B-185826,(MRV),L/M, MAR 14, 1980

B-185826,(MRV),L/M: Mar 14, 1980

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EDUCATION AND WELFARE: THIS IS IN RESPONSE TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 9. YOUR LETTER POINTS OUT THAT IN CONNECTION WITH A RECENT TRIP YOU WERE DENIED REIMBURSEMENT FOR TWO MEALS ON THE BASIS THAT DUPLICATE MEALS WERE PROVIDED ON THE AIRLINE FLIGHTS TO AND FROM YOUR TEMPORARY DUTY SITE. YOUR COMMENT ABOUT THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS BEING OVERLY COMPLEX AND REQUIRING SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF TIME FOR THE PREPARATION AND REVIEW OF TRAVEL VOUCHERS IS A POINT WELL TAKEN. CONGRESS IS CURRENTLY CONSIDERING LEGISLATION WHICH WOULD RAISE THE STATUTORY CEILINGS ON THE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM OR ACTUAL EXPENSES (CURRENTLY $35 AND $50. OUR OFFICE IS CURRENTLY STUDYING THE ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH TEMPORARY DUTY TRAVEL.

B-185826,(MRV),L/M, MAR 14, 1980

OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL:

HARRY E. BUTTS, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION AND WELFARE:

THIS IS IN RESPONSE TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 9, 1979, CONCERNING CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS ON THE REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR FEDERAL EMPLOYEES.

YOUR LETTER POINTS OUT THAT IN CONNECTION WITH A RECENT TRIP YOU WERE DENIED REIMBURSEMENT FOR TWO MEALS ON THE BASIS THAT DUPLICATE MEALS WERE PROVIDED ON THE AIRLINE FLIGHTS TO AND FROM YOUR TEMPORARY DUTY SITE. YOU QUESTION WHY GOVERNMENT TRAVELERS MUST BE LIMITED BY SUCH RESTRICTIONS, AND YOU SUGGEST THAT MORE MONEY COULD BE SAVED BY RETURNING TO A STRAIGHT PER DIEM SYSTEM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL.

WITH REGARD TO THE QUESTION OF DUPLICATE MEALS, WE RECENTLY HELD THAT ALTHOUGH EMPLOYEES MAY NOT NORMALLY BE ALLOWED REIMBURSEMENT FOR DUPLICATE MEALS, THERE MAY BE "JUSTIFIABLE REASONS" FOR SUCH ACTIONS. SEE JAMES H. MORRILL, B-192246, JANUARY 8, 1979 (COPY ENCLOSED). IN ADDITION, WE NOTED THAT CLAIMS INVOLVING AN ITEM OF $25 OR LESS NORMALLY MAY BE HANDLED BY THE INDIVIDUAL AGENCY WITHOUT BEING REFERRED TO THIS OFFICE FOR A DECISION.

YOUR COMMENT ABOUT THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS BEING OVERLY COMPLEX AND REQUIRING SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF TIME FOR THE PREPARATION AND REVIEW OF TRAVEL VOUCHERS IS A POINT WELL TAKEN. CONGRESS IS CURRENTLY CONSIDERING LEGISLATION WHICH WOULD RAISE THE STATUTORY CEILINGS ON THE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM OR ACTUAL EXPENSES (CURRENTLY $35 AND $50, RESPECTIVELY). WITH THE ENACTMENT OF SUCH LEGISLATION, MANY DESIGNATED HIGH-COST AREAS WOULD PRESUMABLY RETURN TO THE SIMPLER PER DIEM SYSTEM OF TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT. IN ADDITION, OUR OFFICE IS CURRENTLY STUDYING THE ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH TEMPORARY DUTY TRAVEL, AND OUR REPORT, WHICH SHOULD BE ISSUED IN THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS, WILL PROBABLY REFLECT YOUR CONCERNS AND MAKE SEVERAL RECOMMENDATIONS IN THIS AREA.

WE TRUST THIS INFORMATION IS HELPFUL TO YOU.