20:0543(66)NG - NFFE Local 29 and Kansas City District Corps of Engineers, Kansas City, MO -- 1985 FLRAdec NG
[ v20 p543 ]
The decision of the Authority follows:
20 FLRA No. 66 NATIONAL FEDERATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 29 Union and KANSAS CITY DISTRICT CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI Agency Case No. 0-NG-1059 DECISION AND ORDER ON NEGOTIABILITY ISSUE The petition for review in this case comes before the Authority pursuant to section 7105(a)(2)(E) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute), and raises issues concerning the negotiability of the following Union proposal. Section 4. Travel Entitlements. (a). Employees may draw travel advances, including per diem, up to 100% of anticipated cost for any travel in excess of 10 hours. If an advance cannot be granted in such cases, the employee will not be compelled to perform the travel. Employees shall be in a per diem status portal-to-portal, unless they elect to go into a previously approved leave status during the tour of duty. Miscellaneous expenditures not enumerated in the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) or Joint Travel Regulations (JTR), when necessarily incurred by the traveler in the performance of the job/work related business, shall be reimbursed when approved by the traveler's supervisor. Itemization of subsistence expenses are not required on the travel voucher, except where reimbursement is based on actual subsistence expenses. Actual and necessary subsistence expenses incurred on a travel assignment for which reimbursement is claimed, shall be itemized to permit a review of the amounts spent daily for lodging, meals and all other items of subsistence expenses. Receipts shall be provided for lodging and other expenses, in excess of $25.00, except meals. No ceiling shall be placed on actual and necessary subsistence, except reimbursement shall not exceed the maximum rate by FTR. Upon careful consideration of the entire record, including the parties' contentions, the Authority makes the following determinations. The disputed portion of the Union's proposal concerns the amount of monetary reimbursement that bargaining unit employees are entitled to receive for actual out of pocket expenses when traveling on official business for the Agency in "high cost" areas. The proposal would provide for reimbursement to employees of all actual and necessary expenses within a set regulatory ceiling. In its statement of position, the Agency generally contends that the proposal is nonnegotiable since it would preclude the imposition of any ceiling for such expenses other than the maximum amount set by the FTRs, without regard to whether the expenses, in their particular circumstances, are unreasonable. Under 5 U.S.C. 5701-5709, as referenced by the Agency, civilian employees of Government agencies, including civilian employees of the Agency herein, may be reimbursed actual and necessary expenses for travel to a high cost area in an amount not to exceed the maximum rate prescribed by the Administrator of General Services in the Federal Travel Regulations (GSA Bulletin FPMR A-40, chapter 1) (FTRs). Within the maximum rate established at FTR paragraph 1-8.6, an employee's reimbursement is subject to the following general limitations set forth at FTR paragraph 1-1.3: a. Employee's obligation. An employee traveling on official business is expected to exercise the same care in incurring expenses that a prudent person would exercise if traveling on personal business. b. Reimbursable expenses. Traveling expenses which will be reimbursed are confined to those expenses essential to the transacting of official business. The Comptroller General has interpreted these provisions of FTR paragraph 1-1.3 as entitling employees to reimbursement only for reasonable expenses. 62 Comp.Gen. 88(1982) and Matter of Social Security Administration Employees, Comp. Gen. decision B-208794 (July 20, 1983) (unpublished). Thus, under the FTRs, as interpreted by the Comptroller General, each expenditure within the maximum rate set under those regulations must itself be reasonable. As applied herein, the instant proposal, which requires that no ceiling shall be placed on actual and necessary subsistence, except that reimbursement shall not exceed the maximum rate set by the FTRs, is inconsistent with the FTRs' requirement that employees are only entitled to reimbursement for reasonable expenses, notwithstanding the actual dollar amounts established for particular high cost areas in paragraph 1-8.6 of the FTRs. Furthermore, the FTRs are promulgated by the GSA in order to implement 5 U.S.C. 5701-5709, and are Government-wide regulations within the meaning of section 7117(a)(1) of the Statute /1/ because they generally apply to the civilian work force as a whole. /2/ Therefore, the Authority concludes that the Union's proposal is inconsistent with FTR paragraph 1-1.3, a Government-wide regulation, and is not within the duty to bargain under section 7117(a)(1) of the Statute. Accordingly, pursuant to section 2424.10 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations, IT IS ORDERED that the Union's petition for review be, and it hereby is, dismissed.