B-210191, JUN 15, 1983

B-210191: Jun 15, 1983

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AFMD - CLAIMS GROUP (ROOM 5858): RETURNED IS YOUR FILE Z-2582535. EUBANK'S CLAIM FOR PER DIEM IN CONNECTION WITH PERMANENT CHANGE-OF-STATION TRAVEL WAS DISALLOWED BY SETTLEMENT DATED SEPTEMBER 2. HIS PERMANENT DUTY STATION WAS CHANGED FROM SANTA FE TO PORT HUENEME. NEITHER OF THEM OBTAINED RECEIPTS FOR THEIR LODGINGS DURING THE PERIOD THAT THEY WERE TRAVELING. MENTIONED ONLY THAT LODGING RECEIPTS WERE NEEDED FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES. THE NAVY INFORMED HIM IN CONNECTION WITH HIS PER DIEM CLAIM THAT HE COULD EITHER ASK THE MOTELS WHERE HE AND HIS WIFE STAYED TO SEND RECEIPTS OR HE COULD CERTIFY THAT RECEIPTS WERE NOT OBTAINED AND FURNISH THE NAMES OF THE MOTELS.

B-210191, JUN 15, 1983

SUBJECT: CLAIM OF JOHN H. EUBANK FOR PER DIEM - Z-2582535, B-210191-O.M.

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

RETURNED IS YOUR FILE Z-2582535. MR. JOHN H. EUBANK'S CLAIM FOR PER DIEM IN CONNECTION WITH PERMANENT CHANGE-OF-STATION TRAVEL WAS DISALLOWED BY SETTLEMENT DATED SEPTEMBER 2, 1982, SINCE HE COULD NOT PROVIDE RECEIPTS FOR EITHER HIS OR HIS WIFE'S LODGINGS. FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS, THE CLAIM MAY BE ALLOWED.

MR. EUBANK HAD BEEN EMPLOYED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR IN SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO. UPON HIS TRANSFER TO THE NAVY, HIS PERMANENT DUTY STATION WAS CHANGED FROM SANTA FE TO PORT HUENEME, CALIFORNIA. INCIDENT TO THE CHANGE OF STATION, MR. EUBANK COMMENCED TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE ON SEPTEMBER 28, 1980, AND COMPLETED IT ON OCTOBER 1, 1980. AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL LATER BY SEPARATE PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE, HIS WIFE BEGAN HER TRAVEL ON DECEMBER 6, 1980, AND COMPLETED IT ON DECEMBER 9, 1980. NEITHER OF THEM OBTAINED RECEIPTS FOR THEIR LODGINGS DURING THE PERIOD THAT THEY WERE TRAVELING. IN EXPLANATION, MR. EUBANK STATES THAT THE NAVY EMPLOYING OFFICE HAD FURNISHED HIM AN INFORMATION BOOKLET (HANDBOOK) ACCOMPANYING HIS TRAVEL ORDERS. THE BOOKLET, COVERING PERMANENT CHANGE-OF-STATION INFORMATION, MENTIONED ONLY THAT LODGING RECEIPTS WERE NEEDED FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TEMPORARY QUARTERS SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES. IT OMITTED ANY DISCUSSION OF THE NEED FOR RECEIPTS VERIFYING LODGING EXPENSES INCURRED WHEN TRAVELING TO THE NEW DUTY STATION. FURTHERMORE, HE EXPLAINS THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, HIS FORMER AGENCY, HAD NOT REQUIRED LODGING RECEIPTS FOR TRAVEL DURING PERMANENT CHANGE-OF-STATION MOVES. ON FEBRUARY 4, 1981, THE NAVY INFORMED HIM IN CONNECTION WITH HIS PER DIEM CLAIM THAT HE COULD EITHER ASK THE MOTELS WHERE HE AND HIS WIFE STAYED TO SEND RECEIPTS OR HE COULD CERTIFY THAT RECEIPTS WERE NOT OBTAINED AND FURNISH THE NAMES OF THE MOTELS, THEIR ADDRESSES AND OTHER PERTINENT INFORMATION. HE RESPONDED THAT NEITHER HE NOR HIS WIFE HAD KEPT THE MOTEL NAMES AND ADDRESSES AND THEY COULD NOT RECALL THEM BECAUSE OF THE TIME THAT HAD ELAPSED SINCE THE TRAVEL.

THE NAVY DENIED THE LODGING PORTION OF HIS PER DIEM CLAIM BECAUSE THE RECEIPTS WERE UNAVAILABLE AND THERE WAS NO CERTIFICATION OF THE ACTUAL AMOUNT PAID, THE LOCATION OF THE LODGING, AND OTHER PERTINENT INFORMATION REQUESTED. THE CLAIMS GROUP DISALLOWED THE LODGING EXPENSE ON THE GROUND THAT PARAGRAPH C4552-2A OF VOLUME 2, JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS (2 JTR) REQUIRED THE RECEIPTS OR AT LEAST THE REQUESTED INFORMATION TO VERIFY THE ACTUAL LODGING EXPENSE.

PARAGRAPH C4552-2A IN EFFECT WHEN MR. EUBANK TRAVELED IN SEPTEMBER 1980, PROVIDED FOR THE COMPUTATION OF PER DIEM ON THE "LODGING-PLUS" METHOD. UNDER THIS METHOD A RATE EQUAL TO THE AVERAGE LODGING PAID ON THE TRIP WAS USED PLUS $16 DAILY FOR MEALS AND INCIDENTAL EXPENSES, BUT NOT TO EXCEED $35 PER DAY. ACCORDINGLY, THE MAXIMUM RATE AT THIS TIME FOR LODGING WAS $19 A DAY. THIS REGULATION REQUIRED THE EMPLOYEE "TO STATE ON THE TRAVEL VOUCHER THE TOTAL ACTUAL COST PAID FOR LODGING DURING THE ENTIRE PERIOD WHILE IN A TRAVEL STATUS." WHEN TRAVELING WITH DEPENDENTS INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION, THE EMPLOYEE HAD TO "OBTAIN AND CERTIFY AS TO THE SINGLE OCCUPANCY RATE APPLICABLE TO THE ROOMS OCCUPIED." THE AVERAGE SINGLE OCCUPANCY RATE WAS USED TO COMPUTE THE PER DIEM RATE OF THE EMPLOYEE. CONCERNING RECEIPTS, IT PROVIDED:

"RECEIPTS WILL BE REQUIRED FOR LODGING. THEY ARE IMPRACTICABLE TO OBTAIN OR HAVE BEEN INADVERTENTLY DESTROYED A STATEMENT TO THAT EFFECT WILL BE FURNISHED."

WHEN MR. EUBANK'S WIFE TRAVELED IN DECEMBER 1980, THE REQUIREMENTS OF 2 JTR C4552-2A WERE UNCHANGED. HOWEVER, THE AMOUNT FOR MEALS AND INCIDENTAL EXPENSES HAD BEEN RAISED TO $23 DAILY, AND THE HIGHEST ALLOWABLE PER DIEM RATE BECAME $50 PER DAY. SEE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS (FTR), FPMR 101-7 (MAY 1973), TEMPORARY REGULATION A-11, SUPPLEMENT 11, EFFECTIVE FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED ON OR AFTER OCTOBER 5, 1980. CONSEQUENTLY, THE MAXIMUM AVERAGE DAILY LODGING EXPENSE AUTHORIZED AT THE TIME OF MRS. EUBANK'S TRAVEL WAS $27.

ORDINARILY, WE HAVE DISALLOWED REIMBURSEMENT IF THE EMPLOYEE HAS NOT SUBMITTED THE REQUIRED LODGING RECEIPTS AND CANNOT CONFIRM THE ACTUAL AMOUNTS PAID. MATTER OF GOSS, B-200841, NOVEMBER 19, 1981; MATTER OF DEVITO, B-196950, MARCH 24, 1980; MATTER OF GIBBS, B-180910, JULY 18, 1978.

HOWEVER, FAILURE TO OBTAIN AND PROVIDE LODGING RECEIPTS WAS NOT GROUNDS FOR DENYING REIMBURSEMENT IN MATTER OF GOLDSTEIN AND TILLMANN, B-192138, APRIL 9, 1979. IN THAT CASE, THE EMPLOYEES WERE LED TO BELIEVE BY THEIR TRAVEL ORDERS THAT LODGING RECEIPTS WOULD BE UNNECESSARY SINCE THEIR AGENCY DID NOT REQUIRE THEM FOR "LODGING-PLUS" PER DIEM. HOWEVER, THE REGULATIONS HAD RECENTLY BEEN CHANGED TO MAKE THEIR TEMPORARY DUTY STATION A HIGH-COST AREA SO AS TO REQUIRE RECEIPTS FOR THE LODGING PORTION OF ACTUAL SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES UNDER PARAGRAPH 1 8.5 OF THE FTR. WE OBSERVED THAT PARAGRAPH 1-11.3D(1), FTR, PROVIDED THAT "IF IT IS IMPRACTICABLE TO FURNISH RECEIPTS *** THE FAILURE TO DO SO MUST BE FULLY EXPLAINED IN THE TRAVEL VOUCHER," ALTHOUGH, "MERE INCONVENIENCE IN THE MATTER OF TAKING RECEIPTS SHALL NOT BE CONSIDERED." WE DECIDED THAT BECAUSE THE EMPLOYEES WERE MISLED THEY WERE ABLE TO EXPLAIN TO THE AGENCY'S SATISFACTION WHY IT WAS IMPRACTICABLE TO FURNISH LODGING RECEIPTS.

WE BELIEVE THE SITUATION OF MR. EUBANK AND HIS WIFE IS SIMILAR TO THAT CONSIDERED IN MATTER OF GOLDSTEIN AND TILLMANN. BOTH CASES INVOLVE REGULATIONS EXCUSING RECEIPTS IF IT IS IMPRACTICABLE TO OBTAIN THEM. FURTHER, SINCE THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS COVER CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES AND VOLUME 2 OF THE JTR MUST CONFORM TO THEM, WE BELIEVE THAT THE PROVISION EXCUSING RECEIPTS IN PARAGRAPH C4552-2A, 2 JTR, SHOULD BE CONTRUED THE SAME AS THE SUBSTANTIALLY IDENTICAL PROVISION IN PARAGRAPH 1-11.3D(1) OF THE FTR.

WE NOTE THAT PARAGRAPH 1-7.3C OF THE FTR PROVIDES FOR THE USE OF DISCRETION BY THE EMPLOYING AGENCIES WHETHER TO REQUIRE LODGING RECEIPTS UNDER THE "LODGING-PLUS" METHOD OF COMPUTATION. MR. EUBANK COULD REASONABLY CONCLUDE THAT LODGING RECEIPTS WERE UNNECESSARY BECAUSE THE BOOKLET (HANDBOOK) HE RECEIVED PRESCRIBED THEM FOR TEMPORARY QUARTERS SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES BUT NOT FOR TRAVEL TO THE NEW DUTY STATION. HE HAD BEEN EMPLOYED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR BEFORE HIS TRAVEL TO THE NEW DUTY STATION AND THAT DEPARTMENT HAD NOT REQUIRED LODGING RECEIPTS FOR PERMANENT CHANGE-OF-STATION TRAVEL, ALTHOUGH THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE GENERALLY REQUIRED RECEIPTS.

AS IN THE MATTER OF GOLDSTEIN AND TILLMANN, MR. EUBANK HAD SUFFICIENT REASON TO BELIEVE THAT THE NAVY DID NOT REQUIRE RECEIPTS. IN FACT THE NAVY INFORMED MR. EUBANK THAT IT RECOGNIZED THE NEED TO INFORM THE EMPLOYEE OF ALL PERTINENT INFORMATION NOT CONTAINED IN THE BOOKLET (HANDBOOK) ON PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATIONS. THUS, WE DO NOT VIEW THE FACT THAT MR. EUBANK FAILED TO OBTAIN RECEIPTS IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES AS UNREASONABLE EVEN THOUGH THE PRACTICE OF PROVIDING RECEIPTS WAS GENERALLY REQUIRED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE.

FINALLY, WE BELIEVE THAT MR. EUBANK SHOULD BE EXCUSED FROM PROVIDING ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THE IDENTITY AND LOCATION OF THE MOTELS, AS WELL AS THE PRECISE LODGING EXPENSES. HE AND HIS WIFE WOULD NOT NECESSARILY REMEMBER THIS INFORMATION FOR A SUBSTANTIAL PERIOD AFTER THEIR TRAVEL. CERTIFIED ON HIS VOUCHER THAT ALL OF THE LODGING AT THE SINGLE-OCCUPANCY RATE WAS OVER $23 ON EACH OF SIX NIGHTS. THIS AMOUNT EXCEEDED THE MAXIMUM REIMBURSEMENT FOR HIS LODGING, $19 PER DAY, BUT WAS $4 LESS THAN THE MAXIMUM OF $27 WHICH BECAME EFFECTIVE BEFORE HIS WIFE'S TRAVEL. UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES WE BELIEVE THAT REIMBURSEMENT RATES SHOULD BE $19 PER DAY, THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE, FOR THE THREE NIGHTS OF MR. EUBANK'S LODGING AND THE $23 BASE FIGURE CERTIFIED BY HIM FOR EACH OF HIS WIFE'S THREE NIGHTS. SINCE THESE RATES ARE LESS THAN THE AMOUNT SPENT, THIS REIMBURSEMENT WOULD BE CONSISTENT WITH THE REQUIREMENT THAT THE EMPLOYEE STATE ON THE TRAVEL VOUCHER THE ACTUAL COST PAID FOR LODGING.

ACCORDINGLY, MR. EUBANK'S CLAIM MAY BE ALLOWED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ABOVE, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.

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