B-5102, AUGUST 29, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 306

B-5102: Aug 29, 1939

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SUBSISTENCE - PER DIEMS - TOWNS ADJACENT TO AND WITHIN HEADQUARTERS CITY REQUESTS FOR REVIEW OF EXCEPTIONS OR DISALLOWANCES MADE IN THE SETTLEMENT OF A DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNT ORDINARILY ARE NOT FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE UNLESS SUBMITTED BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER WHOSE ACCOUNTS ARE INVOLVED. WHICH WERE NOT CONFINED TO THE PERIOD BETWEEN 8 A.M. EACH OF WHICH IS A SMALL TOWN WITHIN LOS ANGELES. THE DISBURSING OFFICER IS THE ONE PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE FOR ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS MADE BY HIM. THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE WHO RECEIVED SUCH PAYMENT IS NOW OUT OF THE SERVICE AND FINANCIALLY UNABLE TO MAKE REFUND CONSTITUTES NO REASON FOR RELIEVING THE DISBURSING OFFICER FROM RESPONSIBILITY FOR ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS.

B-5102, AUGUST 29, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 306

DISBURSING OFFICERS AND AGENTS - LIABILITY AND REQUESTS FOR REVIEW - PAYEE'S FINANCIAL INABILITY TO REFUND ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS, AND REVIEW REQUESTS BY OTHER THAN DISBURSING OFFICER; SUBSISTENCE - PER DIEMS - TOWNS ADJACENT TO AND WITHIN HEADQUARTERS CITY REQUESTS FOR REVIEW OF EXCEPTIONS OR DISALLOWANCES MADE IN THE SETTLEMENT OF A DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNT ORDINARILY ARE NOT FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE UNLESS SUBMITTED BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER WHOSE ACCOUNTS ARE INVOLVED. FRACTIONAL PER DIEMS PAID ON TRIPS FROM LOS ANGELES, THE EMPLOYEE'S STATION, TO LONG BEACH, CALIF. (OUTSIDE THE CORPORATE LIMITS OF, AND ADJACENT TO, LOS ANGELES), WHICH WERE NOT CONFINED TO THE PERIOD BETWEEN 8 A.M. AND 6 P.M., AND WHICH EXCEEDED 3 HOURS, MAY BE CREDITED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER INVOLVED. FRACTIONAL PER DIEMS PAID ON TRIPS FROM LOS ANGELES, THE EMPLOYEE'S STATION, TO SAN FERNANDO AND SANTA MONICA, CALIF., EACH OF WHICH IS A SMALL TOWN WITHIN LOS ANGELES, MAY NOT BE CREDITED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER INVOLVED. THE DISBURSING OFFICER IS THE ONE PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE FOR ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS MADE BY HIM, AND THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE WHO RECEIVED SUCH PAYMENT IS NOW OUT OF THE SERVICE AND FINANCIALLY UNABLE TO MAKE REFUND CONSTITUTES NO REASON FOR RELIEVING THE DISBURSING OFFICER FROM RESPONSIBILITY FOR ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL BROWN TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, AUGUST 29, 1939:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF JULY 1, 1939, AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO NOTICE OF EXCEPTION OF $16.25 IN THE APRIL 1936 REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHER OF MERLE GARRISON, INVESTIGATOR, ALCOHOL TAX UNIT, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, PAID IN THE MAY 1936 ACCOUNT OF G.F. ALLEN, VOUCHER NO. 12-51637.

THE EXCEPTION COVERS CLAIM FOR PER DIEM AT LONG BEACH, SAN FERNANDO, AND SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA, WHICH IT IS HELD IS NOT ALLOWABLE SINCE THESE POINTS ARE LOCATED WITHIN THE EXTERIOR BOUNDARIES OF THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES, THE EMPLOYEE'S POST OF DUTY, OR ADJACENT THERETO, AND TRAVEL TO THESE POINTS DOES NOT ESTABLISH A TRAVEL STATUS AWAY FROM POST OF DUTY FOR THE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM. BOTH THE DECISION A-75690, 15 COMP. GEN., P. 1117, DATED JUNE 19, 1936, RELATIVE TO ADJACENT CITIES, ON WHICH THE DISALLOWANCE OF PER DIEM IS BASED, AND DECISION A 87188, DATED AUGUST 6, 1937, RELATIVE TO EXTERIOR BOUNDARIES OF CITIES, WERE RENDERED SUBSEQUENT TO THE PAYMENT OF THE VOUCHER IN QUESTION.

THE TOWNS OF LONG BEACH, SAN FERNANDO, AND SANTA MONICA ARE SEPARATE MUNICIPALITIES. LONG BEACH IS LOCATED OUTSIDE THE EXTERIOR BOUNDARIES OF THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES, BUT ADJACENT THERETO. SAN FERNANDO AND SANTA MONICA ARE ENTIRELY SURROUNDED BY THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES AND ARE NOW CONSIDERED BY YOUR OFFICE TO BE A PART OF LOS ANGELES. THE PER DIEM IN QUESTION WAS CLAIMED IN CONNECTION WITH TRAVEL BETWEEN LOS ANGELES AND LONG BEACH, SAN FERNANDO, AND SANTA MONICA NECESSARY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES AND,SINCE BOTH DECISIONS BEARING ON THE CASE WERE RENDERED SUBSEQUENT TO THE TIME THE VOUCHER WAS PAID, IT IS EVIDENT THAT THE EMPLOYEE HAD NO INTENTION OF CLAIMING ANYTHING BUT WHAT WAS PROPER UNDER THE REGULATIONS IN FORCE AT THE TIME.

IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT MR. GARRISON IS UNABLE TO REFUND THE $16.25, AS HE HAS NOT HAD REGULAR EMPLOYMENT SINCE HIS SEPARATION FROM THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE DECEMBER 31, 1936, AND SINCE THE DECISIONS BEARING ON THE CASE WERE RENDERED SUBSEQUENT TO THE TIME THE VOUCHER WAS PAID, IT IS REQUESTED THAT CREDIT BE ALLOWED IN THIS SPECIFIC INSTANCE FOR THE AMOUNT OUTSTANDING AND THAT THE CASE BE CLOSED.

REQUESTS FOR REVIEW OF EXCEPTIONS OR DISALLOWANCES MADE IN THE SETTLEMENT OF A DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNT ORDINARILY ARE NOT FOR CONSIDERATION BY THIS OFFICE UNLESS SUBMITTED BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER WHOSE ACCOUNTS ARE INVOLVED. HOWEVER, THERE APPEARING TO HAVE BEEN AN ADMINISTRATIVE MISUNDERSTANDING IN THIS MATTER, THE SOURCE OF THE REQUEST FOR REVIEW WILL NOT, IN THIS INSTANCE, BE FURTHER QUESTIONED.

WHEN PROPERLY AUTHORIZED UNDER EXISTING STATUTES AND REGULATIONS AN EMPLOYEE IS ALLOWED MILEAGE OR TRANSPORTATION COSTS, AS THE CASE MAY BE, FOR ALL TRAVEL BEYOND THE CORPORATE LIMITS OF HIS HEADQUARTERS (16 COMP. GEN. 577) AND, ALSO, PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE IF HIS OFFICIAL BUSINESS NECESSITATES HIS DEPARTURE FROM HIS HEADQUARTERS BEFORE 8 A.M. OR RETURN THERETO AFTER 6 P.M. AND THE TOTAL ABSENCE EXCEEDS 3 HOURS (PAR. 51, GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS). AS $7.50 OF THE AMOUNT FOR WHICH CREDIT WAS DISALLOWED REPRESENTS FRACTIONAL PER DIEMS PAID ON TRIPS FROM LOS ANGELES TO LONG BEACH (OUTSIDE THE CORPORATE LIMITS OF LOS ANGELES) WHICH WERE NOT CONFINED TO THE PERIOD BETWEEN 8 A.M. AND 6 P.M., AND WHICH EXCEEDED 3 HOURS, CREDIT WILL BE ALLOWED FOR THAT AMOUNT.

HOWEVER, THE REMAINDER OF THE DISALLOWANCE INVOLVES PAYMENTS OF FRACTIONAL PER DIEMS ON TRIPS FROM THE EMPLOYEE'S STATION IN LOS ANGELES TO SAN FERNANDO AND SANTA MONICA, EACH OF WHICH IS A SMALL TOWN WITHIN LOS ANGELES. A PERSON GOING FROM A POINT IN LOS ANGELES TO ANOTHER POINT IN LOS ANGELES ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF SAN FERNANDO OR SANTA MONICA WOULD NOT BE ENTITLED TO PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE AS HE WOULD STILL BE WITHIN THE CORPORATE LIMITS OF HIS HEADQUARTERS. PARAGRAPHS 3 AND 46, GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. OBVIOUSLY, IT WOULD NOT BE EQUITABLE NOR WOULD IT BE LAWFUL TO ALLOW PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE TO A PERSON GOING A SHORTER DISTANCE IN THE SAME DIRECTION BUT STOPPING IN SAN FERNANDO OR SANTA MONICA, AS THE CASE MAY BE. SEE A-87188, AUGUST 6, 1937; A-93377, NOVEMBER 30, 1938; A-76945, JULY 28, 1936, AND FEBRUARY 3, 1938. THESE DECISIONS DID NOT CHANGE ANY PRIOR RULING OR DECISION UPON THIS QUESTION AND IT WILL BE NOTED THAT THE PAYMENTS INVOLVED IN THE DECISIONS A-87188 AND A-93377 WERE MADE IN SEPTEMBER 1934 AND AUGUST 1935, RESPECTIVELY, PRIOR TO THE PAYMENTS INVOLVED IN YOUR SUBMISSION.

AS THE DISBURSING OFFICER IS THE ONE PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE FOR ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS MADE BY HIM, THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE WHO RECEIVED SUCH PAYMENT IS NOW OUT OF THE SERVICE AND FINANCIALLY UNABLE TO MAKE A REFUND CONSTITUTES NO REASON FOR RELIEVING THE DISBURSING OFFICER FROM RESPONSIBILITY FOR ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS. 7 COMP. GEN. 64; 13 ID. 137, 311; 15 ID. 342. UPON REVIEW, THE DISALLOWANCE OF CREDIT, REDUCED AS ABOVE INDICATED TO $8.75, MUST BE, AND IS, SUSTAINED.

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