B-233214.2, Mar 8, 1990

B-233214.2: Mar 8, 1990

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Robert Becker and Jeffrey Simcox - Reconsideration - Mileage Reimbursement for Travel to Temporary Duty Points: This decision is in response to a joint request from the Food Safety and Inspection Service. We again hold that the two employees involved are entitled to mileage reimbursement for travel between their residences and certain temporary duty points outside their official duty stations. Where its regional headquarters is located. He was assigned to cover the Northwest Meat Market. Is referred to as an "establishment. " and is physically located 6 miles outside the corporate limits of Jackson. Simcox were both entitled to mileage payments for their travel to Northwest Meat Market and Kremco.

B-233214.2, Mar 8, 1990

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Travel - Local travel - Travel expenses - Reimbursement CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Travel - Temporary duty - Travel expenses - Privately-owned vehicles - Mileage DIGEST: While the Food Safety and Inspection Service may wish to designate a meat or poultry plant where a food inspector performs duties as within his official duty station, the designations which the Service chose here for two food inspectors entitle them to mileage reimbursement for temporary duty travel between their homes and plants outside their designated official duty stations.

Robert Becker and Jeffrey Simcox - Reconsideration - Mileage Reimbursement for Travel to Temporary Duty Points:

This decision is in response to a joint request from the Food Safety and Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture, and the North Central Council, National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, American Federation of Government Employees, Salem, Ohio, for reconsideration of our decision in Becker and Simcox, B-233214, Jan. 31, 1989. For the following reasons, we again hold that the two employees involved are entitled to mileage reimbursement for travel between their residences and certain temporary duty points outside their official duty stations.

On April 12, 1987, the Food Safety and Inspection Service assigned Mr. Robert Becker, a food inspector, to an official duty station in Jackson, Michigan, where its regional headquarters is located. As part of this assignment, he was assigned to cover the Northwest Meat Market. This plant, like other meat and poultry plants, is referred to as an "establishment," and is physically located 6 miles outside the corporate limits of Jackson, Michigan, but it uses a Jackson mailing address. Under the specific provisions of the agency's regulation, as quoted below, Mr. Becker sought reimbursement of mileage expenses for 59 trips from April 12 to August 14, 1987, for traveling in his own private vehicle between his home in Saline, Michigan, and the Northwest Meat Market.

Mr. Jeffrey Simcox, a food inspector, performed some of his duties at Kremco, Inc., an establishment located 3 miles outside the corporate limits of East Lansing, Michigan, his official duty station. Mr. Simcox traveled between his home in Ithaca, Michigan, and Kremco on 13 different days during October and November 1987, and he sought reimbursement for his mileage to that site under the agency's regulations.

In our decision of January 31, 1989, we found that their travel constituted temporary duty outside their official duty stations. Accordingly, we held that Mr. Becker and Mr. Simcox were both entitled to mileage payments for their travel to Northwest Meat Market and Kremco, Inc., respectively, based on Food Safety and Inspection Service Directive 3800.2.

In their joint request for clarification of our decision, the parties state that, while the Northwest Meat Market and Kremco, Inc., are not located in Jackson and East Lansing, Michigan, respectively, they were part of Mr. Becker's and Mr. Simcox's regular assignments and they use Jackson and East Lansing, Michigan, respectively, as their mailing addresses. Furthermore, the joint request states that the Service intended that the official duty stations encompass the duty points where Northwest Meat Market and Kremco, Inc., respectively, are physically located.

The parties inquire whether in the above-described circumstances the employees' travel from their residences to Northwest Meat Market and Kremco, Inc., respectively, constituted "temporary duty outside ... their official duty stations" for mileage reimbursement purposes.

OPINION

As our previous decision in this matter demonstrated, the resolution of the claims in this case depends on the proper application of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Directive 3800.2, dated November 3, 1981, as amended. Part I, section V of FSIS Directive 3800.2, in relevant part, provides in paragraph F that the "Official duty station means the corporate limits of the city or town or other established area with definite boundaries in which an employee is stationed."

Part II, section IV of FSIS Directive 3800.2, provides for a mileage allowance for travel to a temporary duty point as follows:

"b. Outside the Official Duty Station. Employee will be reimbursed for all mileage driven in direct travel between his/her residence and the temporary duty point."

In Mr. Becker's case, the Service designated Jackson, Michigan, as Mr. Becker's official duty station. Under the definitions in Directive 3800.2, quoted above, the corporate limits of Jackson, Michigan, constitute the boundaries of his official duty station. As the joint requests show, the Service intended that the official duty station encompass the Northwest Meat Market, but it had designated Jackson, Michigan, on Mr. Becker's SF-52 as his official duty station and did not notify him otherwise.

Since the Northwest Meat Market is located outside his official duty station, it was not Mr. Becker's "actual duty point," as defined in Part I, section V, subsection A of FSIS Directive 3800.2, because "actual duty point" is specifically defined as the street address of a single location within the official duty station where the employee regularly performs duties, or which the employee uses as headquarters. Thus, his travel to Northwest Meat Market constituted temporary duty outside his official duty station under FSIS Directive 3800.2, quoted above. Accordingly, Mr. Becker is entitled to mileage reimbursement for his direct travel between his residence and the Northwest Meat Market.

In Mr. Simcox's case, the Service designated his official duty station as East Lansing, Michigan. His "actual duty point," as defined by Part I, section V, subsection A of FSIS Directive, was the Michigan State University Lab, because it is the street address within the corporate limits of East Lansing, his official duty station, where he spent at least part of his time. His travel to Kremco, Inc., which is 3 miles outside the corporate limits of East Lansing, thus constituted temporary duty outside his official duty station under FSIS Directive 3800.2, and he is entitled to mileage reimbursement for his direct travel between his residence and Kremco, Inc.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service has the discretion to designate the two establishments in question as part of the two inspectors' official duty stations. In this regard, our decisions have held that it is within the agency's discretion to select local travel boundaries based upon commuting time or distance, or to permit case-by case determinations before the travel is performed depending upon the location of the employee's residence and official station. See Mohl and Elliott, B-213816, May 22, 1984, and cases cited therein. However, the designations which the Service made for Mr. Becker's and Mr. Simcox's official duty stations entitle these employees to mileage reimbursement.

Accordingly, we affirm our prior decision allowing the two claims.