B-231724, Dec 19, 1989

B-231724: Dec 19, 1989

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He may be reimbursed notwithstanding provisions of the pertinent regulations that would otherwise preclude payment since the record shows that attempts to modify his orders were made by the proper authorities and that the member believed the orders would be modified to authorize reimbursement. USAFR - Request for Reimbursement for Air Travel: This is in response to a request by Captain Steven B. For the following reasons his claim may be paid in an amount not exceeding what the cost of the transportation would have been to the government. A memorandum dated June 30 was issued by his organization requesting that his orders be modified. A second memorandum was issued on July 7. While the obvious purpose of these memoranda was to allow Captain Giacalone to take advantage of the advance purchase reduced airfare.

B-231724, Dec 19, 1989

MILITARY PERSONNEL - Travel - Travel expenses - Voluntary expenditure - Reimbursement DIGEST: A member purchased an airline ticket from personal funds even though his travel orders directed the use of transportation request (TR). He may be reimbursed notwithstanding provisions of the pertinent regulations that would otherwise preclude payment since the record shows that attempts to modify his orders were made by the proper authorities and that the member believed the orders would be modified to authorize reimbursement.

Captain Steven B. Giacalone, USAFR - Request for Reimbursement for Air Travel:

This is in response to a request by Captain Steven B. Giacalone, USAFR, for reconsideration of a Claims Group settlement disallowing his claim for reimbursement for the cost of air transportation he procured incident to a temporary duty assignment. For the following reasons his claim may be paid in an amount not exceeding what the cost of the transportation would have been to the government.

In June 1983, Captain Giacalone received travel orders commencing on July 10, 1983, for temporary duty which directed him to use a TR for his air travel. Erroneously believing he could save the government money by purchasing a ticket in advance of the time purchase would be made pursuant to a TR, he requested a modification of his orders to take advantage of what he believed to be a reduced commercial airfare. A memorandum dated June 30 was issued by his organization requesting that his orders be modified. A second memorandum was issued on July 7, 1983, requesting that his orders be amended to authorize his travel on July 9, 1983, rather than July 10, 1983. While the obvious purpose of these memoranda was to allow Captain Giacalone to take advantage of the advance purchase reduced airfare, neither memorandum referred to the requirement in his orders that a TR be used or recognized that advance purchase could not be accomplished by use of a TR. Apparently, his initial orders were not modified although he commenced travel on July 9, 1983. He purchased the reduced fare for $499 as he had apparently done in the past with his personal funds. When he made claim for the cost of the fare the Air Force refused to reimburse him on the basis of the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR), vol. 1, para. M4203-(3)(e), which prohibits reimbursement for airfare when a service member purchases transportation with personal funds when his orders direct him to use a TR, unless the authority responsible for issuing the TR certifies that a TR was not available. The cost to the government would have been $362 had he used a TR.

Travel allowances are authorized under statute and regulation for service members for their expenses in complying with travel requirements imposed on them by competent orders issued by the services. Private Vincent A. Manaois, 63 Comp.Gen. 621, 623 (1984). Captain Giacalone did not comply with his orders, and ordinarily reimbursement would be denied. However, the fact that attempts were made to modify the orders by the authorities involved just prior to commencing travel in our opinion justifies reimbursement, since we presume that Captain Giacalone believed the orders would be modified. The fact that a request was not made to delete the required use of the TR from the orders was an oversight in view of the purpose for which the memoranda were issued and since the record reflects that a TR could not have been used for an advance purchase. Accordingly, Captain Giacalone's claim may be paid in the amount of $362, the amount it would have cost the government had a TR been used.