Claim for Per Diem and Transportation Expenses

B-204938: Apr 7, 1982

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A decision was requested concerning an employee's claim for per diem and transportation expenses incurred while attending a conference. The employee was being transferred and, while on a househunting trip at his new duty station, he received travel orders to attend a conference at his old duty station. The employee and his wife stayed at their residence at the old duty station while he attended the conference. Therefore, he claimed per diem for the duration of the conference, but did not include lodging costs in the computation of his entitlement. In lieu of lodging costs, he claimed round trip mileage for travel between his residence and the conference site. GAO has held that, when an employee assigned to temporary duty realizes an overall savings in travel expenses by obtaining lower cost lodgings outside the immediate vicinity of the temporary duty station, the additional transportation costs incurred may be reimbursed. However, per diem may not be allowed at an employee's permanent duty station, and the effective date of the employee's change of duty station would determine his entitlement. The effective date of a change of duty station is the date on which an employee reports for duty at his new permanent duty station. The employee claimed that he reported to his new duty station on the date on which he left for the conference; however, the record did not substantiate this. The employee visited the station en route to the temporary duty primarily for the purpose of picking up travel orders. To qualify for reporting of duty there must be a rendition of actual services at the new duty station. If, upon a review of the facts, it is determined that the employee did not render actual services at his new station prior to returning to his old station, his claims for per diem and mileage should be disallowed. If the employee rendered actual services at the new duty station, his claims should be allowed, if otherwise correct, provided that the services were not solely for the purpose of creating a right to otherwise unauthorized per diem.

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