B-249171 August 21, 1992

B-249171: Aug 21, 1992

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Pleines: We have received your letter dated June 10. Your concern centers on the potential application of the interest payment provisions of the Back Pay Act where travel claims which are disputed ultimately may be resolved in favor of the employee. Although we have not previously considered and ruled on the specific question asked. We have held that interest is not payable for delayed payment of travel expenses in the absence of express statutory or contractual authorization. /1/ Moreover. That per diem and commuting expenses are not "pay. Allowances or differentials" as those terms are used in the Back Pay Act. That position was also adopted by the United States Court of Appeals in Hurley v.

B-249171 August 21, 1992

DIGEST

Mr. Walter W. Pleines Director Division of Finance Social Security Administration Department of Health and Human Services Baltimore, Maryland 21235

Dear Mr. Pleines:

We have received your letter dated June 10, 1992 (file reference S1NB231), with enclosures. You request our view on the question whether the term "allowances" as used in the Back Pay Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5596 (1988), also includes travel and transportation expenses. Your concern centers on the potential application of the interest payment provisions of the Back Pay Act where travel claims which are disputed ultimately may be resolved in favor of the employee, or where payments on travel vouchers simply may be delayed.

Although we have not previously considered and ruled on the specific question asked, we have held that interest is not payable for delayed payment of travel expenses in the absence of express statutory or contractual authorization. /1/ Moreover, the United States Court of Claims held in Morris v. United States, 585 F.2d 591 (1979), that per diem and commuting expenses are not "pay, allowances or differentials" as those terms are used in the Back Pay Act. That position was also adopted by the United States Court of Appeals in Hurley v. United States, 624 F.2d 93 (1980). See copies enclosed.

We note that there has been a language change in 5 C.F.R. Sec. 550.803 (1992) in the definition of "allowances" since Morris, supra, and Hurley, supra, were decided. Notwithstanding that, we believe the courts would continue to rule that travel and transportation expense entitlements are not allowances under the Back Pay Act and, thus, the interest provisions of 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5596(b)(2)(A) would not apply to delayed reimbursement of those expenses. In this regard, we point out that we are unaware of any other statute which would permit payment of interest on travel and transportation expense reimbursements which are delayed.

Sincerely yours,

Robert L. Higgins Associate General Counsel

Enclosures - 2

1. James R. Stockbridge, 70 Comp.Gen. 571 (1991); Harold R. Fine, B-224628, Jan. 12, 1988.