21:1015(120)CA - Warner Robins Air Logistics Center (AFLC), Robins AFB, Ga. and AFGE, Local 987 -- 1986 FLRAdec CA



[ v21 p1015 ]
21:1015(120)CA
The decision of the Authority follows:


 21 FLRA No. 120
 
 WARNER ROBINS AIR LOGISTICS CENTER 
 (AFLC), ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, GEORGIA
 Respondent
 
 and
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT 
 EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO, LOCAL 987
 Charging Party
 
                                            Case No. 4-CA-40120
 
                            DECISION AND ORDER
 
                         I.  Statement of the Case
 
    This unfair labor practice case is before the Authority on exceptions
 to the attached Administrative Law Judge's Decision filed by the General
 Counsel and by the Respondent.  The General Counsel also filed a brief
 in opposition to the Respondent's exceptions.  The case concerns
 whether, as found by the Judge, the Respondent violated section
 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations
 Statute (the Statute) based on its failure to give the Union prior
 notice and an opportunity to request bargaining with regard to
 procedures and appropriate arrangements for unit employees adversely
 affected by its decision to change the guidelines used for review of
 employees' travel expense claims.
 
                              II.  Background
 
    The facts, more fully set forth in the Judge's Decision, indicate
 that on or about October 21, 1983, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center
 (Respondent), without any notice to the Union, established and
 implemented a new method and guidelines to evaluate travel vouchers for
 expenses incurred by employees while performing temporary duty in high
 rate geographic areas (HRGA).  Essentially this change involved the
 application of stricter standards regarding whether or not such expenses
 were necessary or prudent.  The stricter standards for review had not
 been exercised by the Respondent prior to October 21, 1983, and there
 had been no disallowances of any travel claims submitted by unit
 employees who had been in a travel status within a HRGA prior to that
 date.  The parties stipulated that the change to a stricter standard of
 review or closer scrutiny of employee travel vouchers resulted in
 disallowances of some portion of actual expenses claimed on 106 of 111
 vouchers submitted by unit employees between October 21, 1983, and
 February 5, 1984 /1/ amounting to $60,561.71.  Additionally, at least
 three employees received admonishments regarding these disallowances.
 
                          III.  Judge's Decision
 
    The Judge found that the Respondent had established and implemented
 the new method and guidelines for evaluating travel vouchers without
 giving the Union notice or an opportunity to bargain about procedures
 and appropriate arrangements for employees adversely affected by the
 change, thereby violating section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute.
 The Judge determined that a status quo ante remedy would be appropriate
 in that all employees who traveled during the period from October 21,
 1983, to February 5, 1984, when a new standard was implemented, were
 entitled to have their travel claims considered under the standards in
 effect prior to October 21.  However, the Judge declined to order that
 all disallowed expenses automatically be paid or that all admonishments
 automatically be expunged.
 
                       IV.  Positions of the Parties
 
    The General Counsel excepts to the wording of the Judge's Decision
 regarding the "make whole" remedy for employees whose claimed expenses
 were denied.  The General Counsel asserts that, as currently written,
 the language in the Judge's Decision may be misconstrued so as not to
 include any travel expense claim disallowances for travel incurred prior
 to October 21, 1983, and included in the travel claims submitted by
 employees after October 20, 1983.  The General Counsel argues that, to
 be consistent with the Judge's findings, the remedy should include all
 travel claims submitted to the Respondent after October 20, 1983,
 concerning travel to an HRGA prior to February 5, 1984.
 
    The Respondent excepts to the Judge's conclusions that the actions of
 its Accounting and Finance Officer (AFO) in denying claims are
 attributable to the Respondent;  that the AFO's determinations
 concerning travel expense claims constitute a condition of employment
 within the meaning of section 7103(a)(14) of the Statute;  that there
 was a change in past practice regarding the scrutiny of claims;  and
 that Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute.
 
                               V.  Analysis
 
    All of the issues raised in the Respondent's exceptions were
 considered fully by the Judge in his Decision.  In agreement with the
 Judge, and for the reasons he stated, the Authority finds that the
 Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute by its
 failure to give the Union prior notice and an opportunity to request
 bargaining with regard to procedures and appropriate arrangements for
 unit employees adversely affected by its decision to change the
 guidelines used for review of employees' actual expense claims for
 travel in high rate geographical areas (HRGA).
 
    The Authority also agrees that a status quo ante remedy is warranted.
  This conclusion is based upon a careful balancing and consideration of
 the specific factors enumerated in Federal Correctional Institution, 8
 FLRA 604 (1982).  More specifically, the Respondent established and
 implemented the new method and guidelines for evaluating certain travel
 vouchers without any prior notice to the Union.  In these circumstances,
 the Union had no opportunity to request bargaining.  The Respondent's
 unilateral action, although without apparent willfulness, resulted in
 the disallowance of some portion of actual expenses claimed on 106 of
 111 vouchers submitted by bargaining unit employees, whereas no claimed
 actual expenses for such travel were disallowed prior to the change.  A
 total of $60,561 was disallowed and at least three employees received
 admonishments regarding disallowances.  Moreover, there is no evidence
 in the record, nor did the Respondent assert, that a status quo ante
 remedy would disrupt or impair the efficiency and effectiveness of
 Respondent's operations.
 
    Under all of the foregoing circumstances, the Authority concludes
 that a status qup ante remedy is warranted in order to best effectuate
 the purposes and policies of the Statute.  Such status quo ante remedy
 would require the Respondent to reexamine vouchers submitted after
 October 21, 1983, for travel to a HRGA prior to February 5, 1984,
 pursuant to guidelines used prior to October 21, 1983, and remunerate
 employees accordingly, consistent with applicable law and regulation;
 to reestablish and apply the guidelines in effect prior to October 21,
 1983, until modified in accordance with the requirements of the Statute;
  and to expunge any record of admonishments for disallowed travel
 expenses which would have been allowed under the preexisting guidelines.
  /2/
 
                              VI.  Conclusion
 
    Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Authority's Rules and Regulations
 and section 7118 of the Statute, the Authority has reviewed the rulings
 of the Judge made at the hearing, finds that no prejudicial error was
 committed, and thus affirms those rulings.  Upon consideration of the
 Judge's Decision and the entire record, the Authority hereby adopts the
 Judge's findings and conclusions, with the additional rationale for the
 status quo ante remedy as noted, and revises his recommended Order to
 clarify the language and avoid any ambiguity noted by the General
 Counsel in his exceptions.  Therefore the Authority finds that the
 Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the Statute as alleged
 in the complaint and shall order that it take appropriate action to
 remedy the violation.
 
                                   ORDER
 
    Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Rules and Regulations of the
 Federal Labor Relations Authority and section 7118 of the Statute, the
 Authority hereby orders that the Warner Robins Air Logistice Center
 (AFLC), Robins Air Force Base, Georgia shall:
 
    1.  Cease and desist from:
 
    (a) Changing the guidelines for review of employee actual travel
 expense claims without first affording the American Federation of
 Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 987, the designated agent of the
 exclusive representative of the affected employees, notice and an
 opportunity to bargain, consonant with the obligations imposed by the
 Statute, concerning the procedures for implementing such changes and
 appropriate arrangements for employees adversely affected by such
 changes.
 
    (b) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining, or
 coercing its employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the
 Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.
 
    2.  Take the following affirmative action in order to effectuate the
 purposes and policies of the Statute:
 
    (a) Reinstate the guidelines for examination of vouchers for travel
 to high rate geographical areas in effect prior to October 21, 1983.
 
    (b) Notify the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO,
 Local 987, of any proposed change in the guidelines used for review of
 employee actual travel expense claims and, upon request, negotiate with
 the exclusive representative, to the extent consonant with the
 obligations imposed by the Statute, concerning appropriate arrangements
 for employees adversely affected by such changes.
 
    (c) Examine under the guidelines in effect prior to October 21, 1983,
 each appropriate voucher involving travel to a high rate geographical
 area submitted to the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center Accounting and
 Finance Office after October 21, 1983, concerning travel prior to
 February 5, 1984, on which date the unilaterally imposed guidelines and
 method for evaluating such vouchers were discontinued, by any employee
 represented by the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO,
 Local 987, and make whole said employees accordingly, consistent with
 applicable law and regulation.
 
    (d) Expunge any recorded admonishment for disallowed expenses which
 would have been allowed under the standards and guidelines in effect
 prior to October 21, 1983, and notify the employee accordingly.
 
    (e) Post at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center (AFLC), Robins Air
 Force Base, Georgia, copies of the attached Notice on forms to be
 furnished by the Federal Labor Relations Authority.  Upon receipt of
 such forms, they shall be signed by an appropriate official and shall be
 posted and maintained for 60 consecutive days thereafter, in conspicuous
 places, including all bulletin boards and other places where notices to
 employees are customarily posted.  Reasonable steps shall be taken to
 ensure that such notices are not altered, defaced, or covered by any
 other material.
 
    (f) Pursuant to section 2423.30 of the Authority's Rules and
 Regulations, notify the Regional Director, Region IV, Federal Labor
 Relations Authority, in writing, within 30 days from the date of this
 Order, as to what steps have been taken to comply herewith.
 
    Issued, Washington, D.C., May 29, 1986.
 
                                       /s/ Jerry L. Calhoun, Chairman
                                       /s/ Henry B. Frazier III, Member
                                       FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
 
 
 
 
 
                          NOTICE TO ALL EMPLOYEES
 
  PURSUANT TO A DECISION AND ORDER OF THE FEDERAL LABOR
 RELATIONS
 AUTHORITY AND IN ORDER TO EFFECTUATE THE POLICIES OF CHAPTER 71
 OF TITLE
 5 OF THE UNITED STATES CODE FEDERAL SERVICE LABOR-MANAGEMENT
 RELATIONS
 
                   WE HEREBY NOTIFY OUR EMPLOYEES THAT:
 
    WE WILL NOT change the guidelines for review of employee actual
 travel expense claims without first affording the American Federation of
 Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 987, the designated agent of the
 exclusive representative of the affected employees, notice and an
 opportunity to bargain, consonant with the obligations imposed by the
 Statute, concerning the procedures for implementing such changes and
 appropriate arrangements for employees adversely affected by such
 changes.
 
    WE WILL NOT in any like or related manner interfere with, restrain,
 or coerce our employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the
 Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.
 
    WE WILL reinstate the guidelines for examination of vouchers for
 travel to high rate geographical areas in effect prior to October 21,
 1983.
 
    WE WILL notify the American Federation of Government Employees,
 AFL-CIO, Local 987, of any proposed change in the guidelines used for
 review of employee actual travel expense claims and, upon request,
 negotiate with the exclusive representative, to the extent consonant
 with the obligations imposed by the Statute, concerning appropriate
 arrangements for employees adversely affected by such changes.
 
    WE WILL examine under guidelines in effect prior to October 21, 1983,
 each appropriate voucher involving travel to a high rate geographical
 area submitted to the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center Accounting and
 Finance Office after October 20, 1983, concerning travel prior to
 February 5, 1984, on which date the unilaterally imposed guidelines and
 method for evaluating such vouchers were discontinued, by any employee
 represented by the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO,
 Local 987, and make whole said employees accordingly, consistent with
 applicable law and regulation.
 
    WE WILL expunge any recorded admonishment for disallowed expenses
 which would have been allowed under the standards and guidelines in
 effect prior to October 21, 1983, and notify the employee accordingly.
                                       (Agency or Activity)
 
    Dated:
                                       By:  (Signature) (Title)
 
    This Notice must remain posted for 60 consecutive days from the date
 of posting, and must not be altered, defaced, or covered by any other
 material.
 
    If employees have any questions concerning this Notice or compliance
 with its provisions, they may communicate directly with the Regional
 Director, Region IV, Federal Labor Relations Authority, whose address
 is:  1371 Peachtree Street, NE, Suite 736, Atlanta, Georgia 30367, and
 whose telephone number is:  (404) 347-2324.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 -------------------- ALJ$ DECISION FOLLOWS --------------------
 
    Case No. 4-CA-40120
 
 WARNER ROBINS AIR LOGISTICS CENTER (AFLC), ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE,
 GEORGIA
    Respondent
 
                                    and
 
 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO, LOCAL
 987
    Charging Party
 
    Major Ralph J. Lee, Esquire
    C. R. Swint, Jr., Esquire
    For the Respondent
 
    Ms. Nedra Bradley
    For the Charging Party
 
    James R. Puhger, Esquire
    Edward P. Nichols, Esquire
    For the General Counsel, FLRA
 
    Before:  GARVIN LEE OLIVER
    Administrative Law Judge
 
                                 DECISION
 
                           Statement of the Case
 
    This decision concerns an unfair labor practice complaint issued by
 the Regional Director, Region IV, Federal Labor Relations Authority,
 Atlanta, Georgia, against the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center (AFLC),
 Robins Air Force Base, Georgia (Respondent or WR-ALC) based on a charge
 filed by the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local
 987 (Charging Party, Union, or AFGE).  The complaint alleged, in
 substance, that Respondent violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the
 Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, 5 U.S.C. Section
 7101 et seq. (the Statute), in that on or about October 21, 1983, the
 Respondent discontinued reimbursement to employees the maximum amounts
 allowable pursuant to the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) for travel
 expenses incurred by employees performing temporary duty (TDY) in high
 rate geographical area (HRGA) locations and instead the Respondent
 provided reimbursement at rates less than the maximum amounts allowable
 pursuant to the JTR without first notifying AFGE and providing it an
 opportunity to bargain collectively concerning the procedures to be
 utilized in implementing such change and the impact of such change on
 adversely affected employees.
 
    Respondent's answer denied that the acts and conduct complained of
 regarding such reimbursements constituted an unfair labor practice under
 the Statute.  Among other things, Respondent asserted that the
 determination of rates approved or paid were not made on behalf of
 Respondent, but rather were approved or paid by an agent of the U.S.
 Treasury Department.
 
    A hearing was held at Warner Robins, Georgia.  The Respondent,
 Charging Party, and the General Counsel were represented by counsel and
 afforded full opportunity to be heard, adduce relevant evidence, examine
 and cross-examine witnesses, and file post-hearing briefs.  Based on the
 entire record, /3/ including the stipulations offered and my observation
 of the witnesses and their demeanor, I make the following findings of
 fact, conclusions of law, and recommendations.
 
                             Findings of Fact
 
    The WR-ACL is one of five air logistics centers of the Air Force
 Logistics Command, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton,
 Ohio.  (Tr. 16).  The WR-ALC Accounting and Finance Office is a part of
 the WR-ALC base complex and is serviced by other WR-ALC service
 organizations.  (Tr. 18-19).  There are approximately 225 to 250
 civilian employees in the Accounting and Finance Office.  (Tr. 21 and
 57).  The Accounting and Finance Office consists of a number of branches
 including the Pay and Travel Branch whose mission, in pertinent part, is
 to process travel voucher expense claims (travel claims), submitted by,
 inter alios, Union bargaining unit employees.  (Tr. 20) /4/ Lieutenant
 Colonel Michael Wilder is the WR-ALC Accounting and Finance Officer
 (AFO), in command of the Accounting and Finance Office.  (Tr. 16 and
 55).  Lieutenant Colonel Wilder's second in command is Edward C.
 Hilliard who is the Deputy AFO.  (Tr. 15 and 21).
 
    The AFO and Deputy AFO are subject to the direction and control of
 the Respondent in connection with managing the accounting and finance
 programs and operations.  With respect to these matters as well as the
 disbursement of funds, their work is guided by a large variety of laws,
 regulations, policy directives and procedural manuals issued by higher
 headquarters and precedent decisions by specialized agencies.
 
    Pursuant to 31 U.S.C. Section 3321(c) the head of each of the
 military Departments of the Department of Defense designates personnel
 of the agency as disbursing officials to disburse public money available
 for expenditure by the agency.  Air Force Regulation 177-101(c2),
 Chapter 6 provides for the appointment of an AFO by a deputy commander
 for resource management or base commander and for actions that must be
 taken before the AFO takes up disbursing duties.  These include the
 submission of official signatures to the Treasurer of the United States
 and the assignment by the Treasury Department, at the request of the Air
 Force Accounting and Finance Center, of a disbursing station symbol
 number.  (Joint Exh. 1, Att. 2).  The AFOs in this matter assumed the
 status of disbursing officials in this manner.  (Joint Exh. 1, Att.
 8-11;  Jt. Exhs. 4-6).
 
    Air Force Regulation 177-101, para. 6-13(b) provides that the AFO "is
 an agent of the U.S. Treasury Department in the receipt, safeguarding,
 and disbursing of cash and issuance of checks;  and of the Federal
 Reserve System in the receipt, safeguarding, and issuance of U.S.
 savings bonds." This regulation states that "AFOs legally remain
 pecuniarily liable to the U.S. for all public funds entrusted to their
 accounts and for any erroneous or illegal payments they make." (Joint
 Exh. 1, Att. 2).  Relief from liability for illegal, improper, or
 incorrect payments is available to a disbursing official of an agency
 only on the initiative of the Comptroller General or written
 recommendation of the head of the agency, and only when the Comptroller
 General decides that the payment was not the result of bad faith or lack
 of reasonable care by the official.  31 U.S.C. Section 3527(c).  Losses
 or deficiencies within the Air Force are investigated and
 recommendations for relief are initially considered within the Air Force
 command structure.  (Joint Exh. 1, Att. 2, Chapter 11).  AFO's receive
 broad, general guidelines from the Air Logistics Command, the Air Force
 Accounting and Finance Center, and the Inspector General.  /5/ However,
 in determining the propriety of any specific payment, no one in the
 chain of command can direct them to make a payment of over $25.00 which
 they do not feel is proper.  AFOs may request a decision from the
 Comptroller General on a question involving a voucher presented for
 payment.  31 U.S.C. Section 3529.  The request is submitted through Air
 Force channels.  Reviewing authority may disagree with the propriety of
 submitting the request, but if the reasons given are not acceptable to
 the AFO, the AFO cannot be deprived of the right to submit the question
 to the Comptroller General for decision.  (Joint Exh. 1, Att. 2 and 3,
 Chapter 12 and 16;  Tr. 29;  see B-192246, January 8, 1979).
 
    The Joint Travel Regulation (JTR) and various Air Force Regulations
 (AFR's), pertain to the processing of travel claims.  (Joint Exh. 1, p.
 1, Att. 1, 2 and 3).  Among these regulations is JTR, par. C1058-1 which
 provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
 
          A traveler on official business (permanent duty travel or
       temporary duty travel) will exercise the same care in incurring
       expenses and accomplishing a mission that a person would exercise
       if traveling on personal business.  Excess costs, circuitous
       routes, delays or luxurious accommodations unnecessary or
       unjustified in the performance of a mission are not considered
       acceptable as exercising prudence.  (Joint Exh. 1, p. 2).
 
    This "prudent and necessary standard" is the source of authority upon
 which the AFO and/or Deputy AFO review the reasonableness of travel
 claims submitted by bargaining unit employees involving HRGA which do
 not otherwise exceed the limits for particular cities established in the
 JTR at Appendix E.  The AFO and Deputy AFO are personally responsible
 for the approval, disapproval, or other determinations concerning the
 payment of travel claims.  However, in processing travel claims, the
 application of the prudent and necessary standard has been ministerially
 delegated to subordinate staff personnel in the WR-ALC Accounting and
 Finance Office.  The discretion used in applying the standard is
 exercised only by the AFO and the Deputy AFO.  With regard to travel
 voucher expense claims resulting in a disallowance of actual expenses by
 the AFO and/or the Deputy AFO, WR-ALC employees, including Union
 bargaining unit employees, have the right to appeal any disallowance
 determination to higher command levels for recommendation and ultimately
 to the Comptroller General for a decision;  said appeal procedure is
 commonly referred to as the "doubtful claims" procedure.  (Joint Exh. 1,
 p. 2-3).
 
    The Air Logistics Center (ALC) and the Air Force Accounting and
 Finance Center (AFAFC), Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado, periodically
 issue messages to Air Force AFO's including the WR-ALC AFO concerning
 the application of the prudent and necessary standard.  (Joint Exh. 2,
 p. 3, 4 and 5, Att. 3, 4 and 5).  In fact, the prudent and necessary
 standard was the focus of attention within the Air Force as a part of
 the Air Force campaign against fraud, waste and abuse.  (Joint Exh. 2,
 p. 2, 3, 4 and 7, Att. 2, 3, 4 and 7;  and 3;  Tr. 48-49).
 Specifically, Air Force AFO's within the ALC including the WR-ALC AFO
 and Deputy AFO, were encouraged by both the ALC and the AFAFC to more
 closely monitor the application of the prudent and necessary standard as
 a means to comply with the campaign.  For example, as early as January
 7, 1983, the ALC Chief of Staff, Major General William J. Kelly sent a
 memorandum to the WR-ALC stating, inter alia, that "Administration of
 travel allowances is a Command responsibility" and further encouraging
 the closer scrutiny of travel claims.  The memorandum ordered all travel
 orders issuing/approving officials to review and sign travel vouchers
 prior to submission to the AFO for final payment.  A travel claim review
 guide was attached to facilitate the review process.  The four page
 guide offered broad guidelines on all expense items.  It stated, "The
 reviewer should be concerned with the reasonableness of amounts claimed.
  Accounting and Finance personnel will make determinations concerning
 propriety of payment." (Joint Exh. 3;  Tr. 24).  Also, the WR-ALC
 Accounting and Finance Office received a message from the AFAFC dated
 September 8, 1983, encourageing the recognition of abuses in expending
 Government funds and offering general guidelines for use in establishing
 the reasonableness of travel claims.  General guidelines were offered
 for examining meal, lodging, transportation, and miscellaneous expense
 claims.  (Joint Exh. 2, p. 3, Att. 3).
 
    On or about October 11, 1983, the WR-ALC AFO received another message
 from AFAFC.  The message stated that specific guidelines for determining
 the reasonableness of expenses would not be issued;  that AFOs were
 expected to operate under the present broad guidelines;  and that the
 facts of each case should be analyzed and additional clarification or
 advice should be sought from the traveler, supervisor, staff judge
 advocate, or higher command as needed.  (Joint Exh. 2, Att. 4).
 
    As a result of this Air Force campaign to combat fraud, waste and
 abuse, including the correspondence received by the WR-ALC Accounting
 and Finance Office through Air Force channels, and as a result of talks
 with WR-ALC subordinates, the AFO and/or Deputy AFO determined, in or
 about early October 1983, that it had to have some guidelines, some kind
 of procedures to follow in determining what is reasonable and prudent.
 The AFO secured what it thought was a good guide, the Runzheimer
 Meal-Lodging Cost Index and decided to begin a process of stricter
 scrutiny of travel claims to HRGA for all employees, including Union
 bargaining unit employees.  (Joint Exh. 1, par. 4;  Tr. 48-50).  Thus,
 on or about October 7, 1983, Colonel Gary Bowman, WR-ALC Comptroller,
 issued a memorandum to all WR-ALC "Directors, Staff officers, and Tenant
 Commanders" announcing this action.  (Joint Exh. 2, p. 2, Att. 2;  Tr.
 62).  There is no record evidence that this memorandum was sent to the
 Union.
 
    On or about October 21, 1983, the AFO and/or the Deputy AFO at
 WR-ALC, with regard to the application of the "prudent and necessary"
 standard, implemented the decision and began a process of stricter
 scrutiny of HRGA travel voucher actual expense claims submitted by
 WR-ALC employees, including Union bargaining unit employees.  Respondent
 did not notify any representative of either AFGE Local 987, AFGE Council
 214 of the National Office AFGE prior to these actions.  (Joint Exh. 1).
 
    Prior to the actions of the AFO and/or the Deputy AFO at WR-ALC on or
 about October 21, 1983, there are no travel voucher actual expense
 claims involving a Union bargaining unit employee on travel to a HRGA
 wherein a claimed actual expense was disallowed, as the process of the
 application of stricter scrutiny pursuant to the prudent and necessary
 standard described above, was not exercised by the AFO and/or Deputy AFO
 prior to on or about October 21, 1983 (Joint Exh. 1).  Travelers prior
 to, and on and after October 21, 1983, were required to certify that
 their claimed expenses were actual and necessary.  (Joint Exh. 7, DD
 Form 1351-3).  The voucher was subject to organizational review by
 travel approving officials.  The voucher was then examined by the AFO
 and/or Deputy AFO to determine that the claim was properly supported by
 documentation and was legal and valid in accordance with the JTR and
 other regulations.  More or less what the travelers were claiming was
 what was being paid.  /6/ (Tr. 47-48).
 
    As part of the stricter scrutiny process, on or about October 21,
 1983, the AFO and/or Deputy AFO, with regard to travel claims of, inter
 alios, Union bargaining unit employees, began using a standard
 reimbursement rate or limit to be applied to all travel claims involving
 HRGA based on the Runzheimer Meal-Lodging Cost Index.  Runzheimer's, in
 general, sets forth average meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and
 lodging costs for U.S. cities.  This initial use of Runzheimer's, for
 the first time, as an absolute standard reimbursement rate, resulted in
 the disallowance of portions of claims submitted by Union bargaining
 unit employees.  (Tr. 24-25 and 45-46, 49;  Joint Exh. 2, p. 12, Att.
 12).
 
    Shortly after the implementation of this change involving the
 utilization of Runzheimer's, however, the WR-ALC Labor Relations Officer
 and a representative from the WR-ALC Staff Judge Advocates Office,
 visited the Deputy AFO and told him that it was their opinion he could
 not use Runzheimer's in the manner he was using it, i.e. setting
 standard reimbursement rates per city.  Thereafter, the Deputy AFO
 discussed the use of Runzheimer's with ALC and AFAFC personnel.  They
 then discontinued the use of Runzheimer's in the manner in which he had
 been applying the index since on or about October 21, 1983.  /7/ This
 initial use of Runzheimer's, according to the uncontested testimony of
 the Deputy AFO, lasted a very short time -- about a week.  (Tr. 24-27).
 
    After the AFO and Deputy AFO discontinued using Runzheimer's as an
 absolute limit for reimbursements, they began using Runzheimer as only a
 guide as part of the process of giving stricter scrutiny to travel
 claims.  Other scources also considered as guides in making these
 determinations as to those expenses which would be deemed reasonable in
 certain locations were area menus, discussions with travelers, and
 discussions with commanders in the various locations.  (Tr. 40-41,
 46-47).  They continued as before to also examine the voucher in light
 of the documentation provided and the applicable policies and
 regulations.  (Tr. 47-48).  Upon discontinuance of the use of
 Runzheimer's in the ininital manner in which it had been used, the
 travel claims of bargaining unit employees who had been reviewed
 pursuant to Runzheimer's were recomputed by the AFO and/or Deputy AFO.
 This resulted in some lesser disallowances than had been determined
 under the previous manner in which the Runzheimer index had been used.
 (Tr. 24-26).
 
    Subsequent to October 21, 1983, there were 111 travel voucher actual
 expense claims submitted by bargaining unit employees to which the
 following occurred:  The AFO and/or Deputy AFO applied the stricter
 scrutiny review process described above.  There were 5 travel vouchers
 where no actual expense claims were disallowed.  There were 106 travel
 vouchers where actual expense claims were disallowed.  Subsequent to the
 disallowance of certain actual expense claims, 22 Union bargaining unit
 employees filed a request with the AFO and/or the Deputy AFO to
 reconsider the disallowed expense claim pursuant to the "doubtful claim"
 procedures.  As a result, 6 filings were subsequently withdrawn, 5
 filings resulted in a reduction of the initial disallowance by the AFO
 and/or the Deputy AFO, and 11 filings resulted in the AFO and/or Deputy
 AFO upholding his initial disallowance determination.  Of the 11 filings
 which resulted in the initial disallowance of the AFO and/or Deputy AFO
 being upheld by the AFO and/or Deputy AFO, all the 11 filings were sent
 to the AFAFC recommended by the AFAFC with regard to the AFO's and/or
 Deputy AFO's determination.  None of the doubtful claims have been
 appealed by the 11 employees to the Comptroller General for decision.
 
    The total amount of actual expenses claimed involving the 111 travel
 vouchers was $490,414.34.  The total amount of disallowed actual
 expenses claimed in the 106 travel vouchers which involved an initial
 disallowance by the AFO and/or Deputy AFO was $60,804.61.  The total
 amount of disallowed actual expenses claimed in the 5 travel vouchers
 which involved a reduction in the initial disallowance by the AFO and/or
 Deputy AFO pursuant to the doubtful claims procedure was $242.90.
 Therefore, the net total amount disallowed was $60,561.71.
 
    With regard to the Union bargaining unit employees who were
 disallowed actual expense claims, notification of these disallowance
 determinations was sent by the office of the AFO and/or the Deputy AFO
 to the WR-ALC duty organization management and/or supervisory officials
 of some of the employees whose claims were disallowed.  As a result of
 these notifications, some of the management and/or supervisory officials
 made independent inquiries into the circumstances of the disallowances
 and as a result at least three bargaining unit employees received oral
 admonishments which were annotated in the employees' AF Form 971 (a
 supervisor's record of an employee).
 
    For an approximate four month period subsequent to October 21, 1983,
 there were about 10,752 vouchers submitted by bargaining unit employees
 at WR-ALC involving travel to both HRGA and non-HRGA.
 
    As of February 5, 1984, and until September 30, 1985, a "flat rate
 per diem" test experiment is being conducted within the Department of
 the Air Force, including WR-ALC.  As a result of this experiment, with
 regard to travel to HRGA incurred by WR-ALC employees, including Union
 bargaining unit employees, after February 5, 1984, the prudent and
 necessary standard, pursuant to an amendment to the JTR, is not
 applicable to claims for actual travel expenses.  Thus, with regard to
 travel incurred by WR-ALC employees, including Union bargaining unit
 employees, after February 5, 1984, set forth in travel voucher expense
 claims processed by the office of the AFO and/or the Deputy AFO at
 WR-ALC after February 5, 1984, the stricter scrutiny application of the
 prudent and necessary standard has not been applied to actual expenses.
 However, with regard to travel incurred by WR-ALC employees, including
 Union bargaining unit employees, prior to February 5, 1984, set forth in
 travel voucher expense claims processed by the office of the AFO and/or
 the Deputy AFO at WR-ALC after February 5, 1984, the stricter scrutiny
 application of the prudent and necessary standard is applied to Union
 bargaining unit employees.
 
               Discussion, Conclusions, and Recommendations
 
    The General Counsel contends that the actions of the WR-ALC AFO
 and/or Deputy AFO in changing the method of reviewing travel cliams
 affecting bargaining unit employees without prior notice to the
 exclusive representative violated sections 7116(a)(1) and (5) of the
 Statute.  The General Counsel asserts that the AFO and Deputy AFO are
 agents of Respondent, and that the subject travel expense claims are not
 excluded from those matters subject to collective bargaining pursuant to
 section 7103(a)(14)(c) as being "specficially provided for by Federal
 statute."
 
    Respondent defends on the basis that the actions of the AFOs
 resulting in the application of stricter scrutiny and the concomitant
 disallowances of actual travel expense claims submitted to them by
 employees are not attributable to Respondent.  Respondent claims that
 the AFOs in this capacity answer only to the Department of the Treasury
 and to the Comptroller General and not to the Respondent agency.
 Respondent also asserts that matters involving the approval,
 disapproval, or other determinations regarding disbursements to
 employees for actual travel expense claims are not a condition of
 employment within the meaning of section 7103(a)(14) as such matters are
 specifically provided for by Federal statute and, therefore, do not form
 a basis for invoking the right to engage in collective bargaining.
 Finally, Respondent contends that the actions of the AFOs was not a
 change requiring bargaining as the agency has always been obligated to
 make case-by-case determinations in each instance under the same
 standard, and the only change was in the AFOs ability to make more
 precise determinations.
 
    The change established and implemented by the AFOs in October 1983,
 was not merely more precise determinations of what actual expense claims
 were "prudent and necessary" on a case-by-case as contended by
 Respondent.  Rather, the record reflects that the change was in the AFOs
 establishment and implementation of overall guidelines by which "prudent
 and necessary" would be determined in each case.  First, the AFOs
 adopted Runzheimer's Meal-Lodging Cost Index as an absolute limit for
 reimbursements.  Then, when Runzheimer's was abandoned as the absolute
 limit for reimbursements after about a week, Runzheimer's was used along
 with area menus, discussions with travelers, and discussions with area
 commanders in various locations as guidelines for determining whether
 such claims were "prudent and necessary." The change resulted in an
 impact and a reasonably foreseeable impact on bargaining unit employees
 inasmuch as out of 111 actual expense claims submitted thereafter, 106
 had actual expense claims disallowed whereas no claimed actual expenses
 for travel to HRGA were disallowed under the "prudent and necessary"
 standard of review used prior to the change.  There is no suggestion,
 either prior to or after the change, that the actual expenses claimed
 were not actually incurred by employees.  As noted, the change was in
 the guidelines used and evaluation thereunder, the method of review, of
 whether such incurred expenses were "prudent and necessary." This strict
 scrutiny of travel claims under the process outlined represented a
 significant shift from past practice.  Cf. New Mexico Air National
 Guard, Department of Military Affairs, Office of the Adjutant General,
 Sante Fe, New Mexico, 4 A/SLMR 176 (1974).
 
    The actions of the AFOs in this case are attributable to Respondent
 and not to the Department of the Treasury and the Comptroller General,
 as contended by Respondent.  The AFOs were appointed as disbursing
 officers by the Respondent pursuant to 31 U.S.C. Section 3321 and Air
 Force Regulation 177-101.  The submission of official signatures to the
 Treasury of the United States and the assignment by the Treasury
 Department, at the request of higher command, of a disbursing station
 symbol number were ministerial acts connected with the setting up of the
 account with the Treasury.  It permitted the AFOs to disburse public
 money by cash or check available for expenditure by the agency and held
 by the Treasury Department as the repository of funds.  There is no
 evidence that the Treasury Department as controls how the funds are
 used, or at any time, attempted to control the use of Respondent's funds
 in the travel area.  There is no link between the Department of the
 Treasury and the actions of the AFOs on or about October 21, 1983 in
 changing the guidelines by which reimbursement of travel claims would be
 determined.
 
    The AFOs undertook the change at issue as a result of higher command
 encouragement to combat fraud, waste, and abuse.  In fact, as discussed
 in more detail infra, paragraph 1 - 8.3b of the Federal Travel
 Regulations requires that "(a)gencies shall ensure that travel on actual
 subsistence basis is properly administered and shall take necessary
 action to prevent abuse." The AFOs, in changing the guidelines by which
 reimbursement of travel cliams would be determined, were acting as
 management officials within the meaning of section 7103(a)(11) of the
 Statute and as agents of Respondent.  It is also noted that Respondent,
 through the comptroller, sanctioned the change by issuing a memorandum,
 drafted by the AFOs, to all directors, staff officers, and tenant
 commanders on the base.
 
    The next issue is Respondent's contention that a determination
 regarding disbursements to employees for actual travel expense claims is
 not a condition of employment within the meaning of section 7103(a)(14)
 of the Statute.  /8/ as such matters are specifically provided by
 Federal statute and, therefore, do not form a basis for collective
 bargaining.  It is noted that under Section 5 U.S.C. Section 5702(c) the
 Administrator of General Services may prescribe conditions by
 regulations under which an employee may be reimbursed for "actual and
 necessary expenses" for travel to a high rate geographical areas in an
 amount not to exceed the maximum rate prescribed.  Within that maximum,
 a Department of Defense employee's reimbursement is subject to the
 "prudent and necessary" general limitations set out in the Joint Travel
 Regulations, par. C1058-1.  See also Federal Travel Regulations (FTR)
 para. 1-1.3.  The agency's responsibility for the authorization is
 outlined in paragraph 1-8.3b of the FTR as follows:
 
          b.  Review and administrative controls.  Heads of agencies
       shall establish necessary administrative arrangements for an
       appropriate review of the justification for travel on the actual
       subsistence expense basis and of the expenses claimed by a
       traveler to determine whether they are allowable subsistence
       expenses and were necessarily incurred in connection with the
       specific travel assignment.  Agencies shall ensure that travel on
       an actual subsistence expense basis is properly administered and
       shall take necessary action to prevent abuses.
 
    The Comptroller General has held that this regulation serves a dual
 function.  It requires an agency determination of reasonableness of
 actual subsistence expenses.  /9/ and it gives the agency authority to
 issue written guidelines to serve as a basis for an appropriate review
 of an employee's expenses.  Matter of Davis, B-197576, September 8, 1980
 and Matter of Kephard, B-186078, October 12, 1976.  The Comptroller
 General has observed that such guidelines can benefit both the traveler
 and the approving official.  The authority of an AFO to issue guidelines
 pursuant to this regulation prior to issuance of an agency-wide policy
 has also been sustained.  Matter of R. Edward Palmer, B-203762, 62 Comp.
 Gen. 88 (1982).
 
    Accordingly, since the Respondent clearly has discretion to issue
 guidelines for the benefit of both the traveler and the approving
 official to serve as a basis for review of the reasonableness of an
 employee's expenses, the matter at issue is not specifically provided by
 federal statute.  See Legislative History of the Federal Service
 Labor-Management Relations Statute, Title VII of the Civil Service
 Reform Act of 1978, 96th Cong., 1st Sess., Committee Print No. 96-7
 (1979), p. 956-957.
 
    Respondent was required to bargain to the extent of its discretion
 prior to establishing and implementing a change in the guidelines used
 for review of employee actual travel expense claims.  Cf. National
 Treasury Employees Union, Chapter 6 and Internal Revenue Service, New
 Orleans, District, 3 FLRA 748 (1982);  March Air Force Base, Riverside,
 California, 13 FLRA No. 44, 13 FLRA 255 (1983) at 260;  Boston District
 Recruiting Command, Boston, Massachusetts, 15 FLRA No. 142, 15 FLRA 720
 (1984) at 723-724.  See also National Treasury Employees Union and NTEU,
 Chapter 208, 13 FLRA No. 13, 13 FLRA 60 (1983) (proposal concerning
 travel status which would not require disbursements which would be
 inconsistent with applicable regulations would be within the duty to
 bargain).  The General Counsel alleged a failure to bargain on the
 impact and implementation of such change.  Respondent's failure to do so
 in the circumstances of this case violated section 7116(a)(1) and (5) of
 the Statute, as alleged.  Internal Revenue Service, Washington, D.C., 4
 FLRA 488 (1980);  Department of Health and Human Services, Social
 Security Administration, Region VI, 10 FLRA 26 (1982);  U.S. Department
 of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Washington, D.C., Case No.
 53-CA-2751, ALJDR 20 (1983).
 
    The General Counsel requests as an appropriate remedy that employees
 suffering disallowances be made whole, that any recorded admonishments
 emanating from the disallowances be expunged, a return to the status quo
 with regard to the processing of any travel claims for travel during the
 period from October 21, 1983 to February 5, 1984, and the posting of an
 appropriate notice.
 
    It would not be appropriate to order that all disallowed expenses
 automatically be paid or that all admonishments automatically be
 expunged.  Disbursements must be made consistent with applicable
 regulations and in accordance with the advice/appeal rights of both
 employees and the AFOs.  However, balancing the nature and circumstances
 of the violation against the degree of disruption in government
 operations that would be caused by a status quo ante remedy, and taking
 into consideration the various factors set forth in Federal Correctional
 Institution, 8 FLRA No. 111 (1982), it is concluded that the status quo
 ante remedy requested will best effectuate the purposes and policies of
 the Statue.  All bargaining unit employees who traveled during the
 period from October 21, 1983 to February 5, 1984, are entitled to have
 their travel claims considered under the standards existing prior to
 October 21, 1983 and without regard to the additional guidelines
 implemented at that time.  There is no indication in the record that the
 prior standards for review were illegal or resulted in disbursements
 which violated applicable regulations.  However, in the event there is
 any question that expenses were not allowable under the standards then
 in effect, both the AFOs and the employees will be able to exercise any
 advice/appeal rights consistent with applicable law or regualtion.
 
    Based on the foregoing findings and conclusions, it is recommended
 that the Authority issue the following Order:
 
                                   Order
 
    Pursuant to section 2423.29 of the Rules and Regulations of the
 Federal Labor Relations Authority and section 7118 of the Statute, the
 Authority hereby orders that the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center
 (AFLC), Robins Air Force Base, Georgia shall:
 
    1.  Cease and desist from:
 
          (a) Changing the guidelines for review of employee actual
       travel expense claims without first affording the American
       Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 987, notice and
       an opportunity to bargain consonant with the obligations imposed
       by the Statute.
 
          (b) In any like or related manner, interfering with,
       restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of their rights
       assured by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.
 
    2.  Take the following affirmative action in order to effectuate the
 purposes and policies of the Statute.
 
          (a) Notify the American Federation of Government Employees,
       AFL-CIO, Local 987, of any proposed change in the guidelines used
       for review of employee actual travel expense claims and, upon
       request, negotiate in good faith on the proposal to the extent
       consonant with the obligations imposed by the Statute.
 
          (b) Examine each appropriate voucher submitted by any employee
       represented by the American Federation of Government Employees,
       AFL-CIO, Local 987, for actual expenses incurred for travel to
       high rate geographical areas during the period from October 21,
       1983 to February 5, 1984, under the standards and guidelines in
       effect prior to October 21, 1983, and remunerate said employee
       accordingly consistent with applicable law and regulation.  In the
       event any employee was given a recorded admonishment for
       disallowed expenses which should have been allowed under the
       standards and guidelines in effect prior to October 21, 1983,
       expunge any such admonishment and notify the employee accordingly.
 
          (c) Post at its facilities copies of the attached Notice marked
       "Appendix" on the forms to be furnished by the Authority.  Upon
       receipt of such forms, they shall be signed by the Commander and
       shall be posted and maintained by him for 60 consecutive days
       thereafter, in conspicuous places, including all bulletin boards
       and other places where notices to employees are customarily
       posted.  The Commander shall take reasonable steps to insure that
       such notices are not altered, or covered by any other material.
 
          (d) Pursuant to 5 C.F.R. section 2423.30 notify the Regional
       Director, Region IV, Federal Labor Relations Authority, Atlanta,
       Georgia, in writing, within 30 days from the date of this order,
       as to what steps have been taken to comply herewith.
 
                                       /s/ GARVIN LEE OLIVER
                                       Administrative Law Judge
 
    Dated:  December 18, 1984
    Washington, D.C.
 
 
                ---------------  FOOTNOTES$ ---------------
 
 
 
    (1) The record reveals that on February 5, 1984, a "flat rate per
 diem" test was begun within the Department of the Air Force, including
 the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, and that as of that date the
 unilaterally imposed guidelines and method of evaluation which gave rise
 to the complaint in this case were discontinued.  Thus, the Judge found
 the new guidelines and method were not applied to claims for actual
 travel expenses after that date.
 
    (2) As stated by the Judge, there is no indication in the record that
 the prior standards for review were illegal or resulted in disbursements
 which violated applicable regulations.
 
    (3) Counsel for the General Counsel's unopposed motion to correct the
 transcript is granted;  the transcript is hereby corrected as set forth
 therein.
 
    (4) At all times material herein, the American Federation of
 Government Employees, hereinafter referred to as the AFGE, was the
 exclusive representative of certain employees of Respondent in an ALC
 wide consolidated bargaining unit described in a collective bargaining
 agreement between AFGE, Council 214 and the ALC.  (G.C. Exhs. 1(c) and
 (d);  Joint Exh. 2, paragraph 1, Attachment 1).
 
    (5) Lt. Col. Wilder also testified that he received guidance from the
 Treasury Department.  (Tr. 58).  However, unlike the case of the other
 sources cited, there is no relevant documentary evidence or testimony to
 corroborate Lt. Col. Wilder's self-serving declaration concerning the
 alleged Department of Treasury guidance.
 
    (6) For the approximate two year period prior to October 21, 1983,
 there were about 66,424 vouchers submitted by bargaining unit employees
 at WR-ALC involving travel to both HRGA and non-HRGA.  There were about
 12,062 such vouchers filed in the four month period prior to October 21,
 1983.
 
    (7) Subsequently, by message dated January 9, 1984 the AFAFC advised,
 inter alia, the WR-ALC A&FO that the use by some AFOs of Runzheimer's
 Index and possibly other publications as the basis for determining and
 limiting meal and laundry reimbursement rates was in direct violation of
 the JTRs and must be discontinued.  AFAFC stated that Runzheimer's may
 only be used as a guide in determining the reasonableness of claimed
 expenses, and the AFOs may not arbitrarily set a standard reimbursement
 rate to be applied against all vouchers.  (J. Exh. 2, Att. 5).
 
    (8) Section 7103(a)(14) privides as follows:
 
          "(14) 'conditions of employment' means personnel policies,
       practices, and matters, whether established by rule, regulation,
       or otherwise, affecting working conditions, except that such term
       does not include policies, practices, and matters -- "
 
    (9) The Comptroller General has held that he will overturn the
 agency's initial determination of reasonableness only where the evidence
 results in a finding that the agency's determination was clearly
 erroneous, arbitrary, or capricious.  Matter of Charles B. Boucher,
 B-213021 (May 2, 1984).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                 APPENDIX
 
                          NOTICE TO ALL EMPLOYEES
 
  PURSUANT TO A DECISION AND ORDER OF THE FEDERAL LABOR
 RELATIONS
 AUTHORITY AND IN ORDER TO EFFECTUATE THE POLICIES OF CHAPTER 71
 OF TITLE
 5 OF THE UNITED STATES CODE FEDERAL SERVICE LABOR-MANAGEMENT
 RELATIONS
 STATUTE
 
                   WE HEREBY NOTIFY OUR EMPLOYEES THAT:
 
    WE WILL NOT change the guidelines for review of employee actual
 travel expense claims without first affording the American Federation of
 Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 987, notice and an opportunity to
 bargain consonant with the obligations imposed by the Statute.
 
    WE WILL NOT in any like or related manner, interfere with, restrain,
 or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights assured by the
 Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.
 
    WE WILL notify the American Federation of Government Employees,
 AFL-CIO, Local 987, of any proposed change in the guidelines used for
 review of employee actual travel expense claims and, upon request,
 negotiate in good faith on the proposal to the extent consonant with the
 obligations imposed by the Statute.
 
    WE WILL examine each appropriate voucher submitted by any employee
 represented by the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO,
 Local 987, for actual expenses incurred for travel to high rate
 geographical areas during the period from October 21, 1983 to February
 5, 1984, under the standards and guidelines in effect prior to October
 21, 1983, and remunerate said employee accordingly consistent with
 applicable law and regulation.  In the event any employee was given a
 recorded admonishment for disallowed expenses which should have been
 allowed under the standards and guidelines in effect prior to October
 21, 1983, we will expunge any such admonishment and notify t