A-75237, JUNE 23, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 1123

A-75237: Jun 23, 1936

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ARE FOR COMPUTATION. 1936: REFERENCE IS HAD TO YOUR LETTER OF MAY 12. BOTH OF WHOM HAVE BEEN ON TEMPORARY DUTY IN LONDON. IT APPEARS THAT BOTH OF THESE OFFICERS WERE STATIONED AT BERNE. THE DISTRICT ACCOUNTING AND DISBURSING OFFICER REPORTS THAT BOTH OF THESE OFFICERS WERE PAID CURRENCY APPRECIATION LOSSES ON SALARY AND PER DIEM AT THE SWISS RATE. I DO NOT HAVE BEFORE ME THE VOUCHER ON WHICH THE PAYMENT WAS ACCOMPLISHED. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE AT THIS TIME. THE DISTRICT ACCOUNTING AND DISBURSING OFFICER APPEARS TO HAVE SOME DIFFICULTY WITH RESPECT TO THE APPLICATION OF THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE OF JANUARY 28. WHICH ARE REPORTED IN 14 COMP. IT WAS HELD AS FOLLOWS (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABI): EXCHANGE LOSSES UPON PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE OF AN EMPLOYEE HAVING A PERMANENT FOREIGN STATION.

A-75237, JUNE 23, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 1123

EXCHANGE LOSSES - OFFICERS' AND EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION AND PER DIEM EXCHANGE LOSSES UPON SALARIES AND PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE OF DIPLOMATIC OFFICERS ON TEMPORARY DUTY FOR A SUBSTANTIAL PERIOD OF TIME IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY OTHER THAN THAT IN WHICH STATIONED, ARE FOR COMPUTATION, IN THE CASE OF SALARIES, AT THE RATE APPLICABLE AT THE PLACE AT WHICH LOCATED ON THE LAST DAY OF THE RESPECTIVE MONTHS INVOLVED, AND, IN THE CASE OF PER DIEM, AT THE RATE APPLICABLE AT THE TEMPORARY STATION.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, JUNE 23, 1936:

REFERENCE IS HAD TO YOUR LETTER OF MAY 12, 1936, FORWARDING COPY OF DESPATCH DATED APRIL 17, 1936, FROM THE DISTRICT ACCOUNTING AND DISBURSING OFFICER AT PARIS, FRANCE, REQUESTING ,CLARIFICATION OF * * * DECISIONS NOS. A-59705 OF JANUARY 28, 1935, AND A-64560 OF SEPTEMBER 14, 1935, AS APPLICABLE TO THE CASES OF THE AMERICAN MINISTER TO SWITZERLAND (HUGH R. WILSON) AND DIPLOMATIC SECRETARY SAMUEL REBER, BOTH OF WHOM HAVE BEEN ON TEMPORARY DUTY IN LONDON, ENGLAND"--- THE MATTER HAVING REFERENCE TO FOREIGN CURRENCY APPRECIATION LOSSES.

IT APPEARS THAT BOTH OF THESE OFFICERS WERE STATIONED AT BERNE, SWITZERLAND; THAT MR. REBER LEFT BERNE FOR LONDON IN CONNECTION WITH THE NAVAL CONFERENCE NOVEMBER 16, 1935, WHERE HE REMAINED UNTIL MARCH 26, 1936, WHEN HE PROCEEDED TO THE UNITED STATES. MINISTER WILSON PROCEEDED TO LONDON FROM BERNE, ARRIVING THERE ON FEBRUARY 2, 1936, AND LEFT LONDON TO RETURN TO BERNE ON FEBRUARY 23, 1936. THE DISTRICT ACCOUNTING AND DISBURSING OFFICER REPORTS THAT BOTH OF THESE OFFICERS WERE PAID CURRENCY APPRECIATION LOSSES ON SALARY AND PER DIEM AT THE SWISS RATE. I DO NOT HAVE BEFORE ME THE VOUCHER ON WHICH THE PAYMENT WAS ACCOMPLISHED--- THE CITATION OF THE NUMBER AND DATE OF PAYMENT NOT HAVING BEEN FURNISHED AND THIS INFORMATION BEING NECESSARY FOR LOCATING THE VOUCHER. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE AT THIS TIME, THEREFORE, TO PASS UPON THE CORRECTNESS OF THE PAYMENT SO MADE.

THE DISTRICT ACCOUNTING AND DISBURSING OFFICER APPEARS TO HAVE SOME DIFFICULTY WITH RESPECT TO THE APPLICATION OF THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE OF JANUARY 28, 1935, A-59705, AND SEPTEMBER 14, 1935, A-64560, WHICH ARE REPORTED IN 14 COMP. GEN. 577 AND 15 ID. 212, RESPECTIVELY.

IN THE LATTER DECISION, 15 COMP. GEN. 212, IT WAS HELD AS FOLLOWS (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABI):

EXCHANGE LOSSES UPON PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE OF AN EMPLOYEE HAVING A PERMANENT FOREIGN STATION, WHO IS REQUIRED TO PERFORM OFFICIAL TRAVEL THROUGH OTHER FOREIGN COUNTRIES AND RETURN TO HIS STATION, ARE FOR COMPUTING AT THE RATE OF EXCHANGE APPLICABLE TO HIS OFFICIAL STATION UPON THE DATE OF HIS RETURN THERETO FROM THE TRAVEL STATUS.

WITH RESPECT TO THIS DECISION THE DISTRICT ACCOUNTING AND DISBURSING OFFICER STATES IN HIS DESPATCH OF APRIL 17, 1936, TO YOU, THAT---

THIS DECISION RELATED PRIMARILY TO COURIERS, BUT HAS BEEN INTERPRETED BY THIS OFFICE TO APPLY WITH EQUAL FORCE TO CUSTOMS INVESTIGATORS, PUBLIC HEALTH EMPLOYEES, AND OTHERS CALLED UPON TO MAKE TRIPS PERIODICALLY ABOUT EUROPE, MOVING FROM PLACE TO PLACE AND COUNTRY TO COUNTRY AND RETURNING TO THEIR POST OF ASSIGNMENT. IT HAS ALSO BEEN INTERPRETED AS ALSO APPLYING TO THEIR SALARIES AS WELL AS PER DIEM, AS NO GROUNDS APPEAR TO EXIST FOR DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN SALARY AND PER DIEM IN THESE CASES.

UNDER THIS INTERPRETATION THE QUESTION ARISES IN THE CASE OF MINISTER HUGH R. WILSON, IF WHETHER THE FACT HE WENT TO ONLY ONE PLACE AND STAYED THERE THREE WEEKS, ENTITLES HIM TO THE SWISS RATE. IT IS TRUE THAT HE STAYED IN LONDON LESS THAN ONE SALARY INTERVAL, AS SALARIES ARE PAID MONTHLY. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THE FACT THAT THE BRITISH RATE IS MUCH MORE FAVORABLE TO THE GOVERNMENT THAN IS THE SWISS, MAY BE A CONSIDERATION IN THIS CASE, BUT A RULING IS DESIRED ON THE SUPPOSITION THAT THE SITUATION WERE REVERSED AND THAT THE RATE OF THE COUNTRY SOJOURNED IN WERE LESS FAVORABLE TO THE GOVERNMENT.

IT IS STATED IN THE DESPATCH ALSO THAT THE CASE OF MR. REBER IS EVEN LESS CLEAR,"AS HE HAS NOT EVEN YET RETURNED, AND SEEMINGLY WOULD COME MORE CLEARLY UNDER THE SCOPE OF THE DECISION OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL A- 59705, DATED JANUARY 28, 1935 * * *.'

IN THE REFERRED-TO DECISION, 14 COMP. GEN. 577, IT WAS HELD (QUOTING FROM SYLLABI):

THE LOSS DUE TO APPRECIATION OF FOREIGN CURRENCY DURING A PERIOD AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IS ASSIGNED TO DUTY IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY OR WHEN TRAVELING THROUGH A FOREIGN COUNTRY ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IS FOR COMPUTATION AT THE BASIC RATE PRESCRIBED FOR THE PARTICULAR COUNTRY IN WHICH THE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IS ACTUALLY LOCATED FOR OFFICIAL PURPOSES.

IN COMMENTING UPON THE DECISION THE OFFICER (IN HIS DESPATCH) FURTHER CONTINUES:

THIS OFFICE HAS ALWAYS BEEN UNCERTAIN AS TO THE EXACT MEANING OF "ACTUALLY LOCATED FOR OFFICIAL PURPOSES," BUT HAS PRESUMED THAT IT REFERRED TO ACTUAL PHYSICAL PRESENCE AS CONTRASTED TO CONSTRUCTIVE PRESENCE, OR PLACE OF ASSIGNMENT, AS, FOR EXAMPLE, IN THE CASE IN POINT, LONDON WOULD BE INTERPRETED AS THE PLACE WHERE "ACTUALLY LOCATED FOR OFFICIAL PURPOSES" AND NOT BERNE, WHERE BOTH WERE OFFICIALLY ASSIGNED.

IN THE CASES IN QUESTION THE TWO DECISIONS APPEAR TO CONFLICT TO SOME EXTENT, AND BEFORE REQUESTING A REFUND OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SWISS AND THE BRITISH RATES OF CURRENCY APPRECIATION LOSS, IT IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED THAT THE DEPARTMENT OBTAIN THE RULING OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL

IT MAY BE STATED AT THIS POINT THAT THE DECISION OF JANUARY 28, 1935, WAS FURTHER AMPLIFIED IN THE DECISION OF MAY 28, 1935, REPORTED IN 14 COMP. GEN. 857, WHEREIN IT WAS HELD (QUOTING FROM SYLLABI):

REIMBURSEMENT OF SALARY LOSSES INCURRED BY AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE TRAVELING BUT NOT STATIONED IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY IS CONFINED TO AMOUNTS ACTUALLY CONVERTED FOR EXPENDITURE AND MUST BE BASED UPON EVIDENCE OF ACTUAL CONVERSION AND AT THE RATE OF EXCHANGE AT WHICH THE CONVERSION WAS EFFECTED.

LOSSES UPON PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE ARE TO BE COMPUTED AT THE EXCHANGE RATE IN FORCE FOR THE PARTICULAR COUNTRY ON THE LAST DAY OF TRAVEL WITHIN THAT COUNTRY, OR IF THE PERIOD EXTENDS OVER ONE MONTH, ON THE LAST DAY OF EACH MONTH WITHIN THE TRAVEL PERIOD.

THE MATTER OF THE SEEMING CONFLICT ALLEGED BY THE OFFICER IS BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN CLARIFIED IN DECISION OF APRIL 6, 1936, A-72752, AS FOLLOWS:

THE DECISION OF SEPTEMBER 14, 1935, A-64560, REFERRED TO IN YOUR SUBMISSION WAS RENDERED UPON THE FACTS THERE PRESENTED OF A COURIER OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT WHILE IN TRANSIT FROM HIS HEADQUARTERS TO A POINT IN ANOTHER FOREIGN COUNTRY AND RETURN TO HEADQUARTERS, NO DELAY OCCURRING EN ROUTE FOR ANY SUBSTANTIAL PERIOD OF TIME, THE PARTICULAR EXAMPLE CITED BEING TRAVEL THROUGH ELEVEN COUNTRIES IN SOME FOURTEEN DAYS. WHERE, HOWEVER, THE TRAVEL INVOLVES SPENDING A SUBSTANTIAL PERIOD OF TIME IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY OR MORE TIME THAN IT WOULD TAKE MERELY IN TRANSIT ACROSS THAT COUNTRY, THE PROPER RULE APPLICABLE IS THAT STATED IN THE DECISION 14 COMP. GEN. 857, THAT IS TO SAY, COMPUTATION AT THE RATE IN FORCE IN THE PARTICULAR COUNTRY ON THE LAST DAY OF TRAVEL WITHIN THAT COUNTRY OR THE LAST DAY OF EACH MONTH WITHIN THE TRAVEL PERIOD.

IN THE CASES OF THE TWO OFFICERS CITED IN THE SUBMISSION, THE EXCHANGE LOSSES UPON THEIR SALARIES SHOULD HAVE BEEN COMPUTED AT THE RATE APPLICABLE AT THE PLACE AT WHICH THEY WERE PRESENT ON THE LAST DAY OF THE RESPECTIVE MONTHS INVOLVED, AND THE EXCHANGE LOSSES UPON PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE SHOULD HAVE BEEN COMPUTED AT THE RATE APPLICABLE TO LONDON IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DECISION, A-72752, DATED APRIL 6, 1936, SUPRA.