B-149111, SEP. 28, 1962

B-149111: Sep 28, 1962

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RECEIVED TRAVEL TIME AND EXPENSES WHEN DUE TO AN EMERGENCY THEY WERE ASSIGNED TO WORK IN JERSEY CITY OR HOBOKEN. IN THAT REGARD YOU SAY THAT YOU HAVE DISCUSSED THIS MATTER WITH PEOPLE WHO WERE EMPLOYED IN THE DISTRICT 2 OFFICE AT THE TIME AND THAT YOU WERE INFORMED THAT THEY DID RECEIVE TRAVEL MONEY WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE REGIONAL OFFICE WHEN ASSIGNED TO DUTY AT OTHER POINTS. - AS YOU WERE ADVISED IN OUR LETTER OF AUGUST 20. HE IS BASING HIS REQUEST FOR REVIEW ON THE GROUNDS THAT REGULAR EMPLOYEES ASSIGNED TO NEWARK HEADOUTS ON HIGHWAY POST OFFICES RECEIVED TRAVEL TIME AND PER DIEM WHILE TEMPORARILY ASSIGNED TO THE ERIE RAILROAD TERMINAL DURING DISRUPTIONS OF SERVICE. HIGHWAY POST OFFICES HAVE NOT OPERATED OUT OF NEWARK SINCE MARCH 8.

B-149111, SEP. 28, 1962

TO MR. ALFRED J. RICHARDI:

YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 24, 1962, PERTAINING TO OUR DECISION OF AUGUST 20, 1962, B-149111, TO YOU, AGAIN PRESENTS SEVERAL ISSUES OF FACT WHICH APPARENTLY YOU BELIEVE SHOULD BE RESOLVED BEFORE THE QUESTION OF ENTITLEMENT TO TRAVEL TIME AND EXPENSES CAN FINALLY BE DECIDED.

THE FIRST ISSUE REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER CONCERNS THE QUESTION OF WHETHER REGULAR EMPLOYEES STATIONED IN NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, RECEIVED TRAVEL TIME AND EXPENSES WHEN DUE TO AN EMERGENCY THEY WERE ASSIGNED TO WORK IN JERSEY CITY OR HOBOKEN, NEW JERSEY. IN THAT REGARD YOU SAY THAT YOU HAVE DISCUSSED THIS MATTER WITH PEOPLE WHO WERE EMPLOYED IN THE DISTRICT 2 OFFICE AT THE TIME AND THAT YOU WERE INFORMED THAT THEY DID RECEIVE TRAVEL MONEY WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE REGIONAL OFFICE WHEN ASSIGNED TO DUTY AT OTHER POINTS.

THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT INFORMED US IN THAT MATTER--- AS YOU WERE ADVISED IN OUR LETTER OF AUGUST 20, 1962--- AS FOLLOWS:

"AS I READ MR. RICHARDI'S LETTER, HE IS BASING HIS REQUEST FOR REVIEW ON THE GROUNDS THAT REGULAR EMPLOYEES ASSIGNED TO NEWARK HEADOUTS ON HIGHWAY POST OFFICES RECEIVED TRAVEL TIME AND PER DIEM WHILE TEMPORARILY ASSIGNED TO THE ERIE RAILROAD TERMINAL DURING DISRUPTIONS OF SERVICE. HIGHWAY POST OFFICES HAVE NOT OPERATED OUT OF NEWARK SINCE MARCH 8, 1958. IN VIEW OF THE LAPSE OF TIME SINCE THE DISCONTINUANCE WE CANNOT CONFIRM MR. RICHARDI'S STATEMENTS REGARDING THE TREATMENT OF THESE REGULAR EMPLOYEES.

"IF THE REGULAR EMPLOYEES RECEIVED TRAVEL TIME AND PER DIEM, AS REPORTED, I WOULD HAVE TO CONCLUDE THAT SUCH TREATMENT WAS IMPROPER. WHILE IT IS TRUE THAT, UNLIKE SUBSTITUTES, REGULAR EMPLOYEES TAKE UP THEIR SCHEDULED ASSIGNMENTS FROM ONE DESIGNATED POINT WITHIN THE COMMUTING AREA, THE DEPARTMENT WOULD NOT CONSIDER THEM TO BE IN TRAVEL STATUS, IF, FOR EMERGENT REASONS, THEY SHOULD BE ASSIGNED TO STATIONARY DUTY WITHIN THE COMMUTING AREA.'

THE QUOTED STATEMENT APPEARS TO CONFLICT WITH THAT PRESENTED BY YOU. HOWEVER, THE FACT THAT REGULAR EMPLOYEES RECEIVED TRAVEL ALLOWANCES UNDER THE RELATED CIRCUMSTANCES WOULD NOT AFFECT YOUR ENTITLEMENT TO SUCH ALLOWANCES. PERHAPS, IT WILL BE NECESSARY TO INSTITUTE COLLECTION ACTION AGAINST SUCH OTHER EMPLOYEES.

THE SECOND ISSUE TO WHICH YOU REFER AND THE ONE WHICH MAY BE DETERMINATIVE OF YOUR RIGHTS CONCERNS THE DATE UPON WHICH NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, OFFICIALLY WAS INCLUDED IN THE NEW YORK HEADQUARTERS FOR OPERATING PURPOSES. CONCERNING THAT QUESTION YOU APPARENTLY RELY UPON SECTION 6, NEW YORK REGIONAL BULLETIN, DATED FEBRUARY 6, 1962, QUOTED IN YOUR LETTER, WHICH, IN PART, AYS:

"THE BUREAU OF PERSONNEL HAS APPROVED INCLUDING NEWARK, N.J., AS ONE OF THE POINTS IN THE NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. METROPOLITAN AREA FOR THE PURPOSE OF APPLYING THE PROVISIONS OF PRIORITY II-C-3A * * *.'

WE UNDERSTAND THAT BULLETIN TO MEAN THAT THE SENIORITY OF EMPLOYEES HEADQUARTERED IN NEW YORK EXTENDS TO NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, AS A PART OF THE METROPOLITAN AREA. ALSO, IT APPEARS FROM YOUR LETTER THAT THE BULLETIN WAS INTENDED TO PERMIT CHANGES OF ASSIGNMENT OF REGULAR OR SUBSTITUTE CLERKS BETWEEN THE SEVERAL TRANSFER OFFICES AND MOBILE UNITS OF THE ENTIRE METROPOLITAN AREA, AND TO FACILITATE ASSIGNMENTS TO SUCH OFFICES AND ROAD HEADOUTS IN THAT AREA. HOWEVER, WE DO NOT FIND THAT IT IS CONCLUSIVE OF THE QUESTION OF WHETHER NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, PREVIOUSLY WAS OR WAS NOT INCLUDED IN THE NEW YORK HEADQUARTERS FOR OPERATING PURPOSES. YOU HAVE LAID SOME STRESS UPON THE FACT THAT NEWARK IS WITHIN THE PHILADELPHIA REGION. HOWEVER, IT IS ADMINISTRATIVELY REPORTED THAT IT IS WITHIN THAT REGION ONLY FOR PAYROLL PURPOSES, AND NOT FOR OPERATING PURPOSES. IN 25 COMP. GEN. 136, WE RULED THAT AN EMPLOYEE MAY HAVE ONE HEADQUARTERS FOR ADMINISTRATIVE PURPOSES AND ANOTHER WHERE HE PERFORMS DUTY. IT IS THE LATTER WHICH DETERMINES HIS ENTITLEMENT TO TRAVEL EXPENSES.

THE ONLY OFFICIAL INFORMATION WE HAVE CONCERNING THE FOREGOING IS THAT FURNISHED BY YOU IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR CLAIM. IN MEMORANDUM OF AUGUST 29, 1960, FROM THE POSTMASTER, MOBILE UNIT, JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY, TO YOU, IT IS SAID---

"IT MUST BE UNDERSTOOD THAT THE NEW YORK, N.Y. METROPOLITAN AREA, WHICH INCLUDES JERSEY CITY, HOBOKEN, WEEHAWKEN AND NEWARK, N.J. HAS ALWAYS BEEN CONSIDERED ONE HEADQUARTERS.'

THAT STATEMENT IS CORROBORATED BY LETTER OF FEBRUARY 16, 1961, FROM THE DIRECTOR, COMPENSATION DIVISION, BUREAU OF PERSONNEL, POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, TO YOU.

SINCE TWO FACTS THOUGHT TO BE ESSENTIAL TO FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE CLAIMS TO WHICH YOU REFER, ARE IN ISSUE, WE MUST RELY UPON A LONGSTANDING RULE OF ACCOUNTING OFFICERS, VIZ., THAT WHEN THE CLAIMANT AND THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE ARE IN DISAGREEMENT AS TO THE FACTS, ACCOUNTING OFFICERS MUST ACCEPT THE OFFICIAL VERSION OF THE LATTER IN THE ABSENCE OF PREPONDERANT EVIDENCE ESTABLISHING THAT SUCH VERSION IS IN ERROR.

AS A CLAIMANT THE BURDEN IS UPON YOU TO ESTABLISH THAT YOU WERE IN FACT ORDERED TO PERFORM TRAVEL BEYOND YOUR HEADQUARTERS AREA WHEN YOU WERE ASSIGNED TO DUTY IN NEWARK, NEW JERSEY. ON THE PRESENT RECORD THAT HAS NOT BEEN DONE AND THEREFORE WE MUST AGAIN SUSTAIN OUR OFFICE SETTLEMENT OF SEPTEMBER 28, 1961.

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