B-232770, Feb 10, 1989, Office of the General Counsel

B-232770: Feb 10, 1989

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Division of Finance Department of Health and Human Services: This is in response to your letter dated September 14. You ask whether these employees are entitled to per diem allowances for travel performed within a 35-mile radius of their official duty station. We conclude that the employees are not entitled to per diem. HHS has defined travel performed within a radius of 35 miles from an employee's official duty station as ineligible for per diem payment. /1/ We have held that an agency may reasonably restrict the payment of per diem within a certain mileage radius from the employee's headquarters or place of duty. Since such action falls within the agency's discretion as set forth in the Federal Travel Regulations and is consistent with our decisions.

B-232770, Feb 10, 1989, Office of the General Counsel

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Travel - Permanent duty stations - Actual subsistence expenses - Prohibition CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Travel - Temporary duty - Per diem - Eligibility DIGEST: Claims for per diem for travel within a 35-mile radius of the permanent duty station may be denied where the agency limited per diem to travel outside that radius.

Mr. Robert A. Carlisle

Director, Division of Finance

Department of Health and Human Services:

This is in response to your letter dated September 14, 1988, concerning the travel claims of certain employees of the Social Security Administration (SSA). You ask whether these employees are entitled to per diem allowances for travel performed within a 35-mile radius of their official duty station. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the employees are not entitled to per diem.

A number of employees in the Bremerton, Washington, Social Security Office claimed per diem for travel performed in August and September 1987 while attending training in the SSA Seattle Regional Office. The employees claimed per diem because they had been in a travel status in excess of 10 hours. However, the Regional Director of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) determined that in accordance with the Federal Travel Regulations, chapter 1-7.4.a., HHS has defined travel performed within a radius of 35 miles from an employee's official duty station as ineligible for per diem payment. /1/

We have held that an agency may reasonably restrict the payment of per diem within a certain mileage radius from the employee's headquarters or place of duty. See Howard M. Feuer, 59 Comp.Gen. 605 (1980); Buker and Sandusky, B-185195, May 28, 1976. The mere fact that the employees' traveltime exceeded 10 hours does not entitle them to per diem. Feuer, supra. In the present case HHS has limited per diem payments to travel performed outside a 35-mile radius of the employee's official duty station. Since such action falls within the agency's discretion as set forth in the Federal Travel Regulations and is consistent with our decisions, we conclude that the employees' claims for per diem were properly denied.

/1/ FTR (Supp. 1, Sept. 28, 1981), incorp. by ref., 41 C.F.R. Sec. 101- 7.003 (1987).