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Comptroller General McCarl to the Secretary of the Treasury, January 5, 1923.
I have your letter of December 5, 1922, requesting decision whether in amount said to have been erroneously transferred from the appropriation for the Air Mail Service to the civil service retirement and disability fund may now be retransferred back to the said appropriation.
It appears that in the report of the amount of salary and compensation of employees of the Air Mail Service for the fiscal year 1922 a large number of employees not entitled to the benefit of the retirement fund were included. The total amount of salary and compensation reported was $735,250, upon which report $18,381.25 was deducted from the appropriation and transferred to the retirement fund. Actual salary deduction of those employees who were entitled to the benefit of the retirement law amounted only to $1,682.75, leaving in the retirement fund $16,698.50 over and above what the fund was entitled to receive from that source. It also appears that this unauthorized deduction from the appropriation has resulted in a deficiency of some $15,000 in the appropriation.
Your doubt as to the legality of returning to the appropriation the amount erroneously deducted and transferred therefrom seems to rest upon a decision of the former Comptroller of the Treasury June 21, 1920, 26 Comp. Dec., 1059, that, as a general rule the reports should be once for the fiscal year, and no refunds be made from the special fund by reason of reduction in allotments, lapsed salaries, etc., subsequent increases in allotments to be reported for deductions accordingly. The requirement of monthly deductions relates to payments to the employees and not to the transfer of appropriations.
The gist of this decision is that where deductions and transfers have been regularly and properly made upon estimates and allotments of salary appropriations there shall be no subsequent readjustment of the fund and appropriations because actual deductions do not correspond precisely with the amount transferred. The decision has no relation to deductions and transfers improperly made upon erroneous reports of the estimated salary requirements.
It has been requested that $16,698.50, the difference between the amount deducted and transferred and the amount of actual salary deductions, be restored to the appropriation. Such restoration would be in conflict with the established rule, but there is no legal objection to restoring to the appropriation the difference between the amount deducted and transferred therefrom and the amount which should have been so deducted and transferred upon a correct report of estimated salary requirements and allotments of this service for the fiscal year 1922.
MILEAGE TRAVEL BY OFFICERS OF ARMY ON LEAVES OF
An officer of the Army who absents himself from his station under leave of
absence does so at his own risk and if the Government temporarily requires his services at his station he must bear all expense of reporting thereto and returning to place where he received notice of the orders re
quiring his service and he is not entitled to mileage for such travel. Comptroller General McCarl to Capt. Carl Halla, United States Army, January 8, 1922.
There has been received your letter dated December 19, 1922, with inclosed voucher and related papers, requesting decision as to whether you are authorized under section 12 of the act of June 10, 1922, 42 Stat., 631, to make payment of mileage to J. M. Carson, brigadier general, Quartermaster Corps, for the distance from New York to Washington, D. C., and return, under a statement of facts which may be epitomized as follows:
General Carson, then on duty as Assistant Quartermaster General at Washington, was granted, August 1, 1921, leave of absence preliminary to his retirement from active service. He was at New York, N. Y., on the leave of absence when, October 21, 1922, telegraphic orders were issued by The Adjutant General of the Army, directing him to:
PROCEED THIS CITY AND REPORT QUARTERMASTER GENERAL FOR CONSULTATION. UPON COMPLETION RETURN PLACE RECEIPT BY YOU THIS TELEGRAM AND REVERT STATUS ABSENCE WITH LEAVE. TRAVEL NECESSARY MILITARY SERVICE.
The officer complied with the order, October 24 to 26, 1922, and has submitted a voucher claiming $29.51 as mileage for the distance from New York to Washington and return, less a deduction of $6.81 for transportation furnished on the return journey. By transmittal indorsement the Chief of Finance states that:
3. The finance officer requested to make payment is in doubt as to whether he is authorized to make payment, in view of two decisions by the former Comptroller of the Treasury, and especially the decision of October 18, 1906 (13 Compt., 294). This decision was rendered in the case of Major General Greeley, who performed travel under quite similar conditions. In the absence of a modification of this decision the Finance Department does not consider it would be justified in authorizing favorable consideration of the claim. In this decision reference was made to paragraphs 1317 and 1319, Army Regulations, 1905, which correspond to paragraphs 1289 and 1291 of current Army Regulations of 1913. Paragraph 1289 provides that an officer ordered to return to his station from leaves of absence is not entitled to mileage excepting under orders prescribing duty en route. Paragraph 1291, Army Regulations, provides that an officer will be entitled to mileage for travel performed under orders from place of leave to place of temporary duty and for return travel to place of leave if made under orders. This office belieres that an officer on leave of absence who is ordered to return to his station and his leave is canceled should be required to return at his own expense, for the reasons which are well stated in decision by the Court of Claims referred to in 13th Comptroller, page 294. It also believes that the decision allowing an officer mileage to place of temporary duty and back to place of leave is equitable to the officer and
to the Government. If ordered to return to his station from place of temporary duty, it is further agreed that for any excess travel he is required to perform he is equitably entitled to mileage.
4. According to the decision in the case of Major General Greeley, the Finance Department would not be authorized to pay mileage to General Carson for travel from place of leave to place of temporary duty and from the latter place to place of leave in this case because of the fact that the place of temporary duty was the officer's station. Notwithstanding the fact that additional travel has been required of this officer over and above that which he would have performed had he not been placed on temporary duty, this office is without authority to direct payment of mileage because it happened in his case that the place of temporary duty was the station from which he was on leave. Had he been ordered to return to Fort Myer, Va., instead of Washington, D. C., or to any other near-by point for temporary duty and then ordered to return to the place of leave, there would be no question under existing decisions but that he would have been entitled to mileage for such travel even though the route of the travel had brought him through the city in which he was stationed. This office believes that paragraph 1289, Army Regulations, and the decisions in support thereof should not be held as precluding right to mileage in the case where an officer is ordered to return to his station for temporary duty and then back to the place of leave for the purpose of resuming his leave status, but that he should be entitled to mileage under the principle set forth in paragraph 1291, Army Regulations, and the decisions in connection therewith. It is agreed that in equity he is not entitled to mileage for return to temporary duty when not ordered to return to the place of leave of absence, or where his leave is revoked, and he, as a matter of fact, performs no extra travel by reason of the orders requiring him to return to his station.
Restated, the argument is that, notwithstanding Washington was the officer's permanent station, he was on leave of absence therefrom; and that the orders directed his return thereto for consultation and, at its conclusion, to revert to his leave status, he is entitled to mileage for some portion of the travel performed, as he would have been entitled to mileage had he been ordered to any place other than his permanent station, Washington, for the performance of temporary duty. Such argument overlooks the well-known principle of law that rights are determined in accordance with the facts as they actually exist and not in accordance with facts as they might have existed. An officer takes leave from his station at his own risk, with the result that if the United States temporarily requires his services at his station he must bear all expenses in connection with return thereto. Orders directing him to return to the place where he received notice while on leave and then revert to his leave status are ineffectual to give right to mileage. 13 Comp. Dec., 295; 16 id., 611; 18 id., 1056. See also 2 Comp. Gen., 217. The fact is immaterial that the officer might have been entitled to mileage had he been ordered to a place other than his station for the performance of temporary duty.
Payment of the voucher is unauthorized.
When the claim of a foreign creditor is to be liquidated in the currency of his
country the proper basis for payment is the amount of United States currency which will purchase the equivalent of the debt in the currency of
that country at date of settlement. Payment of the claim of an American citizen now in this country for re
imbursement of expenditures in a foreign country should be made in United States currency of the amount which would have been necessary to purchase the equivalent of the debt in the currency of that country at the
date the expenditure was made. Decision by Comptroller General McCarl, January 8, 1923.
George Wythe, Weatherford, Tex., by letter dated November 26, 1922, requests review of so much of settlement claim W-154845, dated November 13, 1922, as involves the allowance of but $9.63 as the converted value of 642,714.15 Austrian crowns, representing reimbursement under an allowance of the United States Veterans' Bureau for expenses of hospitalization in an amount not to exceed $3, United States value, per day while under treatment in a sanatorium at Aflenz, Austria.
In making the conversion the settlement discloses that the amount found due in the value of United States money for the equivalent of Austrian crowns was arrived at on the basis of rate of exchange prevailing on date of settlement. This is authorized where liquida. tion of the claim of a foreign creditor is in the currency of his country, for which purpose sufficient United States currency must be utilized as will purchase the equivalent of the foreign debt in currency of that country at date of payment. 1 Comp. Gen., page 202.
In the present case the claimant is an American citizen, now in this country, who, having expended United States currency for reimbursable expenses paid in a foreign currency, is entitled to be paid the equivalent thereof in the only funds of use to him, namely, United States currency, and the true basis of conversion is not the date of settlement, but the dates upon which United States currency was expended in foreign equivalents. 92 MS. Comp. Dec., 142.
As the claimant has not submitted evidence of the rates of exchange applied to contemporaneous transactions, it is only possible to utilize the ratio of exchange obtaining in this country applicable to the successive periods. The bills were rendered weekly, and for the purpose of arranging dates of conversion it is assumed that the accounts were paid as rendered, as suggested by the statement that crowns were of necessity purchased frequently.
Therefore, converting the amount of each bill as of its last day of service charge, the equivalent of a total of 642,714.15 crowns, representing expenditures for the period covered in the award, is by conversion the sum of $686.63 United States currency, resulting in an average allowance well under the authorized limitation of $3 per day.
Of the foregoing amount there has previously been allowed the sum of $9.63, and upon review the settlement is revised and there is now allowed the additional sum of $677.
PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE-DEPARTMENT OF
AGRICULTURE. The fact that the regulations of the Department of Agriculture permit an em.
ployee to reside in the suburbs of his official station and to be reimbursed for transfers of himself and baggage betwe_n such residence and the railroad station at the beginning and ending of official travel does not change the established rule that for purposes of payment of a per diem in lieu of subsistence the absence froi the official station begins and ends with the departure from or arrival at the railroad station within the limits of the
designated post of duty. Comptroller General McCarl to A. Zappone, disbursing clerk, Department of Agriculture, January 8, 1923.
I have your letter of December 15, 1922, requesting decision of the question whether an employee of your department who has his residence at a suburb of his official station is entitled to per diem in lieu of subsistence from the time he leaves the railroad station at his suburban residence, starting on an official trip, or from the time he leaves the railway station in the city of his official headquarters.
You present the case of W. R. M. Wharton, an employee of the Bureau of Chemistry, with official station in New York, N. Y., who has submitted voucher for per diems for fractional part of eight days at various intervals, which represents claim for per diem for period between the time of departure from Rutherford, N. J., claimant's suburban home, and the time the train left the station in New York, N. Y.
Travel regulations of the Department of Agriculture authorize a per diem for fractional parts of the day at specified rates according to the number of hours in a subsistence status. They also provide as follows:
that an employee may properly choose his residence in a suburb of his official station, and personal transfers and transfers of baggage as herein provided will be allowed between such residence and the depot at his official station at the beginning and termination of official travel.
You contend that this provision implies that the official trip begins at the time the traveler takes the train at the suburban station, and if that be true the traveler would appear to be entitled to per diem in lieu of subsistence beginning at that time.
On account of conditions existing in the large cities of the country, necessitating an employee living at some distance from the rail