B-183341, MAY 13, 1975

B-183341: May 13, 1975

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CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE WAS AUTHORIZED ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES FOR TWO TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENTS IN WASHINGTON. HE IS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT ON THE BASIS OF DIVIDING THE TOTAL LODGING EXPENSES BY 22 INSTEAD OF 30. GILLETTE WAS AUTHORIZED ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES NOT TO EXCEED $40 PER DAY WHILE ON A TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT FROM ALBUQUERQUE. A TOTAL OF 22 NIGHTS OF LODGING WERE REQUIRED FOR BOTH ASSIGNMENTS. HE WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY ALLOWED ONLY $289.05 ON THE BASIS THAT HE OCCUPIED THE ROOM FOR ONLY 22 DAYS. THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR HIS LODGING WOULD HAVE BEEN $466.40. AN EMPLOYEE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IS EXPECTED TO EXERCISE THE SAME CARE IN INCURRING EXPENSES THAT A PRUDENT PERSON WOULD EXERCISE IF TRAVELING ON PERSONAL BUSINESS.".

B-183341, MAY 13, 1975

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE WAS AUTHORIZED ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES FOR TWO TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENTS IN WASHINGTON, D.C., TOTALING 22 DAYS, DURING 30 DAY PERIOD. THE EMPLOYEE RENTED LODGINGS AT A SPECIAL RATE FOR 30 DAYS AND PAID $54 LESS THAN THE COSTS FOR 22 DAYS AT THE DAILY RATE. SINCE THE EMPLOYEE ACTED PRUDENTLY AND THE GOVERNMENT INCURRED NO ADDITIONAL COSTS, NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE SECURED LODGINGS FOR 8 DAYS WHICH HE DID NOT USE, HE IS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT ON THE BASIS OF DIVIDING THE TOTAL LODGING EXPENSES BY 22 INSTEAD OF 30.

WILLARD R. GILLETTE - REIMBURSEMENT OF SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES:

BY LETTER OF FEBRUARY 26, 1975, MR. BARTON W. WRIGHT, FINANCIAL LIAISON OFFICE, DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR, FORWARDED A REQUEST FOR AN ADVANCE DECISION BY AN AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER CONCERNING THE SUBSISTENCE ENTITLEMENT OF MR. WILLARD R. GILLETTE, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.

THE RECORD INDICATES THAT MR. GILLETTE WAS AUTHORIZED ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES NOT TO EXCEED $40 PER DAY WHILE ON A TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT FROM ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, TO WASHINGTON, D.C., DURING THE PERIOD JULY 29 TO AUGUST 9, 1974, AND RECEIVED A SIMILAR AUTHORIZATION FOR A SECOND ASSIGNMENT FROM AUGUST 19 TO AUGUST 30, 1974. A TOTAL OF 22 NIGHTS OF LODGING WERE REQUIRED FOR BOTH ASSIGNMENTS. MR. GILLETTE ARRANGED FOR LODGING AT A SPECIAL 30-DAY RATE AT THE PARK CENTRAL APARTMENT HOTEL TO COVER BOTH ASSIGNMENTS AND CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE HOTEL LODGING EXPENSES OF $412.50 HE PAID. HE WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY ALLOWED ONLY $289.05 ON THE BASIS THAT HE OCCUPIED THE ROOM FOR ONLY 22 DAYS. MR. GILLETTE RECLAIMS THE DIFFERENCE OF $123.45. THE AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER ASKS WHETHER HE MAY CERTIFY SUCH AMOUNT FOR PAYMENT. IN THIS CONNECTION THE RECORD SHOWS THAT HAD MR. GILLETTE ARRANGED FOR OCCUPANCY AT THE HOTEL'S DAILY RATE, THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR HIS LODGING WOULD HAVE BEEN $466.40.

THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS (FPMR 101-7) PARA. 1-1.3A (MAY 1973) SET OUT THE EMPLOYEE'S OBLIGATION REGARDING THE INCURRING OF TRAVEL EXPENSES AS FOLLOWS:

"A. EMPLOYEE'S OBLIGATION. AN EMPLOYEE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IS EXPECTED TO EXERCISE THE SAME CARE IN INCURRING EXPENSES THAT A PRUDENT PERSON WOULD EXERCISE IF TRAVELING ON PERSONAL BUSINESS."

MR. GILLETTE, WHEN HE ARRIVED FOR HIS INITIAL TEMPORARY DUTY ON JULY 29, 1974, KNEW THAT HE WOULD BE IN WASHINGTON FOR 22 OF THE FOLLOWING 30 DAYS. IT APPEARS THAT WHEN HE WAS APPRISED OF THE FACT THAT THE 30 DAY RATE WOULD RESULT IN APPROXIMATELY A $54 SAVINGS OVER THE DAILY RATE, HE ELECTED THE MONTHLY RATE. UNDER FTR PARA. 1-8.2 (1973), DAILY REIMBURSEMENT, THE AGENCY MUST DETERMINE "THE ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES INCURRED DURING ANY 1 DAY" TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE ACTUAL EXPENSES ARE LESS THAN THE AMOUNT AUTHORIZED BECAUSE "THE TRAVELER MAY BE REIMBURSED ONLY FOR THE ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES" INCURRED. BECAUSE NO DIRECT DAILY LODGING EXPENSES HAD BEEN INCURRED, THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS HAD TO CONSTRUCT A DAILY LODGING EXPENSE FROM THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF LODGING EXPENSES INCURRED. THE BUREAU CHOSE A FACTOR OF 30 DAYS UPON WHICH TO CONSTRUCT THE DAILY RATE, APPARENTLY BASED ON THE FACT THAT MR. GILLETTE, AS AN INCIDENT TO HIS ELECTION OF THE 30 DAY RATE, WAS ENTITLED TO USE THE LODGINGS DURING THE 8-DAY INTERIM BETWEEN HIS TWO TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENTS. SINCE THE BUREAU HAD USED A 30-DAY FACTOR TO CONSTRUCT THE DAILY LODGING EXPENSES, IT REDUCED MR. GILLETTE'S REIMBURSEMENT BY THE AMOUNT OF $123.45, THE PRORATED COST FOR THE 8 DAYS HE WAS NOT IN WASHINGTON.

IN CONNECTION WITH THE REIMBURSEMENT OF SUBSISTENCE ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS FTR PARA. 1-8.3 (MAY 1973) PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART:

"*** AGENCIES ARE CAUTIONED TO SEE THAT TRAVEL ON AN ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE BASIS IS ADMINISTERED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SPIRIT AND INTENT OF THE LAW ***."

WE HAVE HELD THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS ENTITLED TO THE BENEFITS OF REDUCED TRANSPORTATION COSTS WHERE AN EMPLOYEE REASONABLY KNOWS THAT HIS TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS MAKE THE EMPLOYEE ELIGIBLE FOR REDUCED TRANSPORTATION COSTS. B-174217, JANUARY 26, 1972 (EMPLOYEE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR ONLY ROUND-TRIP EXCURSION RATES WHERE GOVERNMENTAL TRAVEL AND PERSONAL TRAVEL COINCIDE).

ON THIS BASIS, WE CONCLUDE THAT THE GOVERNMENT WAS ENTITLED TO THE BENEFIT OF THE 30-DAY RATE BECAUSE IT RESULTED IN A $54 SAVINGS. THE QUESTION, THEREFORE, IS WHETHER MR. GILLETTE IS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF THE ENTIRE $412.50 LODGING EXPENSES WHICH HE INCURRED FOR THE 30-DAY PERIOD ALTHOUGH HE OCCUPIED THE LODGINGS FOR ONLY 22 DAYS INCIDENT TO HIS OFFICIAL ASSIGNMENT.

IN B-178558, JUNE 20, 1973, A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE CHOSE TO LODGE IN WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK, EVEN THOUGH HIS TEMPORARY DUTY STATION WAS NEW YORK CITY. ALTHOUGH THE EMPLOYEE INCURRED HIGHER COMMUTING EXPENSES THAN HE WOULD HAVE INCURRED HAD HE ACTUALLY LODGED IN NEW YORK CITY, THE LOWERED PER DIEM ALLOWANCE FOR LODGING IN WHITE PLAINS RESULTED IN A NET SAVINGS TO THE GOVERNMENT IN EXCESS OF $100. WE HELD THAT:

"*** WHEN A TRAVELER ACTS IN THE PRUDENT MANNER REQUIRED BY SECTION 1.2 OF SGTR AND EFFECTS AN OVERALL SAVING IN TRAVEL EXPENSES THAT HE SHOULD BE ENTITLED TO THE ADDITIONAL EXPENSES (EQUALLING THE ACTUAL EXPENSE) INCURRED IN TRAVELING BY MORE THAN ONE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION TO REACH HIS TEMPORARY DUTY STATION."

OUR DECISION B-181352, OCTOBER 8, 1974, 54 COMP. GEN. , CONCERNED TWO EMPLOYEES WHO INCURRED LODGINGS COSTS FOR PERSONAL USE IN ORDER TO OBTAIN A SPECIAL TRANSPORTATION RATE INCIDENT TO A TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT AND CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT FOR SUCH COSTS ON THE BASIS THEY HAD EFFECTED OVERALL SAVINGS TO THE GOVERNMENT. WE STATED THAT WE HAD HELD ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS THAT WHEN PERSONAL AND OFFICIAL TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED, WE WOULD NOT REQUIRE THAT THE EXPENSES OF SUCH TRANSPORTATION BE PRORATED UNLESS THE OVERALL COST EXCEEDED THAT WHICH WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN INCURRED HAD ONLY OFFICIAL TRAVEL BEEN PERFORMED AND CITED SEVERAL DECISIONS IN SUPPORT OF THAT STATEMENT. ON THE BASIS OF SUCH DECISIONS WE HELD THAT THE EMPLOYEES WERE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE EXPENSES CLAIMED SINCE THE COSTS CLAIMED DID NOT RESULT IN ADDITIONAL COSTS TO THE GOVERNMENT AND HAD SUCH EXPENSES NOT BEEN INCURRED ADDITIONAL COSTS WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED.

IN THE INSTANT CASE MR. GILLETTE SECURED LODGINGS FOR 30 DAYS AT A SPECIAL RATE. SINCE THE TOTAL LODGING COSTS INCURRED WERE LESS THAN THOSE THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED HAD HE SECURED LODGINGS ON A DAILY BASIS, WE BELIEVE HE ACTED IN A PRUDENT MANNER AND SUCH COSTS MAY BE CONSIDERED TO BE THE COSTS OF THE LODGINGS FOR THE 22-DAY PERIOD OF MR. GILLETTE'S TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT. THEREFORE, THE BUREAU SHOULD HAVE DIVIDED THE TOTAL LODGING COSTS BY 22 FOR THE PURPOSE OF DETERMINING WHETHER OR NOT MR. GILLETTE HAS EXCEEDED THE DAILY RATE OF ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE AUTHORIZED, AS REQUIRED BY FTR PARA. 1-8.2 (MAY 1973). THE RECORD INDICATES THAT USE OF THE DAILY LODGING COST, $18.75, OBTAINED BY USE OF THE LATTER METHOD WOULD NOT HAVE RESULTED IN EXPENSES ON ANY DAY IN EXCESS OF THE $40 MAXIMUM AUTHORIZED. ACCORDINGLY, THE RECLAIM VOUCHER MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IF OTHERWISE PROPER.