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)

                                WASHINGTON. O.C. Z054t1

B-129650                                                           MAY 25    WI

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

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