B-56508, APRIL 10, 1946, 25 COMP. GEN. 708

B-56508: Apr 10, 1946

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

" IT IS MANDATORY THAT ORDERS "DIRECTING THE TRAVEL" AND AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT FOR SUCH EXPENSES BE ISSUED IN ADVANCE. SO THAT EVEN THOUGH AN EMPLOYEE'S PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION WERE SUCH AS WOULD WARRANT TRANSPORTATION AT PUBLIC EXPENSE BUT FOR AN ADMINISTRATIVE FAILURE. TRAVEL ORDERS WERE NOT ISSUED. ADDITIONAL MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES ARE PRESENT IN THIS INSTANCE. ELZEY WHOSE SERVICES WERE URGENTLY NEEDED BY THE FORMER INSTALLATION. THIS ARRANGEMENT WAS APPROVED BY ELGIN FIELD. THE LATTER COMMUNICATION WAS NOT RECEIVE ELGIN FIELD AND IN CONSEQUENCE NO TRAVEL ORDERS WERE ISSUED TO THE EMPLOYEE THAT STATION WOULD TERMINATE NOVEMBER 16 AND THAT HE SHOULD REPORT AT ELGIN FIELD ON NOVEMBER 19.

B-56508, APRIL 10, 1946, 25 COMP. GEN. 708

TRAVELING EXPENSE - TRANSFERRED CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES - AUTHORIZATION REQUIREMENTS UNDER THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 21, 1942, PROVIDING FOR THE PAYMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES OF TRANSFERRED CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT WHEN AUTHORIZED "IN THE ORDER DIRECTING THE TRAVEL," IT IS MANDATORY THAT ORDERS "DIRECTING THE TRAVEL" AND AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT FOR SUCH EXPENSES BE ISSUED IN ADVANCE, SO THAT EVEN THOUGH AN EMPLOYEE'S PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION WERE SUCH AS WOULD WARRANT TRANSPORTATION AT PUBLIC EXPENSE BUT FOR AN ADMINISTRATIVE FAILURE--- INADVERTENT OR OTHERWISE--- TO ISSUE TRAVEL ORDERS IN ADVANCE, CONFIRMATORY TRAVEL ORDERS MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS ENTITLING THE EMPLOYEE TO REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES INCURRED UPON SUCH A TRANSFER.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR, APRIL 10, 1946:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 8, 1946, AS FOLLOWS:

THE DEPARTMENT REQUESTS YOUR ADVICE AS TO ITS AUTHORITY TO REIMBURSE AN EMPLOYEE FOR TRAVELING EXPENSES INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH CHANGE OF PERMANENT DUTY STATION WHEN, THROUGH UNCONTROLLABLE CIRCUMSTANCES, TRAVEL ORDERS WERE NOT ISSUED. PAYMENT HAS NOT BEEN MADE BECAUSE OF THE APPARENT SIMILARITY WHICH THE CASE BEARS TO THAT DISCUSSED IN 11 COMP. GEN. 459. ADDITIONAL MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES ARE PRESENT IN THIS INSTANCE, HOWEVER, WHICH INDICATE THE DESIRABILITY FOR SECURING YOUR APPROVAL OF MORE LIBERAL TREATMENT.

IN OCTOBER, 1945, THE ARMY AIR FORCES INSTALLATION AT ELGIN FIELD, FLORIDA, ENTERED INTO NEGOTIATIONS WITH FORT HAYES ( OHIO) FOR THE TRANSFER OF MR. RAY G. ELZEY WHOSE SERVICES WERE URGENTLY NEEDED BY THE FORMER INSTALLATION. THE AUTHORITIES AT FORT HAYES AGREED TO RELEASE MR. ELZEY FOR TRANSFER BUT ADVISED THAT HIS SERVICES COULD NOT BE AVAILABLE UNTIL DECEMBER 1. THIS ARRANGEMENT WAS APPROVED BY ELGIN FIELD, BUT ON OCTOBER 23 FORT HAYES ADVISED THAT RELEASE COULD BE MADE EFFECTIVE ON NOVEMBER 16. THE LATTER COMMUNICATION WAS NOT RECEIVE ELGIN FIELD AND IN CONSEQUENCE NO TRAVEL ORDERS WERE ISSUED TO THE EMPLOYEE THAT STATION WOULD TERMINATE NOVEMBER 16 AND THAT HE SHOULD REPORT AT ELGIN FIELD ON NOVEMBER 19. MR. ELZEY PROVIDED HIS OWN TRANSPORTATION TO ELGIN FIELD AND NOW REQUESTS REIMBURSEMENT.

THE REGULATIONS OF THIS DEPARTMENT PRESCRIBE THAT RESPONSIBILITY FOR ISSUANCE OF TRAVEL ORDERS IN PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION SHALL BE DETERMINED THROUGH MUTUAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE STATIONS INVOLVED AS A PART OF THE TRANSFER NEGOTIATIONS. MR. ELZEY'S TRANSPORTATION WAS NOT PROVIDED FOR BECAUSE THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR TRANSFER WERE INTERRUPTED BY THE LOSS OF CORRESPONDENCE. SINCE THE OFFICERS NEGOTIATING THE TRANSFER WERE ALSO THE PERSONS AUTHORIZED TO ISSUE TRAVEL ORDERS, THERE IS NOT INVOLVED THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE TRANSFER WOULD NOT BE APPROVED BY A HIGHER AUTHORITY AS WAS THE CASE IN THE DECISION CITED ABOVE.

ON THE BASIS OF THAT DECISION, THE DEPARTMENT'S REGULATIONS PROHIBIT THE ISSUANCE OF CONFIRMATORY TRAVEL ORDERS FOR CHANGE OF PERMANENT DUTY STATION. IT IS FELT, HOWEVER, THAT THIS GENERAL RULE SHOULD NOT BE ADHERED TO SO RIGOROUSLY AS TO RESULT IN MANIFEST INJUSTICE. HERE THE EMPLOYEE'S TRANSFER HAD BEEN AGREED TO BY ALL PARTIES UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH WOULD CLEARLY WARRANT TRANSPORTATION AT PUBLIC EXPENSE. THE FULL PROCEDURE CULMINATING IN ISSUANCE OF TRAVEL ORDERS WAS NOT FOLLOWED BECAUSE OF THE LOSS OF CORRESPONDENCE--- A FACTOR BEYOND THE CONTROL OF THE EMPLOYEE OR OF ELGIN FIELD.

UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES CITED, WOULD YOU BE REQUIRED TO OBJECT TO AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT EXCEPTION TO THE USUAL PROHIBITION ON CONFIRMATORY TRAVEL ORDERS IS WARRANTED AND AUTHORIZED?

IN THE REFERRED-TO DECISION, 11 COMP. GEN. 459, IT WAS HELD (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS):

IN ORDER TO ENTITLE AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT TO REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH TRANSFERS BETWEEN PERMANENT DUTY STATIONS, THE ORDER AUTHORIZING SUCH REIMBURSEMENT AND DIRECTING THE TRANSFER MUST BE SIGNED BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OR ESTABLISHMENT, OR BY SOME OFFICER AUTHORIZED BY LAW TO ACT AS SUCH, PRIOR TO THE PERFORMANCE OF THE TRAVEL AND THIS REQUIREMENT MAY NOT BE DISREGARDED IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY.

THE AUTHORITY FOR THE ISSUANCE OF ORDERS AUTHORIZING THE PAYMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES IN CONNECTION WITH THE TRANSFER OF MR. ELZEY FROM FORT HAYES, OHIO TO ELGIN FIELD, FLORIDA, BY THE WAR DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS CONCERNED, IS CONTAINED IN THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 21, 1942, 50 STAT. 97, WHICH PROVIDES:

THAT DURING THE CONTINUANCE OF THE PRESENT WAR AND FOR SIX MONTHS THEREAFTER, ANY APPROPRIATIONS HERETOFORE OR HEREAFTER MADE AVAILABLE FOR EXPENSES OF TRAVEL OF CIVILIAN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE WAR AND NAVY DEPARTMENTS AND THE COAST GUARD SHALL BE AVAILABLE ALSO FOR EXPENSES OF TRAVEL PERFORMED BY THEM ON TRANSFER FROM ONE OFFICIAL STATION TO ANOTHER WHEN AUTHORIZED, BY SUCH RESPONSIBLE OFFICER OR OFFICERS OF THE DEPARTMENT CONCERNED AS THE HEAD THEREOF MAY DESIGNATE FOR THAT PURPOSE, IN THE ORDER DIRECTING THE TRAVEL: PROVIDED, THAT SUCH EXPENSES SHALL NOT BE ALLOWED FOR ANY TRANSFER EFFECTED FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE.

THAT STATUTE REQUIRES AS A CONDITION PRECEDENT TO MAKING APPROPRIATIONS OF THE WAR AND NAVY DEPARTMENTS AND COAST GUARD AVAILABLE, THAT THE EXPENSES OF TRAVEL BETWEEN OFFICIAL STATIONS BE AUTHORIZED IN THE ORDER BY WHICH THE TRAVEL WAS DIRECTED. ADVANCE TRAVEL ORDERS AS REQUIRED BY THE STATUTE WERE NOT ISSUED IN THE PRESENT CASE BUT YOU REQUEST FOR THE PURPOSE OF REIMBURSEMENT OF THE TRAVELING EXPENSES INCURRED THAT CONFIRMATORY TRAVEL ORDERS BE ACCEPTED.

IN THE MATTER OF TRANSFERS THERE WOULD APPEAR TO BE NO OBJECTION TO THE ISSUANCE OF CONFIRMATORY ORDERS WHEN NO REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES IS CLAIMED, BUT TO ENTITLE THE EMPLOYEE TO REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL OR OTHER EXPENSES INCURRED UPON TRANSFER BETWEEN OFFICIAL DUTY STATIONS AS DISTINGUISHED FROM ORDINARY TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, IT IS MANDATORY THAT THE STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS GOVERNING SUCH REIMBURSEMENT BE COMPLIED WITH AND THAT ORDERS "DIRECTING THE TRAVEL" AND AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE EXPENSES THEREOF BE ISSUED IN ADVANCE, AS THE CONGRESS HAS DIRECTED, AND NEITHER THE WAR DEPARTMENT NOR THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE HAS AUTHORITY TO WAIVE THE STATUTORY REQUIREMENT WHETHER UPON THE GROUND OF ADMINISTRATIVE INADVERTENCE, OR OTHERWISE.

ACCORDINGLY, THE QUESTION PRESENTED IN THE FINAL PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE.