B-33459, OCTOBER 28, 1943, 23 COMP. GEN. 310

B-33459: Oct 28, 1943

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TRAVELING EXPENSES - SPECIAL CONVEYANCES - SUFFICIENCY OF ADVANCE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION AS TO NEED FOR USE OF TAXICABS A BROAD ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE REGULAR USE OF TAXICABS BY A PARTICULAR EMPLOYEE OR CLASS OF EMPLOYEES IS A NECESSITY AT ALL TIMES MAY NOT BE ACCEPTED AS ESTABLISHING THAT PUBLIC OR REGULAR MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION CANNOT BE USED ADVANTAGEOUSLY IN THE INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE MEANING OF PARAGRAPH 11 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE USE OF SPECIAL CONVEYANCES WHEN THE NECESSITY THEREFOR IS ESTABLISHED IN EACH INSTANCE. WHILE THE USE OF TRAVEL FORMS EVIDENCING ADVANCE ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL OF THE USE OF TAXICABS BY AN OFFICIAL TRAVELER IN CASES OF NECESSITY IS NOT OBJECTIONABLE.

B-33459, OCTOBER 28, 1943, 23 COMP. GEN. 310

TRAVELING EXPENSES - SPECIAL CONVEYANCES - SUFFICIENCY OF ADVANCE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION AS TO NEED FOR USE OF TAXICABS A BROAD ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE REGULAR USE OF TAXICABS BY A PARTICULAR EMPLOYEE OR CLASS OF EMPLOYEES IS A NECESSITY AT ALL TIMES MAY NOT BE ACCEPTED AS ESTABLISHING THAT PUBLIC OR REGULAR MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION CANNOT BE USED ADVANTAGEOUSLY IN THE INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE MEANING OF PARAGRAPH 11 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE USE OF SPECIAL CONVEYANCES WHEN THE NECESSITY THEREFOR IS ESTABLISHED IN EACH INSTANCE. WHILE THE USE OF TRAVEL FORMS EVIDENCING ADVANCE ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL OF THE USE OF TAXICABS BY AN OFFICIAL TRAVELER IN CASES OF NECESSITY IS NOT OBJECTIONABLE, SUCH BLANKET AUTHORIZATION LEGALLY MAY NOT BE ACCEPTED AS CONCLUSIVE AND WOULD NOT RELIEVE THE TRAVELER FROM THE BURDEN OF ESTABLISHING BY SATISFACTORY EXPLANATION, IN COMPLIANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 11 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, THE OFFICIAL NEED FOR THE HIRE OF SPECIAL CONVEYANCE WHEN PUBLIC OR REGULAR MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION ARE OR WERE AVAILABLE. THE ACTION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN THE AUDIT OF SETTLEMENT OF AN ACCOUNT OR CLAIM DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A DECISION OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES SUCH AS ADMINISTRATIVE AND DISBURSING OFFICERS ARE AUTHORIZED TO ACCEPT AS GUIDES AND PRECEDENTS IN OBLIGATING AND DISBURSING PUBLIC MONEYS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE FEDERAL WORKS ADMINISTRATOR, OCTOBER 28, 1943:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 1, 1943, AS FOLLOWS:

THIS OFFICE HAS RECEIVED NOTICES OF EXCEPTIONS FROM THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE PERTAINING TO VOUCHERS COVERING REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCIDENT TO OFFICIAL TRAVEL OF RAY C. KIRKPATRICK, DIRECTOR OF LABOR RELATIONS, PAID ON DISBURSING OFFICER'S VOUCHERS NOS. 91114, PAID JULY 16, 942; 1401242, PAID JANUARY 16, 1943; 934865, PAID NOVEMBER 7, 1942; 782293, PAID OCTOBER 20, 1942; 774108, PAID OCTOBER 20, 1942; 617495, PAID SEPTEMBER 30, 1942; 2290916, PAID JUNE 2, 1942; 126740, PAID JULY 16, 1942; 300341, PAID AUGUST 8, 1942; AND 395001, PAID AUGUST 24, 1942.

THE MAJORITY OF THE ITEMS SUSPENDED ARE FOR CAB FARES BETWEEN DUTY POINTS IN THE FIELD.

MR. KIRKPATRICK HAS BEEN EMPLOYED BY THIS OFFICE AND, IN A SIMILAR CAPACITY, BY THE PUBLIC WORKS ADMINISTRATION FOR ALMOST TEN YEARS. HIS DUTIES INVOLVE VISITS TO PROJECTS AT WIDELY SCATTERED LOCATIONS WHICH ARE FREQUENTLY REMOTE FROM ORDINARY MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION, AS WELL AS CONTACTS WITH LABOR UNION OFFICIALS, CONTRACTORS, ETC., AT TIMES AND PLACES WHICH MUST BE FIXED FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF SUCH PERSONS. DUE TO THESE FACTS IT HAD BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT THE USE OF TAXICABS BY MR. KIRKPATRICK IS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS IN THE INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT.

IN THE FALL OF 1936, EXCEPTION WAS TAKEN TO A NUMBER OF SUCH ITEMS IN MR. KIRKPATRICK'S TRAVEL VOUCHERS UPON PRE-AUDIT BY THE AUDIT DIVISION OF YOUR OFFICE. SUBSEQUENTLY, RECLAIM VOUCHERS WERE SUBMITTED, SUPPORTED BY STATEMENTS SETTING FORTH THE FACT THAT ORDINARY MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION WERE NOT PRACTICABLE OR FEASIBLE, AND AFTER PRE-AUDIT, THESE VOUCHERS WERE PAID. IN VIEW OF THIS PRECEDENT IT IS BELIEVED THAT MR. KIRKPATRICK SHOULD NOT BE PENALIZED FOR CONTINUING A PRACTICE TO WHICH OBJECTION HAD BEEN WITHDRAWN BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE AFTER A PREVIOUS REVIEW AND WHICH HAS ALWAYS HAD ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL. SUCH PRACTICES, IT WOULD APPEAR, ARE CUSTOMARY IN THE EXECUTIVE OFFICES AND AS AN EXAMPLE THEREOF, THERE ARE ATTACHED HERETO FORMS IN USE IN THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET.

IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE IT IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED THAT THE EXCEPTIONS RELATING TO CAB FARES BETWEEN DUTY POINTS IN THE FIELD, AGAINST MR. KIRKPATRICK'S VOUCHERS BE REMOVED. I WOULD ALSO APPRECIATE YOUR ADVISING ME WITH A VIEW TO ADAPTING THE ATTACHED FORMS OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET TO THE USE OF THE FEDERAL WORKS AGENCY AS TO WHETHER OR NOT SUCH FORMS MEET THE AUDIT REQUIREMENTS OF YOUR OFFICE.

AT THE REQUEST OF THE CHIEF ACCOUNTANT, FEDERAL WORKS AGENCY, IN HIS LETTER OF FEBRUARY 2, 1943, THE SUBJECT VOUCHERS WERE AUDITED IN ADVANCE OF THE REGULAR AUDIT OF THE ACCOUNTS AND, AS STATED IN THE AUDIT DIVISION LETTER OF JUNE 4, 1943, TO THE CHIEF ACCOUNTANT, EXCEPTIONS WERE TAKEN TO THE PAYMENTS INVOLVED. THE NOTICES OF EXCEPTION WHICH WERE FORWARDED WITH THE LETTER OF JUNE 4, 1943, READ IN SUBSTANCE AS FOLLOWS:

REIMBURSEMENT OF TAXICAB FARES * * * BETWEEN DUTY POINTS AT THE OFFICIAL STATION, AND AT TEMPORARY POSTS OF DUTY, IS NOT ALLOWABLE IN THE ABSENCE OF ADMINISTRATIVELY FOUND FACTS TO ESTABLISH THAT THE REGULAR MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION CANNOT BE USED ADVANTAGEOUSLY IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT, WITHIN THE MEANING OF PARAGRAPH 11 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. 21 COMP. GEN. 1093.

PARAGRAPH 11 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

11. SPECIAL CONVEYANCES.--- THE HIRE OF BOAT, AUTOMOBILE, AIRCRAFT, LIVERY, OR OTHER SPECIAL CONVEYANCE WILL BE ALLOWED ONLY WHEN NO PUBLIC OR REGULAR MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION ARE AVAILABLE OR WHEN SUCH REGULAR MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION CANNOT BE USED ADVANTAGEOUSLY IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT, IN WHICH CASE A SATISFACTORY EXPLANATION MUST ACCOMPANY THE ACCOUNT.

THE QUOTED REGULATION CONTEMPLATES THAT THE NECESSITY FOR THE USE OF TAXICABS SHALL BE ESTABLISHED BY SATISFACTORY EXPLANATION IN EACH INSTANCE. IN THAT CONNECTION IT WAS STATED IN 21 COMP. GEN. 1093, AT PAGE 1096:

* * * IN SUCH EXCEPTIONAL CASES TRANSPORTATION BY SPECIAL CONVEYANCE WOULD APPEAR TO BE JUSTIFIED UPON THE GROUND THAT "REGULAR MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION CANNOT BE USED ADVANTAGEOUSLY IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT" WITHIN THE MEANING OF PARAGRAPH II, SUPRA. ATTENTION IS INVITED, HOWEVER, TO THE REQUIREMENT IN PARAGRAPH 11 THAT WHEN TRAVEL OF THIS NATURE IS PERFORMED "A SATISFACTORY EXPLANATION MUST ACCOMPANY THE ACCOUNT," AND THE EMPLOYEE SHOULD ACCORDINGLY BE IN A POSITION, IN ALL SUCH CASES, TO ESTABLISH THAT AN ACTUAL NEED EXISTED FOR TRAVEL BY SPECIAL CONVEYANCE. ALSO, IN 18 COMP. GEN. 106, IT WAS STATED AT PAGE 108, WITH REFERENCE TO THE APPLICATION OF THE SAME REGULATION, AS FOLLOWS:

IT HAS LONG BEEN HELD THAT TAXICABS MAY NOT BE SUBSTITUTED FOR CHEAPER MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION WHEN AVAILABLE UNLESS THE GOVERNMENT BUSINESS COULD NOT BE SATISFACTORILY PERFORMED BY SUCH MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION. SEE A-57680, OCTOBER 15, 1934. THE QUESTION HERE APPEARS WHETHER THE EVIDENCE FURNISHED IN SUPPORT OF THE PAYMENTS MADE OR PROPOSED TO BE MADE FOR TAXICAB TRANSPORTATION MAY BE ACCEPTED AS SHOWING THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY FOR SUCH TRANSPORTATION INSTEAD OF LESS EXPENSIVE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES USUALLY AVAILABLE. WITH RESPECT TO THE PAYMENTS HERE IN QUESTION AN EXAMINATION OF THE VOUCHERS DISCLOSES THAT IN ALL BUT A FEW INSTANCES TAXICABS WERE USED BETWEEN POINTS WITHIN THE BUSINESS AREAS OF SUCH PLACES. THE EXPLANATION CONCERNING THE USE OF TAXICABS IS IDENTICAL IN EACH CASE--- CONSISTING MERELY OF THE BROAD STATEMENT THAT "THE USE OF TAXIS IS AN ABSOLUTE NECESSITY IN ORDER TO KEEP APPOINTMENTS WITH LABOR LEADERS.' IT IS NOT TO BE PRESUMED THAT SUCH MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION AS BUS OR STREETCAR WERE NOT AVAILABLE IN THE VARIOUS LARGE CITIES WHERE THE EXPENSES HERE INVOLVED WERE INCURRED BY MR. KIRKPATRICK. THOUSANDS OF GOVERNMENT OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS REGULARLY MAKE USE OF PUBLIC CONVEYANCES; CONSEQUENTLY, THIS OFFICE MAY NOT ACCEPT A BLANKET ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT SUCH USE OF TAXICABS IS A NECESSITY AT ALL TIMES BY A PARTICULAR EMPLOYEE OR CLASS OF EMPLOYEES.

RELATIVE TO THE USE OF TRAVEL FORMS AUTHORIZING EMPLOYEES TO USE TAXICABS "BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF YOUR DUTIES AND THE INACCESSIBILITY OF CERTAIN PROJECTS TO BE VISITED," IT MAY BE STATED THAT THIS OFFICE WOULD HAVE NO OBJECTION TO THE USE OF SUCH FORMS AS EVIDENCING ADVANCE ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL OF THE USE OF TAXICABS IN CASES OF NECESSITY, BUT SUCH BLANKET AUTHORIZATION LEGALLY MAY NOT BE ACCEPTED AS CONCLUSIVE AND CANNOT HAVE THE EFFECT OF RELIEVING THE TRAVELER IN ANY CASE FROM THE BURDEN OF ESTABLISHING, BY SATISFACTORY EXPLANATION IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE REGULATIONS, THE OFFICIAL NEED FOR THE HIRE OF SPECIAL CONVEYANCE WHEN PUBLIC OR REGULAR MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION ARE OR WERE AVAILABLE. SUCH SUPPORTING DATA NOT HAVING BEEN FURNISHED IN RESPECT OF THE SEVERAL VOUCHERS LISTED BY YOU, THE EXCEPTIONS TAKEN THERETO BY THE AUDIT DIVISION APPEAR PROPER AND, IF SATISFACTORY EXPLANATIONS OF THE NECESSITY IN THE QUESTIONED INDIVIDUAL CASES BE NOT FURNISHED, IT WILL BECOME NECESSARY TO DISALLOW CREDIT FOR THE AMOUNTS PAID THEREON FOR SUCH ITEMS.

WITH RESPECT TO THAT PART OF THE FOURTH PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER RELATIVE TO AUDIT ACTION AS PRECEDENTS, I INVITE YOUR ATTENTION TO 20 COMP. GEN. 403, WHEREIN IT WAS STATED, BEGINNING AT FOOT OF PAGE 405:

* * * IT MAY BE POINTED OUT THAT THE ACTION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN THE AUDIT OR SETTLEMENT OF AN ACCOUNT OR CLAIM DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A DECISION OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES SUCH AS ADMINISTRATIVE AND DISBURSING OFFICERS ARE AUTHORIZED TO ACCEPT AS GUIDES AND PRECEDENTS IN OBLIGATING AND DISBURSING PUBLIC MONEYS. COMP. GEN. 367; 17 ID. 445; 18 ID. 609.