A-14829, JUNE 28, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 1031

A-14829: Jun 28, 1926

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE THERE IS NO AUTHORITY UNDER SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 2. 1926: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 12. THE PROPOSED REGULATION IS AS FOLLOWS: "THE INSPECTION VESSELS OF THE BUREAU OF NAVIGATION MAY OPERATE THEIR VESSELS UPON A COMMUTATION SYSTEM. THE ANNUAL VALUE OF THIS ALLOWANCE OR $365.00 WILL BE USED IN DETERMINING COMPENSATION OF THE SEVERAL EMPLOYEES FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE RETIREMENT LAW. WHICH IS HEREBY REQUESTED. IT IS PROPOSED TO ISSUE FURTHER REGULATIONS FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THE MESS OFFICERS IN ACCOUNTING FOR FUNDS THEREUNDER. IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT HERETOFORE THE SUPPLIES FOR SUBSISTING THE CREWS OF VESSELS HAVE BEEN PURCHASED AND THE VOUCHERS PAID DIRECTLY BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE.

A-14829, JUNE 28, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 1031

COMPENSATION, ALLOWANCES - SUBSISTENCE OF CREWS ON VESSELS OF BUREAU OF NAVIGATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE THERE IS NO AUTHORITY UNDER SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 2, 1926, 44 STAT. 161, TO ESTABLISH A MESS FOR SUBSISTING CREWS ON VESSELS UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE BUREAU OF NAVIGATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, ON A COMMUTATION BASIS OF $1 PER DAY, OR $365 PER ANNUM, BUT IF THAT RATE HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE AS CONSTITUTING THE REASONABLE VALUE OF THE SUBSISTENCE TO THE EMPLOYEES, THE SUBSISTENCE SHOULD BE FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT MAKING ITS PURCHASES AND PAYING OTHER EXPENSES FROM THE REGULAR APPROPRIATION AS HERETOFORE, AND SHOWING ON THE PAY ROLLS THE TOTAL COMPENSATION FIXED FOR THE POSITION (INCLUDING THE VALUE OF THE SUBSISTENCE AS THUS DETERMINED) AND THE DEDUCTION OF THE DETERMINED VALUE OF THE SUBSISTENCE FURNISHED IN KIND, AS REQUIRED BY DECISION OF JUNE 3, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 957.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, JUNE 28, 1926:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 12, 1926, AS FOLLOWS:

IN PURSUANCE OF SEC. 3 OF THE ACT APPROVED MARCH 2, 1926, MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE TREASURY AND POST OFFICE DEPARTMENTS, AND IN CONSIDERATION OF YOUR COMMUNICATION OF JUNE 3, 1926 (A-12324), RELATING TO ALLOWANCES THEREUNDER TO CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES IN THE FIELD, THIS DEPARTMENT HAS CONSIDERED THE MATTER OF ALLOWANCES TO CREWS OF THE VESSELS OF THE BUREAU OF NAVIGATION AND PROPOSES IN LIEU OF FURNISHING SUBSISTENCE IN KIND TO COMMUTE THE SAME AT THE RATE OF $1.00 PER DAY, WHICH LONG EXPERIENCE AND REGULATION HAS PROVED A FAIR AND ADEQUATE AMOUNT.

THE PROPOSED REGULATION IS AS FOLLOWS: "THE INSPECTION VESSELS OF THE BUREAU OF NAVIGATION MAY OPERATE THEIR VESSELS UPON A COMMUTATION SYSTEM, A DAILY ALLOWANCE OF ONE DOLLAR PER DAY PER EMPLOYEE FOR SUCH SUBSISTENCE BEING HEREBY APPROVED. THIS COMMUTED SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE MAY BE PAID TO THE PERSON IN CHARGE OF THE MESS OF THE VESSEL ON PROPER VOUCHERS.' THE ANNUAL VALUE OF THIS ALLOWANCE OR $365.00 WILL BE USED IN DETERMINING COMPENSATION OF THE SEVERAL EMPLOYEES FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE RETIREMENT LAW.

IF THIS REGULATION MEETS YOUR APPROVAL, WHICH IS HEREBY REQUESTED, IT IS PROPOSED TO ISSUE FURTHER REGULATIONS FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THE MESS OFFICERS IN ACCOUNTING FOR FUNDS THEREUNDER.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT HERETOFORE THE SUPPLIES FOR SUBSISTING THE CREWS OF VESSELS HAVE BEEN PURCHASED AND THE VOUCHERS PAID DIRECTLY BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, AND THAT NO VALUE FOR THE SUBSISTENCE FURNISHED TO THE EMPLOYEE HAS BEEN DEFINITELY DETERMINED NOR DEDUCTED FROM THE TOTAL SALARY RATE PAID THE EMPLOYEE. PURSUANT TO THE CITED STATUTE, EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1926, THE PROPOSED REGULATION IS UNDERSTOOD TO BE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PLACING A VALUE TO THE EMPLOYEE ON THE SUBSISTENCE FURNISHED AT THE EXPENSE OF THE GOVERNMENT AT THE RATE OF $1 PER DAY, OR $365 PER ANNUM, THE PRESENT CASH SALARY TO BE INCREASED BY THAT AMOUNT, SUCH INCREASE TO BE PAID INTO A MESS FUND INSTEAD OF TO THE EMPLOYEE.

THE PROCEDURE CONTEMPLATED BY THE CITED STATUTE WAS NOT TO CHANGE THE METHOD OF SUBSISTING CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT AFTER JULY 1, 1926, BUT SIMPLY TO PROVIDE FOR DETERMINING THE REASONABLE VALUE OF SUBSISTENCE FURNISHED IN KIND TO THE EMPLOYEES AND FOR DEDUCTION OF THAT VALUE FROM THE TOTAL SALARY RATE FIXED FOR THE POSITION ON THE BASIS OF THE DUTIES PERFORMED. YOU STATE NO REASON NOR SHOW ANY NECESSITY FOR CHANGING THE EXISTING METHOD FOR SUBSISTING THE CREWS OF VESSELS, AND IN THE ABSENCE OF SUCH STATEMENT OR SHOWING THIS OFFICE MAY NOT APPROVE THE PROPOSED PROCEDURE.

IF, HOWEVER, $1 PER DAY, OR $365 PER ANNUM, HAS BEEN DETERMINED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE AS CONSTITUTING THE REASONABLE VALUE OF THE SUBSISTENCE TO THE MEMBERS OF THE CREWS OF VESSELS--- AND IT WOULD APPEAR TO THIS OFFICE THAT THE AMOUNT FIXED IS REASONABLE--- THERE WOULD APPEAR TO BE NO REASON WHY THE SUBSISTENCE SHOULD NOT BE FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT MAKING ITS PURCHASES AND PAYING OTHER EXPENSES FROM THE REGULAR APPROPRIATION AS HERETOFORE, AND SHOWING ON THE PAY ROLL THE TOTAL COMPENSATION FIXED FOR THE POSITIONS (INCLUDING THE VALUE OF THE SUBSISTENCE AS THUS DETERMINED) AND THE DEDUCTION OF THE DETERMINED VALUE OF THE SUBSISTENCE FURNISHED IN KIND, AS REQUIRED BY THE DECISION OF JUNE 3, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 957.

THE ESTABLISHING OF A MESS FUND TO BE MAINTAINED BY ACTUALLY DEPOSITING THEREIN THE AMOUNT OF THE DEDUCTIONS IS UNNECESSARY AND WOULD APPEAR TO SERVE NO USEFUL PURPOSE.