B-2844, JUNE 19, 1939, 18 COMP. GEN. 934

B-2844: Jun 19, 1939

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A STUDY HAS BEEN MADE THEREOF WHICH DISCLOSES THAT THERE ARE 36 SUCH UNITS WITH TWO OR MORE SCHOOLS. IN SOME INSTANCES IT IS NECESSARY FOR SUCH OFFICERS TO TRAVEL 90 MILES OR MORE BETWEEN SCHOOLS PER SCHOOL WEEK. IN A FEW CASES TRANSPORTATION IS BEING PROVIDED IN KIND OR OTHERWISE BY LOCAL SCHOOL AUTHORITIES. STEPS ARE BEING TAKEN TO PROVIDE GOVERNMENT MOTOR TRANSPORTATION. HOWEVER THERE ARE A CONSIDERABLE NUMBER OF OTHER CASES WHERE TRAVEL OF LESS THAN 90 MILES BETWEEN SCHOOLS IS NECESSARY EACH SCHOOL WEEK AND FOR WHICH. IS NOT JUSTIFIED. ONE OF WHICH IS DATED MARCH 18. YOU HAVE STATED THAT REIMBURSEMENT MAY BE MADE ON THE BASIS OF THE COST OF GASOLINE AND OIL ACTUALLY CONSUMED IN TRAVEL OF A SIMILAR NATURE.

B-2844, JUNE 19, 1939, 18 COMP. GEN. 934

TRAVELING EXPENSES - COMMUTATION - ARMY OFFICERS ASSIGNED TO JUNIOR RESERVE OFFICERS' TRAINING CORPS UNITS - TRAVEL BETWEEN SCHOOLS WITHIN DUTY STATION LIMITS ARMY OFFICERS ASSIGNED TO DUTY WITH JUNIOR RESERVE OFFICERS' TRAINING CORPS UNITS INVOLVING TRAVEL BETWEEN SUCH UNITS AT REASONABLY ADJACENT SCHOOLS FOR WHICH MILEAGE MAY NOT BE AUTHORIZED BECAUSE THE TRAVEL LIES WHOLLY WITHIN THE LIMITS OF THE OFFICERS' DUTY STATIONS, AND FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT MUST BE ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS IF, IN FACT, REIMBURSEMENT OF THE INSUBSTANTIAL AMOUNTS MAY BE AUTHORIZED AT ALL, MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED ON AN ADMINISTRATIVELY PROPOSED ESTIMATED EXPENSE BASIS SUPPORTED BY DATA TENDING TO INDICATE THE REASONABLENESS OF THE REIMBURSEMENT, THE PROPOSED PLAN BEING NO OTHER THAN THE SETTING UP OF MILEAGE RATES OR A COMMUTATION OF TRAVELING EXPENSES EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED BY THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1875, 18 STAT. 452.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR, JUNE 19, 1939:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 27, 1939, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION A PROBLEM INVOLVING PROPER REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL, BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES, BY A NUMBER OF OFFICERS OF THE ARMY ASSIGNED TO DUTY WITH JUNIOR R.O.T.C. UNITS. A STUDY HAS BEEN MADE THEREOF WHICH DISCLOSES THAT THERE ARE 36 SUCH UNITS WITH TWO OR MORE SCHOOLS. IN SOME INSTANCES IT IS NECESSARY FOR SUCH OFFICERS TO TRAVEL 90 MILES OR MORE BETWEEN SCHOOLS PER SCHOOL WEEK. IN A FEW CASES TRANSPORTATION IS BEING PROVIDED IN KIND OR OTHERWISE BY LOCAL SCHOOL AUTHORITIES. IN THE REMAINING CASES, INVOLVING 90 MILES OR MORE TRAVEL PER WEEK, STEPS ARE BEING TAKEN TO PROVIDE GOVERNMENT MOTOR TRANSPORTATION. HOWEVER THERE ARE A CONSIDERABLE NUMBER OF OTHER CASES WHERE TRAVEL OF LESS THAN 90 MILES BETWEEN SCHOOLS IS NECESSARY EACH SCHOOL WEEK AND FOR WHICH, IN THE OPINION OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT, THE INITIAL EXPENSE OF GOVERNMENT-OWNED MOTOR TRANSPORTATION, TOGETHER WITH THE MAINTENANCE COST THEREOF, IS NOT JUSTIFIED, ESPECIALLY IF SOME WAY MAY BE FOUND WHEREBY SOME MEASURE OF REIMBURSEMENT MAY BE MADE TO SUCH OFFICERS FOR THE REQUIRED TRAVEL BY MEANS OF THEIR PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILES.

SUCH TRAVEL BEING WITHIN THE LIMITS OF THE OFFICERS' DUTY STATIONS, EXISTING REGULATIONS AS CONSTRUED BY YOU DO NOT AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT ON THE BASIS OF A FIXED MILEAGE RATE PRESCRIBED IN ADVANCE OF SUCH TRAVEL. HOWEVER, IN CERTAIN DECISIONS, ONE OF WHICH IS DATED MARCH 18, 1936, A- 69693, YOU HAVE STATED THAT REIMBURSEMENT MAY BE MADE ON THE BASIS OF THE COST OF GASOLINE AND OIL ACTUALLY CONSUMED IN TRAVEL OF A SIMILAR NATURE, UPON A SHOWING OF A PREDETERMINED AVERAGE CONSUMPTION PER MILE AND THE FILING OF CURRENT RECEIPTS SHOWING PRICES PAID FOR SAME. WHILE THESE DECISIONS INDICATE IN A GENERAL WAY THAT SUCH ALLOWANCES ARE AUTHORIZED, THEY DO NOT SPECIFICALLY STATE JUST WHAT INFORMATION AND EVIDENCE MUST BE FILED WITH SUCH REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHERS IN ORDER THAT THEY MAY REASONABLY BE ACCEPTED BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN THE AUDIT WITHOUT SUSPENSIONS OR DISALLOWANCES ARISING OUT OF DIFFERENCES OF OPINION AS TO WHETHER THIS OR THAT ITEM DOES OR DOES NOT REPRESENT AN EXPENSE FOR PERSONAL TRAVEL, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM OFFICIAL TRAVEL. OBVIOUSLY, IT IS IMPRACTICABLE FOR SUCH PERSONNEL TO PUT INTO THEIR CARS IN ADVANCE OF OFFICIAL TRIPS THE EXACT AMOUNT OF OIL AND GASOLINE FOR EACH TRIP. IT IS EQUALLY OBVIOUS THAT IT WOULD BE IMPRACTICABLE FOR EACH AND EVERY SUCH VOUCHER TO BE SUBMITTED BY DISBURSING OFFICERS TO YOU FOR ADVANCE DECISON UNDER THE ACT OF JULY 31, 1894 (28 STAT. 208), IN ORDER THAT THERE MAY BE NO QUESTION RAISED BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE.

AS THE INITIAL STEP IN BRINGING ABOUT A METHOD OF REIMBURSEMENT ON A COST OF OIL AND GASOLINE BASIS FOR THE NECESSARY TRAVEL OF OFFICERS ASSIGNED TO THE DUTY IN QUESTION, THE DEPARTMENT CONTEMPLATES PROMULGATING DEFINITE INSTRUCTIONS AS TO THE PREPARATION OF VOUCHERS FOR SUCH REIMBURSEMENT AND AS TO THE SUPPORTING PAPERS WHICH SHOULD ACCOMPANY SUCH VOUCHERS. SUCH CLAIMS, OF COURSE, SHOULD BE SUBMITTED ON STANDARD FORM NO. 1012, SUPPORTED BY STANDARD FORM NO. 1012E, SHOWING THE SPEEDOMETER READING AT THE BEGINNING AND CONCLUSION OF ALL SUCH OFFICIAL TRIPS WITHIN THE LIMITS OF THE OFFICERS' DUTY STATIONS. IN ADDITION, IT IS CONTEMPLATED THAT ON THE REVERSE SIDE OF STANDARD FORM NO. 1012E THERE WILL BE SHOWN A STATEMENT DESCRIBING THE CAR USED AS TO MAKE, MODEL, YEAR, AND AVERAGE PREVIOUS CONSUMPTION OF GASOLINE AND OIL PER MILE FOR A DISTANCE OF NOT LESS THAN 1,000 MILES. THIS STATEMENT SHOULD ALSO SHOW THE PRICES CURRENTLY PAID FOR GASOLINE AND OIL AND SHOULD BE SUPPORTED BY ONE OR MORE RECEIPTS AS EVIDENCE OF THE EXPENSE AT THE RATE PAID. IT IS ALSO PROPOSED THAT ALL SUCH VOUCHERS WILL BE SUPPORTED BY ADMINISTRATIVE ORDERS TO THE EFFECT THAT THE DUTIES OF THE OFFICERS AT THEIR STATIONS REQUIRE OFFICIAL TRAVEL NOT EXCEEDING CERTAIN NUMBER OF MILES WITHIN A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME AND IT IS CONTEMPLATED THAT EACH VOUCHER SUBMITTED BY EACH SUCH OFFICER WILL BE SUPPORTED BY A CERTIFICATE BY HIM THAT THE TRAVEL FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT IS CLAIMED IS NOT IN EXCESS OF THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZED, TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION ALL PRIOR VOUCHERS SUBMITTED FOR TRAVEL WITHIN THE SAME PERIOD.

YOUR DECISION IS THEREFORE REQUESTED WHETHER THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN THE AUDIT OF SUCH ACCOUNTS WILL APPROVE REIMBURSEMENT ON THE BASIS PROPOSED, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.

SECTION 40 (B) OF THE NATIONAL DEFENSE ACT, 41 STAT. 777, AUTHORIZES THE PRESIDENT TO DETAIL SUCH MEMBERS OF THE REGULAR ARMY AS MAY BE NECESSARY FOR DUTY AS PROFESSORS AND ASSISTANT PROFESSORS OF MILITARY SCIENCE AND TACTICS AND MILITARY INSTRUCTORS AT EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS WHERE ONE OR MORE UNITS OF THE RESERVE OFFICERS' TRAINING CORPS ARE MAINTAINED, AND SECTION 44 OF THE NATIONAL DEFENSE ACT, 39 STAT. 192, LIMITS ELIGIBILITY TO MEMBERSHIP TO STUDENTS OF INSTITUTIONS, IN WHICH UNITS OF SUCH CORPS MAY BE ESTABLISHED, WHO ARE CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES AND WHO ARE NOT LESS THAN 14 YEARS OF AGE, PHYSICALLY FIT TO PERFORM MILITARY DUTIES OR WILL BE SO UPON ARRIVAL AT MILITARY AGE.

THE ACT OF JUNE 11, 1938, MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE MILITARY ESTABLISHMENT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1939, 52 STAT. 642, UNDER CITIZENS MILITARY TRAINING, RESERVE OFFICERS' TRAINING CORPS, 52 STAT. 664, PROVIDES:

* * * FOR MILEAGE, TRAVELING EXPENSES, OR TRANSPORTATION, FOR TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS, AND FOR PACKING AND TRANSPORTATION OF BAGGAGE, AS AUTHORIZED BY LAW, FOR OFFICERS, WARRANT OFFICERS, AND ENLISTED MEN OF THE REGULAR ARMY TRAVELING ON DUTY PERTAINING TO OR IN DETAIL TO OR RELIEF FROM DUTY WITH THE RESERVE OFFICERS' TRAINING CORPS; FOR THE PURCHASE, MAINTENANCE, REPAIR, AND OPERATION OF MOTOR VEHICLES, INCLUDING STATION WAGONS, * * *.

IT IS NOT CLEAR THAT AN OFFICER DETAILED TO TWO OR MORE INSTITUTIONS OR SCHOOLS, REASONABLY ADJACENT TO EACH OTHER, SHOULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO REACH SUCH PLACES AT HIS OWN EXPENSE, ESPECIALLY IF IN SO REPORTING, THE JOURNEY TO AND FROM THE OFFICER'S HOME OR PLACE OF RESIDENCE TO THE SCHOOL OR INSTITUTION, IS PERFORMED UNDER A SCHEDULE WHICH PERMITS THE INDIVIDUAL'S VISIT TO BE EFFECTED ON DIFFERENT SCHOOL DAYS, IF THE UNITS ARE WITHIN THE LIMITS OF ONE CITY. THERE APPEARS ALSO FOR NOTING THE QUESTION OF HOW MUCH LESS THAN 90 MILES TRAVEL PER WEEK IS REQUIRED, INASMUCH AS IT IS CONCEIVABLE, EVEN WHERE OFFICIAL NECESSARY VISITS BETWEEN SCHOOLS ARE REQUIRED ON THE SAME DAY THAT THE SHORT DISTANCE TRAVELED WOULD NOT JUSTIFY REIMBURSEMENT, THE OFFICER UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES BEING PUT TO NO SUBSTANTIAL EXPENSE OR AT LEAST TO SUCH LITTLE COST THAT HE WOULD NOT FEEL JUSTIFIED IN WASTING THE TIME NECESSARY TO PREPARE AND PERFECT HIS CLAIM.

ASSUMING THAT SUCH TRAVEL BETWEEN SCHOOLS IS NECESSARY ON THE SAME DAY AND IS SUFFICIENT TO WARRANT SUBMISSION OF A CLAIM FOR TRAVELING EXPENSES, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO COMPUTE SUCH TRAVELING EXPENSES ON A MILEAGE RATE EXCEPT AS AUTHORIZED BY LAW, AND IN THIS CONNECTION, ATTENTION IS INVITED TO THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1875, 18 STAT. 452, TITLE 5, U.S.C., SECTION 73, WHICH PROVIDES:

* * * THAT HEREAFTER ONLY ACTUAL TRAVELING EXPENSES SHALL BE ALLOWED TO ANY PERSON HOLDING EMPLOYMENT OR APPOINTMENT UNDER THE UNITED STATES, EXCEPT MARSHALS, DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, AND CLERKS OF THE COURTS OF THE UNITED STATES, AND THEIR DEPUTIES; AND ALL ALLOWANCES FOR MILEAGE AND TRANSPORTATION IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT ACTUALLY PAID, EXCEPT AS ABOVE EXCEPTED, ARE HEREBY DECLARED ILLEGAL; AND NO CREDIT SHALL BE ALLOWED TO ANY OF THE DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES FOR PAYMENT OR ALLOWANCES IN VIOLATION OF THIS PROVISION.

IN COMMENTING UPON THE EFFECT OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1875, IT WAS STATED IN 5 COMP. GEN. 358, 363, AS FOLLOWS:

THIS ENACTMENT PROHIBITS REIMBURSEMENT FOR CONSTRUCTIVE TRAVEL AS WELL AS PROHIBITS PAYMENT OF MILEAGE OR OTHER FORMS OF COMMUTATION OF TRAVELING EXPENSES. SUBSEQUENTLY MILEAGE WAS PROVIDED BY LAW FOR OFFICERS OF THE ARMY, NAVY, AND MARINE CORPS, AND MORE RECENTLY FOR OFFICERS OF THE COAST GUARD, PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, AND COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY, AND IN THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1922, 42 STAT. 631, SECTION 12, PROVISION WAS MADE FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR ACTUAL EXPENSES FOR SUCH OFFICERS WHEN TRAVELING OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL LIMITS OF THE UNITED STATES. THE 1875 STATUTE HAS ALSO BEEN MODIFIED BY PROVISION FOR THE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WHEN TRAVELING, NOT ONLY IN THE SERVICE MENTIONED BUT GENERALLY. TO THE EXTENT THAT PARTICULAR CLASSES HAVE BEEN TAKEN OUT OF THE STATUTE BY SUBSEQUENT LEGISLATION IT HAS BEEN MODIFIED, BUT OTHERWISE THE ACT IS SUBSISTING LAW. IT PROHIBITS "REIMBURSEMENT" OF EXPENSES NOT ACTUALLY INCURRED, IN THE NATURE OF COMMUTATION, AND REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION NOT ACTUALLY PAID.

THE PROPOSAL OUTLINED IN YOUR LETTER IS TO REQUIRE THAT SPEEDOMETER READINGS SHALL BE SHOWN FOR ALL OFFICIAL TRIPS WITHIN THE OFFICER'S DUTY STATION; THAT THERE BE PLACED ON THE VOUCHER A STATEMENT DESCRIBING THE AUTOMOBILE, THE YEAR OF ITS MANUFACTURE, THE MODEL OF THE CAR, AVERAGE PREVIOUS CONSUMPTION OF GASOLINE AND OIL FOR A DISTANCE OF NOT LESS THAN 1,000 MILES; THE CURRENT PRICE OF GASOLINE AND OIL, TO BE SUPPORTED BY ONE OR MORE RECEIPTS AS EVIDENCE OF THE INCURRING OF EXPENSES AT THE RATE CLAIMED, ETC. WHILE IN FORM SUCH A SHOWING MIGHT REPRESENT A REASONABLE ESTIMATE OF EXPENSES INCURRED FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL THE PROCEDURE IN SUBSTANCE CANNOT BE REGARDED AS ANY OTHER THAN SETTING UP MILEAGE RATES OR COMMUTATION OF TRAVELING EXPENSES, AND THIS IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED BY LAW, ACT OF MARCH 3, 1875. UNDER THE SPECIFIC LANGUAGE OF THE CITED STATUTE THIS OFFICE WOULD NOT BE WARRANTED IN PASSING SUCH PAYMENTS TO CREDIT IN THE ACCOUNTS OF DISBURSING OFFICERS CONCERNED.