Junior Enlisted Service Members' Travel Allowances

B-193879: Oct 18, 1979

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To determine the appropriate effective date of the junior enlisted service members' increased travel and transportation allowances, the Air Force asked whether: the effective date of authorizing regulations, the effective date of the act appropriating the money for the allowance, or the first day of the fiscal year, was correct. It also asked if the regulations could be amended to change the effective date of the entitlements from October 17, 1978, to October 1, 1978, the beginning of the fiscal year. GAO held that the effective date of the authorizing regulations was the correct date. Although the services had statutory authority to authorize travel and transportation allowances for junior enlisted members, they were precluded from doing so until the entitlements had been funded by Congress. Due to uncertainties concerning funding, regulations could not be amended until the appropriation had been finally approved. While regulations may be amended prospectively to increase or decrease rights under them, they may not be amended retroactively in the absence of obvious error. It was concluded that the implementing regulations were controlling and GAO would be required to object to retroactively amending them to make them effective prior to October 17, 1978, the date they became effective.

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