Entitlement to Reimbursement of Travel Expenses

B-196049: Apr 21, 1980

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An advance decision was requested concerning whether a military member is entitled to be reimbursed for travel expenses under the provisions of 37 U.S.C. 404 or 37 U.S.C. 408 when the member travels from his permanent duty station in Arlington, Virginia, to perform temporary duty at Quantico, Virginia. A change in the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) was proposed contingent upon the decision reached in this case. The member's permanent duty station was in Arlington, Virginia. However, during a 2-month period, he traveled periodically from his home in Springfield, Virginia, to Quantico, Virginia, to carry out his assigned duties. He made these trips in his privately owned vehicle, traveling directly from his home rather than his permanent duty station since his home was 15 miles closer to Quantico. Each time he traveled to Quantico, he did so without formal written temporary duty orders. The member and the Finance Center contended that his travel should be characterized as local travel in and around his permanent duty station as provided for in 37 U.S.C. 408. GAO held that the member's travel was interstation travel pursuant to 37 U.S.C. 404 which required travel to be authorized by written orders. In this case, the facts that the travel was required by the member's duty assignment and was subsequently approved in writing by a competent authority as being advantageous to the Government were sufficient to entitle him to reimbursement. GAO held that the JTR may be amended to expand the definition of the term "area" to reflect the view that the area intended to be covered under 37 U.S.C. 408 for reimbursement for travel in the vicinity of a duty station is the normal commuting area of the station concerned. Accordingly, amendment of the JTR along the lines of the proposed change was authorized.