18:0483(64)AR - IRS, Houston District and NTEU Chapter 222 -- 1985 FLRAdec AR



[ v18 p483 ]
18:0483(64)AR
The decision of the Authority follows:


 18 FLRA No. 64
 
 INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, 
 HOUSTON DISTRICT 
 Activity 
 
 and 
 
 NATIONAL TREASURY EMPLOYEES 
 UNION, CHAPTER 222 
 Union
 
                                            Case No. 0-AR-732
 
                                 DECISION
 
    This matter is before the Authority on exceptions to the award of
 Arbitrator John P.Owen filed by the Activity under section 7122(a) of
 the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute and part 2425 of
 the Authority's Rules and Regulations.
 
    The parties submitted to arbitration a stipulated issue of "whether
 Article 28, Section 12 of the NORD (the parties' collective bargaining
 agreement) requires the physical use for official business of a parking
 space rented at a post of duty on a weekly or monthly basis as a
 prerequisite for reimbursement on a pro rata basis." Article 28, Section
 12 pertinently provides:  "An employee who rents a parking space at a
 post of duty on a regular basis, i.e., at a weekly or monthly rate,
 shall be reimbursed on a pro rata basis for the actual number of days
 the parking space is used for official business." The issue arose when
 the grievant was denied reimbursement on days when he used his personal
 vehicle on official business, but did not physically park his vehicle in
 his parking space at his post of duty.  He filed the grievance which was
 submitted to arbitration claiming reimbursement of the pro rata monthly
 parking cost at his post of duty for those days that he used his
 personal vehicle for official business whether or not he physically
 parked in his rented parking space.  As the award the Arbitrator
 sustained the grievance ruling that the parties' agreement provides for
 reimbursement of a pro rata share of the charge for a parking space
 rented on a weekly or monthly basis for each day that an affected
 employee uses his or her vehicle for official business whether or not
 the employee physically parks in such space.  The Arbitrator also
 directed that the grievant be reimbursed accordingly.
 
    As one of its exceptions, the Agency contends that the award is
 contrary to law and regulation.  Specifically, the Agency argues that
 the award is deficient because it directs reimbursement of parking fees
 that is not authorized by law and regulation pertaining to reimbursement
 of travel expenses on official business.  The Authority agrees.
 
    Absent express statutory or regulatory authorization, the established
 rule is that Federal employees must bear as personal commuting expenses
 all costs of transportation, including parking fees, between their
 residence and official duty stations.  E.g., 60 Comp.Gen. 420 (1981).
 Under 5 U.S.C. 5704(b) and Federal Property Management Regulations (41
 CFR 101-7.003, incorporating GSA Bulletin FPMR A-40), an employee who is
 engaged in official business for the Federal Government may be
 reimbursed for parking fees.  Travel expenses, including parking fees,
 which are reimbursable are confined however to those expenses which are
 actual and necessary, 5 U.S.C. 5706, and which are essential to the
 transacting of official business, GSA Bulletin FPMR A-40, para. 1-1.3b.
 Additionally, the method of transportation selected for performance of
 official business must be advantageous to the Government.  Id. at para.
 1-2.2b.  In 47 Comp.Gen. 219 (1967), the Comptroller General discussed
 the interpretation and application of controlling law and regulation
 with respect to the reimbursement of parking fees when the employee's
 parking space is used both for personal commuting and for purposes of
 official travel.  The Comptroller General stated that in order for a
 share of such parking fees to be properly reimbursable, the use of the
 parking space must be necessary because of official business and the use
 of the parking space must be advantageous to the Government.  Id. at
 220.  In authorizing reimbursement of a share of such parking fees in
 such circumstances, the Comptroller General noted that the use of the
 parking space which was convenient to the post of duty was necessary for
 official business and was advantageous to the Government because the use
 of such a space provided immediate availability and easy accessibility
 to the employee's vehicle in connection with the use of such vehicle for
 official business.  Id. at 219.  However, in concluding that such use
 was necessary for official business and was advantageous to the
 Government, the Comptroller General expressly cautioned that these
 determinations must not be conjectural.  Id. at 220.
 
    In terms of this case, the Authority concludes that the Agency has
 established that reimbursement of a pro rata share of the charge for a
 parking space rented on a monthly or weekly basis at the post of duty on
 a day when an employee uses his or her vehicle for official business,
 but does not physically park in the rented space, is not authorized by
 controlling law and regulation.  In this case, the parking space was not
 used by the grievant on the days involved.  Hence, the requirement that
 the parking space be used to provide immediate availability and easy
 accessibility to the employee's vehicle in connection with its use for
 official business was not met.  Therefore, the Arbitrator's award based
 upon his interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement is
 contrary to law and regulation applicable to reimbursable travel
 expenses.  More specifically, since there was no use of the space, its
 use was not necessary for the use of the employee's vehicle for official
 business nor was it advantageous to the Government.  See id.; see also
 GSA Bulletin FPMR A-40, General Supplement 9 (Feb. 29, 1984) (revisions
 of FPMR in accordance with expressed Presidential policy to strengthen
 control over authorization of travel to eliminate unnecessary spending
 and to provide that only travel that is necessary to accomplish the
 purposes of the Government effectively and economically is to be
 authorized).  Thus, with no use of the rented parking space to
 facilitate use of the employee's vehicle for official business, the pro
 rata share of the charge for a parking space rented on a monthly or
 weekly basis at the post of duty on a day that the rented space is not
 physically used is not a necessary and essential expense advantageous to
 the Government in connection with the use of the employee's vehicle for
 official travel.  Consequently, the award is deficient as contrary to
 law and regulation applicable to reimbursable travel expenses, and
 accordingly the award is set aside.  /1/
                                       Henry B. Frazier III, Acting
                                       Chairman
                                       William J. McGinnis, Jr., Member
                                       FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
 
 
 
 
 
 
 --------------- FOOTNOTES$ ---------------
 
 
    /1/ In view of this decision, it is not necessary to address the
 Agency's other exceptions to t