[Claim for Reimbursement of Travel Expenses]

B-206723: Oct 21, 1982

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An accounting and finance officer for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) requested a decision concerning the liability of several employees and military officers under the Fly America Act for the cost of portions of international travel which they flew on noncertified carriers. The individuals traveled in accordance with the itineraries and Government Travel Requests prepared for them by a transportation officer of the agency who routed portions of their travel on foreign-flag carriers. Although flights by certified carriers were apparently available at all times when the subject travel was performed, the transportation officer provided no explanation of the necessity to use foreign carriers or declaration of the unavailability of flights by certified carriers. A question arose as to whether the employees should be held personally liable for the expense of their travel on noncertified carriers since the travel was scheduled by the transportation officer, who is responsible under agency regulations for determining and obtaining necessary and proper travel arrangements. GAO stated that the employees were liable for the expenses incurred for travel by foreign-flag carriers, even though agency regulations require transportation officers to make travel arrangements. Transportation expenses incurred in violation of the Fly America Act may not be paid from appropriated funds and transportation officers acting in their official capacity are not subject to the imposition of liability for errors of judgment. GAO concluded that, in the absence of a verifiable statement by an appropriate officer certifying the unavailability of American carrier service for the subject travel, collection actions by the disbursing officer appear proper.

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