B-241848, Aug 23, 1991

B-241848: Aug 23, 1991

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Member was authorized a total of 8 days to go from his old duty station to a leave point to his new station. Which he would have reached in 6 days if he had traveled 350 miles per day. The breakdown was within the total authorized travel time. USAF: This action is in response to a request from Air Force Colonel William J. That period was based on the mileage to Austin. After the travel was completed. Having discovered that the mileage calculation was short by 281 miles. Colonel Camp filed a claim for 3 additional days of per diem to cover the days he was delayed by mechanical problems. Travel is delayed past the time that had been authorized. Colonel Camp should have arrived there in 6 days.

B-241848, Aug 23, 1991

MILITARY PERSONNEL - Travel - Per diem - Eligibility - Travel time - Delays MILITARY PERSONNEL - Travel - Travel time - Delays - Privately-owned vehicles - Breakdowns DIGEST: Based on travel regulations allowing 1 day of travel time for each 350 miles of official distance, member was authorized a total of 8 days to go from his old duty station to a leave point to his new station. The fact that the member's car broke down on the seventh day en route to the leave point, which he would have reached in 6 days if he had traveled 350 miles per day, does not preclude him from being allowed time to account for the resultant delay, since his orders did not break the authorization into segments, and the breakdown was within the total authorized travel time.

Colonel William J. Camp, USAF:

This action is in response to a request from Air Force Colonel William J. Camp that we reconsider our Claims Group's denial of his claim for 3 additional days of per diem incident to his permanent change of station from Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington to MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. The 3 days represent the time it took Colonel Camp to repair his car, which broke down en route to an approved leave point on the way to MacDill. We reverse the Claims Group's decision.

Colonel Camp's orders, issued on May 5, 1988, required him to report to MacDill by July 22, and provided for temporary duty en route, in Newport, Rhode Island, from June 20 to July 1. Colonel Camp had received approval to take leave in Georgetown, Texas, before and after the Rhode Island duty, and his orders authorized 7 travel days; that period was based on the mileage to Austin, Texas, and then to MacDill. After the travel was completed, the Air Force corrected the authorization to 8 travel days, having discovered that the mileage calculation was short by 281 miles.

Colonel Camp and his family left his old duty station for Georgetown on June 2. On June 8, while still on the way to Georgetown, one of the two vehicles the Colonel and his family had been authorized to take broke down, resulting in a 3-day delay in reaching Georgetown. The Colonel finally arrived there on June 12, flew from Austin to Rhode Island and back for his temporary duty, and on July 10 left Texas for Florida, arriving on July 16.

Upon his arrival at MacDill, Colonel Camp filed a claim for 3 additional days of per diem to cover the days he was delayed by mechanical problems. Paragraph 5160.B.2 of the Joint Federal Travel Regulations (JFTR) permits a member's commanding officer to authorize or approve additional travel time when, for reasons beyond the member's control, travel is delayed past the time that had been authorized.

Although MacDill approved Colonel Camp's request, the Air Force Accounting and Finance Office questioned allowing the Colonel any additional time. The Accounting and Finance Office pointed out that paragraph 5160.B.1 of the JFTR allows 1 day of travel time for each 350 miles of the official distance of the ordered travel. Based on the mileage from Fairchild to Georgetown, Colonel Camp should have arrived there in 6 days, traveling 350 miles per day. The Accounting and Finance Office maintained that because Colonel Camp's problems occurred on the seventh day out of Fairchild, while still on the way to Georgetown, he already had exceeded his authorized travel time for that part of the trip, so that no additional time was warranted. The Accounting and Finance Office also pointed out that the Colonel's car trouble may have delayed his arrival in Georgetown, but it did not affect his temporary duty in Rhode Island. Our Claims Group agreed that because the car broke down on the seventh day, no additional time could be approved.

In his request for reconsideration, Colonel Camp argues that the 350 mile calculation is only for purposes of determining the number of travel days to permit a member in issuing travel orders. The Colonel maintains that the regulation does not contemplate the type of "constructive travel" analysis between interim points on which the Accounting and Finance Office based its position.

We agree with Colonel Camp. JFTR paragraph 5160.B.1 is intended to establish a travel-time entitlement in connection with the issuance of orders changing a member's station. Nothing in the JFTR requires that a member actually travel at least 350 miles per day in order to be considered on official travel.

The time allowed for Colonel Camp's trip was calculated by taking the distance from Fairchild to Austin (near Colonel Camp's leave point of Georgetown), plus the distance from Austin to MacDill, and dividing the total by 350 miles per day; the result of that calculation is 6 days plus 2 days, for a total of 8 days. The Colonel's orders, however, did not split the trip into segments for purposes of authorizing travel time-- they simply authorized a total number of days. Thus, there is no basis in the orders to conclude that Colonel Camp was authorized only 6 days to get to Georgetown for purposes of JFTR paragraph 5160.B.2.

Regarding the Accounting and Finance Office's point that Colonel Camp's car trouble did not delay his temporary duty, the time extension addressed in JFTR paragraph 5160.B.2 is for delay in travel past that authorized; the regulation does not limit authority for such extension based on whether or not there was a reporting delay. Moreover, we note that the duty in Rhode Island was not to start until June 20, 18 days after the Colonel left Fairchild. Thus, even a breakdown within the 6 day period the Accounting and Finance Office maintains was all that was allowed for the member to get to Georgetown would not have delayed that duty; we do not believe the Accounting and Finance Office would argue that additional travel time under paragraph 5160.B.2 could not be afforded in that instance.

In our view, then, Colonel Camp could have used all authorized days to get to Georgetown, in which case he would have had to take annual leave for the trip from Georgetown to MacDill, or he could have driven to Georgetown in less than 6 days, taken leave and performed temporary duty in Rhode Island, and used the remaining allowance for the final leg of the trip to MacDill. As long as his car broke down while he was on travel, and within the total authorized period for such travel, he was eligible for additional time under paragraph 5160.B.2.

Finally, we note that the regulation expressly leaves it to the discretion of the member's new commanding officer whether to approve additional travel days when travel is delayed for reasons beyond the member's control. We have recognized that delay caused by a vehicle breakdown is a proper reason for such approval, see 64 Comp.Gen. 173 (1984), and we have no basis to question MacDill's decision to allow Colonel Camp 3 more days for travel here.

The Claims Group's decision is reversed.