B-181352, OCT 8, 1974, 54 COMP GEN 268

B-181352: Oct 8, 1974

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HE IS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF THE LESSER OF THE ACTUAL COST OF THE SPECIAL FARE. NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THE SPECIAL FARE MAY NECESSITATE THE PURCHASE OF ACCOMMODATIONS OR OTHER ITEMS NORMALLY CLASSIFIED AS SUBSISTENCE OR INCLUDED IN PER DIEM WHICH ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE WHILE THE EMPLOYEE IS ON LEAVE. IF SUCH ITEMS ARE INCLUDED AS PART OF A TRAVEL PACKAGE. 1974: THIS ACTION IS MADE PURSUANT TO A REQUEST FOR A DECISION BY AN AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER AS TO WHETHER AMOUNTS PAID FOR ACCOMMODATIONS BY TWO EMPLOYEES TO OBTAIN SPECIAL "TOUR-BASING" FARES INCIDENT TO TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENTS MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. WERE REQUIRED TO TRAVEL FROM THEIR RESIDENCES IN THE DETROIT AREA TO FRESNO AND SAN FRANCISCO.

B-181352, OCT 8, 1974, 54 COMP GEN 268

TRAVEL EXPENSES - PERSONAL CONVENIENCE - PRIVATE AND PUBLIC BUSINESS INTERMINGLED - SPECIAL FARE V. REGULAR RATE - REIMBURSEMENT FOR "ACCOMMODATIONS" IN TRAVEL PACKAGE WHEN AN EMPLOYEE COMBINES PERSONAL TRAVEL WITH OFFICIAL TRAVEL, THEREBY QUALIFYING FOR A SPECIAL FARE, HE IS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF THE LESSER OF THE ACTUAL COST OF THE SPECIAL FARE, OR THE REGULAR FARE BY DIRECT ROUTE, NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THE SPECIAL FARE MAY NECESSITATE THE PURCHASE OF ACCOMMODATIONS OR OTHER ITEMS NORMALLY CLASSIFIED AS SUBSISTENCE OR INCLUDED IN PER DIEM WHICH ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE WHILE THE EMPLOYEE IS ON LEAVE, IF SUCH ITEMS ARE INCLUDED AS PART OF A TRAVEL PACKAGE.

IN THE MATTER OF EXPENSES NECESSARY TO OBTAIN SPECIAL TRAVEL FARE, OCTOBER 8, 1974:

THIS ACTION IS MADE PURSUANT TO A REQUEST FOR A DECISION BY AN AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER AS TO WHETHER AMOUNTS PAID FOR ACCOMMODATIONS BY TWO EMPLOYEES TO OBTAIN SPECIAL "TOUR-BASING" FARES INCIDENT TO TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENTS MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

DOUGLAS L. HUNTER AND MARILYN C. DEHAAN, TWO EMPLOYEES OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE DATA CENTER, DETROIT, MICHIGAN, WERE REQUIRED TO TRAVEL FROM THEIR RESIDENCES IN THE DETROIT AREA TO FRESNO AND SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, AND RETURN ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS. THE EMPLOYEES LEFT DETROIT EARLIER THAN NECESSARY TO PERFORM OFFICIAL BUSINESS IN ORDER TO STOP IN COLORADO ON ANNUAL LEAVE FOR PERSONAL REASONS. MR. HUNTER DEPARTED FROM DETROIT ON JANUARY 17 AND MS. DEHAAN DID SO ON JANUARY 13. FROM COLORADO, THEY TRAVELED TO FRESNO, CALIFORNIA, ON JANUARY 21, 1974, REMAINED IN FRESNO FOR 2 DAYS, TRAVELED TO SAN FRANCISCO THE EVENING OF JANUARY 23, AND RETURNED TO DETROIT ON JANUARY 25.

THE REGULAR AIR FARE FOR A DIRECT TRIP FROM DETROIT TO FRESNO TO SAN FRANCISCO TO DETROIT, WHICH THE GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE PAID HAD THEY TRAVELED DIRECTLY, WAS $320.92 FOR EACH TRAVELER. HOWEVER, THE EMPLOYEES WERE ABLE, AS A RESULT OF THE COMBINATION OF THEIR PERSONAL TRAVEL WITH THEIR OFFICIAL TRAVEL, TO SECURE A SPECIAL "TOUR-BASING" FARE OF $228.15. THIS SPECIAL FARE WAS AVAILABLE ONLY WITH THE PURCHASE OF A MINIMUM OF $65 IN ACCOMMODATIONS. THE QUESTION PRESENTED FOR DECISION IS WHETHER THIS AMOUNT OF $65 IS REIMBURSABLE BY THE GOVERNMENT.

THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE QUESTIONS THE PROPRIETY OF PAYING THE $65 TO EACH EMPLOYEE, ON THE GROUND THAT WITH CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS NOT HERE APPLICABLE, PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE MAY NOT BE PAID WHILE THE TRAVELER IS ON LEAVE, UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS, FPMR 101-7, SECTION 1 7.5(A)(1). (ALTHOUGH THE SECTION IN QUESTION DEALS ONLY WITH PER DIEM PAYMENTS AND NOT WITH ITEMS OF SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE SUCH AS ACCOMMODATION CHARGES SPECIFICALLY, SINCE PER DIEM IS PAYABLE IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES, WE CONSIDER THE SECTION TO BE APPLICABLE TO THE PRESENT SITUATION AS WELL.)

THE EMPLOYEES MAINTAIN THAT ALTHOUGH THE $65 WAS LISTED SEPARATELY ON THEIR VOUCHERS AS AN ACCOMMODATION CHARGE, IT WAS IN FACT INCLUDED BY THE AIRLINE AS AN INSEPARABLE PART OF THE OVERALL COST OF THE SPECIAL "PACKAGE" TOUR AND THAT SUCH SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS ARE PERMISSIBLE UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS, FPMR 101-7, SECTION 1 3.4B(1), WHICH READS IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

(1) USE OF SPECIAL LOWER FARES. THROUGH FARES, SPECIAL FARES, COMMUTATION FARES, EXCURSION, AND REDUCED-RATE ROUNDTRIP FARES SHALL BE USED FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL WHEN IT CAN BE DETERMINED PRIOR TO THE START OF A TRIP THAT ANY SUCH TYPE OF SERVICE IS PRACTICAL AND ECONOMICAL TO THE GOVERNMENT. ***

WE WOULD AGREE THAT THE ABOVE-QUOTED REGULATION NOT ONLY PERMITS THE USE OF SPECIAL PACKAGE TOURS BUT ACTUALLY REQUIRES THE TRAVELER TO USE THEM FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL WHEN IT CAN BE DETERMINED IN ADVANCE THAT IT WOULD BE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR HIM TO DO SO. IN THIS CONNECTION, SEE FPMR 101-7, SECTION 1-1.3, WHICH STATES THAT AN EMPLOYEE'S OBLIGATION IS TO EXERCISE THE SAME CARE IN INCURRING EXPENSES THAT A PRUDENT PERSON WOULD EXERCISE IF TRAVELING ON PERSONAL BUSINESS.

WE HAVE HELD ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS THAT WHEN PERSONAL AND OFFICIAL TRAVEL IS PERFORMED, WE WILL NOT REQUIRE THAT THE EXPENSES OF SUCH TRANSPORTATION BE PRORATED UNLESS THE OVERALL COST EXCEEDS THAT WHICH WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN INCURRED HAD ONLY OFFICIAL TRAVEL BEEN PERFORMED. IN OUR DECISION, B-178535, JUNE 21, 1973, AN EMPLOYEE WAS SENT TO THE SOVIET UNION. THE REGULAR FARE WOULD HAVE BEEN $837.40. THE EMPLOYEE CHOSE TO TAKE LEAVE IN EUROPE FOLLOWING THE COMPLETION OF HIS DUTIES IN THE SOVIET UNION AND AS A RESULT WAS ABLE TO QUALIFY FOR A SPECIAL EXCURSION FARE OF $639.20. IT WAS HELD THAT HE WAS ENTITLED TO THE FULL $639.20 EVEN THOUGH PART OF THE TRAVEL COVERED BY THAT FARE WAS PERSONAL.

IN B-176512, OCTOBER 25, 1972, AN EMPLOYEE WAS SENT FROM VIRGINIA TO FLORIDA. HE CHOSE TO TAKE THE AUTOTRAIN WITH HIS WIFE AND AUTOMOBILE RATHER THAN TO FLY. THE FARE WAS $380 FOR THE ROUND-TRIP TRANSPORTATION OF BOTH HIM AND HIS WIFE AS WELL AS FOR THE AUTOMOBILE, WHILE THE AIR FARE FOR HIM ALONE WOULD HAVE BEEN $180. HAD HE TRAVELED ALONE BY AUTOTRAIN THE FARE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN REDUCED. EVEN THOUGH THE TRAVEL OF HIS WIFE AND THE TRANSPORTATION OF HIS AUTOMOBILE WERE PERSONAL, AND NOT PERMISSIBLE FOR REIMBURSEMENT UNDER THE APPLICABLE STATUTE AND REGULATIONS, WE HELD THAT THE FARE NEED NOT BE PRORATED OR SEPARATED FROM THE NONREIMBURSABLE ITEMS IN THE TOTAL AUTOTRAIN PACKAGE. THE EMPLOYEE WAS STILL ENTITLED TO THE LESSER OF THE ACTUAL COST OR THE AIR FARE, WHICH IN THIS CASE WAS THE AIR FARE. SEE ALSO B 167183, DECEMBER 19, 1969.

IN B-175643, APRIL 27, 1972, AN EMPLOYEE DROVE A RENTED AUTOMOBILE 600 MILES ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND 683 MILES FOR PERSONAL CONVENIENCE. THE AUTHORIZED MONTHLY RENTAL INCLUDED 3,000 MILES WITHOUT ADDITIONAL CHARGE. WE HELD THAT THE RENTAL COSTS WERE NOT TO BE APPORTIONED TO OFFICIAL AND PERSONAL USES, AND THAT THE EMPLOYEE DID NOT HAVE TO PAY ANY PORTION OF THE RENTAL COSTS BECAUSE HIS PERSONAL USE OF THE AUTOMOBILE DID NOT RESULT IN ANY ADDITIONAL EXPENSE TO THE GOVERNMENT.

IN THE INSTANT CASE, IT MAY FAIRLY BE ARGUED THAT THE USE OF THE $65 ACCOMMODATIONS ALSO RESULTED IN NO ADDITIONAL EXPENSE TO THE GOVERNMENT. ON THE CONTRARY, HAD THE ACCOMMODATIONS NOT BEEN PURCHASED, THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE BEEN INCREASED BY $27.77 FOR EACH TRAVELER, REPRESENTING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE REGULAR AIR FARE FOR A DIRECT TRIP AND THE SPECIAL PACKAGE FARE. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES WE WOULD REGARD THE $65 CHARGE AS AN ALLOWABLE ADDITIONAL AIR FARE EXPENSE, RATHER THAN A SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE, AND WE SUGGEST THAT THE SUPPLEMENTAL VOUCHER BE AMENDED ACCORDINGLY.