A-13014, APRIL 7, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 802

A-13014: Apr 7, 1926

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IS A PERSONAL EXPENSE AND IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO BE PAID FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS. EVEN THOUGH THE EXPENSE THEREFOR WAS INCURRED WHILE THE EMPLOYEE WAS IN AN OFFICIAL TRAVEL STATUS. WHEREIN WAS DISALLOWED CREDIT FOR AN ITEM OF $2 (VOUCHER 3555. IT APPEARS THAT THE EXPENSE FOR VACCINATION WAS INCURRED BY MR. DISALLOWANCE WAS ON THE GROUND THAT VACCINATION OF AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT UNDER REQUIREMENTS OF CITY OR STATE HEALTH REGULATIONS IS AN INDIVIDUAL EXPENSE AND IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO BE PAID FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS. THE ITEM IN QUESTION WAS PAID BY A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS TO A FOREIGN COUNTRY. THIS EMPLOYEE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN PERMITTED TO LAND UNLESS SUCH CERTIFICATE WAS PRODUCED.

A-13014, APRIL 7, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 802

TRAVELING EXPENSES - VACCINATION THE EXPENSE OF VACCINATION OF AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT UNDER REQUIREMENTS OF REGULATIONS OF A FOREIGN COUNTRY, IS A PERSONAL EXPENSE AND IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO BE PAID FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS, EVEN THOUGH THE EXPENSE THEREFOR WAS INCURRED WHILE THE EMPLOYEE WAS IN AN OFFICIAL TRAVEL STATUS.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, APRIL 7, 1926:

J. GONZALES QUINONES, SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT, LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE, NINTH DISTRICT, SAN JUAN, P.R., BY LETTER DATED JANUARY 20, 1926, REQUESTED REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT O-34273-C, DATED JANUARY 8, 1926, WHEREIN WAS DISALLOWED CREDIT FOR AN ITEM OF $2 (VOUCHER 3555, TRAVELING EXPENSES OF FELIX RIVERA, KEEPER) PAID STEAMER PHYSICIAN FEBRUARY 3, 1925, FOR VACCINATION AGAINST SMALLPOX.

IT APPEARS THAT THE EXPENSE FOR VACCINATION WAS INCURRED BY MR. RIVERA WHILE PROCEEDING, UNDER TRAVEL ORDER, TO REPORT FOR DUTY AT NAVASSA ISLAND LIGHT STATION.

DISALLOWANCE WAS ON THE GROUND THAT VACCINATION OF AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT UNDER REQUIREMENTS OF CITY OR STATE HEALTH REGULATIONS IS AN INDIVIDUAL EXPENSE AND IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO BE PAID FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS, CITING DECISION OF DECEMBER 5, 1921, 1 COMP. GEN. 298.

THE SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT STATES:

2. THE ITEM IN QUESTION WAS PAID BY A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS TO A FOREIGN COUNTRY, CUBA, AND THIS EMPLOYEE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN PERMITTED TO LAND UNLESS SUCH CERTIFICATE WAS PRODUCED. IT IS BELIEVED, THEREFORE, THAT 1 COMP. GEN. 298 DOES NOT APPLY IN THIS CASE.

3. ALTHOUGH THIS EXPENDITURE MAY APPEAR OF A PERSONAL CHARACTER, IT MAY BE STATED THAT THE EMPLOYEE WOULD NOT HAVE SUBMITTED TO IT ON HIS OWN VOLITION WERE IT NOT A REQUIREMENT. THEREFORE, THE EMPLOYEE DID NOT UNDERGO VACCINATION AS A MATTER OF CONVENIENCE FOR HIMSELF BUT IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO PROCEED ON HIS JOURNEY. THE AFTER EFFECTS OF VACCINATION FOR SMALLPOX ARE DISAGREEABLE ENOUGH FOR ANYONE TO BE WILLING TO SUFFER SAME UNLESS THERE IS IMMINENT DANGER OF CONTRACTING THE DISEASE. THIS IS MORE SO WHEN A PERSON IS TRAVELING. FOR THIS REASON IT IS BELIEVED THAT THE CHARGE FOR VACCINATION IN THIS CASE IS AN INDIVIDUAL EXPENSE JUST AS MUCH AS FOOD OR LODGING AND SHOULD BE BORNE BY THE GOVERNMENT.

4. IT MAY BE FURTHER STATED THAT A SIMILAR EXPENDITURE HAS PREVIOUSLY BEEN PASSED BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN SEVERAL INSTANCES. SEE MY VOUCHERS NO. 341-A, AUG. 15, 1921, AND NO. 607, NOV. 23, 1921, NOT TO CITE OTHERS. IN THE LATTER CASE THE TRAVELER OBTAINED VACCINATION CERTIFICATE FROM A LOCAL PHYSICIAN AND HIS SIGNATURE HAD TO BE AUTHENTICATED BY THE CUBAN CONSUL IN PONCE, P.R., IN ORDER THAT SAME COULD BE ACCEPTED IN CUBA. THE CHARGE FOR AUTHENTICATING IN PONCE WAS MORE THAN THE ACTUAL CHARGE FOR CERTIFICATE ISSUED BY THE CUBAN DOCTOR. IF THE ABOVE CHARGES WERE APPROVED ONCE BEFORE, PRESUMABLY AS BEING LEGAL, IT IS NOT UNDERSTOOD WHY A SIMILAR EXPENDITURE CAN NOT BE PASSED NOW.

IN THE CASE WHICH WAS THE SUBJECT OF DECISION IN 1 COMP. GEN. 298 A MEMBER OF A GOVERNMENT PARTY TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS BEING DISCOVERED TO HAVE SMALLPOX, ALL THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE PARTY WERE VACCINATED BY ORDER OF THE CITY HEALTH AUTHORITIES AS A PROTECTION TO THE COMMUNITY. IN THE INSTANT CASE THE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE WAS VACCINATED IN ORDER TO ENABLE HIM TO ENTER A FOREIGN COUNTRY THAT REQUIRED ALL PERSONS ENTERING THEREIN TO BE VACCINATED AS A PRECAUTION OR PROTECTION AGAINST POSSIBLE CONTAGION. COMPULSORY VACCINATION AGAINST SMALLPOX IS NOT UNCOMMON, AND WHETHER REQUIRED BY CONSTITUTED AUTHORITY IN THE UNITED STATES OR IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY IT IS GENERALLY CONSIDERED A PERSONAL EXPENSE AND NOT CHARGEABLE AGAINST GOVERNMENT FUNDS.

IN A DECISION TO THE DISBURSING OFFICER, UNITED STATES COMMISSION TO BRAZILIAN INTERNATIONAL CENTENNIAL EXPOSITION, JUNE 6, 1922, THAT OFFICER WAS ADVISED THAT EXPENDITURES FOR PASSPORT VISAS BY THE BRAZILIAN CONSUL AT NEW YORK CITY AND FOR VACCINATION CERTIFICATES FOR OFFICERS OF THE COMMISSION UNDER AN APPROPRIATION SPECIFICALLY MADE AVAILABLE FOR "TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE (NOTWITHSTANDING THE PROVISIONS OF ANY OTHER ACT)," COULD BE ALLOWED, IF AT ALL, ONLY AS ITEMS OF NECESSARY TRAVELING EXPENSES AND THEN ONLY IF PROVIDED FOR BY TRAVEL EXPENSE REGULATIONS PROVIDING FOR EXPENSES OF THAT CHARACTER.

THE PRINTING OF THE DECISION OF DECEMBER 5, 1921 (1 COMP. GEN. 298), WAS DUE NOTICE TO ALL CONCERNED WITH REFERENCE TO CHARGES FOR VACCINATION OF EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES. THEREAFTER, IN ORDER TO AVOID DISALLOWANCE IN THEIR ACCOUNTS, IT BECAME INCUMBENT UPON DISBURSING OFFICERS TO REFUSE TO REIMBURSE EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES FOR ANY EXPENSE INCURRED FOR VACCINATION, OR, IN CASE OF THE EXPENSE BEING INCURRED UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES THAT COULD POSSIBLY GIVE RISE TO A QUESTION AS TO WHETHER THE PRINTED DECISION WAS APPLICABLE, TO REFER THE SAME TO THIS OFFICE FOR AN ADVANCE DECISION AS TO WHETHER PAYMENT IS AUTHORIZED. IT IS PROPER HERE TO EMPHASIZE, ALSO, THAT ALLOWANCES IN THE AUDIT OF THEIR ACCOUNTS ARE NOT TO BE REGARDED BY DISBURSING OFFICERS AS PRECEDENTS FOR DOUBTFUL PAYMENTS.

THE EXPENSE HERE IN QUESTION HAVING BEEN INCURRED AND THE TRAVELER REIMBURSED THEREFOR SUBSEQUENT TO DECISION OF DECEMBER 5, 1921, PUBLISHED IN 1 COMP. GEN. 298, THE DISALLOWANCE, UPON REVIEW, MUST BE AND IS SUSTAINED.