A-56028, JULY 2, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 5

A-56028: Jul 2, 1934

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THE POSTMASTER GENERAL IS CHARGED WITH THE DUTY OF DETERMINING THE NUMBER OF NAUTICAL MILES BY THE SHORTEST PRACTICABLE ROUTE BETWEEN THE PORTS COVERED BY THE CONTRACT AND THIS FUNCTION MAY NOT BE DELEGATED TO A SUBORDINATE OFFICER. IS REQUIRED TO BE CERTIFIED TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FOR USE IN THE SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS AND ACCOUNTS. WHERE TWO ROUTES ARE AVAILABLE BETWEEN TWO PORTS. THE POSTMASTER GENERAL CERTIFIES THAT THE USE OF THE LONGER ROUTE IS MADE NECESSARY FOR NAVIGATION PURPOSES BECAUSE OF WEATHER CONDITIONS RENDERING TRAVEL BY THE SHORTER ROUTE PROHIBITIVE FROM A NAVIGATION STANDPOINT. SUCH CERTIFICATION MAY BE DEEMED AS A DETERMINATION THAT THE LONGER ROUTE IS THE . THE USE OF EITHER ROUTE SHOULD NOT BE LEFT AT THE OPTION OF THE CONTRACTOR AS THE STATUTE IS MANDATORY THAT THE "SHORTEST PRACTICABLE ROUTE" BE DETERMINED BY THE POSTMASTER GENERAL.

A-56028, JULY 2, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 5

OCEAN MAIL CONTRACTS - DETERMINATION OF NAUTICAL MILEAGE BY THE POSTMASTER GENERAL - DELEGATION OF SUCH FUNCTION - AVAILABILITY OF TWO ROUTES OF UNEQUAL LENGTH UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 409 (D) OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1928, 45 STAT. 695, THE POSTMASTER GENERAL IS CHARGED WITH THE DUTY OF DETERMINING THE NUMBER OF NAUTICAL MILES BY THE SHORTEST PRACTICABLE ROUTE BETWEEN THE PORTS COVERED BY THE CONTRACT AND THIS FUNCTION MAY NOT BE DELEGATED TO A SUBORDINATE OFFICER. THE DETERMINATION OF NAUTICAL MILEAGE UNDER SECTION 409 (D) OF THE CITED ACT CONSTITUTES AN ,ORDER" OR "REGULATION" WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 405, REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED, 42 STAT. 24, AND, AS SUCH, IS REQUIRED TO BE CERTIFIED TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FOR USE IN THE SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS AND ACCOUNTS. WHERE TWO ROUTES ARE AVAILABLE BETWEEN TWO PORTS, ONE LONGER THAN THE OTHER, AND THE POSTMASTER GENERAL CERTIFIES THAT THE USE OF THE LONGER ROUTE IS MADE NECESSARY FOR NAVIGATION PURPOSES BECAUSE OF WEATHER CONDITIONS RENDERING TRAVEL BY THE SHORTER ROUTE PROHIBITIVE FROM A NAVIGATION STANDPOINT, SUCH CERTIFICATION MAY BE DEEMED AS A DETERMINATION THAT THE LONGER ROUTE IS THE ,SHORTEST PRACTICABLE ROUTE" WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 409 (D) OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1928. THE USE OF EITHER ROUTE SHOULD NOT BE LEFT AT THE OPTION OF THE CONTRACTOR AS THE STATUTE IS MANDATORY THAT THE "SHORTEST PRACTICABLE ROUTE" BE DETERMINED BY THE POSTMASTER GENERAL.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, JULY 2, 1934:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO THREE LETTERS FROM THE DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF INTERNATIONAL POSTAL SERVICE, OFFICE OF THE SECOND ASSISTANT POSTMASTER GENERAL, ONE DATED MAY 29, 1934, REF. NO. 43156-WS-P, THE OTHER TWO DATED JUNE 4, 1934, REF. 43127-WS-P AND 43128-WS-P, FORWARDING FOR MY CONSIDERATION THE REQUESTS FOR REVIEW OF SETTLEMENTS MADE BY THIS OFFICE IN THE CASES OF LYKES BROS.--- RIPLEY STEAMSHIP CO., AMERICAN MAIL LINE, AND DOLLAR STEAMSHIP LINES, RESPECTIVELY, UNDER THEIR CONTRACTS COVERING SERVICES PERFORMED ON ROUTES NOS. F.O.M. 57, 25, AND 26, RESPECTIVELY--- THERE HAVING BEEN DEDUCTED IN EACH OF THE SETTLEMENTS A SUM REPRESENTING APPARENT EXCESS MILEAGE OF 28 MILES IN THE CASE OF EACH VESSEL TRAVELING BETWEEN SHANGHAI AND HONG KONG, THROUGH THE USE OF THE LONGER OF TWO AVAILABLE ROUTES BETWEEN SAID POINTS.

IT IS DISCLOSED BY THE RECORD THAT THERE ARE TWO AVAILABLE ROUTES BY WHICH VESSELS LEAVING SHANGHAI MAY REACH HONG KONG, NAMELY, THE ROUTE THROUGH "BONHAM STRAITS" AND THE ONE OUTSIDE ,SADDLE GROUP," THE FORMER ROUTE BEING 824 NAUTICAL MILES AND THE LATTER 852 MILES, OR A DIFFERENCE OF 28 MILES. IT APPEARS FURTHER THAT THE SHORTER ROUTE IS USED ONLY WHEN WEATHER CONDITIONS PERMIT, OTHERWISE THE LONGER ROUTE IS USED. UPON THE FACTS NOW APPEARING OF RECORD, I HAVE TODAY GIVEN INSTRUCTIONS FOR A REVISION OF THE SETTLEMENTS, ALLOWING THE THREE STEAMSHIP COMPANIES INVOLVED HERE SUCH ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS AS MAY BE FOUND DUE AS TO SUCH VOYAGES WHERE IT WAS NECESSARY TO USE THE LONGER ROUTE. HEREAFTER SETTLEMENTS IN THESE CASES WILL BE ON THE BASIS OF A PROPER SHOWING OF FACTS AS TO THE ROUTE ACTUALLY USED, AND IF THE LONGER ROUTE WAS USED, THAT WEATHER CONDITIONS WERE SUCH AS TO REQUIRE ITS USE.

IN CONNECTION WITH THIS MATTER, THERE HAS BEEN NOTED THE MANNER IN WHICH INFORMATION IS BEING FURNISHED THIS OFFICE WITH RESPECT TO THE MILEAGE ON OCEAN MAIL ROUTES. THE PRACTICE FOLLOWED APPEARS TO BE (1) TO REQUEST A STATEMENT FROM THE HYDROGRAPHIC OFFICE OF THE NAVY DEPARTMENT AS TO THE NAUTICAL MILEAGE INVOLVED BETWEEN CERTAIN POINTS, AND (2) TO FORWARD A COPY OF SUCH STATEMENT TO THIS OFFICE BY A NOTICE OR LETTER SIGNED BY THE DIRECTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL POSTAL SERVICE, OFFICE OF THE SECOND ASSISTANT POSTMASTER GENERAL--- SUCH A NOTICE APPARENTLY BEING INTENDED AS A DETERMINATION OF THE MILEAGE INVOLVED BETWEEN PORTS FOR THE PURPOSE OF COMPUTING THE AMOUNTS DUE THE CONTRACTORS FOR THE CARRYING OF OCEAN MAIL. SECTION 409 (D) OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1928, 45 STAT. 695, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

THE POSTMASTER GENERAL SHALL DETERMINE THE NUMBER OF NAUTICAL MILES UNDER ANY CONTRACT MADE UNDER THIS TITLE SHALL BE MADE FOR SUCH NUMBER OF MILES ON EACH OUTWARD VOYAGE REGARDLESS OF ACTUAL MILEAGE TRAVELED.

SECTION 405, REVISED STATUTES, AS MODIFIED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1921, 42 STAT. 24, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

ALL ORDERS AND REGULATIONS OF THE POSTMASTER GENERAL WHICH MAY ORIGINATE A CLAIM, OR IN ANY MANNER AFFECT THE ACCOUNTS OF THE POSTAL SERVICE, SHALL BE CERTIFIED TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE.

UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT, QUOTED ABOVE, THE POSTMASTER GENERAL IS REQUIRED TO DETERMINE THE NUMBER OF NAUTICAL MILES BY THE SHORTEST PRACTICABLE ROUTE BETWEEN THE PORTS INVOLVED, AND THERE IS NOTHING IN THE LAW AUTHORIZING THE DELEGATION OF SUCH FUNCTION TO A SUBORDINATE OFFICER. ALSO, THE DETERMINATION OF NAUTICAL MILEAGE MADE PURSUANT TO THE STATUTE CONSTITUTES AN "ORDER" OR "REGULATION" WHICH "AFFECTS THE ACCOUNTS OF THE POSTAL SERVICE" WITHIN CONTEMPLATION OF THE LAST-QUOTED STATUTE, AND, AS SUCH, SHOULD "BE CERTIFIED TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE.'

IN ORDER, THEREFORE, TO COMPLY WITH THE TWO PROVISIONS OF THE STATUTES, SUPRA, IT IS REQUESTED THAT HEREAFTER THE MILEAGE DATA REQUIRED FOR COMPUTATION OF COMPENSATION FOR SERVICES IN CONNECTION WITH OCEAN MAIL CONTRACTS BE CERTIFIED TO THIS OFFICE ON JOURNALS OF THE POSTMASTER GENERAL INSTEAD OF IN THE MANNER IN WHICH SUCH INFORMATION IS NOW BEING FURNISHED AS STATED ABOVE. WHERE, AS IN THE INSTANT MATTER, THERE MAY BE TWO ROUTES AVAILABLE BETWEEN TWO PORTS--- EACH DIFFERING IN THE NUMBER OF MILES--- AND THE LONGER ROUTE IS EMPLOYED BY A CONTRACTOR, THERE SHOULD BE FURNISHED A REPORT OF FACTS WHY SUCH LONGER ROUTE WAS USED AND WHETHER, UNDER THE CONDITIONS WHICH MAY BE MADE TO APPEAR, YOU FIND THE ROUTE SO EMPLOYED AS BEING THE SHORTEST PRACTICABLE ROUTE WITHIN CONTEMPLATION OF THE STATUTE. IN NO EVENT SHOULD THE USE OF EITHER ROUTE IN SUCH CASES BE LEFT AT THE OPTION OF THE CONTRACTOR--- THE STATUTE IN THIS CONNECTION BEING MANDATORY THAT PAYMENT BE MADE ON THE BASIS OF THE "SHORTEST PRACTICABLE ROUTE" AS DETERMINED BY THE POSTMASTER GENERAL.