# 2014-139 - Meal Expenses, Meal Rates (Karthoum), Recovery of Overpayment

Meal Expenses, Meal Rates (Karthoum), Recovery of Overpayment

Case Summary

F&R Date: 2014–11–20

The Committee had to determine whether a daily meal allowance equivalent to 75% of the published Treasury Board (TB) daily meal rate was appropriate for the grievor while serving in Khartoum during Operation (OP) AUGURAL during the period from 27 July 2006 to 1 February 2007.

The Standing Orders for this OP stated in May 2006 that the meal rate was 60% of the published TB daily meal rate. The Joining Instructions, however, stated that the daily meal allowance was 75% of the published TB rate. Additionally, various Military Foreign Service Instruction (MFSIs) were published over the course of the mission authorizing different rates. Nonetheless, the grievor, as well as other OP AUGURAL Khartoum participants, were initially reimbursed for their meal claims at the 75% rate.

In June 2010, the grievor was advised that the Director Compensation and Benefits Administration (DCBA) had directed a recovery from his meal claim on the basis that the 75% rate paid to him was incorrect and that 60% was the authorized rate. The DCBA based this conclusion on there being no record of any submission having been made to increase the meal rate for OP AUGURALKhartoum from 60% to 75%. Recovery was subsequently initiated against all members serving in OP AUGURAL Khartoum on the grounds that they had all been overpaid for their meal claims.

The grievor argued that he, and other Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members who participated in OP AUGURAL Khartoum, should be able to rely on the Joining Instructions which stated that the daily meal rate was 75%. He also argued that the evidence suggested that the 75% rate had been approved by the Task Force Commander (TFC) based on the austere and demanding conditions that existed in Khartoum at that time.

Grievance staff at the Initial Authority (IA) level discovered that the 60% rate authorized by DCBA had not been approved by the TB and so the approval of the Chief of Military Personnel (CMP) was obtained to increase the rate to the 60% level that had been implemented by DCBA. The IA then concluded that the 60% rate was correct and properly authorized and denied the grievance.

The Committee noted that there had been a great deal of confusion and uncertainty concerning the authorized meal rates during the life span of OP AUGURAL Khartoum. The Committee found that the lack of documentation proving that an increase in the daily meal rate had been requested was insufficient, on its own, to justify the recovery process.

The Committee took the view that prior to initiating the recovery of funds from CAF members, the DCBA should have made an attempt to determine whether the 75% rate might be merited. The Committee found no evidence that the DCBA made any such effort.

The Committee obtained evidence from TFCs, Clerks, and other participants in OP AUGURAL Khartoum, confirming that they believed the 75% rate was the authorized rate and that the living and working conditions in Khartoum justified the 75% meal rate. These conditions included great difficulty securing food that was safe to eat, a severe shortage of safe restaurants, extremely poor sanitary conditions, and work related responsibilities that greatly limited the OP participants' ability to prepare and consume meals in their quarters. The Committee found that these conditions met the criteria set out in MFSI 10.4.03 and justified the CAF increasing the daily meal rate accordingly.

The Committee therefore recommended that the Chief of the Defence Staff grant redress by directing that the daily meal rate for OP AUGURAL Khartoum be increased to 75% and that the grievor be reimbursed the monies that were recovered from him.

The Committee also referred to the Systemic Recommendation made in Committee file 2014-061 dealing with the same issue.

CDS Decision Summary

CDS Decision Date: 2016–04–12

The FA did not agree with the Committee's recommendation that the daily meal rate for OP AUGURAL Khartoum be retroactively increased. The FA found that because of the passing of time and the differences of opinions and statements by various task force commanders and other members of Op AUGURAL deployed in this time period, there was no sufficient evidence to confirm that a formal request was ever made for a rate increase. As for changes to have the meal rate increased, it is not disputed that the cost of food in Khartoum is quite high, but the FA was of the view that the daily meal allowance is intended to defray some of those higher costs, not that the cost of food be fully covered by the CAF. Since there was is no information to suggest the cost place an additional financial burden on CAF members, the FA determined that the entitlement must remain at 60% per day for Op AUGURAL for the dates indicated in CDS Order 037/13.

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