B-232354, Jan 16, 1990, 69 Comp.Gen. 164

B-232354: Jan 16, 1990

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

The member's entitlement to travel allowances is based on travel from the appropriate port of embarkation serving his temporary duty station when the orders do not direct travel to some other point. A member's claim for reimbursement of a collection made against him for the cost of traveling on a government aircraft pursuant to personal business is denied when the member alleges that he was eligible for space available travel but does not offer documentary evidence demonstrating that he would have been permitted to board the flight taken as a space available passenger. On the basis that he was eligible for space available travel at a reduced cost. Major Saffle was transferred from the Marine Corps Development and Education Command.

B-232354, Jan 16, 1990, 69 Comp.Gen. 164

MILITARY PERSONNEL - Relocation - Relocation travel - Reimbursement - Circuitous routes 1. Notwithstanding orders directing a member to report to a specific port of embarkation incident to a transfer overseas, the member's entitlement to travel allowances is based on travel from the appropriate port of embarkation serving his temporary duty station when the orders do not direct travel to some other point. MILITARY PERSONNEL - Travel - Travel expenses - Debt collection 2. A member's claim for reimbursement of a collection made against him for the cost of traveling on a government aircraft pursuant to personal business is denied when the member alleges that he was eligible for space available travel but does not offer documentary evidence demonstrating that he would have been permitted to board the flight taken as a space available passenger.

Major David K. Saffle, USMC-Circuitous Travel:

Major David K. Saffle, United States Marine Corps, requests reconsideration of our Claims Group's denial of his claim for additional travel allowances for travel from Twentynine Palms, California to St. Louis International Airport, St. Louis, Missouri as directed in a modification to his travel orders dated May 6, 1986. The member also requests reimbursement of $100 charged for utilizing a Military Airlift Command (MAC) flight from St. Louis to Los Angeles, on the basis that he was eligible for space available travel at a reduced cost. We sustain the Claims Group's denial of the claim.

Background

By permanent change of station (PCS) orders dated February 13, 1986, as amended, Major Saffle was transferred from the Marine Corps Development and Education Command, Quantico, Virginia to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Okinawa, Japan, with temporary duty in route at Twentynine Palms, commencing on June 11, 1986. He was authorized leave after completion of the temporary duty but before his required reporting for port call at St. Louis on July 15, 1986. The member arrived in Okinawa as directed on July 17, 1986.

The record indicates that the member did take leave in Columbus, Ohio prior to his arrival at St. Louis. The administrative report of the Marine Corps Finance Center also states that Los Angeles was the proper aerial port of embarkation to Japan for members traveling from Twentynine Palms. Neither the Marine Corps nor the member offers any explanation for a port call in St. Louis in lieu of Los Angeles, and the member bases his claim solely on the mandatory nature of his orders requiring him to report to St. Louis. Our Claims Group concluded that the St. Louis port call was arranged to accommodate the member who scheduled leave in Columbus prior to his departure for Japan.

Analysis and Conclusion

The travel of members of the uniformed services at government expense is governed by 37 C.F.R. Sec. 404 which authorizes the payment of travel and transportation allowances to members while traveling away from their designated posts of duty under regulations prescribed by the Secretary concerned. Paragraph M 4159 of Volume 1, Joint Travel Regulations, in effect at the time, provides that allowances may be paid for the official distance between old permanent station and the appropriate aerial or water port of embarkation serving the old station.

When a member performs circuitous travel for reasons not involving official business, including travel to accommodate leave plans, reimbursement is ordinarily limited to the necessary costs of travel between his duty stations via the direct route. Colonel John R. Dopler, B-198341, Apr. 28, 1981; Lieutenant Colonel Elbert W. Link, USA, B-180936, Jan. 6, 1975; 47 Comp.Gen. 440, 443-444 (1968).

In this case Major Saffle was detached from his old station and ordered to perform temporary duty and then report to his new station without returning to the old station. The government's liability for his travel consisted of travel and transportation allowance from his old station, Quantico, to his temporary duty point at Twentynine Palms and to the point of embarkation serving Twentynine Palms, which was Los Angeles.

In our decision, Matter of Lieutenant Colonel Bruce L. Harjung, USMC, 62 Comp.Gen. 651, 652 (1983), a case involving alternate ports of debarkation, we said:

"We cannot agree with the view that the port of debarkation is not a travel entitlement issue but rather is a matter for determination by the service concerned. Paragraph M4159-1-3 of 1 JTR provides that allowances may be paid for the official distance between the appropriate aerial or water port of debarkation serving the new station and the new station in connection with permanent change-of-station travel from outside the United States to a new station in the United States. Clearly, this is a travel entitlement issue since it affects the travel costs to the government on permanent changes of station. To authorize alternate ports of debarkation which do not service the member's new station would be tantamount to authorizing circuitous travel to the member's new station at government expense, which was never intended."

While Major Saffle's travel involved a port of embarkation, the same principles apply. The only reason why St. Louis could be designated the port of embarkation would be to accommodate Major Saffle's leave arrangements in Columbus, Ohio.

Major Saffle suggests that the collection of $100 from him for the flight from St. Louis to Los Angeles is improper since he was eligible to travel on a space-available basis for $10. Although he may have been eligible to travel space available, we have no information concerning whether space was in fact available on that flight that he could have used since he was traveling under orders. In the absence of such information from official sources, we will not disturb the action taken by the Marine Corps.

Accordingly, Major Saffle's claim is denied and we sustain the action of our Claims Group.