B-207995-OM, DEC 22, 1982

B-207995-OM: Dec 22, 1982

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AFMD - CLAIMS GROUP (ROOM 5858): RETURNED IS YOUR FILE Z-2834381. SINCE THE TICKETS WERE PURCHASED THROUGH A TRAVEL AGENT. SHE PURCHASED A TICKET FOR PERSONAL TRAVEL FROM A TRAVEL AGENT PRIOR TO THE ISSUANCE OF THE TRAVEL ORDERS OR NOTICE THAT HER AGENCY WAS GOING TO SEND HER ON TEMPORARY DUTY TO INDIANAPOLIS. FOLLOWING THE TRAVEL SHE WAS DENIED REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE AIR TRAVEL ON THE BASIS THAT PARAGRAPH C2207 OF VOLUME 2 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS (2 JTR) PRECLUDES THE USE OF TRAVEL AGENTS. VANHOOSIER STATES SHE IS AN INFREQUENT TRAVELER ON GOVERNMENT BUSINESS AND DID NOT BECOME AWARE OF THE PROHIBITION AGAINST THE USE OF TRAVEL AGENTS UNTIL SHE READ THE NOTICE ATTACHED TO HER TRAVEL ORDERS.

B-207995-OM, DEC 22, 1982

SUBJECT: GWEN VANHOOSIER - TRAVEL CLAIM (Z-2834381) - B-207995-O.M.

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, AFMD - CLAIMS GROUP (ROOM 5858):

RETURNED IS YOUR FILE Z-2834381. BY SETTLEMENT DATED APRIL 7, 1982, YOU DISALLOWED THE CLAIM OF GWEN VANHOOSIER FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR AIR TRAVEL PERFORMED IN CONNECTION WITH TEMPORARY DUTY, SINCE THE TICKETS WERE PURCHASED THROUGH A TRAVEL AGENT. HER CLAIM MAY BE ALLOWED FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS.

MS. VANHOOSIER, A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, PERFORMED ROUND-TRIP AIR TRAVEL BETWEEN WASHINGTON, D. C., AND INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, IN JULY 1981, INCIDENT TO A TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT. USING HER OWN FUNDS, SHE PURCHASED A TICKET FOR PERSONAL TRAVEL FROM A TRAVEL AGENT PRIOR TO THE ISSUANCE OF THE TRAVEL ORDERS OR NOTICE THAT HER AGENCY WAS GOING TO SEND HER ON TEMPORARY DUTY TO INDIANAPOLIS. FOLLOWING THE TRAVEL SHE WAS DENIED REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE AIR TRAVEL ON THE BASIS THAT PARAGRAPH C2207 OF VOLUME 2 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS (2 JTR) PRECLUDES THE USE OF TRAVEL AGENTS.

MS. VANHOOSIER STATES SHE IS AN INFREQUENT TRAVELER ON GOVERNMENT BUSINESS AND DID NOT BECOME AWARE OF THE PROHIBITION AGAINST THE USE OF TRAVEL AGENTS UNTIL SHE READ THE NOTICE ATTACHED TO HER TRAVEL ORDERS. THIS TIME IT WAS TOO LATE TO CHANGE HER ARRANGEMENTS. HER MAIN ARGUMENT IS THAT SHE HAD USED THE SERVICES OF A TRAVEL AGENT ON AN EARLIER OCCASION AND HAD BEEN REIMBURSED FOR THE TRAVEL.

WHILE THE REGULATIONS ARE SPECIFIC, 2 JTR C2207 PROVIDES THAT A TRAVEL AGENT MAY NOT BE USED TO PROCURE PASSENGER SERVICE IN THE UNITED STATES, OUR DECISIONS IN THIS AREA HAVE RECOGNIZED THAT CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS SHOULD BE MADE. IN OUR DECISION, B-103315, AUGUST 1, 1978, WE HELD THAT MEMBERS OR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES WHO INDIVIDUALLY AND INADVERTENTLY PURCHASE OFFICIAL TRANSPORTATION FROM A TRAVEL AGENT WITH PERSONAL FUNDS WITHOUT PRIOR APPROVAL BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE CAN BE REIMBURSED IN AN AMOUNT WHICH DOES NOT EXCEED CHARGES WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN PAYABLE IF THE TRANSPORTATION HAD BEEN PURCHASED DIRECTLY FROM THE CARRIER. WE DID REQUIRE THAT THOSE GRANTED THE INDIVIDUAL EXEMPTION SHOULD BE CAUTIONED THAT OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT TRAVEL ORDINARILY IS PURCHASED DIRECTLY FROM THE CARRIER IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ADVANCE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT GROUP OR CHARTER FARES SOLD BY THE TRAVEL AGENTS WILL RESULT IN A LOWER COST TO THE GOVERNMENT AND WILL NOT INTERFERE WITH OFFICIAL BUSINESS. OUR DECISION HAS BEEN INCORPORATED IN PARAGRAPH C2207-4 OF VOLUME 2 OF THE JTR. SEE ALSO 58 COMP.GEN.710 (1979).

MS. VANHOOSIER STATES THAT SHE IS AN INFREQUENT TRAVELER. SHE USED A TRAVEL AGENT BEFORE AND WAS REIMBURSED. ALSO, SHE STATES THERE WAS NO INTENT ON HER PART TO CIRCUMVENT THE RESTRICTION AGAINST THE USE OF TRAVEL AGENTS. THE AGENCY HAS MADE NO COMMENT TO THE CONTRARY CONCERNING THIS. MOREOVER, AS STATED ABOVE, SHE PURCHASED THE TICKETS FROM A TRAVEL AGENT FOR PERSONAL TRAVEL PRIOR TO ANY KNOWLEDGE ON HER PART OF HER TEMPORARY DUTY ASSIGNMENT. IN THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES WE CONCLUDE THAT REIMBURSEMENT FOR AIR TRAVEL NEED NOT BE DENIED.

ACCORDINGLY, MS. VANHOOSIER'S CLAIM SHOULD BE ALLOWED.

BY LETTER OF TODAY, B-207995, WE ARE INFORMING CONGRESSWOMAN HOLT OF THIS ACTION.