A-78350, OCTOBER 17, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 386

A-78350: Oct 17, 1936

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TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS - USE IN PLACING PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES AT FIRST DUTY STATION - ALASKA ROAD COMMISSION THE PRACTICE OF THE ALASKA ROAD COMMISSION OF FURNISHING PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES WITH GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS TO COVER TRAVEL TO FIRST PLACE OF DUTY IS NOT AUTHORIZED IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC AUTHORITY OF LAW. NOTWITHSTANDING REIMBURSEMENT IS MADE OUT OF THE FIRST COMPENSATION DUE SAID EMPLOYEES. IF EVIDENCE OF REIMBURSEMENT IS AVAILABLE. WHEREBY NEW EMPLOYEES ARE FURNISHED TRANSPORTATION TO THEIR FIRST PLACE OF DUTY. A DEDUCTION IN THE AMOUNT OF $30 WAS INDICATED. VOUCHER ON WHICH PAYMENT WAS MADE TO THE CARRIER FURNISHING TRANSPORTATION ON THE REQUEST INVOLVED. SUCH VOUCHER CITATION WAS FURNISHED IN LETTER OF THE CHIEF ENGINEER OF THE ALASKA ROAD COMMISSION DATED DECEMBER 27.

A-78350, OCTOBER 17, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 386

TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS - USE IN PLACING PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES AT FIRST DUTY STATION - ALASKA ROAD COMMISSION THE PRACTICE OF THE ALASKA ROAD COMMISSION OF FURNISHING PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES WITH GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS TO COVER TRAVEL TO FIRST PLACE OF DUTY IS NOT AUTHORIZED IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC AUTHORITY OF LAW, NOTWITHSTANDING REIMBURSEMENT IS MADE OUT OF THE FIRST COMPENSATION DUE SAID EMPLOYEES, AND THE PRACTICAL DIFFICULTIES OF FINDING WORKMEN WITH FUNDS SUFFICIENT TO TRANSPORT THEMSELVES. TRANSACTIONS OF THIS KIND PRIOR TO JUNE 30, 1937, NOT TO BE QUESTIONED, HOWEVER, IF EVIDENCE OF REIMBURSEMENT IS AVAILABLE.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, OCTOBER 17, 1936:

IN THE AUDIT OF THE ACCOUNTS OF CHARLES E. NAGHEL, FORMER DISBURSING OFFICER, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, JUNEAU, ALASKA, QUESTION HAS ARISEN AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF A PRACTICE OF THE ALASKA ROAD COMMISSION, WHEREBY NEW EMPLOYEES ARE FURNISHED TRANSPORTATION TO THEIR FIRST PLACE OF DUTY, THE GOVERNMENT BEING REIMBURSED FOR THE COST OF SUCH TRANSPORTATION OUT OF THE FIRST COMPENSATION BECOMING DUE THE EMPLOYEES FOR SERVICES RENDERED AFTER ARRIVAL ON THE JOB.

ON VOUCHER NO. 468 OF MR. NAGHEL'S ACCOUNT FOR JULY 1935, COVERING PAYMENT FOR SERVICES RENDERED BY PAUL W. FRETZS AS TRACTOR DRIVER FOR THE ALASKA ROAD COMMISSION, ANCHORAGE, ALASKA, FROM MAY 19, TO JUNE 4, 1935, A DEDUCTION IN THE AMOUNT OF $30 WAS INDICATED, WITH THE ACCOMPANYING NOTATION,"SEE T/R I-178967 ISSUED MAY 13, 1935, JUNEAU TO SEWARD.' UPON REQUEST OF THIS OFFICE FOR CITATION OF AUTHORITY FOR FURNISHING GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS TO EMPLOYEES TRAVELING ON OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT BUSINESS, AND VOUCHER ON WHICH PAYMENT WAS MADE TO THE CARRIER FURNISHING TRANSPORTATION ON THE REQUEST INVOLVED, SUCH VOUCHER CITATION WAS FURNISHED IN LETTER OF THE CHIEF ENGINEER OF THE ALASKA ROAD COMMISSION DATED DECEMBER 27, 1935, WHICH STATES IN JUSTIFICATION OF THE ISSUANCE OF THE TRANSPORTATION REQUEST:

AS A GREAT DEAL OF THE WORK PERFORMED BY THE ALASKA ROAD COMMISSION IS IN REMOTE DISTRICTS WHERE SKILLED EMPLOYEES ARE FREQUENTLY NOT AVAILABLE, IT HAS BEEN A CUSTOM FOR MANY YEARS TO FURNISH TRANSPORTATION TO THE EMPLOYEES, THE COST OF THE TRANSPORTATION TO BE DEDUCTED FROM THE FIRST PAYMENT DUE THE EMPLOYEES FOR SERVICES. THIS IS FOUND NECESSARY FOR THE REASON THAT IN MANY CASES EMPLOYEES ARE ENGAGED WHO HAVE NOT SUFFICIENT FUNDS TO PAY THEIR OWN FARE TO THE PROJECT AND IF THE COMMISSION DID NOT ADVANCE THE COST OF THE TRANSPORTATION IT WOULD BE NECESSARY TO FOREGO THE EMPLOYMENT OR TO FINALLY LOCATE SOMEONE WHO DID HAVE SUFFICIENT FUNDS TO FINANCE THE TRIP FOR HIMSELF.

UPON FURTHER REQUEST THAT PAY-ROLL VOUCHERS SUBMITTED TO THIS OFFICE IN THE FUTURE SHOWING DEDUCTIONS FOR TRANSPORTATION INCLUDE A CITATION OF VOUCHER ON WHICH PAYMENT WAS MADE TO THE CARRIER FURNISHING SUCH TRANSPORTATION, THE CHIEF CLERK OF THE ALASKA ROAD COMMISSION REPLIED ON JUNE 16, 1936, THROUGH THE FORMER DISBURSING OFFICER, STATING THAT SUCH A PROCEDURE WOULD BE IMPRACTICABLE FOR THE REASON THAT TRANSPORTATION BILLS DO NOT REACH THE CHIEF CLERK'S OFFICE FOR MANY WEEKS AFTER THE PAY-ROLL VOUCHERS HAVE PASSED THROUGH THE ACCOUNTS, SINCE TRANSPORTATION BILLS ARE NOT RENDERED PROMPTLY AND REQUIRE MORE TIME FOR AUDIT THAN PAY-ROLL VOUCHERS. THE CHIEF CLERK AND THE DISBURSING OFFICE HAVE REQUESTED FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS RELATIVE TO THE MATTER.

MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE QUESTION AS TO THE PROPER PROCEDURE FOR REFLECTING TRANSACTIONS OF THIS NATURE IS THE QUESTION OF AUTHORITY FOR THE PRACTICE ITSELF. IT IS WELL SETTLED THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF A SPECIFIC STATUTE OR AN AUTHORIZED CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT COVERING THE EXPENSES INCURRED IN REPORTING TO A DESIGNATED POST OF DUTY OR FIRST DUTY STATION UPON APPOINTMENT TO AN OFFICE OR POSITION IN THE SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES, SUCH EXPENSES ARE PERSONAL TO THE TRAVELER AND MUST BE BORNE BY HIM. 5 COMP. GEN. 987; 7 ID. 203; 10 ID. 222; 13 ID. 390. THE DEDUCTIONS MADE FROM THE COMPENSATION OF EMPLOYEES OF THE COMMISSION WHO HAVE BEEN FURNISHED TRANSPORTATION ON GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS TO THEIR FIRST PLACE OF DUTY SHOW FULL RECOGNITION BY THE COMMISSION THAT SUCH TRANSPORTATION IS PERSONAL TO THE EMPLOYEE. PARAGRAPH 20 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITS THE USE OF TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS FOR SUCH PERSONAL TRAVEL.

ALSO, THERE ARE FOR CONSIDERATION HERE THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3648, REVISED STATUTES, PROHIBITING THE ADVANCE OF PUBLIC MONEY. THE ISSUANCE OF A TRANSPORTATION REQUEST BY THE GOVERNMENT TO THE ALASKA STEAMSHIP CO. CALLING FOR PASSAGE OF PAUL FRETZS FROM JUNEAU TO SEWARD WHILE NOT CONSTITUTING AN ACTUAL CASH PAYMENT TO FRETZS IN ADVANCE OF THE RENDITION OF SERVICES BY HIM, OPERATED IN THE SAME MANNER AS AN ADVANCE OF COMPENSATION TO THE EMPLOYEE, WHICH IF MADE IN CASH WOULD HAVE BEEN IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE STATUTE. AND BY ISSUING THE TRANSPORTATION REQUEST, REGULAR UPON ITS FACE, THE GOVERNMENT BOUND ITSELF TO PAY THE CARRIER FOR SERVICES RENDERED IN GOOD FAITH UPON THE STRENGTH OF SUCH REQUEST. COMP. GEN. 630; 14 ID. 631. THE ADVANCE OF PUBLIC CREDIT WHERE MADE, AS HERE, WITHOUT AUTHORITY OF LAW, IS AS OBJECTIONABLE UNDER THE LAW AS AN ACTUAL ADVANCE PAYMENT. SEE THE FLOYD ACCEPTANCES, 7 WALL. 666, 682.

FURTHERMORE, IF A PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEE WHO HAS BEEN FURNISHED TRANSPORTATION AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE TO HIS FIRST PLACE OF DUTY, BECAUSE OF LACK OF PERSONAL FUNDS, IS UNABLE OR REFUSES TO PERFORM SERVICES AFTER ARRIVAL THERE, OR PERFORMS INSUFFICIENT SERVICE TO COVER THE COST OF SUCH TRANSPORTATION, THE GOVERNMENT IS WITHOUT MEANS OF MAKING ITSELF WHOLE FOR THE AMOUNT IT HAS PAID OR OBLIGATED ITSELF TO PAY TO THE TRANSPORTATION COMPANY.

IT IS RECOGNIZED THAT THERE MAY BE PRACTICAL DIFFICULTIES IN FINDING WORKMEN WITH FUNDS SUFFICIENT TO TRANSPORT THEMSELVES TO THE SCENE OF OPERATIONS BY THE ALASKA ROAD COMMISSION. IN VIEW OF THE LONG CONTINUED PRACTICE IN THIS RESPECT AND SO AS TO AFFORD OPPORTUNITY FOR SUBMISSION OF THE MATTER TO THE NEXT SESSION OF THE CONGRESS WITH A VIEW TO OBTAINING SPECIFIC LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY FOR THE CONTINUANCE OF SAID PRACTICE, NO QUESTION WILL BE RAISED BY THIS OFFICE WITH RESPECT TO TRANSACTIONS OF THE NATURE HERE IN QUESTION WHICH MAY TAKE PLACE PRIOR TO JUNE 30, 1937, PROVIDED THERE CAN BE MADE UPON REQUEST IN EACH CASE A SHOWING THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN REIMBURSED FOR THE COST OF THE TRANSPORTATION FURNISHED. HOWEVER, THE PRACTICE MUST BE DISCONTINUED AT THE CLOSE OF THE FISCAL YEAR 1937 UNLESS SPECIFIC AUTHORITY OF LAW FOR ITS CONTINUANCE SHALL HAVE BEEN OBTAINED IN THE MEANTIME.

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