B-64534, APRIL 16, 1947, 26 COMP. GEN. 787

B-64534: Apr 16, 1947

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AIR TRAVEL THE REQUIREMENT IN PARAGRAPH 16 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS THAT ROUND-TRIP TICKETS BE SECURED "WHENEVER PRACTICABLE AND ECONOMICAL" IS FOR APPLICATION IN CASE OF AN EMPLOYEE WHO USED COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT ON THE GOING TRIP AND RAIL TRANSPORTATION ON THE RETURN TRIP. THE COST OF AIR TRAVEL IS FOR ALLOWANCE WITHOUT REGARD TO COMPARATIVE COSTS BY AIRCRAFT WITH OTHER MODES OF TRANSPORTATION. WHERE THERE IS A SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL. VOUCHER 12-323311 IS TYPICAL OF RECENT EXCEPTIONS TAKEN BY YOUR OFFICE TO OPA TRAVEL VOUCHERS INVOLVING AIR TRANSPORTATION WHEN THE MODE OF RETURN TO OFFICIAL STATION IS DIFFERENT FROM THAT USED UPON DEPARTURE. THE OUTGOING TRIP WAS BY AIR WITH RETURN BY RAIL.

B-64534, APRIL 16, 1947, 26 COMP. GEN. 787

TRAVELING EXPENSES - FARES - ROUND-TRIP; AIR TRAVEL THE REQUIREMENT IN PARAGRAPH 16 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS THAT ROUND-TRIP TICKETS BE SECURED "WHENEVER PRACTICABLE AND ECONOMICAL" IS FOR APPLICATION IN CASE OF AN EMPLOYEE WHO USED COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT ON THE GOING TRIP AND RAIL TRANSPORTATION ON THE RETURN TRIP, SO THAT ONLY THE COST OF A ROUND-TRIP TICKET BY AIR MAY BE ALLOWED THE EMPLOYEE, EVEN THOUGH, UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 204 (C) OF THE ACT OF JUNE 23, 1938, THE COST OF AIR TRAVEL IS FOR ALLOWANCE WITHOUT REGARD TO COMPARATIVE COSTS BY AIRCRAFT WITH OTHER MODES OF TRANSPORTATION. IN THE ABSENCE OF AN OFFICIAL JUSTIFICATION RESPECTING THE FAILURE TO SECURE A ROUND-TRIP TICKET AS REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 16 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS "WHENEVER PRACTICABLE AND ECONOMICAL," AND REGARDLESS OF THE MODE OF TRAVEL USED, AN EMPLOYEE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS WHO USED A DIFFERENT MODE OF TRANSPORTATION ON HIS RETURN TRIP MAY BE ALLOWED ONLY THE COST OF A ROUND-TRIP TICKET VIA THE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION USED IN THE GOING TRIP; HOWEVER, WHERE THERE IS A SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL, BY PROPER AUTHORITY, OF THE TRANSPORTATION ACTUALLY USED, IT MAY BE ASSUMED THAT THE REQUIREMENT FOR "OFFICIAL REASON" HAS BEEN SATISFIED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF TEMPORARY CONTROLS, APRIL 16, 1947:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 11, 1947, AS FOLLOWS:

THE ENCLOSED NOTICE OF EXCEPTION, DATED DECEMBER 6, 1946, TO D.O. VOUCHER 12-323311 IS TYPICAL OF RECENT EXCEPTIONS TAKEN BY YOUR OFFICE TO OPA TRAVEL VOUCHERS INVOLVING AIR TRANSPORTATION WHEN THE MODE OF RETURN TO OFFICIAL STATION IS DIFFERENT FROM THAT USED UPON DEPARTURE, AND LESS ECONOMICAL. IN THIS INSTANCE, THE OUTGOING TRIP WAS BY AIR WITH RETURN BY RAIL, AND THE TRAVELER IS HELD TO A ROUND TRIP BY AIR. IN OTHER INSTANCES, THE OUTGOING TRIP WAS BY RAIL, WITH RETURN BY AIR, AND THE TRAVELER WAS HELD TO THE COST OF TRAVEL BY RAIL ROUND TRIP. IN EACH CASE, PARAGRAPH 16 OF THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS, WHICH REQUIRES THE PURCHASE OF ROUND TRIP TICKETS ,WHENEVER PRACTICABLE AND ECONOMICAL," IS CITED AS AUTHORITY FOR THE EXCEPTION.

SECTION 204 (C) OF THE ACT OF JUNE 23, 1938 (49 U.S.C. 424C), PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"TRAVEL BY PERSONNEL OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT ON COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT, DOMESTIC OR FOREIGN, INCLUDING TRAVEL BETWEEN AIRPORTS AND CENTERS OF POPULATION OR POSTS OF DUTY WHEN INCIDENTAL TO TRAVEL ON COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT, SHALL BE ALLOWED AT PUBLIC EXPENSE WHEN AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED BY COMPETENT AUTHORITY, AND TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS FOR SUCH TRAVEL MAY BE ISSUED UPON SUCH AUTHORIZATIONS. SUCH EXPENSE SHALL BE ALLOWED WITHOUT REGARD TO COMPARATIVE COSTS OF TRANSPORTATION BY AIRCRAFT WITH OTHER MODES OF TRANSPORTATION.' ( ITALICS SUPPLIED.)

IT WILL BE NOTED THAT THE EXCEPTION IS BASED ON THE COMPARATIVE COST OF A ROUND TRIP FARE BY THE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION USED ON THE OUTGOING TRIP, IN SEEMING CONTRAVENTION OF THE UNDERSCORED PORTION OF THE ACT. FURTHERMORE, WE ARE OF THE OPINION THAT PARAGRAPH 16 OF THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS, UPON WHICH THE EXCEPTIONS ARE BASED, IS NOT APPLICABLE SINCE IT IS NEITHER PRACTICABLE NOR POSSIBLE TO SECURE A ROUND TRIP TICKET WHEN TRAVEL IS PERFORMED BY BOTH RAIL AND AIR, AND BOTH MODES HAVE BEEN PROPERLY AUTHORIZED.

IT HAS BEEN OPA POLICY TO AUTHORIZE ALL TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER, INCLUDING COMMERCIAL AIR LINES, LEAVING TO THE DISCRETION OF THE TRAVELER THE MODE TO BE USED. THIS POLICY IS SET FORTH IN SUB-SECTION 3-3220.02 OF THE OPA MANUAL AS FOLLOWS:

"TRAVEL SHOULD BE PERFORMED BY AIRPLANE ONLY WHEN A SAVINGS TO THE GOVERNMENT RESULTS OR WHEN CIRCUMSTANCES DEMAND THE MOST EXPEDITIOUS TRAVEL. HOWEVER, COMMERCIAL AIR LINES ARE COMMON CARRIERS AND NO ADDITIONAL AUTHORITY IS REQUIRED FOR TRAVEL BY AIR, NOR IS IT NECESSARY TO DEMONSTRATE ECONOMY OR ADVANTAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT IN THE EXPENSE ACCOUNT.'

THE POLICY WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1942 AFTER MUCH DISCUSSION AND FULL CONSIDERATION OF THE APPLICABILITY OF PARAGRAPHS 1 AND 9 OF THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AND OF PARAGRAPH 16 AS WELL. AT THAT TIME MANPOWER SHORTAGES DICTATED THE MAXIMUM USE OF THE PERSONNEL AVAILABLE. OVERTIME AND SUNDAY WORK WERE THE RULE RATHER THAN THE EXCEPTION AND IT WAS ESSENTIAL THAT THE MOST EXPEDITIOUS MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION BE EMPLOYED IN ORDER TO MAKE THE GREATEST USE OF OUR TRAVELING EMPLOYEE'S PRODUCTIVE TIME. AIR TRAVEL WAS VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT PRIORITY AND SINCE SUCH PRIORITIES WERE GRANTED ONLY UPON JUSTIFICATION FOR EACH LEG OF THE JOURNEY, IT WAS SELDOM POSSIBLE TO SECURE SUCH A PRIORITY TO COVER AN ENTIRE TRIP. IT WAS THUS IMPRACTICABLE, WHEN LEAVING HEADQUARTERS, TO DETERMINE THE MOST EXPEDITIOUS ROUTING FOR THE RETURN JOURNEY OR FOR ANY TRAVEL BEYOND THE FIRST STOP. IT WAS FELT THAT THE CLEAR LANGUAGE OF THE ACT OF JUNE 23, 1938, QUOTED ABOVE, MADE IT UNNECESSARY TO CONSIDER ECONOMY AS BETWEEN RAIL AND AIR TRAVEL. NEVERTHELESS, SINCE IN MANY CASES MIXED TRAVEL RESULTS IN A SAVING OVER THE ROUND TRIP COST BY THE MODE USED ON THE OUTGOING TRIP, WE BELIEVED THAT OUR POLICY WOULD NOT PROVE UNECONOMICAL, EVEN IF PERSONNEL SAVINGS WERE ELIMINATED FROM SUCH CONSIDERATION.

WE FIND NO RECORD OF ANY PRIOR DECISION OF YOUR OFFICE CONTRARY TO THE POLICY DESCRIBED ABOVE. THE EXCEPTIONS REPRESENT THE FIRST INDICATION THAT HAS COME TO OUR ATTENTION OF ANY REQUIREMENT THAT A TRAVELER, ADMINISTRATIVELY AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL BY EITHER RAIL OR AIR, RETURN BY THE SAME MODE OF TRANSPORTATION AS HE USED ON DEPARTURE FROM HEADQUARTERS. HOWEVER, PENDING CLARIFICATION OF THE MATTER, ALL OPA OFFICES HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED TO CONFORM TO THE INTENT EXPRESSED IN THE EXCEPTIONS.

YOUR CONSIDERATION OF THIS MATTER IS, THEREFORE, REQUESTED. IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO CONCUR IN OUR INTERPRETATION, MAY THE TRAVELERS AND CERTIFYING OFFICERS INVOLVED IN PREVIOUS PAYMENTS OF THIS CHARACTER BE RELIEVED OF RESPONSIBILITY, SINCE SUCH OBLIGATIONS AROSE IN GOOD FAITH AS A RESULT OF AN OFFICIAL INTERPRETATION BY THE OFFICE OF PRICE ADMINISTRATION WHICH WAS IN EFFECT FOR SEVERAL YEARS?

AS MANY OF THE TRAVELERS AND CERTIFYING OFFICERS CONCERNED ARE CURRENTLY BEING RELEASED, AN EARLY REPLY WILL BE APPRECIATED.

VOUCHER 12-323311 IN THE MARCH 1945 ACCOUNT OF G. F. ALLEN COVERS THE PER DIEM AND REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCIDENT TO OFFICIAL TRAVEL OF JEROME S. BISCHOFF, ENFORCEMENT ATTORNEY, FOR THE PERIOD FEBRUARY 12, TO 17, 1945, DURING A TRIP FROM PORTLAND, OREG., TO SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF., AND RETURN. THE TRAVELER ISSUED GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS FOR A ONE- WAY TICKET BY AIR FOR THE GOING TRIP AND FOR A ONE WAY RAILROAD TICKET AND PULLMAN ACCOMMODATIONS RETURNING, AT A COMBINED COST OF $57.49. THE COST OF A ROUND-TRIP PLANE TICKET WOULD HAVE BEEN $53.20, THE USE OF WHICH MODE OF TRAVEL WOULD HAVE ACCOMPLISHED A SAVING OF PER DIEM IN THE AMOUNT OF $4.50. AS STATED BY YOU, THE EXCEPTION IN THE AMOUNT OF &8.79 QUESTIONED THE FAILURE TO SECURE A ROUND-TRIP TICKET IN THE ABSENCE OF AN OFFICIAL JUSTIFICATION THEREFOR WHICH EXCEPTION WAS GROUNDED UPON PARAGRAPH 16, STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

PARAGRAPH 8 OF THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS AMENDED, PROVIDES IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

8. DEFINITION.--- TRANSPORTATION INCLUDES ALL NECESSARY OFFICIAL TRAVEL ON RAILROADS, AIR LINES, STEAMBOAT, STREETCARS, TAXICABS, AND OTHER USUAL MEANS OF CONVEYANCE. * * *

THE EFFECT OF THE CHANGE IN PARAGRAPH 8 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS WHEN CONSIDERED IN CONNECTION WITH THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 204 (C) OF THE ACT OF JUNE 23, 1938, 52 STAT. 983, QUOTED IN YOUR LETTER, IS TO AUTHORIZE TRAVEL BY COMMERCIAL AIR LINES UPON THE SAME BASIS AS TRAVEL BY ANY OTHER COMMON CARRIER OR PUBLIC CONVEYANCE WITHOUT THE NECESSITY OF A SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL OF AIR TRAVEL IN THE TRAVEL ORDER. HENCE, IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATION OR ORDER TO THE CONTRARY A TRAVEL ORDER AUTHORIZING TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER OR PUBLIC CONVEYANCE OR AN ORDER WHICH AUTHORIZES REIMBURSEMENT OF NECESSARY EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION IN GENERAL TERMS WOULD BE SUFFICIENT TO AUTHORIZE THE TRAVELER TO TRAVEL IN HIS DISCRETION BY COMMERCIAL AIR LINES WITHOUT SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL BY COMPETENT AUTHORITY FOR SUCH TRAVEL. SUBSECTION 3-3220.02 OF THE OFFICE OF PRICE ADMINISTRATION MANUAL, QUOTED IN YOUR LETTER, DEFINING THE POLICY OF THE OFFICE OF PRICE ADMINISTRATION IN REGARD TO TRAVEL BY COMMERCIAL AIR LINE SPECIFICALLY STATES THAT NO ADDITIONAL AUTHORITY IS REQUIRED FOR TRAVEL BY AIR.

HOWEVER, NOTWITHSTANDING THAT UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 204 (C) OF THE ACT OF JUNE 23, 1938, THE EXPENSES OF TRAVEL BY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES ON COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT ARE FOR ALLOWANCE ,WITHOUT REGARD TO COMPARATIVE COSTS OF TRANSPORTATION BY AIRCRAFT WITH OTHER MODES OF TRANSPORTATION," THERE IS NOTHING IN THE STATUTE TO PRECLUDE THE APPLICATION, SO FAR AS IS CONSISTENT, OF PARAGRAPH 16 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS FOLLOWS:

SPECIAL TICKETS.--- THROUGH TICKETS, EXCURSION TICKETS, REDUCED RATE ROUND-TRIP OR PARTY TICKETS SHOULD BE SECURED WHENEVER PRACTICABLE AND ECONOMICAL.

THAT PARAGRAPH REQUIRES THE TRAVELER AT THE BEGINNING OF THE TRAVEL BY WHATEVER MODE TO SECURE WHEN "PRACTICABLE AND ECONOMICAL," A ROUND TRIP TICKET, WHICH TICKET IN THE ABSENCE OF AN OFFICIAL JUSTIFICATION FOR NONUSE OF ANY PORTION THEREOF SHOULD BE USED IN ITS ENTIRETY. NECESSARILY FOLLOWS THAT, IN THE ABSENCE OF AN OFFICIAL REASON THEREFOR, WHEN MORE ECONOMICAL--- AND REGARDLESS OF THE MODE OF TRAVEL USED--- AN EMPLOYEE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS MAY BE ALLOWED ONLY THE COST OF A ROUND-TRIP TICKET VIA THE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION USED IN THE GOING TRIP. HOWEVER, WHERE THERE IS A SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL, BY PROPER AUTHORITY, OF THE TRANSPORTATION ACTUALLY USED, IT MAY BE ASSUMED THAT THE REQUIREMENT OF "OFFICIAL REASON" HAS BEEN SATISFIED.

YOU STATE THAT THE POLICY OF THE OFFICE OF PRICE ADMINISTRATION IN REGARD TO AIR TRAVEL WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1942 WHEN MANPOWER SHORTAGES DICTATED THE MAXIMUM USE OF PERSONNEL AND WHEN AIR TRAVEL WAS IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT PRIORITIES, WHICH WERE GRANTED ONLY UPON JUSTIFICATION FOR EACH LEG OF THE JOURNEY, IT BEING IMPOSSIBLE TO SECURE SUCH A PRIORITY TO COVER THE WHOLE TRIP. IN 23 COMP. GEN. 329, INVOLVING A CASE, WERE, DUE TO EMERGENCY WAR CONDITIONS, THE TRAVELER WAS UNABLE TO SECURE ADVANCE RESERVATIONS ON TRAINS AND WAS REQUIRED TO SECURE ONE-WAY TICKETS FOR EACH STEP OF THE JOURNEY, IT WAS HELD THAT THE SECURING OFA ROUND-TRIP TICKET WAS NOT PRACTICABLE WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE REGULATIONS. ANY NUMBER OF SETS OF CIRCUMSTANCES MAY ARISE MAKING IT IMPRACTICABLE OR UNECONOMICAL TO COMPLY WITH THE REGULATION. IN ANY SUCH CASE, A STATEMENT OF THE FACTS ESTABLISHING THE OFFICIAL REASON FOR NONUSE OF A ROUND-TRIP TICKET SHOULD BE FURNISHED. IN REGARD TO VOUCHER 12-323311, NO SUCH EXPLANATION IS ATTACHED THERETO AND THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION OR APPROVAL BY PROPER AUTHORITY. HOWEVER, IT MAY BE ASSUMED THAT SPECIFIC APPROVAL HAS BEEN GRANTED BY YOUR LETTER AND THE INVOLVED EXCEPTION WILL BE REMOVED UPON THAT BASIS.

SINCE YOUR REQUEST TO RELIEVE THE TRAVELERS AND CERTIFYING OFFICERS INVOLVED IN PREVIOUS PAYMENTS OF RESPONSIBILITY DOES OT INCLUDE REFERENCE TO THE CASES IN WHICH RELIEF IS DESIRED UNDER SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, 55 STAT. 875, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO CONSIDER THEM AT THIS TIME. IN ANY EVENT THE RELIEF UNDER SAID ACT WOULD EXTEND TO THE CERTIFYING OFFICERS, ONLY, AND NOT TO THE TRAVELERS. HOWEVER, AS TO THOSE CASES NOT SPECIFICALLY IDENTIFIED, WHERE THE TRAVELER FAILED TO PROCURE A ROUND-TRIP TICKET AND, IN YOUR OPINION, IT WAS IMPRACTICABLE OR UNECONOMICAL TO DO SO, YOU MAY BE ADVISED THAT IF SPECIFIC APPROVAL OF THE TRANSPORTATION AS USED IN EACH INSTANCE BE SUBMITTED TO THIS OFFICE, CONSIDERATION WILL BE GIVEN TO REMOVAL OF THE EXCEPTIONS.