Page images
PDF
EPUB

constructed a new bridge which took the place of and rendered useless the old bridge. The apparent reason for proposing to tear down and remove the old bridge is that it" is a menace to the use of Bayou Grande by Navy airplanes from the near-by naval air station.”

The appropriation which it is proposed to use is an appropriation of $12,000 made in the act of June 30, 1922, 42 Stat., 756, “ for repairs to roadways to national cemeteries which have been constructed by special authority of Congress.” It is stated that over $7,000 of this appropriation was originally intended for use in repairing the old bridge, and it has been suggested that since it is no longer necessary to repair the bridge the amount may be used to tear it down. The logic of that suggestion is not apparent. Tearing down is the opposite of repairing. The removal of the bridge involves the destruction of a tangible structure and is different from removing obstructions, etc., which as to roads possibly may be considered repairs. Furthermore, the old bridge is no longer on the roadway to the national cemetery and tearing it down can in no sense be regarded as a repair to a roadway to a national cemetery.

The question submitted is answered in the negative.

TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS OF OFFICERS OF THE ARMY.

An officer of the Army relieved from duty at his permanent station and granted

leave of absence with orders to report at another station for temporary duty at the expiration of the leave, which orders are subsequently amended before the expiration of the leave by definite assignment to a new permanent station, is entitled to transportation in kind for his dependents only by the direct, shortest, and usually traveled route between the two permanent stations, irrespective of what travel may have been performed

by the dependents anticipating a different assignment. Where an officer is traveling under orders from one permanent station to an

other over the direct and shortest usually traveled route, and accompanied by his dependents traveling on transportation furnished by the Government, orders changing his new permanent station reaching him en route entitle him to transportation for the dependents who accompany him from his old station to the point en route where he is required to deviate from his first destination and from such point to the new station assigned in the later

orders by the direct and shortest usually traveled route. An officer of the Army granted a leave of absence with directions to report at

the expiration thereof at a new permanent station, but who is retired befora the expiration of the leave, is not entitled to transportation for his deper dents for any portion of the journey from his last permanent station

to his home. Where an officer is traveling under orders from one permanent station to an

other over the direct and shortest usually traveled route, and accompanied by his dependents traveling on transportation furnished by the Government, orders for his retirement reaching him en route entitle him only to transportation for his dependents who are accompanying him from his last permanent station to the point en route where retirement orders were

delivered to him. Comptroller General McCarl to the Secretary of War, April 12, 1923:

There has been received your letter of March 15, 1923, requesting decision of questions stated as follows:

(a) An officer is relieved from duty at Fort Ontario (Oswego, N. Y.), and is granted a leave of absence. Upon the expiration of his leave he, under his orders relieving him from duty at Fort Ontario, is directed to proceed to Camp Pike, Ark., for station. His dependents are furnisied transportation in kind from Fort Ontario to Washington, D. C., where a delay occurs for the convenience of the officer or his dependents, or both. At the same time the quartermaster at Fort Ontario-issues a second transportation request for the dependents from Washington, D. C., to Camp Pike, Ark. While the officer is on leave he receives orders directing that he proceed to Camp Knox, Ky., for temporary duty at the expiration of his leave instead of to Camp Pike, Ark. Upon the completion of his temporary duty his orders then direct him to proceed to Camp Lewis, Wash., for permanent station. Upon the receipt of these changed orders the unused transportation of the dependents from Washington to Camp Pike is turned in for cancellation and other transportation requests are issued for his dependents from Washington to Camp Knox and from Camp Knox to Seattle, Wash. At the time the quartermaster at Fort Ontario issues the transportation he collects what he determines to be the excess cost, if any, on account of the issuance of two requests instead of one, or on account of travel not being via the official route. When the quartermaster at Washington issues transportation to Camp Knox, and then to Camp Lewis, he likewise collects what he determines to be the excess cost. These amounts which are collected by the issuing quartermasters are then, in accordance with regulations, turned in to the Finance Office, U. S. Army, this city, and it is the duty of that office to determine from tariffs on file in that office whether the amount collected by the quartermasters is correct and to then return any surplus amount collected to the officer. In determining in this kind of case the amount to be refunded from the amount collected by the issuing quartermasters, the question arises as to whether credit should be given the dependent for the cost of transportation direct from Fort Ontario, N. Y., to Camp Lewis, Wash., and any excess cost used as a set-off against the amount advanced to the quartermasters, or whether the dependents are entitled to additional credit wy reason of the fact that they were en route to their first-named station when their orders were amended. In other words, the question is, are not the dependents entitled to transportation based upon the cost of same through Washington, D. C., to Camp Lewis, Wash., or to some proportionate part thereof by reason of the receipt of amendatory orders in Washington, D. C., after a portion of the travel originally directed has been performed?

(6) Same as (a), with the exception that no leave is granted and the officer receives his amended orders in St. Louis, Mo., while en route to Camp Pike and directing that he proceed to Camp Lewis, Wash. On what basis would the Finance Office determine the amount to be refunded to the officer out of the amount advanced by him at the time of being furnished dependent transportation requests.

(c) An officer en route from San Francisco, Calif., to Washington, D. C., for permanent change of station, having been granted leave of absence before departing from San Francisco, receives while in Chicago, Ill., on the official route between San Francisco and Washington, an order announcing his retirement and directing that he proceed to his home, his dependents having used Government transportation from San Francisco to Chicago. Upon receipt of his retirement orders he selects New York City as his home and proceeds to that point with his dependents. The question arises in this kind of case as to the basis, if any, upon which collection should be made from the officer on account of dependents having used Government transportation from San Francisco to Chicago while en route to a new permanent station.

(d) Same as (c), excepting that the officer is not granted leave of absence and the War Department effecting delivery of retirement orders while he is in Chicago making transfer between trains by reason of previous knowledge as to the time the officer would arrive at that point.

(e) Same as (c), excepting that the officer receives retirement orders in St. Paul, Minn., instead of in Chicago, Ill., St. Paul not being a point on the official route between the old and the new station.

In consideration of the cases presented above wherein an officer delayed en route to a new station, it is desired to bring to your attention the fact that but for this delay the officer and his dependents would have arrived at the sta. tion to which he was first en route prior to receipt of his change of orders. Thus his delay resulted in a savings to the Government which would not have occurred had the officer not delayed in complying with his original orders

989449 0-52-42

The advantage to the Government that accrues in a case where through ad. ministrative procedure the department finds it desirable and practicable to notify an officer prior to arrival at a new station of a change in his orders, whether or not the officer was on leave at the place he received the amendatory order, is so manifest that comment thereon is considered unnecessary, and it further appears that the officer should be entitled to an allowance for that part of the travel enjoined in the original orders that had been performed prior to receipt of the amendatory orders.

Section 12 of the act of May 18, 1920, 41 Stat., 604, provides, so far as here material:

[ocr errors]

That hereafter when any commissioned officer,

having a wife or dependent child or children, is ordered to make a permanent change of station, the United States shall furnish transportation in kind from funds appropriated for the transportation of the Army,

to his new station for the wife and dependent child or children:

Provided further, That if the cost of such transportation exceeds that for transportation from the old to the new station the excess cost shall be paid to the United States by the officer concerned: Provided further, That transportation supplied the wife or dependent child or children of such officer to or from stations beyond the continental limits of the United States, shall not be other than by Government transport, if such transportation is available:

By section 4-b of the act of June 4, 1920, 41 Stat., 761, the enlisted men of the Army entitled to the privileges of section 12 of the act of May 18, 1920, were defined with reference to the new grading of enlisted men required by the act of June 4, 1920; and by section 12 of the act of June 10, 1922, 42 Stat., 631, it was provided that in lieu of the transportation in kind authorized by section 12 of the act of May 18, 1920

the President may authorize the payment in money of amounts equal to such commercial transportation costs when such travel shall have been completed. Dependent children shall be such as are defined in section 4 of this act.

A further provision is made in section 21 of the act of June 10, 1922, “ That nothing in this act shall operate to change in any way existing laws, or regulations made in pursuance of law, governing

transportation in kind for officers and warrant officers and enlisted men and their dependents."

It is understood that your inquiry relates only to cases where transportation in kind is issued and not to cases where commercial transportation costs are paid after travel shall have been completed, and anything said herein should not be applied to this latter class of cases.

Prior to the act of May 18, 1920, an officer of the Army on change of station, while entitled to transportation for himself, either in kind, by mileage, or actual expenses, was compelled to bear the entire cost of transporting his dependents from one station to another, except as provision was made for the transportation of the families of officers on Army transports. The purpose of section 12 of the act of May 18, 1920, and its intent, as the unambiguous language indicates, was to relieve officers of the cost of transportation of their

[ocr errors]

本 *

*

dependents, actually necessary, from one permanent station to another. The material language is that " when

ordered to make a permanent change of station, the United States shall furnish transportation in kind

to his new station for the wife and dependent child or children.” The statute contemplates travel for dependents between but two points, the old station and the new station, while by the proviso it recognizes that the dependents may be elsewhere than at the old station, no transportation at the expense of the United States in excess of that necessary between the old and new station is authorized.

The only essential travel for the dependents of an officer on a change of his permanent station is the direct, shortest, and usually traveled route between the two points, and the only purpose and intent of the statute was to relieve the officer of this expense. The section does not change the obligation of the officer to the United States under his commission; he continues subject to any proper military orders, including a modification of prior orders. If, therefore, on a permanent change of station an officer, with the permission of his superiors and whether with or without a grant of leave en route, chooses a circuitous route and takes his dependents with him, a change of orders may reduce or modify the transportation to which he will be entitled for his dependents; and the statute contains no remedy for the situation. He takes the risk of a change of orders, and he must suffer the loss if the transportation authorized for his dependents is reduced thereby. While, therefore, in most cases an officer may be able to utilize the transportation authorized for his wife and dependent child or children on his permanent change of station in connection with his and their personal business or pleasure, there is no right under the statute to have the allowance for transportation for dependents increased should a change of orders reduce or modify the transportation which might have been issued to his dependents under his original orders. Answers to your questions, in their order, are based on this view of the law.

(a) The officer is entitled only to transportation of his dependents from Fort Ontario (Oswego), N. Y., to Camp Lewis, Wash., by the direct, shortest, and usually traveled route. The temporary duty at Camp Knox, Ky., does not enter into the consideration, 27 Comp. Dec., 400, and the travel while on leave in the direction of Camp Pike, Ark., was voluntary; it does not increase his rights under the law.

(6) Where an officer is traveling under orders from one permanent station to another without delay en route and over the direct and shortest usually traveled route, and his dependents accompany him on the journey, traveling on transportation furnished by the Government, should orders issue changing his new permanent station reach him while so en route, he will be entitled to transportation for the dependents who accompany him from his old station to the point on the route to the new station first assigned where he is required by his orders to deviate therefrom, and from that point to the new station assigned to him in his later orders. Note that in this case the officer is traveling over the shortest usually traveled route, there is no element of pleasure or personal convenience, and that his dependents are journeğing with him; in such a case the route of travel from his old to his actual new station, both for himself and the dependents who accompany him, has been selected by action of the Government. The case is otherwise if there is any deviation from the official route, any leave or delay en route, or if his dependents do not accompany him. And if a portion only of his dependents accompany him, the rule is otherwise as to the dependents who do not accompany him. The case presented, it is apprehended, is unusual and will not frequently occur, as it is obvious that the cost to the Government is increased by the needless travel en route to the first designated new station.

(c) As no travel is required of the officer until the expiration of his leave, and before it has expired he is retired, he is not entitled to transportation for his dependents for any portion of his journey from his last permanent station, to his home; 27 Comp. Dec., 61; 1 Comp. Gen., 677; and the fact that orders, to be effective after the expiration of his leave, assign him a new permanent station have led him to move himself and his dependents in the direction of such newly assigned station will not change his rights under the statute.

(d) It is assumed that the retirement is other than for age. As the officer traveled on the official, i. e., the direct, and shortest usually traveled route, under orders changing his permanent station and without delay or leave en route, he is entitled to transportation for the dependents within the statute who actually accompanied him on the journey and for whom transportation at the expense of the Government had issued, to the point reached when retirement orders were delivered to him. As to dependents, if any, who did not accompany him, the rule would be otherwise. Here again, it is suggested that the case presented is unusual, as good administration would seem to require such coordination between the section or branch of the War Department in charge of retirement matters and the section or branch in charge of change of station orders as would not frequently permit the issuance of orders directing a permanent change of station of an officer whose retirement was so imminent and so urgent that the order of retirement was required to be delivered to him en route on change of station orders.

(e) The answer to this question is the same as the answer to (c).

« PreviousContinue »