B-7901, JANUARY 30, 1940, 19 COMP. GEN. 684

B-7901: Jan 30, 1940

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

DOES NOT AUTHORIZE SUCH PAYMENT UNLESS THE AUTOMOBILE IS OWNED BY THE TRAVELER PERSONALLY. AN AUTOMOBILE REGISTERED JOINTLY IN THE NAME OF AN EMPLOYEE AND HIS WIFE IS THE EMPLOYEE'S "OWN AUTOMOBILE" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THAT TERM AS USED IN THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14. AS A GENERAL RULE EQUITABLE OWNERSHIP OF AN AUTOMOBILE USED BY A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE IN OFFICIAL TRAVEL IS NOT CONTROLLING TO ESTABLISH HIS RIGHT TO MILEAGE UNDER THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14. IF IT BE SHOWN THAT EQUITABLE OWNERSHIP WAS IN THE TRAVELER AT THE TIME OFFICIAL TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED AND THE REGISTRATION OF THE AUTOMOBILE USED WAS SUBSEQUENTLY CHANGED TO THE TRAVELER'S NAME. MILEAGE IS AUTHORIZED FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED IN THE AUTOMOBILE DURING THE INTERIM.

B-7901, JANUARY 30, 1940, 19 COMP. GEN. 684

MILEAGE - TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE - TITLE TO AUTOMOBILE THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, AS AMENDED, PROVIDING FOR PAYMENT OF MILEAGE TO A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE "FOR THE USE OF HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE" IN OFFICIAL TRAVEL, DOES NOT AUTHORIZE SUCH PAYMENT UNLESS THE AUTOMOBILE IS OWNED BY THE TRAVELER PERSONALLY, AND THE REGISTRATION OF AN AUTOMOBILE PURSUANT TO LOCAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS CONSTITUTES PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE OF OWNERSHIP. AN AUTOMOBILE REGISTERED JOINTLY IN THE NAME OF AN EMPLOYEE AND HIS WIFE IS THE EMPLOYEE'S "OWN AUTOMOBILE" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THAT TERM AS USED IN THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, AS AMENDED, AND MILEAGE MAY BE PAID FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL PERFORMED BY AN EMPLOYEE IN AN AUTOMOBILE SO REGISTERED WHERE OTHERWISE PROPER. AS A GENERAL RULE EQUITABLE OWNERSHIP OF AN AUTOMOBILE USED BY A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE IN OFFICIAL TRAVEL IS NOT CONTROLLING TO ESTABLISH HIS RIGHT TO MILEAGE UNDER THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, AS AMENDED, WHICH PROVIDES FOR PAYMENT OF MILEAGE TO AN EMPLOYEE "FOR THE USE OF HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE" IN OFFICIAL TRAVEL, BUT IF IT BE SHOWN THAT EQUITABLE OWNERSHIP WAS IN THE TRAVELER AT THE TIME OFFICIAL TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED AND THE REGISTRATION OF THE AUTOMOBILE USED WAS SUBSEQUENTLY CHANGED TO THE TRAVELER'S NAME, MILEAGE IS AUTHORIZED FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED IN THE AUTOMOBILE DURING THE INTERIM. IN ANY STATE, TERRITORY, OR POSSESSION OF THE UNITED STATES IN WHICH THE LOCAL LAWS DO NOT REQUIRE REGISTRATION OF AN AUTOMOBILE IN THE NAME OF THE PERSON HOLDING THE LEGAL OR RECORD TITLE, AND IN WHICH AN AUTOMOBILE USED IN TRAVEL ON GOVERNMENT BUSINESS HAS BEEN REGISTERED IN THE NAME OF A PERSON OTHER THAN THE TRAVELER, EVIDENCE OTHER THAN THE REGISTRATION IS FOR CONSIDERATION IN ORDER TO ESTABLISH OWNERSHIP IN THE TRAVELER FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, AS AMENDED, PROVIDING FOR PAYMENT OF MILEAGE TO A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE "FOR THE USE OF HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE" IN OFFICIAL TRAVEL.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, JANUARY 30, 1940:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 4, 1940, AS FOLLOWS:

IN A REVIEW OF SEVERAL DECISIONS OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES IT IS NOTED THAT THE NAME IN WHICH AN AUTOMOBILE IS REGISTERED CONSTITUTES RECORD EVIDENCE OF LEGAL OWNERSHIP THEREOF WITH RESPECT TO CLAIMS FOR MILEAGE UNDER THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1933, 47 STAT. 1516.

THERE HAVE ARISEN CASES, HOWEVER, WHERE A STRICT INTERPRETATION OF THE RULE THAT REGISTRATION IS RECORD EVIDENCE OF THE LEGAL OWNERSHIP WOULD WORK A HARDSHIP ON TRAVELERS WHO USE AUTOMOBILES NOT REGISTERED IN THEIR NAMES BUT WHOSE EQUITABLE OWNERSHIP THEREOF IS INDISPUTABLE. FURTHER, SINCE THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, EXPRESSLY STATES,"THAT A CIVILIAN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE ENGAGED IN NECESSARY TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY MAY BE PAID * * * FOR THE USE OF HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE * * *" IT WOULD APPEAR THAT ACTUAL OWNERSHIP ON AN EQUITABLE BASIS SHOULD BE THE DETERMINING FACTOR RATHER THAN THE REGISTRATION WHICH MIGHT VARY BECAUSE OF THE DISSIMILARITY OF STATE LAWS OR BECAUSE OF PERSONAL EXPEDIENCIES OR OVERSIGHTS.

IN THE COURSE OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE HANDLING OF TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT ACCOUNTS FOR PAYMENT, CASES HAVE BEEN NOTED IN WHICH YOUR OFFICE HAS APPROVED VOUCHERS FOR PAYMENT TO A PERSON OTHER THAN THE ONE TO WHOM A CERTIFICATE OF REGISTRATION HAD ACTUALLY BEEN ISSUED. IT WOULD BE HELPFUL IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE CONSIDERATION OF VOUCHERS CLAIMING MILEAGE FOR USE OF AUTOMOBILES NOT REGISTERED IN THE TRAVELERS' NAMES BUT IN WHICH THEY HAVE A PROVABLE EQUITABLE OWNERSHIP IF YOU WOULD OUTLINE THE OTHER FACTORS WHICH MAY DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT AN AUTOMOBILE IS PERSONALLY OWNED WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931.

THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 9 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1933, 47 STAT. 1516, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

THAT A CIVILIAN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE ENGAGED IN NECESSARY TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AWAY FROM HIS DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY MAY BE PAID, IN LIEU OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION, UNDER REGULATIONS TO BE PRESCRIBED BY THE PRESIDENT, NOT TO EXCEED 2 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE USE OF HIS OWN MOTORCYCLE, OR 5 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE USE OF HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE FOR SUCH TRANSPORTATION, WHENEVER SUCH MODE OF TRAVEL HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED AND PAYMENT ON SUCH MILEAGE BASIS IS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES. * * *

THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE ARE TO THE EFFECT THAT MILEAGE FOR THE USE OF A PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE MAY NOT BE ALLOWED UNDER THE STATUTE, SUPRA, UNLESS THE AUTOMOBILE IN WHICH THE OFFICIAL TRAVEL IS PERFORMED BELONGS TO THE EMPLOYEE, AND THAT THE REGISTRATION OF AN AUTOMOBILE PURSUANT TO LOCAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS CONSTITUTES PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE THAT THE AUTOMOBILE BELONGS TO THE PERSON IN WHOSE NAME IT IS REGISTERED-- THE WORDS,"HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE," AS USED IN THE STATUTE HAVING BEEN CONSTRUED AS MEANING AN AUTOMOBILE OWNED BY THE TRAVELER PERSONALLY. COMP. GEN. 118; ID. 425; 14 ID. 197; 16 ID. 23. NUMEROUS UNPUBLISHED DECISIONS ARE TO LIKE EFFECT. ALSO, THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE ARE THAT AN AUTOMOBILE REGISTERED JOINTLY IN THE NAME OF AN EMPLOYEE AND HIS WIFE IS REGARDED AS THE EMPLOYEE'S "OWN AUTOMOBILE" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE STATUTE. 16 COMP. GEN. 604; 18 ID. 830.

EXCEPT IN STATES, TERRITORIES, OR POSSESSIONS OF THE UNITED STATES WHERE REGISTRATION IS NOT REQUIRED TO BE IN THE NAME OF THE PERSON HOLDING THE LEGAL OR RECORD TITLE TO THE AUTOMOBILE, AND EXCEPT, ALSO, AS SET FORTH IN THE SUCCEEDING PARAGRAPH HEREOF, THIS OFFICE HAS NOT ALLOWED MILEAGE UNDER THE STATUTE BASED SOLELY UPON PROOF OF EQUITABLE OWNERSHIP IN THE EMPLOYEE PERFORMING THE TRAVEL WHEN THE REGISTRATION IS IN THE NAME OF SOMEONE ELSE. IN ANY STATE, TERRITORY, OR POSSESSION OF THE UNITED STATES IN WHICH THE LOCAL LAWS DO NOT REQUIRE REGISTRATION OF THE TITLE TO AN AUTOMOBILE IN THE NAME OF THE PERSON HOLDING THE LEGAL OR RECORD TITLE, AND THE FACTS PRESENTED TO THIS OFFICE SHOW THAT THE CAR HAS BEEN REGISTERED IN THE NAME OF A PERSON OTHER THAN THE TRAVELER, THIS OFFICE HAS CONSIDERED AND WILL CONTINUE TO CONSIDER EVIDENCE OTHER THAN REGISTRATION TO ESTABLISH OWNERSHIP IN THE TRAVELER.

ALSO, AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL RULE THAT EQUITABLE OWNERSHIP IS NOT CONTROLLING TO ESTABLISHED RIGHTS TO MILEAGE, IF IT BE SHOWN THE EQUITABLE OWNERSHIP OF AN AUTOMOBILE WAS IN THE TRAVELER AT THE TIME OFFICIAL TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED AND THE REGISTRATION OF THE AUTOMOBILE USED WAS SUBSEQUENTLY CHANGED TO THE TRAVELER'S NAME, THIS OFFICE HAS AUTHORIZED MILEAGE FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED IN THE AUTOMOBILE DURING THE INTERIM. COMPARE DECISION A -98430, DATED OCTOBER 18, 1938, TO THE ADMINISTRATOR, UNITED STATES HOUSING AUTHORITY.

THE CASES REFERRED TO IN THE CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER ARE BELIEVED TO BE THOSE ALLOWED UPON THE CONDITIONS DESCRIBED IN THE TWO PRECEDING PARAGRAPHS.