A-16889, MARCH 20, 1928, 7 COMP. GEN. 586

A-16889: Mar 20, 1928

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COMPENSATION - CONSULAR AGENTS - ACCOUNTING FOR FEES COLLECTED AS THE BASIS OF THE COMPENSATION OF CONSULAR AGENTS IS THE FEES COLLECTED. SAID OFFICERS ARE ENTITLED TO ONE-HALF OF SAID FEES WHETHER THEY BE COLLECTED IN UNITED STATES MONEY OR FOREIGN MONEY EQUIVALENT TO THE AMOUNT OF SAID FEES IN UNITED STATES MONEY. AS FOLLOWS: REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE REVISED METHOD OF ACCOUNTING ESTABLISHED AT YOUR SUGGESTION BY THE DEPARTMENT IN ITS GENERAL INSTRUCTION CONSULAR NO. 1043. CONSULAR AGENTS ARE PAID ONE-HALF OF THE FEES RECEIVED AT THEIR OFFICES UP TO A MAXIMUM SUM OF $1. THE QUESTION ARISES WHERE THE FEES ARE COLLECTED IN FOREIGN CURRENCY AS TO WHAT CONVERSION RATE IS TO BE APPLIED IN COMPUTING THE AMOUNT OF SUCH FOREIGN CURRENCY WHICH THE CONSULAR AGENT WILL BE PERMITTED TO RETAIN AS HIS COMPENSATION.

A-16889, MARCH 20, 1928, 7 COMP. GEN. 586

COMPENSATION - CONSULAR AGENTS - ACCOUNTING FOR FEES COLLECTED AS THE BASIS OF THE COMPENSATION OF CONSULAR AGENTS IS THE FEES COLLECTED, SAID OFFICERS ARE ENTITLED TO ONE-HALF OF SAID FEES WHETHER THEY BE COLLECTED IN UNITED STATES MONEY OR FOREIGN MONEY EQUIVALENT TO THE AMOUNT OF SAID FEES IN UNITED STATES MONEY, PROVIDED SAID COLLECTIONS DO NOT EXCEED $2,000 DURING ANY FISCAL YEAR. FEES COLLECTED IN EXCESS OF $2,000 SHOULD BE REMITTED TO THE TREASURY.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, MARCH 20, 1928:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 29, 1928, AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE REVISED METHOD OF ACCOUNTING ESTABLISHED AT YOUR SUGGESTION BY THE DEPARTMENT IN ITS GENERAL INSTRUCTION CONSULAR NO. 1043, OF APRIL 20, 1927, AND IN WHICH NO SPECIFIC PROVISION HAS BEEN MADE FOR THE METHOD OF ARRIVING AT CONVERSION RATES TO BE USED IN COMPUTING THE COMPENSATION OF CONSULAR AGENTS.

AS YOU UNDERSTAND, CONSULAR AGENTS ARE PAID ONE-HALF OF THE FEES RECEIVED AT THEIR OFFICES UP TO A MAXIMUM SUM OF $1,000 IN ANY ONE YEAR, THE OTHER HALF BEING ACCOUNTED FOR AND PAID INTO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES. IF THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF FEES RECEIVED AT A CONSULAR AGENCY DURING A FISCAL YEAR EXCEEDS $2,000, SUCH SURPLUS MUST BE REMITTED IN FULL TO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES IN ADDITION TO THE $1,000 DUE THE GOVERNMENT AS DESCRIBED ABOVE.

THE QUESTION ARISES WHERE THE FEES ARE COLLECTED IN FOREIGN CURRENCY AS TO WHAT CONVERSION RATE IS TO BE APPLIED IN COMPUTING THE AMOUNT OF SUCH FOREIGN CURRENCY WHICH THE CONSULAR AGENT WILL BE PERMITTED TO RETAIN AS HIS COMPENSATION. IN THE DEPARTMENT'S VIEW IT WOULD SEEM PROPER TO PERMIT THE AGENT TO RETAIN EXACTLY ONE-HALF OF THE FEES COLLECTED IN FOREIGN CURRENCY, USING THE DAILY COLLECTION RATE AS A BASIS FOR CONVERTING FOREIGN CURRENCY INTO UNITED STATES CURRENCY.

YOUR COMMENT AND OPINION ON THIS SUBJECT WILL BE APPRECIATED.

THE COMPENSATION OF CONSULAR AGENTS IS PROVIDED FOR IN SECTION 497, CONSULAR REGULATIONS, UNDER THE AUTHORITY GRANTED IN EXECUTIVE ORDER OF JUNE 18, 1925, WHICH SECTION READS AS FOLLOWS:

CONSULAR AGENTS.--- CONSULAR AGENTS ARE PAID BY ONE-HALF OF THE FEES RECEIVED IN THEIR OFFICES, UP TO A MAXIMUM SUM OF $1,000 IN ANY ONE YEAR, THE OTHER HALF BEING ACCOUNTED FOR AND PAID INTO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES. IF THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF FEES RECEIVED AT A CONSULAR AGENCY DURING A FISCAL YEAR EXCEEDS $2,000, SUCH SURPLUS MUST BE REMITTED IN FULL TO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES IN ADDITION TO THE $1,000 DUE THE GOVERNMENT AS PRESCRIBED ABOVE.

SINCE THE BASIS OF THEIR COMPENSATION IS THE FEES COLLECTED, SAID OFFICERS ARE ENTITLED TO ONE-HALF OF SAID FEES WHETHER THEY BE COLLECTED IN UNITED STATES MONEY OR FOREIGN MONEY EQUIVALENT TO THE AMOUNT OF SAID FEES IN UNITED STATES MONEY. THEREFORE, IF THE FEES ARE COLLECTED IN UNITED STATES MONEY, THE CONSULAR AGENT IS ENTITLED TO ONE-HALF OF THE AMOUNT OF UNITED STATES MONEY COLLECTED; IF THE FEES ARE COLLECTED IN FOREIGN MONEY, THE AMOUNT RETAINED AS FEES SHOULD BE EQUAL TO THE AMOUNT PAID OVER TO THE UNITED STATES. IN ALL CASES THE AMOUNT RETAINED BY THE CONSULAR AGENT AS COMPENSATION AND THAT CREDITED THE UNITED STATES SHOULD BE EQUAL. IT NECESSARILY FOLLOWS THAT IN DETERMINING WHETHER THE AMOUNT RETAINED BY THE CONSULAR AGENT EXCEEDS THE AMOUNT OF $1,000 ALLOWED, THE CORRECT PROCEDURE IS TO CONSIDER ALL FEES AS HAVING BEEN PAID IN UNITED STATES MONEY. THAT IS TO SAY, THE AGENT WOULD BE ENTITLED TO RETAIN ONE- HALF OF THE AMOUNT OF EACH FEE COLLECTED, WHETHER IN UNITED STATES MONEY OR FOREIGN MONEY, UNTIL THE FEES COLLECTED AMOUNTED TO $2,000. AFTER SUCH AMOUNT HAS BEEN COLLECTED, THE REMAINDER OF THE FEES COLLECTED SHOULD BE REMITTED TO THE TREASURY.