Propriety of Supplemental Travel Voucher Payment

B-200750: Aug 4, 1981

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An advance decision was requested on the propriety of paying a supplemental travel voucher to an agency employee for an additional $2 per diem for each day of a temporary duty assignment. This decision would also apply to several other agency employees in the same circumstances. Because of the scarcity and cost of local housing, the agency had transported trailers which it had leased from a private firm and placed them on rented lots at the worksite. The employees at the site were furnished the trailers at no out-of-pocket expense and were paid a reduced per diem to pay for meals and incidental expenses. The per diem reduction represented the cost of leasing, transporting, and renting lots for the trailers. An agency employee questioned the inclusion of the costs of transporting the trailers in the per diem computation. If the transportation costs had been excluded from the computation, the average daily lodging expense would have been $2 less and his daily allowance for meals and other expenses could have been increased by that amount. He therefore felt that he could and should have been paid an additional $2 in per diem for each day he was on the temporary duty assignment. When it is known in advance that Government-procured lodgings will be furnished to the employee at no personal expense, a specific per diem rate should be established in advance. The expenses incurred by the agency in obtaining and maintaining these lodgings need not be taken into account in establishing the per diem allowable to an employee for meals and incidentals. If an agency fails to set a specific per diem rate to fit the particular situation, then the allowance prescribed for meals and incidental expenses under the lodgings-plus system would be payable. In this case, the agency had not set a specific per diem rate in advance. Thus, in the view of GAO, the employees were entitled to per diem for meals and incidentals of $16 per day, without taking lodging expenses into account. Accordingly, the employee's claim was allowed, and the voucher was returned for payment.