSLY ADVISED OF PORT CALL WHILE ON LEAVE AND CIRCUITOUS TRAVEL TO NEW DUTY STATION MAY BE ALLOWED COST OF JET TOURIST ACCOMMODATIONS USED FOR OVERSEAS TRAVEL EVEN THOUGH CATEGORY "Z" FARE WAS AVAILABLE WHEN FAILURE TO OBTAIN LOWER FARE RESULTED FROM INCORRECT ISSUANCE OF GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUEST.

B-180936, JAN 6, 1975

1. MEMBER WHO IS GIVEN ERRONEOUS PORT CALL INFORMATION WHILE PERFORMING CIRCUITOUS TRAVEL TO NEW DUTY STATION IS NOT ENTITLED TO ADDITIONAL PAYMENTS BASED UPON SUCH ERRONEOUS INFORMATION UNDER 37 U.S.C. 404 AND THE IMPLEMENTING JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. WHEN AUTHORIZED TRAVEL IS PERFORMED ON A CHANGE OF PERMANENT STATION FROM THE OLD TO THE NEW DUTY STATION BY OTHER THAN THE DIRECT ROUTE, MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES GENERALLY ARE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION COSTS ACTUALLY INCURRED, NOT TO EXCEED THOSE THAT NECESSARILY WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED FOR TRAVEL BY THE DIRECT OR OFFICIAL ROUTE. 2. MEMBER WHO WAS NOT GIVEN PORT CALL INFORMATION BEFORE DEPARTURE FROM OLD DUTY STATION BUT WAS ERRONEOUSLY ADVISED OF PORT CALL WHILE ON LEAVE AND CIRCUITOUS TRAVEL TO NEW DUTY STATION MAY BE ALLOWED COST OF JET TOURIST ACCOMMODATIONS USED FOR OVERSEAS TRAVEL EVEN THOUGH CATEGORY "Z" FARE WAS AVAILABLE WHEN FAILURE TO OBTAIN LOWER FARE RESULTED FROM INCORRECT ISSUANCE OF GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUEST.

REIMBURSEMENT FOR CIRCUITOUS TRAVEL - LIEUTENANT COLONEL ELBERT W. LINK, USA:

LIEUTENANT COLONEL ELBERT W. LINK, USA, APPEALS FROM A SETTLEMENT BY THE TRANSPORTATION AND CLAIMS DIVISION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE. THE SETTLEMENT DISALLOWED ADDITIONAL TRAVEL ALLOWANCES CLAIMED BY COLONEL LINK INCIDENT TO A CHANGE OF PERMANENT STATION AND CONCLUDED THAT THE MEMBER HAD RECEIVED AN OVERPAYMENT OF $170.32.

SPECIAL ORDER NO. 81, DATED APRIL 5, 1971, AS AMENDED, AUTHORIZED THE REASSIGNMENT OF COLONEL LINK ON A CHANGE OF PERMANENT STATION FROM FORT BELVOIR, VIRGINIA, TO THE U.S. MILITARY GROUP, BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA. THE ORDER AUTHORIZED THE CONCURRENT TRAVEL OF THE MEMBER'S WIFE, A 30-DAY LEAVE (DELAY EN ROUTE), NOTED A LEAVE ADDRESS AT HOUSTON, TEXAS, AND SPECIFIED A REPORTING DATE OF JUNE 15, 1971, AT THE NEW DUTY STATION.

COLONEL LINK EXPERIENCED DIFFICULTY IN OBTAINING PORT CALL INFORMATION. NO PORT CALL WAS RECEIVED PRIOR TO HIS LEAVE DEPARTURE DATE. IN HIS AMENDED ORDERS HE WAS INSTRUCTED TO CONTACT THE MILITARY TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT AND TERMINAL SERVICE (MTMTS) IF NO PORT CALL WAS RECEIVED 10 DAYS PRIOR TO HIS TRAVEL AVAILABILITY DATE OF JUNE 11, 1971. SINCE HE HAD RECEIVED NONE BEFORE JUNE 1, 1971, THE MEMBER CALLED FORT BELVOIR AND LEARNED THAT NO PORT CALL HAD BEEN RECEIVED AT THAT INSTALLATION. ON JUNE 8, HE AGAIN CALLED FORT BELVOIR AND WAS ADVISED TO CALL MTMTS, BROOKLYN. AN EMPLOYEE AT MTMTS THEN INSTRUCTED THE TRANSPORTATION OFFICER AT ELLINGTON AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS, TO ISSUE A GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUEST (GTR) AUTHORIZING THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE MEMBER AND HIS DEPENDENT ON JUNE 17, 1971, VIA COMMERCIAL AIR JET TOURIST FROM NEW ORLEANS VIA MIAMI TO BUENOS AIRES.

A PORT CALL APPARENTLY WAS RECEIVED AT FORT BELVOIR ON JUNE 10, 1971, WHICH INSTRUCTED THE MEMBER AND HIS DEPENDENT TO REPORT TO AN AIRLINE IN NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA; IT AUTHORIZED THE ISSUANCE OF THE GTR BY THE LOCAL TRANSPORTATION OFFICER FOR CATEGORY "Z" AIR TRAVEL AND COMMERCIAL TRAVEL, IF ANY, FROM HOUSTON VIA MIAMI, FLORIDA, TO BUENOS AIRES.

UPON ARRIVAL IN ARGENTINA THE MEMBER WAS PAID $356.82, REPRESENTING A MILEAGE ALLOWNACE FROM FORT BELVOIR TO MIAMI (THE AERIAL PORT OF EMBARKATION), LESS THE DISTANCE FROM NEW ORLEANS TO MIAMI, WHICH WAS COVERED BY THE GTR, AND AUTHORIZED EXCESS BAGGAGE CHARGES BASED ON THE FARE FROM MIAMI TO BUENOS AIRES RATHER THAN FROM NEW ORLEANS.

IN HIS APPEAL THE MEMBER CONTENDS THAT SINCE HE COMPLIED WITH THE GTR ISSUED BY THE LOCAL TRANSPORTATION OFFICER AS INSTRUCTED BY MTMTS HE SHOULD BE ALLOWED EXCESS BAGGAGE CHARGES FROM NEW ORLEANS AND A MILEAGE ALLOWANCE FROM FORT BELVOIR TO NEW ORLEANS. HE ALSO CONTENDS THAT HE, AS AN AGENT OR EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT, SHOULD NOT BE PENALIZED FOR ERRORS OR OMISSIONS OF ANOTHER AGENT OF THE GOVERNMENT WHEN HE FOLLOWED THE ORDERS RECEIVED FROM COMPETENT AUTHORITIES.

UNDER 37 U.S.C. 404 (1970) AND THE IMPLEMENTING JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS THE GOVERNMENT'S OBLIGATION TO MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES, TRAVELING WITH DEPENDENTS UPON A CHANGE OF PERMANENT STATION, IS LIMITED TO FURNISHING THEM TRANSPORTATION OR REIMBURSEMENT FOR THEIR OWN TRAVEL FROM THE OLD TO THE NEW DUTY STATION. WHEN AUTHORIZED TRAVEL IS PERFORMED BY OTHER THAN THE DIRECT OR OFFICIAL ROUTE, THE MEMBER GENERALLY IS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION COSTS ACTUALLY INCURRED, NOT TO EXCEED THE COSTS THAT NECESSARILY WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED FOR TRAVEL BY THE DIRECT OR OFFICIAL ROUTE TO THE MEMBER'S NEW DUTY STATION. 47 COMP. GEN. 440, 443-4 (1968). CF. 52 COMP. GEN. 609 (1973). ANY ADDITIONAL PAYMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT WHICH ENABLES THE MEMBER AND DEPENDENTS TO TRAVEL TO DESTINATION VIA A CIRCUITOUS ROUTE MUST BE CHARGED AGAINST THE MEMBER'S PAY ACCOUNT. DECISION B-166200, MARCH 20, 1969.

AS INDICATED IN THE SETTLEMENT THE MEMBER'S ENTITLEMENT FOR THE COSTS THAT NECESSARILY WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED FOR TRAVEL VIA THE DIRECT ROUTE INCLUDED A MILEAGE ALLOWANCE FROM FORT BELVOIR TO MIAMI, CATEGORY "Z" AIR FARE FROM MIAMI TO BUENOS AIRES, TWO DAYS' PER DIEM, EXCESS BAGGAGE COSTS FROM MIAMI, PASSPORT FEE AND BAGGAGE HANDLING AT THE TWO AIRPORTS, FOR A TOTAL OF $462.58. THE ENTITLEMENTS ON ACCOUNT OF THE MEMBER'S DEPENDENT INCLUDED A MILEAGE ALLOWANCE FROM FORT BELVOIR TO MIAMI, CATEGORY "Z" AIR FARE FROM MIAMI TO BUENOS AIRES, AND ALSO A DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE, TOTALING $455.92. SUCH ENTITLEMENTS TOGETHER WITH THE MEMBER'S ENTITLEMENT TO $462.58, RESULT IN A TOTAL ENTITLEMENT OF $918.50.

THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THE MEMBER RECEIVED ERRONEOUS PORT CALL INSTRUCTIONS FROM AN EMPLOYEE OF MTMTS. HOWEVER, THOSE ERRONEOUS INSTRUCTIONS CANNOT BE USED TO SUPPORT HIS CLAIM FOR MILEAGE TO NEW ORLEANS INSTEAD OF TO MIAMI OR FOR THE COST OF AIR TRAVEL INCLUDING EXCESS BAGGAGE CHARGES INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH AIR TRAVEL FROM NEW ORLEANS TO MIAMI. IT IS CLEAR THAT DIRECT ROUTE TRAVEL FOR ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE TRAVEL REQUIRED WAS THROUGH MIAMI NOT NEW ORLEANS. THE ERRONEOUS INSTRUCTIONS DO NOT SUPPORT PAYMENT FOR PART OF THE CIRCUITOUS TRAVEL WHICH THE MEMBER UNDERTOOK IN CONNECTION WITH HIS LEAVE AT HOUSTON. ABSENT SPECIFIC CONTRARY AUTHORITY, THE UNITED STATES IS NOT LIABLE FOR THE ERRONEOUS ACTIONS OF ITS OFFICERS, AGENTS OR EMPLOYEES, EVEN THOUGH COMMITTED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES. POSEY V UNITED STATES, 449 F.2D 228, 234 (5TH CIR. 1971); VASON V. UNITED STATES, 369 F.SUPP. 1202, 1206 (N.D. GA. 1973); 44 COMP. GEN. 337, 339 (1964).

HOWEVER, THE MEMBER'S DEVIATION FROM DIRECT ROUTE TRAVEL MUST BE VIEWED AS HAVING ENDED UPON HIS ARRIVAL IN MIAMI. APPARENTLY, CATEGORY "Z" AIR FARE FOR HIS TRAVEL AND THAT OF HIS DEPENDENT FROM THAT POINT ONWARD COULD HAVE BEEN OBTAINED IF THE APPROPRIATE NOTATIONS HAD BEEN MADE ON THE GTR ISSUED OR IF A SEPARATE GTR HAD BEEN ISSUED FOR THAT PART OF THE TRAVEL. CONSEQUENTLY IT APPEARS THAT THERE IS NO BASIS FOR CHARGING THE MEMBER IN THIS CASE WITH THE EXCESS FARE CHARGED THE GOVERNMENT AS A RESULT OF THE ISSUANCE OF A GTR WHICH DID NOT CALL FOR CATEGORY "Z" SERVICE. WHILE THAT FARE APPARENTLY WAS AVAILABLE FOR THE TRAVEL PERFORMED, THE MEMBER SHOULD NOT BE REQUIRED TO PAY THE EXCESS COSTS RESULTING FROM THE FAILURE OF THE GOVERNMENT TO OBTAIN THE LOWEST POSSIBLE TRANSPORTATION COST.

FOR THE REASONS STATED THE SETTLEMENT IN THE CASE WILL BE MODIFIED TO ALLOW THE MEMBER CREDIT FOR TRAVEL FROM MIAMI TO BUENOS AIRES AT THE COMMERCIAL JET TOURIST RATE INSTEAD OF AT THE CATEGORY "Z" RATE.