B-22559, JANUARY 28, 1942, 21 COMP. GEN. 713

B-22559: Jan 28, 1942

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TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE - EMPLOYEE ACCOMPANIED BY WIFE - MILEAGE PRORATING NONNECESSITY WHERE AN EMPLOYEE IS GIVEN ADVANCE AUTHORIZATION TO USE A PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND TO CLAIM REIMBURSEMENT AT THE RATE OF 5 CENTS PER MILE WITHOUT ANY ADVANCE NOTICE THAT THE MILEAGE WOULD BE REDUCED IN PROPORTION TO THE NUMBER OF PASSENGERS CARRIED. A PRORATING OF THE TOTAL ALLOWANCE OF 5 CENTS PER MILE IS NOT REQUIRED ON THE BASIS THAT THE EMPLOYEE'S WIFE ACCOMPANIED HIM. 5 COMP. 1942: THERE WAS RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 13. THE POSTAL ACCOUNTS DIVISION OF YOUR OFFICE REDUCED A NUMBER OF CLAIMS FOR MILEAGE FOR THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES ON THE GROUND THAT THE INSPECTORS WERE ACCOMPANIED BY MEMBERS OF THEIR FAMILIES.

B-22559, JANUARY 28, 1942, 21 COMP. GEN. 713

TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE - EMPLOYEE ACCOMPANIED BY WIFE - MILEAGE PRORATING NONNECESSITY WHERE AN EMPLOYEE IS GIVEN ADVANCE AUTHORIZATION TO USE A PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND TO CLAIM REIMBURSEMENT AT THE RATE OF 5 CENTS PER MILE WITHOUT ANY ADVANCE NOTICE THAT THE MILEAGE WOULD BE REDUCED IN PROPORTION TO THE NUMBER OF PASSENGERS CARRIED, A PRORATING OF THE TOTAL ALLOWANCE OF 5 CENTS PER MILE IS NOT REQUIRED ON THE BASIS THAT THE EMPLOYEE'S WIFE ACCOMPANIED HIM. 5 COMP. GEN. 110, INVOLVING TRAVEL ON ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS, DISTINGUISHED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, JANUARY 28, 1942:

THERE WAS RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 13, 1942, AS FOLLOWS:

IN AUDITING THE SEPTEMBER 1941, TRAVEL EXPENSE ACCOUNTS OF POST OFFICE INSPECTORS, THE POSTAL ACCOUNTS DIVISION OF YOUR OFFICE REDUCED A NUMBER OF CLAIMS FOR MILEAGE FOR THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES ON THE GROUND THAT THE INSPECTORS WERE ACCOMPANIED BY MEMBERS OF THEIR FAMILIES. THIS ACTION WAS BASED UPON DECISION A 10695, DATED AUGUST 13, 1925, WHICH DECISION WAS RENDERED UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1875 (5 U.S.C. 73), WHICH PROVIDED THAT "ONLY ACTUAL TRAVEL EXPENSES SHALL BE ALLOWED.' HOWEVER, THE ACT UPON WHICH THIS DECISION WAS PREDICATED APPLIED TO THE COST OF SUBSISTENCE AS WELL AS TO THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION. SUBSEQUENT TO THAT DECISION THE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE ACT OF 1926 15 U.S.C. 823) WAS PASSED, AUTHORIZING THE PAYMENT OF A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE "IN LIEU OF THE ACTUAL EXPENSES.' UNDER THIS ACT THE SHARING OF ACCOMMODATIONS HAS BEEN PERTINENT ONLY TO THE FIXING OF PER DIEM RATES AND THE PRORATING OF PER DIEM CLAIMS MADE AT RATES FIXED BY PROPER ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY HAS NOT BEEN REQUIRED.

THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931 (5 U.S.C. 73A), AUTHORIZED THE PAYMENT OF A MILEAGE ALLOWANCE NOT EXCEEDING $0.05 PER MILE "IN LIEU OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION.' IT WOULD SEEM THAT UNDER THIS ACT THE SHARING OF ACCOMMODATIONS WOULD BE PERTINENT TO THE FIXING OF MILEAGE RATES, BUT THAT PRORATING WOULD NOT BE RELEVANT TO MILEAGE CLAIMS MADE AT RATES FIXED BY PROPER ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY AND JUSTIFIED AS REQUIRED BY SECTION 12-A, PROVIDED, OF COURSE, THAT OTHER PERSONS MAKE NO ADDITIONAL CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT COVERING THE SAME TRAVEL. THIS REASONING WOULD SEEM TO BE SUPPORTED BY DECISION B-15194, DATED MARCH 8, 1941 (20 C.G. 512), WHICH STATES THAT THE MILEAGE LAW OF 1931 "WAS ENACTED AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL STATUTE OF 1875 IN ORDER TO ALLOW PAYMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES ON A COMMUTATION BASIS.'

IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES, IT SEEMS QUESTIONABLE WHETHER THE DECISION RENDERED IN 1925 SHOULD BE APPLIED TO MILEAGE CLAIMS UNDER THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, CONSEQUENTLY A REVIEW OF THE ACTION OF THE POSTAL ACCOUNTS DIVISION OF YOUR OFFICE ON THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACCOUNTS OF INSPECTORS MADISON H. ACKERMAN ( CERTIFICATE NO. P-2733), JOHN E. FITZGERALD ( CERTIFICATE NO. P -2733), JULIUS C. LINDLAND ( CERTIFICATE NO. P-2733), STAR P. PINKHAM ( CERTIFICATE NO. P-2744), AND THOMAS H. JERVEY ( CERTIFICATE NO. P-2778) IS REQUESTED.

AS SHOWN BY LETTERS ATTACHED TO EACH EXPENSE ACCOUNT ON WHICH A REVIEW OF THE AUDIT ACTION TAKEN BY THIS OFFICE IS REQUESTED, THE CHIEF INSPECTOR OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT CALLED TO THE ATTENTION OF THE INSPECTORS INVOLVED THE RULING OF THIS OFFICE OF AUGUST 13, 1925, 5 COMP. GEN. 110, AND REQUESTED AN AMENDED ACCOUNT FOR A PRORATED SHARE OF THE MILEAGE ALLOWANCE BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT THE WIFE OF THE INSPECTOR, OR OTHER PERSON, ACCOMPANIED HIM. UPON RECEIPT BY THE CHIEF INSPECTOR OF AN EXPLANATION FROM EACH OF THE INSPECTORS RESPECTING THE FACT THAT HIS WIFE ACCOMPANIED HIM IN CONNECTION WITH THE OFFICIAL TRAVEL, THE FULL MILEAGE ALLOWANCE WAS CERTIFIED BY THE DEPARTMENT TO THIS OFFICE FOR PAYMENT. THE SETTLEMENT OF THESE TRAVEL ACCOUNTS THIS OFFICE DID NOT ACCEPT THE EXPLANATION THUS FURNISHED BUT REQUIRED PRORATING UNDER THE RULE STATED IN THE DECISION--- 5 COMP. GEN. 110--- WHICH HELD AS FOLLOWS, QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS:

AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT, ACCOMPANIED BY HIS WIFE WHILE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, MAY BE REIMBURSED ONLY FOR ONE-HALF THE COST OF GASOLINE AND OIL CONSUMED IN HIS PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE.

THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

THAT A CIVILIAN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE ENGAGED IN NECESSARY TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY MAY BE PAID, IN LIEU OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION, UNDER REGULATIONS TO BE PRESCRIBED BY THE PRESIDENT, NOT TO EXCEED 3 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE USE OF HIS OWN MOTORCYCLE OR 7 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE USE OF HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE FOR SUCH TRANSPORTATION, WHENEVER SUCH MODE OF TRAVEL HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED AND PAYMENT ON SUCH MILEAGE BASIS IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES. * * *

THE MILEAGE RATE FIXED IN THE ORIGINAL LAW FOR THE USE OF AN EMPLOYEE'S OWN AUTOMOBILE WAS REDUCED TO 5 CENTS PER MILE BY SECTION 9 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1933, 47 STAT. 1516, AND THE WORDS ,HIS OWN" APPEARING IN THE ORIGINAL STATUTE WERE CHANGED TO "A PRIVATELY OWNED" BY THE ACT OF APRIL 25, 1940, 54 STAT. 167.

PARAGRAPH 1 OF BULLETIN NO. 7 (AMENDED AND CONDENSED JANUARY 2, 1941), ENTITLED," USE OF PRIVATE AUTOMOBILES--- MILEAGE BASIS," ISSUED BY THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, READS AS FOLLOWS:

PURSUANT TO AMENDED SECTION 12A OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, INSPECTORS ARE AUTHORIZED TO USE THEIR OWN AND OTHER PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES FOR NECESSARY OFFICIAL TRAVEL AWAY FROM THEIR DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY AND TO CLAIM REIMBURSEMENT THEREFOR AT THE RATE OF 5 CENTS PER MILE UPON COMPLYING WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND THE MANUAL OF INSTRUCTIONS. THE REMAINING PORTION OF THE BULLETIN IS A REPRINT OF THE APPLICABLE PROVISIONS OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND CERTAIN REGULATIONS IN THIS OFFICE PRESCRIBING THE FORMS TO BE USED IN SUCH CASES.

THERE IS NOTHING IN THE MILEAGE LAW AS ORIGINALLY ENACTED OR AS AMENDED OR IN ANY OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS REQUIRING A PRORATING OF MILEAGE ALLOWANCE WHERE REIMBURSEMENT IS AUTHORIZED IN ADVANCE TO BE MADE ON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY REASON OF THE FACT THAT THE WIFE OF THE OFFICIAL TRAVELER ACCOMPANIED HIM. COMPARE, HOWEVER, 20 COMP. GEN. 512; ID. 913; AND GENERAL REGULATIONS 88, GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE. AS YOU STATE, THE RULE STATED IN THE DECISION OF AUGUST 13, 1925, SUPRA, WAS FOR APPLICATION ONLY IN CASES WHERE REIMBURSEMENT OF TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES WAS AUTHORIZED TO BE MADE ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS, AND WAS RENDERED PRIOR TO THE MILEAGE LAW OF 1931 WHICH CREATED AN EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL STATUTE OF 1875 IN ORDER TO ALLOW PAYMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES ON A COMMUTATION BASIS.

IN DECISION OF DECEMBER 29, 1931, A-39963, IT WAS STATED:

IT HAS BEEN REPEATEDLY HELD THAT AN EMPLOYEE USING HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS AND ACCOMPANIED BY A PERSON NOT AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT, MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED FOR MORE THAN HIS PROPORTIONATE SHARE OF THE COST OF GASOLINE AND OIL SO CONSUMED, WHICH SHARE CONSTITUTES THE ACTUAL COST OF HIS TRANSPORTATION UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES. SEE 9 COMP. GEN. 381, AND DECISIONS THEREIN CITED. THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, PERMITS THE PAYMENT, IN LIEU OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION, OF MILEAGE AT NOT TO EXCEED 7 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE USE OF AN EMPLOYEE'S OWN AUTOMOBILE WHENEVER SUCH MODE OF TRAVEL HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED AND PAYMENT ON THAT BASIS IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES. THE EMPLOYEE IN THIS CASE RECEIVED ADVANCE AUTHORITY TO USE HIS PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AT 7 CENTS PER MILE, AND THERE IS ON FILE A CERTIFICATE BY THE DISTRICT DIRECTOR, DATED AUGUST 24, 1931, TO THE EFFECT THAT BY THE USE OF HIS AUTOMOBILE THE EMPLOYEE SAVED 8 DAYS' SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES AND, IN ADDITION THERETO, WAS ENABLED TO VISIT CERTAIN PLACES NOT AVAILABLE BY OTHER MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION.

THE EMPLOYEE HAVING BEEN GIVEN ADVANCE AUTHORITY TO USE HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE AND RECEIVE 7 CENTS PER MILE IN LIEU OF ACTUAL COST OF TRANSPORTATION WITHOUT ANY ADVANCE NOTICE THAT THE MILEAGE WOULD BE REDUCED PROPORTIONATELY TO THE NUMBER OF PASSENGERS CARRIED, HE IS ENTITLED TO RECEIVE PAYMENT IN FULL OF THE MILEAGE SO AUTHORIZED, IN THE ABSENCE OF OTHER OBJECTION. * * *

ACCORDINGLY, AS THE INSPECTORS WHOSE ACCOUNTS ARE HERE INVOLVED WERE GIVEN ADVANCE AUTHORIZATION BY BULLETIN NO. 7 TO USE THEIR PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND TO CLAIM REIMBURSEMENT AT THE RATE OF 5 CENTS PER MILE WITHOUT ANY ADVANCE NOTICE THAT THE MILEAGE CLAIMED WOULD BE REDUCED PROPORTIONATELY TO THE NUMBER OF PASSENGERS CARRIED OR ON THE BASIS THAT THE WIFE OF THE INSPECTOR ACCOMPANIED HIM, A PRORATING OF THE TOTAL MILEAGE ALLOWANCE OF 5 CENTS PER MILE IS NOT REQUIRED IN THESE CASES.

REFERRING TO THE BLANKET ADVANCE AUTHORIZATION CONTAINED IN PARAGRAPH 1 OF BULLETIN NO. 7 TO USE PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND TO CLAIM REIMBURSEMENT AT THE RATE OF 5 CENTS PER MILE, I DEEM IT PERTINENT TO INVITE YOUR ATTENTION TO DECISION OF OCTOBER 15, 1931, 11 COMP. GEN. 134, HOLDING AS FOLLOWS (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS):

AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION IN ADVANCE, IN ACCORDANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 12 (A) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, THAT TRAVEL BY AN EMPLOYEE IN HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE ON A MILEAGE BASIS, AS PERMITTED BY THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, WOULD BE MORE ADVANTAGEOUS AND ECONOMICAL, WILL NOT ORDINARILY BE QUESTIONED BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS.

A GENERAL ORDER AUTHORIZING EMPLOYEES TO USE THEIR PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES, AT NOT TO EXCEED CERTAIN RATES OF MILEAGE WITHIN THEIR RESPECTIVE INSPECTION GROUPS OR TERRITORIES WHENEVER THE COST IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES, IS NOT A DETERMINATION THAT THE USE OF THE AUTOMOBILE AT THE PRESCRIBED RATE OF MILEAGE IS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS AND ECONOMICAL TO THE UNITED STATES. BEFORE PAYMENT OR CREDIT FOR SUCH MILEAGE IS AUTHORIZED UNDER SUCH AN ORDER, THERE MUST BE PRESENTED WITH OR BE ATTACHED TO EACH VOUCHER COVERING PAYMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS, FACTS SHOWING THAT THE USE OF THE AUTOMOBILE AND THE PAYMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS WERE MORE ADVANTAGEOUS AND ECONOMICAL TO THE UNITED STATES.

ALSO, WHEN TRAVEL IS PERFORMED UPON THE BASIS OF A GENERAL ORDER, THERE IS FOR APPLICATION THE LAST SENTENCE OF PARAGRAPH 12 (A) OF THE GOVERNMENT STANDARDIZED TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS FOLLOWS:

* * * WHEN BY GENERAL ORDER OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES ENGAGED IN NECESSARY TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, AWAY FROM THEIR DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY OR OFFICIAL STATION, ARE AUTHORIZED TO USE THEIR OWN MOTORCYCLES OR AUTOMOBILES, AT NOT TO EXCEED CERTAIN RATES OF MILEAGE WITHIN THEIR RESPECTIVE LIMITED TERRITORIES WHENEVER THE COST THEREOF IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES, THERE MUST BE ATTACHED TO THE VOUCHERS COVERING PAYMENT OF SUCH MILEAGE A STATEMENT OF FACT SHOWING THAT THE USE OF THE MOTORCYCLE OR AUTOMOBILE AND THE PAYMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS WERE MORE ADVANTAGEOUS AND ECONOMICAL TO THE UNITED STATES. (SEE PARS. 3, 5-7, 83 (E).) (GASOLINE-TAX EXEMPTION MUST NOT BE CLAIMED WHEN TRAVELING ON MILEAGE BASIS.) SEE, ALSO, 11 COMP. GEN. 155; 15 ID. 153; 16 ID. 620.

ACCORDINGLY, UNDER BULLETIN NO. 7 THE GENERAL ADVANCE AUTHORIZATION TO USE PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES AND TO CLAIM REIMBURSEMENT AT THE RATE OF 5 CENTS PER MILE IS SUBJECT TO A DETERMINATION OF THE QUESTION OF ECONOMY AND ADVANTAGE TO THE UNITED STATES AS TO THE USE OF SUCH MODE OF TRANSPORTATION AS REQUIRED BY THE TERMS OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS CONTAINED IN THE BULLETIN. A SHOWING HAS BEEN MADE WITH EACH OF THE VOUCHERS PRESENTED TO THIS OFFICE REGARDING SAVING IN TIME BY REASON OF THE USE OF A PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE INSTEAD OF COMMON CARRIER. THE VOUCHERS WILL BE REAUDITED BY THIS OFFICE IN THE LIGHT OF THIS SHOWING AND ON THE BASIS OF THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, IN WHICH AUDIT NO PRORATING WILL BE REQUIRED ON ACCOUNT OF THE FACT THAT THE WIVES ACCOMPANIED THE INSPECTORS ENGAGED UPON OFFICIAL TRAVEL.