A-17005, APRIL 3, 1928, 7 COMP. GEN. 624

A-17005: Apr 3, 1928

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NAVAL OFFICERS - TRAVELING EXPENSES - TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS - BASIS OF PAYMENT ON TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS ONLY NECESSARY EXPENSES ARE REIMBURSABLE AS ACTUAL EXPENSES. AN ADMIRAL OF THE NAVY IS ENTITLED ONLY TO MINIMUM FIRST-CLASS TRANSPORTATION WHEN TRAVELING AT SEA. IS ENTITLED ONLY TO MINIMUM FIRST-CLASS TRANSPORTATION WHEN TRAVELING AT SEA. THE GOVERNMENT IS OBLIGATED TO PAY ONLY FOR THE TRANSPORTATION WHICH MAY LEGALLY BE FURNISHED. CARRIERS' BILLS WILL BE PAID ON THE BASIS OF THE SERVICE CALLED FOR ON THE TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS AND REFUND REQUIRED FROM THE RESPONSIBLE PERSON WHERE EXCESS SERVICE HAS BEEN REQUESTED. CARRIERS' BILLS WILL BE PAID ONLY ON THE BASIS OF SERVICE THAT WAS LEGALLY AUTHORIZED.

A-17005, APRIL 3, 1928, 7 COMP. GEN. 624

NAVAL OFFICERS - TRAVELING EXPENSES - TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS - BASIS OF PAYMENT ON TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS ONLY NECESSARY EXPENSES ARE REIMBURSABLE AS ACTUAL EXPENSES, AND AN ADMIRAL OF THE NAVY IS ENTITLED ONLY TO MINIMUM FIRST-CLASS TRANSPORTATION WHEN TRAVELING AT SEA. THE WIFE OF AN ADMIRAL OF THE NAVY TRAVELING ON CHANGE OF STATION OF THE ADMIRAL, THERE BEING NO GOVERNMENT TRANSPORT AVAILABLE, IS ENTITLED ONLY TO MINIMUM FIRST-CLASS TRANSPORTATION WHEN TRAVELING AT SEA. THE GOVERNMENT IS OBLIGATED TO PAY ONLY FOR THE TRANSPORTATION WHICH MAY LEGALLY BE FURNISHED, AND WITH A VIEW TO PROTECTING THE PUBLIC INTERESTS, CARRIERS' BILLS WILL BE PAID ON THE BASIS OF THE SERVICE CALLED FOR ON THE TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS AND REFUND REQUIRED FROM THE RESPONSIBLE PERSON WHERE EXCESS SERVICE HAS BEEN REQUESTED. WHERE, HOWEVER, DEPARTMENTAL REGULATIONS AUTHORIZE ISSUANCE OF TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS FOR SERVICE IN EXCESS OF THAT AUTHORIZED BY LAW, CARRIERS' BILLS WILL BE PAID ONLY ON THE BASIS OF SERVICE THAT WAS LEGALLY AUTHORIZED. DECISION OF AUGUST 26, 1927, A-17005, ADHERED TO.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, APRIL 3, 1928:

RECEIPT IS ACKNOWLEDGED OF YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 21, 1927, IN RESPONSE TO LETTER OF AUGUST 26, 1927, FROM THIS OFFICE, ADVISING YOU THAT UNLESS THE NAVY REGULATIONS WERE AMENDED SO AS TO LIMIT NAVAL OFFICERS AND THEIR DEPENDENTS, IRRESPECTIVE OF RANK, TO MINIMUM FIRST CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS WHEN TRAVELING UNDER CONDITIONS ENTITLING THEM TO REIMBURSEMENT OF ACTUAL AND NECESSARY EXPENSES, IT WOULD BE NECESSARY TO SETTLE CARRIERS' BILLS ON THE BASIS OF WHAT THE LAW AUTHORIZED. YOU STATE THAT YOUR DEPARTMENT HAD UNDER CONSIDERATION AT THE DATE OF YOUR LETTER A CHANGE IN THE REGULATIONS WHICH WOULD PERMIT OF NO MORE THAN THE MINIMUM FIRST-CLASS TRANSPORTATION FOR DEPENDENTS OF ALL OFFICERS.

YOU SUGGEST, HOWEVER, THAT IN VIEW OF A PRACTICE EXISTING SINCE 1907 OF ACCORDING TO FLAG OFFICERS TRAVELING TO AND FROM THEIR COMMANDS TRANSPORTATION, INCLUSIVE OF SEPARATE STATEROOMS, AND WHICH WAS NOT CHALLENGED BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS IN THE SETTLEMENT OF CARRIERS' BILLS THAT THE PRESENT REGULATIONS PURPORTING TO AUTHORIZE AT THE EXPENSE OF THE UNITED STATES A SEPARATE SUITE FOR COMMANDERS IN CHIEF TRAVELING TO AND RETURNING FROM THEIR COMMAND, A SEPARATE STATEROOM AND BATH TO ALL OTHER FLAG OFFICERS, AND A SEPARATE STATEROOM TO OFFICERS OF THE RANKS OF CAPTAIN AND COMMANDER, AND THE REENACTMENT OF THE LAW PROVIDING FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSES TO OFFICERS OF THE NAVY BY THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1922, 42 STAT. 625, THAT THE DEPARTMENTAL REGULATIONS CONSTITUTE A CONTEMPORANEOUS CONSTRUCTION ADOPTED BY THE CONGRESS. THIS OFFICE CAN NOT TAKE SUCH A VIEW OF THE LAW. STATUTES AUTHORIZING AND PROVIDING FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRAVEL HAVE BEEN CONSTRUED BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS FOR MANY YEARS AS AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT ONLY OF NECESSARY EXPENSES AND THAT THE STATUTES CONTEMPLATE THAT THE TRAVELER TRAVELING AN OFFICIAL BUSINESS SHALL BE PROVIDED WITH FIRST-CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS. THIS CONSTRUCTION OF SUCH LAWS IS WELL KNOWN TO THE CONGRESS AND ACTS AND APPROPRIATIONS ARE DRAWN IN VIEW OF SUCH CONSTRUCTION BY THE OFFICIALS CHARGED WITH THE DUTY OF CONSTRUING STATUTES RELATING TO PUBLIC EXPENDITURES. THAT IS THE CONTEMPORANEOUS AND LONG- CONTINUED CONSTRUCTION TO BE LOOKED TO FOR A GUIDE IN CONSTRUING THE EXISTING LAW, NOT AN ISOLATED PROVISION MADE BY ONE DEPARTMENT FOR A LIMITED CLASS OF ITS OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES.

YOU ALSO SUGGEST THAT THE NATIONAL PRESTIGE IS INVOLVED IN THE TRAVEL ABROAD OF OFFICERS OF THE NAVY, STRESSING PARTICULARLY THE CASE OF COMMANDERS IN CHIEF. BUT THE NATIONAL PRESTIGE IS NO MORE INVOLVED IN THE TRAVEL OF A FLAG OFFICER OF THE NAVY TRAVELING TO AND FROM HIS COMMAND THAN IS THE TRAVEL OF CONSULAR AND DIPLOMATIC OFFICERS. NEITHER IS IT PERCEIVED WHY, IF THE NATIONAL PRESTIGE IS INVOLVED IN THE TRAVEL ABROAD OF A CAPTAIN OR COMMANDER OF THE NAVY, THE NATIONAL PRESTIGE SHOULD BE ANY THE LESS INVOLVED IN THE TRAVEL OF A LIEUTENANT COMMANDER OR OF EVEN AN ENSIGN.

IT WAS SUGGESTED IN THE LETTER OF AUGUST 25, 1927, THAT WHATEVER OF INCREASED EXPENSES DEVOLVED UPON ADMIRALS AND VICE ADMIRALS TO MAINTAIN NATIONAL PRESTIGE BECAUSE OF THEIR ADVANCED TEMPORARY RANK (ORIGINALLY REPRESENTED AS DESIRABLE AND NECESSARY FOR REAR ADMIRALS ON DUTY ABROAD IN COMMAND OF VESSELS ON FOREIGN STATIONS TO PLACE THEM ON A PARITY IN RANK WITH OFFICERS OF FOREIGN NAVIES) WAS PROVIDED FOR IN THE ADDITIONAL MONEY ALLOWANCE GRANTED TO THEM BY LAW WHILE HOLDING THE TEMPORARY GRADE. YOU SUGGEST THAT MANY ADDITIONAL EXPENSES DEVOLVE UPON THESE OFFICERS BY REASON OF THEIR TEMPORARY RANK. A SUBSTANTIAL PORTION OF THESE INCREASED EXPENSES WOULD SEEM TO HAVE BEEN CARED FOR IN ALLOTMENTS FOR ENTERTAINMENT OF FOREIGN OFFICIALS MADE TO ADMIRALS AND VICE ADMIRALS FROM THE CONTINGENT APPROPRIATION FOR THE NAVY. IT IS, OF COURSE, OBVIOUS THAT INCREASED EXPENSES ARE INCURRED BY ALL THE HIGHER OFFICIALS OF THE GOVERNMENT IN CONNECTION WITH SOCIAL ACTIVITIES, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY RESULTING FROM THEIR OFFICIAL STATUS. IT MUST BE PRESUMED THAT CONGRESS IN PROVIDING A SALARY FOR SUCH OFFICIALS HAS MADE SUCH PROVISION IN THAT RESPECT AS IT HAS DEEMED EXPEDIENT AND PROPER AND THAT IT HAS NOT CONTEMPLATED THAT GREATER LIBERALITY UNDER GENERAL LAWS SHALL BE SHOWN WITH RESPECT TO TRAVELING EXPENSES OF SUCH OFFICIALS THAN IS PROVIDED FOR ANY OTHER OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AFFECTED BY THE SAME GENERAL LAWS MERELY BECAUSE OF A MORE EXALTED POSITION IN THE GOVERNMENT SERVICE. NOR DOES THE VIEW OF THIS OFFICE AS TO THE IMPROPRIETY OF ADMINISTRATIVELY AUTHORIZING INCREASED EXPENDITURES FOR TRAVEL ON THE GROUND OF MAINTAINING NATIONAL PRESTIGE SEEM TO BE INCONSISTENT WITH THE PRACTICE IN AT LEAST ONE OTHER GREAT NATION, AS WILL APPEAR FROM THE FOLLOWING QUOTATION FROM A RECENT ARTICLE BY SIR ALAN J. COBHAM:

IN THE AUTUMN OF 1924, AIR VICE MARSHAL SIR SEFTON BRANCKER HAD TO MAKE A JOURNEY TO INDIA IN CONNECTION WITH THE ALLOTTING OF A PORT OF CALL AND THE BUILDING OF A MOORING MAST FOR THE FUTURE AIRSHIP SERVICE THAT MAY EVENTUALLY RUN THROUGH TO AUSTRALIA.

AS DIRECTOR OF BRITISH CIVIL AVIATION, SIR SEFTON BRANCKER MAINTAINED THAT HE OUGHT TO FLY TO HIS DESTINATION, BUT THE TREASURY ARGUED THAT GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS SHOULD TRAVEL BY THE CHEAPEST ROUTE, AND AS THE COST OF A SPECIAL AIRPLANE TO FLY TO INDIA AND BACK WAS FAR IN EXCESS OF THE COST OF A FIRST-CLASS STEAMSHIP PASSAGE AND RETURN, THE TREASURY COULD NOT SEE ITS WAY CLEAR TO GRANT THE SUM OF MONEY NECESSARY. * * *

IN VIEW OF THE LONG-CONTINUED AND UNIFORM CONSTRUCTION BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF STATUTES PROVIDING FOR ACTUAL EXPENSES FOR OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, KNOWN TO AND ACTED UPON BY THE CONGRESS IN CONNECTION WITH LEGISLATION ON THE SUBJECT AND THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATION ACTS, THIS OFFICE MAY NOT ACCEPT THE VIEWS ADVANCED ON BEHALF OF CERTAIN OFFICERS. NO MERIT IS PERCEIVED SO FAR AS IT AFFECTS OTHER OFFICERS OF THE NAVY. NOR CAN THIS OFFICE ACCEPT THE VIEW THAT OFFICERS OF THE NAVY, MORE THAN OTHER CITIZENS, AND ESPECIALLY OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT, IN THEIR TRAVELS ABROAD, ARE CHARGED WITH SUCH GREATER RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF THE PRESTIGE OF THE NATION THAT THERE MUST BE PROVIDED FOR THEM, AS A CLASS, MORE LUXURIOUS AND COMFORTABLE ACCOMMODATIONS THAN ARE PROVIDED FOR OTHERS.

THE VIEWS HERETOFORE COMMUNICATED TO YOU MUST BE ADHERED TO; AND DIRECTIONS HAVE BEEN ISSUED, AS INDICATED IN MY FORMER COMMUNICATION, TO THE AUDIT AND CLAIMS DIVISIONS OF THIS OFFICE THAT FOR TRAVEL AFTER JUNE 1, 1928, CARRIERS' BILLS WILL BE SETTLED ON THE BASIS OF MINIMUM FIRST- CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS AVAILABLE ON THE STEAMER ON WHICH THE OFFICER TRAVELED, SETTLEMENTS THUS BEING IN STRICT ACCORD WITH THE DECISION OF THE COURT OF CLAIMS IN THE CASE OF ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY V. UNITED STATES, 52 CT.CLS. 53. ..END :