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THE OFFICIAL SOVIET TRAVEL AGENCY ARE REIMBURSABLE IN SPITE OF THE DECISION 38 COMP. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN UNREASONABLE TO THE POINT OF NEAR PRACTICAL IMPOSSIBILITY FOR THE TRAVELERS TO CONCLUDE THE NECESSARY ARRANGEMENTS OTHERWISE. THAT PART OF THE EXPENSES INCURRED ON BEHALF OF THE TRAVELERS WIVES IS NOT REIMBURSABLE AND MUST NOT BE INCLUDED. EDITH ALBRITTAIN: THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 1. THE RECORD INDICATES THE EMPLOYEES WERE AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL FROM BOULDER. THE ITEMS IN QUESTION WERE DISALLOWED ON THE BASIS OF OUR DECISION AT 38 COMP. THE EMPLOYEES RECLAIM THE DISALLOWED ITEMS ON THE GROUND THAT TRAVEL AGENCIES WILL NOT MAKE ARRANGEMENTS WITH INTOURIST WITHOUT CHARGE.

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B-139733, NOV. 23, 1970

OFFICIAL TRAVEL - TRAVEL AGENCY CHARGES AUTHORIZING PAYMENT OF VOUCHERS FOR EXPENSES INCURRED BY EMPLOYEES ARRANGING ACCOMMODATIONS IN THE SOVIET UNION INCIDENT TO THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL. CHARGES BY THOS. COOK & SON, TRAVEL AGENTS, FOR SERVICES AND COMMUNICATION FOR ARRANGING ACCOMMODATIONS IN THE SOVIET UNION WITH INTOURIST, THE OFFICIAL SOVIET TRAVEL AGENCY ARE REIMBURSABLE IN SPITE OF THE DECISION 38 COMP. GEN. 879 (1959). IT WOULD HAVE BEEN UNREASONABLE TO THE POINT OF NEAR PRACTICAL IMPOSSIBILITY FOR THE TRAVELERS TO CONCLUDE THE NECESSARY ARRANGEMENTS OTHERWISE. HOWEVER, THAT PART OF THE EXPENSES INCURRED ON BEHALF OF THE TRAVELERS WIVES IS NOT REIMBURSABLE AND MUST NOT BE INCLUDED.

TO MRS. EDITH ALBRITTAIN:

THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 1, 1970, REFERENCE AD571X17, REQUESTING OUR DECISION AS TO THE ALLOWABILITY OF VOUCHERS FOR $65 EACH IN FAVOR OF DR. WILMOT N. HESS AND MR. R. W. KNECHT, RESPECTIVELY, REPRESENTING CHARGES BY THOS. COOK & SON FOR SERVICES AND COMMUNICATION FOR ARRANGING ACCOMMODATIONS IN THE SOVIET UNION WITH INTOURIST, THE OFFICIAL SOVIET TRAVEL AGENCY, INCIDENT TO THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY THE EMPLOYEES.

THE RECORD INDICATES THE EMPLOYEES WERE AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL FROM BOULDER, COLORADO, TO LENINGRAD, U.S.S.R., AND RETURN. THE ITEMS IN QUESTION WERE DISALLOWED ON THE BASIS OF OUR DECISION AT 38 COMP. GEN. 879 (1959) WHICH HELD THAT ARRANGEMENTS BY A TRAVEL AGENCY WITH INTOURIST, WHILE A CONVENIENCE TO THE TRAVELER, DO NOT SATISFY THE NECESSITY REQUIREMENT OF SECTION 10.5, STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, COVERING MISCELLANEOUS EXPENDITURES. THE EMPLOYEES RECLAIM THE DISALLOWED ITEMS ON THE GROUND THAT TRAVEL AGENCIES WILL NOT MAKE ARRANGEMENTS WITH INTOURIST WITHOUT CHARGE.

IN B-139733, JULY 25, 1968, WE HELD THAT WHEN ARRANGEMENTS WITH INTOURIST CANNOT BE MADE THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND A TRAVEL AGENCY MUST BE UTILIZED TO MAKE SUCH ARRANGEMENTS, THE SERVICE CHARGE MADE BY THE TRAVEL AGENCY IS REIMBURSABLE. IN THE INSTANT CASE THE ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY AUTHORIZING THE TRAVEL WAS INFORMED BY THE SOVIET EMBASSY IN WASHINGTON, D.C., AND INTOURIST THAT EACH TRAVELER SHOULD CONTACT AN INTOURIST- AUTHORIZED TRAVEL AGENT IN ORDER TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR ACCOMMODATIONS IN THE SOVIET UNION.

WHILE IT IS NOT CLEAR THAT THE USE OF A TRAVEL AGENT WAS AN ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENT, THE RECORD SUPPORTS THE CONCLUSION THAT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN UNREASONABLE TO THE POINT OF NEAR PRACTICAL IMPOSSIBILITY IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES FOR THE TRAVELERS TO ATTEMPT TO CONCLUDE THE NECESSARY ARRANGEMENTS OTHERWISE. THEREFORE, NOTWITHSTANDING THE CONCLUSION REACHED IN THE DECISION AT 38 COMP. GEN. 879, THE CHARGES IN QUESTION MAY GENERALLY BE VIEWED AS NECESSARY AND, HENCE, REIMBURSABLE. WE UNDERSTAND, HOWEVER, THAT THE $65 CHARGE IN EACH OF THE CASES IN QUESTION COVERS SERVICES RENDERED IN BEHALF OF BOTH THE TRAVELER AND HIS WIFE. THAT PORTION OF THE CHARGE ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE TRAVELERS' WIVES IS NOT REIMBURSABLE. WE HAVE NOT OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT THE COST OF TELEGRAMS RESERVING HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS IS NORMALLY CONSIDERED AS COVERED BY THE PER DIEM ALLOWANCE AUTHORIZED. SEE SECTION 6.1 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. HOWEVER, THE CABLEGRAMS HERE INVOLVED, WHILE INCIDENTALLY SERVING TO ASSURE HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS, WERE MORE IN THE NATURE OF A FORCED EXPENSE FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT WHICH THE TRAVELERS COULD IN NO WAY AVOID.

ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHERS, RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT TO THE EXTENT OF CHARGES WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN INCURRED HAD THE TRAVELERS UTILIZED AGENCY SERVICES FOR THEMSELVES ALONE.

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