A-18695, AUGUST 4, 1927, 7 COMP. GEN. 89

A-18695: Aug 4, 1927

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IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT IT IS NECESSARY TEMPORARILY TO DETAIL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR OFFICERS TO POSTS OTHER THAN THEIR PERMANENT STATIONS IN EMERGENCIES. IT IS OBVIOUS THAT WHEN OFFICERS ARE THUS TEMPORARILY DETAILED THEY ARE NECESSARILY SUBJECTED TO ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL OUTLAY SINCE IT IS GENERALLY NECESSARY FOR THEM TO CONTINUE THEIR DOMESTIC ESTABLISHMENTS AT THEIR PERMANENT POSTS DURING THE PERIOD OF ABSENCE THEREFROM AND TO INCUR THE CUSTOMARY EXPENSES OF SUBSISTENCE AT THE TEMPORARY POST. MANY OFFICERS WHO DO NOT POSSESS PRIVATE MEANS ARE UNABLE TO BEAR SUCH ADDED FINANCIAL BURDEN. THE URGENT NEEDS OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE CAN NOT BE MET AND THE UTILITY OF MANY OFFICERS IS SERIOUSLY IMPAIRED.

A-18695, AUGUST 4, 1927, 7 COMP. GEN. 89

SUBSISTENCE - TEMPORARY DETAILS - FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS UNDER EXISTING LAW AND PRACTICE FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS IN A TRAVEL STATUS AND REIMBURSED EXPENSES OF SUBSISTENCE UNDER THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS WHEN ASSIGNED TO TEMPORARY DUTY AS ADDITIONAL OFFICERS OR TO TAKE CHARGE TEMPORARILY IN AN EMERGENCY AT POSTS OTHER THAN THEIR PERMANENT POSTS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, AUGUST 4, 1927:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF MAY 27, 1927, AS FOLLOWS:

FROM TIME TO TIME, IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT IT IS NECESSARY TEMPORARILY TO DETAIL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR OFFICERS TO POSTS OTHER THAN THEIR PERMANENT STATIONS IN EMERGENCIES, AS ADDITIONAL OFFICERS OR TO TAKE CHARGE TEMPORARILY DUE TO ILLNESS OR LEAVES OF ABSENCE, AND IT HAS BEEN THE PRACTICE OF THIS DEPARTMENT TO REFUSE PAYMENT TO SUCH OFFICERS OF SUBSISTENCE OR PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WHILE AT THE TEMPORARY POSTS, UNDER THE BELIEF THAT YOUR OFFICE HAD RULED SUCH PAYMENTS TO BE SUBJECT TO DISALLOWANCE.

IT IS OBVIOUS THAT WHEN OFFICERS ARE THUS TEMPORARILY DETAILED THEY ARE NECESSARILY SUBJECTED TO ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL OUTLAY SINCE IT IS GENERALLY NECESSARY FOR THEM TO CONTINUE THEIR DOMESTIC ESTABLISHMENTS AT THEIR PERMANENT POSTS DURING THE PERIOD OF ABSENCE THEREFROM AND TO INCUR THE CUSTOMARY EXPENSES OF SUBSISTENCE AT THE TEMPORARY POST. MANY OFFICERS WHO DO NOT POSSESS PRIVATE MEANS ARE UNABLE TO BEAR SUCH ADDED FINANCIAL BURDEN, AND UNLESS THE DEPARTMENT CAN AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT, THE URGENT NEEDS OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE CAN NOT BE MET AND THE UTILITY OF MANY OFFICERS IS SERIOUSLY IMPAIRED.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION IT MIGHT BE ADDED THAT IT IS GENERALLY UNNECESSARY TO ISSUE TO FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS A SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT COMMISSION IN THE CASE OF TEMPORARY DETAIL AS THEY ARE ABLE TO OBTAIN LOCAL PERMISSION TO ACT TEMPORARILY. IN THE CASE OF NONCAREER VICE CONSULS, INTERNATIONAL USAGE REQUIRES AN ASSIGNMENT COMMISSION EVEN IN THE CASE OF TEMPORARY DETAIL AND THE ISSUANCE OF A NEW COMMISSION UPON RETURN TO THE PERMANENT POST. IT SHOULD BE STRESSED, HOWEVER, THAT THE MERE ISSUANCE OF AN ASSIGNMENT COMMISSION DOES NOT CHANGE THE CHARACTER OF THE DETAIL FROM TEMPORARY TO PERMANENT.

THE DEPARTMENT BELIEVES, THEREFORE, THAT IN THE CASE OF THE ABOVE DESCRIBED TEMPORARY DETAILS WHICH MAY EXTEND FROM PERIODS VARYING FROM A FEW DAYS TO THREE OR FOUR MONTHS THE OFFICERS CONCERNED OCCUPY A TRAVEL STATUS AND ARE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES OF SUBSISTENCE WITHIN THE LIMITATIONS OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, BUT BEFORE ISSUING SUCH AUTHORIZATION IN SPECIFIC CASES, AN EXPRESSION OF YOUR VIEWS ON THIS SUBJECT WOULD BE APPRECIATED.

THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE AND THE LONG EXISTING PRACTICE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE NEGATIVE THE PROPOSED ACTION. SEE DECISION OF FEBRUARY 28, 1923, IN THE CASE OF WILLIAM W. CORCORAN, VICE CONSUL DE CARRIERE, INVOLVING CLAIM FOR SUBSISTENCE WHILE TEMPORARILY ASSIGNED TO DUTY AT BOMBAY DURING THE ILLNESS OF THE REGULAR CONSUL AT THAT PLACE. SEE ALSO DECISION OF APRIL 15, 1927, A-18057. THUS THE APPROPRIATIONS FOR TRAVELING EXPENSES OF DIPLOMATIC CONSULAR, AND FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS FOR 1928, ACT OF FEBRUARY 24, 1927, 44 STAT. 1183, AND FOR "TRAVELING EXPENSES OF CONSULAR AND FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS" CONTAINED UNDER THE APPROPRIATION TITLE "CONTINGENT EXPENSES, UNITED STATES CONSULATES," 44 STAT. 1182, AND SIMILAR APPROPRIATIONS FOR PRIOR YEARS, HAVE BEEN PROVIDED ON THE BASIS THAT SUCH OFFICERS WERE NOT TO BE CONSIDERED IN A TRAVEL STATUS WHEN TEMPORARILY ASSIGNED TO DUTY AT POSTS OTHER THAN THEIR PERMANENT STATIONS UNDER THE CONDITIONS STATED IN YOUR SUBMISSION. THE CONGRESS HAS GIVEN APPROVAL TO THE EXPENDITURE OF SUCH APPROPRIATIONS ONLY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PAST PRACTICE AND DECISIONS AND IT IS BELIEVED THAT THE MATTER IS ONE THAT THE CONGRESS SHOULD CONSIDER, ANY CHANGE IN THE EXISTING PRACTICE TO BE BASED ON EXPRESS LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY RATHER THAN UPON A QUESTIONABLE CONSTRUCTION BY THIS OFFICE OF EXISTING STATUTES. THE EVENT RECOMMENDATON IS MADE FOR LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY, THERE WOULD BE FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF THE CONGRESS WHETHER IT DESIRED TO FIX A TIME LIMIT FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS COULD BE CONSIDERED IN A TRAVEL STATUS WHEN TEMPORARILY ASSIGNED TO DUTY AT A POST OTHER THAN THEIR PERMANENT POSTS.

THERE IS A CLEAR DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE TEMPORARY PERFORMANCE OF DUTY BY GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL AWAY FROM THEIR DESIGNATED POSTS OF DUTY DURING WHICH THEY ARE IN A TRAVEL STATUS AS CONTEMPLATED UNDER THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT OF FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS TO DUTY AS ADDITIONAL OFFICERS OR TO TAKE CHARGE TEMPORARILY IN AN EMERGENCY AT POSTS OTHER THAN THEIR PERMANENT POSTS. IN THE FORMER THERE IS A DIRECT RELATION BETWEEN THE DUTY PERFORMED AT THE PERMANENT STATION AND THE TEMPORARY DUTY PERFORMED WHILE IN A TRAVEL STATUS. THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE WORKS FROM HIS HEADQUARTERS AND IS CONSIDERED IN A TRAVEL STATUS WHEN PERFORMING DUTY AWAY THEREFROM BECAUSE THE DISTANCE FROM HEADQUARTERS IS TOO GREAT TO RETURN EACH DAY. IN THE LATTER, UNDER THE CONDITIONS SET FORTH IN YOUR LETTER, THERE IS NO DIRECT RELATION BETWEEN THE DUTY OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICER AT HIS PERMANENT POST AND AT THE POST WHERE HE IS ASSIGNED TEMPORARILY. THE ONE FACT THAT THE DUTY AT THE OTHER POST IS TEMPORARY DOES NOT ESTABLISH A RELATION BETWEEN SUCH TEMPORARY DUTY AND DUTY PREVIOUSLY PERFORMED AT THE PERMANENT STATION FOR THE REASON THAT THERE IS NO WORKING FROM THE SAME HEADQUARTERS BUT A CHANGE IN HEADQUARTERS. HE BECOMES TEMPORARILY A PART OF THE ORGANIZATION AT THE NEW POST. THERE MAY BE FACTS UNDER WHICH A FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICER MAY BE IN A TRAVEL STATUS, SIMILAR TO THE GENERAL TRAVEL STATUS OF GOVERNMENT OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES FOR WHICH THE CONGRESS MADE PROVISION IN THE ACTS OF APRIL 6, 1914, 38 STAT. 318; AUGUST 1, 1914, 38 STAT. 680, BUT THESE ENACTMENTS APPEAR NOT HERETOFORE TO HAVE BEEN APPLIED TO FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS UNDER THE FACTS SUBMITTED, AND THERE APPEARS NOW NO CLEAR AUTHORITY FOR APPLYING THERETO THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF JUNE 3, 1926, 44 STAT. 688.

YOU ARE ADVISED, THEREFORE, THAT DIPLOMATIC, CONSULAR, AND FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS IN A TRAVEL STATUS AND REIMBURSED EXPENSES OF SUBSISTENCE UNDER THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS WHEN ASSIGNED TO TEMPORARY DUTY AS ADDITIONAL OFFICERS OR TO TAKE CHARGE TEMPORARILY AT POSTS OTHER THAN THEIR PERMANENT POSTS.