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required him to forward to the Department of Justice certified copies of papers to sustain actions on account of delinquencies in the Post Office Department. Section 4 of the act of July 31, 1894, 28 Stat., 206, required the auditors, under the direction of the Comptroller of the Treasury, to superintend the recovery of all debts finally certified by them, respectively, to be due the United States.

Prior to June 10, 1921, the auditors and the comptroller being officers of the Treasury Department, it was the function of that department through its said accounting oflicers, to settle all claims, demands, and accounts of or against the United States and to collect all debts certified by them to be due the United States. Section 304 of the Budget and Accounting Act, approved June 10, 1921, 42 Stat., 24, vests in and imposes upon the General Accounting Office all powers and duties then conferred or imposed by law upon the former Auditor for the Post Office Department, except that the section creates a Comptroller and a Bureau of Accounts of the Post Otfice Department and provides that the administrative examination of accounts and vouchers of the Postal Service theretofore imposed by law on the Auditor for the Post Office Department shall be performed in the said Bureau of Accounts, and that the said Comptroller shall perform the administrative duties then performed by the Auditor for the Post Office Department.

In addition to separating the administrative duties performed by the former Auditor from those of an accounting officer and imposing same upon the Comptroller and the General Accounting Office, respectively, the Budget and Accounting Act, in section 305, amended section 236, Revised Statutes, as follows:

“ SEC. 236. All claims and demands whatever by the Government of the United States or against it, and all accounts whatever in which the Government of the United States is concerned, either as debtor or creditor, shall be settled and adjusted in the General Accounting Office."

This amendment accomplished the transition of such matters from the Treasury Department to the General Accounting Office and assimilated the jurisdiction over the audit of postal claims, demands, and accounts to that over the other departments and offices, leaving in the Post Office Department those administrative duties properly belonging thereto. The authority of the Postmaster General over the former Auditor must now be considered as applicable only to those administrative duties of the Auditor and which are now imposed upon the Comptroller and Bureau of Accounts, Post Office Department. The authority vested in the Auditor as an accounting officer of the Treasury was a definite and independent authority and it was this that was vested in and imposed upon the General Accounting Office.

Section 409, Revised Statutes, provides

“ In all cases of fine, penalty, forfeiture, or disability, or alleged liability for any sum of money by way of damages or otherwise, under any provision of law in relation to the officers, employees, operations, or business of the postal service, the Postmaster General may prescribe such general rules and modes of proceeding as shall appear to be expedient, for the government of the sixth auditor, in ascertaining the fact in each case in which the Auditor shall certify to him that the interests of the department probably require the exercise of his powers over tines, penalties, forfeitures, and liabilities; and upon the fact being ascertained, the Auditor may, with the written consent of the Postmaster General, mitigate or remit such fine, penalty, or forfeiture, remore such disability, or compromise, release, or discharge such claim for such sum of money and damages, and on such terms as the auditor shall deem just and expedient."

Section 410 permits the Postmaster General to discharge judgment debtors from imprisonment if it appears that they are without property, but section 411 provides that the release shall not bar subsequent execution on the same judgment. These sections have relation to fines, forfeitures, etc., the imposition of which is vested in the Postmaster General as distinguished from accounts involving appropriated and public moneys, the audit of which is vested in the accounting officers under the acts of July 31, 1894, and June 10. 1921, and prior acts. That part of section 409 preceding the semicolon, authorizing the Postmaster General to prescribe rules and regulations, relates to ad. ministrative duties such as would properly fall to the Comptroller and the Bureau of Accounts, Post Office Department. All lawful rules and regulations are “ for the government of the Sixth Auditor" whetber as an administrative or accounting officer, but “ascertaining the fact ” to “certify" the interest, etc., is administrative. The words “liability” and “liabilities” are limited In meaning by the restrictive words, fine, penalty, and forfeiture, preceding same, otherwise "liability" would be inclusive and make the preceding words superfluous. The enumeration of the character of liabilities before, and the persons and business after the term “any provision of law in relation" thereto, must be inferred as excluding balances found due through accountability for public moneys and applying only to those limited liabilities imposed by administrative authority pursuant to the severa statutes providing therefor.

That part of section 409, supra, following the semicolon, authorizing the Auditor to mitigate or remit, remove, compromise, release, or discharge, corresponds to the primary functions of the accounting officers. The fact that the statute is separable as to the power over fines, etc., as distinguished from the power to remit same conforms to the duties and powers of the respective authorities under existing laws and provides the customary check upon independence of action. It is for the administrative office to ascertain the facts and certify same to the Postmaster General and for this office to mitigate or remit the fines, etc., when the Postmaster General consents thereto. Remission and mitigation by the accounting officers has reference to those fines, etc., recorded by them and not to such as have not been reported as finally imposed which may be lawfully remitted or mitigated by the Postmaster General. See 16 Comp. Dec., 108.

In decision of December 20, 1922, 16 MS. Comp. Gen., 928, it was held that

“ It may be concluded from the laws now in force that the final action upon balances in postal accounts with respect to enforcing collection thereof is a matter for this office in so far as concerns the postmaster. In order to avoid multiplicity of action and duplication of effort it would appear proper that where an assistant postmaster has been bonded and is prima facie chargeable with the unaccounted-for moneys this office may adopt a procedure under which it will transmit a transcript of the indebtedness to the Solicitor of the Treasury with a recommendation for action thereon, but also giving the information of the facts evidencing the responsibility of the assistant postmaster. It will thereupon become a question for the office of the Solicitor of the Treasury to determine the form of action to be taken to make recovery if legal proceedings thereunder become necessary; that is to say, whether the action shall be against the postmaster or assistant postmaster and the respective sureties upon their bonds in the first instance.

“In the present matter the Post Office Department Division will transmit the record to the Division of Law, this office, which will proceed therein as in other cases of having the matter transcribed, prepared and submitted to the Solicitor of the Treasury for his consideration and action.”

In thus defining the liabilities coming within the scope of section 409 as those imposed by administrative authority no effort was made to classify such liabilities as would come within that authority. Whether a particular transaction involving a loss to the United States, such as improper payment of money orders, etc., is such as to create an indebtedness is a question for determination in each case on the facts appearing, due consideration to be given to the proper exercise of authority by the accountable officer in his ministerial capacity.

Where there is doubt as to the officer's liability the facts may be reported, with recommendation, before a charge is made in the accounts, and the question thus raised will then be for determination. Should the preliminary action by this oflice be adverse to what the parties may deem just and expedient a review thereof may be had upon application to the Comptroller General.

Upon further consideration the action taken must be adhered to subject to review of individual cases on application being made fully setting forth the facts.

QUARTERS, HEAT, AND LIGHT AT HEADQUARTERS INDIAN

SERVICE.

The furnishing of quarters, heat, and light to employees of the Indian Service

at headquarters, either in kind by lease or contract with third parties, or by payment of commutation, or by reimbursement for the actual es pense, is prohibited by the acts of April 6, 1914, and August 1, 1914, 38 Stat., 318, 680, except as to quarters furnished on a reservation to such

employees as have their headquarters thereon, and should be discontinued. Comptroller General McCarl to the Secretary of the Interior, May 8, 1923:

I have your letter of April 16, 1923, requesting decision relative to the furnishing of quarters, gas, and electric current for each of the supervising engineers of the five districts of the Indian irrigation service.

The question arose by reason of this office suspending certain items in the accounts of H. E. Hammersley, special disbursing agent, Indian Service, Salt Lake City, Utah, for the fourth quarter, 1922, the amount suspended, $184.17, being for electric current, April, May, and June, 1922, $12.80, gas, same period, $21.37; and rent, same period, $150.00, for Supervising Engineer Henry W. Dietz, the items being charged under the appropriation for “ Irrigation of Indian reservations, reimbursable, 1922,” 41 Stat., 1226.

The general procedure in such cases is to submit in reply such matters as there may be in explanation of the items suspended, and, if such explanations, etc., are determined not to be sufficient, to disallow the same, and the disbursing officer or the head of the Department may thereupon have the settlement reviewed. In the instant case, however, the general procedure outlined need not be followed, the matter affecting not only the items in question, but the Indian service generally.

It appears from the submission, and it has been learned upon informal inquiry, that the compensation of Indian Service field employees has been fixed with relation to whether quarters were or were not furnished; that is, at a certain rate per annum, which excluded the furnishing of quarters, etc., or at a certain rate per annum, which included the furnishing of quarters, etc. stated that this manner of fixing compensation has never been made a matter of formal regulation, has not heretofore been questioned by the accounting officers, and has been recognized by Congress, attention being directed to the provision in the act of January 24, 1923, 42 Stat., 1183, which has appeared in substantially similar terms in each of the annual appropriation acts beginning with the act for the fiscal year 1914, 38 Stat., 79. The provision in question, for the fiscal years 1922, 1923, and 1924, 41 Stat., 1228, and 42 Statu, 562 and 1183, reads:

That the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to allow employees in the Indian Service, who are furnished quarters, necessary heat and light for such

It was quarters without charge, such heat and light to be paid out of the fund chargeable with the cost of heating and lighting other buildings at the same place.

A copy of the appointment of the supervising engineer here in question has not been submitted; however, it is understood to provide only for compensation at the rate of $2,500 per annum, and not for quarters and heat and light therefor. It is submitted, however, that the compensation of the supervising engineer here in question is not fixed by law, and, though no provision for allowance of quarters was incorporated in the appointment document itself, the action in approving each year the leases for quarters, to be furnished in kind, was the equivalent, and had the same effect, of being expressly included in such appointment document.

A copy of a lease covering the quarters in kind furnished for the supervising engineer here in question was forwarded with the submission. It shows approval by F. M. Goodwin, assistant secretary, under date of September 12, 1922, and provides for a monthly rental of $50; for termination at the end of any calendar month expiring during said period (July 1, 1922, to June 30, 1923) upon giving 30 days' written notice"; and for “ use and occupation as a private dwelling for a full period of 12 months, beginning on the 1st day of July, A. D. 1922, the following described premises, viz, house No. 751 First Avenue, Salt Lake City, Utah. For use and occupation by the supervising engineer, Henry W. Dietz, United States Indian Irrigation Service.”

This is the situation with respect to the five supervising engineers and it is learned that similar conditions obtain with respect to other Indian Service field employees; that is, that dwellings are leased and assigned to numerous other Indian Service employees, namely, farmers, superintendents, supervisors, etc., and that upwards of 100 of these leases are entered into annually.

In your request for decision, dated October 30, 1922, as to the authority for entering into contracts with the wives of employees for the lease of quarters for use of Indian Service employees who are allowed quarters, it was stated:

It is the practice to furnish field employees of this service quarters, heat, and light in addition to their regular compensation, as stated in the attached “conditions of employment in the Indian field service,” which appears on the back of the preliminary notice sent to prospective employees selected from the civil service register; and the salaries are fixed on this basis. there are no Government buildings available, it is customary to rent suitable quarters at Government expense.

The decision, December 18, 1922, 16 MS. Comp. Gen., 842, on that submission did not question what was expressly stated as the practice to furnish field employees of this service quarters, heat, and light in addition to their regular compensation," but it was

Where

held that the proposed leases of the employees' own premises, whether title thereto was in the employee, or the employee's wife, was not authorized.

The provision in each of the annual appropriation acts since 1914, for the allowance of heat and light to employees in the Indian Service who are furnished quarters, such heat and light to be paid out of the fund chargeable with the cost of heating and lighting other buildings at the same place, is not questioned as to such allowances in kind, on the reservations, etc., themselves. However, in the decision of December 18, 1922, cited, the payment of a commutation of quarters, etc., was held not to be authorized, whether such commutation was fixed in the contract of employment, or otherwise, and, but for the long-continued and heretofore unquestioned practice of leasing quarters outside of reservations, etc., and assigning them to employees thus headquartered, I would be constrained to hold that the furnishing of such quarters, etc., was likewise unauthorized.

The quarters, heat, and light furnished for the supervising engineer here in question are items of subsistence, and, in the absence of express statutory provision therefor, allowances of subsistence at headquarters are unauthorized, whether on the basis of reimbursement of actual expenses therefor or on the basis of a flat rate per diem allowance in lieu thereof. The allowances here in question were on neither of the above bases, being made in kind; how. ever, whether furnished in kind or on the basis of reimbursement or on the basis of a commuted allowance, the substance is the same. See in this connection the provision as to actual expenses of subsistence, 38 Stat., 318, and the provision as to per diem in lieu of subsistence, 38 Stat., 680; also 21 Comp. Dec., 507, 641.

In view of the past practice, which, as shown, is of long standing, and which apparently has not heretofore been questioned, the suspensions in the fourth quarter, 1922, accounts of the special disbursing agent, H. F. Hammersley, will be removed. However, the practice of allowing quarters, heat, and light as a part of the compensation, except for such employees as are headquartered at and actually occupy quarters in the reservations, etc., should be discontinued at the earliest date practicable, and this office advised as to your action in this respect, when taken.

SEIZED AUTOMOBILES—GASOLINE AND OIL. The act of July 16, 1914, 38 Stat., 508, prohibiting expenditures for mainte

nance, repair, or operation of motor-propelled passenger-carrying vehicles, is applicable only to the operation of vehicles owned by, or acquired for the use of, governmental activities, and does not prohibit the purchase of gasoline and oil necessary for the operation of an automobile seized by the prohibition agents from the place of seizure to a Government storage place

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