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ELECTRIC CALL BELLS OR BUZZERS IN PUBLIC BUILDINGS. Electric call bells or buzzers and the batteries used for their operation are not
a part of the mechanical equipment of the building in which installed. but are classified as furniture or office appliances, and the cost thereof is accordingly chargeable to the appropriation applicable for furniture and
office appliances. Comptroller General McCarl to the Attorney General, February 20, 1923:
I have your letter of February 7, 1923, submitting for decision the proper appropriation to be charged with the cost of two drycell batteries for use in connection with the operation of the buzzer lines in the office of the United States attorney, located in the court house building, Washington, D. C.
The courthouse building was originally built and furnished under the direction of the Architect of the Capitol, and you state that officer has held the appropriation made in the District of Columbia appropriation act of June 29, 1922, 42 Stat., 698, is not available for the proposed expenditure, it being as follows:
For repairs and improvements to the courthouse, including repair and maintenance of the mechanical equipment, and for labor and material and every item incident thereto, $2500, to be expended under the direction of the Architect of the Capitol.
The mechanical equipment mentioned therein refers to the equipment necessary in the maintenance and operation of the building and more or less a part thereof. Electric call bells or buzzers are usually attached to and constitute a part of the furniture and equipment of the particular officers occupying the building, subject to alteration or removal at their will without regard to control of the building. Such equipment would, therefore, more accurately fall within classification of furniture or office appliances. 1 Comp. Dec., 22, 14 id., 467.
The appropriation “ Salaries and expenses of district attorneys, United States courts,” act of June 1, 1922, 42 Stat., 616, provides in part “For salaries of United States district attorneys and expenses of United States district attorneys and their regular assistants.” The Budget itemization of this appropriation, page 764, Alternative Budget, 1923, includes an item for “ office expenses” and the Budget itemization for the corresponding appropriation for 1924, page 519, contains an item for “ furniture and office appliances.
Accordingly the appropriation “ Salaries and expenses of district attorneys, United States courts, 1923,” is available for purchase of the two dry-cell batteries in question.
SALES OF CONDEMNED SUPPLIES SHORTAGE IN WEIGHT. Where the proposal and acceptance for the sale of condemned supplies or junk Decision by Comptroller General McCarl, February 21, 1923:
state the weight thereof without qualification, and the purchaser did not have the opportunity of verifying the weight before submitting the proposal, the purchaser is entitled to receive the weight specified, or in lieu thereof, a proportionate reduction or refund of the purchase price for any shortage in such weight.
Alaska Junk Co. (Inc.) applied December 18, 1922, for review of settlement No. T–81 of October 4, 1922, disallowing its claim for $42.09 on account of shortage in weight of a 10-inch hawser purchased by it from the United States Coast Guard.
By a circular letter issued in July, 1922, by division commander, northern division, P. C., U. S. Coast Guard, claimant was requested to submit a sealed proposal for the purchase of a 10-inch cordage manila hawser belonging to the United States Coast Guard cutter Mojave. For the information of bidders said circular letter contained the following paragraphs under the heading “ description and condition of hawser":
One 10"' cordage manila hawser, weighed 3,629 pounds, new material but stranded because of severe strain, chafed on interior surface and worn on outer surface.
This hawser can be inspected at the U. S. Coast Guard storehouse, Port Townsend, Washington, where it is stored.
Claimant's proposal was submitted July 27, 1922, in the form of a signed statement on the bottom of the circular letter reading as follows:
In accordance with the above advertisement, subject to all the conditions thereof, the undersigned proposes to purchase for cash the above-described hawser for the sum of $126.871.
Said proposal was accepted as made, and the hawser was delivered August 1, 1922, but upon delivery of the hawser its weight was found to be only 2,425 pounds instead of 3,629 pounds, as advertised. Claimant alleges that it accepted the weight given in the advertisement as the basis for its lump-sum bid, and contends that as the weight received was 1,204 pounds less than the weight purchased its bid price should be reduced accordingly.
The advertising contained an unqualified statement as to the weight of the hawser, and claimant was justified in relying upon that statement as the basis of its bid. It is true that opportunity was given for inspection of the hawser at the place where it was stored, but it is evident that the contemplated inspection was for the purpose of determining the condition rather than the quantity of the hawser. It is apparent that the weight of the hawser could not be verified without removing it from the place where it was stored, and as the only inspection authorized was at the storehouse where the hawser was stored it must be assumed that claimant did not have the opportunity of verifying the weight before submitting its proposal and that the weight stated in the advertisement formed the basis of the bid price. It is a well-known custom that weight is a material factor in fixing the price of junk and also of new rope.
Claimant agreed to purchase and the Government agreed to sell 3,629 pounds of rope or junk for $126.877. The full purchase price was paid, and only 2,425 pounds of rope or junk were delivered. Accordingly, claimant is entitled to a refund in proportion to the amount of the shortage.
The entire amount received from claimant was covered into the Treasury to the credit of the fund “Rebuilding and improving Coast Guard stations, proceeds of sale, special fund.” As the amount thus covered in was $42.09 in excess of the amount which should have been so covered in, said fund is available for the purpose of refunding to claimant the amount erroneously covered in.
Upon a review of the matter the settlement is reversed and a difference of $42.09 is certified due claimant.
REINSTATEMENT AND PROMOTION OF POSTAL INSPECTORS. Where the Post Office Department, in accordance with an administrative policy
established on or immediately after the date the act of June 5, 1920, 41 Stat., 1052, became effective, reinstated inspectors in grade one at a salary of $2,300, there is no authority of law thereafter, upon a change of said policy, to regard said inspectors as though they had been reinstated in a higher grade, or to advance them to the grade which they would have attained if the present policy had maintained at the time of their rein
statement. Comptroller General McCarl to the Postmaster General, February 21, 1923:
I have your letter of February 8, 1923, requesting decision of certain questions relative to the pay status of post-office inspectors who resigned prior to June 5, 1920, and who were reinstated subsequent to July 1, 1920, in grade 1, at $2,300 per annum, in accordance with the practice and policy of the Post Office Department maintaining at the time the reinstatements were made.
With reference to salary grades and promotions of inspectors the act of June 5, 1920, 41 Stat., 1052, provides:
That post-office inspectors shall be divided into seven grades, as follows: Grade one-salary, $2,300; grade two-salary, $2,509; grade three-salary, $2,700; grade four-salary, $2,900; grade five-salary, $3,200; grade sixsalary, $3,500; grade seven-salary, $3,700; and there shall be fifteen in. spectors in charge at $4,200. Inspectors shall be promoted successively to grade five at the beginning of the quarter following a year's satisfactory and efficient service in the next lower grade, and to grade six at the beginning of the quarter following the expiration of one year's meritorious service in grade five, and not to exceed 20 per centum of the force to grade seven for specially meritorious service after not less than one year's service in grade six.
Said act makes no provision relative to the reinstatement of postoffice inspectors. Accordingly, such reinstatements are handled by the Post Office Department under the general laws and regulations relating to reinstatements in the civil service of the United States. You state that immediately upon the approval of the act of June 5, 1920, the department adopted a policy under which inspectors could be reinstated only in grade one, salary $2,300, regardless of the grade or salary of the inspector at time of separation from the service, but that subsequently said policy was changed to permit reinstatements at a salary one grade lower than the corresponding grade in which the inspector was serving at the time he left the service.
The questions submitted for determination are (1) whether an inspector who was reinstated in grade one may now, as of the date of actual reinstatement, be reinstated in the grade immediately below the grade corresponding to the grade in which he was serving at the time of his resignation or other separation from the service, and be advanced to the grade to which he would have advanced by automatic promotion had his reinstatement been made in accordance with the present practice or (2) whether he may now without retroactive effect be reinstated in the grade immediately below the grade corresponding to the grade in which he was serving at the time of separation from the service, regardless of his former reinstatement and the promotions he has since received.
The department was acting within its administrative authority in adopting the policy of reinstating inspectors in grade one only and the inspector who accepted the reinstatement in said grade under that policy and who since such reinstatement has received the automatic promotions authorized under the statute hereinbefore quoted has no legal right to be regarded as though he had been reinstated in a higher grade. The service of the employee has been rendered and the pay fixed therefor at the time it was a matter for fixing has been paid him. To pay him the difference between the salary to which he was entitled under the reinstatement as made and the salary to which he would have been entitled if he had been reinstated at a higher grade would be in the nature of a gratuity which is not authorized under existing law, and to advance such an inspector now to the grade in which he might have been reinstated if the present policy with respect to reinstatements had been adopted as soon as the act of June 5, 1920, became effective would be tantamount to giving him a promotion not authorized under the law.
Both questions are answered in the negative.
STUDENTS ARMY TRAINING CORPS-COUNTING SERVICE IN,
BY OFFICERS OF NAVY FOR LONGEVITY PAY PURPOSES. The Students' Army Training Corps having been established as a part of the
Army, service therein was service in the Army and an officer of the Navy appointed prior to July 1, 1922, may count such service rendered during 1918 in computing his length of service for longevity pay purposes during subsequent service in the Navy.
Comptroller General McCarl to the Secretary of the Navy, February 21,
I have by your direction the letter of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, dated February 6, 1923, requesting decision whether Lieutenant (j. g.) W. O. Hiltabidle (C. E. C.) United States Navy, is entitled to credit in computing longevity for service from July 17, 1918, to December 13, 1918, as a member of the Students' Army Training Corps, Lafayette College, Easton, Pa.
The Students' Army Training Corps was established by section 11 of War Department General Order No. 79, of August 24, 1918, which provided :
Under the authority conferred by sections 1, 2, 8, and 9 of the act of Congress "authorizing the President to increase temporarily the Military Establishment of the United States," approved May 18, 1917, the President directs that for the period of the existing emergency there shall be raised and maintained, by voluntary induction and draft, a Students' Army Training Corps. Units of this Corps will be authorized by the Secretary of War at educational institutions that meet the requirements laid down in Special Regulations
And see also War Department Special Regulations No. 10, “Students' Army Training Corps Regulations,” September 24, 1918.
The Students' Army Training Corps was a part of the Army of the United States, section 1, act of June 3, 1916, 39 Stat., 166, and service therein was service in the Army.
It is well settled that lawful service in the Army as an enlisted man since 1878 may be counted for longevity pay by officers commissioned prior to July 1, 1922, 20 Comp. Dec. 733, 23 id., 152. There is no distinction between service following voluntary enlistment and service following draft under the Selective Service Act of May 18, 1917, 40 Stat., 76. Furthermore, section 11 of the act of May 18, 1920, 41 Stat., 603, provided :
That hereafter longevity pay for officers in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Public Health Service, and Coast and Geodetic Survey shall be based on the total of all service in any or all of said services.
The Navy Register of 1922 shows Lieutenant Hiltabidle was appointed a commissioned officer of the Civil Engineer Corps of the Navy on January 29, 1921. The act of June 10, 1922, 42 Stat., 627, provides in the matter of credit for service for longevity:
For officers in the service on June 30, 1922, there shall be included in the computation all service which is now counted in computing longevity pay,
You are accordingly advised that Lieutenant Hiltabidle is entitled to count the period of service from July 17, 1918, to December 13, 1918, for longevity purposes.
APPROPRIATIONS — PERMANENT ANNUAL INDEFINITE, AS AF.
FECTED BY AMOUNT EXHIBITED IN BUDGET. Section 13, of the act of September 19, 1890, 26 Stat. 455, as amended by
section 8 of the act of June 3, 1896, 29 Stat., 234, provides for a permanent annual appropriation for the operation of snag boats on the Ohio River,