Claim for Temporary Duty Travel Expenses

B-198930: Apr 6, 1981

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An employee of the Agency for International Development appealed a Claims Division settlement which denied his claim for additional actual expense reimbursement incident to his temporary duty in Zaire. While he was on the temporary duty, the State Department reduced the reimbursement rate for Zaire. His contention was that, since State erroneously reduced the rate while he was on temporary assignment, GAO should direct State to rectify the error and restore his reimbursement rate to its correct level. The reduction in rates resulted from deficient information provided to State. Upon receipt of correct information, State increased the per diem rate in Zaire. The State Department acknowledged that no reduction in the per diem rate would have been made during the employee's temporary duty had it been notified of the rise in the cost of living in Zaire. In this regard, the Department of State is required to review all civilian price schedules received. The State Department denied the employee's claim for additional reimbursement on the ground that GAO prohibits retroactive increases in allowances. Since the downward adjustment in the per diem rate occurred through an administrative error on the part of the State Department, an exception to the rule which prohibits retroactive increases in allowances may be permitted in this case. The employee's supplemental travel voucher for reimbursement of additional actual subsistence expenses may be certified for payment on the basis of the previously applicable reimbursement rates in Zaire.