[ v18 p483 ]
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 the award.