A-16354, DECEMBER 2, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 377

A-16354: Dec 2, 1926

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WHERE THE DUTIES OF A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE ARE SUCH AS TO REQUIRE APPOINTMENT TO THE FIELD SERVICE GENERALLY WITHOUT ANY FIXED HEADQUARTERS THE TRANSFER OF SUCH EMPLOYEE FROM PLACE TO PLACE MAY BE ACCOMPLISHED AT AT THE EXPENSE OF THE GOVERNMENT WHEN DUE TO THE NECESSITIES OF THE SERVICE AND NOT THE PERSONAL DESIRES OF THE EMPLOYEE. FROM WHICH IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE TRANSFER OF EMPLOYEES FROM ONE FIELD DISTRICT TO ANOTHER IS PROHIBITED UNLESS ALL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE ARE PAID FROM THE PERSONAL FUNDS OF THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED. YOU ARE NO DOUBT AWARE THAT THE IMMIGRATION FIELD SERVICE OF THIS DEPARTMENT IS A LAW ENFORCEMENT ORGANIZATION OF GREAT MAGNITUDE AND IMPORTANCE AND THAT ANY FORCE CHARGED WITH POLICE DUTIES.

A-16354, DECEMBER 2, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 377

TRAVELING EXPENSES - TRANSFER OF EMPLOYEES BETWEEN FIELD-DUTY STATIONS WHERE A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE HAS BEEN APPOINTED FOR DUTY AT A PARTICULAR PLACE, OR WITHIN A PARTICULAR DISTRICT, THE TRANSFER OF THAT EMPLOYEE FOR PERMANENT DUTY AT ANOTHER PLACE, OR ANOTHER DISTRICT, CONSTITUTES IN FACT A DISCHARGE AND REAPPOINTMENT AND REQUIRES THE EMPLOYEE TO PLACE HIMSELF AT HIS NEW DUTY STATION AT HIS OWN EXPENSE. WHERE THE DUTIES OF A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE ARE SUCH AS TO REQUIRE APPOINTMENT TO THE FIELD SERVICE GENERALLY WITHOUT ANY FIXED HEADQUARTERS THE TRANSFER OF SUCH EMPLOYEE FROM PLACE TO PLACE MAY BE ACCOMPLISHED AT AT THE EXPENSE OF THE GOVERNMENT WHEN DUE TO THE NECESSITIES OF THE SERVICE AND NOT THE PERSONAL DESIRES OF THE EMPLOYEE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF LABOR, DECEMBER 2, 1926:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 17, 1926, AS FOLLOWS:

THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR NOTES WITH INTEREST AND APPREHENSION YOUR DECISION OF OCTOBER 28, 1926, A-16059, TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, FROM WHICH IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE TRANSFER OF EMPLOYEES FROM ONE FIELD DISTRICT TO ANOTHER IS PROHIBITED UNLESS ALL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE ARE PAID FROM THE PERSONAL FUNDS OF THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED.

YOU ARE NO DOUBT AWARE THAT THE IMMIGRATION FIELD SERVICE OF THIS DEPARTMENT IS A LAW ENFORCEMENT ORGANIZATION OF GREAT MAGNITUDE AND IMPORTANCE AND THAT ANY FORCE CHARGED WITH POLICE DUTIES, AND DEPENDING LARGELY ON THE SHIFTING MOVEMENTS OF TRAVEL, AS THE IMMIGRATION SERVICE IS, MUST BE CAPABLE OF BEING TRANSFERRED WITH GREAT FACILITY, IN ORDER TO COPE WITH EVER-CHANGING OR SEASONAL CONDITIONS. FURTHERMORE, THE IMMIGRATION FIELD SERVICE OPERATES AS A UNIT THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES, THE ADMINISTRATIVE DISTRICTS PRESCRIBED BY DEPARTMENTAL REGULATIONS BEING MERELY ARTIFICIAL BOUNDARY LINES, FOR THE PURPOSE OF FACILITATING THE HANDLING OF IMMIGRATION BUSINESS AND PERFECTING ITS ORGANIZATION.

CONSEQUENTLY, IF YOUR DECISION MEANS THAT IMMIGRATION FIELD EMPLOYEES CANNOT BE TRANSFERRED FROM ONE IMMIGRATION DISTRICT TO ANOTHER, AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE, WHEN THE INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT REQUIRE SUCH ACTION, THEN IT IS RESPECTFULLY CALLED TO YOUR ATTENTION THAT THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE IMMIGRATION LAWS WILL BE DIFFICULT OF ACCOMPLISHMENT AND IN SOME INSTANCES PRACTICALLY NULLIFIED, AND THE BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION WILL BE SERIOUSLY HANDICAPPED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF ITS OFFICIAL DUTIES.

IT FREQUENTLY BECOMES NECESSARY, IN THE INTEREST OF GOOD ADMINISTRATION, TO TRANSFER OFFICERS FROM A STATION IN ONE IMMIGRATION DISTRICT TO A STATION IN ANOTHER SEVERAL TIMES DURING THE COURSE OF A YEAR, AND IT WILL BE IMPRACTICABLE AND OBVIOUSLY UNJUST TO ORDER THESE TRANSFERS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE EMPLOYEE.

UNDER THE PRACTICE THAT HAS HERETOFORE PREVAILED, AN EMPLOYEE, IF MARRIED, MUST BEAR THE TRANSPORTATION EXPENSE OF HIS FAMILY, AS WELL AS THE COST OF SHIPPING HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS, AND IF HE IS NOW REQUIRED TO ALSO PAY HIS OWN TRAVELING EXPENSES, HE WILL BE UNABLE TO MEET THE BURDEN THUS PLACED UPON HIM AND BE FORCED TO RESIGN OR DISOBEY ORDERS. MOREOVER, THE DEPARTMENT WOULD NOT BE JUSTIFIED IN ORDERING A TRANSFER UNDER SUCH CONDITIONS, AND IF IT DID SO, IT IS EXTREMELY DOUBTFUL WHETHER THE ORDER COULD BE ENFORCED.

OF COURSE, IT SHOULD BE UNDERSTOOD THAT WHERE A TRANSFER IS MADE FOR THE PERSONAL CONVENIENCE OF AN EMPLOYEE, THE EXPENSE INVOLVED WILL BE BORNE BY HIMSELF.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING FACTS, AND IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT, IT IS RESPECTFULLY SUGGESTED THAT YOUR DECISION SHOULD NOT APPLY TO THE IMMIGRATION FIELD SERVICE.

AS POINTED OUT IN MY DECISION OF OCTOBER 28, 1926, A-16059, IT HAS BEEN THE ESTABLISHED RULE FOR MANY YEARS THAT WHEN EMPLOYEES ARE APPOINTED FOR DUTY AT A PARTICULAR PLACE, OR WITHIN A PARTICULAR DISTRICT, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM APPOINTMENTS FOR FIELD SERVICE GENERALLY, THEIR HEADQUARTERS OR DUTY STATION IS THAT PLACE OR THAT DISTRICT, AND THAT WHEN IT BECOMES NECESSARY TO MOVE OR TRANSFER THEM TO ANOTHER PLACE OR ANOTHER DISTRICT FOR OTHER THAN TEMPORARY DUTY, THE TRANSFER CONSTITUTES IN FACT A DISCHARGE AND AN APPOINTMENT TO A NEW POSITION IRRESPECTIVE OF WHAT PROCEDURE IS ADOPTED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE TO EFFECT SUCH TRANSFER. EMPLOYEES SO APPOINTED AND TRANSFERRED MUST PLACE THEMSELVES AT THEIR NEW DUTY STATION AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. 11 COMP. DEC. 442; 20 ID. 23; 4 COMP. GEN. 641; 5 ID. 467 AND 941. SAID RULE, HOWEVER, IS NOT APPLICABLE TO EMPLOYEES WHO ARE APPOINTED FOR FIELD SERVICE GENERALLY AND NOT FOR PERMANENT DUTY AT A PARTICULAR PLACE, IF THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF THEIR DUTIES REQUIRE SERVICE AT DIFFERENT PLACES. IF THE APPOINTMENT OF PARTICULAR PERSONS FOR GENERAL FIELD SERVICE AND THEIR TRANSFER FROM PLACE TO PLACE AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE ARE NECESSARY FROM THE STANDPOINT OF THE DUTIES TO BE PERFORMED, AND AN APPROPRIATION IS AVAILABLE FOR EXPENSES INCIDENT TO SUCH TRANSFERS, THE REIMBURSEMENT OF THE EXPENSES INCURRED IN MAKING SUCH TRANSFERS WITHIN THE LIMITS ALLOWED BY LAW AND REGULATION WILL BE AUTHORIZED UPON A PROPER SHOWING AS TO THE FACTS IN EACH SUCH CASE. 14597, AUGUST 21, 1926. IT MUST BE BORNE IN MIND, HOWEVER, THAT THE MERE DESIGNATION OF AN APPOINTMENT AS FOR FIELD SERVICE GENERALLY IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO AUTHORIZE A TRANSFER AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE IF THE DUTIES OF THE POSITION ARE SUCH AS TO IMPEL THE CONCLUSION THAT THE APPOINTMENT WAS IN FACT TO A POSITION HAVING A FIXED, PERMANENT STATION.

IF CONSIDERED NECESSARY THAT THE EMPLOYEES IN THE IMMIGRATION SERVICE PERFORMING LOCALIZED ADMINISTRATIVE DUTIES BE TRANSFERRED FROM STATION TO STATION AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE, THE MATTER SHOULD BE PRESENTED TO THE CONGRESS FOR ITS CONSIDERATION AND SUCH SPECIFIC LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY IN THE MATTER AS IT MAY CONCLUDE TO BE WARRANTED BY THE FACTS. IN SUCH CONNECTION, SEE THE ACT OF APRIL 22, 1926, 44 STAT. 319.