B-18966, AUGUST 7, 1941, 21 COMP. GEN. 116

B-18966: Aug 7, 1941

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TRAVELING EXPENSES - USE OF MODE OF TRAVEL OTHER THAN THAT ORDERED AN ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER WHO IS VESTED WITH AUTHORITY TO DIRECT THE TRAVEL OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES MAY ORDER SUCH TRAVEL BY GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION IN LIEU OF COMMON CARRIER. AS THE GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE SUSTAINED HAD THE TRAVEL BEEN AS ORDERED. 1941: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTERS DATED JULY 15 AND 24. AN ORAL HEARING WAS AFFORDED YOU JULY 24. AT WHICH NO ADDITIONAL FACTS NOT OF RECORD WERE DISCLOSED. YOU WERE INSTRUCTED TO PROCEED FROM WASHINGTON. HE WAS INSTRUCTED TO RETURN BY GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE FROM JOPLIN. THE RAILROAD AND PULLMAN FARES IN THE AMOUNT OF $46.10 WERE DISAPPROVED AND ARE INCLUDED IN THE DIFFERENCES STATED IN THE PREAUDIT DIFFERENCE STATEMENT.

B-18966, AUGUST 7, 1941, 21 COMP. GEN. 116

TRAVELING EXPENSES - USE OF MODE OF TRAVEL OTHER THAN THAT ORDERED AN ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER WHO IS VESTED WITH AUTHORITY TO DIRECT THE TRAVEL OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES MAY ORDER SUCH TRAVEL BY GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION IN LIEU OF COMMON CARRIER, AND AN EMPLOYEE ORDERED SO TO TRAVEL WHO NEVERTHELESS TRAVELS BY COMMON CARRIER MAY BE REIMBURSED ONLY FOR SUCH EXPENSES, OTHER THAN SPECULATIVE, AS THE GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE SUSTAINED HAD THE TRAVEL BEEN AS ORDERED, AND MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED FOR THE COST OF THE COMMON-CARRIER TRAVEL.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO JOHN F. DEMPSEY, AUGUST 7, 1941:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTERS DATED JULY 15 AND 24, 1941, REQUESTING REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT OF THIS OFFICE DATED JULY 12, 1941, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR $51.10 REPRESENTING AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO THE EXCESS COST OF TRANSPORTATION INCURRED BY YOU IN TRAVELING AS AN AGENT OF THE DIVISION OF INVESTIGATIONS, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BETWEEN JOPLIN, MO., AND WASHINGTON, D.C., NOVEMBER 20-22, 1940, BY REASON OF THE USE OF TRANSPORTATION OTHER THAN THAT AUTHORIZED BY YOUR SUPERIORS.

AN ORAL HEARING WAS AFFORDED YOU JULY 24, 1941, AT WHICH NO ADDITIONAL FACTS NOT OF RECORD WERE DISCLOSED.

BY ORDERS DATED JULY 30, 1940, YOU WERE INSTRUCTED TO PROCEED FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., YOUR OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS, TO AND FROM "SUCH POINTS IN THE UNITED STATES AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO COMPLETE THE INVESTIGATION OF CASES ASSIGNED TO YOU.' THIS ORDER PROVIDED THAT "TRAVEL MUST BE BY THE SHORTEST PRACTICAL ROUTE AND WITHOUT UNNECESSARY DELAY * * *.'

BY LETTER RECEIVED IN THIS OFFICE MARCH 6, 1941, THE DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF INVESTIGATIONS, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, REPORTED TO THIS OFFICE, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

OF THE $51.10 DIFFERENCE FOUND IN THE PREAUDIT MR. DEMPSEY MAKES CLAIM FOR $35.39 BECAUSE OF AN ALLEGED SAVING IN SALARY AND PER DIEM DUE TO TRAVEL BY RAIL INSTEAD OF AUTOMOBILE. HE WAS INSTRUCTED TO RETURN BY GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE FROM JOPLIN, MO., TO WASHINGTON, D.C. HE DISOBEYED INSTRUCTIONS AND RETURNED BY RAIL. THE RAILROAD AND PULLMAN FARES IN THE AMOUNT OF $46.10 WERE DISAPPROVED AND ARE INCLUDED IN THE DIFFERENCES STATED IN THE PREAUDIT DIFFERENCE STATEMENT. MR. DEMPSEY ARRIVED IN WASHINGTON AT 7:40 A.M., NOVEMBER 22. THE AUTOMOBILE THAT HE WAS INSTRUCTED TO RETURN BY ARRIVED IN WASHINGTON AT 2:30 A.M., SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24. IT WAS DRIVEN BY ANOTHER EMPLOYEE.

YOU ADMIT IN YOUR LETTERS THAT YOU RECEIVED BUT DISREGARDED THE VERBAL INSTRUCTIONS OF YOUR SUPERIORS GIVEN TO YOU THROUGH OTHER EMPLOYEES TO RETURN TO WASHINGTON, D.C., IN A GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE, APPARENTLY BELIEVING YOU HAD THE DISCRETION TO DETERMINE THE MODE OF TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS TO RETURN TO YOUR HEADQUARTERS, OR AT LEAST THAT SUCH ACTION ON YOUR PART IN DISREGARDING ,AN UNIMPORTANT AND UNOFFICIAL ORDER" (QUOTING FROM YOUR LETTER OF JULY 24, 1941) SHOULD NOT PENALIZE YOU; THAT IS, IT IS UNDERSTOOD TO BE YOUR CONTENTION THAT YOUR ACTION IN RETURNING BY RAIL RATHER THAN IN A GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE AS INSTRUCTED DOES NOT JUSTIFY DISALLOWANCE OF THE TRAVELING EXPENSES INCURRED BY YOU IN RETURNING TO HEADQUARTERS.

YOU ALLEGE THAT YOUR PRIMARY PURPOSE IN RETURNING BY RAIL, RATHER THAN IN THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE AS INSTRUCTED, WAS TO ALLOW YOU A FEW DAYS START IN LOOKING FOR ANOTHER POSITION, THE PURPOSE OF YOUR RETURN HAVING BEEN TO SEPARATE YOU FROM THE SERVICE.

IN ADDITION TO THE ABOVE, YOUR CLAIM APPEARS TO BE BASED ON THREE POINTS (1) AN ALLEGED SAVING IN SALARY TO THE UNITED STATES, INASMUCH AS YOUR SERVICES WERE TERMINATED ON DATE OF ARRIVAL IN WASHINGTON, D.C., NOVEMBER 22, 1940, WHEREAS HAD GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE BEEN USED YOU WOULD NOT HAVE ARRIVED UNTIL SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 1940, AND YOUR SERVICES COULD NOT HAVE BEEN TERMINATED UNTIL MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 1940; (2) A SAVING DUE TO THE FACT THAT YOUR TRUNK TRANSPORTED BY RAIL AS BAGGAGE IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR PERSONAL TRANSPORTATION COULD NOT HAVE BEEN TRANSPORTED IF THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED CAR HAD BEEN USED, THE ALLEGATION BEING MADE THAT THERE WAS NOT ROOM FOR YOUR BAGGAGE IN ADDITION TO THAT OF THE OTHER EMPLOYEES TRAVELING IN THE SAME CAR; AND (3) THE AMOUNT OF $8.75 SHOULD BE ALLOWED AS SAVINGS IN PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE IN PERFORMING THE TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER.

WHILE NOTHING SPECIFIC APPEARS IN ANY LAW OR THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, EITHER EXPRESSLY AUTHORIZING OR PROHIBITING AN ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER OF THE GOVERNMENT FROM ORDERING AN EMPLOYEE TO TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IN A GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE IN LIEU OF A COMMON CARRIER, EITHER IN WRITING OR VERBALLY, THIS OFFICE CONCEIVES IT TO BE WITHIN THE GENERAL AUTHORITY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER, WHO IS VESTED WITH AUTHORITY TO DIRECT THE TRAVEL OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, TO ORDER SUCH TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IN A GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE WHEN IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT AND THE MOST ECONOMICAL MODE OF TRANSPORTATION, THAT SUCH A MATTER IS FOR THE DETERMINATION OF SUCH OFFICER AND NOT THE EMPLOYEE, AND THAT AN EMPLOYEE WHO DISREGARDS SUCH AN ORDER, AS IN YOUR CASE, MAY NOT OBLIGATE THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE AMOUNT OF EXPENSES WHICH THE GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE BEEN RELIEVED FROM PAYING HAD THE EMPLOYEE TRAVELED BY GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE. IN THIS VIEW OF THE MATTER, YOU HAD NO DISCRETION TO DISREGARD THE SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS TO YOU TO RETURN TO WASHINGTON IN A GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE AND TO OBLIGATE THE GOVERNMENT TO REIMBURSE YOU FOR SUCH TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER. HOWEVER, YOU ARE ENTITLED TO CREDIT FOR ANY EXPENDITURE, OTHER THAN SPECULATIVE, WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN NECESSARY HAD YOU FOLLOWED THE INSTRUCTIONS AND RETURNED BY GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE.

THERE IS NO MERIT IN YOUR FIRST CONTENTION. YOU COULD HAVE BEEN SEPARATED FROM THE SERVICE IN THE FIELD, THAT IS, IT WAS NOT REQUIRED THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE RETURN YOU TO WASHINGTON BEFORE SEPARATING YOU FROM THE SERVICE. HENCE, YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO ANY SAVINGS IN SALARY BY REASON OF YOUR EARLIER ARRIVAL IN WASHINGTON.

YOUR SECOND CONTENTION HAS SOME MERIT, THAT IS, AS YOUR BAGGAGE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN RETURNED IN THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE, THE GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE BEEN OBLIGATED TO BEAR THE COST OF RETURNING SAME. HOWEVER, THE ITEM OF $17 CLAIMED BY YOU IS PURELY SPECULATIVE AND CANNOT BE ALLOWED BY THIS OFFICE.

REFERRING TO YOUR THIRD CONTENTION, THE ITEM OF $8.75, REPRESENTING SAVING IN PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE IS ALLOWABLE.

ACCORDINGLY, ON THE BASIS OF THE PRESENT RECORD THERE IS CERTIFIED TO YOU THE SUM OF $8.75 FOR WHICH SETTLEMENT WILL ISSUE IN DUE COURSE.