B-43793, SEPTEMBER 4, 1944, 24 COMP. GEN. 179

B-43793: Sep 4, 1944

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WHICH IS COMMENSURATE WITH THE ADDITIONAL EXPENSE INCURRED. 7 COMP. 1944: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 11. AS FOLLOWS: THERE IS ENCLOSED FOR YOUR DECISION. THE TRAVELER'S OFFICIAL STATION IS WASHINGTON. THE PURPOSE OF THE TRAVEL WAS TO ATTEND A CONFERENCE OF BUREAU EMPLOYEES AT WHICH PLANS WERE MADE FOR THE CONDUCT OF THE COMING YEAR'S WORK. PREVIOUS YEARS MANY OF THESE MEETINGS WERE HELD AT MOUNT WEATHER. THE MEETING THIS YEAR WAS HELD AT COLLEGE PARK. MEETINGS WERE HELD EVERY DAY AND USUALLY LASTED UNTIL 10:30 OR 11:00 P.M. THE ROUND-TRIP BUS FARE BETWEEN COLLEGE PARK AND WASHINGTON IS $0.55. THE TRAVELER DID NOT RETURN TO HIS OFFICIAL STATION EACH DAY BECAUSE IN MOST CASES HE COULD NOT HAVE LEFT COLLEGE PARK PRIOR TO 11:00 P.M.

B-43793, SEPTEMBER 4, 1944, 24 COMP. GEN. 179

SUBSISTENCE - PER DIEMS - TEMPORARY DUTY NEAR HEADQUARTERS WHERE AN EMPLOYEE'S DUTY AT A TEMPORARY STATION A SHORT DISTANCE BEYOND THE CORPORATE LIMITS OF HIS OFFICIAL STATION REQUIRED HIS PRESENCE THERE DURING SUCH HOURS AS TO RENDER DAILY TRAVEL BETWEEN THE TEMPORARY STATION AND HIS HOME OR OFFICIAL STATION IMPRACTICABLE, THUS PUTTING HIM TO GREATER SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE THAN ORDINARILY INCURRED AT HEADQUARTERS, THE EMPLOYEE MAY BE CONSIDERED AS HAVING BEEN IN A TRAVEL STATUS DURING THE PERIOD OF TEMPORARY DUTY, ENTITLING HIM TO PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE UNDER THE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE ACT OF 1926, AS AMENDED, AT THE RATE STIPULATED IN HIS TRAVEL ORDERS, WHICH IS COMMENSURATE WITH THE ADDITIONAL EXPENSE INCURRED. 7 COMP. GEN. 165 AND 15 ID. 1117, DISTINGUISHED.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL YATES TO GEORGE E. EVANS, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, SEPTEMBER 4, 1944:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 11, 1944, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE IS ENCLOSED FOR YOUR DECISION, AS TO LEGALITY OF PAYMENT, A VOUCHER SUBMITTED BY MR. R. R. NICHOLS, AN EMPLOYEE OF THIS BUREAU IN WHICH HE HAS CLAIMED 5 1/2 DAYS PER DIEM FOR OFFICIAL DUTY PERFORMED AT COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND. THE TRAVELER'S OFFICIAL STATION IS WASHINGTON, D.C.

THE PURPOSE OF THE TRAVEL WAS TO ATTEND A CONFERENCE OF BUREAU EMPLOYEES AT WHICH PLANS WERE MADE FOR THE CONDUCT OF THE COMING YEAR'S WORK. PREVIOUS YEARS MANY OF THESE MEETINGS WERE HELD AT MOUNT WEATHER, VIRGINIA OR SOME OTHER SUITABLE LOCATION WITHIN 50 OR 75 MILES OF WASHINGTON. OWING TO TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS NOW IN EFFECT AND THE NECESSITY FOR HOLDING THE CONFERENCE AT A POINT OF MAXIMUM ACCESSIBILITY FOR MEMBERS OF THE STAFF, THE MEETING THIS YEAR WAS HELD AT COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND.

DURING THE CONFERENCE, MEETINGS WERE HELD EVERY DAY AND USUALLY LASTED UNTIL 10:30 OR 11:00 P.M. THE ROUND-TRIP BUS FARE BETWEEN COLLEGE PARK AND WASHINGTON IS $0.55. IT USUALLY TAKES 45 MINUTES TO MAKE THE ONE WAY TRIP. ACCORDING TO THE MEMO ATTACHED TO THE VOUCHER, THE TRAVELER DID NOT RETURN TO HIS OFFICIAL STATION EACH DAY BECAUSE IN MOST CASES HE COULD NOT HAVE LEFT COLLEGE PARK PRIOR TO 11:00 P.M; AND WOULD HAVE HAD TO RETURN THERE THE NEXT MORNING TO PERFORM OFFICIAL DUTY AT 9,*00 A.M.

IN VIEW OF THE DECISIONS RENDERED IN 7 COMP. GEN. 165 AND 11 (15) COMP. GEN. 1117, THERE IS A QUESTION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THIS ABSENCE FROM HEADQUARTERS CONSTITUTES A TRAVEL STATUS AND ENTITLES THE EMPLOYEE TO PER DIEM.

THE VOUCHER SUBMITTED ( BUREAU NO. 18197) IS IN THE AMOUNT OF $31.55 AND COVERS CLAIM FOR ROUND-TRIP BUS FARE, WASHINGTON, D.C., TO COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND, 55 CENTS; TAXI FARE, BUS STATION TO OFFICE IN WASHINGTON, 20 CENTS; AND PER DIEM FROM 8:00 A.M. JULY 24 TO 1:45 1.M. JULY 29, 1944, 5 1/2 DAYS AT $5.60 PER DAY OR $30.80. TRAVEL ORDER NO. 167 DATED JULY 18, 1944, AUTHORIZED TRAVEL FROM WASHINGTON TO COLLEGE PARK AND RETURN AS OFTEN AS NECESSARY TO ATTEND REGIONAL-1WASHINGTON STAFF CONFERENCE DURING THE PERIOD OF JULY 24 TO 30, 1944, AND PER DIEM AT THE RATE OF $5.60 WAS FIXED IN THE ORDER. IN VIEW OF THE CLOSE PROXIMITY OF COLLEGE PARK TO THE EMPLOYEE'S HEADQUARTERS, APPROXIMATELY THREE MILES FROM THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA BOUNDARY LINE, AND THE RULING IN 7 COMP. GEN. 165, AND 15 ID. 1117 (CITED BY YOU AS 11 COMP. GEN. 1117), YOU QUESTION THE PROPRIETY OF THE CLAIM FOR PER DIEM.

THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE NEGATIVING THE ALLOWANCE OF PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE TO EMPLOYEES FOR PERIODS OF OFFICIAL DUTY SHORT DISTANCES BEYOND THE CORPORATE LIMITS OF THEIR OFFICIAL STATIONS FOR THE REASON THAT THE DUTY WAS PERFORMED SUBSTANTIALLY AT HEADQUARTERS ARE, FOR THE MOST PART, PREDICATED UPON THE FACT THAT THE DUTIES ASSIGNED REQUIRED THE PRESENCE OF THE EMPLOYEES AT THE RESPECTIVE PLACES AT SUCH REGULAR AND FREQUENT INTERVALS AS WOULD ORDINARILY BE REQUIRED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY AT HEADQUARTERS AND WERE OF SUCH NATURE AS TO PERMIT THE EMPLOYEE'S RETURN TO HIS HOME OR OFFICIAL STATION EACH DAY, SUBJECTING HIM TO NO GREATER INCONVENIENCE OR EXPENSE THAN THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY AT HIS OFFICE. THE QUESTION OF WHETHER THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY WITHIN A FEW MILES OF THE HEADQUARTERS OFFICE CONSTITUTES A TRAVEL STATUS DEPENDS UPON THE FACTS IN THE CASE, SUCH AS THE TIME NECESSARILY ABSENT FROM HEADQUARTERS ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND THE AVAILABILITY OF TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN HEADQUARTERS AND THE TEMPORARY DUTY STATION.

THE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE ACT OF 1926, 44 STAT. 688, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932, 47 STAT. 405, AND THE ACT OF JANUARY 30, 1942, 56 STAT. 39, REQUIRES THAT AN EMPLOYEE MUST BE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY TO BE ENTITLED TO PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE. THE REASON FOR THE PROVISIONS FOR REIMBURSING EMPLOYEES WHO ARE REQUIRED TO TRAVEL AWAY FROM THEIR DESIGNATED POSTS FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTY IS THAT THE EMPLOYEE HAS BEEN PUT TO ADDITIONAL EXPENSE OVER WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN EXPENDED HAD THE EMPLOYEE REMAINED AT HIS DESIGNATED POST.

THE RECORD IN THIS CASE INDICATES THAT THE EMPLOYEE REMAINED AT COLLEGE PARK DURING THE ENTIRE PERIOD OF THE CONFERENCE AND, WHILE IT IS NOT STATED, IT IS ASSUMED THAT HE WAS PUT TO ADDITIONAL EXPENSE WHILE THERE, AND DECISION IS RENDERED UPON THAT BASIS. THE EMPLOYEE STATES IN MEMORANDUM OF AUGUST 10, 1944, THAT IN ORDER FOR HIM TO ATTEND THE CONFERENCES EACH DAY IT WOULD HAVE BEEN NECESSARY FOR HIM TO LEAVE WASHINGTON NOT LATER THAN 7:30 A.M. AND BECAUSE OF EVENING DUTIES, DEPARTURE FROM COLLEGE PARK PRIOR TO 11:00 P.M., WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE.

THE DUTY REQUIRED OF THIS EMPLOYEE APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN SUCH AS TO JUSTIFY HIS CONTINUOUS PRESENCE AT COLLEGE PARK FOR THE PERIOD OF THE CONFERENCE. ON THE BASIS OF THE REPORTED FACTS AND WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT IT WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT THE PER DIEM ALLOWANCE WAS FIXED AT A RATE COMMENSURATE WITH THE ADDITIONAL EXPENSE TO WHICH THE EMPLOYEE WOULD BE PUT, IT MAY BE CONCLUDED THAT HE WAS IN A TRAVEL STATUS ENTITLING HIM TO PER DIEM UNDER THE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE ACT OF 1926, AS AMENDED. ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHER, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. THE VOUCHER AND SUPPORTING PAPER ARE RETURNED HEREWITH.