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Comptroller General McCarl to the Secretary of the Navy, April 30, 1923:
I have your request for a decision
Whether or not an officer of the Navy, detailed to duty with the Panama Canal, when assigned and occupying Government quarters for which he is required to pay to the Panama Canal a rental under Executive order of 3 December, 1921, is entitled to rental allowance as authorized in the act of June 10, 1922.
In reply you are advised that such an officer is not entitled to s rental allowance if public quarters are available for him, notwithstanding the payment by him to the Panama Canal authorities of a rent charge pursuant to such Executive order. See, in this connection, 2 Comp. Gen., 219.
TRAVELING AND SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES SUNDAYS.
The avoiding of travel on Sunday is not a sufficient excuse to entitle an em
ployee of the Treasury Department to reimbursement for the extra day's subsistence expense incurred when leaving his permanent duty station one day earlier than ordinarily required to reach his temporary duty station at
the appointed time. Decision by Comptroller General McCarl, April 30, 1923:
The Secretary of the Treasury requested a review of settlement T-13436, dated January 31, 1923, accounts of J. L. Summers, disbursing clerk, for September, 1922, wherein was disallowed credit in the sum of $4.15 covering portion of traveling expenses per voucher in favor of Edward A. Brown, superintendent of construction, viz: 27 May Arrived Washington for conference 4.25 p. m.
Dinner 28 Breakfast, 95¢ ; lunch, $1.00; dinner, $1.00_
2.95 May 25, 1922, the Acting Supervising Architect addressed Mr. E. A. Brown, superintendent of construction, post office, New Brunswick, N. J., as follows:
You are directed, when your present duties will permit, to visit this office for conference.
Your actual traveling and subsistence expenses incurred in so doing will be paid from an appropriation under the control of this office.
The question involved is whether Mr. Brown may be reimbursed for expenses of Saturday, May 27, and Sunday, May 28. Mr. Brown stated under date of January 17, 1923:
on getting instructions I left my headquarters with the intention of being at the Treasury Department at nine o'clock Monday, May 29th. In order to do so, I left my headquarters on Saturday. I do not understand that Government employees are required to work on Sunday. I have always understood that Sunday was a day of rest and have never been advised that I was expected to travel on Sunday. All Government employees are paid for Sunday, though they do not work on that day, and, as a general proposition, unless a traveling man is making a long trip, he does not travel on Sunday.
The act of April 6, 1914, 38 Stat., 318, which act is set out in the Travel Regulations (Treasury Department Circular No. 127, of March 29, 1922), reads, in part:
nor shall any allowance or reimbursement for subsistence be paid to any officer or employee in any branch of the public service of the United States in the District of Columbia unless absent from his designated post of duty outside of the District of Columbia, and then only for the period of time actually engaged in the discharge of official duties.
And paragraph 2 of said regulations reads:
(2) Persons traveling upon official business of this department are required to exercise the same care in incurring expenses as a prudent person would exercise if traveling on personal business. They will be allowed their actual and necessary traveling expenses
The letter to Mr. Brown directing him to visit the Office of Supervising Architect did not specify any particular day and hour for the conference, but “when your present duties will permit.” The arranging of the time was thus left to the discretion of Mr. Brown. New Brunswick, N. J., is on a trunk railway line connecting New York City and Washington, D. C., and about five or six hours' ride from the latter city.
It would seem that in fixing upon 9 o'clock of the morning of Monday, the 29th, as the time for calling at the department for conference, and pursuant thereto leaving headquarters at New Brunswick, N. J., on the morning of Saturday, the 27th, and arriv. ing in Washington at 4.25 p. m., with consequent incurrence of expenses for subsistence in the interval covering Sunday, the 28th, Mr. Brown did not exercise “ the same care in incurring expenses as a prudent person would exercise if traveling on personal business."
The matter of traveling on Sunday has no bearing on the question. The employees of the Government travel constantly on that day, and there was no reason why this employee should not have done so. The employee may be allowed the expenses of Saturday as if incurred Sunday. There is certified $1.20 for credit in the disbursing officer's account.
MAXIMUM PAY AND ALLOWANCES FOR SUBSISTENCE AND RENTAL OF QUARTERS-OFFICERS OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE.
In computing the total base pay, pay for length of service and allowances for
subsistence and rental of quarters for the purpose of applying the maximum of $7,200 above which no allowances are payable under section 7 of the act of June 10, 1922, 42 Stat., 628, the commuted value of quarters furnished in kind to officers of the Public Health Service may not be
included. The maximum pay and allowances of officers of the Public Health Service for
fractional portions of a year under the $7,200 limitation per annum imposed by section 7, act of June 10, 1922, 42 Stat., 628, should be computed at the maximum rate of $20 per day.
Decision by Comptroller General McCarl, April 30, 1923:
There has been raised a question in the audit of the account of Asst. Surg. L. L. Williams, United States Public Health Service, for period from August 1 to September 30, 1922, construing section 7 of the act of June 10, 1922, 42 Stat., 628, which reads
That when the total of base pay, pay for length of service and allowances for subsistence and rental of quarters, authorized in this act for any oficer belov the grade of brigadier general or its equivalent, shall exceed $7,200 a year, the amount of the allowancs to which such officer is entitled shall be reduced by the amount of the excess above $7,200: Provided, That this section shall not apply to the Captain Commandant of the Coast Guard nor to the Director of the Coast and Geodetic Survey,
The auditing division submits that
1. In computing the maximum of $7,200 a year for“ base pay, pay for length of service and allowances for subsistence and rental of quarters,” for the purposes of said section 7, in the case of an officer of the Public Health Service on duty at a station where he is in the occupancy of quarters in kind, the commuted value of the quarters in kind may not be taken either for the purposes of the computation of the maximum of $7,200 a year or the retention of the excess amount, if any, of his allowances over such maximum, and that in placing a contrary construction upon said section 7 the Public Health Service erred.
2. That in the case of an officer of the Public Health Service on duty at a station where quarters in kind were not available for him and a rental allowance payable and “the total of the base pay, pay for length of service and allowances for subsistence and rental of quarters,” exceeds the $7,200 maximum for the purposes of said section 7, and the allowances to which the officer is entitled have been reduced by the amount of the excess above said maximum, the $7,200 a year maximum is to be applied for computation purposes at the daily rate of $20 a day.
1. It is the specific allowance, if any, for “ rental” that must by the terms of section 7 be taken for the fourth element in addition to the preceding three—“ base pay," "pay for length of service," and allowance for “subsistence "- for the ascertainment of whether the total thereof exceeds the maximum of $7,200 a year. As under section 6 of the act of June 10, 1922, 42 Stat. 628, no allowance for “ rental can accrue or come into being or exist in the case of an officer on duty at a 'station where public quarters are available for and occupied by him, there can be in such case no fourth element in the form of a rental allowance to enter into the computation for the maximum, and therefore none that may enter into any excess above such maximum for such reduction purposes. While section 21 of
the act of June 10, 1922, 42 Stat. 633, expressly guards against that act operating to change allowances in kind for quarters for officers of the Public Health Service, it contains no provision for the inclusion of a money value for the quarters in kind for computation for the maximum purposes of section 7. A“ rental" allowance is a new fixed and definite money allowance and as such is distinct and separate from the unchanged allowance of quarters in kind for officers or allowances for them generally. An express provision for the inclusion in a computation of such a rental allowance-a new fixed money allowance can not therefore be converted into or interchanged with an unchanged quarters-in-kind allowance for the purposes of said section 7.
It is therefore concluded that in the absence of additional legislation for the inclusion of the value of quarters in kind for the purposes of said section 7, there can not legally be any inclusion of a money value therefor in lieu of a rental for its purposes. If the Congress shall have intended otherwise than the plain wording of section 7 thus justifies, curative legislation to that effect should be enacted. The submission to this effect is accordingly affirmed.
2. The $7,200 is a yearly rate and the day is the unit for its computation for portions of a year. The submission to this effect is also confirmed.
In the adjustment of the account of Assistant Surgeon Williams for the periods in question, in accordance with section 7 as above construed, it should first be definitely ascertained whether or not for any or all of such periods he was or was not on duty at a station where quarters in kind were available for him and the account adjusted accordingly. In this connection it is noted that the vouchers signed by him covering said periods all bear his certificate to the effect that public quarters were not occupied. See disbursing officer's vouchers 184, August 1 to 31, 1922; 114, September 1 to September 24, 1922; and 154, September 25 to 30, 1922.
The audit raises the further question whether underpayments that may be found in the audit of vouchers should be brought to the attention of administrative officers.
Said underpayments should be brought to the attention of administrative officers in cases where the fact that they are underpayments is perfectly clear and in which to do so will simplify proper accounting and avoid the unnecessary filing of claims for such short payments. In any instances, however, in which the question of whether the payments are short payments involves the determination of a specific legal question, the matter should be submitted here in order that there may be first determined the legal question involved.
TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS OFFICERS OF PUBLIC
The right to the transportation of dependents of an officer of the Public Health
Service accrues on the effective date of the orders to make a permanent change of station, and marriage after that date and while en route to new station does not entitle him to transportation of his wife from her former home to his new station.
Decision by Comptroller General McCarl, April 30, 1923:
The Secretary of the Treasury requested, April 14, 1923, review of settlement No. T-13572 of the accounts of Í. L. Summers, disbursing clerk of the Treasury Department, wherein was disallowed credit claimed for a payment under the act of May 18, 1920, 41 Stat. 604, as amended by the act of June 10, 1922, 42 Stat. 631, of $55.01 to C. M. Schiek, assistant surgeon (R.), Public Health Service, as reimburseinent in a sum equal to what it would have cost the United States to have furnished transportation for his wife from St. Louis, Mo., to Sheridan, Wyo. Doctor Schiek was under orders dated September 23, 1922, to make a permanent change of station from the United States Veterans' Hospital in Philadelphia to a similar hospital in Sheridan, Wyo., and married in St. Louis while on a leave of absence and while making the journey. Claim for credit for the payment was denied in the audit of the accounts of the disbursing officer on the ground that Doctor Schiek had no dependents when he was ordered to make a permanent change of station.
The act of May 18, 1920, 41 Stat. 604, so far as is here material, provided : 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
Public Health Service 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 :
The act of June 10, 1922, 42 Stat., 631, authorized in lieu of transportation in kind and when the travel had been performed payment of the commercial transportation cost of the transportation of dependents of officers of the Public Health Service.
The intendment of the statute is to shift the cost which had theretofore been on the officer to the United States of the transportation of his dependents over the shortest usually traveled route when ordered to make a permanent change of station. 2 Comp. Gen., 638. The right to the transportation accrues on the effective date of the orders to make the permanent change of station. 27 Comp Dec., 401; id., 510; 1 Comp. Gen., 227. Dr. Schiek had no wife on the