A-56432, AUGUST 7, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 95

A-56432: Aug 7, 1934

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STATEMENT THAT AN URGENT OBJECTIVE OF THE ASSIGNMENT OF AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE WAS THE SECURING OF EARLY INFORMATION IN REGARD TO WHEAT CROP PROSPECTS IN AUSTRALIA FOR THE 1930 SEASON DOES NOT ESTABLISH THE NECESSITY FOR THE USE OF A FOREIGN VESSEL IN TRANSPORTING SAID EMPLOYEE AND HIS FAMILY FROM NEW YORK CITY TO SYDNEY. ESPECIALLY SINCE A VESSEL OF AMERICAN REGISTRY WAS AVAILABLE BY WHICH THE TRAVELERS COULD HAVE ARRIVED IN AUSTRALIA IN ADVANCE OF THE TIME THEY DID ARRIVE BY THE FOREIGN VESSEL WHICH THEY USED. THE EXCEPTION TO THE ACCOUNT IS BASED ON THE USE OF A FOREIGN VESSEL FOR THIS TRAVEL. IT WAS NECESSARY FOR MR. PAXTON TO USE A FOREIGN VESSEL AND THAT SUCH USE WAS IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT.

A-56432, AUGUST 7, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 95

TRAVELING EXPENSES - FOREIGN VESSELS SECTION 601 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT OF MAY 22, 1928, 45 STAT. 697, DOES NOT PROVIDE FOR THE USE OF A VESSEL OF FOREIGN REGISTRY FOR REASONS OF ECONOMY IN EXPENSE OR TIME. STATEMENT THAT AN URGENT OBJECTIVE OF THE ASSIGNMENT OF AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE WAS THE SECURING OF EARLY INFORMATION IN REGARD TO WHEAT CROP PROSPECTS IN AUSTRALIA FOR THE 1930 SEASON DOES NOT ESTABLISH THE NECESSITY FOR THE USE OF A FOREIGN VESSEL IN TRANSPORTING SAID EMPLOYEE AND HIS FAMILY FROM NEW YORK CITY TO SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, ESPECIALLY SINCE A VESSEL OF AMERICAN REGISTRY WAS AVAILABLE BY WHICH THE TRAVELERS COULD HAVE ARRIVED IN AUSTRALIA IN ADVANCE OF THE TIME THEY DID ARRIVE BY THE FOREIGN VESSEL WHICH THEY USED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, AUGUST 7, 1934:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF MAY 31, 1934, AS FOLLOWS:

MY ATTENTION HAS BEEN CALLED TO COPIES OF GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE NOTICE OF EXCEPTIONS DATED JANUARY 2, 1932, COVERING EXPENSES INCURRED BY MR. EDWARD C. PAXTON AND HIS FAMILY IN TRAVELING FROM WASHINGTON, D.C. TO SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS FOR THIS DEPARTMENT. THE EXPENSES COVER THE PERIOD FROM OCTOBER 7, 1930. THE EXCEPTION TO THE ACCOUNT IS BASED ON THE USE OF A FOREIGN VESSEL FOR THIS TRAVEL.

THIS DEPARTMENT FEELS THAT, UNDER THE THEN EXISTING CIRCUMSTANCES, IT WAS NECESSARY FOR MR. PAXTON TO USE A FOREIGN VESSEL AND THAT SUCH USE WAS IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT. THESE CIRCUMSTANCES WERE AS FOLLOWS: AT THE TIME MR. PAXTON WAS BEING CONSIDERED FOR A POSITION IN THE FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL SERVICE, HE WAS EMPLOYED BY THIS DEPARTMENT IN TOPEKA, KANSAS. IN THE PRELIMINARY DISCUSSIONS WITH HIM, IT WAS AGREED THAT HE WOULD ACCEPT A POST IN THE FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL SERVICE OF THIS DEPARTMENT EITHER IN ARGENTINA OR IN AUSTRALIA. SINCE IT WAS NECESSARY, BEFORE TAKING UP HIS FOREIGN DUTIES, FOR MR. PAXTON TO REPORT TO WASHINGTON IN ORDER TO FAMILIARIZE HIMSELF WITH THESE DUTIES AND TO MAKE NECESSARY PREPARATIONS FOR HIS WORK ABROAD,HE WAS AUTHORIZED TO REPORT IN WASHINGTON WITH HIS FAMILY WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT IT WOULD THEN BE DECIDED WHETHER HE WOULD BE SENT TO AUSTRALIA OR TO ARGENTINA. MR. PAXTON TRAVELED TO WASHINGTON WITH HIS FAMILY IN HIS PERSONALLY-OWNED AUTOMOBILE, WHICH THIS DEPARTMENT HAD AGREED TO SHIP TO HIM AT HIS FOREIGN POST. THIS MEANS OF TRAVEL THERE WAS A CONSIDERABLE SAVING TO THE GOVERNMENT OVER THE COST OF THREE FULL TRAIN AND PULLMAN FARES, AND FREIGHT ON HIS AUTOMOBILE.

WHEN IT WAS DEFINITELY DECIDED THAT MR. PAXTON WOULD BE SENT TO AUSTRALIA, EVERY EFFORT WAS MADE BY THIS DEPARTMENT TO SECURE FOR HIM AND HIS FAMILY PASSAGE ON AN AMERICAN BOAT LEAVING NEW YORK FOR AUSTRALIA. THESE EFFORTS WERE UNSUCCESSFUL. WE FOUND THAT THE FIRST AMERICAN VESSEL LEAVING NEW YORK FOR AUSTRALIA WAS THE AMERICAN PIONEER LINER NEW ORLEANS WHICH WAS DUE TO SAIL DECEMBER 2, 1930. HOWEVER, THIS BOAT, HAVING PROVISIONS FOR CARRYING ONLY 10 PASSENGERS WAS FULLY BOOKED AND NO RESERVATION COULD BE MADE. WE ARE ENCLOSING A PHOTOSTAT COPY OF A LETTER RECEIVED FROM THE AMERICAN EXPRESS COMPANY ADVISING THIS DEPARTMENT OF ITS INABILITY TO SECURE SUCH PASSAGE ON AN AMERICAN BOAT.

AN URGENT OBJECTIVE OF MR. PAXTON'S ASSIGNMENT WAS THE SECURING OF EARLY INFORMATION IN REGARD TO WHEAT-CROP PROSPECTS IN AUSTRALIA FOR THE 1930 CROP SEASON. SINCE NO AMERICAN BOAT WAS AVAILABLE, MR. PAXTON AND FAMILY WERE AUTHORIZED BY THIS DEPARTMENT TO SAIL ON THE ONLY AVAILABLE BOAT LEAVING FROM THE EAST COAST, NAMELY, THE NORTON, LILLY STEAMER,CITY OF CANBERRA. MR. PAXTON WAS ADVISED THAT IT WOULD TAKE THIS BOAT ABOUT 30 DAYS TO MAKE THE TRIP, WHICH WOULD HAVE LANDED HIM IN AUSTRALIA ON DECEMBER 20. UNFORTUNATELY, THE BOAT SAILED TWO DAYS LATE FROM NEW YORK AND TOOK A MUCH LONGER TIME TO MAKE THE TRIP THAN WAS EXPECTED, THUS RESULTING IN THE ACTUAL TIME FROM WASHINGTON, D.C., TO SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA BEING LONGER THAN THE THEORETICAL TIME IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN HIM TO MAKE THE TRIP HAD HE SAILED FROM THE WEST COAST.

IN THE LIGHT OF THE FACTS CITED ABOVE, THIS DEPARTMENT HOPES THAT AUTHORITY MAY BE GRANTED BY YOU FOR THE USE OF THE FOREIGN VESSEL BY MR. PAXTON AND HIS FAMILY, IN ORDER THAT THE EXCEPTIONS TO HIS ACCOUNT BECAUSE OF HIS USING THE FOREIGN VESSEL MAY BE REMOVED.

IT APPEARS THAT UPON THE TERMINATION OF THE PERIOD OF INSTRUCTION IN WASHINGTON, MR. PAXTON AND HIS FAMILY DEPARTED FOR NEW YORK NOVEMBER 19, 1930, SAILED FROM NEW YORK NOVEMBER 22, 1930, ON THE STEAMSHIP CITY OF CANBERRA, A VESSEL OF FOREIGN REGISTRY, AND ARRIVED IN SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, DECEMBER 29, 1930. FROM RECORDS ON FILE IN THIS OFFICE, IT APPEARS THAT AN AMERICAN VESSEL, THE STEAMSHIP SIERRA, OF THE MATSON LINE, SAILED FROM SAN FRANCISCO, DECEMBER 2, 1930, AND ARRIVED IN SYDNEY DECEMBER 23, 1930.

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.

IT WILL BE NOTED THAT THE STATUTE DOES NOT PROVIDE FOR THE USE OF A VESSEL OF FOREIGN REGISTRY FOR REASONS OF ECONOMY IN EXPENSE OR TIME. THE PURPOSE OF THE PROVISION IS TO REQUIRE OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES TO TRAVEL ON AMERICAN REGISTERED VESSELS WHEN SUCH VESSELS ARE AVAILABLE WHERE THERE IS ACTUAL TRAVEL BY WATER TO OR FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES OR POSSESSIONS OF THE UNITED STATES, AND IT MANDATORILY REQUIRES THE DENIAL OF CREDIT FOR "ANY ALLOWANCE FOR TRAVEL OR SHIPPING EXPENSES INCURRED ON A FOREIGN SHIP IN THE ABSENCE OF SATISFACTORY PROOF OF THE NECESSITY THEREFOR.'

IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT UNDER THIS STATUTE THE NECESSITY FOR TRAVEL ON A FOREIGN SHIP MUST RELATE SOLELY TO THE TRAVELER'S MISSION AND MUST BE ONE OF WHICH THE DEPARTMENT WAS AWARE IN ADVANCE AND WHICH FORMED THE PRIMARY BASIS OF THE ACTION IN AUTHORIZING THE USE OF SUCH VESSEL. 10 COMP. GEN. 245. THE STATEMENT THAT AN URGENT OBJECTIVE OF THE ASSIGNMENT IN THIS INSTANCE WAS THE SECURING OF EARLY INFORMATION IN REGARD TO WHEAT CROP PROSPECTS IN AUSTRALIA FOR THE 1930 CROP SEASON DOES NOT ESTABLISH THE NECESSITY FOR THE USE OF A FOREIGN VESSEL WITHIN THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE STATUTE, ESPECIALLY SINCE A VESSEL OF AMERICAN REGISTRY WAS AVAILABLE BY WHICH MR. PAXTON COULD HAVE ARRIVED IN AUSTRALIA IN ADVANCE OF THE TIME HE DID ARRIVE BY FOREIGN VESSEL WHICH HE USED.

IT FOLLOWS, THEREFORE, THAT REIMBURSEMENT IS NOT AUTHORIZED FOR ANY ITEMS OF TRAVEL AND SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE INCURRED FOR TRAVEL ON THE FOREIGN VESSEL. IN THE INSTANT CASE PAYMENT FOR THE PASSAGE FARE WAS MADE BY THE USE OF A TRANSPORTATION REQUEST IN THE SUM OF $1,050, WHICH AMOUNT MUST BE CHARGED TO THE TRAVELER. MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES WERE CLAIMED ON VOUCHERS NOS. 4 AND 5 OF MR. PAXTON'S ACCOUNT FOR THE MARCH QUARTER, 1931, WHICH HE PAID TO HIMSELF IN AN AMOUNT AGGREGATING $324.50, REPRESENTING THE FOLLOWING ITEMS: VOUCHER 4, RENT OF DECK CHAIR, $1.25; TIPS TO STEWARDS, $20; PER DIEM FROM NOVEMBER 22 TO DECEMBER 29, 1930, INCLUSIVE, 37 1/4 DAYS AT $7, $260.75; VOUCHER 5, RENT OF TWO DECK CHAIRS, $2.50; TIPS TO STEWARDS, $40.

IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES, THERE IS DUE THE UNITED STATES FROM MR. PAXTON, THE SUM OF $1,374.50. THE PROPER ACTION SHOULD BE TAKEN BY HIM TO DEPOSIT THAT AMOUNT INTO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES.