B-129434, NOVEMBER 14, 1956, 36 COMP. GEN. 397

B-129434: Nov 14, 1956

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TRANSPORTATION - HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS - SEA-VAN SERVICES - WEIGHT LIMITATION WHEN SEA-VAN SERVICE IS USED FOR TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS OF A FEDERAL EMPLOYEE TO AN OVERSEAS STATION AND THE EFFECTS ARE PICKED UP UNCRATED BY THE INITIAL MOTOR CARRIER. ONLY THE NET WEIGHT OF THE EFFECTS IS KNOWN. THE EXTENT OF THE PACKING AND CRATING IS COMPARABLE TO A MOTOR CARRIER SHIPMENT AS DISTINGUISHED FROM ORDINARY SHIPMENT BY VESSEL. MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE WEIGHT" AUTHORIZED IN EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9805 IS EXCEEDED IN THE SHIPMENT OF A TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS BY "SEA-VAN" TO HIS OVERSEAS STATION. HAVE BEEN INFORMED THAT THE QUESTIONS PRESENTED RELATE PRIMARILY TO THE "SEA-VAN" SERVICE TO AND FROM POINTS IN THE UNITED STATES.

B-129434, NOVEMBER 14, 1956, 36 COMP. GEN. 397

TRANSPORTATION - HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS - SEA-VAN SERVICES - WEIGHT LIMITATION WHEN SEA-VAN SERVICE IS USED FOR TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS OF A FEDERAL EMPLOYEE TO AN OVERSEAS STATION AND THE EFFECTS ARE PICKED UP UNCRATED BY THE INITIAL MOTOR CARRIER, PLACED IN VANS FOR OVERSEAS SHIPMENT, AND ONLY THE NET WEIGHT OF THE EFFECTS IS KNOWN, THE EXTENT OF THE PACKING AND CRATING IS COMPARABLE TO A MOTOR CARRIER SHIPMENT AS DISTINGUISHED FROM ORDINARY SHIPMENT BY VESSEL, AND, THEREFORE, THE MAXIMUM WEIGHT LIMITATION OF 7,000 POUNDS SHOULD BE USED IN COMPUTATION OF THE GOVERNMENT'S SHARE FOR EXCESS WEIGHT SHIPMENTS.

TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, NOVEMBER 14, 1956:

ON SEPTEMBER 27, 1956, THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF COMMERCE REQUESTED OUR DECISION AS TO THE PROPER METHOD FOR DETERMINING THE GOVERNMENT'S SHARE OF THE TRANSPORTATION CHARGES WHEN THE ,MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE WEIGHT" AUTHORIZED IN EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9805 IS EXCEEDED IN THE SHIPMENT OF A TRANSFERRED EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS BY "SEA-VAN" TO HIS OVERSEAS STATION. HAVE BEEN INFORMED THAT THE QUESTIONS PRESENTED RELATE PRIMARILY TO THE "SEA-VAN" SERVICE TO AND FROM POINTS IN THE UNITED STATES, FROM AND TO RESIDENCES IN THE TERRITORY OF HAWAII, WHEREIN ONLY THE NET WEIGHT IS KNOWN AND ONLY NET WEIGHT IS CHARGED FOR ON THE THROUGH BILL OF LADING OF THE INITIAL MOTOR CARRIER.

THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER DISCUSSES SEVERAL COMMERCIAL BROCHURES WHICH REVEAL THAT A ,SEA-VAN" OR "TOTE VAN" IS A LARGE BOX LIKE CONTAINER RESEMBLING THE VAN OF A TRUCK. IT APPEARS SUCH "VANS" USUALLY ARE DEMOUNTABLE AND THEIR SIZE AND PURPOSE ARE SIMILAR TO THE "LIFT VANS" MENTIONED IN EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9805. ALSO, SUCH "VANS" MAY BE CONSTRUCTED OF WOOD OR METAL, OR COMBINATIONS OF BOTH.

APPARENTLY, MOTOR CARRIERS OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS NOW ARE PROFERING SUCH "VANS" AS CONTAINERS FOR THROUGH-FREIGHT SERVICE. IN SOME LOCALITIES, SUCH "VANS" ARE LOADED AT THE SHIPPER'S RESIDENCE OR THE LOCAL WAREHOUSE OF THE INITIAL OVERLAND CARRIER AND ARE UNLOADED AT THE SHIPPER'S RESIDENCE AT DESTINATION. HOWEVER, WE UNDERSTAND THAT IN OTHER AREAS THE INITIAL MOTOR CARRIERS USE THEIR REGULAR MOVING VANS TO HAUL THE GOODS UNCRATED FROM THE RESIDENCE TO THE COASTAL TERMINALS WHERE THE GOODS ARE UNLOADED AND PACKED INTO THESE SPECIAL "SEA-VANS" FOR OVERSEAS SHIPMENT. IN EITHER CASE, EVIDENTLY THE SEA VAN IS THE PROPERTY OF AND IS REGARDED AS PART OF THE CONVEYANCE OF THE MOTOR CARRIER. THE THROUGH-FREIGHT RATES FROM PICKUP POINT TO DESTINATION ARE BASED UPON THE NET WEIGHT OF THE GOODS, THE GROSS WEIGHT OF THE LOADED SEA VAN OFTENTIMES NOT BEING GIVEN TO THE SHIPPER-EMPLOYEE.

ON THE BASIS OF THE ABOVE FACTS OUR OPINION IS REQUESTED ON THE FOLLOWING QUESTION CONCERNING THE WEIGHT FACTOR TO BE USED IN COMPUTING THE GOVERNMENT'S SHARE OF THE COST OF AN "OVER-MAXIMUM WEIGHT "SEA-VAN" SHIPMENT: "

(1) MAY WE APPLY THE 7,000 LBS. NET, RATHER THAN THE 8,750 LBS. GROSS MAXIMUM WHERE SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS IS BY MOTOR CARRIER UNCRATED IF A VESSEL IS ALSO USED ON PART OF THE ROUTE?

SECTION 1 (A) OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 2, 1946, 60 STAT. 806, 5 U.S.C. 73B-1, PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART THAT UNDER REGULATIONS BY THE PRESIDENT A CIVILIAN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT WHO IS TRANSFERRED FROM ONE OFFICIAL STATION TO ANOTHER SHALL BE ALLOWED THE EXPENSE OF TRANSPORTATION, PACKING, CRATING, AND UNPACKING OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS NOT TO EXCEED 7,000 POUNDS "IF UNCRATED," OR 8,750 POUNDS "IF CRATED.' SECTION 17 (A) OF THE PRESIDENT'S REGULATIONS, EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9805, PROVIDES THAT, IN THE CASE OF SHIPMENTS INVOLVING TRANSPORTATION BY VESSEL OVER ALL OR PART OF THE DISTANCE, THE NET WEIGHT OF THE PROPERTY SHALL BE CONSIDERED TO BE 80 PERCENT OF THE COMBINED WEIGHT OF THE PROPERTY AND THE PACKING, CRATING, BOXING AND LIFT VANS USED FOR THE SHIPMENT,"PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT WHEN SHIPMENT IS BY MOTOR FREIGHT THE GROSS WEIGHT OF THE PROPERTY SHALL BE THE ACTUAL WEIGHT OF THE GOODS TRANSPORTED.' SECTION 17 (A) THEN PROCEEDS TO SPECIFY A MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE WEIGHT OF 8,750 POUNDS TO BE USED IF THE GOODS ARE PACKED AND CRATED FOR TRANSPORTATION BY VESSEL BUT A 7,000 POUNDS MAXIMUM IS FOR USE IF THE GOODS ARE SHIPPED UNCRATED BY MOTOR CARRIER. AS POINTED OUT BY THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY THE SECTION DOES NOT EXPRESSLY COVER THE CASE OF A SHIPMENT OF UNCRATED GOODS BY BOTH MOTOR CARRIER AND VESSEL, THE METHOD USED IN "SEA-VAN" SHIPMENTS, AND WHERE THE BILLING CARRIER'S CHARGES ARE COMPUTED ON THE NET WEIGHT ONLY.

THE INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO US INDICATES THAT, WHEN GOODS ARE SHIPPED BY SEA VAN WITH CHARGES BASED ONLY ON NET WEIGHT, THE EXTENT OF THE PACKING OR PADDING IS MORE COMPARABLE TO THAT USED WHERE THERE IS ONLY A MOTOR CARRIER'S MOVEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM THE PACKING AND CRATING USED WHERE THERE IS AN ORDINARY SHIPMENT BY VESSEL. HENCE, OUR VIEW IS THAT THE 8,750 POUNDS MAXIMUM PRESCRIBED IN SECTION 17 IS NOT FOR APPLICATION TO THE ABOVE-DESCRIBED ,SEA-VAN" SHIPMENTS WHEREIN THE APPROVED TARIFF CHARGES ARE BASED ON NET WEIGHT. INCIDENT TO SUCH CHARGES, THE GOVERNMENT IS CONCERNED ONLY WITH THE KNOWN NET WEIGHT OF THE EFFECTS. ACCORDINGLY, THE 7,000 POUNDS LIMITATION IN SECTION 17 IS FOR USE RATHER THAN THE 8,750 POUNDS LIMITATION IN COMPUTING THE GOVERNMENT'S SHARE OF SUCH AN EXCESS WEIGHT SHIPMENT. THE ABOVE-QUOTED QUESTION (1) ACCORDINGLY IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE.

NO ANSWERS ARE REQUIRED TO THE OTHER QUESTIONS PRESENTED IN THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER SINCE THEY CONTEMPLATED A NEGATIVE ANSWER TO THE FIRST QUESTION.