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A firm protested an Air Force solicitation for a hydraulic power squaring shear, contending that the: (1) Air Force failed to include the appropriate small disadvantaged business preference provision in the solicitation; and (2) awardee's low bid price was unreasonable and should be withdrawn. GAO held that the: (1) protester was not sufficiently interested to protest, since it would not be in line for award even if its protest were sustained; and (2) awardee confirmed its below-cost bid and its compliance with the solicitation specifications. Accordingly, the protest was dismissed.

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B-208613 L/M, NOV 2, 1982, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

MR. DARREL D. HAWORTH:

THIS IS IN RESPONSE TO YOUR RECENT LETTER CONCERNING REIMBURSEMENT OF YOUR TRAVEL EXPENSES INCURRED WHILE ATTENDING TRAINING IN NORMAN, OKLAHOMA.

AS I INDICATED IN MY LETTER OF AUGUST 26, 1982, OUR OFFICE DOES NOT HAVE SETTLEMENT AUTHORITY ON THE CLAIMS OF UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE EMPLOYEES. FURTHERMORE, EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE STATUTES AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TRAVEL OF MOST FEDERAL EMPLOYEES. SEE 5 U.S.C. SEC. 5701 DEFINING "AGENCY." THEREFORE, OUR ADVICE TO YOU IS ADVISORY IN NATURE AND NOT BINDING ON THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE.

IT APPEARS FROM YOUR VOUCHER THAT INSTEAD OF FLYING TO YOUR TRAINING ASSIGNMENT YOU DROVE YOUR AUTOMOBILE AND INCURRED MILEAGE AND LODGING EXPENSES FOR WHICH YOU SEEK REIMBURSEMENT. YOUR QUESTIONS CENTER ON YOUR ENTITLEMENT TO LODGING EXPENSES ENROUTE WHILE YOU USED YOUR AUTOMOBILE, AND TO PER DIEM FROM THE TIME YOU LEFT YOUR RESIDENCE UNTIL YOU RETURNED. YOU HAVE SUBMITTED A COPY OF A VOUCHER FROM A FELLOW EMPLOYEE WHO TRAVELED UNDER SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS EMPLOYEE COMPARED HIS COMBINED ACTUAL EXPENSES (MILEAGE, PER DIEM, AND TOLLS AND PARKING) TO HIS COMBINED CONSTRUCTIVE EXPENSES (AIRFARE, PER DIEM, AND MILEAGE TO AIRPORT) AND CLAIMED THE LESSER AMOUNT. THIS METHOD OF COMPUTATION APPEARS CONSISTENT WITH THE POSTAL SERVICE TRAVEL METHODS HANDBOOK, SERIES M-9 (1972 ED.).

IN COMPUTING YOUR VOUCHER BY THIS METHOD IT APPEARS THAT YOUR COMBINED ACTUAL EXPENSES WOULD INCLUDE MILEAGE ($428.63), TOLLS AND PARKING ($12.60), AND PER DIEM. PER DIEM WOULD BE BASED ON THE COST OF LODGINGS PLUS THE NUMBER OF PERIODS (QUARTER DAYS) OF PER DIEM AT $5.75 PER PERIOD. THUS, IT APPEARS YOUR ACTUAL PER DIEM WOULD BE COMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF SEVEN PERIODS OF PER DIEM FOR TRAVEL TO THE TRAINING, 44 PERIODS FOR THE TRAINING, AND EIGHT PERIODS FOR RETURN TRAVEL (59 X $5.75

$339.25) PLUS LODGINGS ($41.60) FOR A TOTAL OF $822.08. THIS FIGURE WOULD BE COMPARED WITH CONSTRUCTIVE TRAVEL COSTS OF AIRFARE ($436), PER DIEM (50 X $5.75 $287.50), AND TRAVEL TO AND FROM THE AIRPORT ($26), FOR A TOTAL OF $749.50. YOUR CLAIM WOULD BE FOR THE LESSER AMOUNT.

OUR COMPUTATION OF YOUR ACTUAL AND CONSTRUCTIVE TRAVEL COSTS IS BASED ON THE 1972 EDITION OF HANDBOOK M-9 USING THE RATES IN YOUR VOUCHER FOR PER DIEM PERIODS AND MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT. SINCE WE DO NOT HAVE A MORE RECENT EDITION OF THE HANDBOOK AVAILABLE TO US, WE SUGGEST THAT YOU CONTACT YOUR FINANCE OR PERSONNEL OFFICE FOR THE APPLICABLE PROVISIONS GOVERNING CONSTRUCTIVE TRAVEL COSTS AND RATES FOR PER DIEM AND MILEAGE.

WE HOPE THAT THIS INFORMATION IS RESPONSIVE TO YOUR INQUIRY. REQUESTED, WE ARE RETURNING THE VOUCHER YOU SENT US FROM A FELLOW EMPLOYEE.