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An Air Force employee was authorized to travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in hearings convened by the Federal Service Impasses Panel. The employee was paid actual subsistence expenses for the period from his actual departure date through the last day of the hearings. However, the employee departed 3 days prior to his authorized departure date and took annual leave for the interim to spend more time preparing for the hearing. The employee submitted a voucher, which was approved, for the 3 additional days based upon the advice he received upon the completion of his travel from an agency employee in the travel section. During a later review, the Air Force determined that the additional travel payment was made erroneously, so the employee was notified of the need for repayment. The American Federation of Government Employees appealed the Air Force's determination for the employee, contending that: (1) there was no prohibition in statute, rule, or regulation that would prohibit the Air Force from making the payments in question; (2) the labor agreement in effect between the parties allowed such payment; and (3) travel orders may not be amended retroactively to decrease rights granted by the original travel order. In reviewing these claims, GAO found that reimbursement was neither authorized in advance nor approved later by a proper agency official. Accordingly, the employee's claim for reimbursement was disallowed.


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