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U.S. Federal Labor Relations Authority

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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
                                            Case No. 0-NG-1059
    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
          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
    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.  /3/
    Issued, Washington, D.C., October 28, 1985
                                       Henry B. Frazier III Acting
                                       William J. McGinnis, Jr., Member
                                       FEDERAL LABOR RELATIONS AUTHORITY
 --------------- FOOTNOTES$ ---------------
    /1/ Section 7117(a)(1) provides:
          Sec. 7117.  Duty to bargain in good faith;  compelling need;
       duty to consult.
                                  * * * *
          (a)(1) Subject to paragraph (2) of this subsection, the duty to
       bargain in good faith shall, to the extent not inconsistent with
       any Federal law or any Government-wide rule or regulation, extend
       to matters which are the subject of any rule or regulation only if
       the rule or regulation is not a Government-wide rule or
    /2/ See generally National Treasury Employees Union, Chapter 6 and
 Internal Revenue Service, New Orleans District, 3 FLRA 748,
    /3/ In view of the decision herein, the Authority finds it
 unnecessary to address the Agency's specific contentions as to the
 negotiability of the proposal.