B-127295, APR. 6, 1956

B-127295: Apr 6, 1956

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THE RECORD DISCLOSES THAT YOU WERE EMPLOYED BY THE NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE FOR AERONAUTICS AND ASSIGNED TO DUTY AT LANGLEY FIELD. YOU WERE DIRECTED TO PROCEED TO FT. 280 POUNDS WERE TRANSPORTED FROM HAMPTON TO FALLS CHURCH. YOUR SUBSEQUENT VOUCHER FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED WAS ALLOWED IN THE AMOUNT OF ONLY $211.86. REIMBURSEMENT SHALL BE MADE TO THE EMPLOYEE ON A COMMUTED BASIS AT RATES PER HUNDRED POUNDS AS FIXED BY ZONES IN SCHEDULE A WHICH IS ATTACHED TO AND MADE A PART OF THESE REGULATIONS. 000 POUNDS INVOLVING DISTANCES OF FROM 191 TO 200 MILES IS $4.95 PER 100 POUNDS. - WAS TO ELIMINATE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE AND EXPENSE ENTAILED IN CONNECTION WITH THE SHIPMENT OF AN EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS BY THE MOST ECONOMICAL MEANS AS WAS REQUIRED BY THE LAW AND REGULATIONS IN EFFECT PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE 1946 STATUTE.

B-127295, APR. 6, 1956

TO MR. SEYMOUR BERLER:

YOUR RECENT LETTER ACKNOWLEDGED MARCH 13, 1956, REQUESTS REVIEW OF OUR SETTLEMENT DATED FEBRUARY 24, 1956, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR $49.30, REPRESENTING AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT ALLEGED TO BE DUE FOR EXPENSES INCURRED FOR PACKING, CRATING (INCLUDING UNPACKING), AND TRANSPORTING YOUR HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS FROM HAMPTON TO FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA, DURING JULY 1955, WHILE AN EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT.

THE RECORD DISCLOSES THAT YOU WERE EMPLOYED BY THE NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE FOR AERONAUTICS AND ASSIGNED TO DUTY AT LANGLEY FIELD, VIRGINIA, WHEN, BY TRANSFER ORDERS NO. 313, DATED JULY 18, 1955, YOU WERE DIRECTED TO PROCEED TO FT. BELVOIR, VIRGINIA, FOR PERMANENT DUTY WITH THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS, ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT LABORATORY, UNITED STATES ARMY. THE TRANSFER ORDERS PROVIDED FOR YOUR TRANSPORTATION AND THAT OF YOUR DEPENDENT (WIFE) TO THE NEW DUTY STATION AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE, AND INCLUDED AUTHORIZATION FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF YOUR HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS FROM YOUR OLD TO THE NEWLY ASSIGNED STATION.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT YOUR EFFECTS WEIGHING 4,280 POUNDS WERE TRANSPORTED FROM HAMPTON TO FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA, VIA MOTOR VAN DURING JULY 1955, BY THE GILBERT STORAGE AND TRANSFER CORPORATION, LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA, FOR WHICH YOU EXPENDED THE SUM OF $261.16, INCLUDING CHARGES FOR PACKING, CRATING, AND UNPACKING. YOUR SUBSEQUENT VOUCHER FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED WAS ALLOWED IN THE AMOUNT OF ONLY $211.86, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 10507, SECTION 12 (A), DATED DECEMBER 10, 1953 (AMENDING EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9805, AS AMENDED), WHICH READS, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"* * * IN LIEU OF THE PAYMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION, PACKING, CRATING, DRAYAGE, AND UNPACKING OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS IN THE CASE OF TRANSFERS BETWEEN POINTS WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, REIMBURSEMENT SHALL BE MADE TO THE EMPLOYEE ON A COMMUTED BASIS AT RATES PER HUNDRED POUNDS AS FIXED BY ZONES IN SCHEDULE A WHICH IS ATTACHED TO AND MADE A PART OF THESE REGULATIONS. THE AMOUNT PAYABLE SHALL BE THE PRODUCT OF THE APPLICABLE RATE AND THE NET WEIGHT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS ACTUALLY TRANSPORTED (WITHIN THE WEIGHT LIMITATION PRESCRIBED BY SECTION 16 HEREOF). * * *"

THE RATES PRESCRIBED BY SCHEDULE A FOR SHIPMENTS WEIGHING FROM 4,000 TO 7,000 POUNDS INVOLVING DISTANCES OF FROM 191 TO 200 MILES IS $4.95 PER 100 POUNDS. SUCH RATE MULTIPLIED BY THE ACTUAL WEIGHT OF YOUR EFFECTS (4,280 POUNDS), EQUALS $211.86, THE SUM PREVIOUSLY ALLOWED.

IN YOUR RECENT LETTER YOU EXPRESS THE VIEW THAT SINCE THE TRANSFER ORDERS AUTHORIZED THE MOVEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS NOT IN EXCESS OF 7,000 POUNDS UNCRATED OR 8,750 POUNDS CRATED, YOU SHOULD RECEIVE REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE TOTAL AMOUNT EXPENDED.

THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF THE PROVISION (SECTION 1 (B) OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 2, 1946, 60 STAT. 807), AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT UPON A COMMUTED (LUMP- SUM) BASIS--- IN LIEU OF AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS--- WAS TO ELIMINATE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE AND EXPENSE ENTAILED IN CONNECTION WITH THE SHIPMENT OF AN EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS BY THE MOST ECONOMICAL MEANS AS WAS REQUIRED BY THE LAW AND REGULATIONS IN EFFECT PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE 1946 STATUTE. ORDINARILY, THE TRANSPORTATION COSTS ALLOWABLE UNDER SCHEDULE A OF THE EXECUTIVE ORDER EQUAL OR EXCEED THE TRANSPORTATION CHARGES ASSESSED BY COMMERCIAL CARRIERS INCLUDING NECESSARY PACKING, CRATING, DRAYAGE, AND UNPACKING. THE BILL OF LADING ON FILE HERE DISCLOSES THAT $114 (OVER 43 PERCENT) OF THE CARRIER'S CHARGES WAS FOR PACKING AND CRATING A LARGE QUANTITY OF YOUR EFFECTS. SINCE AS A GENERAL RULE, ONLY ARTICLES OF A FRAGILE OR BREAKABLE NATURE ARE REQUIRED TO BE PACKED OR CRATED FOR MOTOR VAN SHIPMENT BETWEEN POINTS WITHIN THE UNITED STATES, IT NOW APPEARS THAT A CONSIDERABLE PORTION OF THE COSTS INCURRED WERE FOR PACKING OR CRATING SERVICES WHICH SEEM BEYOND THE NORMAL CONTEMPLATED BY THE REGULATIONS AND WHICH APPEAR TO BE OF QUESTIONABLE NECESSITY. SEE SECTION 17 EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9805, SUPRA.

IN RESPONSE TO YOUR SPECIFIC QUESTION, IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT REPRESENTATIVES OF THE GOVERNMENT MAY NOT BY THEIR ACTIONS OBLIGATE THE UNITED STATES BEYOND THE EXTENT AUTHORIZED BY LAW. FURTHER, IN LAW EVERYONE IS CHARGEABLE WITH A KNOWLEDGE OF THE PUBLIC STATUTES AND OF EXECUTIVE ORDERS ISSUED PURSUANT THERETO. IN ANY EVENT, OUR OFFICE IS WITHOUT AUTHORITY TO WAIVE OR DISREGARD THE MANDATORY PROVISIONS OF VALID REGULATIONS WHICH HAVE THE FORCE AND EFFECT OF LAW, AND INASMUCH AS YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT AUTHORIZED BY THE REGULATIONS, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE ALLOWANCE OF YOUR CLAIM. ACCORDINGLY, THE SETTLEMENT OF FEBRUARY 24, 1956, MUST BE AND IS SUSTAINED.

WITH REFERENCE TO YOUR INQUIRY AS TO WHAT FURTHER RECOURSE YOU NOW HAVE IN THE MATTER, YOU ARE INFORMED THAT THE ACTION OF THIS OFFICE ON CLAIMS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES IS FINAL AND CONCLUSIVE UPON THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT. HOWEVER, INDEPENDENTLY OF THE ACTION TAKEN BY THIS OFFICE THEREON, THE COURT OF CLAIMS OF THE UNITED STATES HAS JURISDICTION TO CONSIDER AND DETERMINE CERTAIN CLAIMS AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT, IF FILED THERE WITHIN SIX YEARS FROM THE DATE OF ACCRUAL THEREOF.

COPIES (ONE EACH) OF OUR SETTLEMENT, THE COMMERCIAL BILL OF LADING, AND THE TRANSFER ORDERS DATED JULY 18, 1955, ARE RETURNED HEREWITH IN COMPLIANCE WITH YOUR REQUEST.