Matter of:Justina P. Ocasio File: B-248455 Date: November 17, 1992

B-248455: Nov 17, 1992

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Was authorized to perform official travel on an actual expense basis to a number of locations in Brazil between June 1 and September 30. Lodging arrangements were made for her by the Brazilian government and that her lodging or exceeded the maximum amount payable for subsistence expenses on a daily basis. The additional subsistence expenses claimed were disallowed by Customs based on the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR). Ocasio's claim for personal telephone calls from various locations in Brazil to her home during the 4-month period was also disallowed. While the disallowance action is fully supported by the provisions of the Federal Travel Regulation and decisions of this Office. The Federal Travel Regulation's provisions governing actual subsistence expense reimbursement for travel to foreign countries are contained in 41 C.F.R.

Matter of:Justina P. Ocasio File: B-248455 Date: November 17, 1992

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL Travel Overseas travel Temporary duty Per diem rates Maximum rates An employee who performed official travel to foreign areas on an actual subsistence expense basis may be reimbursed for expenses on a daily basis, but the amount reimbursed may not exceed the greater of 150 percent of the maximum per diem rate for each location, or $50 plus that maximum per diem rate, as specified in the Per Diem Supplement to the Standardized Regulations (Government Civilians, Foreign Areas). Federal Aviation Administration Employees, 71 Comp.Gen. 433 (1992). CIVILIAN PERSONNEL Travel Temporary duty Miscellaneous expenses Reimbursement Telephone calls Personal telephone calls by an employee while traveling on official business in foreign areas may not be reimbursed to the employee. James R. Shea, B-229151, Apr. 14, 1988.

DECISION An Authorized Certifying Officer, U.S. Customs Service, Department of the Treasury, requests a decision concerning the entitlement of an employee to be reimbursed for additional expenses incurred during temporary duty travel in a foreign country. We conclude that the employee may not be reimbursed for the following reasons.

Ms. Justina P. Ocasio, an employee of the Customs Service, was authorized to perform official travel on an actual expense basis to a number of locations in Brazil between June 1 and September 30, 1989. The request states that, because of the need for special security, lodging arrangements were made for her by the Brazilian government and that her lodging or exceeded the maximum amount payable for subsistence expenses on a daily basis. The additional subsistence expenses claimed were disallowed by Customs based on the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), 41 C.F.R. Chapter 301 (1991). Ms. Ocasio's claim for personal telephone calls from various locations in Brazil to her home during the 4-month period was also disallowed.

The agency, however, points out that, while the disallowance action is fully supported by the provisions of the Federal Travel Regulation and decisions of this Office, the expenses should be reimbursed because of the unusual circumstances of the travel assignment.

The Federal Travel Regulation's provisions governing actual subsistence expense reimbursement for travel to foreign countries are contained in 41 C.F.R. Sec. 301-8.3(a)(2) (1991). That provision limits reimbursement for those expenses to the greater of 150 percent of the maximum per diem rate prescribed in 41 C.F.R. Sec. 301-7.3(c) or $50 plus that maximum per diem rate. The per diem rates referred to are those specified in the Per Diem Supplement to the Standardized Regulations (Government Civilians, Foreign Areas).

In decision Federal Aviation Administration Employees, 71 Comp.Gen. 433 (1992), we analyzed the impact of those provisions on employee travel to foreign countries. We concluded that, regardless of the amount of the provable subsistence costs incurred, there is no basis upon which an agency may authorize an employee to be reimbursed actual subsistence expenses in an amount greater than that specified in FTR section 301-8.3.

We have reviewed the record presented to us by the Customs Service, and it does not reveal that Ms. Ocasio's lodging expense on any particular day was above the authorized maximum rate because of security requirements. Nor has any evidence been presented detailing her official duties while on travel or the personal risks reasonably associated with these duties.

Accordingly, we conclude that the FAA Employees decision is controlling in Ms. Ocasio's case. She is entitled to be reimbursed the maximum amounts allowable under the FTR, but her claim for additional lodging expenses is denied.

With regard to Ms. Ocasio's claim for personal telephone calls, 41 C.F.R. Sec. 301-6.4 specifically states that only official business telephone charges may be reimbursed. In James R. Shea, B-229151, Apr. 14, 1988, we ruled that, regardless of the circumstances, personal telephone calls from overseas locations may not be charged to the government, nor may they be reimbursed to the employee. The claim for personal telephone calls is denied.