A-29163, NOVEMBER 8, 1929, 9 COMP. GEN. 192

A-29163: Nov 8, 1929

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DISBURSING OFFICERS - RESPONSIBILITY - NAVY ENLISTED MAN ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE WHERE A DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE NAVY HAS NOTICE OF THE ABSENCE WITHOUT LEAVE OF AN ENLISTED MAN OF THE NAVY HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYMENT OF PAY DURING THE ABSENCE. NOTWITHSTANDING NOTICE OF SUCH ABSENCE WITHOUT LEAVE IN THE USUAL FORM WAS NOT FURNISHED HIM BY THE COMMANDING OFFICER. THE RECORDS SHOW THAT WHITE WAS ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE FROM THE U.S.S. WAS FURNISHED TRANSPORTATION FROM CLARKSBURG. THAT THESE FACTS WERE COMMUNICATED TO YOU BY THE COMMANDER. YOU STATE: WHILE IT IS TRUE. THIS INFORMATION WAS OF SUCH A NATURE AS TO BE EASILY OVERLOOKED. IT WAS NOT FURNISHED IN THE ROUTINE WAY. COMMANDING OFFICERS OF NAVY VESSELS AND UNITS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING MUSTERS OF AND REPORTING ABSENTEES FOUND AMONG THE PERSONNEL UNDER THEIR COMMANDS.

A-29163, NOVEMBER 8, 1929, 9 COMP. GEN. 192

DISBURSING OFFICERS - RESPONSIBILITY - NAVY ENLISTED MAN ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE WHERE A DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE NAVY HAS NOTICE OF THE ABSENCE WITHOUT LEAVE OF AN ENLISTED MAN OF THE NAVY HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYMENT OF PAY DURING THE ABSENCE, NOTWITHSTANDING NOTICE OF SUCH ABSENCE WITHOUT LEAVE IN THE USUAL FORM WAS NOT FURNISHED HIM BY THE COMMANDING OFFICER.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO LIEUT. WEBSTER GROSS, UNITED STATES NAVY, NOVEMBER 8, 1929:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 30, 1929, REQUESTING REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT NO. K-47935-N, JULY 25, 1929, DISALLOWING CREDIT IN YOUR DISBURSING ACCOUNT FOR $8.35 PAID WALTER JOHN WHITE, F 3C, UNITED STATES NAVY, AS PAY WHILE ABSENT OVER LEAVE FROM NOVEMBER 23 TO 30, 1927.

THE RECORDS SHOW THAT WHITE WAS ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE FROM THE U.S.S. NOKOMIS FROM 8 A.M., NOVEMBER 23, 1927; THAT HE REPORTED AT THE NAVY RECRUITING STATION, CLARKSBURG, W.VA., AT 10 A.M., NOVEMBER 30, 1927, AND WAS FURNISHED TRANSPORTATION FROM CLARKSBURG, W.VA., TO PHILADELPHIA, PA., ON GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS; THAT THESE FACTS WERE COMMUNICATED TO YOU BY THE COMMANDER, NAVY RECRUITING STATION, BALTIMORE, MD., DECEMBER 1, 1927, ON A REQUEST FOR A CHECK AGE OF $14.73 FOR THE TRANSPORTATION FURNISHED WHITE; THAT YOU ACCOMPLISHED THE CHECK AGE IN THE SUM OF $14.73 DECEMBER 6, 1927, AND TRANSFERRED WHITE'S ACCOUNT TO THE RECEIVING STATION AT PHILADELPHIA, PA., ON DECEMBER 6, 1927, WITH A BALANCE OF $10.95 DUE WHITE; AND THAT THIS AMOUNT INCLUDED PAY FOR THE ABSENCE WITHOUT LEAVE FOR THE PERIOD NOVEMBER 23 TO 29, 1927, SEVEN DAYS AT $36 A MONTH, LESS HOSPITAL FUND, OR $8.35. IN YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 28, 1929, RELATIVE TO THE DISALLOWANCE IN QUESTION, YOU STATE:

WHILE IT IS TRUE, AS STATED IN AUDIT DIVISION LETTER MENTIONED ABOVE, I HAD NOTICE OF WHITE'S ABSENCE, THIS INFORMATION WAS OF SUCH A NATURE AS TO BE EASILY OVERLOOKED. FURTHER, IT WAS NOT FURNISHED IN THE ROUTINE WAY, BEING MERELY A NOTATION PLACED UPON A REQUEST FOR CHECK AGE. COMMANDING OFFICERS OF NAVY VESSELS AND UNITS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING MUSTERS OF AND REPORTING ABSENTEES FOUND AMONG THE PERSONNEL UNDER THEIR COMMANDS. THEY ARE ALSO REQUIRED TO DIRECT DISBURSING OFFICERS CARRYING ACCOUNTS OF SUCH PERSONNEL TO MAKE CHECK AGES WHEN APPROPRIATE. IN FACT, A DISBURSING OFFICER, UNDER THE PRESENT REGULATIONS, WOULD HAVE NO AUTHORITY TO MAKE A CHECK AGE SUCH AS REFERRED TO ABOVE WITHOUT A PROPERLY SIGNED ORDER FROM THE COMMANDING OFFICER. * * *

IT HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED, CERTAINLY SINCE THE HOLDING OF THE SUPREME COURT IN THE CASE OF UNITED STATES V. LANDERS, 92 U.S. 78, DECIDED IN 1875, THAT AN ENLISTED MAN EARNS NO PAY WHEN HE CRIMINALLY OMITS THE RENDITION OF SERVICE, AS WHERE ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE. PAY FOR THE PERIOD OF ABSENCE IS NOT PAID BECAUSE IT HAS NOT BEEN EARNED; IT IS NOT WITHHELD AS A FORFEITURE OR PENALTY FOR THE ABSENCE. A PAYMASTER REQUIRES NO DIRECTION OR ADVICE FROM ANY SOURCE TO WITHHOLD PAYMENT OF AN AMOUNT THAT IS NOT DUE FROM THE GOVERNMENT; WHERE HE HAS NOTICE THAT PAY HAS NOT BEEN EARNED AND THAT NOTICE IS THE BASIS OF AN ENTRY IN THE ACCOUNT HE MAY NOT AVOID HIS RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE IMPROPER PAYMENT ON THE GROUND THAT THE INFORMATION DID NOT REACH HIM IN A PARTICULAR FORM.

A DISBURSING OFFICER HAVING NOTICE OF A SENTENCE OF A COURT-MARTIAL DISRATING AN ENLISTED MAN OF THE NAVY IS NOT ENTITLED TO CREDIT IN HIS ACCOUNTS FOR PAYMENTS MADE IN A HIGHER RATING THAN THAT LEGALLY HELD BY THE MAN, AND IT IS IMMATERIAL WHETHER NOTICE OF SUCH CHANGE OF RATING WAS COMMUNICATED BY HIS COMMANDING OFFICER TO THE SUPPLY OFFICER CARRYING HIS ACCOUNTS. THE FACTS IN THE COURT-MARTIAL SENTENCE WERE SUFFICIENT NOTICE TO THE DISBURSING OFFICER TO SHOW CHANGE IN THE MAN'S RATING. 6 COMP. GEN. 730. A DISBURSING OFFICER IN POSSESSION OF FACTS NECESSARY TO ENABLE HIM TO MAKE PROPER ADJUSTMENTS IN A PAY ACCOUNT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY OVERPAYMENT RESULTING FROM HIS FAILURE TO MAKE THE ADJUSTMENT. 2 COMP. GEN. 244.

IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THE INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THE REQUEST TO CHECK WHITE'S ACCOUNT FOR COST OF TRANSPORTATION FURNISHED HIM FROM CLARKSBURG, W.VA., TO PHILADELPHIA, PA., WAS SUFFICIENT TO PUT YOU ON NOTICE THAT WHITE WAS NOT ENTITLED TO PAY FOR THE PERIOD OF ABSENCE, AND IT IS IMMATERIAL THAT NOTICE OF SUCH ABSENCE AND ORDER TO CHECK THE MAN'S PAY WAS NOT GIVEN YOU BY THE COMMANDING OFFICER. THE DISALLOWANCE IS AND MUST BE SUSTAINED.