A-16707, FEBRUARY 5, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 507

A-16707: Feb 5, 1927

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CLAIMS IN EXCESS OF $500 IN AMOUNT ARE TO BE REPORTED TO THE CONGRESS FOR CONSIDERATION AND WHERE THEREAFTER SPECIFICALLY APPROPRIATED FOR ARE FOR CERTIFICATION BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN THE SAME MANNER AS ARE OTHER CLAIMS FOR WHICH SPECIFIC APPROPRIATIONS ARE MADE. WHO ARE EMPLOYED ON OR IN CONNECTION WITH RIVER AND HARBOR WORKS. IS DAMAGED OR DESTROYED IN CONNECTION WITH THE LOSS. THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES ARE SUCH AS TO MAKE THE WHOLE OR ANY PART OF THE DAMAGES OR DESTRUCTION A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE UNITED STATES. SHALL HAVE AUTHORITY TO ADJUST AND SETTLE ALL CLAIMS FOR DAMAGES OR DESTRUCTION CAUSED BY THE ABOVE DESIGNATED COLLISIONS. IT APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN THE PROCEDURE IN THE PAST FOR PAYMENTS OF CLAIMS ARISING UNDER THIS ACT TO BE MADE BY DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS OF THE ARMY WHETHER SUCH CLAIMS WERE FOR $500 OR LESS OR EXCEEDED THE SUM OF $500.

A-16707, FEBRUARY 5, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 507

PROCEDURE FOR THE PAYMENT OF CLAIMS FOR PRIVATE PROPERTY LOST OR DAMAGED AS THE RESULT OF RIVER AND HARBOR WORK UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 4 OF THE RIVERS AND HARBORS ACT OF JUNE 25, 1910, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 9 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 5, 1920, 41 STAT. 1015, CLAIMS FOR $500 OR LESS FOR DAMAGES TO OR LOSS OF PRIVATE PROPERTY, ARISING AS THE RESULT OF RIVER AND HARBOR WORK, MAY BE SETTLED AND PAID BY THE WAR DEPARTMENT FROM REGULAR APPROPRIATIONS, BUT CLAIMS IN EXCESS OF $500 IN AMOUNT ARE TO BE REPORTED TO THE CONGRESS FOR CONSIDERATION AND WHERE THEREAFTER SPECIFICALLY APPROPRIATED FOR ARE FOR CERTIFICATION BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN THE SAME MANNER AS ARE OTHER CLAIMS FOR WHICH SPECIFIC APPROPRIATIONS ARE MADE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR, FEBRUARY 5, 1927:

THERE HAS COME TO MY ATTENTION THE METHOD OF PAYING CLAIMS ADJUSTED AND SETTLED BY THE CHIEF OF ENGINEERS UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 4 OF THE RIVERS AND HARBORS ACT OF JUNE 25, 1910, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 9 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 5, 1920, 41 STAT. 1015, READING AS FOLLOWS:

THAT WHENEVER ANY VESSEL BELONGING TO OR EMPLOYED BY THE UNITED STATES ENGAGED UPON RIVER AND HARBOR WORKS COLLIDES WITH AND DAMAGES ANOTHER VESSEL, PIER, OR OTHER LEGAL STRUCTURE BELONGING TO ANY PERSON OR CORPORATION, AND WHENEVER, IN THE PROSECUTION OF RIVER AND HARBOR WORKS, AN ACCIDENT OCCURS DAMAGING OR DESTROYING PROPERTY BELONGING TO ANY PERSON OR CORPORATION, AND WHENEVER PERSONAL PROPERTY OF EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES, WHO ARE EMPLOYED ON OR IN CONNECTION WITH RIVER AND HARBOR WORKS, IS DAMAGED OR DESTROYED IN CONNECTION WITH THE LOSS, THREATENED LOSS, OR DAMAGE TO UNITED STATES PROPERTY, OR THROUGH EFFORTS TO SAVE LIFE OR TO PRESERVE UNITED STATES PROPERTY, THE CHIEF OF ENGINEERS SHALL CAUSE AN IMMEDIATE EXAMINATION TO BE MADE, AND IF, IN HIS JUDGMENT, THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES ARE SUCH AS TO MAKE THE WHOLE OR ANY PART OF THE DAMAGES OR DESTRUCTION A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE UNITED STATES, THE CHIEF OF ENGINEERS, SUBJECT TO THE APPROVAL OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR, SHALL HAVE AUTHORITY TO ADJUST AND SETTLE ALL CLAIMS FOR DAMAGES OR DESTRUCTION CAUSED BY THE ABOVE DESIGNATED COLLISIONS, ACCIDENTS, AND SO FORTH, IN CASES WHERE THE DAMAGE OR EXPENSE DOES NOT EXCEED $500, AND PAY THE SAME FROM THE APPROPRIATION DIRECTLY INVOLVED, AND TO REPORT SUCH AS EXCEED $500 TO CONGRESS FOR ITS CONSIDERATION.

IT APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN THE PROCEDURE IN THE PAST FOR PAYMENTS OF CLAIMS ARISING UNDER THIS ACT TO BE MADE BY DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS OF THE ARMY WHETHER SUCH CLAIMS WERE FOR $500 OR LESS OR EXCEEDED THE SUM OF $500. FURTHERMORE, IN AT LEAST ONE INSTANCE A CLAIM FOR LESS THAN $500 WAS REPORTED TO THE CONGRESS FOR APPROPRIATION INSTEAD OF BEING PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATION DIRECTLY INVOLVED.

THE STATUTE CLEARLY PROVIDES FOR THE ADJUSTMENT, SETTLEMENT, AND PAYMENT BY THE WAR DEPARTMENT FROM REGULAR APPROPRIATIONS OF ALL CLAIMS OF $500 OR LESS, BUT WHERE CLAIMS EXCEED $500 IN AMOUNT THEY ARE TO BE REPORTED TO THE CONGRESS FOR CONSIDERATION. IF AND WHEN AN APPROPRIATION IS MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR THE PAYMENT OF ANY CLAIM SO REPORTED, THE MATTER IS NO LONGER WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT, BUT IS FOR CERTIFICATION BY THIS OFFICE IN THE SAME MANNER AS ARE OTHER CLAIMS FOR WHICH SPECIFIC APPROPRIATIONS ARE MADE. IN SUCH CASES THERE WOULD APPEAR TO BE NO OBJECTION TO SENDING THE CERTIFICATE OF SETTLEMENT TO A DESIGNATED DISBURSING OFFICER OF YOUR DEPARTMENT FOR PAYMENT, INSTEAD OF EFFECTING PAYMENT BY MEANS OF A TREASURY WARRANT AND TREASURER'S CHECK.