B-240095, Aug 1, 1990

B-240095: Aug 1, 1990

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CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Travel - Temporary duty - Travel expenses - Reimbursement - Amount determination DIGEST: This summary letter decision addresses well established rules which have been discussed in previous Comptroller General decisions. Merfyn Williams: The issue here is whether erroneous agency advice provides a legal basis for reimbursement of actual lodging expenses. Merfyn Williams was authorized temporary duty travel to attend a conference in Park City. The agency discovered that the request for actual expenses had been incorrectly computed on the basis that Salt Lake City was Dr. When in fact Park City was his temporary duty station. In addition it appears that the entire maximum subsistence expense allowance was used to compute the $129 rather than only the lodging portion.

B-240095, Aug 1, 1990

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Travel - Temporary duty - Travel expenses - Reimbursement - Amount determination DIGEST: This summary letter decision addresses well established rules which have been discussed in previous Comptroller General decisions. To locate substantive decisions addressing this issue, refer to decisions indexed under the above listed index entry.

Dr. Merfyn Williams:

The issue here is whether erroneous agency advice provides a legal basis for reimbursement of actual lodging expenses, incurred by an employee while on temporary duty, which exceed the maximum amount authorized by the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR), 41 C.F.R. Part 301 8 (1989). /1/ We hold that it does not.

Dr. Merfyn Williams was authorized temporary duty travel to attend a conference in Park City, Utah, for the period January 27, to February 3, 1990. Dr. Williams requested actual and necessary expenses for lodging as the lodging accommodations exceeded the maximum per diem allowed. The agency approved actual lodging expenses at a rate not to exceed $129 per day, with the meals and miscellaneous expense amount remaining at the $26 per diem rate. Dr. Williams states that his administrative officer told him that by having an approved "actual expense" allowance, all of his out- of-pocket expenses would be covered.

During the audit of his voucher, the agency discovered that the request for actual expenses had been incorrectly computed on the basis that Salt Lake City was Dr. Williams's destination, when in fact Park City was his temporary duty station. In addition it appears that the entire maximum subsistence expense allowance was used to compute the $129 rather than only the lodging portion.

Under FTR para. 301-8.3(a)(1) the maximum amount that may be approved for actual and necessary subsistence expenses for each day shall not exceed 150 percent of the applicable maximum per diem rate. Appendix A to FTR Part 301-8 provides that the standard per diem rate of $40 for lodging applies to all locations not specifically listed. Salt Lake City is specifically listed as having a per diem rate of $60 for lodging, so under the actual expenses allowance an employee would be limited to $90 for lodging (150 percent of $60). However, because Park City is not covered under a higher allowance, it is limited to the $40 lodging rate. Thus, under the actual expenses allowance authorized for him, Dr. Williams is limited to $60 per day for lodging (150 percent of $40) plus the $26 per day for meals and incidental expenses. The $60 lodging allowance is less than the $103.63 cost he incurred.

The agency adjusted Dr. Williams's voucher accordingly, and fully setoff the $750 travel advance he received against the allowable expenses. Dr. Williams contends that since the erroneous administrative guidance provided to him led to his incurring additional out-of-pocket expenses during his temporary duty travel, he should be reimbursed the additional amount.

While it is unfortunate that Dr. Williams received erroneous advice, that does not provide a basis for recovery of amounts in excess of those allowed under the specific provisions of the FTR promulgated pursuant to law. See Rebecca T. Zagriniski, 66 Comp.Gen. 642 (1987) and M. Reza Fassihi, 54 Comp.Gen. 747 (1975).

Accordingly, since Dr. Williams has been paid the maximum amount allowable under the regulations for his lodging, he may not be paid the additional amount he claims.

/1/ The matter was submitted for decision by the Chief, Accounting Branch, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services.