B-243481, Sep 1, 1991

B-243481: Sep 1, 1991

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Sec. 3702(b) that a claim against the government must be received by the Comptroller General within 6 years after the claim accrues is met if it was filed with either the General Accounting Office or the agency involved within that period. 2. So that there is no legal basis for reimbursement without properly authorized written travel orders or verbal orders subsequently confirmed in writing. In January 1982 Captain Spindler was assigned as interim Service Unit Director for a South Colorado Public Health Service (PHS) unit in Ignacio. The Claims Group determined that the claim was barred from consideration by 31 U.S.C. We therefore will consider a claim that accrued on or after June 15. 1983 (6 years before the noted effective date of the change) if it was filed with the agency involved within 6 years.

B-243481, Sep 1, 1991

DIGESTS: 1. For claims that accrued on or after June 15, 1983, the requirement in 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3702(b) that a claim against the government must be received by the Comptroller General within 6 years after the claim accrues is met if it was filed with either the General Accounting Office or the agency involved within that period. 2. The right of military personnel to reimbursement for travel depends on the performance of official travel directed by competent orders, so that there is no legal basis for reimbursement without properly authorized written travel orders or verbal orders subsequently confirmed in writing.

Captain Reginald A. Spindler, USPHS (Retired):

Captain Reginald A. Spindler, USPHS (Retired), appeals our Claims Group's settlement denying his claim for reimbursement for temporary duty travel expenses and per diem. We affirm the denial.

In January 1982 Captain Spindler was assigned as interim Service Unit Director for a South Colorado Public Health Service (PHS) unit in Ignacio, Colorado, 221 miles from his permanent duty station in Albuquerque, New Mexico. On July 24, 1990, our Office received his claim for reimbursement of $13,534.36 for temporary duty travel and per diem expenses for the period October 1, 1982, through September 30, 1983. The Claims Group determined that the claim was barred from consideration by 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3702(b), which requires that a claim be received by our Office within 6 years after it accrues. In his appeal, Captain Spindler points out that before filing here he pursued his request for reimbursement with PHS within the 6-year period.

The cited statute does not bar our consideration of a portion of Captain Spindler's claim. Until June 15, 1989, we had interpreted 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3702(b) as requiring that a claim actually had to be received in our Office within the 6-year period. Effective June 15, 1989, however, we decided that the statute would be satisfied by timely filing with either the agency involved or our Office. We therefore will consider a claim that accrued on or after June 15, 1983 (6 years before the noted effective date of the change) if it was filed with the agency involved within 6 years. See 4 C.F.R. Sec. 31.5; John M. Nelson, B-238379, March 16, 1990.

Accordingly, only that part of Captain Spindler's claim covering the period up to June 15, 1983, is time-barred; the statute does not bar consideration of the remainder, in view of the Captain's pursuit of the matter with PHS within the 6-year period.

With regard to the merits of the last 3-1/2 months of Captain Spindler's claim, the right of military personnel to reimbursement depends on the performance of official travel directed by competent orders, so that there is no legal basis for reimbursement without properly authorized written travel orders or verbal orders subsequently confirmed in writing. B-175211, March 31, 1972.

On this record, we do not believe that this part of Captain Spindler's claim should be paid. While there is some indication in the record that Captain Spindler was expected to perform travel upon his appointment as interim Service Unit Director, there are no orders or other documentation to establish his entitlement to reimbusement for travel actually undertaken. The only proof that Captain Spindler has submitted with respect to actual travel and amounts are travel vouchers for each of the 12 months in issue, on each of which he has calculated the aggregate amount he believes he is due for that month-- the total of the 12 is the claimed $13,534.56. As PHS points out in commenting on the Captain's appeal, the claim clearly does not have enough specific information (like travel times, dates or methods) to authorize payment even if otherwise proper. /1/

The Claims Group's denial of Captain Spindler's claim is affirmed.

/1/ PHS also advises that it considers the appropriate remedy here to be adjudication by the PHS Records Corrections Board, which has statutory authority to amend the records of PHSCommissioned Officers to correct errors or remove injustices. PHS states, however, that the Board's regulations require that the claimant exhaust all administrative remedies, which the service says includes appeal to our Office, before the Board will entertain a claim.

Director, Claims Group/GGD - Sharon S. Green

General Counsel, James F. Hinchman

Subject: Captain Reginald A. Spindler, USPHS (Retired)

(B-243481) - Z-2866855

Returned is Claims File Z-2866855 and a copy of decision

B-243481 of today, affirming the Claims Group's action.