Claim for Travel and Transportation Expenses

B-196950: Mar 24, 1980

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Shirley Jones
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An agency certifying officer requested an advance decision concerning whether payment might be certified for the travel and transportation expenses of an employee incurred incident to an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) assignment. The issue raised was whether the employee's travel and transportation expenses might be paid where the travel authorizations were issued well after the travel was actually performed. The employee traveled from Washington, D.C., to his IPA assignment in Detroit in May 1975, where he remained on assignment until his return to Washington, D.C., in August 1979. No claim was submitted until more than a month after his return, and travel orders authorizing payment for travel and transportation expenses were not issued until September 30, 1979. The agency stated that the employee was provided with the necessary forms for submission of his travel authorization for processing prior to his departure in 1975, but failed to return the forms as requested until his return in 1979. The employee argued that although the travel authorizations were issued after travel was actually performed, he was still entitled to reimbursement because his IPA contract specified that the agency would pay his travel and transportation expenses to and from the IPA assignment. GAO found that the employee's contract provided general authorization for payment of his expenses, but did not specify his exact entitlements. Accordingly, travel expenses were to be approved to the extent that they could have been authorized under the travel regulations in effect at the time the travel was performed. However, payment of expenses must be supported by proper itemization of expenditures and receipts required by Federal Travel Regulations. The claim for 30 days temporary quarters subsistence expenses was to be disallowed unless it was supported by receipts from the hotel and contemporaneous itemization of other expenses. With regard to the employee's return travel by rented vehicle, it was held that only the constructive cost of travel by privately owned vehicle or common carrier was to be allowed unless it could be demonstrated that the agency determined, prior to his departure, that it would be more advantageous to the Government for him to travel by commercially rented vehicle. Accordingly, the vouchers could be certified for payment only in accordance with the regulations cited.