B-57391, MAY 8, 1946, 25 COMP. GEN. 756

B-57391: May 8, 1946

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1946: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 19. AS FOLLOWS: THERE IS ATTACHED FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHER BEARING BUREAU NUMBER 4333 SUBMITTED BY MR. BROWN IS RE-CLAIMING THE AMOUNT OF $1.60 ADMINISTRATIVELY DEDUCTED FROM HIS TRAVEL VOUCHER FOR THE PERIOD FROM FEBRUARY 24 TO MARCH 8. THE DEDUCTION WAS BASED ON OUR INTERPRETATION OF A DECISION RENDERED BY YOU TO THE CHAIRMAN. IT HAS BEEN INTERPRETED TO MEAN THAT A TRAVELER RESIDING OUTSIDE THE BOUNDARIES OF HIS OFFICIAL STATION IS NOT ENTITLED TO RECEIVE A GREATER AMOUNT FOR TRANSPORTATION FROM HIS HOME TO STATION OR VICE VERSA THAN THE MAXIMUM FARE FOR TRANSPORTATION BY THE FACILITIES ACTUALLY USED FOR A TRIP WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF SUCH OFFICIAL STATION.

B-57391, MAY 8, 1946, 25 COMP. GEN. 756

TRAVELING EXPENSES - HOME TO DEPOT - TAXICAB AND BUS FARES - EMPLOYEE RESIDING OUTSIDE LIMITS OF OFFICIAL STATION AN EMPLOYEE WHO RESIDES OUTSIDE THE CORPORATE LIMITS OF HIS OFFICIAL STATION MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR TAXICAB AND BUS FARES AT THE BEGINNING OR END OF AN OFFICIAL TRIP, FROM, OR TO, HIS HOME TO, OR FROM, THE RAIL TERMINAL SERVING THE AREA OF HIS STATION, TO THE EXTENT OF THE AMOUNT ACTUALLY PAID FOR TRANSPORTATION FROM, AND TO, THE LIMITS OF HIS OFFICIAL STATION, NOT TO EXCEED THE AMOUNT OF THE ESTABLISHED MAXIMUM TAXICAB FARE BETWEEN THE LIMITS OF HIS OFFICIAL STATION AND SUCH RAIL TERMINAL. COMP. GEN. 315, AMPLIFIED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO R. E. KENNARD, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, MAY 8, 1946:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 19, 1946, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE IS ATTACHED FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHER BEARING BUREAU NUMBER 4333 SUBMITTED BY MR. GROVER F. BROWN, AN EMPLOYEE OF THIS SERVICE.

MR. BROWN IS RE-CLAIMING THE AMOUNT OF $1.60 ADMINISTRATIVELY DEDUCTED FROM HIS TRAVEL VOUCHER FOR THE PERIOD FROM FEBRUARY 24 TO MARCH 8, 1946, INCLUSIVE.

THE DEDUCTION WAS BASED ON OUR INTERPRETATION OF A DECISION RENDERED BY YOU TO THE CHAIRMAN, U.S. MARITIME COMMISSION, DECEMBER 16, 1940 (20 C.G. 315). ALTHOUGH THIS DECISION RELATED SPECIFICALLY TO TAXI FARES, IT HAS BEEN INTERPRETED TO MEAN THAT A TRAVELER RESIDING OUTSIDE THE BOUNDARIES OF HIS OFFICIAL STATION IS NOT ENTITLED TO RECEIVE A GREATER AMOUNT FOR TRANSPORTATION FROM HIS HOME TO STATION OR VICE VERSA THAN THE MAXIMUM FARE FOR TRANSPORTATION BY THE FACILITIES ACTUALLY USED FOR A TRIP WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF SUCH OFFICIAL STATION.

MR. BROWN RESIDES IN THE STATE OF VIRGINIA A CONSIDERABLE DISTANCE FROM THE BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. ON DEPARTURE FROM HIS HEADQUARTERS FEBRUARY 24, 1946 AND AGAIN ON ARRIVAL MARCH 8, 1946, MR. BROWN TRAVELED BETWEEN THE UNION STATION AND THE BUS DEPOT BY TAXI (ONE- WAY FARE 30 CENTS) AND BETWEEN THE BUS DEPOT AND HIS RESIDENCE BY GREYHOUND BUS (ONE-WAY FARE 70 CENTS). FOR EACH COMPLETE TRIP HE CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF 90 CENTS, BASING HIS CLAIM ON THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT WHICH HE COULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED FOR TAXI FARE. OF THE TOTAL OF $1.80 CLAIMED, HE WAS ALLOWED 20 CENTS, REPRESENTING THE MAXIMUM BUS OR STREET CAR FARE BETWEEN POINTS ANYWHERE WITHIN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT HIS VOUCHER SHOWED ONLY ,BUS FROM RESIDENCE TO STATION.' ON THE BASIS OF THE FACTS NOW AVAILABLE, IT APPEARS THAT THE AMOUNT DEDUCTED WAS EXCESSIVE.

A FURTHER READING OF YOUR DECISION REFERRED TO ABOVE (20 C.G. 315) CONVEYS THE IDEA THAT ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL FACTORS UPON WHICH YOUR DECISION WAS BASED INVOLVED THE ELECTION OF AN EMPLOYEE TO RESIDE WITHOUT THE BOUNDARIES OF HIS OFFICIAL STATION. IN VIEW OF THE PRESENT HOUSING SHORTAGE AND THE FACT THAT IN MANY INSTANCES IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES TO FIND LIVING QUARTERS WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF THEIR OFFICIAL STATIONS THE QUESTION ARISES AS TO WHETHER IT IS NOW NECESSARY TO STRICTLY ADHERE TO YOUR PREVIOUS RULINGS.

IT WILL BE APPRECIATED IF YOU WILL ADVISE ME, AN AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, AS TO WHETHER I MAY PROPERLY CERTIFY THE ATTACHED VOUCHER FOR PAYMENT IN THE AMOUNT CLAIMED OR FOR SOME LESSER AMOUNT.

PARAGRAPH 8 (A) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS AMENDED, READS AS FOLLOWS:

(A) THE USUAL TAXICAB FARES FROM STATION, WHARF, OR OTHER TERMINAL TO EITHER PLACE OF ABODE, OR PLACE OF BUSINESS, AND FROM EITHER PLACE OF ABODE OR PLACE OF BUSINESS TO STATION, WHARF, OR OTHER TERMINAL WILL BE ALLOWED.

IN THE REFERRED TO DECISION OF DECEMBER 16, 1940, TO THE CHAIRMAN, UNITED STATES MARITIME COMMISSION, 20 COMP. GEN. 315, IT WAS HELD, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

AS A PRACTICAL MATTER, THE EMPLOYEE IS PERMITTED TO START HIS OFFICIAL TRIP FROM HIS HOME WHEN IT IS UNNECESSARY FOR HIM FIRST TO REPORT TO HIS OFFICE, BUT THERE IS NO INTENTION MANIFESTED BY THE REGULATION OR OTHERWISE TO REIMBURSE THE EMPLOYEE FOR THE EXCESS COST OF TRANSPORTATION FROM HIS HOME LOCATED OUTSIDE THE CORPORATE LIMITS OF HIS OFFICIAL STATION FOR THE DISTANCE TRAVELED OUTSIDE SUCH LIMITS. THIS IS A PERSONAL EXPENSE HE IS REQUIRED TO BEAR, WHETHER REPORTING TO HIS OFFICE, OR WHETHER BEGINNING OR ENDING AN OFFICIAL TRIP AWAY FROM HIS OFFICIAL STATION. WHEN, AS HERE, AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE ELECTS TO RESIDE AT A PLACE BEYOND THE CORPORATE BOUNDARIES OF HIS OFFICIAL STATION AND TO WHICH THE TAXICAB RATES ESTABLISHED BY COMPETENT AUTHORITY FOR TRAVEL WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF THE OFFICIAL STATION ARE NOT APPLICABLE, NO SOUND REASON IS PERCEIVED WHY, BECAUSE OF THAT ELECTION, THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD BEAR THE COST OF TRAVEL FROM HIS HOME TO THE LIMITS OF THE OFFICIAL STATION SIMPLY BECAUSE HE BEGINS AN OFFICIAL TRIP FROM HIS HOME--- SUCH COST IN THE USUAL COURSE OF BUSINESS BEING, AS HEREINBEFORE INDICATED, ONE REQUIRED TO BE BORNE BY HIM WHEN REPORTING TO HIS DUTY STATION AND THUS NOT BEING ONE CONSTITUTING ANY ADDITIONAL BURDEN UPON HIM WHEN HE BEGINS AN OFFICIAL TRIP FROM HOME. IN SUCH CASES THE AMOUNT TO BE REIMBURSED AS TAXICAB FARE CANNOT EXCEED THE MUNICIPALITY IN WHICH THE EMPLOYEE'S OFFICIAL STATION IS LOCATED.

THE RULE IN THE ABOVE-QUOTED DECISION RELATES TO THE MAXIMUM REIMBURSEMENT UNDER PARAGRAPH 8 (A) OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND DOES NOT PURPORT TO PRECLUDE REIMBURSEMENT TO THE TRAVELER FOR SIMILAR SERVICES BY OTHER PUBLIC UTILITIES. HENCE, UNDER THE REPORTED FACTUAL CIRCUMSTANCES, THE EMPLOYEE MAY BE REIMBURSED IN AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED THE MAXIMUM TAXICAB FARE USUALLY AND LAWFULLY CHARGEABLE FROM, AND TO, THE LIMITS OF HIS OFFICIAL STATION. SINCE AN OFFICIAL TRIP IS PRESUMED TO START FROM, AND END AT, HIS OFFICIAL STATION, WHETHER THE EMPLOYEE'S RESIDENCE WAS WITHOUT THE LIMITS OF HIS OFFICIAL STATION BY ELECTION WAS NOT A MATERIAL FACTOR IN THE DECISION OF DECEMBER 16, 1940.

THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT ONLY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOREGOING.