A-54439, SEPTEMBER 10, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 197

A-54439: Sep 10, 1934

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MAY NOT BE PAID TO AN EMPLOYEE WHEN THE TRAVEL IS PERFORMED IN AN AUTOMOBILE REGISTERED. 1934: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 10. THE DISALLOWANCE WAS FOR THE REASON THAT IT DID NOT APPEAR THE EMPLOYEE WAS AUTHORIZED TO USE HIS PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE ON OFFICIAL TRIPS AND NO EVIDENCE OF PROPER ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT SUCH MODE OF TRAVEL WAS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES. FOR THE FURTHER REASON THAT IT APPEARED THE AUTOMOBILE USED WAS NOT HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE. THERE HAS NOW BEEN SUBMITTED EVIDENCE TENDING TO ESTABLISH THAT THE EMPLOYEE WAS AUTHORIZED TO USE HIS PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND THAT SUCH USE WAS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT AND THAT THERE WAS NO GOVERNMENT OWNED MACHINE AVAILABLE FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF THE TRAVEL.

A-54439, SEPTEMBER 10, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 197

MILEAGE - TRAVEL BY PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE - TITLE - INTERIOR DEPARTMENT MILEAGE FOR THE USE OF A PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE UNDER THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103 AS AMENDED BY SECTION 9, ACT OF MARCH 3, 1933, 47 STAT. 1516, MAY NOT BE PAID TO AN EMPLOYEE WHEN THE TRAVEL IS PERFORMED IN AN AUTOMOBILE REGISTERED, AND THE LICENSE PLATES THEREFOR ISSUED, IN THE NAME OF THE EMPLOYEE'S WIFE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, SEPTEMBER 10, 1934:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 10, 1934, REQUESTING RECONSIDERATION OF THE DECISION OF THIS OFFICE DATED APRIL 16, 1934, SUSTAINING A DISALLOWANCE IN THE AMOUNT OF $27.70 ON VOUCHER NO. 7 OF THE AUGUST 1933 ACCOUNTS OF JOHN W. DADY, SUPERINTENDENT OF THE MISSION INDIAN AGENCY, CALIFORNIA, PAID TO THOMAS LUCAS, SUBFOREMAN, EMERGENCY CONSERVATION WORK, REPRESENTING MILEAGE FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED BY AUTOMOBILE DURING THE PERIOD FROM AUGUST 14 TO 19, 1933. THE DISALLOWANCE WAS FOR THE REASON THAT IT DID NOT APPEAR THE EMPLOYEE WAS AUTHORIZED TO USE HIS PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE ON OFFICIAL TRIPS AND NO EVIDENCE OF PROPER ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT SUCH MODE OF TRAVEL WAS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES, AND FOR THE FURTHER REASON THAT IT APPEARED THE AUTOMOBILE USED WAS NOT HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE.

THERE HAS NOW BEEN SUBMITTED EVIDENCE TENDING TO ESTABLISH THAT THE EMPLOYEE WAS AUTHORIZED TO USE HIS PERSONALLY OWNED AUTOMOBILE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND THAT SUCH USE WAS MORE ECONOMICAL AND ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT AND THAT THERE WAS NO GOVERNMENT OWNED MACHINE AVAILABLE FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF THE TRAVEL. IN AN ATTEMPT TO ESTABLISH THE OWNERSHIP OF THE AUTOMOBILE IN QUESTION, ATTENTION IS CALLED TO THE COMMUNITY PROPERTY LAW IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, WHICH IT IS STATED PROVIDES THAT ALL PROPERTY PURCHASED WITH COMMUNITY FUNDS AFTER THE MARRIAGE BECOMES COMMUNITY PROPERTY, AND THE HUSBAND HAS THE AUTHORITY AND RIGHT TO MANAGE, SELL, OR OTHERWISE DISPOSE OF ALL SUCH PROPERTY EXCEPT HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND WEARING APPAREL. IN THIS CONNECTION IT MAY BE STATED THAT THE POSITION NOW ADVANCED IS NOT UNDERSTOOD IN VIEW OF THE FORMER STATEMENT BY THE EMPLOYEE THAT HE PURCHASED THE CAR FROM HIS WIFE IN FEBRUARY 1933. APPEARS THE AUTOMOBILE WAS REGISTERED IN THE NAME OF THE EMPLOYEE'S WIFE AND LICENSE PLATES THEREFOR WERE ISSUED TO HER FOR THE YEAR 1934, AND, NOTWITHSTANDING THE CONTENTION NOW ADVANCED THAT THE AUTOMOBILE WAS COMMUNITY PROPERTY, THE FACT REMAINS THAT IT WAS ACTUALLY THE PROPERTY OF THE EMPLOYEE'S WIFE AND WAS SO REGARDED BY THEM. FURTHERMORE, THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1931, 46 STAT. 1103, AUTHORIZES PAYMENT OF MILEAGE ONLY "FOR THE USE OF HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE," AND THE AUTOMOBILE BEING REGISTERED IN THE NAME OF THE EMPLOYEE'S WIFE OWNERSHIP MUST BE REGARDED AS SHOWN BY THE RECORD AS BEING VESTED IN HER. IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES THE AUTOMOBILE MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED THE EMPLOYEE'S "OWN AUTOMOBILE" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE LAW AND PAYMENT OF MILEAGE FOR THE USE THEREOF IS DENIED.

ACCORDINGLY, UPON RECONSIDERATION OF THE MATTER, THE PRIOR ACTION TAKEN BY THIS OFFICE IN THIS CASE MUST BE AND IS ADHERED TO. THE PROPER ACTION SHOULD BE TAKEN TO REQUIRE DEPOSIT OF THE AMOUNT IN QUESTION WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY. THE SAME ACTION SHOULD BE TAKEN WITH RESPECT TO THE AMOUNT OF $51.05 PAID ON VOUCHER 42 OF THE SEPTEMBER 1933 ACCOUNTS OF MR. DADY. (SEE NOTICE OF EXCEPTION DATED APRIL 24, 1934, ACCOUNTS OF JOHN W. DADY.)