B-245977, Feb 28, 1992

B-245977: Feb 28, 1992

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DIGEST: Employee is not entitled to reimbursement for the constructive cost of his wife's passenger fare on the Alaska Marine Highway System where he transported a second privately-owned vehicle at personal expense and his wife. As the driver of the second vehicle was not charged for passage. Wieber was authorized to travel by one privately-owned vehicle (POV). His wife's passage as the driver was free. The normal passenger fare is $60. Wieber claims that amount on a constructive basis since the government was obligated to provide transportation for his wife. Wieber's claim on the basis of decisions of this Office that hold that the government has no obligation to reimburse the employee for the constructive cost of travel where no actual travel expenses are incurred.

B-245977, Feb 28, 1992

DIGEST: Employee is not entitled to reimbursement for the constructive cost of his wife's passenger fare on the Alaska Marine Highway System where he transported a second privately-owned vehicle at personal expense and his wife, as the driver of the second vehicle was not charged for passage. The government has no obligation to reimburse an employee for the constructive cost of travel where the employee incurred no actual travel expenses for wife's passage.

Orval E. Wieber:

Mr. Orval E. Wieber, a transferred employee of the Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture, seeks reimbursement for the constructive travel cost of a one-way passenger fare for his wife for travel on the Alaska Marine Highway System between Ketchikan and Juneau. /1/ We deny the claim.

Pursuant to a permanent change of station from Ketchikan to Juneau, Alaska, beginning on October 19, 1990, Mr. Wieber was authorized to travel by one privately-owned vehicle (POV), accompanied by his wife and son, by mixed mode, including the Alaska Marine Highway System. Mr. Wieber booked passage on the MV Matanuska for himself, his wife and son, and three vehicles. /2/ The Forest Service issued a government transportation request on behalf of Mr. Wieber to pay for a 3-berth stateroom and the passage of one vehicle.

Mr. Wieber claims $60 as the constructive cost of his wife's passage on the ferry. He shipped a second POV, driven by his wife, for which he paid a fare of $140. His wife's passage as the driver was free. The normal passenger fare is $60. Mr. Wieber claims that amount on a constructive basis since the government was obligated to provide transportation for his wife. The Forest Service denied Mr. Wieber's claim on the basis of decisions of this Office that hold that the government has no obligation to reimburse the employee for the constructive cost of travel where no actual travel expenses are incurred.

OPINION

We agree with the Forest Service's determination. An employee is not entitled to reimbursement on a constructive cost basis where travel expenses are not incurred since there is no ensuing government obligation. Joel R. Zaientz, 65 Comp.Gen. 182 (1986); John A. Park, B-227468, Mar. 11, 1988; Bob McHenry, B-184092, Sept. 29, 1975. In this case, Mr. Wieber was not authorized to transport a second POV at government expense, and there was no fare charged for his wife as a driver of the second vehicle. Mr. Wieber chose to transport his second POV for personal reasons. Therefore, the government was under no obligation to reimburse Mr. Wieber for the expenses of the second vehicle, and he incurred no cost for his wife's fare.

Accordingly, Mr. Wieber's claim is denied.

/1/ The request was submitted by Darold D. Foxworthy, Authorized Certifying Officer, Forest Service.

/2/ Mr. Wieber's son decided not to accompany the family to Juneau, so his passage is not in contention here.