A-1014, JULY 9, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 30

A-1014: Jul 9, 1924

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ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN HIRED FROM HIS WIFE. IS LIMITED TO AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO THE NECESSARY COST OF MAINTAINING THE DOG TEAM FOR THE PERIODS IT WAS ACTUALLY USED FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL. IN WHICH WAS DISALLOWED CREDIT FOR PAYMENTS MADE TO MRS. THE REASON GIVEN FOR THE DISALLOWANCE OF THESE VOUCHERS WAS THAT MRS. MOZEE IS THE WIFE OF SUPERINTENDENT B.B. THE DISBURSING OFFICER STATES: THE DOG TEAM WAS USED BY THE SUPERINTENDENT IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTIES AND AS SHOWN BY THE VOUCHERS WAS THE ONLY TEAM AVAILABLE. MOZEE IS THE WIFE OF SUPT. ATTACHED TO ONE OF THE VOUCHERS IS A STATEMENT BY SUPERINTENDENT MOZEE. THE TEAM WAS THE ONLY TEAM AVAILABLE IN THE VICINITY OF MY HEADQUARTERS AT THE TIME. 2.

A-1014, JULY 9, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 30

TRAVELING EXPENSES - HIRE OF DOG TEAM FROM WIFE OF EMPLOYEE REIMBURSEMENT TO AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR FOR USE OF A DOG TEAM, ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN HIRED FROM HIS WIFE, IS LIMITED TO AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO THE NECESSARY COST OF MAINTAINING THE DOG TEAM FOR THE PERIODS IT WAS ACTUALLY USED FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, JULY 9, 1924:

C.C. BESTER, SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT, BUREAU OF EDUCATION, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, HAS REQUESTED REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT C-4752 I, DATED JANUARY 23, 1924, IN WHICH WAS DISALLOWED CREDIT FOR PAYMENTS MADE TO MRS. JESSIE H. MOZEE, ANCHORAGE, ALASKA, FOR RENT OF DOG TEAM TO THE SUPERINTENDENT FOR TRAVEL PURPOSES, AND FOR RENT OF BUILDING FOR USE BY THE SUPERINTENDENT AS AN OFFICE AND RESIDENCE.

THE REASON GIVEN FOR THE DISALLOWANCE OF THESE VOUCHERS WAS THAT MRS. MOZEE IS THE WIFE OF SUPERINTENDENT B.B. MOZEE, BUREAU OF EDUCATION, ANCHORAGE, ALASKA, WHO OBTAINED THE SERVICE.

IN JUSTIFICATION OF THE DOG-TEAM HIRE AND PAYMENT THEREFOR, THE DISBURSING OFFICER STATES:

THE DOG TEAM WAS USED BY THE SUPERINTENDENT IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTIES AND AS SHOWN BY THE VOUCHERS WAS THE ONLY TEAM AVAILABLE. THE REASON GIVEN FOR DISALLOWANCE OF THIS CLAIM, THAT MRS. MOZEE IS THE WIFE OF SUPT. MOZEE, SEEMS HARDLY SUFFICIENT IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT PAYMENT FOR EXACTLY THE SAME SERVICE AND AT THE SAME RATE HAS BEEN MADE TO MRS. MOZEE BY THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT FOR THE PERIOD NOV. 23, 1922, TO JANUARY 17, 1923, IN AMOUNT $448.00, * * * .

ATTACHED TO ONE OF THE VOUCHERS IS A STATEMENT BY SUPERINTENDENT MOZEE, AS FOLLOWS:

1. THE TEAM WAS THE ONLY TEAM AVAILABLE IN THE VICINITY OF MY HEADQUARTERS AT THE TIME.

2. DOGS WERE IN GREAT DEMAND AND PURCHASE WAS IMPOSSIBLE AT ANY REASONABLE FIGURE.

3. ANY OTHER TEAM, HAD ONE BEEN AVAILABLE, WOULD HAVE COST ALMOST TWICE AS MUCH PER DAY.

4. THE GOVERNMENT DID NOT PURCHASE A POUND OF THE FEED USED, BUT THIS WAS FURNISHED BY THE OWNER OF THE TEAM.

5. FEED WAS HIGH IN PRICE ALL OVER THE INTERIOR AND MANY TIMES COST AS HIGH AS FIVE DOLLARS PER DAY AND AT TIMES MORE.

6. ON THE KUSKOKWIN RIVER FEED WAS SOMEWHAT CHEAPER AND THERE A FEED COST ABOUT $2.50 TO $3.00 PER DAY.

7. AT PIONEER, DRY FISH COST 33 1/3 CENTS PER POUND, MAKING A FEED COST ABOUT $1.00 PER DOG EXCLUSIVE OF TALLOW FED. * * *

8. TO HAVE HIRED TEAMS FROM TIME TO TIME DURING ACTUAL TRAVEL WOULD HAVE COST AT LEAST TWICE AS MUCH.

9. TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THE FACT THAT THE GOVERNMENT BOUGHT NONE OF THE FEED, I BELIEVE THIS IS THE CHEAPEST DOG-TEAM HIRE WHICH I HAVE KNOWN IN THE INTERIOR OF ALASKA.

10. AT NO TIME COULD WE HAVE DISPENSED WITH THE TEAM WITHOUT SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES.

11. THE FOLLOWING TRIPS WERE MADE. * * * *

12. TO HAVE ATTEMPTED THE TRIPS IN ANY OTHER MANNER WOULD HAVE BEEN AN INEXCUSABLE BLUNDER.

AN ACT MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED JUNE 30, 1923, ACT OF MAY 24, 1922, 42 STAT. 583, PROVIDES:

EDUCATION IN ALASKA: TO ENABLE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, IN HIS DISCRETION AND UNDER HIS DIRECTION, TO PROVIDE FOR THE EDUCATION AND SUPPORT OF THE ESKIMOS, ALEUTS, INDIANS, AND OTHER NATIVES OF ALASKA; ERECTION, REPAIR, AND RENTAL OF SCHOOL BUILDING; * * * PAY AND NECESSARY TRAVELING EXPENSES OF SUPERINTENDENTS; * * * AND ALL OTHER NECESSARY MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES WHICH ARE NOT INCLUDED UNDER THE ABOVE SPECIAL HEADS, $360,000, TO BE AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY; * * *

ALL EXPENDITURES OF MONEY APPROPRIATED HEREIN FOR SCHOOL PURPOSES IN ALASKA FOR SCHOOLS OTHER THAN THOSE FOR THE EDUCATION OF WHITE CHILDREN UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE GOVERNOR THEREOF SHALL BE UNDER THE SUPERVISION AND DIRECTION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION AND IN CONFORMITY WITH SUCH CONDITIONS, RULES, AND REGULATIONS AS TO CONDUCT AND METHODS OF INSTRUCTION AND EXPENDITURES OF MONEY AS MAY FROM TIME TO TIME BE RECOMMENDED BY HIM AND APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR.

THE PAYMENTS IN QUESTION ARE EVIDENCED BY VOUCHERS EXECUTED BY MRS. MOZEE AND CERTIFIED ADMINISTRATIVELY BY HER HUSBAND WHO RECEIVED THE SERVICE. ASIDE FROM ANY QUESTION AS TO SUCH CONTRACTUAL RELATIONS BETWEEN A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE AND THE UNITED STATES, IT HAS BEEN REPEATEDLY HELD THAT AN EMPLOYEE MAY BE REIMBURSED ONLY THE NECESSARY EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE OPERATION OF HIS OWN CONVEYANCE USED FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL AND, IN SUCH AS THE INSTANT CASE, THE PAYMENTS TO THE WIFE WERE ERRONEOUS. THE SERVICE HAVING BEEN RENDERED AND THE GOVERNMENT HAVING BENEFITED THEREBY THE DISBURSING OFFICER MAY BE CREDITED WITH AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO THE NECESSARY COST OF MAINTAINING THE DOG TEAM FOR THE PERIODS ACTUALLY USED FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL, DULY EVIDENCED BY SUCH RECEIPTS AND AFFIDAVITS AS MAY BE OBTAINABLE AND ACCEPTABLE TO THIS OFFICE IN SUPPORT OF THE EXPENSES CLAIMED.

REIMBURSEMENT OF SUCH TRAVELING EXPENSES IS ORDINARILY PAYABLE ONLY TO THE TRAVELER BUT IN THIS CASE PAYMENT TO THE WIFE IS PRESUMED TO HAVE BEEN FOR THEIR JOINT BENEFIT AND ANY ADJUSTMENT ON THAT ACCOUNT IS NOT NECESSARY. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE AMOUNT OF THE ACTUAL NECESSARY EXPENSES AND THE AMOUNT PAID SHOULD BE PROMPTLY DEPOSITED IN THE TREASURY.

UPON REVIEW THE DISALLOWANCE IS REMOVED AND CREDIT FOR THE AMOUNT DISALLOWED IS SUSPENDED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER FOR SUBMISSION OF THE EVIDENCE INDICATED AND DEPOSIT OF THE TOTAL AMOUNT OVERPAID, SUBSEQUENT ACTION TO BE TAKEN THEREON AS IN OTHER CASES.

WITH REFERENCE TO THE PAYMENTS MADE TO MRS. MOZEE FOR RENT OF BUILDING FOR USE OF THE SUPERINTENDENT AS AN OFFICE AND RESIDENCE, ATTENTION IS INVITED TO THE ACTION TAKEN IN REVIEW 6403, DATED APRIL 15, 1924, 32 MS. COMP. GEN. 617.