B-19334, OCTOBER 14, 1941, 21 COMP. GEN. 330

B-19334: Oct 14, 1941

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- AND THE FACT THAT THE PER DIEM PAYMENT IS REALLY A PART OF THEIR COMPENSATION. 1941: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED JULY 31. AS FOLLOWS: THERE IS ATTACHED A LIST OF DISALLOWANCES MADE IN THE ACCOUNTS OF G. THERE ARE TWO CLASSES OF EMPLOYEES MAKING UP THE SURVEYING PARTIES (1) CADASTRAL ENGINEERS. TRANSITMEN WHO ARE DEPARTMENTAL APPOINTED EMPLOYEES WITH HEADQUARTERS IN THE SEVERAL SURVEYING DISTRICTS. COMMONLY CALLED FIELD ASSISTANTS WHO ARE TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES AND ARE NOT ASSIGNED HEADQUARTERS. FIELD SURVEYING ASSISTANTS ARE PAID FROM $60 TO $75 PER MONTH AND A PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE FOR THE TIME THEY ARE EMPLOYED. A COPY OF THE AUTHORIZATION FOR THE EMPLOYMENT OF FIELD ASSISTANTS IN SURVEYING DISTRICT NUMBER 8 ( OREGON) IS ENCLOSED.

B-19334, OCTOBER 14, 1941, 21 COMP. GEN. 330

SUBSISTENCE - PER DIEMS - LACK OF HEADQUARTERS' DESIGNATION TEMPORARY FIELD SURVEYING ASSISTANTS, GENERAL LAND OFFICE, MAY BE REGARDED AS ENTITLED TO THE PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE PROVIDED FOR IN THEIR CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THEY MAY OR MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS IN A TRAVEL STATUS, SINCE THE NATURE OF THEIR EMPLOYMENT- -- TEMPORARY AND TRANSITORY--- AND THE FACT THAT THE PER DIEM PAYMENT IS REALLY A PART OF THEIR COMPENSATION, INSTEAD OF A TRAVEL ALLOWANCE UNDER THE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE ACT OF 1926, AS AMENDED, MAKE UNNECESSARY THE DESIGNATION OF OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS AS REQUIRED BY SAID ACT AND THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, OCTOBER 14, 1941:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED JULY 31, 1941, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE IS ATTACHED A LIST OF DISALLOWANCES MADE IN THE ACCOUNTS OF G. F. ALLEN, CHIEF DISBURSING OFFICER, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, FOR PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE PAID TO FIELD SURVEYING ASSISTANTS OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE WHILE IN THE HEADQUARTERS CITY OF THE SEVERAL SURVEYING DISTRICTS.

THERE ARE TWO CLASSES OF EMPLOYEES MAKING UP THE SURVEYING PARTIES (1) CADASTRAL ENGINEERS, SURVEYORS, AND TRANSITMEN WHO ARE DEPARTMENTAL APPOINTED EMPLOYEES WITH HEADQUARTERS IN THE SEVERAL SURVEYING DISTRICTS; AND (2) CHAINMEN, RODMEN, FLAGMEN, AXMEN, PACKERS AND TRUCK DRIVERS, COMMONLY CALLED FIELD ASSISTANTS WHO ARE TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES AND ARE NOT ASSIGNED HEADQUARTERS. FIELD SURVEYING ASSISTANTS ARE PAID FROM $60 TO $75 PER MONTH AND A PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE FOR THE TIME THEY ARE EMPLOYED.

A COPY OF THE AUTHORIZATION FOR THE EMPLOYMENT OF FIELD ASSISTANTS IN SURVEYING DISTRICT NUMBER 8 ( OREGON) IS ENCLOSED. THIS IS SIMILAR TO THE AUTHORIZATIONS ISSUED IN OTHER DISTRICTS, WHICH ARE REFERRED TO IN THE TRAVEL EXPENSE VOUCHERS OF FIELD ASSISTANTS. PARAGRAPH THREE PROVIDES THAT TEMPORARY FIELD ASSISTANTS WILL BE ALLOWED A PER DIEM OF $2 IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WHEN NOT LIVING IN A GOVERNMENT CAMP OR AT HOME, AND PARAGRAPH FOUR PROVIDES THAT WHEN STATIONED IN A GOVERNMENT CAMP IN THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY, THEY WILL BE ALLOWED A PER DIEM OF $1.25 IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE.

SINCE JULY 1, 1910, WHEN THE DIRECT SYSTEM OF SURVEYS WAS INAUGURATED, DEPARTMENTAL APPOINTED SURVEYORS OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE HAVE BEEN ASSIGNED TO THE EXECUTION OF SURVEYS IN CERTAIN STATES OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN AND ALASKA, EACH WITH 6 TO 8 TEMPORARY ASSISTANTS, HIRED WHEN PRACTICABLE IN THE GENERAL LOCALITY OF THE PROJECT, TO PERFORM THE DUTIES OF CHAINMEN, FLAGMEN, RODMEN, AXMEN, MOUNDSMEN, TEAMSTERS, AND LATER TRUCK DRIVERS, IN CONNECTION WITH THE WORK. ALL SUCH ASSISTANTS WHEN SO EMPLOYED HAVE BEEN SUBSISTED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE UNDER THE REGULATIONS OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE.

THE SURVEYOR AND HIS TEMPORARY FIELD ASSISTANTS AS A RULE LIVE IN PORTABLE CAMPS, AND SINCE JUNE 1933, HAVE RECEIVED PER DIEM ALLOWANCES IN LIEU OF THE SUBSISTENCE THERETOFORE FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT DIRECT, THE SURVEYOR WHEN AWAY FROM HIS HEADQUARTERS ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, AND HIS TEMPORARY ASSISTANTS, WHOSE PERIODS OF EMPLOYMENT RANGE FROM A FEW DAYS TO SIX MONTHS OR MORE, CONTINUOUSLY WHILE ON THE PAY ROLL AND NOT AT HOME.

TEMPORARY FIELD ASSISTANTS HAVE HAD NO OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS IN THE ACCEPTED SENSE OR IN FACT. THEY ARE EMPLOYED AT THE OUTFITTING POINT FOR THE PROJECT WHERE THEY PLACE THEMSELVES AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. MOST OF THEM NEVER SEE THE HEADQUARTERS OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT IN WHICH THEY WORK. A FEW AS NECESSITY REQUIRES ARE ON THE PAY ROLL AT THE HEADQUARTERS TOWN FOR BRIEF PERIODS TO ASSIST IN ASSEMBLING OR IN STORING EQUIPMENT, AND OTHERS OF NECESSITY MAY STOP THERE OVERNIGHT WHEN MOVING FROM ONE FIELD ASSIGNMENT TO ANOTHER.

UPON REQUEST FROM THIS DEPARTMENT FOR A DECISION REGARDING THE CONSTRUCTION TO BE PLACED UPON THE TERM "DESIGNATED POSTS OF DUTY" AND THE QUESTION OF WHETHER OR NOT IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT A PARTICULAR POST OF DUTY BE DESIGNATED IN EACH DETAIL TO FIELD SERVICE, THE COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY ADVISED IN DECISION DATED MAY 3, 1915 (21 C.D. 785), THAT

" "DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY" HAS NO PARTICULAR SIGNIFICANCE IN THESE CASES UNLESS EMPLOYEES SENT INTO THE FIELD ARE ASSIGNED TO A SPECIFIC POST OF DUTY. THEY REMAIN EMPLOYEES OF THE BUREAU WITH POST OF DUTY IN WASHINGTON, AND MAY RECEIVE PER DIEM WHILE ON DUTY IN THE FIELD, IF NOT ASSIGNED TO SOME SPECIFIC POST OF DUTY, WHICH IS NOT REQUIRED.'

THE PRACTICE OF NOT ASSIGNING HEADQUARTERS FOR TEMPORARY FIELD SURVEYING ASSISTANTS OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE HAS LONG BEEN FOLLOWED AND IS STILL CONSIDERED ADMINISTRATIVELY SOUND. PARAGRAPH 224 OF GENERAL LAND OFFICE CIRCULAR NO. 616, APPROVED AUGUST 9, 1918, CONTAINING INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING METHODS OF KEEPING RECORDS AND ACCOUNTS RELATING TO THE PUBLIC LANDS, READS AS FOLLOWS:

" HEADQUARTERS.--- THE SELECTION OF OFFICIAL STATIONS AND THE ASSIGNMENT OF TEMPORARY HEADQUARTERS IS PLACED UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE COMMISSIONER, SUBJECT TO REVISION BY THE SECRETARY ON HIS OWN INITIATIVE OR UPON APPLICATION OF AN INTERESTED PARTY. THE OFFICIAL STATIONS OF CHIEFS OF FIELD DIVISIONS HAVE BEEN DEFINITELY ESTABLISHED AND SPECIAL AGENTS, MINERAL EXAMINERS, TIMBER CRUISERS, PRACTICAL MINERS, AND OTHER EMPLOYEES IN THAT BRANCH OF THE SERVICE ARE TO BE CONSIDERED AS HAVING THEIR OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS WITH THE CHIEFS OF THEIR RESPECTIVE DIVISIONS. THE OFFICIAL STATION OF THE SUPERVISORS OF SURVEYS IS DENVER; AND THE OFFICIAL STATIONS OF THE ASSISTANT SUPERVISORS OF SURVEYS, SURVEYORS, AND TRANSITMEN ARE WITH THE SURVEYORS GENERAL OF THE STATES TO WHICH THEY MAY BE ASSIGNED OR SUCH OTHER QUARTERS AS MAY BE AUTHORIZED OR DESIGNATED WITHIN THAT CITY. FIELD ASSISTANTS TO SURVEYORS WILL NOT BE ASSIGNED HEADQUARTERS.'

CURRENT TRAVEL ORDERS SIMILAR TO THE ONE ENCLOSED STILL PROVIDE THAT TEMPORARY FIELD ASSISTANTS WILL BE ALLOWED A PER DIEM OF $2 IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WHEN NOT LIVING IN A GOVERNMENT CAMP OR AT HOME, AND $1.25 WHEN STATIONED IN A GOVERNMENT CAMP. THE PRACTICE WAS NOT QUESTIONED BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE UNTIL MARCH 20, 1940, WHEN BY NOTICE OF EXCEPTION OF THAT DATE CERTAIN CREDITS WERE WITHHELD IN THE NEVADA ACCOUNTS OF MARCH 1939, FOR PER DIEM PAID TEMPORARY FIELD ASSISTANTS WHEN AT RENO, NEVADA, THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE NEVADA SURVEYING DISTRICT. YOUR DECISIONS OF JANUARY 17, 1936, AND APRIL 9, 1940, 15 C.G. 624 AND 19 C.G. 846 RESPECTIVELY, ARE CITED AS AUTHORITY FOR THE ACTION TAKEN.

IT IS OUR CONTENTION THAT THE DECISIONS REFERRED TO DO NOT APPLY TO THE TEMPORARY FIELD SURVEYING ASSISTANTS OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE FOR THE REASON THAT THEY ARE NOT ASSIGNED HEADQUARTERS AND ARE ENTITLED TO PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE FROM THE TIME THEY ARE EMPLOYED UNTIL THEY ARE SEPARATED, EXCEPT WHEN LIVING AT HOME. YOUR RECONSIDERATION OF THE DISALLOWANCES MADE IN THESE CASES IS REQUESTED.

THE VOUCHERS INVOLVED COVERED PAYMENTS OF PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE, AS IN A TRAVEL STATUS, TO TEMPORARY FIELD ASSISTANTS, MEMBERS OF SURVEYING PARTIES, GENERAL LAND OFFICE, FOR WHOM THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE HAD DESIGNATED NO OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS; AND THE AMOUNTS SUSPENDED IN THE AUDIT OF ACCOUNTS REPRESENTED PER DIEM FOR PERIODS THESE EMPLOYEES WERE AT THE CENTRAL HEADQUARTERS OF THE SURVEYING DISTRICT IN WHICH THEY WERE EMPLOYED, THE CONCLUSION REACHED IN THE AUDIT BEING THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY ADMINISTRATIVE DESIGNATION OF OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS THE CENTRAL HEADQUARTERS FOR EACH SURVEYING DISTRICT MUST BE REGARDED AS THE OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS OF THE EMPLOYEES IN ORDER TO ALLOW THEM A PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE AS IN A TRAVEL STATUS--- SUCH PER DIEM BEING PAYABLE ONLY WHEN IN A TRAVEL STATUS AWAY FROM OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS. SEE 1 COMP. GEN. 60; ID. 426; 2 ID. 757; 4 ID. 320; 5 ID. 400; 10 ID. 469; 12 ID. 634; ALSO, SEE PARAGRAPH 46 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS WHICH PROVIDE THAT "UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE BE ALLOWED AN EMPLOYEE AT HIS OFFICIAL STATION.'

HOWEVER, FROM WHAT IS STATED IN YOUR LETTER AND IN THE REGULATIONS REFERRED TO THEREIN, IT APPEARS THAT THE PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE PAID TO THESE EMPLOYEES WAS NOT INTENDED AS, AND DOES NOT IN FACT REPRESENT, A TRAVEL ALLOWANCE UNDER THE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE ACT OF 1926, APPROVED JUNE 3, 1926, 44 STAT. 689, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 207 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932, 47 STAT. 405, OR UNDER THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, BUT REPRESENTS RATHER AN ALLOWANCE FOR SUBSISTENCE IN LIEU OF FURNISHING THE EMPLOYEES SUBSISTENCE IN KIND AS A PART OF THE TOTAL COMPENSATION OF THIS CLASS OF TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES. THAT IS, IT IS UNDERSTOOD FROM THE EXPLANATION NOW FURNISHED THAT THESE TEMPORARY FIELD SURVEYING ASSISTANTS ARE PAID AS COMPENSATION FOR THEIR SERVICES FROM $60 TO $75 PER MONTH, AND IN ADDITION A PER DIEM OF $2 IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WHEN NOT LIVING IN A GOVERNMENT CAMP OR AT HOME, $1.25 IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WHEN STATIONED IN A GOVERNMENT CAMP, AND NO PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WHEN LIVING AT HOME. IN OTHER WORDS, THE CONTRACT WITH THE EMPLOYEES PROVIDES FOR A STIPULATED WAGE AND TO SUBSIST THEM AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE WHILE THEY ARE IN THE FIELD AWAY FROM THEIR HOMES, PAYMENT IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE BEING MADE ON A PER DIEM BASIS, NO OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS BEING DESIGNATED FOR THEM.

IN DECISION OF MAY 13, 1933, 12 COMP. GEN. 634, IT WAS HELD THAT THERE WAS NO LEGAL OBJECTION TO FURNISHING SUBSISTENCE IN KIND TO EMPLOYEES OF THE CLASS HERE UNDER CONSIDERATION WHILE AT THEIR HEADQUARTERS CAMP AS A PART OF THEIR TOTAL COMPENSATION UNDER THE TERMS OF THE ACT OF MARCH 5, 1928, 45 STAT. 193, OR TO AN ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENT WHEREBY SUCH EMPLOYEES MAY BE PERMITTED TO MAINTAIN THEIR OWN MESS AT THE CAMPS, PAYMENT BEING MADE TO THEM OF THEIR REGULAR PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE ON THE SAME BASIS AS IF IN A TRAVEL STATUS. FURTHERMORE, AS SUCH EMPLOYEES ARE NOT WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT PRESCRIBING FIXED SALARY RATES FROM WHICH MUST BE DEDUCTED THE DETERMINED VALUE OF ALLOWANCES FURNISHED IN KIND UNDER THE ACT OF 1928, SUPRA, THERE IS LIKEWISE NO LEGAL OBJECTION TO COMMUTING THE AMOUNT IT WOULD COST THE GOVERNMENT TO FURNISH SUBSISTENCE IN KIND TO THESE EMPLOYEES WHILE AWAY FROM THEIR HOMES AS MEMBERS OF SURVEYING PARTIES, ALLOWING THEM THAT AMOUNT IN ADDITION TO THEIR STIPULATED WAGE AS A PART OF THEIR TOTAL COMPENSATION--- THE EMPLOYEES TO SUBSIST THEMSELVES.

AS STATED IN YOUR LETTER, IT MUST BE RECOGNIZED THAT THESE EMPLOYEES WHO ARE ENGAGED TEMPORARILY, USUALLY FOR SHORT PERIODS, AS MEMBERS OF SURVEYING PARTIES MOVING FROM PLACE TO PLACE MOST OF THE TIME, CANNOT BE CONSIDERED AS EMPLOYED FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF SERVICES AT SOME DESIGNATED OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS FOR ANY LENGTH OF TIME. ON THE CONTRARY, SINCE THE SERVICES PERFORMED BY THEM ARE RENDERED MAINLY WHILE THE SURVEYING PARTY IS ACTUALLY IN THE FIELD, THE ARBITRARY DESIGNATION OR RECOGNITION OF THE CENTRAL HEADQUARTERS OF THE SURVEYING DISTRICT IN WHICH THEY ARE EMPLOYED AS THEIR OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS APPARENTLY WOULD CONTRAVENE THE RULE THAT THE DESIGNATION OF HEADQUARTERS AT A PLACE WHERE LITTLE OR NO DUTIES ARE PERFORMED IS NOT AUTHORIZED. ACCORDINGLY, THE REASONS FOR REQUIRING THE DESIGNATION OF OFFICIAL HEADQUARTERS UNDER THE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE ACT OF 1926, AS AMENDED, AND THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, APPARENTLY DO NOT EXIST AS TO SUCH EMPLOYEES, AND THEY MAY BE REGARDED, AS YOU SUGGEST, AS ENTITLED TO BE PAID THE PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE PROVIDED FOR IN THEIR CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THEY MAY OR MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS IN A TRAVEL STATUS AWAY FROM DESIGNATED HEADQUARTERS.

THE VOUCHERS LISTED IN THE ENCLOSURE TRANSMITTED WITH YOUR LETTER WILL BE REAUDITED IN LINE WITH THE FOREGOING, AND HEREAFTER AUDIT ACTION BY THIS OFFICE ON LIKE VOUCHERS WILL BE ACCORDINGLY.