B-197220, OCTOBER 20, 1980, 60 COMP.GEN. 38

B-197220: Oct 20, 1980

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SINCE TRAVEL WAS NOT PERFORMED BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE (POV). REIMBURSEMENT FOR RENTAL CAR EXPENSES IS NOT LIMITED TO THE LOWER COST OF MILEAGE FOR TRAVEL BY POV EVEN THOUGH DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE REGULATION PROVIDES THAT. RENEWAL AGREEMENT TRAVEL BY POV WILL BE CONSIDERED ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. 1980: THIS ACTION IS IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST FOR A DECISION SUBMITTED BY THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY REGARDING THE USE OF A RENTAL CAR IN CONNECTION WITH RENEWAL AGREEMENT TRAVEL. THE QUESTIONS PRESENTED CONCERN AN EMPLOYEE'S ENTITLEMENT TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR RENTAL CAR EXPENSES WHERE USE OF A COMMERCIAL RENTED CAR WAS NOT AUTHORIZED AS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. THREE QUESTIONS HAVE BEEN ASKED: 1.

B-197220, OCTOBER 20, 1980, 60 COMP.GEN. 38

TRAVEL EXPENSES - OVERSEAS EMPLOYEES - RENEWAL AGREEMENT TRAVEL - UNAUTHORIZED MODE - RENTED CAR - CONSTRUCTIVE COST BASIS OF REIMBURSEMENT UNDER TRAVEL ORDERS AUTHORIZING TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER, EMPLOYEE PERFORMED PORTION OF RENEWAL AGREEMENT TRAVEL BY RENT-A-CAR. EMPLOYEE MAY BE REIMBURSED EXPENSES FOR UNAUTHORIZED MODE OF TRAVEL LIMITED TO CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER. SINCE TRAVEL WAS NOT PERFORMED BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE (POV), REIMBURSEMENT FOR RENTAL CAR EXPENSES IS NOT LIMITED TO THE LOWER COST OF MILEAGE FOR TRAVEL BY POV EVEN THOUGH DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE REGULATION PROVIDES THAT, WHERE LESS COSTLY THAN COMMON CARRIER, RENEWAL AGREEMENT TRAVEL BY POV WILL BE CONSIDERED ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT.

MATTER OF: RONALD D. BEEMAN - UNAUTHORIZED MODE OF TRAVEL, RENTAL CAR, OCTOBER 20, 1980:

THIS ACTION IS IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST FOR A DECISION SUBMITTED BY THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY REGARDING THE USE OF A RENTAL CAR IN CONNECTION WITH RENEWAL AGREEMENT TRAVEL. THE DECISION REQUEST, FORWARDED BY THE PER DIEM, TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE, HAS BEEN ASSIGNED PDTATAC CONTROL NO. 79-42.

THE QUESTIONS PRESENTED CONCERN AN EMPLOYEE'S ENTITLEMENT TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR RENTAL CAR EXPENSES WHERE USE OF A COMMERCIAL RENTED CAR WAS NOT AUTHORIZED AS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. SPECIFICALLY, THREE QUESTIONS HAVE BEEN ASKED:

1. WHERE MODES OF TRANSPORTATION AUTHORIZED IN RENEWAL AGREEMENT TRAVEL ORDERS WERE GOVERNMENT AND COMMERCIAL AIR, RAIL, BUS, AND PRIVATELY OWNED CONVEYANCE NOT ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT, MAY THE EMPLOYEE BE REIMBURSED THE ACTUAL ROUND-TRIP RENTAL AUTOMOBILE COSTS OF $211.50 WHEN COMPARATIVE COST OF RAIL TRAVEL AND AIR TRAVEL BETWEEN THE OVERSEAS DUTY STATION AND THE PORT OF EMBARKATION ARE HIGHER?

2. IF THE ANSWER TO QUESTION ONE IS IN THE AFFIRMATIVE, SHOULD THE ORDERS AUTHORIZE THE USE OF A RENTAL CAR FOR SUCH TRAVEL AND IF THE ORDERS DO NOT AUTHORIZE RENTAL AUTOMOBILE, WOULD ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL ON THE TRAVEL VOUCHER SUFFICE FOR PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM?

3. WOULD THE ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ONE AND TWO APPLY, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE TRAVEL WAS IN CONNECTION WITH PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION; RENEWAL AGREEMENT TRAVEL; AND, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE EXPENSES WERE INCURRED OVERSEAS OR WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES WHEN THE COST OF THE RENTAL COS WAS LESS COSTLY THAN TRAVEL BY RAIL OR AIR BETWEEN THE SAME POINTS OF TRAVEL?

THE FACTS OF THIS CASE WHICH ARE PERTINENT TO THE QUESTIONS PRESENTED CONCERN THAT PORTION OF THE RENEWAL AGREEMENT TRAVEL OF A FEDERAL CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE FROM HIS POST OF DUTY OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES TO A PORT OF EMBARKATION AND HIS TRAVEL UPON RETURN FROM THE PORT OF DEBARKATION TO THE PORT OF DUTY OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES. THE EMPLOYEE AND HIS FAMILY PERFORMED TRAVEL FROM HIS OVERSEAS DUTY STATION TO THE SERIAL PORT OF EMBARKATION BY RENT-A-CAR AT A COST OF $95.50; AND, UPON RETURN, FROM THE SERIAL PORT OF DEBARKATION TO HIS DUTY STATION BY RENT-A- CAR AT A COST OF $116. THE TOTAL RENT-A-CAR COST WAS $211.50.

FOR THE 434 MILES TRAVELED BY RENT-A-CAR, THE EMPLOYEE HAS BEEN PAID A MILEAGE ALLOWANCE OF $73.78 BASED ON THE $.17 PER MILE RATE AUTHORIZED FOR TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE WHERE THAT MODE OF TRAVEL HAS BEEN DETERMINED TO BE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. IN LIMITING THE EMPLOYEE'S REIMBURSEMENT, THE AGENCY RELIES ON THE FACT THAT PARAGRAPH C2151-3 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS (JTR), VOLUME 2, STATES THAT RENEWAL AGREEMENT TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE WILL BE CONSIDERED ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT AND WILL BE REIMBURSED AT THE $.17 PER MILE RATE WHEN IT IS DETERMINED THAT THE COST OF SUCH TRAVEL IS LESS THAN THE COST OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER. THE EMPLOYEE SEEKS REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE $137.72 AMOUNT HE INCURRED FOR RENTAL CAR EXPENSES IN EXCESS OF THE MILEAGE ALLOWANCE PAID.

IN ANSWER TO THE FIRST QUESTION, THE EMPLOYEE MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR THE RENT-A-CAR EXPENSES CLAIMED INASMUCH AS THEY DO NOT EXCEED THE COST OF COMMERCIAL CARRIER TRANSPORTATION AUTHORIZED. THE AUTHORIZATION OF A PARTICULAR MODE OR MODES OF TRAVEL ON AN EMPLOYEE'S TRAVEL ORDER DOES NOT DEFEAT THE EMPLOYEE'S RIGHT TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES ON A CONSTRUCTIVE COST BASIS WHEN THE EMPLOYEE TRAVELS BY A MODE OF TRANSPORTATION OTHER THAN AUTHORIZED. SEE GENERALLY, LAWRENCE B. NEWELL, B-181151, JANUARY 3, 1975.

PROVISIONS OF THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND OF VOLUME 2 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS APPLICABLE TO DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CIVILIANS, REQUIRING APPROVAL OF THE USE OF RENTAL VEHICLES, ARE NOT FOR APPLICATION WHEN REIMBURSEMENT IS TO BE ON A CONSTRUCTIVE COST BASIS. AS IN ALL CONSTRUCTIVE COST CASES THE ACTUAL COST TO THE EMPLOYEE, REGARDLESS OF MODE, IS COMPARED TO THE COST BY AN ALLOWABLE MODE.

IN A. L. STRASFOGEL, B-186975, MARCH 16, 1977, WE HELD THAT AN EMPLOYEE WHOSE TRAVEL BY COMMERCIALLY RENTED VEHICLE WAS NOT AUTHORIZED AS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT WAS NONETHELESS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR RENTAL CAR EXPENSES LIMITED TO THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER. AS IN THE INSTANT CASE, THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE WAS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. NONETHELESS, THE EMPLOYEE'S REIMBURSEMENT WAS NOT LIMITED TO THE MILEAGE TO WHICH HE WOULD HAVE BEEN ENTITLED IF HE HAD TRAVELED IN HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE. AS INDICATED IN ANTHONY P. DEVITO, B-196950, MARCH 24, 1980, AUTHORIZATION OF TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE AS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT LIMIT REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL BY UNAUTHORIZED RENTAL CAR TO LESS THAN THE COST BY COMMON CARRIER OR OTHER AUTHORIZED MODE. SUCH AUTHORIZATION MAY RESULT IN ADDITIONAL ENTITLEMENT WHERE THE CONSTRUCTIVE MILEAGE PAYMENT FOR TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE EXCEEDS THE COST OF COMMERCIAL TRANSPORTATION, BUT IT DOES NOT SERVE TO REDUCE THAT ENTITLEMENT UNLESS THE EMPLOYEE ACTUALLY TRAVELS BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE. COMPARE ERNEST D. ELLSWORTH, B-196196, AUGUST 19, 1980, AND CASES CITED THEREIN.

BECAUSE THE EMPLOYEE WAS AUTHORIZED TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER AND SINCE HIS CLAIM AS WELL AS HIS ENTITLEMENT TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR RENTAL CAR EXPENSES IS LIMITED TO THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST BY THAT MODE OF TRAVEL, PAYMENT MAY BE MADE BASED ON APPROVAL OF HIS TRAVEL VOUCHER. WE WOULD POINT OUT FOR THE SAKE OF CLARIFICATION THAT ALTHOUGH THE TRAVEL ORDER IN THE STRASFOGEL CASE WAS AMENDED TO AUTHORIZE USE OF RENTAL CAR LIMITED TO COST OF COMMON CARRIER THAT CLAIM COULD HAVE BEEN PAID ON A CONSTRUCTIVE COST BASIS WITHOUT REGARD TO THE AMENDMENT. QUESTION NUMBER 2 IS ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY.

WITH RESPECT TO QUESTION NUMBER 3, WE NOTE THAT THE STRASFOGEL, DEVITO, AND WALDMAN CASES ALL INVOLVED TRAVEL FOR RELOCATION PURPOSES. JUST AS THERE IS NO REASON TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN CHANGE OF STATION AND RENEWAL AGREEMENT TRAVEL, THE PRINCIPLES OF CONSTRUCTIVE COST REIMBURSEMENT STATED ABOVE APPLY TO TRAVEL WITHIN THE UNITED STATES AS WELL AS TO TRAVEL OVERSEAS.