B-199122, FEB 18, 1981

B-199122: Feb 18, 1981

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DIGEST: THE COST OF AUTOMOBILE RENTAL FOR 21 DAY PERIOD FOR AN EMPLOYEE AWAITING AUTHORIZED OVERSEAS SHIPMENT OF A PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE IS REIMBURSABLE ONLY ON A PRO RATA BASIS FOR DAYS THE AUTOMOBILE WAS ACTUALLY USED FOR OFFICIAL BUSINESS WHERE THE AGENCY AUTHORIZED SUCH USE AS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. PRO RATA AMOUNT FOR INSURANCE MAY ALSO BE REIMBURSED TO THE EXTENT IT IS NOT PERSONAL TO THE EMPLOYEE AND IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT REQUIRED FOR THE OPERATION OF A MOTOR VEHICLE ON GERMAN ROADS. VENER - REIMBURSEMENT FOR AUTOMOBILE RENTAL CHARGES: THIS DECISION IS IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (DOE). VENER WAS AUTHORIZED AN OFFICIAL CHANGE OF DUTY STATION FROM WASHINGTON.

B-199122, FEB 18, 1981

DIGEST: THE COST OF AUTOMOBILE RENTAL FOR 21 DAY PERIOD FOR AN EMPLOYEE AWAITING AUTHORIZED OVERSEAS SHIPMENT OF A PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE IS REIMBURSABLE ONLY ON A PRO RATA BASIS FOR DAYS THE AUTOMOBILE WAS ACTUALLY USED FOR OFFICIAL BUSINESS WHERE THE AGENCY AUTHORIZED SUCH USE AS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. PRO RATA AMOUNT FOR INSURANCE MAY ALSO BE REIMBURSED TO THE EXTENT IT IS NOT PERSONAL TO THE EMPLOYEE AND IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT REQUIRED FOR THE OPERATION OF A MOTOR VEHICLE ON GERMAN ROADS.

RAYMOND E. VENER - REIMBURSEMENT FOR AUTOMOBILE RENTAL CHARGES:

THIS DECISION IS IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (DOE), OFFICE OF FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING, FOR AN ADVANCE DECISION CONCERNING THE PROPRIETY OF PAYMENT TO DR. RAYMOND E. VENER, AS REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF AUTOMOBILE RENTAL INCURRED WHILE AWAITING OVERSEAS SHIPMENT OF HIS PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE (POV).

DR. VENER WAS AUTHORIZED AN OFFICIAL CHANGE OF DUTY STATION FROM WASHINGTON, D. C. TO BONN, GERMANY COMMENCING IN NOVEMBER 1976 BY THE ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION (ERDA), ONE OF DOE'S PREDECESSOR AGENCIES. PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY CONTAINED IN 5 U.S.C. SEC. 5727(B) (1976), ERDA APPROVED SHIPMENT OF DR. VENER'S POV TO HIS NEW DUTY STATION IN BONN AS BEING IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT. SEE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS (FTR) AT PARA. 2-10.2 (FPMR 101-7, MAY 1973). USE OF THE VEHICLE IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO DEPARTURE, INCLUDING USE FOR OFFICIAL BUSINESS PURPOSES, NECESSITATED A DELAY BETWEEN DR. VENER'S ARRIVAL IN GERMANY AND THE ARRIVAL OF HIS CAR. AS A RESULT, ERDA CABLED THE AMERICAN EMBASSY IN BONN THAT:

"*** ERDA HAS AUTHORIZED SHIPMENT OF DR. VENER'S POV TO BONN AT U. S. GOVERNMENT EXPENSE. UNTIL POV ARRIVES POST, IT IS DESIRABLE THAT DR. VENER HAS ACCESS TO AUTO, THEREFORE ERDA REQUESTS THAT AMERICAN EMBASSY PROVIDE DR. VENER WITH AUTO FROM MOTOR POOL. IF NONE AVAILABLE IN MOTOR POOL, THEN AMERICAN EMBASSY REQUESTED TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR RENTING COMMERCIAL AUTO. ERDA PREPARED FUND RENTAL COSTS NOT TO EXCEED PERIOD OF 21 DAYS. ***"

DR. VENER SOUGHT TO OBTAIN AN EMBASSY AUTOMOBILE UPON HIS ARRIVAL, BUT WAS TOLD THAT NONE WAS AVAILABLE. ACCORDINGLY, HE THEN ARRANGED AND PAID FOR A 21 DAY RENTAL OF AN AUTOMOBILE FROM THE AVIS RENTAL CAR AGENCY AT A COST OF DM 1465.35 (INCLUDING COLLISION AND LIABILITY INSURANCE), OR $610.00 AT THE DECEMBER 17, 1976, EXCHANGE RATE, PLUS $10.00 FOR GAS, FOR A TOTAL EXPENSE OF $620.00. DURING THE 21 DAY RENTAL PERIOD, THE CAR WAS USED ON 10 SEPARATE OCCASIONS FOR OFFICIAL BUSINESS, USED ONCE FOR PERSONAL MATTERS, AND SAT IDLE THE OTHER 10 DAYS.

UPON SUBMISSION OF A CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT, DR. VENER WAS ADVISED BY LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 23, 1977, FROM ERDA, OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, THAT ONLY THOSE EXPENSES RELATED TO OFFICIAL BUSINESS WOULD BE ALLOWABLE. IN AN INTERNAL AGENCY CORRESPONDENCE DATED AUGUST 11, 1977, THE ERDA OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL SUPPORTED THIS DETERMINATION, STATING THAT THERE IS NO LEGAL REFERENCE WHICH PERMITS A COMMERCIAL AUTOMOBILE TO BE RENTED AND CHARGED TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE EMPLOYEE'S CONVENIENCE PENDING ARRIVAL AT THE DUTY STATION OF THE EMPLOYEE'S OWN AUTOMOBILE.

IT WAS FURTHER OPINED THAT REIMBURSEMENT COULD BE BASED ON EITHER A MILEAGE RATE, AN EQUIVALENCY WITH TAXI FARES, OR A PROPORTIONMENT FOR THE NUMBER OF DAYS USED ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS.

WE HAVE BEEN REQUESTED TO DECIDE THE AMOUNT WHICH CAN BE PROPERLY CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. FOR THE REASONS CONTAINED IN THE FOLLOWING DISCUSSION, DR. VENER SHOULD BE REIMBURSED FOR THAT PORTION OF THE CAR RENTAL EXPENSE WHICH REPRESENTS THE NUMBER OF DAYS ACTUALLY USED FOR GOVERNMENT BUSINESS PURPOSES.

THIS OFFICE HAS DENIED REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF RENTING AN AUTOMOBILE WHILE THE EMPLOYEE IS AWAITING ARRIVAL OF A POV. JOSEPH P. CROWLEY, B-186115, FEBRUARY 4, 1977. HOWEVER, IN THE PRESENT CASE, ERDA AUTHORIZED DR. VENER TO USE A RENTAL CAR AS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT AND THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE RENTAL CAR WAS ACTUALLY USED FOR OFFICIAL BUSINESS. THEREFORE, WE WILL NOT QUESTION THE AGENCY'S DETERMINATION IN THIS MATTER.

FTR PARA. 1-2.2A PROVIDES FOR THE HIRE OF AN AUTOMOBILE IF AUTHORIZED AS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT WHENEVER THE EMPLOYEE IS ENGAGED IN OFFICIAL BUSINESS. IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE GENERAL RULE CONTAINED IN FTR PARA. 1-1.3B THAT REIMBURSABLE TRAVEL EXPENSES ARE "CONFINED TO THOSE EXPENSES ESSENTIAL TO THE TRANSACTING OF THE OFFICIAL BUSINESS," PAYMENT FOR RENTAL OF AUTOMOBILES HAS BEEN LIMITED TO THE EXTENT THAT SUCH RENTAL IS SO UTILIZED. LAWRENCE B. PERKINS, B-192364, FEBRUARY 15, 1979. FOR EXAMPLE, WHERE AN EMPLOYEE VOLUNTARILY RETURNED HOME FROM TEMPORARY DUTY ON THE WEEKEND, A CLAIM FOR THE CONSTRUCTIVE COST OF CAR RENTAL WAS DISALLOWED FOR THE PERIOD IN WHICH NO OFFICIAL BUSINESS WAS PERFORMED. THOMAS D. SALTER, B-194166, JANUARY 22, 1980.

THE RECORD INDICATES THAT THE RENTAL CAR EITHER SAT IDLE OR WAS USED FOR PERSONAL USE FOR 11 DAYS DURING THE 21 DAY RENTAL PERIOD. SINCE OFFICIAL BUSINESS WAS NOT TRANSACTED ON THE 11 DAYS, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR REIMBURSEMENT TO DR. VENER FOR THE 11 DAY PERIOD. SEE EDWARD F. MILLER, B-190698, APRIL 6, 1978. DR. VENER MAY ALSO BE REIMBURSED A PRO RATA AMOUNT FOR INSURANCE TO THE EXTENT IT IS NOT PERSONAL TO HIM AND IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT REQUIRED FOR THE HIRE AND OPERATION OF A MOTOR VEHICLE ON GERMAN ROADS. SEE 55 COMP.GEN. 1397 (1976).

ACCORDINGLY, DR. VENER IS ENTITLED TO A PRO RATA PAYMENT REPRESENTING THE 10 DAY PORTION OF THE RENTAL PERIOD ATTRIBUTABLE TO GOVERNMENT BUSINESS.