COMPTROLI..ER GENERAi.. OF THE UNITED STATES WASHINGTON. O.C. Z054t1 B-129650 MAY 25 WI FPC-77-24 The Honorable Howard W. Cannon Chairman, Committee on Rules and Administration United States Senate Dear Mr. Chairman: Your letter of February 28, 1977, requested our advice and comments on S. 738, 95th Congress, 1st Session, a bill "To provide a uniform system of reimbursement for and reporting of expenses incurred by Senato~s and employees of the Senate while traveling outside the United States~ and for other purposes." We are pleased to have the opportunity :-., make the following comments on the bill. Among other things, S. 738 would establish a limit of $75 per day on the amount a Senator or Senate employee may receive for per diem allowances or subsistence expenses in connection with foreign tra.,.,el. In the Executive branch of the Government, however, allowable travel expenses are those which are "actual and necessary" (5 U.S.C. 5706), Both military and civilian travelers receive per diem for foreign travel at rates established to reflect actual living costs at the location and time visited. The maximum rates vary from $12 per day to $172 per day. The rates for civilian travelers are established by the Department ot State (see Section 925, Standardized Regulations, Government Civ:iJ.ians> Foreign Areas and PD Supplement 151, December 1976, issued by the Depa::t- ment of State) and for uniformed services travelers by the Departm£nt of Defense (see JTR M4253 and Appendix A to JTR, Volume 1, Joint Travel Regulations for Members of the Uniformed Services). Although civilian travelers generally receive the maximum rates set forth in the Standardized Regulations, members of the uniformed services receive a per diem allowance on a "lodgings plus" basis il.Ot to exceed the set amounts (see JTR M4253, supra). Since this method of per diem determination more closely results in reimbursement for actual and neces- sary expenses we suggest the Committee may wish to consider a similar system for members and employees of the Senate. With respect to a major objective of S. 738--elinr'.Lt;.i:itJ.J"..J c( ;;"::1'1l payments--we note that section 2 of Rule XLVII of S. ReL;. , p.-:::as£:d by the Senate on April 1, 1977, already prohibits acceptance of payments or funds from the United States Government for expenses for which the traveller has already received reimbursement. Unlike s. 738, S. Res. 110 . specifically includes foreign currencies made available under si:=ction 502(b) of the Mutual Security Act of 1954, as amended (22 U.S.C. § 1754(b)) as a prohibited source of duplicate payments. Although foreign currencies are . . videly used for congressional travel purposes,. the language of s~tion 502(b) of the Mutual Security Act does not limit the use of such currencies to trave-1 expenses. It is therefore not clear that foreign currencies are ' necessarily included within the term "any source (s) ", as used in S. 738. On the other hand, S. 738 contains a civil penalty provision for violation of the dual payments prohibition, which is not included' in S.. Res. 110. therefore suggest that the language' of section 3 of S. 738 be retained. with the addition of a specific reference to section502(b) of the Mutua1 Security Act as a reimbursement resource, as provided in S. Res. The Senate also may wish t:o .consider applying the requirement~:; . :cf this bill to foreign travel by other personnel on Senate bmdne~s. such as consultants. of assistance - 2 -
Comments on Proposed Legislation to Provide a Uniform System of Reimbursement for and Reporting of Expenses Incurred by Senators and Employees of the Senate While Traveling Outside the United States
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-05-25.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)