B-80586, JANUARY 24, 1949, 28 COMP. GEN. 421

B-80586: Jan 24, 1949

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IN THE ABSENCE OF A SPECIFIC PROVISION IN THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS THAT SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS ON OVERNIGHT FLIGHTS OVERSEAS ARE PROPER ITEMS OF TRAVEL EXPENSE OR OF EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT THE USE OF SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS WAS GENERAL ON THE FLIGHT INVOLVED AND THAT IT WAS NECESSARY FOR THE EMPLOYEE TO USE SUCH FLIGHT. YOU STATE THAT YOU ARE AWARE OF THE DECISION OF THIS OFFICE OF NOVEMBER 1. WHERE THERE IS A CONTINUOUS TRAVEL STATUS INVOLVING TRAVEL ON BOTH A VESSEL AND ON LAND. YOU STATE THAT IT IS IMPRACTICABLE TO APPLY THAT RULE TO AIR TRAVEL SINCE THERE IS NO FEASIBLE WAY OF ASCERTAINING THE EXACT TIME OF CROSSING BOUNDARIES. THE PRESCRIBED RATES PROPERLY MAY BE PAID ONLY FOR THE PERIOD IN WHICH THE TRAVEL IS SHOWN TO BE IN OR OVER THE CITY OR COUNTRY INVOLVED.

B-80586, JANUARY 24, 1949, 28 COMP. GEN. 421

TRAVELING EXPENSES - AIR TRAVEL - PER DIEM AND SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS WHILE THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS AMENDED, DO NOT FIX A PER DIEM RATE OR PRESCRIBE A METHOD FOR COMPUTING PER DIEM ON AIR TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL LIMITS OF THE UNITED STATES BETWEEN AREAS HAVING DIFFERENT FIXED MAXIMUM PER DIEM RATES, PER DIEM ADMINISTRATIVELY MAY BE PRESCRIBED FOR CONTINUOUS AIR TRAVEL AT THE RATE APPLICABLE IN THE AREA OF DEPARTURE, OR AT A FIXED RATE FOR ALL AIR TRAVEL TIME REGARDLESS OF PER DIEM RATES OF THE AREAS OF DEPARTURE, COVERAGE, OR DESTINATION, PROVIDED IT DOES NOT EXCEED THE LOWEST RATE APPLICABLE AT ANY PART OF THE JOURNEY. IN THE ABSENCE OF A SPECIFIC PROVISION IN THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS THAT SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS ON OVERNIGHT FLIGHTS OVERSEAS ARE PROPER ITEMS OF TRAVEL EXPENSE OR OF EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT THE USE OF SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS WAS GENERAL ON THE FLIGHT INVOLVED AND THAT IT WAS NECESSARY FOR THE EMPLOYEE TO USE SUCH FLIGHT, THE COST OF SUCH SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS, BEING IN ADDITION TO THE REGULATION FIRST- CLASS FARE, MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED A PROPER ITEM OF TRAVEL EXPENSE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, JANUARY 24, 1949:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 29, 1948, REFERENCE DF/X, PRESENTING FOR CONSIDERATION TWO PROBLEMS FACED BY YOUR DEPARTMENT IN CONNECTION WITH THE SETTLEMENT OF VOUCHERS INVOLVING TRAVEL OF CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES, OTHER THAN THOSE OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE, BY AIR, AND REQUESTING A DECISION THEREON.

SPECIFICALLY, YOUR FIRST PROBLEM PERTAINS TO THE PROPER METHOD OF COMPUTING PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE IN THOSE INSTANCES IN WHICH EMPLOYEES TRAVEL BY AIR BETWEEN DIFFERENT PER DIEM RATE AREAS. YOU STATE THAT YOU ARE AWARE OF THE DECISION OF THIS OFFICE OF NOVEMBER 1, 1932, A- 45459, 12 COMP. GEN. 429, HOLDING THAT, WHERE THERE IS A CONTINUOUS TRAVEL STATUS INVOLVING TRAVEL ON BOTH A VESSEL AND ON LAND, WITH DIFFERENT PER DIEM RATES APPLICABLE, THE CHANGE IN RATES SHOULD BE UPON THE BASIS OF THE ACTUAL HOURS OF A DAY IN EACH RATE AREA. BUT YOU STATE THAT IT IS IMPRACTICABLE TO APPLY THAT RULE TO AIR TRAVEL SINCE THERE IS NO FEASIBLE WAY OF ASCERTAINING THE EXACT TIME OF CROSSING BOUNDARIES. IN LIEU OF THE RULE PRESCRIBED IN 12 COMP. GEN. 429, ABOVE, YOU PRESENT FOR CONSIDERATION FOR USE IN AIR TRAVEL CASES THE FOLLOWING PLANS:

PLAN 1. PRESCRIBE PER DIEM FOR CONTINUOUS AIR TRAVEL, INCLUDING STOP COVERS AND TRANSFERS INVOLVING LESS THAN SIX HOURS, AT THE RATE APPLICABLE IN THE AREA OF DEPARTURE TO BE EFFECTIVE FROM TIME OF DEPARTURE TO TIME OF ARRIVAL AT DESTINATION IN NEW PER DIEM RATE AREA.

PLAN 2. PRESCRIBE PER DIEM AT A FIXED RATE TO BE EFFECTIVE FOR ALL AIR TRAVEL TIME REGARDLESS OF PER DIEM RATE OF THE AREAS OF DEPARTURE, COVERAGE, OR DESTINATION.

THE DIFFICULTY ENCOUNTERED IN THE MATTER RESULTS FROM THE FACT THAT THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS AMENDED BY BUDGET BUREAU CIRCULAR NO. A-7, DATED JULY 6, 1948, MAKE NO SPECIFIC PROVISION FOR A FIXED PER DIEM RATE OR FOR COMPUTING PER DIEM ON ACCOUNT OF AIR TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL LIMITS OF THE UNITED STATES INVOLVING TWO OR MORE AREAS FOR WHICH THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET HAS FIXED DIFFERENT MAXIMUM PER DIEM RATES. SINCE THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AS AMENDED, PROVIDE FOR THE PAYMENT OF SPECIFIC RATES OF PER DIEM FOR TRAVEL IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES OR CITIES, THE PRESCRIBED RATES PROPERLY MAY BE PAID ONLY FOR THE PERIOD IN WHICH THE TRAVEL IS SHOWN TO BE IN OR OVER THE CITY OR COUNTRY INVOLVED. HENCE, IT IS NOT FELT THAT EITHER OF THE PLANS SUGGESTED IN YOUR LETTER WOULD BE PROPER TO THE EXTENT THAT THEY WOULD AUTHORIZE OR RESULT IN THE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM FOR TRAVEL IN OR OVER A CITY OR COUNTRY IN AN AMOUNT EXCEEDING THE PER DIEM PRESCRIBED FOR SAID CITY OR COUNTRY. HOWEVER, THIS OFFICE WOULD NOT OBJECT TO EITHER OF THE PROPOSED PLANS PROVIDED THAT THEY BE MODIFIED TO PROVIDE THAT THE PER DIEM PRESCRIBED SHALL NOT EXCEED THE LOWEST RATE TO WHICH THE TRAVELER WOULD BE ENTITLED AT ANY PART OF THE JOURNEY.

THE SECOND QUESTION PRESENTED BY YOU IS WHETHER THE COST OF SLEEPING BERTH ACCOMMODATIONS ON PLANES CONSTITUTES A PART OF FIRST-CLASS AIR TRANSPORTATION, AND IS A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST APPROPRIATED FUNDS. SUCH PROBLEM APPARENTLY IS PRESENT ONLY IN CONNECTION WITH OVERSEAS FLIGHTS, AN EXAMPLE OF WHICH IS STATED IN YOUR LETTER AS BEING AIR TRAVEL, INCLUDING SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS AT A COST OF $100 EACH WAY, BY AN EMPLOYEE OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT ON A TRIP BETWEEN NEW YORK AND LONDON.

THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS CONTAIN NO PROVISION RELATING TO SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS ON PLANES. WHILE IT IS URGED BY YOU THAT, IN CASES OF LONG JOURNEYS ON PLANES, SUCH AS BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND EUROPE, SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS ARE AS NECESSARY AS SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS ON TRAINS, INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO THIS OFFICE INDICATES THAT IS IS NOT A GENERAL PRACTICE FOR AIRLINES TO PROVIDE SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS ON OVERNIGHT FLIGHTS BETWEEN NEW YORK AND LONDON, AND IT ALSO IS UNDERSTOOD THAT SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS ARE NOT AVAILABLE GENERALLY ON AIRLINES OPERATING DOMESTICALLY IN THIS COUNTRY. ACCORDINGLY, AND SINCE THE CHARGE FOR SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS IS IN ADDITION TO THE REGULAR FIRST-CLASS FARE, THIS OFFICE DOES NOT FEEL THAT THE COST THEREOF IS A PROPER ITEM OF TRAVEL EXPENSE IN THE ABSENCE OF A SPECIFIC PROVISION TO SUCH EFFECT IN THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS OR OF EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT THE USE OF SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS WAS GENERAL ON THE FLIGHT INVOLVED AND THAT IT WAS NECESSARY FOR THE EMPLOYEE TO USE SUCH FLIGHT.