B-194742.OM, JAN 29, 1980

B-194742.OM: Jan 29, 1980

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PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE COMPTROLLER GENERAL: WE ARE FORWARDING THE CLAIM OF ALFRED A. BETANCOURT WAS TEMPORARILY DETAILED FROM THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS (CE) TO THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS TO HELP WITH THE CITY'S EMERGENCY RELIEF PROGRAM INVOLVING A HURRICANE IN HONDURAS IN SEPTEMBER 1974. ALTHOUGH NO WRITTEN CONFIRMATION WAS FORTHCOMING. WE ARE NOT SURE. BETANCOURT WAS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS. AS YOU HAVE INDICATED. HE WAS TEMPORARILY DETAILED BY THE ARMY TO THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS TO HELP WITH THE CITY'S EMERGENCY RELIEF PROGRAM FOR HONDURAS AFTER A HURRICANE STRUCK THAT NATION IN SEPTEMBER 1974. WAS ALSO INVOLVED IN THAT PROGRAM. IT IS INDICATED THAT THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS AND AID JOINTLY UNDERTOOK CERTAIN PROJECTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST MUNICIPALITIES IN HONDURAS IN OVERCOMING WATER SUPPLY AND MOSQUITO CONTROL PROBLEMS IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE HURRICANE.

B-194742.OM, JAN 29, 1980

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

COMPTROLLER GENERAL:

WE ARE FORWARDING THE CLAIM OF ALFRED A. BETANCOURT, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS, FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR HIS OCTOBER 1974 TRIP TO HONDURAS.

MR. BETANCOURT WAS TEMPORARILY DETAILED FROM THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS (CE) TO THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS TO HELP WITH THE CITY'S EMERGENCY RELIEF PROGRAM INVOLVING A HURRICANE IN HONDURAS IN SEPTEMBER 1974. THE AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (AID) BECAME INVOLVED IN THE PROGRAM AND APPARENTLY REQUESTED THAT MR. BETANCOURT TRAVEL TO HONDURAS TO HELP WITH THE MOSQUITO CONTROL PROJECT. ALTHOUGH NO WRITTEN CONFIRMATION WAS FORTHCOMING, BOTH MR. BETANCOURT AND CE STATE THAT AID AGREED TO AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES. AID HAS NOW REFUSED TO REIMBURSE MR. BETANCOURT IN THE ABSENCE OF WRITTEN AUTHORIZATION.

THE FILE REASONABLY ESTABLISHES THAT AID OFFICIALS AGREED TO FUND THE TRAVEL. WE ARE NOT SURE, HOWEVER, IF THEY ACTED WITHIN THEIR AUTHORITY SUCH THAT AID SHOULD BE DIRECTED TO MAKE PAYMENT.

INDORSEMENT

DIRECTOR, CLAIMS DIVISION:

RETURNED. IN 1974 MR. BETANCOURT WAS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, NEW ORLEANS DISTRICT. AS YOU HAVE INDICATED, HE WAS TEMPORARILY DETAILED BY THE ARMY TO THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS TO HELP WITH THE CITY'S EMERGENCY RELIEF PROGRAM FOR HONDURAS AFTER A HURRICANE STRUCK THAT NATION IN SEPTEMBER 1974. THE AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (AID), DEPARTMENT OF STATE, WAS ALSO INVOLVED IN THAT PROGRAM, AND IT IS INDICATED THAT THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS AND AID JOINTLY UNDERTOOK CERTAIN PROJECTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST MUNICIPALITIES IN HONDURAS IN OVERCOMING WATER SUPPLY AND MOSQUITO CONTROL PROBLEMS IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE HURRICANE.

MR. BETANCOURT STATES THAT ON OCTOBER 14 OR 15, 1974, MR. OSCAR MEDRANO OF THE NEW ORLEANS HEALTH DEPARTMENT ASKED HIM IF HE COULD ARRANGE TO TRAVEL TO SAN PEDRO SULA, HONDURAS, ON OCTOBER 17 TO HELP IN DRINKING WATER SUPPLY AND MALARIA CONTROL PROJECTS THERE. MR. BETANCOURT SAYS THAT HE THEN CONSULTED HIS PERSONNEL OFFICE AT THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS AND WAS ADVISED THAT WHILE THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY WOULD NOT PAY FOR HIS TRIP, IF HE WISHED HE COULD TAKE LEAVE AND TRAVEL TO HONDURAS AT HIS OWN EXPENSE AS A VOLUNTEER HELPER. MR. BETANCOURT THEN ADVISED MR. MEDRANO AND MR. SCOTT JOHNSON, AN AID REPRESENTATIVE, THAT HE WOULD BE UNABLE TO MAKE THE TRIP UNDER THOSE CONDITIONS. MR. JOHNSON THEN INDICATED THAT AID COULD ARRANGE TO HAVE HIM TEMPORARILY ASSIGNED FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY TO THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE, AND THAT AID COULD THEN SPONSOR HIS TRAVEL. MR. BETANCOURT FURTHER STATES THAT ON OCTOBER 16, 1974, HE WAS VERBALLY INFORMED BY ARMY AUTHORITIES THAT THEY HAD APPROVED AID'S REQUEST FOR HIS TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND THAT AID WOULD TAKE CARE OF HIS TRAVEL EXPENSES. CONSEQUENTLY, HE FLEW TO HONDURAS ON OCTOBER 17, PARTICIPATED IN THE ON-SITE EMERGENCY RELIEF PROJECTS, AND THEN RETURNED TO NEW ORLEANS ON OCTOBER 20. WHILE NO TRAVEL ORDERS HAD BEEN ISSUED IN ADVANCE OF THE TRIP AND MR. BETANCOURT PAID HIS TRAVELING EXPENSES FROM HIS OWN PERSONAL FUNDS, HE BELIEVED THAT AID WOULD REIMBURSE HIM ON THE BASIS OF HIS INTERAGENCY ASSIGNMENT AND THE ASSURANCES HE HAD RECEIVED.

UPON HIS RETURN FROM HONDURAS, MR. BETANCOURT REMAINED ON ASSIGNMENT TO AID UNTIL NOVEMBER 23, 1974. DURING HIS ASSIGNMENT, THE ARMY PAID HIS BASIC SALARY, AND HIS ADDITIONAL OVERTIME COMPENSATION DURING THE PERIOD WAS PAID FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT.

MR. BETANCOURT FURTHER SAYS, HOWEVER, THAT WHEN HE LATER ASKED MR. JOHNSON ABOUT THE MATTER OF REIMBURSEMENT FOR HIS TRAVEL EXPENSES, MR. JOHNSON THEN REPLIED THAT "HE DID NOT SEE HOW HE COULD JUSTIFY PAYMENT OF THIS EXPENSE." MR. BETANCOURT THEN COMPLAINED TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT IN WASHINGTON, D. C., BUT IN SEPTEMBER 1975, THE ASSISTANT FOREIGN DISASTER RELIEF COORDINATOR OF AID ALSO REJECTED HIS REQUEST FOR REIMBURSEMENT. THAT OFFICIAL SAID: "MY STAFF INFORMS ME THAT YOUR SERVICES WERE REQUESTED TO ASSIST OUR OPERATION IN NEW ORLEANS AND THAT WE HAD AGREED TO PAY ANY OVERTIME INVOLVED WITH SUCH SERVICES, BUT THAT WE DID NOT AUTHORIZE THE TRIP TO HONDURAS. THEREFORE, IT WILL NOT BE POSSIBLE TO REIMBURSE YOU FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN GOING TO HONDURAS."

AFTER RECEIVING THAT REPLY FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT, MR. BETANCOURT SUBMITTED A CLAIM TO OUR OFFICE FOR REIMBURSEMENT FROM AID FOR HIS TRAVELING EXPENSES INCIDENT TO HIS TRIP TO HONDURAS. IN CAREFULLY DOCUMENTED INDORSEMENTS TO THAT CLAIM, ARMY ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS HAVE CORROBORATED MR. BETANCOURT'S STATEMENT OF THE FACTS. IN PARTICULAR, THEY SAY THAT AID'S ASSISTANT FOREIGN DISASTER RELIEF COORDINATOR PERSONALLY TOLD THEM THAT AID WOULD "HANDLE" MR. BETANCOURT'S TRAVEL EXPENSES. THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS HAS REQUESTED OUR AUTHORIZATION TO ISSUE A RETROACTIVE TRAVEL ORDER TO MR. BETANCOURT, AND TO BILL AID NOT ONLY FOR MR. BETANCOURT'S TRAVELING EXPENSES, BUT ALSO FOR HIS SALARY FOR THE PERIOD HE WAS IN HONDURAS.

IN AN ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT ON THE MATTER SUBMITTED TO YOU IN MARCH 1979 BY AID AUTHORITIES, IT WAS INDICATED THAT WRITTEN AID RECORDS DID NOT REFLECT THAT MR. BETANCOURT WAS EVER AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL ON PUBLIC BUSINESS AT AID'S EXPENSE. THE AID AUTHORITIES THUS REAFFIRMED THEIR EARLIER POSITION AND DECLINED TO ACCE-T AN0 FURTHER FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR MR. BETANCOURT'S SERVICES DURING THE PERIOD HE WAS ASSIGNED TO THEM BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY.

YOU NOTE THAT THE FILE REASONABLY ESTABLISHES THAT AID OFFICIALS DID IN FACT AGREE TO FUND MR. BETANCOURT'S TRAVEL, BUT YOU QUESTION WHETHER THEY ACTED WITHIN THEIR AUTHORITY SUCH THAT AID SHOULD BE DIRECTED TO MAKE PAYMENT.

AT THE OUTSET IT IS NOTED THAT THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PERSONNEL ACT, 5 U.S.C. 3371 ET SEQ., AUTHORIZES A FEDERAL AGENCY TO DETAIL ITS EMPLOYEES TO STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS. A PERSON SO DETAILED REMAINS A FEDERAL EMPLOYEE; AND CONTINUED PAYMENTS OF HIS SALARY FROM THE EMPLOYING FEDERAL AGENCY'S APPROPRIATED FUNDS ARE AUTHORIZED WHEN THE EMPLOYEE CAN BE DEEMED TO BE "ON DETAIL TO A REGULAR WORK ASSIGNMENT IN HIS AGENCY." 5 U.S.C. 3373(A). APPARENTLY, MR. BETANCOURT'S INITIAL ASSIGNMENT BY THE ARMY TO THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS WAS ACCOMPLISHED UNDER THIS PROVISION OF LAW, AND THAT ASSIGNMENT WAS DEEMED TO BE AN INTRAAGENCY DETAIL. THEREFORE, THE FACT THAT HE WAS ON DETAIL TO THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS MAY BE OF NO CONSEQUENCE AND OUR CONSIDERATION IS BASED UPON HIS STATUS AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE ARMY.

IN GENERAL, UNLESS OTHERWISE AUTHORIZED BY LAW, TRANSFERS OF FUNDS BETWEEN GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES AND INSTRUMENTALITIES ARE PROHIBITED BY 31 U.S.C. 628, WHICH PROVIDES:

"EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY LAW, SUMS APPROPRIATED FOR THE VARIOUS BRANCHES OF EXPENDITURE IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE SHALL BE APPLIED SOLELY TO THE OBJECTS FOR WHICH THEY ARE RESPECTIVELY MADE, AND FOR NO OTHERS."

THE GENERAL STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR AGREEMENTS OR CONTRACTS BETWEEN DIFFERENT FEDERAL AGENCIES INVOLVING TRANSFERS OF FUNDS AND INTERAGENCY PERSONNEL ASSIGNMENTS IS CONTAINED IN SECTION 601 OF THE ECONOMY ACT OF 1932, AS AMENDED, 31 U.S.C. 686, WHICH PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

"(A) ANY EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT OR INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT, OR ANY BUREAU OR OFFICE THEREOF, IF FUNDS ARE AVAILABLE THEREFORE AND IF IT IS DETERMINED BY THE HEAD OF SUCH EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, ESTABLISHMENT, BUREAU, OR OFFICE TO BE IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT SO TO DO, MAY PLACE ORDERS WITH ANY OTHER SUCH DEPARTMENT, ESTABLISHMENT, BUREAU, OR OFFICE FOR MATERIALS, SUPPLIES, EQUIPMENT, WORK, OR SERVICES, OF ANY KIND THAT SUCH REQUISITIONED FEDERAL AGENCY MAY BE IN A POSITION TO SUPPLY OR EQUIPPED TO RENDER, AND SHALL PAY PROMPTLY BY CHECK TO SUCH FEDERAL AGENCY AS MAY BE REQUISITIONED, UPON ITS WRITTEN REQUEST, EITHER IN ADVANCE OR UPON THE FURNISHING OR PERFORMANCE THEREOF, ALL OR PART OF THE ESTIMATED OR ACTUAL COST THEREOF AS DETERMINED BY SUCH DEPARTMENT, ESTABLISHMENT, BUREAU, OR OFFICE AS MAY BE REQUISITIONED

THIS PROVISION OF LAW AUTHORIZES TWO DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OPERATING UNDER SEPARATE APPROPRIATIONS TO ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF PURELY PERSONAL SERVICES BY THE PERSONNEL OF ONE DEPARTMENT FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF THE WORK OF THE OTHER, FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT OR TRANSFER OF APPROPRIATIONS MAY BE MADE NOT TO EXCEED THE REGULAR SALARIES AND AUTHORIZED EXPENSES, IF ANY, OF THE PERSONNEL LOANED COVERING THE PERIOD INVOLVED. BUT IN THOSE CASES THERE SHOULD BE A WRITTEN ORDER OR AGREEMENT IN ADVANCE, SIGNED BY THE RESPONSIBLE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER OF EACH OF THE DEPARTMENTS CONCERNED, AND THE AGREEMENT SHOULD BE ATTACHED TO THE REQUEST FOR TRANSFER OF APPROPRIATIONS OR THE VOUCHER FOR REIMBURSEMENT. 13 COMP.GEN. 234 (1934). A WRITTEN AGREEMENT COVERING THE INTERAGENCY ASSIGNMENT OF AN EMPLOYEE SHOULD, IF APPROPRIATE, MAKE SPECIFIC PROVISION FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF THE EMPLOYEE'S TRAVELING EXPENSES DURING THE PERIOD OF HIS ASSIGNMENT. 24 COMP.GEN. 420 (1944). IN THE ABSENCE OF A WRITTEN ORDER OR AGREEMENT, OR UNLESS THE WRITTEN ORDER OR AGREEMENT SPECIFICALLY PROVIDES FOR REIMBURSEMENT, THE LOAN OF PERSONNEL FROM ONE FEDERAL DEPARTMENT TO ANOTHER MUST BE REGARDED AS AN ACCOMMODATION FOR WHICH NO REIMBURSEMENT OR TRANSFER OF APPROPRIATIONS WILL BE MADE FOR SALARIES OR TRAVELING EXPENSES. 13 COMP. GEN. 234, SUPRA; 15 COMP.GEN. 32 (1935); B-182398(1), MARCH 29, 1976; B-164031(4)-O.M., NOVEMBER 12, 1976.

MR. BETANCOURT'S INTERAGENCY ASSIGNMENT FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY TO THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE DURING THE PERIOD FROM OCTOBER 16 TO NOVEMBER 23, 1974, APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN ACCOMPLISHED PURELY ON THE BASIS OF VERBAL CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN ARMY AND AID ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS. IN THAT REGARD, WE NOTE THAT WHILE BOTH THE RESPONSIBLE ARMY AND AID OFFICIALS HAVE BEEN GIVEN AMPLE OPPORTUNITY TO REPORT ON THE MATTER, THEY HAVE NOT SUBMITTED A COPY OF ANY WRITTEN AGREEMENT BETWEEN THEM COVERING THE CONDITIONS OF MR. BETANCOURT'S INTERAGENCY ASSIGNMENT. INSTEAD, THEY INDICATE THE ARRANGEMENTS WERE BASED ON VERBAL UNDERSTANDINGS. THUS, WHILE IT APPEARS THAT THE CONCERNED ARMY AND AID ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS HAD THE AUTHORITY TO ENTER INTO A WRITTEN AGREEMENT CONCERNING TRANSFER OF APPROPRIATED FUNDS INCIDENT TO MR. BETANCOURT'S INTER-AGENCY ASSIGNMENT, NO WRITTEN AGREEMENT WAS EVER ACTUALLY CONCLUDED.

IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY WRITTEN AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE ARMY AND AID, AND IN VIEW OF THE PRESENT POSITION TAKEN BY AID IN THE MATTER, WE CANNOT NOW AUTHORIZE THE ARMY TO PAY MR. BETANCOURT'S TRAVEL EXPENSES AND BILL AID FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF THOSE EXPENSES AND ALSO FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF MR. BETANCOURT'S SALARY. THE TRANSFER OF FUNDS WOULD BE PROHIBITED BY LAW IN THE ABSENCE OF A WRITTEN INTERAGENCY AGREEMENT EXECUTED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF 31 U.S.C. 686.

THE FILE SHOWS THAT AID HAS CONSIDERED APPROVING MR. BETANCOURT'S TRAVEL TO HONDURAS ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION BUT HAS CONCLUDED THAT HE WAS NOT PROPERLY AUTHORIZED TO PERFORM THAT TRAVEL. WHILE IT IS UNFORTUNATE THAT HE WAS GIVEN THE IMPRESSION BY AID OFFICIALS THAT HE WOULD BE ON OFFICIAL AID BUSINESS, SINCE HE TRAVELED AT HIS OWN EXPENSE WITHOUT WRITTEN ORDERS AND SINCE AID IS UNWILLING TO APPROVE THE TRAVEL, WE CANNOT AUTHORIZE THE ARMY TO PAY MR. BETANCOURT'S TRAVEL EXPENSES AND BILL AID FOR REIMBURSEMENT. AS PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED, THE TRANSFER OF FUNDS WOULD BE PROHIBITED BY LAW IN THE ABSENCE OF A WRITTEN AGREEMENT. MOREOVER, THE ARMY COULD NOT PROPERLY ISSUE TRAVEL ORDERS RETROACTIVELY AUTHORIZING MR. BETANCOURT TO BE PAID HIS TRAVELING EXPENSES FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS OF THE ARMY, SINCE HIS TRIP TO HONDURAS WAS NOT A MATTER OF OFFICIAL ARMY BUSINESS, AND IT IS CLEARLY EVIDENT THAT AT THE TIME HIS TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED IT WAS NEVER INTENDED THAT THE ARMY WOULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYMENT OF HIS TRAVELING EXPENSES. COMPARE B-192636, DECEMBER 15, 1978.