A-31074, APRIL 5, 1930, 9 COMP. GEN. 434

A-31074: Apr 5, 1930

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THERE IS NO AUTHORITY UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 23. 1930: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 16. REGARDING CERTAIN ITEMS FOR WHICH CREDIT WAS WITHHELD IN SETTLEMENT NO. IN WHICH YOU WERE ADVISED THAT CREDIT WOULD BE ALLOWED FOR THE ITEMS IN VOUCHER NO. 3. WITH THE EXCEPTION OF $10.17 TO COVER THE CHARGE OF 38 KRONOR PAID TO "CARPENTER FOR SETTING UP FURNITURE" (SHOWN TO HAVE CONSISTED OF REPAIR WORK. WHICH WAS DISALLOWED FEBRUARY 4. FOR THE REASON THAT UNPACKING AND REASSEMBLING OF HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE WAS NOT A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST GOVERNMENT FUNDS. RECEIPT IS ACKNOWLEDGED OF YOUR LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 3. THIS PACKING WAS DONE AT A WAREHOUSE UNDER THE NEW METHOD OF PACKING AND CRATING OVER WHICH I HAD NO CONTROL.

A-31074, APRIL 5, 1930, 9 COMP. GEN. 434

TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS - UNCRATING WHERE AN OFFICER OF THE ARMY, ON DUTY AS A MILITARY ATTACHE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY, HAS HAD HIS HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS TRANSPORTED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE FROM HIS OLD STATION TO HIS NEW STATION, INCLUDING PACKING, CRATING, FREIGHT, AND DRAYAGE TO HIS NEW STATION, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 23, 1928, 45 STAT. 333, TO REIMBURSE HIM FOR THE COST OF UNPACKING OR UNCRATING THE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS AT THE NEW STATION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO MAJ. E. P. PIERSON, UNITED STATES ARMY, APRIL 5, 1930:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 16, 1929, REGARDING CERTAIN ITEMS FOR WHICH CREDIT WAS WITHHELD IN SETTLEMENT NO. K-52415-W, DATED NOVEMBER 15, 1929, OF YOUR ACCOUNT, ALSO TO LETTER OF THIS OFFICE DATED JANUARY 21, 1930, IN WHICH YOU WERE ADVISED THAT CREDIT WOULD BE ALLOWED FOR THE ITEMS IN VOUCHER NO. 3, MAY, 1929, IN THE SUM OF $70.02, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF $10.17 TO COVER THE CHARGE OF 38 KRONOR PAID TO "CARPENTER FOR SETTING UP FURNITURE" (SHOWN TO HAVE CONSISTED OF REPAIR WORK, GLUING, ETC.), WHICH WAS DISALLOWED FEBRUARY 4, 1930, FOR THE REASON THAT UNPACKING AND REASSEMBLING OF HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE WAS NOT A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST GOVERNMENT FUNDS.

RECEIPT IS ACKNOWLEDGED OF YOUR LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 3, 1930, REQUESTING REVIEW OF THE ACTION IN WHICH YOU STATE:

* * * I DIRECTED FREYS EXPRESS TO COMPLETE THE SETTING UP OF THE FURNITURE. THEY SENT A MAN WHO PUT ON MIRRORS ON 1 DRESSING TABLE, 1 CHIFFONIER, AND HUNG 1 CHEVAL MIRROR, AND SUCH WORK. I ALSO FOUND THAT THE CRATER (CARPENTER) UNDER THE DEPOT QUARTERMASTER, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, HAD REMOVED ALL KNOBS ON DRAWERS, SOMETIMES REVERSING THEM ON THE INSIDE AND SOMETIMES PLACING THEM IN BUNDLES IN THE DRAWERS. IN SOME INSTANCES HE HAD BROKEN GLUE REINFORCEMENTS TO ACCOMPLISH THIS. THIS PACKING WAS DONE AT A WAREHOUSE UNDER THE NEW METHOD OF PACKING AND CRATING OVER WHICH I HAD NO CONTROL. PRESUMABLY THIS WAS DONE WITH GOOD INTENTION BY EXPERT PACKERS WHO ARE CLASSED AS CARPENTERS IN THE UNITED STATES. IF THIS FURNITURE HAD BEEN UNPACKED AT A MILITARY POST I WOULD HAVE CONSIDERED THIS REASSEMBLING OF THE FURNITURE A REASONABLE DUTY OF THE SAME CREW OF MEN WHO WOULD BE ASSIGNED TO DO THE UNCRATING HERE I LOOKED AT IT THE SAME WAY, AND PERMITTED THE WORDING OF THE CARPENTER'S BILL TO STAND BECAUSE IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE TO ITEMIZE THE ACTUAL MINUTES. BY THE METHOD OF EXPERT CRATING PERMITTED IN THIS CASE, THE GOVERNMENT NO DOUBT SAVED MUCH VALUABLE TIME OF ITS LABORERS IN FORT SAM HOUSTON BY ENABLING THEM TO CONSTRUCT PLAIN, SQUARE-CUT CRATES. THIS METHOD OF CRATING WILL BE A DIRECT LOSS TO ME, UNLESS I AM PERMITTED TO HAVE THE FURNITURE REASSEMBLED OR "SET UP.' IN NO CASE WAS THE RACKING DAMAGE DUE TO SHIPMENT REPAIRED EXCEPT AS PREVIOUSLY STATED BY APPLYING SOME GLUE IN A FEW INSTANCES OF LOOSENED PREVIOUS GLUING WHERE IT WAS EASILY DONE INCIDENTAL TO SETTING UP. THE ONLY "DAMAGE" REPAIRED WAS TO THE LEGS AS FOLLOWS: 1 LEG OF A GATELEG TABLE BROKEN; 1 LEG OF A DRESSING TABLE CRACKED; 1 LEG OF A CHIFFOROBE CRACKED; 3 LEGS OF TWO CHAIRS LOOSE.

THE TIME OF THE CARPENTER IN SETTING BACK 24 WOODED KNOBS ON DRAWERS, HANGING THE MIRRORS BACK ON THE CHIFFONIER, DRESSING TABLE, AND CHEVAL MIRROR, AND REPLACING A WOODEN BACK PIECE ON THE CHIFFOROBE, ALL OF WHICH HE DID UNDER MY PERSONAL SUPERVISION, WAS OF SUCH DURATION THAT I CONSIDER HIS CHARGES REASONABLE IN THE EXTREME. NEVERTHELESS, I RECOGNIZE THE TECHNICAL POINT THAT ANY CLAIM FOR SHIPPING DAMAGE LIES BETWEEN ME AND THE SHIPPER PER A.R. 30-960, PAR. 32, OR IN THE EXTREME CASE MIGHT BE MADE THE SUBJECT OF A CLAIM BY ME UNDER AR-35-7100.

THE FURNITURE WAS SHIPPED BY RAIL FROM FORT SAM HOUSTON, TEXAS, TO GALVESTON, TEXAS. THERE IT WAS LOADED ON AN ARMY TRANSPORT. THIS TRANSPORT THEREAFTER TOUCHED AT PANAMA AND PORTO RICO, ARRIVING AT NEW YORK ABOUT 21 DAYS LATER. THERE THE FURNITURE WAS PUT IN TEMPORARY STORAGE UNTIL IT WAS TRANSFERRED TO A COMMERCIAL SHIP FOR DIRECT SHIPMENT TO STOCKHOLM, WHERE I PERSONALLY SUPERVISED ITS UNLOADING AND TRANSFER TO MY QUARTERS, AS WELL AS ITS "SETTING UP.' NO VISIBLE DAMAGE TRACEABLE TO NEGLECT ON THE PART OF THE SHIPPER WAS FOUND BY ME. IT WAS RATHER THE FORM OF PACKING AND THE REQUIREMENT OF THE LABOR LAWS OF SWEDEN, OVER WHICH I CAN EXERCISE NO CONTROL, WHICH REQUIRED THE EMPLOYMENT OF A CARPENTER FIRM IN ADDITION TO A DRAYAGE FIRM TO MAKE MY FURNITURE AVAILABLE TO ME. ALL THE "REPAIRING" THAT WAS DONE I COULD HAVE DONE MYSELF IN THE UNITED STATES WITH 50 CENTS WORTH OF FURNITURE GLUE, OF WHICH MOST OF THE GLUE WOULD BE SAVED FOR A FUTURE REPAIR JOB.

A REASONABLE READING OF THE REGULATIONS IN THIS CASE WILL PERMIT OF INCLUSION OF THE ACTUAL WORK DONE AS "SETTING UP" OF FURNITURE WHICH WAS "TAKEN DOWN" BY GOVERNMENT PACKERS FOR CONVENIENCE IN CRATING.

WITH THE ADDITIONAL EXPLANATIONS GIVEN ABOVE, IT IS BELIEVED THAT MY ACTION IN CHARGING THE ITEM OF $10.17 ON VOUCHER 3, MAY, 1929, AGAINST FEDERAL FUNDS WILL BE SUSTAINED.

THE APPROPRIATION INVOLVED, ACT OF MARCH 23, 1928, 45 STAT. 333, PROVIDES:

FOR TRANSPORTATION OF THE ARMY AND ITS SUPPLIES * * * OF AUTHORIZED BAGGAGE * * * AND INCLUDING PACKING AND CRATING; * * *.

ARMY REGULATIONS 30-960, SEPTEMBER 20, 1927, SECTION 111, PRESCRIBES WEIGHT ALLOWANCES OF AUTHORIZED BAGGAGE ON PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION, THE MAXIMUM RATES EXPENDABLE FOR PACKING AND CRATING UNDER VARIOUS CONDITIONS THEREIN SPECIFIED, AND FOR TRANSPORTATION AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE, INCLUDING DRAYAGE FROM RAILROAD STATION TO RESIDENCE, BUT DOES NOT PURPORT TO AUTHORIZE THE PAYMENT FROM PUBLIC FUNDS OF THE COST OF REPAIRING OR REASSEMBLING OF FURNITURE SHIPPED AS HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS OF AN ARMY OFFICER, NOR WOULD SUCH REGULATION BE VALID UNDER THE APPROPRIATION. PARAGRAPH 32, PROVIDES THAT CLAIMS FOR DAMAGES INCURRED DURING TRANSIT ARE MATTERS ENTIRELY BETWEEN THE OWNER AND THE CARRIER, WHILE REGULATIONS 35- 7100, JULY 16, 1926, PROVIDE FOR RECOUPMENT BY THE OWNER IN CERTAIN INSTANCES OF AMOUNTS IN EXCESS OF THAT RECOVERABLE FROM THE CARRIER. HOWEVER, THE CLAIMANT CONCEDES THAT NO DAMAGE TO THE FURNITURE IS TRACEABLE TO NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE SHIPPER, BUT CONTENDS THAT A REASONABLE CONSTRUCTION OF THE REGULATIONS WOULD INCLUDE "SETTING UP" OF FURNITURE WHICH HAD BEEN "TAKEN DOWN" BY GOVERNMENT PACKERS FOR CONVENIENCE IN CRATING.

AS NEITHER THE APPROPRIATION CHARGED WITH THESE EXPENDITURES NOR THE REGULATIONS APPLICABLE PROVIDE FOR UNCRATING OF THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS AT DESTINATION, PAYMENT THEREOF IS NOT AUTHORIZED. SEE 27 COMP. DEC. 261; 2 COMP. GEN. 598.

IN ADDITION TO THE 38 KRONOR OR $10.17 HERETOFORE DISALLOWED, A CHARGE FOR UNPACKING INCLUDED IN AN UNITEMIZED CHARGE OF 115 KRONOR FOR TRANSPORTATION AND UNCRATING (NOT SEPARATED), ALSO THREE SEPARATE CHARGES FOR UNCRATING ON MARCH 28, 30, AND APRIL 3, 1929, AGGREGATING 27 KRONOR, A TOTAL OF 142 KRONOR, OR $38.02, FOR WHICH CREDIT HAS BEEN ALLOWED IN THE LAST SETTLEMENT OF THE ACCOUNT, NOW APPEAR UNAUTHORIZED AND PROPERLY FOR DISALLOWANCE IN THE ACCOUNT. ACCORDINGLY, THERE IS CERTIFIED AS DUE FROM THE CLAIMANT TO THE UNITED STATES THE SUM OF $48.19, WHICH AMOUNT SHOULD BE FORWARDED TO THIS OFFICE WITHOUT DELAY.