B-34344, JUNE 7, 1943, 22 COMP. GEN. 1080

B-34344: Jun 7, 1943

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SUBSISTENCE - PER DIEMS - DELAYS DUE TO LACK OF TRAIN ACCOMMODATIONS AND LATE TRAIN ARRIVALS INASMUCH AS IT IS A MATTER OF COMMON KNOWLEDGE THAT DURING THE PRESENT EMERGENCY IT OFTEN IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SECURE TRAIN ACCOMMODATIONS AT PARTICULAR TIMES AND THAT TRAINS OFTEN ARRIVE LATE AT DESTINATIONS. 1943: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF MAY 6. AS FOLLOWS: THERE IS ENCLOSED A COPY OF LETTER OF APRIL 24. THE RECLAIM IS ACCOMPANIED BY THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL ORDERS ISSUED TO MR. THE GROUNDS ON WHICH SUSPENSION WAS BASED. IT WAS HELD THAT PER DIEM DUE TO THE LATE ARRIVAL OF A TRAIN COULD NOT BE ALLOWED IN THE ABSENCE OF A STATEMENT FROM THE TRAIN CONDUCTOR THAT THE TRAIN WAS LATE. YOUR DECISION IS ACCORDINGLY REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE RECLAIM HEREWITH SUBMITTED MAY BE PAID AS RENDERED.

B-34344, JUNE 7, 1943, 22 COMP. GEN. 1080

SUBSISTENCE - PER DIEMS - DELAYS DUE TO LACK OF TRAIN ACCOMMODATIONS AND LATE TRAIN ARRIVALS INASMUCH AS IT IS A MATTER OF COMMON KNOWLEDGE THAT DURING THE PRESENT EMERGENCY IT OFTEN IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SECURE TRAIN ACCOMMODATIONS AT PARTICULAR TIMES AND THAT TRAINS OFTEN ARRIVE LATE AT DESTINATIONS, DURING THE EXISTENCE OF THE PRESENT EMERGENCY, OFFICIAL TRAVELERS' STATEMENTS AS TO THE FACTS OF DELAYS MAY, IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY INFORMATION TO THE CONTRARY, BE ACCEPTED IN SUPPORT OF PAYMENT OF ADDITIONAL PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE INCIDENT TO THE DELAYS, WITHOUT CORROBORATION OF SUCH FACTS BY A RAILROAD OFFICIAL.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, JUNE 7, 1943:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF MAY 6, 1943, JAG:S:MFL:WS, 40319, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE IS ENCLOSED A COPY OF LETTER OF APRIL 24, 1943, FROM THE BUREAU OF SUPPLIES AND ACCOUNTS, SUBMITTING ORIGINAL RECLAIM, LIKEWISE ATTACHED, OF MR. C. G. SMITH, FOR $19.50 COVERING PER DIEM SUSPENDED BY THE BUREAU IN THE SETTLEMENT OF A TRAVEL CLAIM IN FAVOR OF MR. SMITH, PAID UNDER VOUCHER NUMBER 63767, MARCH 26, 1943, IN THE ACCOUNTS OF COMMANDER W. J. MCNEIL, ( SC), U.S.N.R.

THE RECLAIM IS ACCOMPANIED BY THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL ORDERS ISSUED TO MR. SMITH, JANUARY 27, 1943, WITH NOTICE OF SUSPENSION OF $19.50, TOGETHER WITH ADDITIONAL COPIES OF THE PAPERS.

THE SUBMITTAL REQUEST OF BUREAU OF SUPPLIES AND ACCOUNTS GIVES FULL INFORMATION AS TO THE ITEMS COMPRISING THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL CLAIM, AND THE GROUNDS ON WHICH SUSPENSION WAS BASED.

IN SUPPORT OF HIS RECLAIM MR. C. G. SMITH REFERRED TO DECISION B 33385 OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF APRIL 1, 1943, HOLDING THAT A RECLAIM COVERING PER DIEM BETWEEN WASHINGTON, D.C. AND NEW YORK, N.Y., OCCASIONED BY THE NON-AVAILABILITY OF PULLMAN ACCOMMODATIONS, COULD BE PAID WITHOUT CORROBORATION BY STATEMENTS FROM THE RAILROAD OFFICIALS, BUT SAID DECISION DID NOT COVER THE MATTER OF PER DIEMALLOWANCE INCIDENT TO TRAIN DELAYS.

HOWEVER, IN CERTIFICATE OF SETTLEMENT, CLAIM NUMBER 10563029, OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, PAID ON VOUCHER NO. 51669, FEBRUARY 22, 1943, IN THE ACCOUNTS OF COMMANDER W. J. MCNEIL, SC, U.S.N.R., INVOLVING ANOTHER CLAIM, IT WAS HELD THAT PER DIEM DUE TO THE LATE ARRIVAL OF A TRAIN COULD NOT BE ALLOWED IN THE ABSENCE OF A STATEMENT FROM THE TRAIN CONDUCTOR THAT THE TRAIN WAS LATE.

YOUR DECISION IS ACCORDINGLY REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE RECLAIM HEREWITH SUBMITTED MAY BE PAID AS RENDERED, INCLUDING AS IT DOES ADDITIONAL PER DIEM INCIDENT TO DELAY IN NEW ORLEANS, LA., WHILE AWAITING PULLMAN ACCOMMODATIONS AND THE ALLEGED LATE ARRIVAL OF THE TRAIN IN WASHINGTON, D.C., AND WITHOUT CORROBORATION OF SUCH FACTS BY THE RAILROAD OFFICIALS.

YOUR DECISION B-33385, SUPRA, RECOGNIZED AS A FACTOR THE CONGESTION OF RAIL TRANSPORTATION AT THE PRESENT TIME. NUMEROUS TRAVEL CLAIMS ARE BEING RECEIVED ON WHICH PER DIEM IS CLAIMED FOR DELAY WHILE AWAITING PULLMAN ACCOMMODATIONS AND ON ACCOUNT OF LATE ARRIVAL OF TRAINS.

IN THE EVENT YOUR OFFICE HOLDS THAT THE ENCLOSED RECLAIM MAY BE PAID, IT IS THE INTENTION OF THE BUREAU OF SUPPLIES AND ACCOUNTS TO ACCEPT CLAIMANTS' STATEMENTS ON FUTURE CLAIMS INVOLVING SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES, THUS AVOIDING THE HANDLING OF THE RECLAIMS AND EXPEDITING PAYMENTS.

IN VIEW OF THE SITUATION SUCH EARLY CONSIDERATION AS MAY BE PRACTICABLE WILL BE APPRECIATED.

MR. SMITH WAS AUTHORIZED, IN LETTER DATED JANUARY 27, 1943, TRAVEL JOURNAL NO. 2967, TO PROCEED ON OR ABOUT JANUARY 27, 1943, TO NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, FOR TEMPORARY DUTY AND, UPON COMPLETION OF THE TEMPORARY DUTY, TO RETURN TO WASHINGTON, D.C. THE TRAVEL TO NEW ORLEANS ( D.O. VOUCHER NO. 63767 PAID MARCH 26, 1943, BY W. J. MCNEIL) WAS PERFORMED AS AUTHORIZED, THE TRAVELER HAVING LEFT WASHINGTON, D.C., AT 8 P.M. FEBRUARY 6 AND ARRIVED AT NEW ORLEANS AT 12:30 A.M. FEBRUARY 8, 1943. IMMEDIATELY UPON HIS ARRIVAL IN NEW ORLEANS, HE ATTEMPTED TO GET RESERVATIONS FOR THE RETURN TRIP BUT FOUND THAT NO ACCOMMODATIONS WERE AVAILABLE UNTIL FEBRUARY 11, 1943. DUE TO THIS FACT HE REMAINED IN NEW ORLEANS WHILE AWAITING PULLMAN ACCOMMODATIONS UNTIL 9:30 P.M. FEBRUARY 11, 1943, AND DID NOT ARRIVE IN WASHINGTON UNTIL 6:30 A.M. FEBRUARY 13, 1943 (TRAIN SCHEDULED TO ARRIVE AT :55 A.M.)

IN SUBMITTING HIS TRAVEL EXPENSE VOUCHER TO COVER THIS TRIP, PER DIEM WAS CLAIMED FROM THE TIME OF DEPARTURE FROM WASHINGTON AT 8 P.M. ON FEBRUARY 6 TO TIME OF RETURN THERETO AT 6:30 A.M. ON FEBRUARY 13 OR FOR 6 3/4 DAYS AT $6, A TOTAL OF $40.50. HOWEVER, IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXAMINATION OF THE VOUCHER, PER DIEM WAS ALLOWED ONLY FROM 8 P.M. FEBRUARY 6 TO 4:45 A.M. FEBRUARY 10, THAT IS, FOR 3 1/2 DAYS AT $6, OR $21, THE ABSENCE OF A STATEMENT FROM THE TRAIN CONDUCTOR THAT THE TRAIN WAS LATE AS ALLEGED BY THE CLAIMANT AND A STATEMENT FROM A RAILROAD OFFICIAL IN NEW ORLEANS THAT RESERVATIONS FOR WASHINGTON WERE NOT AVAILABLE 9:30 P.M. ON FEBRUARY 11, 1943.

MR. SMITH STATES IN CONNECTION WITH HIS RECLAIM THAT THE DELAY WAS THROUGH NO FAULT OF HIS BUT WAS CAUSED ENTIRELY BY URGENT WAR CONDITIONS AND REFERS TO DECISION DATED APRIL 1, 1943, B-33385, IN SUPPORT OF HIS CLAIM. THE DECISION REFERRED TO WAS IN CONNECTION WITH RECLAIM OF PER DIEM INCIDENT TO TRAVEL BETWEEN WASHINGTON AND NEW YORK AND IT WAS HELD THEREIN THAT IF THE ONLY OBJECTION TO THE PAYMENT OF THE RECLAIM WAS THE INABILITY OF THE CLAIMANT TO SECURE ACCOMMODATIONS ON TRAINS LEAVING WASHINGTON, D.C., LATER AND NEW YORK, NEW YORK, EARLIER THAN THE HOURS SHOWN ON THE VOUCHER, THE TRAVELER'S STATEMENT OF THE SEVERAL FACTS NARRATED BY HER COULD BE ACCEPTED WITHOUT CORROBORATION BY STATEMENTS FROM THE RAILROAD OFFICIALS SINCE THE CONGESTION OF RAIL TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN THE TWO CITIES AT THE TIME OF THE INVOLVED TRAVEL WAS A MATTER OF COMMON KNOWLEDGE.

REGARDING EARLY DEPARTURE FROM OFFICIAL STATION AND DELAY AT TEMPORARY DUTY STATION IN ORDER TO SECURE PULLMAN ACCOMMODATIONS SEE DECISION DATED MARCH 26, 1943, B-32732, IN WHICH IT WAS HELD IN CONNECTION WITH TRAVEL BETWEEN WASHINGTON, D.C., AND RICHMOND, VIRGINIA, THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE TO SHOW THAT THE EMPLOYEE COULD NOT HAVE SECURED ACCOMMODATIONS ON THE FOLLOWING MORNING OR THAT THE OFFICIAL DUTY WAS SUCH THAT IT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN COMPLETED IN THE TIME AVAILABLE BETWEEN THE HOURS OF ARRIVAL AT RICHMOND AND OF DEPARTURE THEREFROM, AS SET FORTH IN THE SCHEDULE UNDER WHICH THE DEDUCTION OF PER DIEM WAS MADE, THERE APPEARED NO GROUNDS FOR ALLOWING THE ITEM OF PER DIEM RECLAIMED. HOWEVER, IT WAS FURTHER STATED THAT:

THIS DECISION IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS HOLDING THAT TROOP MOVEMENTS MAY NOT BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION IN A PROPER CASE IN DETERMINING THE CORRECT TIME OF DEPARTURE OF AN EMPLOYEE FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IN ORDER TO KEEP TO A MINIMUM THE OBLIGATION OF THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES. ON THE CONTRARY, THE FACT THAT ACCOMMODATIONS ON CERTAIN SCHEDULED TRAINS ARE NOT AVAILABLE TO CIVILIANS BECAUSE OF MOVEMENT OF TROOPS--- WHILE NOT THE ONLY FACT TO BE CONSIDERED- -- MAY BE GIVEN CONSIDERATION, TOGETHER WITH ALL OTHER FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES INVOLVED, IN DETERMINING PROPER COMPLIANCE WITH PARAGRAPHS 1 AND 9 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS * * *.

WHILE STATEMENTS OF RAILROAD OFFICIALS TO SUPPORT ALLEGATIONS MADE BY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES IN A TRAVEL STATUS REGARDING DELAYS IN TRAIN SCHEDULES, LACK OF PROPER TRAIN ACCOMMODATIONS AT PARTICULAR TIMES, ETC., WOULD BE DESIRABLE, YET, HAVING REGARD FOR THE FACT THAT IT IS A MATTER OF COMMON KNOWLEDGE THAT DUE TO TROOP MOVEMENTS AND OTHER TRAVEL PERTAINING TO THE WAR EFFORT IT OFTEN IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SECURE ACCOMMODATIONS, ALSO, THAT A GREAT MANY OF THE TRAINS ARE DELAYED, SOMETIMES HOURS, IN REACHING THEIR DESTINATIONS, IT IS CONCLUDED THAT SO LONG AS THE PRESENT EMERGENCY EXISTS, THE TRAVELERS' STATEMENTS AS TO THE DELAY IN AWAITING ACCOMMODATIONS AND IN REFERENCE TO LATE ARRIVAL OF TRAINS, CONDITIONS OVER WHICH THEY HAVE NO CONTROL, MAY, IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY INFORMATION TO THE CONTRARY, BE ACCEPTED WITHOUT CORROBORATION OF SUCH FACTS BY A RAILROAD OFFICIAL.

ACCORDINGLY, PAYMENT ON THE VOUCHER HERE INVOLVED IS AUTHORIZED, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT AND PROPER.