M. E. Kaye

Decision Date15 December 1983
Docket NumberB-210522
CourtComptroller General of the United States

Digest 1. Claim by medical doctor employed by EPA for reimbursement of registration fee and per diem expenses incurred incident to his attendance at Nevada academy of family physician's meeting is governed by the prohibition of 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5946 against such payment and May not be allowed absent evidence that his attendance was part of an authorized training program under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 4109, or that it was related to agency functions or management under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 4110. In the absence of such evidence annual leave should be charged since the employee's travel cannot be considered official travel. 2. Employee contends that he should be reimbursed for expenses incurred incident to attendance at the Nevada academy of family physician's meeting because it provided him with 20 hours of continuing medical education he needs to retain his medical license and board certification, which he in turn needs to retain his EPA position. The claim is denied since the expenses are personal in nature, and within the purview of those cases where we have held that it is the duty of an employee to qualify himself for the performance of his official duties.

Mr John J. Sandy, acting director, financial management division, environmental protection agency (EPA), has referred the claim of Dr. M. E. Kaye to us for decision. At issue is Dr. Kaye's entitlement to reimbursement of a registration fee and per diem expenses he incurred in connection with his attendance at the annual meeting of the Nevada academy of family physicians. Also at issue is whether Dr. Kaye's should have been charged annual leave.


Dr Kaye, whose permanent duty station is las vegas, Nevada attended the Nevada academy of family physician's 14th annual ski-cme meeting from January 24, 1982, to January 29 1982, in lake tahoe, Nevada. He did so pursuant to a travel authorization granting him per diem. Upon his return Dr. Kaye submitted a voucher for reimbursement of $657.50, of which $370 was disallowed. Of this amount, $325 represented the registration fee and $45 represented a portion of the per diem claimed.

The las vegas finance office disallowed Dr. Kaye's claim for reimbursement of the registration fee because it included social activities and meals for Dr. Kaye and his wife that could not be separated out or priced on an item-by-item basis. The $45 was deducted from Dr. Kaye's claim due to a reduction in his per diem entitlement from 7-1/2 to 5-3/4 days, based on a disallowance of the excess time he spent driving instead of flying.

Dr Kaye contends that he is entitled to reimbursement of the registration fee because the specific purpose for his attendance at the meeting was to earn a portion of the continuing medical education hours he needs to retain his medical license and board certification, and to maintain his position with EPA as a medical advisor. Although Dr. Kaye has concurred in the reduction of his per diem claim, Mr. Sandy has asked whether all of the per diem should have been disallowed in light of the purpose for which Dr. Kaye attended the meeting. For reasons we will explain below it appears that epa's disallowance of the registration fee was proper and that per diem should not have been authorized.


Attendance at meetings

The general rule regarding expenses of this nature is found in section 5946 of title 5, United States code, which provides that:

"Except as authorized by a specific appropriation, by express terms in a general appropriation, or by sections 4109 and 4110 of this title, appropriated funds May not be used for payment of -
"(2) expenses of attendance of an individual at meetings or conventions of members of a society or association."

Section 4109 of title 5 authorizes the head of an agency to reimburse the necessary expenses of an employee selected for training pursuant to an authorized training program, but there is no indication that Dr. Kaye's attendance at the meeting of the Nevada academy of family physicians was pursuant to an authorized training program. Nor are we aware of any appropriation which provides for reimbursement of these expenses. Therefore, in order for Dr. Kaye to be reimbursed, his attendance must be determined to fall within the exception to the general rule against such...

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