A-48267, JULY 11, 1933, 13 COMP. GEN. 10

A-48267: Jul 11, 1933

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1933: I HAVE YOUR ENDORSEMENT OF MARCH 31. THERE IS ATTACHED A COPY OF AN "ALNAV" DISPATCH. WHICH IT WILL BE NOTED QUOTES THIS SECTION OF THE LAW. 3. IT IS NECESSARY. IN DISCUSSING THESE INSTRUCTIONS A JOINT COMMITTEE OF THE MILITARY SERVICES HAS ADVANCED SEVERAL QUESTIONS UPON WHICH A DECISION BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL IS DESIRED. IT WAS THE GENERAL OPINION THAT . THE POINT INVOLVED WAS WHETHER THE LAW LIMITED SUCH TRANSPORTATION TO THE "LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE" IN EFFECT BY ANY STEAMSHIP LINE BETWEEN THE WEST COAST AND HONOLULU. OR WHETHER SUCH COMMERCIAL WATER TRANSPORTATION WAS LIMITED TO THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE BY A PARTICULAR VESSEL. THE POINT WAS MADE THAT THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE MIGHT BE BY A VESSEL SAILING ONCE A MONTH ON A SLOW SCHEDULE.

A-48267, JULY 11, 1933, 13 COMP. GEN. 10

TRAVELING EXPENSES - LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE SECTION 10 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1933, 47 STAT. 1516, LIMITING TRAVELING EXPENSES TO THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE BY THE TRANSPORTATION FACILITY USED, ELIMINATES FROM CONSIDERATION ALL SUPERIOR ACCOMMODATIONS PREVIOUSLY PERMITTED, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE RANK OF THE TRAVELER.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, JULY 11, 1933:

I HAVE YOUR ENDORSEMENT OF MARCH 31, 1933, REQUESTING DECISION OF QUESTIONS PRESENTED BY THE CHIEF OF THE BUREAU OF NAVIGATION AS FOLLOWS:

1. SECTION 10 OF THE "TREASURY-POST OFFICE ACT" FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1934, APPROVED MARCH 3, 1933, READS AS FOLLOWS:

"WHENEVER BY OR UNDER AUTHORITY OF LAW ACTUAL EXPENSES FOR TRAVEL MAY BE ALLOWED TO OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES, SUCH ALLOWANCES, IN THE CASE OF TRAVEL ORDERED AFTER THE DATE OF ENACTMENT OF THIS ACT,SHALL NOT EXCEED THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE BY THE TRANSPORTATION FACILITY USED IN SUCH TRAVEL.'

2. THERE IS ATTACHED A COPY OF AN "ALNAV" DISPATCH, WHICH IT WILL BE NOTED QUOTES THIS SECTION OF THE LAW.

3. IT IS NECESSARY, HOWEVER, TO ISSUE MORE DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS, AND IN DISCUSSING THESE INSTRUCTIONS A JOINT COMMITTEE OF THE MILITARY SERVICES HAS ADVANCED SEVERAL QUESTIONS UPON WHICH A DECISION BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL IS DESIRED. IT WAS THE GENERAL OPINION THAT ,TRANSPORTATION FACILITY" REFERRED TO THREE GENERAL TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES OR CLASSIFICATIONS--- WATER, LAND, AND AIR.

4. ON THE QUESTION OF COMMERCIAL WATER TRANSPORTATION, THE POINT INVOLVED WAS WHETHER THE LAW LIMITED SUCH TRANSPORTATION TO THE "LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE" IN EFFECT BY ANY STEAMSHIP LINE BETWEEN THE WEST COAST AND HONOLULU, FOR ILLUSTRATION, OR WHETHER SUCH COMMERCIAL WATER TRANSPORTATION WAS LIMITED TO THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE BY A PARTICULAR VESSEL. THE POINT WAS MADE THAT THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE MIGHT BE BY A VESSEL SAILING ONCE A MONTH ON A SLOW SCHEDULE, WHILE THERE WOULD BE OTHER VESSELS CARRYING A HIGHER FIRST-CLASS RATE, AND OPERATING ON FASTER SCHEDULE, SAILING ONCE A WEEK AND THAT IT WOULD NOT BE ECONOMICAL TO HOLD PASSENGERS FOR THE LOWER-COST VESSEL, WHEN BY SO DOING AN ADDITIONAL EXPENSE TO THE GOVERNMENT WOULD BE INVOLVED. IT WAS THE GENERAL IDEA, THEREFORE, THAT "THE LOWEST FIRST CLASS RATE BY THE TRANSPORTATION FACILITY USED IN SUCH TRAVEL" APPLIED TO THE VESSEL ON WHICH THE TRANSPORTATION WAS SECURED. THE QUESTION ON THIS POINT IS: MUST PASSENGER TRANSPORTATION BE FURNISHED ONLY ON THE VESSEL OR VESSELS CARRYING THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE, OR CAN THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE ACCOMMODATIONS BE FURNISHED ON A VESSEL CARRYING A HIGHER MINIMUM FARE WHEN A NET SAVING WOULD BE EFFECTED, OR ACCOUNT MILITARY NECESSITY?

5. DISCUSSING THIS QUESTION DEVELOPED ANOTHER POINT. THE STEAMSHIP COMPANIES, ACTING JOINTLY, MAKE "CONFERENCE RULINGS," PLACING VESSELS IN CERTAIN CLASSIFICATIONS. THESE CLASSIFICATIONS ARE ,FIRST," "CABIN," AND "TOURIST.' AT PRESENT, ON THE ATLANTIC, THERE IS ONE VESSEL FLYING THE AMERICAN FLAG, THE U.S.S. LEVIATHAN, CLASSIFIED UNDER THE CONFERENCE RULES AS "FIRST-CLASS.' IT HAS BEEN THE POLICY OF THE NAVY DEPARTMENT TO CONSIDER VESSELS CLASSIFIED UNDER CONFERENCE RULES AS "CABIN CLASS" ON THE SAME BASIS AS VESSELS CLASSIFIED "FIRST CLASS.' THIS INTERPRETATION ALSO APPEARS TO BE IN ACCORD WITH 9 COMP. GEN. 203. PARAGRAPH 1-36 OF THE UNITED STATES NAVY TRAVEL INSTRUCTIONS READS IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"IN CONNECTION WITH THE TRANSFER OF OFFICERS AND THE TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS, THE BUREAU OF NAVIGATION CONSIDERS THAT AS A RULE DETACHMENTS AND TRANSFERS SHOULD BE SO ARRANGED AS TO UTILIZE "CABIN CLASS" SHIPS AND THAT SHIPS WHICH INVOLVE HIGHER FARE SHOULD NOT ORDINARILY BE D.'

6. THE POINT WAS MADE, HOWEVER, THAT WHEN A VESSEL CARRIES ONLY ONE CLASS, SUCH AS THE "CABIN" AND "TOURIST" CLASS VESSELS, THAT THESE CLASSES ARE "FIRST CLASS" SO FAR AS THOSE VESSELS ARE CONCERNED. IN REPLY TO THIS COMMENT IT WAS POINTED OUT THAT SUCH AN ARGUMENT COULD BE REDUCED TO AN ABSURDITY. THAT SHOULD CONFERENCE RULINGS, FOR ILLUSTRATION, DESIGNATE A FOURTH CLASS OF VESSELS, AS "STEERAGE CLASS," SUCH VESSELS WOULD ALSO BE "FIRST-CLASS" BASED ON SUCH REASONING.

7. THE GENERAL OPINION SEEMED TO BE THAT ONLY VESSELS CLASSIFIED AS "FIRST CLASS" OR "CABIN CLASS" SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS COMING WITHIN THE INTENT OF SECTION 10. THE FACT IS APPRECIATED THAT THIS WORDING ONLY REFERS TO "FIRST CLASS RATE" AND TECHNICALLY IT IS BELIEVED IT MIGHT BE LIMITED TO THE U.S.S. LEVIATHAN FOR ATLANTIC TRAVEL. AS THIS NEW LAW IS RAISING SEVERAL GENERAL QUESTIONS, IT APPEARS ADVISABLE TO REQUEST A DECISION ON THIS SPECIFIC QUESTION: DOES THE PRESENT POLICY OF THE NAVY DEPARTMENT IN CONSIDERING VESSELS CLASSIFIED AS "FIRST CLASS" AND "CABIN LASS" AS IN FACT "FIRST CLASS" VESSELS, AND THE FURNISHING OF TRANSPORTATION BY VESSELS SO CLASSIFIED COMPLY WITH SECTION 10 OF THE NEW LAW?

8. THE NEXT POINT RAISED WAS THE INSTRUCTIONS TO BE ISSUED WHEN IT WAS NECESSARY, FOR ADMINISTRATIVE OR MILITARY REASONS, TO MAKE TRANSFERS BY A PARTICULAR VESSEL AND THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE ACCOMMODATIONS WERE NOT AVAILABLE, BUT THE NEXT HIGHER RATE AVAILABLE WAS ONLY SLIGHTLY HIGHER THAN THE MINIMUM RATE ON A VESSEL SAILING SOME TIME LATER. IT WOULD NOT BE ECONOMICAL TO HOLD THE PASSENGER FOR THIS LATER VESSEL, AND THE SPECIFIC QUESTION ON THIS POINT S: UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES MAY TRANSPORTATION BE FURNISHED BY COMMERCIAL VESSELS OVERSEAS AT HIGHER THAN THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE?

9. A FURTHER POINT DEVELOPED ON THIS QUESTION IN CONNECTION WITH MILITARY TRAVEL WHEN BOTH LAND AND WATER-TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES ARE AVAILABLE. FOR ILLUSTRATION, IT IS THE POLICY OF THE MILITARY BRANCHES, AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL'S DECISION, TO AUTHORIZE RAIL ROUTES FOR CLASSES OF TRAVEL, OTHER THAN ENLISTED MEN, BETWEEN POINTS ON THE WEST COAST. IN THE CASE OF THE ENLISTED MEN INSTRUCTIONS DIRECT THAT THE TRANSFERS BE MADE BY COASTWISE VESSELS WHEN AVAILABLE AT A LOWER COST. WHEN THE MINIMUM RATE BY THE COASTWISE VESSELS IS NOT AVAILABLE, TRANSPORTATION IS AUTHORIZED AT HIGHER THAN THE MINIMUM RATE, PROVIDED THE COST IS LESS THAN THE TOTAL COST BY RAIL. IN VIEW OF THESE CONDITIONS THE SPECIFIC QUESTIONS ARE:

(1) DOES SECTION 10 REQUIRE THE TRANSFER BY COASTWISE VESSELS OF ALL CLASSES OF TRAVEL WHEN THE COST OF SUCH TRAVEL IS LESS THAN THE COST BY RAIL, OR AS SECTION 10 STATES,"SHALL NOT EXCEED THE LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE BY THE TRANSPORTATION FACILITY USED IN SUCH TRAVEL" IS THE QUESTION OF THE FACILITY TO BE USED--- RAIL, WATER, OR AIR--- A MATTER FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION IN ACCORDANCE WITH PREVIOUS LAWS AND REGULATIONS AND NOT AFFECTED BY SECTION 10?

(2) WHEN MINIMUM-RATE ACCOMMODATIONS ARE NOT AVAILABLE BY COASTWISE VESSELS, ESPECIALLY FOR ENLISTED PERSONNEL, AND THE NEXT HIGHER RATE ACCOMMODATIONS AVAILABLE INVOLVE A LOWER COST THAN TRANSFER BY RAIL, WHAT INSTRUCTIONS SHOULD BE ISSUED, ASSUMING THAT SECTION 10 COVERS ALL PASSENGER TRANSPORTATION PAID FOR BY THE GOVERNMENT?

10. IT IS BELIEVED THAT THE PRINCIPAL POINTS INVOLVED UNDER THE NEW LAW ARE COVERED IN THE PRECEDING QUESTIONS. THE POINT CAME UP, HOWEVER, WHETHER SECTION 10 ALSO APPLIED TO TRAVEL-EXPENSE ITEMS WHICH ARE INCIDENT, OR SECONDARY, SUCH AS SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS ON TRAINS, AND ON BOATS WHERE THE STATEROOM IS A SEPARATE CHARGE.

11. IT HAS BEEN THE POLICY TO CONSIDER A LOWER STANDARD BERTH AS INCIDENT TO FIRST-CLASS TRANSPORTATION, AND IT WAS THE GENERAL OPINION THAT THE LAW WAS NOT INTENDED TO CHANGE THIS POLICY. IT WAS POINTED OUT THAT IN THE MILITARY BRANCHES IT IS NECESSARY, QUITE FREQUENTLY, TO TRANSFER DRAFTS OF MEN BY STANDARD SLEEPING CARS AND IT WAS BELIEVED NOT THE INTENTION OF THE LAW THAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD ATTEMPT TO REQUIRE TRANSPORTATION COMPANIES TO FURNISH STANDARD PULLMAN CARS ON THE BASIS OF OCCUPANCY OF UPPER BERTHS ONLY. IT WAS FURTHER POINTED OUT THAT IN SUCH AN EVENT TRANSPORTATION COMPANIES MIGHT REQUIRE A MINIMUM OF 25 FARES FOR EACH CAR, AS REQUIRED BY THE TARIFFS. AGAIN IT WAS POINTED OUT THAT IT WAS HARDLY THE INTENTION OF THE LAW TO REQUIRE OFFICIALS OF THE GOVERNMENT, FROM THE LOWEST TO THE HIGHEST CLASS, TO USE UPPER STANDARD BERTHS.

12. ON THE QUESTION OF STATEROOMS ON BOATS WHERE SUCH STATEROOMS ARE A SEPARATE CHARGE, IT WAS POINTED OUT THAT IT HAS BEEN THE POLICY OF THE MILITARY BRANCHES, AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, TO AUTHORIZE THE FURNISHING OF STATEROOMS ON BOATS AT HIGHER THAN THE MINIMUM CHARGE FOR PASSENGERS ENTITLED TO FIRST-CLASS TRANSPORTATION AND LOWER STANDARD BERTHS BY RAIL.

13. REFERENCE WAS MADE TO 7 COMP. GEN. 715. THIS DECISION DEALS WITH THE TRAVEL OF AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FOREST SERVICE BETWEEN NEW YORK AND PUERTO RICO, AND THE RATES, WHICH INCLUDED MEALS AND SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS, WERE BASED ON THE LOCATION OF THE SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS. THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL DECIDED THAT WHEN ACCOMMODATIONS "ARE NOT IN FACT FIRST CLASS HE MAY SECURE ACCOMMODATIONS FIRST CLASS IN FACT AND PAY THE EXCESS COST, CLAIMING REIMBURSEMENT IN HIS EXPENSE ACCOUNT WITH A FULL EXPLANATION OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES.'

14. IN THE DECISION THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL REFERS TO PARAGRAPH 29 OF THE STANDARDIZED TRAVEL REGULATIONS, WHICH DEALS WITH STATEROOMS ON BOATS, WHERE THE ROOM IS A SEPARATE CHARGE. THE POINT WAS MADE THAT THESE LOCAL RIVER, BAY, LAKE, AND COASTWISE STEAMSHIP LINES GENERALLY DESIGNATE ALL ACCOMMODATIONS AS FIRST CLASS, EVEN THOUGH THE PASSENGER MAY BE FURNISHED FREE SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS AS REQUIRED BY LAW, AND THAT THE SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS ON SUCH VESSELS ARE NOT, IN ALL CASES, AS A MATTER OF FACT, FIRST CLASS IN COMPARISON WITH OVERSEAS VESSELS. IT WAS STATED THAT INSPECTION OF SUCH BOATS HAD DEVELOPED THAT THE MINIMUM RATE ROOMS WERE, AS A GENERAL RULE, INSIDE ROOMS ON THE LOWEST DECKS, POORLY VENTILATED, AND WITH LIMITED FACILITIES, ACCOMMODATIONS WHICH WOULD GENERALLY BE DESIGNATED THIRD CLASS ON OVERSEAS VESSELS.

15. IN A CASE SUCH AS THE ONE INVOLVED, IN THE NEW YORK AND PUERTO RICO STEAMSHIP COMPANY DECISION, THE MOST PRACTICABLE METHOD OF HANDLING THE QUESTION, IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE RATE INCLUDED MEALS AND SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS, IS FOR THE TRAVELER TO PAY THE EXCESS FOR THE ACCOMMODATIONS HE CONSIDERS FIRST CLASS IN FACT, AND SUBMIT CLAIM, STATING THE FACTS. IN THE CASE OF THESE LOCAL AND COASTWISE LINES, HOWEVER, WHERE A STATEROOM IS A SEPARATE CHARGE, IT IS BELIEVED THAT THE INSTRUCTIONS SHOULD STATE SPECIFICALLY THE STATEROOM ACCOMMODATIONS AUTHORIZED. IT WAS THE OPINION THAT THE PRESENT ALLOWANCES, WHICH PROVIDE FOR THE MINIMUM RATE ROOMS FOR ENLISTED MEN, WITH SOMEWHAT HIGHER RATE ROOMS AUTHORIZED FOR THE CLASSES ENTITLED TO LOWER STANDARD BERTHS BY RAIL, WERE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE INTENT OF SECTION 10, AS THEY PROVIDE FOR SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS WHICH ARE IN FACT FIRST CLASS. THE SPECIFIC QUESTION DEALING WITH PULLMAN ACCOMMODATIONS ON TRAINS, AND STATEROOMS ON BOATS, IS: DOES THIS LAW, WHICH DEALS WITH THE ,LOWEST FIRST-CLASS RATE BY THE TRANSPORTATION FACILITY USED," CHANGE THE PRESENT ALLOWANCES FOR SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS FURNISHED FIRST-CLASS TRAVELERS ON TRAINS, OR ON BOATS WHERE THE STATEROOM IS A SEPARATE CHARGE?

THE OBJECT OF THE PARAGRAPH IN QUESTION IN THE STATUTE OF MARCH 3, 1933, IS OF COURSE TO EFFECT ECONOMY AND IT DOES NOT AUTHORIZE ANY EXPENDITURE IN EXCESS OF WHAT WAS PREVIOUSLY ALLOWABLE. IT MAKES NO CHANGE IN THE WELL-ESTABLISHED RULE THAT ALL TRAVEL ON GOVERNMENT BUSINESS MUST BE BY THE MOST ECONOMICAL USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE BY COMMON CARRIER, BUT IS DIRECTED AGAINST THE PRACTICE OF FURNISHING SUPERIOR ACCOMMODATIONS ON RAILROADS AND STEAMERS TO OFFICERS OF HIGHER RANK. PARAGRAPH 13 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1931, GOVERNING TRAVEL BY CIVILIAN PERSONNEL, PROVIDES:

13. ACCOMMODATIONS ON TRAINS AND STEAMERS.--- THE FOLLOWING ACCOMMODATIONS WILL BE ALLOWED ON TRAINS AND STEAMERS (SEE PAR. 72 (B) ):

(A) ONE STANDARD LOWER BERTH FOR EACH PERSON AND FIRST-CLASS STATEROOM ACCOMMODATIONS ON STEAMERS WHEN SAME IS NOT INCLUDED IN COST OF PASSAGE TICKET. IF THE ACCOMMODATIONS ARE SHARED BY THE TRAVELER THE FACT SHOULD BE STATED IN THE EXPENSE ACCOUNT AND HE MAY BE REIMBURSED ONLY HIS PROPORTIONATE SHARE OF THE COSTS. (SEE PARS. 13 (C), 117.)

(B) ONE SEAT IN A SLEEPING, PARLOR, OR CHAIR CAR, WHEN JOURNEY IS MORE THAN 25 MILES. IF JOURNEY IS LESS THAN 25 MILES THE NECESSITY FOR THE SEAT MUST BE SHOWN.

(C) A SECTION, COMPARTMENT, DRAWING ROOM, OR OTHER SUPERIOR RAILWAY OR STEAMSHIP ACCOMMODATIONS WILL BE ALLOWED WHEN THE EXIGENCIES OF TRAVEL REQUIRE IT. WHEN NOT AUTHORIZED IN ADVANCE, A SATISFACTORY EXPLANATION OF THE NECESSITY FOR THE USE OF SUCH SUPERIOR ACCOMMODATIONS MUST ACCOMPANY THE EXPENSE ACCOUNT.

(D) THROUGH SLEEPING-CAR ACCOMMODATIONS SHOULD BE OBTAINED IN ALL CASES WHERE PRACTICABLE. WHERE A CHANGE OF SLEEPING CAR EN ROUTE IS NECESSARY, THE TRAVELER SHOULD SECURE THE USUAL TRANSFER CHECK FROM THE SLEEPING-CAR CONDUCTOR, FOR EXCHANGE AT THE TICKET OFFICE FOR ACCOMMODATIONS BEYOND THE POINT WHERE CHANGE IS MADE. (SEE PAR. 28.) (E) ACCOMMODATIONS ON STEAMERS SHOULD BE APPLIED FOR AT THE EARLIEST PRACTICABLE MOMENT AFTER RECEIPT OF THE TRAVEL ORDER. ANY ADDITIONAL COST RESULTING FROM UNNECESSARY DELAY IN SECURING SUCH ACCOMMODATIONS SHALL BE BORNE BY THE TRAVELER. (SEE PARS. 72 (B), 117.)

SECTION 10 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1933, ELIMINATES FROM CONSIDERATION ALL SUPERIOR ACCOMMODATIONS HERETOFORE PERMITTED UNDER PARAGRAPH 13 (C), THE OTHER PROVISIONS OF THE STANDARDIZED REGULATIONS REMAINING UNAFFECTED. SEE 7 COMP. GEN. 715; 9 ID. 203. THIS STATUTORY PROVISION ALSO REQUIRES THE ELIMINATION FROM THE NAVAL REGULATIONS, ARTICLE 1815, PARAGRAPH 14 (B) OF ALL PROVISIONS AUTHORIZING SUPERIOR ACCOMMODATIONS, THE RANK OF THE OFFICER NOT BEING MATERIAL. SEE DECISIONS TO YOU OF AUGUST 26, 1927, APRIL 3, 1928, NOVEMBER 18, 1930, AND MARCH 6, 1931, A-17005.

IT IS BELIEVED THAT THE ANSWERS TO THE VARIOUS QUESTIONS IN YOUR SUBMISSION ARE APPARENT FROM THE FOREGOING. IF NOT, YOU MAY RESUBMIT SUCH AS ARE IN DOUBT AND THE MATTER WILL BE GIVEN FURTHER CONSIDERATION.