A-5972, NOVEMBER 15, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 451

A-5972: Nov 15, 1924

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EXPRESS CHARGES ON ARMY RIFLES NOT SHOWN TO HAVE BEEN GOVERNMENT PROPERTY PAYMENT OF EXPRESS CHARGES ON UNDELIVERED RIFLES FOR THE PURPOSE OF OBTAINING POSSESSION OF THEM. WHEN NOT SHOWN TO BY THE PROPERTY OF THE UNITED STATES OR TO HAVE BEEN SHIPPED BY AUTHORITY OF ANY OF ITS OFFICERS. IS UNAUTHORIZED. IF THE WAR DEPARTMENT CLAIMS THEY ARE THE PROPERTY OF THE UNITED STATES. SHALL ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINE AND CERTIFY THAT THE MOST ADVANTAGEOUS AND ECONOMICAL MEANS OF OBTAINING POSSESSION OF THEM IS BY PAYING THE EXPRESS CHARGES. 1924: I HAVE YOUR REQUEST OF OCTOBER 25. IT APPEARS THAT THE TWO RIFLES WERE SHIPPED BY PERSONS UNKNOWN FROM ST. THE CHIEF OF ORDNANCE STATES: IT MAY BE INFERRED THAT THE RIFLES IN QUESTION ARE THE PROPERTY OF THE GOVERNMENT.

A-5972, NOVEMBER 15, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 451

EXPRESS CHARGES ON ARMY RIFLES NOT SHOWN TO HAVE BEEN GOVERNMENT PROPERTY PAYMENT OF EXPRESS CHARGES ON UNDELIVERED RIFLES FOR THE PURPOSE OF OBTAINING POSSESSION OF THEM, FROM AN EXPRESS COMPANY, WHEN NOT SHOWN TO BY THE PROPERTY OF THE UNITED STATES OR TO HAVE BEEN SHIPPED BY AUTHORITY OF ANY OF ITS OFFICERS, IS UNAUTHORIZED; BUT IF THE WAR DEPARTMENT CLAIMS THEY ARE THE PROPERTY OF THE UNITED STATES, AND SHALL ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINE AND CERTIFY THAT THE MOST ADVANTAGEOUS AND ECONOMICAL MEANS OF OBTAINING POSSESSION OF THEM IS BY PAYING THE EXPRESS CHARGES, PAYMENT THEREOF MAY BE MADE FROM THE APPROPRIATION FOR CONTINGENCIES OF THE ARMY, ACT OF JUNE 7, 1924, 43 STAT. 479, IF THE SECRETARY OF WAR SHALL SO AUTHORIZE OR APPROVE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR, NOVEMBER 15, 1924:

I HAVE YOUR REQUEST OF OCTOBER 25, 1924, FOR DECISION WHETHER PAYMENT MAY BE MADE TO THE AMERICAN RAILWAY EXPRESS CO. FOR EXPRESS CHARGES ON TWO RIFLES NOW IN POSSESSION OF THE COMPANY AND WHICH IT OFFERS TO SURRENDER TO THE UNITED STATES UPON PAYMENT OF THE ACCRUED CHARGES.

IT APPEARS THAT THE TWO RIFLES WERE SHIPPED BY PERSONS UNKNOWN FROM ST. PAUL, MINN., TO AN ADDRESS IN NEW YORK CITY, AND FROM HARMANS, MD.,TO BALTIMORE, MD., AND THAT THE EXPRESS COMPANY HAS BEEN UNABLE TO LOCATE THE CONSIGNEES. THE DIRECTOR OF CIVILIAN MARKSMANSHIP REPORTS NO RECORD OF THE SHIPMENTS OR OF THE NAMES OF THE CONSIGNEES, AND THE CHIEF OF ORDNANCE STATES:

IT MAY BE INFERRED THAT THE RIFLES IN QUESTION ARE THE PROPERTY OF THE GOVERNMENT, ALTHOUGH NO DEFINITE OWNERSHIP CAN BE ESTABLISHED, AS THE ARMS WERE EITHER ISSUED OR SOLD DURING THE WAR, WHEN NO RECORD OF SERIAL NUMBERS WAS KEPT.

THERE IS, OF COURSE, NO LIABILITY ON THE UNITED STATES TO PAY EXPRESS CHARGES ON PRIVATELY OWNED RIFLES, THE SHIPMENT OF WHICH WAS NOT MADE BY ANY OFFICER OR AGENT AUTHORIZED TO MAKE SUCH SHIPMENTS ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT. THEREFORE, UNLESS THE PROPOSED PAYMENT CAN BE MADE AS A CONTINGENT EXPENSE NECESSARY TO OBTAIN POSSESSION OF GOVERNMENT PROPERTY OR AS THE PURCHASE PRICE OF THE RIFLES UPON THE ASSUMPTION THAT THEY LEGALLY BELONG TO THE AMERICAN EXPRESS CO., THERE WOULD APPEAR TO BE NO AUTHORITY FOR SAID PAYMENT. IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT OTHER SPECIFIC PROVISION FOR THE ACQUISITION OF RIFLES HAS BEEN MADE BY LAW (ACT OF JUNE 7, 1924, 43 STAT. 498 AND 510) THE PURCHASE OF THESE RIFLES FROM THE EXPRESS COMPANY WOULD NOT BE AUTHORIZED EVEN IF SAID COMPANY'S RIGHT TO SELL WERE ESTABLISHED. IF THE WAR DEPARTMENT CLAIMS THAT THE RIFLES IN QUESTION ARE THE PROPERTY OF THE GOVERNMENT AND SHOULD ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINE AND CERTIFY THAT THE MOST ADVANTAGEOUS AND ECONOMICAL MEANS OF OBTAINING POSSESSION THEREOF IS BY PAYING THE EXPRESS COMPANY THE AMOUNT OF THE ACCRUED CHARGES, SUCH PAYMENT WOULD APPEAR TO BE A PROPER CHARGE UNDER THE APPROPRIATION FOR CONTINGENCIES OF THE ARMY, ACT OF JUNE 7, 1924, 43 STAT. 479. THE QUESTION SUBMITTED IS ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY AND THE PAPERS SUBMITTED ARE RETURNED HEREWITH.