Matter of: John M. Saludes File: B-250433 Date: March 1, 1993

B-250433: Mar 1, 1993

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His claim for the extra expenses is denied since he had the responsibility to place himself at his regular place of employment at his own expense. Special Agent Saludes's official duty station and residence are located in San Jose. He was a witness in his official capacity on behalf of the United States in a criminal case which was being tried in Fresno. He was released to go on vacation with the understanding that he would return to Fresno. While Special Agent Saludes was in the process of returning to his residence in San Jose. The motor home was towed to Redding. Was informed that the prosecutors were very concerned that his failure to appear in court on the following morning could lead to a mistrial.

Matter of: John M. Saludes File: B-250433 Date: March 1, 1993

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL Travel Travel expenses Eligibility Annual leave Return travel While on annual leave, an Internal Revenue Service employee incurred extra expenses to return to his official duty station in San Jose, California, because his motor home broke down and he had to testify at a trial in his official capacity in Fresno, California, on the following day. His claim for the extra expenses is denied since he had the responsibility to place himself at his regular place of employment at his own expense, absent statutory or regulatory authority to the contrary.

DECISION The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of the Treasury, asks whether the claim of IRS Special Agent John M. Saludes for travel expenses while on annual leave may be paid.[1] For the following reasons, we deny his claim.

Special Agent Saludes's official duty station and residence are located in San Jose, California. On July 31, 1992, he was a witness in his official capacity on behalf of the United States in a criminal case which was being tried in Fresno, California. In the middle of his testimony, the court recessed the case until August 11, 1992, and with the full knowledge of the Assistant United States Attorneys involved, he was released to go on vacation with the understanding that he would return to Fresno, California, on August 11, 1992, to resume his testimony.

On August 10, 1992, while Special Agent Saludes was in the process of returning to his residence in San Jose, California, his personally owned motor home broke down in Weed, California. He immediately informed the IRS case agent involved in the trial. The case agent told Special Agent Saludes that he would talk to the prosecutors and that Special Agent Saludes should call him back. In the interim, the motor home was towed to Redding, California, approximately 100 miles away.

Special Agent Saludes called the case agent again, and was informed that the prosecutors were very concerned that his failure to appear in court on the following morning could lead to a mistrial. He was instructed to take whatever means of transportation were available to ensure that he would be able to appear at the trial on the following morning.

Special Agent Saludes then took a taxi to the airport in Redding, California, and traveled by airplane from there to San Jose, California. This was the most practical method of travel to ensure his return to San Jose, California, and his appearance at the trial in Fresno, California, on the following morning. Early on the morning of August 11, 1992, he traveled to Fresno, California, and he testified at the trial.

Special Agent Saludes claims reimbursement of $150, consisting of $20 for the taxi fare to Redding Airport and $130 for the flight from Redding to San Jose, California. He notes that the Assistant United States Attorneys instructions, as conveyed to him, were to take whatever means of transportation were available to ensure that he would be able to appear at the trial on the following morning.

The IRS report does not dispute the facts as stated above, but is concerned with whether Special Agent Saludes's travel may be considered personal travel rather than official business travel.

It is the responsibility of each employee to place himself at his regular place of employment and to return to his own residence at his own expense, absent statutory or regulatory authority to the contrary. Carlos Garcia, B-245486, Mar. 18, 1992; 60 Comp.Gen. 420 (1981); George F. Clark, B-190071, May 1, 1978. In the instant case, Special Agent Saludes had the responsibility to return to San Jose, California, from annual leave, in order to be prepared to travel to Fresno, California, on the following morning.

Thus, we do not regard the instructions conveyed to Special Agent Saludes by the case agent as converting this personal travel into official travel. See e.g. decisions cited above and B-182986, Feb. 19, 1975. This is not a case where an employee was unexpectedly ordered to resume his duties while on annual leave. It is unfortunate that Special Agent Saludes's motor home broke down and that he had to incur extra expenses, but we do not believe that the responsibility for those expenses can be shifted to the government.

Accordingly, Special Agent Saludes's claim is denied.

1. The request was submitted by Mr. Robert R. Craig, Regional Controller, IRS, San Francisco, California.