A-69039, APRIL 23, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 927

A-69039: Apr 23, 1936

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DAMAGE TO GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE - LIABILITY OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE WHERE THE COST OF REPAIRS TO A GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE DAMAGED WHILE BEING USED BY A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE WITHOUT AUTHORITY IS ESTIMATED BY A REPUTABLE MOTOR COMPANY TO BE IN EXCESS OF THE VALUE OF THE CAR BEFORE THE ACCIDENT. THE EMPLOYEE IS CHARGEABLE WITH THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE LOSS TO THE GOVERNMENT THEREBY AND THE AMOUNT RECEIVED FROM THE SALE OF THE AUTOMOBILE. AS FOLLOWS: RECEIPT IS ACKNOWLEDGED OF YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 5. A FORMER EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU OF ENTOMOLOGY AND PLANT QUARANTINE OF THIS DEPARTMENT WHO WAS AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT USING THE CAR FOR UNAUTHORIZED AND UNOFFICIAL PURPOSES. IN COMPLIANCE WITH YOUR REQUEST THERE ARE ATTACHED HERETO THE FOLLOWING PAPERS: 1.

A-69039, APRIL 23, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 927

DAMAGE TO GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE - LIABILITY OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE WHERE THE COST OF REPAIRS TO A GOVERNMENT-OWNED AUTOMOBILE DAMAGED WHILE BEING USED BY A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE WITHOUT AUTHORITY IS ESTIMATED BY A REPUTABLE MOTOR COMPANY TO BE IN EXCESS OF THE VALUE OF THE CAR BEFORE THE ACCIDENT, THE EMPLOYEE IS CHARGEABLE WITH THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE LOSS TO THE GOVERNMENT THEREBY AND THE AMOUNT RECEIVED FROM THE SALE OF THE AUTOMOBILE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, APRIL 23, 1936:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 10, 1936, AS FOLLOWS:

RECEIPT IS ACKNOWLEDGED OF YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 5, A-69039, RELATIVE TO SETTLEMENT OF THE CASE ARISING FROM THE WRECKING OF A GOVERNMENT AUTOMOBILE BY MR. FRANCIS E. NOLAN, A FORMER EMPLOYEE OF THE BUREAU OF ENTOMOLOGY AND PLANT QUARANTINE OF THIS DEPARTMENT WHO WAS AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT USING THE CAR FOR UNAUTHORIZED AND UNOFFICIAL PURPOSES.

IN COMPLIANCE WITH YOUR REQUEST THERE ARE ATTACHED HERETO THE FOLLOWING PAPERS:

1. COPY OF STATEMENT BY MR. NOLAN RELATIVE TO THE ACCIDENT RESULTING IN THE WRECKING OF THE AUTOMOBILE. MR. NOLAN WAS ALONE AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT AND THERE WERE APPARENTLY NO WITNESSES; HENCE, THIS IS THE ONLY REPORT AVAILABLE OF THE ACTUAL HAPPENING.

2. STATEMENTS FROM THE HYDE PARK MOTOR COMPANY OF HYDE PARK, NEW YORK, AND MR. A. CURNAN OF HYDE PARK, NEW YORK, RELATIVE TO THE POSSIBILITY OF REPAIRING THE AUTOMOBILE AND ITS VALUE PRIOR TO THE ACCIDENT.

3. COPY OF BOARD OF SURVEY REPORT COVERING THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE OF THE CAR, TOGETHER WITH STATEMENT FROM H. L. MCINTYRE, MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF SURVEY INDICATING THE STEPS TAKEN TO NOTIFY THE PUBLIC OF THE SALE. THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE WERE DEPOSITED ON JANUARY 16, 1936, ON SHEET 1 OF BUREAU OF ENTOMOLOGY AND PLANT QUARANTINE SCHEDULE NO. 372.

4. CHECK NO. 52813, ISSUED AT BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, ON OCTOBER 4, 1935, DRAWN TO THE ORDER OF FRANCIS E. NOLAN IN AMOUNT OF $58.50, BY J. B. LAPPIN UNDER HIS VOUCHER NO. 41668, EMERGENCY RELIEF.

"OUR ORIGINAL LETTER OF DECEMBER 17, 1935, DID NOT MAKE IT CLEAR THAT MR. NOLAN'S FINAL SALARY CHECK HAD ALREADY BEEN DRAWN AND WAS BEING HELD IN THE DEPARTMENT PENDING RECEIPT OF INSTRUCTIONS FROM YOU AS TO THE PROPER DISPOSITION OF THE MATTER. SINCE IT WOULD SEEM UNDESIRABLE TO PREPARE ANOTHER VOUCHER COVERING THE FINAL SERVICE PERIOD, THE CHECK ITSELF IS FORWARDED HEREWITH FOR SUCH DISPOSITION AS MAY BE DETERMINED BY YOUR OFFICE.

IT WILL BE APPARENT FROM MR. NOLAN'S OWN STATEMENT THAT HIS USE OF THE GOVERNMENT AUTOMOBILE AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT WAS UNAUTHORIZED AND THAT HE WAS NOT ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS. IT WOULD THEREFORE SEEM THAT HE SHOULD BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LOSS TO THE GOVERNMENT INVOLVED IN THE WRECKING OF THE CAR. IT WILL BE NOTED THAT BOTH GARAGES INDICATE THE IMPRACTICABILITY OF ATTEMPTING TO REPAIR THE MACHINE. ONE OF THEM INDICATES THAT ITS VALUE PRIOR TO THE ACCIDENT WAS BETWEEN $90 AND $100, WHILE THE OTHER PLACES IT AT $50. A THIRD GARAGE WHICH WAS INVITED TO ESTIMATE ON REPAIRS MADE NO REPLY TO THE INQUIRY. THE BOARD OF SURVEY PAPERS INDICATE THAT THE CAR WAS SOLD AS JUNK FOR $25.

THE DEPARTMENT'S RECOMMENDATION WOULD BE THAT MR. NOLAN BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE IN THE AMOUNT REPRESENTED BY THE AVERAGE OF THE ESTIMATES OF THE AUTOMOBILE'S VALUE PRIOR TO THE ACCIDENT, MINUS THE AMOUNT REALIZED FROM ITS SALE. TAKING THE AVERAGE OF THE ESTIMATES AS $75 AND DEDUCTING THE $25 REALIZED FROM THE SALE, THIS AMOUNT WOULD BE $50, AND IF IT CAN PROPERLY BE DONE, IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THIS AMOUNT BE DEDUCTED FROM THE FINAL SALARY PAYMENT DUE MR. NOLAN OF $58.50.

AS THE VALUE OF THE AUTOMOBILE BEFORE THE ACCIDENT HAS BEEN FIXED BY A REPUTABLE MOTOR COMPANY FROM $90 TO $100 AND THE COST OF RESTORING THE CAR TO ITS PREVIOUS CONDITION HAS BEEN ESTIMATED BY THE SAME COMPANY AT $175, AND AS ANOTHER COMPANY ESTIMATED THAT THE REPAIR COSTS TO RESTORE THE CAR WOULD "FAR EXCEED THE VALUE OF THIS CAR," ESTIMATED BY SAID COMPANY AT $50 BEFORE THE ACCIDENT, IT IS REASONABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT THE NET LOSS TO THE GOVERNMENT WAS NOT LESS THAN $58.50, THE AMOUNT OF THE CHECK FOR THE FINAL SALARY PAYMENT DUE MR. NOLAN.

YOU ARE ADVISED THEREFORE, THAT A SETTLEMENT IN FAVOR OF THE UNITED STATES WILL ISSUE ACCORDINGLY AND THAT APPROPRIATE STEPS WILL BE TAKEN TO DEPOSIT THE PROCEEDS OF THE FINAL SALARY CHECK IN THE TREASURY AS MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS.