B-121520, JUN. 13, 1955

B-121520: Jun 13, 1955

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TO THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF STATE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 20. CERTAIN CERTIFYING OFFICERS OF THE DEPARTMENT ARE RELUCTANT TO CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT VOUCHERS COVERING CHARGES FOR STORAGE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES INCURRED UNDER SUBSECTIONS 4 AND 5 OF SECTION 911. THE DECISION REFERRED TO ABOVE CONSIDERED THE QUESTION WHETHER THE TERM "PERSONAL EFFECTS" WAS SYNONYMOUS WITH THAT OF "PERSONAL PROPERTY" AND RULED SPECIFICALLY THAT PRIVATELY OWNED BOATS AND AIRPLANES OF FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS WERE NOT PERSONAL EFFECTS WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF SECTION 911 OF THE ACT. RECONSIDERATION OF THAT DECISION WAS REQUESTED BY THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY UNDER SEPARATE LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 20.

B-121520, JUN. 13, 1955

TO THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF STATE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 20, 1954 (FILE OF), IN WHICH HE STATES THAT, AS A RESULT OF OUR DECISION OF AUGUST 6, 1954, B-114689 (33 COMP. GEN. 61), TO YOU, CERTAIN CERTIFYING OFFICERS OF THE DEPARTMENT ARE RELUCTANT TO CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT VOUCHERS COVERING CHARGES FOR STORAGE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES INCURRED UNDER SUBSECTIONS 4 AND 5 OF SECTION 911, FOREIGN SERVICE ACT OF 1946, AS AMENDED, 22 U.S.C. 1136, UNTIL THE EXISTENCE OF AUTHORITY THEREFOR HAS BEEN CONCURRED IN BY US. THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY REQUESTS A FAVORABLE RULING IN THAT REGARD.

THE DECISION REFERRED TO ABOVE CONSIDERED THE QUESTION WHETHER THE TERM "PERSONAL EFFECTS" WAS SYNONYMOUS WITH THAT OF "PERSONAL PROPERTY" AND RULED SPECIFICALLY THAT PRIVATELY OWNED BOATS AND AIRPLANES OF FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS WERE NOT PERSONAL EFFECTS WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF SECTION 911 OF THE ACT. RECONSIDERATION OF THAT DECISION WAS REQUESTED BY THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY UNDER SEPARATE LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 20, 1954, AND WAS THE SUBJECT OF OUR LETTER OF APRIL 25, 1955, B-114689, TO YOU.

THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S REQUEST FOR FAVORABLE CONSIDERATION OF THE QUESTION REGARDING AUTOMOBILE STORAGE IS BASED GENERALLY UPON CERTAIN BROAD OBJECTIVES ENUMERATED IN SECTION 111 OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE ACT AND ON THE PROVISION OF SECTION 1061 THAT THE ACT SHALL BE LIBERALLY CONSTRUED. MORE SPECIFICALLY, RELIANCE IS PLACED ON THE IMPLICATIONS OF SECTION 911 (7) OF THE STATUTE, WHICH READS AS FOLLOWS:

"/7) THE TRAVEL EXPENSES AND TRANSPORTATION COSTS INCIDENT TO THE REMOVAL OF THE MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY OF AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE SERVICE AND HIS FURNITURE AND HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL EFFECTS, INCLUDING AUTOMOBILES, FROM A POST AT WHICH, BECAUSE OF THE PREVALENCE OF DISTURBED CONDITIONS, THERE IS IMMINENT DANGER TO LIFE AND PROPERTY, AND THE RETURN OF SUCH PERSONS, FURNITURE, AND EFFECTS TO SUCH POST UPON THE CESSATION OF SUCH CONDITIONS; OR TO SUCH OTHER POST AS MAY IN THE MEANTIME HAVE BECOME THE POST TO WHICH SUCH OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE HAS BEEN ASSIGNED.'

IN THAT CONNECTION THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER STATED:

"THIS DEPARTMENT IS OF THE OPINION THAT IT WAS NOT THE INTENTION OF THE CONGRESS UNDER SECTION 911 (7) TO TRANSPORT THE AUTOMOBILES OF EMPLOYEES AS "PROPERTY" TO A PLACE OF SAFETY AT WHICH THEY CANNOT USE THEIR AUTOMOBILES AND AT THE SAME TIME WITHHOLD PAYMENT OF STORAGE CHARGES THEREON UNDER SECTION 911 (4) WHILE AT SUCH A PLACE OF SAFETY, ESPECIALLY IN VIEW OF THE DIRECTIVE OF THE CONGRESS IN SECTION 1061 THAT THE ACT SHALL BE CONSTRUED LIBERALLY IN ORDER TO EFFECTUATE ITS PURPOSE.'

SECTION 913 OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE ACT AUTHORIZES THE TRANSPORTATION OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES ON BEHALF OF OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF THE FOREIGN SERVICE SUBJECT TO THE CONDITIONS THEREIN SPECIFIED. THAT SECTION MERELY BROADENS THE AUTHORITY FOR TRANSPORTATION OF AUTOMOBILES PREVIOUSLY ALLOWED FOREIGN SERVICE PERSONNEL BY THE ACT OF APRIL 30, 1940, 54 STAT. 174. THE SECTION DOES NOT MENTION STORAGE OF AUTOMOBILES, AND ITS LEGISLATIVE HISTORY REFLECTS NO CONGRESSIONAL INTENT THAT IT BE CONSTRUED TO INCLUDE SUCH STORAGE. SECTION 911 OF THE ACT ENUMERATES THE SITUATIONS IN WHICH "FURNITURE AND HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL EFFECTS" MAY BE TRANSPORTED AND STORED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE. SUBSECTIONS (6) AND (7) OF SECTION 911 INCLUDE AUTOMOBILES AS AN ITEM TO BE TRANSPORTED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE. IN VIEW OF THE BROAD AUTHORITY FOR TRANSPORTATION OF AUTOMOBILES IN SECTION 913, THE REASON FOR REFERRING TO THEM IN THOSE SUBSECTIONS IS NOT APPARENT. WE OBSERVE, HOWEVER, THAT SUBSECTIONS (4) AND (5) OF SECTION 911 AND THE LANGUAGE IN THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE APPROPRIATION ACT, 1955, PUBLIC LAW 471, APPROVED JULY 2, 1954, WHICH CONSTITUTE THE EXISTING STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR STORAGE OF "FURNITURE AND HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL EFFECTS" OF OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF FOREIGN SERVICE, CONTAIN NO REFERENCE TO AUTOMOBILES.

WE CONSISTENTLY HAVE HELD THAT, IN THE ABSENCE OF AN EXPRESS PROVISION THEREFOR, THE COST OF STORAGE OF EFFECTS OF PERSONS ENTITLED TO THE SHIPMENT OF SUCH EFFECTS AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE IS NOT FOR PAYMENT FROM PUBLIC FUNDS. 9 COMP. GEN. 517; 19 ID. 387. WE FIND NO INDICATION IN THE LANGUAGE OF THE ACT OR IN ITS LEGISLATIVE HISTORY THAT AUTOMOBILES ARE WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE TERM "FURNITURE AND HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL EFFECTS" AS USED IN SECTION 911 EXCEPT FOR TRANSPORTATION PURPOSES UNDER SUBSECTIONS (6) AND (7). LIKEWISE, IT IS EVIDENT THAT THE 1955 APPROPRIATION LANGUAGE DID NOT BROADEN THE MEANING OF THAT TERM. RECOGNIZE THAT THERE MAY BE SITUATIONS WHERE THE STORAGE OF AUTOMOBILES IS ENTIRELY JUSTIFIED FROM A PRACTICAL AND PERHAPS ECONOMICAL STANDPOINT. THE OTHER HAND, THE NATURE OF THE PROPERTY ITSELF IS SUCH THAT STORAGE FOR A LENGTHY PERIOD ORDINARILY WOULD NOT SEEM TO BE FEASIBLE OR NECESSARY. WE WOULD BE PARTICULARLY RELUCTANT TO CONSTRUE THE EMERGENCY STORAGE PROVISION OF SECTION 911 AND THE 1955 APPROPRIATION STORAGE PROVISION AS HAVING CONTEMPLATED THE STORAGE OF AUTOMOBILES. WE FIND NO SOUND BASIS, HOWEVER, FOR DISTINGUISHING THE VARIOUS SUBSECTIONS OF SECTION 911 FOR THAT PURPOSE. ACCORDINGLY, WE CONCLUDE THAT THE STORAGE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES IS NOT AUTHORIZED UNDER EXISTING LEGISLATION.