B-67904, JULY 31, 1947, 27 COMP. GEN. 52

B-67904: Jul 31, 1947

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SPECIAL CONVEYANCES NECESSARY CHARGES INCURRED BY AN EMPLOYEE IN A TRAVEL STATUS FOR THE HANDLING OF HEAVY GOVERNMENT-OWNED EQUIPMENT PROPERLY ARE FOR REIMBURSEMENT AS TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES. ARE NOT TO BE REGARDED AS PORTERS' FEES OR TIPS WHICH ARE REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 44 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS TO BE PAID OUT OF THE EMPLOYEE'S PER DIEM ALLOWANCE AS CHARGES PRIMARILY INCIDENT TO THE HANDLING OF PERSONAL BAGGAGE. THE COST OF TAXICAB FARES PROPERLY IS REIMBURSABLE UNDER THE SPECIAL CONVEYANCE PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPH 11 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AS THE COST OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. 1947: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JULY 9. THERE IS ATTACHED FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION AS TO LEGALITY OF PAYMENT BUREAU VOUCHER NO. 75.

B-67904, JULY 31, 1947, 27 COMP. GEN. 52

TRAVELING EXPENSES - HANDLING CHARGES FOR GOVERNMENT EQUIPMENT; SPECIAL CONVEYANCES NECESSARY CHARGES INCURRED BY AN EMPLOYEE IN A TRAVEL STATUS FOR THE HANDLING OF HEAVY GOVERNMENT-OWNED EQUIPMENT PROPERLY ARE FOR REIMBURSEMENT AS TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES, AND ARE NOT TO BE REGARDED AS PORTERS' FEES OR TIPS WHICH ARE REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 44 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS TO BE PAID OUT OF THE EMPLOYEE'S PER DIEM ALLOWANCE AS CHARGES PRIMARILY INCIDENT TO THE HANDLING OF PERSONAL BAGGAGE. WHERE, DUE TO ILLNESS OR PHYSICAL DISABILITY AND THE LACK OF OTHER PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES, AN EMPLOYEE IN A TRAVEL STATUS UTILIZED TAXICABS TO TRAVEL THE MILE DISTANCE BETWEEN HIS HOTEL AND PLACE OF TEMPORARY DUTY, THE COST OF TAXICAB FARES PROPERLY IS REIMBURSABLE UNDER THE SPECIAL CONVEYANCE PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPH 11 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AS THE COST OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO ROLFE E. KENNARD, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, JULY 31, 1947:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JULY 9, 1947, AS FOLLOWS:

IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CERTIFYING OFFICERS' LAW ( PUBLIC LAW 389--- 77TH CONGRESS), THERE IS ATTACHED FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION AS TO LEGALITY OF PAYMENT BUREAU VOUCHER NO. 75, IN THE AMOUNT OF $18.10, COVERING RECLAIM BY HERRIN F. CULVER, INFORMATION SPECIALIST, WASHINGTON, D.C., OF TAXI FARES IN EXCESS OF THOSE GENERALLY ALLOWABLE AND AMOUNTS PAID TO PORTERS FOR HANDLING BULKY GOVERNMENT PHOTOGRAPHIC EQUIPMENT DEDUCTED FROM THE CLAIMANT'S TRAVEL EXPENSE VOUCHER FOR THE PERIOD FROM MAY 3, 1947 TO JUNE 1, 1947.

THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL EXPENSE VOUCHER, BUREAU VOUCHER NUMBER 4839, WAS PAID AS D.O. VOUCHER NO. 655906 IN THE NET AMOUNT OF $181.38 BY PAUL D. BANNING, CHIEF DISBURSING OFFICER, SYMBOL NO. 3000 ON JUNE 13, 1947.

IN THE ATTACHED MEMORANDUM ADDRESSED TO THE PERSONAL ATTENTION OF ONE OF THE OFFICIALS OF THE BUDGET AND FINANCE DIVISION, SOIL CONVERSATION SERVICE, MR. CULVER HAS ATTEMPTED TO JUSTIFY HIS CLAIM BY SHOWING THAT THE MATERIAL AND EQUIPMENT FOR WHICH PORTER AND TAXI CHARGES ARE CLAIMED WERE ALL GOVERNMENT OWNED; THAT THEY WERE BULKY AND HEAVY, HIGHLY FRAGILE, SUBJECT TO DAMAGE BY HEAT AND MISHANDLING, VERY VALUABLE AND ALMOST IRREPLACEABLE; THAT THE SPECIAL HANDLING OF THE MATERIAL AND EQUIPMENT WAS NECESSARY IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT.

THE TAXI FARES TOTALING $1.25, CLAIMED FOR MAY 5 AND 6, 1947, WERE DEDUCTED FROM THE ORIGINAL TRAVEL EXPENSE VOUCHER SINCE THEY COVERED TRIPS IN EXCESS OF THOSE GENERALLY ALLOWABLE UNDER TRAVEL REGULATIONS 8 (A) FOR TRIPS * * * "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

* * *.' THE ORIGINAL DEDUCTION OF THE AMOUNTS BEING RECLAIMED FOR PORTER AND BAGGAGE FEES WAS BASED ON PARAGRAPH 44 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS WHICH PROVIDE THAT "THE PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES WILL BE HELD TO INCLUDE * * * ALL FEES AND TIPS * * PORTERS, BAGGAGE MEN, BELL BOYS * * *.' HOWEVER, IT IS RECOGNIZED THAT THE TRAVEL REGULATION MAY HAVE REFERENCE ONLY TO AMOUNTS PAID FOR HANDLING TRAVELER'S PERSONAL BELONGINGS AND WAS NOT INTENDED TO PRECLUDE PAYMENT BY THE TRAVELER OF NECESSARY EXPENSES FOR PROPER CARE AND HANDLING OF VALUABLE GOVERNMENT MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT.

IN VIEW OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OUTLINED ABOVE AND EXPLAINED IN THE VOUCHER ATTACHMENTS, IT IS REQUESTED THAT YOU ADVISE ME AS TO WHETHER I MAY PROPERLY CERTIFY THIS VOUCHER FOR PAYMENT.

THE PORTERS' FEES OR TIPS WHICH ARE REQUIRED BY SECTION 44 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS TO BE PAID OUT OF THE EMPLOYEE'S PER DIEM ALLOWANCE ARE THOSE PRIMARILY INCIDENT TO THE HANDLING OF PERSONAL BAGGAGE. ANY NECESSARY CHARGES FOR HANDLING HEAVY GOVERNMENT- OWNED EQUIPMENT, AS IN THIS CASE, PROPERLY ARE REIMBURSABLE AS TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES. BUT, COMPARE 4 COMP. GEN. 412.

THE FIVE TAXICAB FARES INCURRED MAY 5 AND 6, 1947, BETWEEN THE REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS OFFICE AND HOTEL ARE EXPLAINED ON THE VOUCHER AS FOLLOWS:

5. OFFICIAL BUSINESS, REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS. DUE TO BACK INJURY WAS UNABLE TO WALK THE MILE DISTANCE AND NO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION WAS AVAILABLE. TAXI, HOTEL TO REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS TAXI, REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS TO HOTEL.

6. TAXI, REGIONAL OFFICE (SAME REASON AS ABOVE) TAXI, REGIONAL OFFICE TO HOTEL

IN 25 COMP. GEN. 861 IT WAS STATED, AT PAGE 862:

IN CONSTRUING THE PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPH 11 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, IT HAS BEEN HELD REPEATEDLY THAT TAXICABS MAY NOT BE SUBSTITUTED FOR CHEAPER MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION WHEN AVAILABLE UNLESS THE GOVERNMENT BUSINESS COULD NOT BE SATISFACTORILY PERFORMED BY THE USE OF SUCH LESS EXPENSIVE MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION. SEE 23 COMP. GEN. 310, AND CASES THEREIN CITED. HOWEVER, IN EXCEPTIONAL CASES WHEN THE USE OF SPECIAL CONVEYANCES IS REQUIRED FOR THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN FOR THE PERSONAL CONVENIENCE OR PREFERENCE OF THE EMPLOYEE (21 COMP. GEN. 1093), OR WHERE MORE ECONOMICAL TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES ARE NOT ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC AT THE TIME, IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT SUCH CHARGES PROPERLY MAY BE REGARDED AS REIMBURSABLE ITEMS OF TRANSPORTATION. SEE, GENERALLY, 17 COMP. GEN. 711. IN THE INSTANT CASE WHILE CHEAPER TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES NORMALLY WERE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC BETWEEN THE POINTS INVOLVED, THE TRAVELER APPARENTLY WAS PRECLUDED FROM USING SUCH FACILITIES BY REASON OF AN EXCESSIVE DELAY IN MAKING CONNECTIONS. UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, SUCH A CONDITION MAY BE CONSIDERED AS SUBSTANTIALLY SIMILAR TO THE SITUATION DISCUSSED IN THE LAST CITED DECISION (17 COMP. GEN. 711), WHERE NO PUBLIC CONVEYANCES WERE AVAILABLE AT THE TIME BETWEEN THE VARIOUS LOCATIONS AND PLACES MENTIONED.

ILLNESS OR PHYSICAL DISABILITY ON THE PART OF A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE HAS NEVER BEEN CONSIDERED SUFFICIENT REASON FOR INCREASING THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION OR TRAVEL EXPENSES TO BE PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT. HOWEVER, IF, AS STATED BY THE EMPLOYEE, NO OTHER FORM OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SUCH AS BUSES OR STREETCARS WAS AVAILABLE FOR THE ONE MILE DISTANCE, THE CHARGES FOR TAXICAB FARES WOULD APPEAR PROPERLY REIMBURSABLE AS THE COST OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.

THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IN THE ABSENCE OF OTHER OBJECTION.