Termination of Per Diem Entitlement

B-198460: Oct 28, 1980

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An agency requested a determination as to when the per diem entitlement terminates in a case where an employee on temporary duty dies. The employee, on a temporary assignment for 4 days, secured temporary lodgings for 3 days and paid for them in advance. He died on the third day. The agency was instructed to claim the actual expenses for preparation of the remains for transportation to the official duty station limited to $250, those transportation expenses not to exceed cost by common carrier, and per diem expenses until the time the remains arrived at the official station. The agency questioned the continuance of per diem beyond the day of the employee's death, since compensation may not be paid beyond the day of death of an employee. GAO was unaware of any legal authority which would permit the continued payment of a per diem allowance beyond the date of death of an employee on temporary duty. It concluded that payment may be made to the one legally entitled thereto of the unpaid compensation due a deceased employee of the United States up to and including the date of death, but such payment may not be made to include any date later than that. In addition, the unpaid compensation is payable for the entire day of death where the employee was in a pay status immediately prior to his death. It was also asked whether, if the per diem entitlement is much less than the actual and necessary subsistence expenses of the traveler, may the agency place the employee on actual expense reimbursement due to unusual circumstances and establish a reasonable allowance for meals. The application of the rule, that reimbursement of expenses incurred for temporary assignments which are later canceled by the agency may be allowed, was not necessary in this case. Since the employee paid in advance for 3 nights' lodging, the per diem allowance appeared to cover the expenses incurred. Accordingly, the voucher submitted should be adjusted to delete the per diem allowance for the fourth day of the temporary duty assignment before it is certified for payment.