A-31501, OCTOBER 15, 1930, 10 COMP. GEN. 170

A-31501: Oct 15, 1930

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FOR THE PURPOSE OF ARRANGING FOR THE MEDICAL EXAMINATION OF AIR PILOTS IS ADMINISTRATIVELY AUTHORIZED TO AND ACTUALLY PERFORMS TRAVEL BETWEEN HABANA AND PANAMA CITY UPON A FOREIGN VESSEL FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING CONTACT WITH PHYSICIANS OF OTHER COUNTRIES EN ROUTE TO A MEETING OF THE PAN AMERICAN MEDICAL CONGRESS. IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ILLEGAL USE OF A TRANSPORTATION REQUEST BY ANOTHER EMPLOYEE FOR TRANSPORTATION UPON A FOREIGN. A CHARGE WILL BE RAISED AGAINST THE EMPLOYEE USING THE REQUEST. ARE CONCEDED BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER. WERE EXCEPTED TO FOR THE REASON THAT THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED ON A FOREIGN VESSEL BETWEN HABANA. OTHER ITEMS AGGREGATING $97.40 APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN PROPER FOR REIMBURSEMENT.

A-31501, OCTOBER 15, 1930, 10 COMP. GEN. 170

TRAVELING EXPENSES - FOREIGN VESSELS - DISBURSING OFFICERS - LIABILITY THE FACT THAT A PHYSICIAN ORDERED TO TRAVEL TO PANAMA CITY VIA HABANA, CUBA, FOR THE PURPOSE OF ARRANGING FOR THE MEDICAL EXAMINATION OF AIR PILOTS IS ADMINISTRATIVELY AUTHORIZED TO AND ACTUALLY PERFORMS TRAVEL BETWEEN HABANA AND PANAMA CITY UPON A FOREIGN VESSEL FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING CONTACT WITH PHYSICIANS OF OTHER COUNTRIES EN ROUTE TO A MEETING OF THE PAN AMERICAN MEDICAL CONGRESS, DOES NOT ENTITLE HIM TO REIMBURSEMENT AT THE EXPENSE OF THE UNITED STATES FOR EXPENSES WHILE ON SHIPBOARD NOR TO SUCH TRANSPORTATION IN CONTRAVENTION OF SECTION 601 OF THE ACT OF MAY 22, 1928, 45 STAT. 697. A DISBURSING OFFICER, AS SUCH, IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ILLEGAL USE OF A TRANSPORTATION REQUEST BY ANOTHER EMPLOYEE FOR TRANSPORTATION UPON A FOREIGN, INSTEAD OF AN AMERICAN VESSEL, AND RECOUPMENT BY THE UNITED STATES MAY NOT BE BY WAY OF A DISALLOWANCE OF CREDIT IN THE DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNTS FOR OTHER LAWFUL PAYMENTS TO SUCH EMPLOYEE. A CHARGE WILL BE RAISED AGAINST THE EMPLOYEE USING THE REQUEST.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, OCTOBER 15, 1930:

REVIEW HAS BEEN REQUESTED OF SETTLEMENT OF JULY 9, 1930, DISALLOWING CREDIT IN ACCOUNTS OF CHARLES E. MOLSTER, DISBURSING OFFICER, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, FOR $119.10 REIMBURSEMENT TO DR. L. H. BAUER AS TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES INCURRED JANUARY 24 TO FEBRUARY 10, 1930, WHILE TRAVELING FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., TO PANAMA CITY, VIA HABANA, CUBA, AND RETURN.

THE TAXICAB FARES AGGREGATING 70 CENTS DISALLOWED AS NOT BEING PROPER WHILE ON A PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE BASIS, ARE CONCEDED BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER. TWENTY-ONE DOLLARS, THE AMOUNT DISALLOWED AS REPRESENTING $20.25 PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE, AND A 75-CENT CHARGE FOR DECK CHAIR, WERE EXCEPTED TO FOR THE REASON THAT THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED ON A FOREIGN VESSEL BETWEN HABANA, CUBA, AND CRISTOBAL, CANAL ZONE, EN ROUTE TO AND FROM PANAMA CITY. OTHER ITEMS AGGREGATING $97.40 APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN PROPER FOR REIMBURSEMENT, BUT CREDIT FOR THE ENTIRE AMOUNT OF THE VOUCHER, $119.10, WAS WITHHELD BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEE HAD USED A TRANSPORTATION REQUEST FOR THE TRANSPORTATION BY A FOREIGN VESSEL BETWEEN HABANA AND CRISTOBAL, THUS OBLIGATING THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY $129 FOR SUCH TRANSPORTATION.

IN SUPPORT OF THE REQUEST FOR REVIEW, THERE WAS FORWARDED COPY OF A MEMORANDUM DATED JANUARY 11, 1930, BY THE DIRECTOR OF AIR REGULATION AND APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, STATING THE NECESSITY FOR THE USE OF A FOREIGN VESSEL, AS FOLLOWS:

DR. L. H. BAUER, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, AERONAUTICS BRANCH, HAS BEEN ORDERED TO PANAMA VIA HAVANA ON BUSINESS IN CONNECTION WITH THE "AIR COMMERCE ACT.' WHILE IN PANAMA DR. BAUER HAS BEEN INVITED TO ADDRESS THE SECOND CONGRESS FOR THE PAN AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION ON "AVIATION MEDICINE.'

BY VIRTUE OF THIS INVITATION HE HAS BEEN GIVEN THE PRIVILEGE OF THE REDUCED RATES GRANTED MEMBERS OF THE PAN AMERICAN MEDICAL CONGRESS WHICH HAS BEEN GRANTED BY THE PACIFIC STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY FOR THE USE OF THEIR S.S. ESSEQUIBO. A SPECIAL REDUCED RATE IS THEREFORE AVAILABLE FROM HAVANA TO PANAMA AND RETURN.

THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF THE PAN AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION WILL BE ON THE STEAMER AND IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT DR. BAUER HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR CONFERENCES WITH HIM PRIOR TO HIS ARRIVAL IN PANAMA SO THAT HE MAY MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR INTERVIEWING FOREIGN PHYSICIANS RELATIVE TO ARRANGING FOR PHYSICAL EXAMINATIONS OF AMERICAN AIRPLANE PILOTS IN CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA.

AUTHORITY IS THEREFORE REQUESTED FOR DR. BAUER TO TRAVEL ON A FOREIGN FLAG SHIP FROM HAVANA TO CRISTOBAL AND RETURN. THE TRAVEL CHARGES BY THIS ROUTE ARE LESS THAN ANY OTHER FARES WHICH CAN BE OBTAINED. BETWEEN WASHINGTON AND HAVANA DR. BAUER WILL TRAVEL BY RAIL AND WATER, USING AMERICAN FLAG SHIPS.

THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE REPORTED TO THIS OFFICE, JULY 30, 1930, AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE EXCEPTION YOU HAVE TAKEN TO VOUCHER NO. 53755- 174859 IN THE ACCOUNTS OF CHARLES E. MOLSTER, DISBURSING CLERK, FOR THE PERIOD FEBRUARY, 1930.

AT THE TIME DR. BAUER WAS ORDERED TO TRAVEL FROM WASHINGTON TO PANAMA VIA HAVANA, CUBA, AND RETURN, IT WAS KNOWN THAT HE COULD HAVE SECURED TRANSPORTATION ON AN AMERICAN VESSEL FROM HAVANA TO CRISTOBAL AT APPROXIMATELY THE SAME SAILING DATE. HE WAS DIRECTED TO PROCEED TO PANAMA FOR THE PURPOSE OF ARRANGING FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF PHYSICIANS TO EXAMINE AMERICAN PILOTS FLYING AMERICAN PLANES THROUGHOUT CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA AND IN ORDER TO HAVE THE NECESSARY CONTACT, IT WAS DESIRABLE AND NECESSARY THAT HE BE ON BOARD THE SHIP ON WHICH HE TRAVELED IN ORDER TO CONTACT LEADING PHYSICIANS OF THOSE COUNTRIES WHO WERE MEMBERS OF THE PAN AMERICAN MEDICAL CONGRESS.

SECTIONS 601 OF THE MERCHANT'S MARINE ACT OF MAY 22, 1928, REFERRED TO DOES NOT CONTEMPLATE THAT AMERICAN OFFICERS SHALL TRAVEL EXCLUSIVELY ON AMERICAN SHIPS WHEN THERE IS OFFICIAL NECESSITY FOR THEM TO DO OTHERWISE, AND IN THIS INSTANCE HAD HE TRAVELED ON AN AMERICAN SHIP BETWEEN THE POINTS MENTIONED HIS MISSION WOULD NOT HAVE SERVED THE PURPOSE DESIRED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE.

SECTION 601 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT OF MAY 22, 1928, 45 STAT. 697, PROVIDES:

ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS OVERSEAS TO FOREIGN COUNTRIES, OR TO ANY OF THE POSSESSIONS OF THE UNITED STATES, SHALL TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT HIS PERSONAL EFFECTS ON SHIPS REGISTERED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES WHEN SUCH SHIPS ARE AVAILABLE, UNLESS THE NECESSITY OF HIS MISSION REQUIRES THE USE OF A SHIP UNDER A FOREIGN FLAG: PROVIDED, THAT THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES SHALL NOT CREDIT ANY ALLOWANCE FOR TRAVEL OR SHIPPING EXPENSES INCURRED ON A FOREIGN SHIP IN THE ABSENCE OF SATISFACTORY PROOF OF THE NECESSITY THEREFOR.

THE TRAVEL ORDERS ISSUED TO DOCTOR BAUER DIRECTED TRAVEL TO PANAMA CITY, REPUBLIC OF PANAMA, VIA HABANA, CUBA, AND RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES. HIS TRAVEL VOUCHER DISCLOSES THAT HE SPENT AT LEAST THREE DAYS AT PANAMA CITY. HIS OFFICIAL DUTY CONSISTED OF MAKING ARRANGEMENTS FOR MEDICAL EXAMINATION OF AIR PILOTS AND WOULD APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN SUCH AS REQUIRED HIS PERSONAL PRESENCE AT PANAMA CITY, BUT IT IS NOT SHOWN THAT THE CONTACTS WITH PHYSICIANS COULD NOT HAVE BEEN EQUALLY ACCOMPLISHED ELSEWHERE THAN ON SHIPBOARD ON THE FOREIGN VESSELS. THE LAW IMPOSES A DUTY OF TRAVEL BY AMERICAN VESSELS WHICH IS FOR ADMINISTRATIVE OBSERVANCE AND IT MAY BE SUGGESTED ANY DEPARTURE THEREFROM SHOULD BE SUBMITTED FOR DETERMINATION OF THE CONSTITUTED OFFICERS RATHER THAN ADMINISTRATIVELY ASSUMING SUCH DETERMINATION AND GIVING RISE TO CLAIMS WHICH PRIMA FACIE INVOLVE OBLIGATIONS INCURRED IN VIOLATION OF EXPRESS STATUTORY LAW.

THE DISALLOWANCE OF CREDIT SO FAR AS IT RELATES TO ITEMS OF TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES INCURRED ON THE FOREIGN VESSEL AGGREGATING $21, WAS CORRECT. HOWEVER, IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE DISBURSING OFFICER WAS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PAYMENT MADE UPON THE TRANSPORTATION REQUEST, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO BASE A DISALLOWANCE OF CREDIT IN HIS ACCOUNTS UPON THE ILLEGAL USE OF THAT REQUEST.

UPON REVIEW, $97.40 IS CERTIFIED FOR CREDIT IN THE DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNT, THE DISALLOWANCE BEING OTHERWISE SUSTAINED.

A CHARGE FOR THE $129, WHICH THE GOVERNMENT WAS REQUIRED TO PAY UPON THE TRANSPORTATION REQUEST, WILL BE RAISED AGAINST DOCTOR BAUER.