A-30435, MARCH 1, 1930. 9 COMP. GEN. 374

A-30435: Mar 1, 1930

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THERE IS NO OBJECTION TO THE ENTERING INTO AN AGREEMENT WITH THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE PANAMA CANAL ZONE FOR THE PAYMENT OF SUCH INDEMNITIES IN EQUAL SHARES BY THE UNITED STATES AND THE CANAL ZONE IN INSTANCES WHERE THE RESPONSIBILITY CAN NOT BE DEFINITELY DETERMINED TO BE THAT OF EITHER POSTAL ADMINISTRATION. 1930: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 27. INQUIRY WAS MADE AS TO WHETHER THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE CANAL ZONE WAS WILLING TO ACCEPT A RECIPROCAL RESPONSIBILITY WITH THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE LOSS. 000 IN CONNECTION WITH DOMESTIC REGISTERED MAIL IS COVERED BY SECS. 861. A REPLY WAS RECEIVED FROM THE DIRECTOR OF POSTS OF THE CANAL ZONE DATED DECEMBER 31. A COPY OF WHICH IS ATTACHED.

A-30435, MARCH 1, 1930. 9 COMP. GEN. 374

REGISTERED MAILS - PAYMENT OF INDEMNITIES IN CASES OF INDEMNITY PAYABLE ON ACCOUNT OF LOSS, RIFLING, OR DAMAGING TO REGISTERED MAIL TO OR FROM THE CANAL ZONE, THERE IS NO OBJECTION TO THE ENTERING INTO AN AGREEMENT WITH THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE PANAMA CANAL ZONE FOR THE PAYMENT OF SUCH INDEMNITIES IN EQUAL SHARES BY THE UNITED STATES AND THE CANAL ZONE IN INSTANCES WHERE THE RESPONSIBILITY CAN NOT BE DEFINITELY DETERMINED TO BE THAT OF EITHER POSTAL ADMINISTRATION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, MARCH 1, 1930:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 27, 1930, SUBMITTING FOR CONSIDERATION AND DECISION A QUESTION STATED THEREIN AS FOLLOWS:

UNDER DATE OF APRIL 15, 1929, THE DEPARTMENT ADDRESSED A COMMUNICATION TO THE DIRECTOR OF POSTS, CANAL ZONE, CALLING ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1928, IN CONFORMITY WITH THE ACT OF CONGRESS, APPROVED MAY 1, 1928, THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF INDEMNITY PAYABLE IN CONNECTION WITH DOMESTIC REGISTERED MAIL HAD BEEN INCREASED TO $1,000, AND INQUIRY WAS MADE AS TO WHETHER THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE CANAL ZONE WAS WILLING TO ACCEPT A RECIPROCAL RESPONSIBILITY WITH THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE LOSS, RIFLING, OR DAMAGE OF ANY DOMESTIC REGISTERED MAIL TO A MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF $1,000. THE MATTER OF INCREASE OF INDEMNITY TO $1,000 IN CONNECTION WITH DOMESTIC REGISTERED MAIL IS COVERED BY SECS. 861, 1068 AND 1070 OF THE POSTAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS OF 1924 AS SHOWN BY THE PRINTED SHEET HEREWITH TRANSMITTED.

A REPLY WAS RECEIVED FROM THE DIRECTOR OF POSTS OF THE CANAL ZONE DATED DECEMBER 31, 1929, A COPY OF WHICH IS ATTACHED. IN THIS REPLY THE DIRECTOR OF POSTS AGREES TO THE INCREASE OF THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF INDEMNITY TO $1,000 IN SO FAR AS REGISTERED MAIL EXCHANGED BETWEEN THE CANAL ZONE AND POST OFFICES IN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES IS CONCERNED AND ADDS:

"IT IS TO BE FURTHER UNDERSTOOD THAT IN THE EVENT OF THE LOSS OR THE RIFLING OF A LETTER WHEREIN THE RESPONSIBILITY CAN NOT BE DETERMINED AFTER FULL INVESTIGATION THAT EACH ADMINISTRATION WILL ASSUME JOINT RESPONSIBILITY AND ADJUST THE CLAIM ON AN EQUAL BASIS AS HAS BEEN FOLLOWED IN THE PAST CONCERNING CLAIMS FOR INDEMNITY FOR LOST OR DAMAGED INSURED ARTICLES.'

IN CONNECTION WITH THE PROPOSITION OF THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE CANAL ZONE THAT THE INDEMNITY BE SHARED IN EQUAL PARTS IN THOSE INSTANCES WHERE IT IS FOUND IMPRACTICABLE TO DEFINITELY DETERMINE WHETHER THE LOSS, RIFLING, OR DAMAGE OCCURRED WHILE THE REGISTERED ARTICLE WAS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE CANAL ZONE OR IN THE CUSTODY OF THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES, YOUR ATTENTION IS INVITED TO THE DECISION RENDERED BY THE THEN COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY UNDER DATE OF AUGUST 18, 1908, IN WHICH IT IS STATED IN PART AS FOLLOWS CONCERNING INDEMNITY FOR REGISTERED MAIL EXCHANGED BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND THE CANAL ZONE:

"IT IS MY OPINION THAT NO PAYMENTS FOR LOSSES OCCURRING THROUGH THE FAULT OF THE POSTAL SYSTEM OF SAID ZONE COULD BE MADE FROM THE DOMESTIC INDEMNITY APPROPRIATION PROVIDED FOR THE GENERAL POSTAL SERVICE. THE ZONE SERVICE WOULD HAVE TO PAY ITS INDEMNITY LOSSES FROM ITS OWN POSTAL REVENUES.'

A DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THERE IS ANY LEGAL OBJECTION TO THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES ENTERING INTO AN AGREEMENT WITH THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE CANAL ZONE UNDER WHICH THE LOSS MAY BE SHARED IN EQUAL PARTS BY THE UNITED STATES AND THE CANAL ZONE IN INSTANCES WHERE REGISTERED MAIL IS LOST, RIFLED, OR DAMAGED AND IT CAN NOT BE DETERMINED DEFINITELY WHETHER THE LOSS, RIFLING, OR DAMAGE OCCURRED IN THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES OR IN THAT OF THE CANAL ZONE, PROVIDED EACH POSTAL ADMINISTRATION PAYS ITS OWN SHARE OF THE LOSS SUSTAINED.

THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF MAY 1, 1928, 45 STAT. 469, AUTHORIZING THE POSTMASTER GENERAL TO PRESCRIBE RULES AND REGULATIONS TO INCREASE THE INDEMNITY PAYABLE ON REGISTERED MAIL MATTER TO $1,000 ARE APPLICABLE PRIMARILY TO DOMESTIC MAILS. THERE APPEARS TO BE NO REASON, HOWEVER, WHY THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE PANAMA CANAL ZONE CAN NOT ADOPT THE SAME SCALE OF FEES AND INDEMNITY PAYMENTS AS PROVIDED IN SAID ACT, THE FEES COLLECTED BY SAID ADMINISTRATION TO BE FOR CREDIT TO ITS FUNDS AND INDEMNITIES FOR WHICH IT IS RESPONSIBLE PAYABLE THEREFROM AS HELD IN DECISIONS OF A FORMER COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY, AUGUST 18, 1908, CITED AND QUOTED IN YOUR LETTER.

AS TO THE MATTER PRESENTED BY YOUR SUBMISSION OF ENTERING INTO AN AGREEMENT WITH THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE CANAL ZONE FOR THE PAYMENT OF INDEMNITIES IN EQUAL PARTS BY THAT SERVICE AND BY THE POSTAL ADMINISTRATION OF THE UNITED STATES IN CASE WHERE REGISTERED MAIL IS LOST, RIFLED OR DAMAGED, AND THE RESPONSIBILITY THEREFOR CAN NOT DEFINITELY BE DETERMINED TO BE THAT OF EITHER POSTAL SERVICE, THERE WOULD APPEAR TO BE NO LEGAL OBJECTION TO SUCH AN ARRANGEMENT. IT IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD, AS STATED IN YOUR LETTER, THAT EACH POSTAL ADMINISTRATION WILL PAY ITS OWN SHARE OF INDEMNITY, AFTER DUE INVESTIGATION TO FIX THE RESPONSIBILITY HAS FAILED. THE MATTER APPEARS TO INVOLVE THE SAME PRINCIPLE COVERED BY THE 1924 UNIVERSAL POSTAL UNION CONVENTION OF STOCKHOLM, CITED IN YOUR LETTER, PROVIDING IN EFFECT THAT IF THE LOSS HAS TAKEN PLACE IN TRANSIT AND IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO ESTABLISH THE PLACE AT WHICH THE LOSS OCCURRED, THE POSTAL ADMINISTRATIONS CONCERNED SHALL BEAR THE LOSS IN EQUAL SHARES. TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THE FAIRNESS OF SUCH AN ARRANGEMENT AND THE FACT THAT NO LAW OF THE UNITED STATES SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITS IT, I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT THIS OFFICE WILL INTERPOSE NO OBJECTION TO THE PROPOSED AGREEMENT WITH THE POSTAL SERVICE OF THE PANAMA CANAL ZONE TO TAKE CARE OF THIS MATTER.