B-232527, Aug 31, 1990

B-232527: Aug 31, 1990

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MILITARY PERSONNEL - Travel - Temporary duty - Return travel - Reimbursement - Eligibility DIGEST: A service member who for personal reasons returned to his permanent duty station and was informed that he would be reimbursed under Volume 1 of the Joint Federal Travel Regulations. Is entitled to reimbursement notwithstanding the fact that he reported for duty at his permanent station and the fact that instruction indicating he could be reimbursed was rescinded later. Sergeant Senn whose permanent station was Cannon Air Force Base. Was ordered to perform temporary duty at Lowry Air Force Base. The temporary duty assignment was to attend a training school. The period of temporary duty was for 97 days commencing on November 30.

B-232527, Aug 31, 1990

MILITARY PERSONNEL - Travel - Temporary duty - Return travel - Reimbursement - Eligibility DIGEST: A service member who for personal reasons returned to his permanent duty station and was informed that he would be reimbursed under Volume 1 of the Joint Federal Travel Regulations, paragraph U4135 (now U4130), is entitled to reimbursement notwithstanding the fact that he reported for duty at his permanent station and the fact that instruction indicating he could be reimbursed was rescinded later.

Staff Sergeant Timothy C. Senn, USAF:

An accounting and finance officer at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, has requested a decision concerning the propriety of reimbursing Staff Sergeant Timothy Senn, USAF, for travel expenses when he returned for personal reasons to his permanent station from his temporary duty station. /1/ For the following reasons the claim may be paid.

Sergeant Senn whose permanent station was Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, was ordered to perform temporary duty at Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado. The temporary duty assignment was to attend a training school. The period of temporary duty was for 97 days commencing on November 30, 1987. While Sergeant Senn was attending school, the training center released a message from headquarters stating that training would be suspended during the Christmas holidays and that members who wanted to return voluntarily to their permanent duty stations for personal reasons over the holidays would be "entitled to the lesser of: A. subsistence expense for the actual travel time (no subsistence expense while at the PDS) and transportation expenses for the travel from the TDY point to the PDS and return; or B. subsistence expenses that would have been allowed had the members stayed at the TDY location." This language was similar to the provisions of Volume 1 of the Joint Federal Travel Regulations (JFTR), para. U4135 (now 4130), which authorizes reimbursement to members who for personal reasons return to their permanent stations during periods of temporary duty. The message was rescinded however, by a message issued in January 1988, which stated that "rules for return to permanent duty station for personal reasons are not for application when the school closed for holidays."

Unaware that the initial message had been rescinded, Sergeant Senn requested and received permission to return to his permanent duty station. He returned to his permanent duty station on December 19, 1987, and remained there until January 2, 1988. While at his permanent duty station Sergeant Senn performed his normal duties. It is indicated that he performed the duty so that there would not be a charge for leave.

He has filed a voucher requesting reimbursement for the cost of the travel to his permanent station and return to the temporary duty point under 1 JFTR para. U4135, which authorizes travel reimbursement to a member who voluntarily returns to his permanent station or residence while performing temporary duty.

Sergeant Senn's request was denied by the Accounting and Finance Office at Cannon Air Force Base (his permanent duty station) on the grounds that his temporary duty terminated upon performance of his regular duty at Cannon. Therefore, that Office determined that his return was for official, not personal, reasons and that the voucher could not be paid.

Volume 1 JFTR para. U4135 at that time provided as follows:

"A. General. A member who voluntarily returns to the PDS, or residence from which the member normally commutes daily to the PDS, during a TDY or TAD period for personal reasons is entitled to the lesser of:

"1. subsistence expenses for the actual travel time (no subsistence expenses while at the PDS) and transportation expenses for the travel from the TDY/TAD point to the PDS and return; or

"2. subsistence expenses that would have been allowed had the member stayed at the TDY/TAD point. ...

"No allowances will be credited for any day the member was in a leave status."

The regulation provides that a member who voluntarily travels to his permanent station or residence during a period of temporary duty for personal reasons is entitled to reimbursement for the travel with certain limitations. Since the classes were suspended, Sergeant Senn chose to return to his permanent station. This was for a personal reason, since he was under no obligation to perform this travel. Even though he performed official duties, the record shows that his return was for personal reasons. If the return to his duty station was for official rather than personal reasons, orders should have been issued directing the travel with appropriate payment for the travel. This was not the case.

The rescission of the earlier message authorizing the return travel is of no consequence since it was issued after the travel had been performed. It is well established that a member's entitlements vest when the travel is performed. Warrant Officer John W. Snapp, USMC, 63 Comp.Gen. 4,8 (1983).

Accordingly, it is our view that Sergeant Senn should be reimbursed in accordance with 1 JFTR para. U4135. The voucher is returned and may be paid if otherwise correct.

/1/ The Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee assigned the request PDTATAC Control No. 88-12.