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THE GENERAL RULE IS THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY THE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES OF THE GOVERNMENT MAY AUTHORIZE OR ASSIGN EMPLOYEES TO ATTEND COURSES OF INSTRUCTION OR TRAINING IN NONFEDERAL FACILITIES AND PAY THEIR TUITION. SALARIES AND OTHER EXPENSES INCIDENT TO SUCH ATTENDANCE ONLY WHEN IT CAN BE SHOWN THAT THE PARTICULAR TRAINING INVOLVED (1) IS SPECIAL IN NATURE AND IS FOR A PERIOD OF LIMITED DURATION. (2) IS ESSENTIAL TO CARRY OUT THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH THE APPROPRIATION IS MADE. (3) IS NOT A TYPE WHICH THE EMPLOYEE NORMALLY WOULD BE EXPECTED TO ATTEND AT HIS OWN EXPENSE. 34 COMP. - DURING ANY FISCAL YEAR THE COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC ROADS IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED. TO DETAIL NOT TO EXCEED TEN OF THE REGULARLY EMPLOYED PERSONNEL OF THE PUBLIC ROADS ADMINISTRATION AS STUDENTS FOR LIMITED PERIODS AT SUCH TECHNICAL INSTITUTIONS AS WILL ENABLE SUCH PERSONNEL TO ACQUIRE SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE WHICH WILL BETTER FIT THEM FOR THE LINES OF WORK TO WHICH THEY ARE ASSIGNED:PROVIDED.

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B-126066, FEB. 7, 1956

TO MR. F. P. ALEXANDER, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS:

YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 4, 1955 (FILE 60-22.1), REQUESTS OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT THE VOUCHER THEREWITH TRANSMITTED IN FAVOR OF SYLVESTER E. RIDGE, IN THE AMOUNT OF $164.60, COVERING TRAVEL EXPENSES INCURRED DURING THE PERIOD JULY 31 TO AUGUST 13, 1955, INCIDENT TO HIS ATTENDING A DIGITAL COMPUTER COURSE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN.

THE GENERAL RULE IS THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY THE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES OF THE GOVERNMENT MAY AUTHORIZE OR ASSIGN EMPLOYEES TO ATTEND COURSES OF INSTRUCTION OR TRAINING IN NONFEDERAL FACILITIES AND PAY THEIR TUITION, SALARIES AND OTHER EXPENSES INCIDENT TO SUCH ATTENDANCE ONLY WHEN IT CAN BE SHOWN THAT THE PARTICULAR TRAINING INVOLVED (1) IS SPECIAL IN NATURE AND IS FOR A PERIOD OF LIMITED DURATION, (2) IS ESSENTIAL TO CARRY OUT THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH THE APPROPRIATION IS MADE, AND (3) IS NOT A TYPE WHICH THE EMPLOYEE NORMALLY WOULD BE EXPECTED TO ATTEND AT HIS OWN EXPENSE. 34 COMP. GEN. 631. HOWEVER, SECTION 16 OF THE DEFENSE HIGHWAY ACT OF 1941, 55 STAT. 770, PROVIDES:

"SEC. 16. DETAIL OF EMPLOYEES AS STUDENTS.--- DURING ANY FISCAL YEAR THE COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC ROADS IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED, IN HIS DISCRETION, TO DETAIL NOT TO EXCEED TEN OF THE REGULARLY EMPLOYED PERSONNEL OF THE PUBLIC ROADS ADMINISTRATION AS STUDENTS FOR LIMITED PERIODS AT SUCH TECHNICAL INSTITUTIONS AS WILL ENABLE SUCH PERSONNEL TO ACQUIRE SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE WHICH WILL BETTER FIT THEM FOR THE LINES OF WORK TO WHICH THEY ARE ASSIGNED:PROVIDED, THAT NO EXPENSE OTHER THAN THE SALARIES OF PERSONNEL SO DETAILED AND THE COST OF TUITION AND OTHER REGULAR FEES REQUIRED AT SUCH INSTITUTIONS SHALL BE INCURRED BY THE UNITED STATES UNDER THIS SECTION.'

IN AN UNSIGNED REPORT ON THE CONFERENCE OR DIGITAL COMPUTER COURSE IT IS STATED THAT FROM INFORMATION OBTAINED AT THE CONFERENCE IT IS APPARENT THAT CERTAIN EARTHWORK COMPUTATIONS COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IN A MATTER OF MINUTES WITH THE COMPUTERS AS COMPARED WITH MONTHS OF MANUAL COMPUTATION RESULTING IN A LARGE SAVING OF MAN-YEARS. ALSO YOU POINT OUT THAT THE STATED PURPOSE OF ATTENDANCE AT THE COURSE WAS "TO OBTAIN INFORMATION AND DATA THAT WILL BE OF VALUE IN THE BUREAU'S EFFORT TO DEVELOP NEW AND IMPROVED HIGHWAY ENGINEERING PROCEDURES, AND TO OBTAIN THE COOPERATION OF THE MANUFACTURERS AND OTHER USERS OF THIS TYPE OF EQUIPMENT, MANY OF WHOM WILL BE IN ATTENDANCE AT THE CONFERENCE, IN THE ADAPTATION OF SUCH EQUIPMENT TO HIGHWAY USES.'

THE FOREGOING SUGGESTS THAT THE ATTENDANCE AT THE COURSE IN THIS CASE WOULD COME WITHIN THE GENERAL RULE STATED IN 34 COMP. GEN. 631. THE EXPENSES FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT ARE SOUGHT ON THE VOUCHER, HOWEVER, ARE FOR ITEMS OTHER THAN THOSE SPECIFIED IN THE PROVISO TO SECTION 16. MOREOVER, WE FIND NO PROVISION IN SECTION 16 MAKING THE RECEIPT OF COLLEGE CREDITS A CONDITION PRECEDENT TO APPLYING THE RESTRICTIONS OR OTHER PROVISIONS IN THAT SECTION.

IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES, WE HOLD THAT THE VOUCHER MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. THE VOUCHER AND ACCOMPANYING PAPERS ARE RETURNED.

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