A-6897, FEBRUARY 25, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 711

A-6897: Feb 25, 1925

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EMPLOYEES OF THE FIELD SURVEYING FORCE OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE ARE ENTITLED TO PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WHILE TEMPORARILY DETAILED TO DUTY AT WASHINGTON. HAVE ATTACHED A COPY OF THE ORDER OR LETTER DETAILING HIM TO WASHINGTON. 1925: I HAVE YOUR REQUEST OF DECEMBER 11. IS LARGER THAN CAN BE DISPOSED OF BY THE REGULAR STAFF OF OFFICE ENGINEERS ASSIGNED TO SUCH DUTIES. AUTHORITY WAS GRANTED BY CONGRESS TO DETAIL SOME OF THE ENGINEERS FROM THE FIELD TO THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE. IT IS SUBMITTED THAT BETTER RESULTS CAN BE SECURED FROM FIVE DETAILS OF FOUR MONTHS. THE ENGINEERS WHO ARE SUBJECT TO DETAIL ARE. WHERE MANY OF THEM HAVE THEIR FAMILIES AND PERMANENT HOMES. WHILE THEY ARE AT THEIR FIELD HEADQUARTERS.

A-6897, FEBRUARY 25, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 711

SUBSISTENCE, PER DIEM IN LIEU OF - AT WASHINGTON, D.C. EMPLOYEES OF THE FIELD SURVEYING FORCE OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE ARE ENTITLED TO PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WHILE TEMPORARILY DETAILED TO DUTY AT WASHINGTON, D.C. A VOUCHER COVERING THE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE TO AN EMPLOYEE TEMPORARILY DETAILED TO DUTY AT WASHINGTON, D.C., SHOULD SHOW THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE PARTICULAR EMPLOYEE, AND HAVE ATTACHED A COPY OF THE ORDER OR LETTER DETAILING HIM TO WASHINGTON, D.C., SHOWING THE MAXIMUM PERIOD TO BE COVERED BY THE DETAIL AND CONTAINING DIRECTION TO RETURN TO HEADQUARTERS UPON TERMINATION OF THE DETAIL.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, FEBRUARY 25, 1925:

I HAVE YOUR REQUEST OF DECEMBER 11, 1924, FOR DECISION WHETHER EMPLOYEES OF THE FIELD SURVEYING FORCE OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE MAY BE PAID PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE WHILE TEMPORARILY DETAILED TO WASHINGTON, D.C. WITH REGARD TO THE NATURE OF THE DETAIL YOU STATE:

THE VOLUME OF WORK COMING BEFORE THE SURVEYING DIVISION OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE IN THE FORM OF THE FINAL EXAMINATION OF THE RETURNS OF SURVEYS EXECUTED BY THE FIELD SURVEYING SERVICE UNDER THE APPROPRIATION FOR SURVEYING THE PUBLIC LANDS, WHICH APPROPRIATION CARRIES THE PROVISO IN QUESTION, IS LARGER THAN CAN BE DISPOSED OF BY THE REGULAR STAFF OF OFFICE ENGINEERS ASSIGNED TO SUCH DUTIES. TO MOVE THE ARREARAGE THAT ACCUMULATES ANNUALLY, AUTHORITY WAS GRANTED BY CONGRESS TO DETAIL SOME OF THE ENGINEERS FROM THE FIELD TO THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE.

CONSIDERING THE OBJECT SOUGHT TO BE ACCOMPLISHED BY THIS LEGISLATION, AND THE AMOUNT OF MONEY MADE AVAILABLE THEREFOR, IT APPEARS REASONABLE TO CONSIDER A DETAIL OF FOUR MONTHS A TEMPORARY ONE WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE LAW. A SHORTER DETAIL WOULD NOT BE PROFITABLE OWING TO THE CHARACTER OF THE WORK. IT IS SUBMITTED THAT BETTER RESULTS CAN BE SECURED FROM FIVE DETAILS OF FOUR MONTHS, THAN TEN DETAILS OF TWO MONTHS EACH, OR TWENTY DETAILS OF ONE MONTH EACH.

THE ENGINEERS WHO ARE SUBJECT TO DETAIL ARE, AS BEFORE STATED, MEMBERS OF THE FIELD SURVEYING SERVICE, WITH HEADQUARTERS IN THE WEST, WHERE MANY OF THEM HAVE THEIR FAMILIES AND PERMANENT HOMES. WHILE THEY ARE AT THEIR FIELD HEADQUARTERS, NO SUBSISTENCE OR PER DIEM IN LIEU THEREOF IS ALLOWED, BUT WHEN THEY ARE ORDERED AWAY ON OFFICIAL DUTIES AND THUS SEPARATED FROM THEIR HOMES, ACTUAL OR CONSTRUCTIVE, SUBSISTENCE OR LIEU ALLOWANCE IS GRANTED REGARDLESS OF THE CHARACTER OF THE ASSIGNMENT. IT IS THE SEPARATION FROM HOME AND HEADQUARTERS THAT JUSTIFIES THE SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE RATHER THAN THE CHARACTER OF THE DUTIES ASSIGNED.

A FIELD ENGINEER IS OFTEN ASSIGNED TO EXECUTE A LARGE SURVEY WHERE HE IS ENGAGED FOR AN ENTIRE SEASON WITH A PERMANENT CAMP, BUT HIS PRESENCE ON OFFICIAL DUTIES FOR A PROLONGED TIME AT ONE PLACE DOES NOT CHANGE HIS HEADQUARTERS OF HIS HOME, AND THUS DEPRIVE HIM OF HIS RIGHT TO SUBSISTENCE. THE ACTUAL FACT OF HEADQUARTERS AND HOME REMAINS UNCHANGED. SO HIS TEMPORARY DETAIL TO THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE, UNDER AUTHORITY LAW, DOES NOT CHANGE THE FACT OF HIS HEADQUARTERS AND HOME SO LONG AS THE DETAIL KEEPS WITHIN THE PROVISION OF LAW AS TO ITS TEMPORARY CHARACTER.

THE DETAILS LAST YEAR WERE EACH KEPT SUBSTANTIALLY WITHIN THE FOUR MONTH LIMIT, AND YOU ARE ASSURED THAT ALL FUTURE DETAILS, INCLUDING THOSE ALREADY MADE THIS YEAR, WILL BE SO LIMITED.

IT APPEARS FROM YOUR SUBMISSION THAT PER DIEMS HAVE BEEN PAID FOR SOME TIME UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE DECISION OF THE FORMER COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY REPORTED IN 27 COMP. DEC. 587, BUT THAT SOME DOUBT HAD ARISEN OWING TO RECENT SUSPENSIONS IN THE ACCOUNTS OF MR. J. B. CALLAHAN, COVERING SUCH PAYMENTS. THE SUSPENSIONS REFERRED TO DID NOT QUESTION THE LEGALITY OF PAYMENT OF PER DIEMS UNDER PROPER DETAILS TO WASHINGTON BUT MERELY REQUIRED EVIDENCE SHOWING THE PURPOSE OF THE DETAIL AND THE PERIOD COVERED THEREBY IN ORDER THAT IT MAY BE DETERMINED WHETHER OR NOT THE DETAIL IS IN FACT A TEMPORARY ONE.

THE APPROPRIATIONS FOR SURVEYING PUBLIC LANDS FOR RECENT FISCAL YEARS HAVE CARRIED THE FOLLOWING PROVISION:

* * * THAT NOT TO EXCEED $10,000 OF THIS APPROPRIATION MAY BE EXPENDED FOR SALARIES OF EMPLOYEES OF THE FIELD SURVEYING SERVICE TEMPORARILY DETAILED TO THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE. (SEE 42 STAT. 558, 1180; 43 STAT. 394.)

THIS PROVISION IS A LIMITATION ON THE AMOUNT WHICH MAY BE EXPENDED FOR SALARIES OF FIELD EMPLOYEES TEMPORARILY DETAILED TO THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE AND IS AUTHORITY FOR SUCH TEMPORARY DETAILS WITHIN ITS LIMITS. DOES NOT BAR THE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE IN PROPER CASES. 27 COMP. DEC. 587. HOWEVER, VOUCHERS COVERING THE PAYMENT OF PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE TO EMPLOYEES WHILE TEMPORARILY DETAILED TO WASHINGTON MUST BE SUPPORTED BY SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO ENABLE THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE PARTICULAR EMPLOYEES ARE TEMPORARILY DETAILED. WHETHER OR NOT A DETAIL IS TEMPORARY IS DEPENDENT UPON THE FACTS AND A MERE STATEMENT THAT A DETAIL IS TEMPORARY IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO JUSTIFY ALLOWANCE OF CREDIT FOR PER DIEM PAYMENTS BASED ON SUCH DETAIL. 1 COMP. GEN. 426; 2 ID. 757; 3 ID. 331, 907. THEREFORE, THE VOUCHERS SHOULD SHOW THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE PARTICULAR EMPLOYEE, AND SHOULD HAVE ATTACHED A COPY OF THE ORDER OR LETTER DETAILING HIM TO WASHINGTON AND A CERTIFICATE SHOWING THE PERIOD OF ALL OTHER IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE CURRENT DETAIL. THE ORDERS FOR THE DETAIL SHOULD SHOW THE MAXIMUM PERIOD TO BE COVERED BY THE DETAIL AND SHOULD DIRECT RETURN TO THE EMPLOYEE'S HEADQUARTERS UPON TERMINATION OF THE DETAIL. IN THE CASE OF EARL G. HARRINGTON SUBMITTED BY YOU THE ORDER FROM THE COMMISSIONER OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE DOES NOT STATE THE PERIOD FOR WHICH DETAILED NOR DOES IT SPECIFICALLY DIRECT A RETURN TO THE PROPER HEADQUARTERS UPON COMPLETION OF THE TEMPORARY DETAIL.

WITH REGARD TO THE RECENT SUSPENSIONS, COPIES OF THE LETTERS OR ORDERS DETAILING THE PARTICULAR EMPLOYEES AND A CERTIFICATE AS TO SERVICE IN WASHINGTON DURING THE PRECEDING YEAR UNDER FORMER DETAILS SHOULD BE FURNISHED. IF THE ORDERS FOR THE DETAILS ARE IN SUBSTANTIALLY THE SAME FORM AS THAT SUBMITTED IN THE HARRINGTON CASE AND THE PER DIEMS ARE OTHERWISE PAYABLE THE SUSPENSIONS WILL BE REMOVED. IN FUTURE CASES, HOWEVER, THE ORDERS DETAILING THE EMPLOYEES TO WASHINGTON SHOULD BE DRAWN ALONG THE LINES INDICATED ABOVE.