B-97378, SEPTEMBER 27, 1950, 30 COMP. GEN. 123

B-97378: Sep 27, 1950

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1950: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 7. AS FOLLOWS: THE TERRITORIAL SUPERVISOR OF THE 17TH DECENNIAL CENSUS FOR THE TERRITORY OF ALASKA HAS INFORMED THE BUREAU OF THE CENSUS THAT THE USE OF PERSONALLY -OWNED AIRPLANES BY CENSUS ENUMERATORS WAS AUTHORIZED ONLY IN THOSE INSTANCES IN WHICH SPECIAL FLIGHTS WERE THE ONLY OR MOST ECONOMICAL METHOD OF ENUMERATING THE INHABITANTS OF ISOLATED AREAS IN THAT TERRITORY. SOME CASES THE ENUMERATOR'S PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE AREA WAS SUPERIOR TO THAT OF ANY OTHER PILOT AVAILABLE. THE SERVICES OF ANOTHER PILOT AND/OR PLANE WERE NOT ALWAYS AVAILABLE AT THE TIME IT WAS NECESSARY FOR THE ENUMERATOR TO MAKE A TRIP. THIS WOULD HAVE RESULTED IN TREMENDOUS INCREASE IN COSTS OF THE UNDERTAKING.

B-97378, SEPTEMBER 27, 1950, 30 COMP. GEN. 123

TRAVELING EXPENSES - TRAVEL BY PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANE IN VIEW OF SECTION 4 OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, AUTHORIZING THE REIMBURSEMENT OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES UPON A COMMUTED BASIS FOR THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANES IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL, AN EMPLOYEE MAY NOT BE PAID A RENTAL CHARGE FOR THE USE OF HIS OWN AIRPLANE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AT A RATE COMPARABLE WITH CHARGES MADE BY COMMERCIAL OPERATORS FOR THAT MODE OF TRANSPORTATION, AS SUCH A RATE WOULD INCLUDE COMPENSATION FOR A PILOT AND, THEREFORE, WOULD RESULT IN EXTRA COMPENSATION FOR THE EMPLOYEE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO ROBERT E. MCNELLIS, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, SEPTEMBER 27, 1950:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 7, 1950, TRANSMITTING A VOUCHER, STATED TO BE TYPICAL OF THREE SIMILAR CASES PENDING BEFORE THE BUREAU (OF THE CENSUS), FOR $255 IN FAVOR OF ROY H. SMITH, A CENSUS ENUMERATOR, REPRESENTING THE RENTAL CHARGED FOR USE OF HIS PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANE IN CONNECTION WITH THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES, AND REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO WHETHER UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES HEREINAFTER RELATED THE SAID VOUCHER PROPERLY MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. THE PERTINENT FACTS WITH RESPECT TO THE VOUCHER APPEAR TO BE SET FORTH IN THE THIRD AND FOURTH PARAGRAPHS OF YOUR LETTER, AS FOLLOWS:

THE TERRITORIAL SUPERVISOR OF THE 17TH DECENNIAL CENSUS FOR THE TERRITORY OF ALASKA HAS INFORMED THE BUREAU OF THE CENSUS THAT THE USE OF PERSONALLY -OWNED AIRPLANES BY CENSUS ENUMERATORS WAS AUTHORIZED ONLY IN THOSE INSTANCES IN WHICH SPECIAL FLIGHTS WERE THE ONLY OR MOST ECONOMICAL METHOD OF ENUMERATING THE INHABITANTS OF ISOLATED AREAS IN THAT TERRITORY. SOME CASES THE ENUMERATOR'S PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE AREA WAS SUPERIOR TO THAT OF ANY OTHER PILOT AVAILABLE; THE SERVICES OF ANOTHER PILOT AND/OR PLANE WERE NOT ALWAYS AVAILABLE AT THE TIME IT WAS NECESSARY FOR THE ENUMERATOR TO MAKE A TRIP; THE COST OF ENGAGING ANOTHER PILOT WOULD ALWAYS INVOLVE STAND-BY TIME, AND THIS WOULD HAVE RESULTED IN TREMENDOUS INCREASE IN COSTS OF THE UNDERTAKING.

THE TERRITORIAL SUPERVISOR HAS ALSO ADVISED THIS BUREAU THAT THE CHARGES BY BUREAU PERSONNEL FOR THEIR PERSONALLY-OWNED PLANES WERE CONSISTENT WITH CHARGES MADE BY COMMERCIAL OPERATORS, AND THAT EACH CASE WAS THOROUGHLY REVIEWED AND APPROVED BY HIS STAFF.

THE ONLY LAWFUL AUTHORITY FOR REIMBURSING A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE FOR THE USE OF A PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANE UPON A COMMUTED BASIS IS THAT CONTAINED IN SECTION 4 OF THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACT OF 1949, 63 STAT. 166, WHICH PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

SEC. 4. CIVILIAN OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS OR OTHERS RENDERING SERVICE TO THE GOVERNMENT SHALL, UNDER REGULATIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET, AND WHENEVER SUCH MODE OF TRANSPORTATION IS AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED AS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT (EXCEPT THAT NO DETERMINATION OF ADVANTAGE IS REQUIRED WHERE PAYMENT ON A MILEAGE BASIS IS LIMITED TO THE COST OF TRAVEL BY COMMON CARRIER, INCLUDING PER DIEM), BE PAID IN LIEU OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION NOT TO EXCEED 4 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED MOTORCYCLES, OR 7 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES OR AIRPLANES, WHEN ENGAGED ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS WITHIN OR OUTSIDE THEIR DESIGNATED POSTS OF DUTY OR PLACES OF SERVICE. IN ADDITION TO THE MILEAGE ALLOWANCES PROVIDED FOR IN THIS SECTION, THERE MAY BE ALLOWED REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE ACTUAL COST OF FERRY FARES, AND BRIDGE, ROAD, AND TUNNEL TOLLS.

BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-7, TRANSMITTAL MEMORANDUM NO. 5, OF JUNE 29, 1949, WITH RESPECT TO SAID SECTION 4, PROVIDES:

* * * MILEAGE FOR USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANES SHALL BE DETERMINED BY MULTIPLYING THE ACTUAL ELAPSED TIME IN THE AIR BY THE RATED CRUISING SPEED OF THE PARTICULAR AIRPLANE. ANY UNUSUAL CONDITIONS OR CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH INFLUENCE THE ELAPSED TIME IN THE AIR MUST BE EXPLAINED.

PROVISION BY THE STATUTE, QUOTED IN PART ABOVE, OF A COMMUTED RATE FOR THE USE BY A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE OF A PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANE PRECLUDES FAVORABLE CONSIDERATION OF THE VOUCHER IN ITS PRESENT FORM. MOREOVER, ASIDE FROM SUCH CONSIDERATION, IT APPEARS THAT THE RATE CHARGED BY THE EMPLOYEE FOR THE USE OF HIS AIRPLANE WAS CONSISTENT OR COMPARABLE WITH CHARGES MADE BY COMMERCIAL OPERATORS. SINCE IT IS ASSUMED THAT THE COMMERCIAL CHARTER RATES INCLUDE COMPENSATION FOR A PILOT, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE USE OF SUCH COMMERCIAL RATES TO ESTABLISH THE PROPER RATE FOR REIMBURSING A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE FOR USE OF A PRIVATELY OWNED AIRPLANE WOULD RESULT IN THE PAYMENT OF EXTRA COMPENSATION FOR SUCH EMPLOYEE OVER AND ABOVE THAT TO WHICH HE PROPERLY IS ENTITLED AS A CENSUS ENUMERATOR. ACCORDINGLY, UPON THE PRESENT RECORD AND FOR THE REASONS STATED, THE VOUCHER, TRANSMITTED WITH YOUR LETTER AND WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, PROPERLY MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

HOWEVER, AS SUGGESTED ABOVE, THE FOREGOING DOES NOT NECESSARILY PRECLUDE FAVORABLE CONSIDERATION OF THE CLAIMS UPON A MILEAGE BASIS PROVIDED SUCH MODE OF TRANSPORTATION IS ADMINISTRATIVELY APPROVED.