B-243622, Aug 29, 1991, Office of General Counsel

B-243622: Aug 29, 1991

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Department of Energy in response to a proposal to revise its travel policy to allow temporary duty travel to begin or end at places other than official duty stations or residences when there are cost advantages to the government. Is advised that the Administrator. Is charged with the responsibility for implementing and regulating the city-pair contract program. Such change is not recommended. Concerning a Department of Energy proposal to revise its travel policy to allow temporary duty travel to begin or end at places other than official duty stations or residences when there are cost savings to the government. The proposal would permit an employee who is at a leave point or other place away from the permanent duty station (e.g.

B-243622, Aug 29, 1991, Office of General Counsel

DIGEST: The controller, Department of Energy in response to a proposal to revise its travel policy to allow temporary duty travel to begin or end at places other than official duty stations or residences when there are cost advantages to the government, is advised that the Administrator, General Services Administration (GSA), is charged with the responsibility for implementing and regulating the city-pair contract program. In response to our request for its comments, GSA has advised that the proposal would undermine the integrity of the program, result in higher costs to the government, require a change in the Federal Travel Regulations, and such change is not recommended. We defer to GSA's opinion.

Elizabeth E. Smedley: Controller

Department of Energy

Ms. Smedley

We refer to your letter of March 29, 1991, concerning a Department of Energy proposal to revise its travel policy to allow temporary duty travel to begin or end at places other than official duty stations or residences when there are cost savings to the government. The proposal would permit an employee who is at a leave point or other place away from the permanent duty station (e.g., weekend residence) to begin or end temporary duty travel at that alternate place using available government contract fares.

You have not provided us with a specific voucher or factual situation involving a named employee. Therefore, we are not able to provide you with a decision of the Comptroller General at this time. However, the following guidance is provided.

The Administrator, General Services Administration (GSA), is responsible for soliciting contracts with the airlines and negotiating for city-pair contract fares under provisions of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended. 41 U.S.C. Sec. 481 (1988). The Administrator is also responsible for prescribing regulations pertaining to official travel for federal employees. 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5707 (1988). Therefore, we forwarded your proposal to GSA for its comments.

In response to our request, the Chief, Regulatory Policy Branch, GSA, stated that allowing employees to use the contract fares according to personal preference would undermine the integrity of the program. stated that there could be short-term benefits to the employees and the government; however, it would be at the expense of the air carriers, and these costs ultimately would be reflected in higher bids for official travel. He also stated that your proposal would require a change in the Federal Travel Regulations, and such a change was not recommended.

Since, as previously stated, GSA is the agency charged by statute with implementing and administering the city-pair program, we have no recourse but to defer to their opinion. We are furnishing you with a copy of GSA's comments for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,