A-5042, OCTOBER 9, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 370

A-5042: Oct 9, 1924

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IS NOT AUTHORIZED. 1924: I HAVE YOUR REQUEST OF SEPTEMBER 8. AS REIMBURSEMENT OF AMOUNTS ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN PAID AS AUTOMOBILE HIRE TO L. WHO IS THE WIFE OF BURDETTE KELLY. IN SUPPORT OF THE REQUEST FOR REVIEW THERE IS SUBMITTED A STATEMENT FROM THE ACTING COMPTROLLER OF THE CURRENCY AS FOLLOWS: * * * THE ASSISTANT EXAMINER PAID THE AMOUNT IN GOOD FAITH. BELIEVING THAT IT WAS JUST AND DUE THE ASSISTANT. THE OWNER OF THE AUTOMOBILE WAS NOT A RELATIVE TO THE ASSISTANT EXAMINER. IT WAS NECESSARY IN THIS INSTANCE TO USE AN AUTOMOBILE. HAD BOTH THE EXAMINER AND ASSISTANT HIRED THE CONVEYANCE FROM A PRIVATE PERSON THE SAME AMOUNTS WOULD HAVE BEEN PAID. IT THEREFORE FOLLOWS THAT THERE WAS NO LOSS TO THE GOVERNMENT DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE AUTOMOBILE USED WAS THE PROPERTY OF THE WIFE OF THE EXAMINER.

A-5042, OCTOBER 9, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 370

TRAVELING EXPENSES - AUTOMOBILE HIRE FROM WIFE OF EMPLOYEE REIMBURSEMENT FROM PUBLIC FUNDS FOR THE HIRE OF AN AUTOMOBILE BY ONE EMPLOYEE FROM ANOTHER EMPLOYEE, OR FROM ANY MEMBER OF THE FAMILY OF HIMSELF OR ANOTHER EMPLOYEE, IS NOT AUTHORIZED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, OCTOBER 9, 1924:

I HAVE YOUR REQUEST OF SEPTEMBER 8, 1924, FOR REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT C- 10871-T OF MAY 26, 1924, DISALLOWING IN THE ACCOUNTS OF J. L. SUMMERS $14.50, BEING AMOUNT PAID BY H. S. WHITNEY, ASSISTANT NATIONAL BANK EXAMINER, AS REIMBURSEMENT OF AMOUNTS ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN PAID AS AUTOMOBILE HIRE TO L. E. KELLY, WHO IS THE WIFE OF BURDETTE KELLY, A NATIONAL BANK EXAMINER WHO ACCOMPANIED THE ASSISTANT ON THE VARIOUS TRIPS IN QUESTION. IN SUPPORT OF THE REQUEST FOR REVIEW THERE IS SUBMITTED A STATEMENT FROM THE ACTING COMPTROLLER OF THE CURRENCY AS FOLLOWS:

* * * THE ASSISTANT EXAMINER PAID THE AMOUNT IN GOOD FAITH, OBTAINING A RECEIPT THEREFOR, AND THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE ALLOWED THE AMOUNT, BELIEVING THAT IT WAS JUST AND DUE THE ASSISTANT. FURTHERMORE, THE OWNER OF THE AUTOMOBILE WAS NOT A RELATIVE TO THE ASSISTANT EXAMINER, AND ASSISTANT WHITNEY IN NO WAY RECEIVED BENEFIT THEREFROM. IT WAS NECESSARY IN THIS INSTANCE TO USE AN AUTOMOBILE, AND HAD BOTH THE EXAMINER AND ASSISTANT HIRED THE CONVEYANCE FROM A PRIVATE PERSON THE SAME AMOUNTS WOULD HAVE BEEN PAID. IT THEREFORE FOLLOWS THAT THERE WAS NO LOSS TO THE GOVERNMENT DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE AUTOMOBILE USED WAS THE PROPERTY OF THE WIFE OF THE EXAMINER. A DECISION BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL IS DESIRED IN THIS CASE, BECAUSE THERE ARE MANY FIELD EMPLOYEES WHO ARE OWNERS OF THE CONVEYANCE WHICH THEY USE IN THEIR OFFICIAL WORK. QUITE OFTEN THE EXAMINER FINDS IT TO THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE SERVICE TO CARRY AN ASSISTANT WITH HIM, AND THIS OFFICE APPROVES THE ACTION, INASMUCH AS TIME IS SAVED, THE METHOD OF TRANSFER IS MORE CONVENIENT, AND THE EXAMINER WHO OWNS THE MACHINE, IN JUSTICE TO HIM, IS REMUNERATED TO SOME EXTENT FOR THE LOSSES THAT HE INCURS IN USING HIS CONVEYANCE. IT IS A WELL- ESTABLISHED FACT THAT THE ALLOWANCES FOR GASOLINE AND OIL WHICH THE GOVERNMENT MAKES THE OWNER OF AN AUTOMOBILE REIMBURSE HIM ONLY TO A SMALL EXTENT OF THE ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED, WHICH EMBRACES THE USE OF HIS TIRES AND THE DEPRECIATION AND WEAR AND TEAR OF HIS AUTOMOBILE. IF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL SEES FIT TO ALLOW THIS AMOUNT AND DEFINITELY SETS A PRECEDENT UPON WHICH THE EXAMINER OR AN ASSISTANT WHO OWNS A MACHINE MAY CHARGE A REASONABLE AMOUNT, NOT IN EXCESS OF RAILROAD FARE, WHICH CHARGES ARE TO BE RIGIDLY SCRUTINIZED BY THE CHIEF EXAMINER AND THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE, SUCH DECISION WILL BE IN THE INTEREST OF THE FIELD SERVICE OF THIS OFFICE.

IT IS NOT SHOWN THAT THE WIFE HAD A SEPARATE ESTATE OR THAT THE AUTOMOBILE USED FOR THE OFFICIAL TRAVEL WAS PURCHASED FROM OR MAINTAINED BY HER OWN SEPARATE FUNDS.

PARAGRAPH 9 OF THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS OF THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT IS AS FOLLOWS:

(9) OWN CONVEYANCE.--- CHARGES FOR USE OF OWN CONVEYANCE WILL NOT BE ALLOWED AS TRAVEL EXPENSE IN THE ACCOUNTS OF ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE. CHARGES FOR SUCH NECESSARY INCIDENTAL EXPENSES INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH USE OF OWN CONVEYANCE AS ARE READILY ASCERTAINABLE--- AS FOR GASOLINE, OIL, OR HORSE FEED USED ON TRIP IN THE VICINITY IN WHICH STATIONED--- WILL BE ALLOWED, BUT ONLY TO THE EXTENT OF THE ACTUAL COST THEREOF. A COMMUTED RATE CHARGE WILL NOT BE ALLOWED IN ANY CASE.

THE HIRE OF AN AUTOMOBILE BY AN EMPLOYEE FROM HIMSELF IS CONTRARY TO THE REGULATIONS; AND ANY ARRANGEMENT PURPORTING TO BE A HIRING FROM A WIFE, ESPECIALLY IF THE WIFE HAS NOT A SEPARATE ESTATE RECOGNIZED BY LAW, IS TANTAMOUNT TO A HIRING FROM THE HUSBAND. THEREFORE, THE HIRING IN THIS CASE MUST BE REGARDED AS A HIRING BY ONE EMPLOYEE FROM ANOTHER, AND IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT SUCH HIRINGS ARE UNAUTHORIZED. SEE DECISION OF APRIL 8, 1924, A-176.

FURTHERMORE, AND ASIDE FROM ANY INHIBITION IN ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS, THE HIRING OF AN AUTOMOBILE FROM ANY MEMBER OF THE FAMILY OF AN EMPLOYEE, OR FROM ANOTHER EMPLOYEE UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES THAT MIGHT TEND TO INDICATE THE EXISTENCE OF A RECIPROCAL ARRANGEMENT OR THAT ANY EMPLOYEE MIGHT RECEIVE ANY PERSONAL BENEFIT, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, FROM SUCH HIRING, IS UNAUTHORIZED AS IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 1765 REVISED STATUTES.

ANY FORMER DECISION OF THIS OFFICE IN CONFLICT WITH THE RULE HEREIN ANNOUNCED WILL NOT BE FOLLOWED HEREAFTER.