A-30140, JANUARY 21, 1930, 9 COMP. GEN. 311

A-30140: Jan 21, 1930

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THE GROUND OF OBJECTION IS STATED: "PARAGRAPH 718 OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE REGULATIONS APPEARS TO CONFLICT WITH OR CONSTITUTE AN AMENDMENT OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS CONTRARY TO PARAGRAPH 5 OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR 248.'. " IS AS FOLLOWS: "THE AMOUNT PAID FOR EXECUTION OF APPLICATION FOR PASSPORTS ISSUED TO OFFICIAL TRAVELERS (NOT FOR THOSE ISSUED TO IMMEDIATE RELATIVES ACCOMPANYING THEM). TOGETHER WITH VISA FEES IN CASE VISAS ARE NOT GIVEN GRATIS. WAS BASED LARGELY ON 2 COMP. THE EXPENSE WAS DEEMED ALLOWABLE ON THE GROUND THAT "THE PHOTOGRAPHS IN QUESTION WERE NOT FOR THE PERSONAL USE OF THE EMPLOYEES BUT WERE A GOVERNMENT REQUIREMENT FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH OFFICIAL BUSINESS * * *.'.

A-30140, JANUARY 21, 1930, 9 COMP. GEN. 311

TRAVELING EXPENSES - PASSPORTS - VISAS - PASSPORT PHOTOGRAPHS EXPENSES INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE PROCURING OF PASSPORTS, VISAS, AND PASSPORT PHOTOGRAPHS, BY EMPLOYEES TRAVELING TO FOREIGN COUNTRIES ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, NOT BEING AUTHORIZED BY THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED AS OFFICIAL TRAVELING EXPENSES.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, JANUARY 21, 1930:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 9, 1930, AS FOLLOWS:

PREAUDIT DIFFERENCE SHEETS ANIMAL INDUSTRY, SCHEDULE 3564, DECEMBER 9, 1929, AND ANIMAL INDUSTRY SCHEDULE 3672, DECEMBER 13, 1929, TAKE EXCEPTION TO CHARGES OF $1.50 IN EACH CASE FOR PASSPORT PHOTOGRAPHS PROCURED BY EMPLOYEES OF THIS DEPARTMENT IN CONNECTION WITH OFFICIAL TRAVEL ABROAD. THE GROUND OF OBJECTION IS STATED: "PARAGRAPH 718 OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE REGULATIONS APPEARS TO CONFLICT WITH OR CONSTITUTE AN AMENDMENT OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS CONTRARY TO PARAGRAPH 5 OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR 248.'

THE RELEVANT PART OF PARAGRAPH 718 OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS OF THE PARTMENT,"PASSPORTS FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL," IS AS FOLLOWS: "THE AMOUNT PAID FOR EXECUTION OF APPLICATION FOR PASSPORTS ISSUED TO OFFICIAL TRAVELERS (NOT FOR THOSE ISSUED TO IMMEDIATE RELATIVES ACCOMPANYING THEM), TOGETHER WITH VISA FEES IN CASE VISAS ARE NOT GIVEN GRATIS, THE COST OF PHOTOGRAPHS TO BE ATTACHED TO PASSPORTS, AND THE COST OF NECESSARY AFFIDAVITS REGARDING CITIZENSHIP, MAY BE CLAIMED IN THE TRAVEL EXPENSE ACCOUNT.' REFERENCE TO OUR FILES INDICATES THAT THIS PART OF THE REGULATION DATES FROM 1923, AND WAS BASED LARGELY ON 2 COMP. GEN. 9,"PHOTOGRAPHS FOR IDENTIFICATION--- CUSTOMS SERVICE.' THIS DECISION DEALS WITH THE REIMBURSEMENT OF THE COST OF PHOTOGRAPHS IN CONNECTION WITH CERTAIN IDENTIFICATION CERTIFICATES REQUIRED BY THE CUSTOMS SERVICE, AND THE EXPENSE WAS DEEMED ALLOWABLE ON THE GROUND THAT "THE PHOTOGRAPHS IN QUESTION WERE NOT FOR THE PERSONAL USE OF THE EMPLOYEES BUT WERE A GOVERNMENT REQUIREMENT FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH OFFICIAL BUSINESS * * *.' IN PLACING THE PROVISION AS TO PASSPORT EXPENSES AMONG THE ADMINISTRATIVE RATHER THAN AMONG THE TRAVEL EXPENSE REGULATIONS THE DEPARTMENT HAD IN MIND THAT ALTHOUGH PASSPORTS ARE USED IN CONNECTION WITH TRAVEL, THEY ARE NOT INSTRUMENTALITIES OF TRAVEL IN THE SENSE OF A RAILROAD OR STEAMSHIP TICKET, BUT ARE PRIMARILY CERTIFICATES OF IDENTITY AND CITIZENSHIP AND THUS WITHIN MUCH THE SAME CATEGORY AS THE CERTIFICATES CONSIDERED IN 2 COMP. GEN. 429.

REIMBURSEMENTS WITHIN THE SCOPE OF OUR PARAGRAPH 718 HAVE BEEN CLAIMED AND ALLOWED SINCE THE PROMULGATION OF THE PARAGRAPH DOWN TO THE VERY RECENT EXCEPTIONS ABOVE MENTIONED. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS CHRONOLOGY IS IN THE FACT THAT THE PROVISION RAN UNCHALLENGED FROM THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, OCTOBER 1, 1926, DOWN TO DECEMBER OF THE YEAR JUST CLOSED. WE DO NOT WISH TO SUGGEST THAT THE OBJECTION RAISED BY THE AUDIT DIVISION IS ANY THE LESS VALID BECAUSE IT COMES LATE, BUT WE SHOULD BE GLAD TO HAVE YOU CONSIDER THE UNLUCKY POSITION IN WHICH THE DEPARTMENT IS LEFT. THE MEREST HINT OF THESE OBJECTIONS AT THE TIME THE SPECIAL INTERDEPARTMENTAL COMMITTEE ON STANDARDIZED TRAVEL REGULATIONS WAS SHAPING THE REVISION OF MARCH 1, 1929, WOULD HAVE LED THE DEPARTMENT TO INCLUDE A COVERING PARAGRAPH AMONG THE AMENDMENTS IT PROPOSED. INFORMAL EXPRESSIONS FROM SEVERAL OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCHES LEAD US TO BELIEVE THAT SUCH AN AMENDMENT WOULD HAVE HAD WIDE SUPPORT. THE DELAY IN ADVANCING THE OBJECTION NOT ONLY LOST US THIS OPPORTUNITY BUT HAS PROBABLY POSTPONED REMEDY THROUGH THE MEDIUM OF AMENDMENT BY A COUPLE OF YEARS. IT IS TRUE THAT WE ARE SENDING FORWARD REQUEST TO THE CHIEF COORDINATOR FOR THE DESIRED CHANGE, AND WE ARE INFORMALLY ADVISED THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE HAS MADE A SIMILAR REQUEST. IF, HOWEVER, THE FORMER POLICY AS TO AMENDMENTS IS RETAINED, NOTHING WILL BE DONE UNTIL THE TIME IS THOUGHT RIPE FOR THE NEXT GENERAL REVISION. THE FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE STANDARDIZED REGULATIONS CAME TWO YEARS AND FOUR MONTHS AFTER THE ORIGINAL PROMULGATION.

UNDER THESE CONDITIONS, AND HAVING IN MIND YOUR FREQUENT PRACTICE IN CASES OF OBJECTIONS ON THE PART OF YOUR OFFICE TO HITHERTO UNQUESTIONED CLASSES OF EXPENSE OF SUSPENDING ACTION UNTIL THE END OF THE NEXT SUCCEEDING SESSION OF CONGRESS TO PERMIT EFFORT FOR REMEDIAL LEGISLATIONS, WE SHOULD BE HIGHLY GRATIFIED AT YOUR CONSENT TO CONTINUE RECOGNITION OF THE PASSPORT-EXPENSE PORTION OF THE DEPARTMENT'S PARAGRAPH 718, ADMINISTRATIVE, UNTIL THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE NEXT REVISION OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

IN THE DECISION TO THE DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE UNITED STATES COMMISSION TO BRAZILIAN INTERNATIONAL CENTENNIAL EXPOSITION, JUNE 6, 1922, THAT OFFICER WAS ADVISED THAT EXPENDITURES FOR PASSPORT VISAS AND FOR VACCINATION CERTIFICATES COULD BE ALLOWED, IF AT ALL, ONLY AS ITEMS OF NECESSARY TRAVELING EXPENSES AND THEN ONLY IF PROVIDED FOR BY TRAVEL EXPENSE REGULATIONS PROVIDING FOR EXPENSES OF THAT CHARACTER. SEE ALSO 5 COMP. GEN. 802. THE DECISION IN 2 COMP. GEN. 429, MENTIONED IN YOUR SUBMISSION, WAS RENDERED PRIOR TO THE PROMULGATION OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AND, FURTHERMORE, THERE IS A DISTINCT DIFFERENCE IN THIS RESPECT BETWEEN PHOTOGRAPHS REQUIRED FOR IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES BY CUSTOMS EMPLOYEES AND PHOTOGRAPHS OR OTHER EXPENSES IN CONNECTION WITH PASSPORTS. THE ONE IS NECESSARY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTY AND FOR NO OTHER PURPOSE AND IS NOT NECESSARILY CONFINED TO A TRAVEL STATUS, WHILE PASSPORTS ARE REQUIRED OF ALL CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES TRAVELING OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, WHETHER ON PERSONAL OR OFFICIAL BUSINESS, AND ARE NOT, THEREFORE, CONFINED TO THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTY.

THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, EFFECTIVE MARCH 1, 1929, APPROVED BY THE PRESIDENT, MAKE NO PROVISION FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES OF PASSPORTS AND ARE APPLICABLE TO ALL CIVILIAN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE SEVERAL EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENTS. THEREFORE, THIS OFFICE CAN NOT SUSPEND OR WAIVE THE REQUIREMENTS THEREOF NOR ALLOW CREDIT FOR PAYMENTS IN CONTRAVENTION THEREOF. ACCORDINGLY, IT MUST BE HELD THAT UNLESS AND UNTIL THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS SHALL HAVE BEEN AMENDED TO PERMIT REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH PASSPORTS, CREDIT FOR SUCH EXPENSES CAN NOT BE ALLOWED BY THIS OFFICE.