B-128623, SEPTEMBER 11, 1956, 36 COMP. GEN. 207

B-128623: Sep 11, 1956

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WHICHEVER IS GREATER. SO THAT FOREIGN SHIPS MAY BE UTILIZED BY PANAMA CANAL COMPANY AND CANAL ZONE EMPLOYEES WHOSE ACTUAL RESIDENCES ARE NOT IN THE WEST COAST AREA BUT WHO ARE TRAVELING TO THE WEST COAST FOR EITHER REPATRIATION OR HOME LEAVE. 1956: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 9. THE FIRST QUESTION YOU PRESENT IS WHETHER AIR/SEA TRANSPORTATION (I.E. WHICHEVER IS THE GREATER. YOU EXPRESS THE BELIEF THAT AIR/SEA TRAVEL TO THE SAME EXTENT AS SEA/AIR TRAVEL IS ADMINISTRATIVELY DESIRABLE FROM THE STANDPOINT OF EMPLOYEE MORALE AND IS CONDUCIVE TO INCREASED EFFICIENCY. YOU SAY THAT BOTH SEA/AIR AND AIR/SEA TRANSPORTATION COSTS ARE LESS THAN ROUND-TRIP SEA TRANSPORTATION AND THAT COMBINATION SEA/AIR TRANSPORTATION.

B-128623, SEPTEMBER 11, 1956, 36 COMP. GEN. 207

TRAVELING EXPENSES - AIR/SEA ROUND-TRIP - USE OF FOREIGN VESSELS - CANAL ZONE EMPLOYEES EMPLOYEES OF THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY AND CANAL ZONE MAY BE AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL ON HOME LEAVE BY AIR EN ROUTE TO THE UNITED STATES AND TO RETURN TO THE CANAL ZONE BY SEA TO THE EXTENT THAT THE COST OF SUCH MODES OF TRANSPORTATION DOES NOT EXCEED THE ROUND-TRIP FARE BY AIR OR SEA, WHICHEVER IS GREATER. IN VIEW OF THE INTERMITTENT SAILINGS OF AMERICAN SHIPS FROM THE CANAL ZONE TO THE WEST COAST OF THE UNITED STATES, AMERICAN SHIPS MAY BE CONSIDERED AS UNAVAILABLE WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1936, SO THAT FOREIGN SHIPS MAY BE UTILIZED BY PANAMA CANAL COMPANY AND CANAL ZONE EMPLOYEES WHOSE ACTUAL RESIDENCES ARE NOT IN THE WEST COAST AREA BUT WHO ARE TRAVELING TO THE WEST COAST FOR EITHER REPATRIATION OR HOME LEAVE, PROVIDED THAT THE TRAVEL ALLOWANCE DOES NOT EXCEED THE COST OF TRAVEL TO THE EMPLOYEES' PLACES OF ACTUAL RESIDENCES IN THE UNITED STATES.

TO THE GOVERNOR OF THE CANAL ZONE, SEPTEMBER 11, 1956:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 9, 1956, REQUESTING OUR DECISION UPON TWO QUESTIONS ARISING IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF SECTION 7 OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ACT OF 1946, 5 U.S.C. 73B-3, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF AUGUST 31, 1954, PUBLIC LAW 737, 68 STAT. 1008.

THE FIRST QUESTION YOU PRESENT IS WHETHER AIR/SEA TRANSPORTATION (I.E., CANAL ZONE TO UNITED STATES BY AIR AND RETURN BY SEA) MAY BE AUTHORIZED FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL OF PANAMA CANAL COMPANY AND CANAL ZONE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES TO THE EXTENT THAT THE COST DOES NOT EXCEED THE COST OF ROUND TRIP BY SEA OR AIR, WHICHEVER IS THE GREATER. WE UNDERSTAND YOUR QUESTION RELATES TO TRAVEL TO AND FROM THE UNITED STATES FOR VACATION PURPOSES. YOUR LETTER STATES THAT:

NOWADAYS, MANY EMPLOYEES, WITH THE VIEW OF SPENDING AS MUCH TIME IN THE UNITED STATES AS POSSIBLE AND STILL AVAIL THEMSELVES OF THE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE REST AND RELAXATION OFFERED BY A SEA JOURNEY, PLAN THEIR TRIPS ON THE BASIS OF AIR TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES AND RETURN TO THE CANAL ZONE BY SHIP, GENERALLY UTILIZING SHIPS OF THE COMPANY OWNED AND OPERATED PANAMA LINE.

YOUR LETTER FURTHER STATES THAT THE COST OF AIR/SEA TRANSPORTATION-- CANAL ZONE TO UNITED STATES BY AIR AND RETURN BY SEA--- WOULD EXCEED THE COST OF ROUND-TRIP TRANSPORTATION BY AIR AND THAT, ACCORDINGLY, THE AIR/SEA TRANSPORTATION MODE OF TRAVEL HAS NOT BEEN AUTHORIZED. ADDITIONALLY, YOU EXPRESS THE BELIEF THAT AIR/SEA TRAVEL TO THE SAME EXTENT AS SEA/AIR TRAVEL IS ADMINISTRATIVELY DESIRABLE FROM THE STANDPOINT OF EMPLOYEE MORALE AND IS CONDUCIVE TO INCREASED EFFICIENCY. YOU POINT OUT, IN THAT CONNECTION, THAT SOME EMPLOYEES TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES BY SHIP AND RETURN TO THE CANAL ZONE BY AIR. ALSO, YOU SAY THAT BOTH SEA/AIR AND AIR/SEA TRANSPORTATION COSTS ARE LESS THAN ROUND-TRIP SEA TRANSPORTATION AND THAT COMBINATION SEA/AIR TRANSPORTATION--- CANAL ZONE TO UNITED STATES BY SEA AND RETURN BY AIR--- HAS BEEN REGULARLY AUTHORIZED AS THE COST IS LESS THAN ROUND TRIP BY SEA.

OUR DECISION IN 26 COMP. GEN. 787, WHICH HELD GENERALLY THAT AN EMPLOYEE USING ONE-WAY TICKETS WOULD BE LIMITED TO THE ULTIMATE ROUND TRIP COST BY THE GOING MODE OF TRANSPORTATION, WAS CONCERNED PRIMARILY WITH THE APPLICATION OF PARAGRAPH 16 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS WHICH REQUIRES THE USE OF ROUND-TRIP TICKETS "WHENEVER PRACTICABLE AND ECONOMICAL" IN THE ABSENCE OF OFFICIAL JUSTIFICATION. 100509, FEBRUARY 8, 1951. HOWEVER, IN THE PRESENT SITUATION, THE USE OF AIR/SEA TRANSPORTATION WOULD RESULT IN A SAVINGS TO THE GOVERNMENT, THAT BEING UNDER THE COST OF THE APPROVED ROUND TRIP BY SEA. THIS WOULD BE IN CONSONANCE WITH THE ECONOMY INTENT OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. THEREFORE, TO THE EXTENT THAT THE COST OF AIR/SEA TRANSPORTATION DOES NOT EXCEED THE COST OF ROUND TRIP BY SEA OR AIR, WHICHEVER IS GREATER, WE SEE NO OBJECTION TO YOUR AUTHORIZING THE USE OF AIR/SEA TRANSPORTATION FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL OF PANAMA CANAL COMPANY AND CANAL ZONE EMPLOYEES. WE ASSUME, HOWEVER, THAT IN VIEW OF ITS LOWER COST ROUND-TRIP AIR TRAVEL WILL BE UTILIZED TO THE GREATEST EXTENT PRACTICABLE.

YOU SECOND QUESTION CONCERNS THE USE OF FOREIGN SHIPS FOR TRAVEL TO THE WEST COAST OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE PURPOSE OF EITHER REPATRIATION OR HOME LEAVE WHERE THE EMPLOYEES' PLACES OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE ARE OTHER THAN IN THE WEST COAST AREA BUT WHOSE FINAL DESTINATION FOR THE PURPOSE OF REPATRIATION OR HOME LEAVE IS THE WEST COAST AREA. THE FACTS SET FORTH IN YOUR LETTER IN THAT CONNECTION ARE AS FOLLOWS:

THE ONLY UNITED STATES FLAG PASSENGER SERVICE PRESENTLY AVAILABLE FROM THE CANAL ZONE TO THE WEST COAST IS INTERMITTENT WITH SAILINGS AT APPROXIMATELY 3-MONTHS INTERVALS; THE ROUTE IS INDIRECT AND ROUND-TRIP TRANSPORTATION IS NOT AVAILABLE. GENERALLY, THE USE OF AMERICAN VESSELS WOULD NECESSITATE ROUTING FROM THE CANAL ZONE TO NEW YORK AND THENCE TO THE WEST COAST, WITH A TRAVEL ALLOWANCE NOT IN EXCESS OF THE COST TO THE EMPLOYEE'S PLACE OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE. THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT IN MOST CASES WOULD BE CONSIDERABLY IN EXCESS OF THE COST BY DIRECT ROUTE BY A FOREIGN VESSEL TO THE WEST COAST. ROUTING VIA NEW YORK WOULD ALSO INVOLVE DELAY IN ARRIVAL AT FINAL DESTINATION.

SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT OF 1936, 49 STAT. 2015, 46 U.S.C. 1241, PROVIDES:

ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS OVERSEAS TO OR FROM ANY OF THE POSSESSIONS OF THE UNITED STATES SHALL TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT HIS PERSONAL EFFECTS ON SHIPS REGISTERED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES WHERE SUCH SHIPS ARE AVAILABLE UNLESS THE NECESSITY OF THE MISSION REQUIRES THE USE OF A SHIP UNDER A FOREIGN FLAG: PROVIDED, THAT THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES SHALL NOT CREDIT ANY ALLOWANCE FOR TRAVEL OR SHIPPING EXPENSES INCURRED ON A FOREIGN SHIP IN THE ABSENCE OF SATISFACTORY PROOF OF THE NECESSITY THEREFOR.

ECONOMY ALONE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A SUFFICIENT BASIS FOR ALLOWING THE USE OF A FOREIGN SHIP. TO REQUIRE THE EMPLOYEES HERE INVOLVED, HOWEVER, TO TRAVEL BY AMERICAN SHIP TO NEW YORK AND TO TRAVEL ACROSS THE CONTINENT TO THE WEST COAST, THEIR AUTHORIZED DESTINATION PURSUANT TO TITLE VI, SECTION 27 (B), EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9805, AS ADDED BY BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR A-4, DATED MAY 2, 1955, WOULD BE AN UNREASONABLE APPLICATION OF THE STATUTE REQUIRING USE OF AMERICAN SHIPS.

ACCORDINGLY, AND IN VIEW OF THE INFORMATION SET FORTH IN YOUR LETTER CONCERNING AMERICAN SHIP SAILINGS TO THE WEST COAST, GENERALLY FOREIGN SHIPS MAY BE UTILIZED FOR TRAVEL FROM THE CANAL ZONE TO THE WEST COAST AREA OF THE UNITED STATES OF EMPLOYEES WHOSE ACTUAL RESIDENCES ARE NOT IN THE WEST COAST AREA, PROVIDED, OF COURSE, THAT THE TRAVEL ALLOWANCE FOR SUCH TRIP MAY NOT EXCEED THE COST OF TRAVEL TO THE EMPLOYEES' PLACES OF ACTUAL RESIDENCE IN THE UNITED STATES.

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