B-129453, OCT. 29, 1956

B-129453: Oct 29, 1956

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IN WHICH YOU REQUEST A DECISION AS TO WHETHER FUNDS APPROPRIATED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY ARE LEGALLY AVAILABLE FOR THE MOVEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOOD OF MILITARY AND CIVILIAN PERSONNEL. THE FACTS OF THE CASE AS SET FORTH BELOW WERE OBTAINED FROM YOUR LETTER AND THE ATTACHMENT THERETO AS WELL AS FROM INFORMAL CONTACT WITH OFFICIALS OF YOUR DEPARTMENT. IT APPEARS THAT THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY 400 MILITARY AND CIVILIAN FAMILIES NOW LIVING OFF THE POST AT THE ARMY ELECTRONICS PROVING GROUND AT FORT HUACHUCA. OTHERS ARE LOCATED IN BISBEE. MOST OF THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED ARE PROFESSIONAL AND SCIENTIFIC PERSONNEL WHO WERE TRANSFERRED FROM LOCATIONS IN THE EASTERN REGION OF THE UNITED STATES WITHIN THE LAST TWO YEARS AND.

B-129453, OCT. 29, 1956

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 5, 1956, IN WHICH YOU REQUEST A DECISION AS TO WHETHER FUNDS APPROPRIATED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY ARE LEGALLY AVAILABLE FOR THE MOVEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOOD OF MILITARY AND CIVILIAN PERSONNEL, BASED ON ANTICIPATED SAVINGS AND CONVENIENCE TO THE GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN ON THE BASIS OF PERMANENT CHANGES OF STATION.

THE FACTS OF THE CASE AS SET FORTH BELOW WERE OBTAINED FROM YOUR LETTER AND THE ATTACHMENT THERETO AS WELL AS FROM INFORMAL CONTACT WITH OFFICIALS OF YOUR DEPARTMENT. IT APPEARS THAT THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY 400 MILITARY AND CIVILIAN FAMILIES NOW LIVING OFF THE POST AT THE ARMY ELECTRONICS PROVING GROUND AT FORT HUACHUCA, ARIZONA. APPROXIMATELY HALF LIVE IN THE AREA OF TUCSON, ABOUT 98 MILES AWAY. OTHERS ARE LOCATED IN BISBEE, ABOUT 43 MILES AWAY; DOUGLAS, ABOUT 65 MILES AWAY; IN SIMILARLY-REMOTE SMALLER SETTLEMENTS; AND IN TRAILERS NEAR THE FORT ITSELF. MOST OF THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED ARE PROFESSIONAL AND SCIENTIFIC PERSONNEL WHO WERE TRANSFERRED FROM LOCATIONS IN THE EASTERN REGION OF THE UNITED STATES WITHIN THE LAST TWO YEARS AND, INCIDENT TO SUCH TRANSFERS, HAVE HAD THEIR HOUSEHOLD GOODS MOVED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE TO THEIR PRESENT HOUSING, WHICH APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN THE NEAREST AVAILABLE AT THE TIME. A FEW WERE HIRED LOCALLY. THESE EMPLOYEES AND MEMBERS COMMUTE TO THE FORT DAILY, SOME IN EMPLOYEE- OPERATED CAR POOLS, AND FROM 175 TO 190 BY COMMUTER BUS SERVICE ESTABLISHED AND OPERATED UNDER THE AUTHORITY PROVIDED IN THE ACT OF MAY 28, 1948, 62 STAT. 276, NOW SUPERSEDED BY 10 U.S.C. 2632, AND AR 55-90. THE MAINTENANCE OF THIS SERVICE RESULTS IN AN ANNUAL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT OF APPROXIMATELY $85,000. IT IS INDICATED THAT THE EXCESSIVE COMMUTING DISTANCE RESULTS NOT ONLY IN THE EMPLOYEES' ARRIVING AT WORK IN A FATIGUED CONDITION BUT ALSO IN AN EXCESSIVE NUMBER OF HIGHWAY ACCIDENTS AND FATALITIES. THESE FACTORS IN TURN GIVE RISE TO A MORALE PROBLEM WHICH COULD AFFECT THE PROGRESS OF THE VITAL DEFENSE RESEARCH PROJECTS IN WHICH NEARLY ALL OF SUCH PERSONNEL ARE ENGAGED.

IT IS FURTHER STATED THAT 512 "WHERRY HOUSING" UNITS ARE NOW UNDER CONSTRUCTION AT THE INSTALLATION AND WILL BECOME AVAILABLE AT THE RATE OF ABOUT 50 UNITS PER MONTH BEGINNING WITH SEPTEMBER, 1956. YOUR DEPARTMENT HAS DETERMINED THAT THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT WOULD BE SERVED BY MOVING THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS OF THE CIVILIAN AND MILITARY PERSONNEL INVOLVED TO THESE QUARTERS AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT MOVEMENT BY COMMERCIAL CARRIER WOULD RESULT IN AN EXPENSE TO THE GOVERNMENT OF APPROXIMATELY $78,750. IT IS STATED, HOWEVER, THAT IF THE MOVEMENT IS AUTHORIZED THE EXPENSE WILL BE RECOVERED WITHIN ONE YEAR FROM ITS COMPLETION THROUGH CURTAILMENT AND EVENTUAL ELIMINATION OF THE COMMUTER BUS SERVICE, AND THROUGH THE ELIMINATION OF OFF-POST SCHOOL BUSES RESULTING FROM THE USE OF SCHOOL BUILDINGS AVAILABLE ON THE POST.

MOREOVER, IT IS STATED THAT THE CONTRACT UNDER WHICH THE HOUSING IS BEING BUILT PROVIDES THAT IF 98 PERCENT OCCUPANCY BY PERSONNEL ASSIGNED TO FORT HUACHUCA IS NOT MAINTAINED THE INSTALLATION COMMANDER WILL LOSE CONTROL OVER ASSIGNMENT OF THE QUARTERS, WHICH MAY GIVE RISE TO A SECURITY PROBLEM. WE ARE INFORMALLY ADVISED THAT YOUR DEPARTMENT IS CONSIDERING THE ACQUISITION OF SUCH HOUSING UNDER SECTION 404 OF THE HOUSING AMENDMENTS OF 1955, 69 STAT. 635, 652, 42 U.S.C. 1594A; HOWEVER, ANY SUCH ACTION COULD NOT BE CONCLUDED SOON ENOUGH TO ELIMINATE THE PROBLEM.

YOUR DEPARTMENT ASSUMES THAT THE PERSONNEL ARE NOT WILLING TO MOVE VOLUNTARILY TO THE INSTALLATION AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. ALSO, WE UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR DEPARTMENT IS OF THE VIEW THAT SUBSTANTIALLY ALL OF THE PERSONNEL WOULD MAKE THE MOVE IF SHIPMENT OF THEIR HOUSEHOLD GOODS AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE CAN BE AUTHORIZED.

ALTHOUGH WE AGREE THAT THE FACTS SUPPORT YOUR VIEW THAT BOTH THE CONVENIENCE AND THE PECUNIARY INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT WOULD BE SERVED BY MOVEMENT OF THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS OF EMPLOYEES AND MEMBERS TO THE POST, WE ARE AWARE OF NO AUTHORITY OF LAW UNDER WHICH THE EXPENSES CAN BE BORNE BY THE GOVERNMENT. UNDER SECTIONS 1 AND 7 OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ACT OF 1946, AS AMENDED, 60 STAT. 806, 808, 5 U.S.C. 73B-1, 73B-3, CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF THEIR HOUSEHOLD GOODS, WITHIN PRESCRIBED LIMITS, ONLY IN CONNECTION WITH CHANGES OF STATION OR INITIAL APPOINTMENTS FOR DUTY OUTSIDE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES. UNDER SECTION 303 OF THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT OF 1949, AS AMENDED, 63 STAT. 802, 813, 37 U.S.C. 253, MILITARY PERSONNEL ARE ENTITLED TO TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS WITHIN ESTABLISHED LIMITS, BUT ONLY IN CONNECTION WITH THE CHANGE OF STATION SITUATIONS. THESE SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATIONS FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE WOULD SEEM TO PRECLUDE THE EXISTENCE OF A GENERAL AUTHORITY APART FROM SUCH STATUTES FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF PRIVATELY OWNED HOUSEHOLD GOODS BASED ON ANTICIPATED SAVINGS OR CONVENIENCE TO THE GOVERNMENT. SEE 24 COMP. GEN. 391, 395. IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY WE WOULD BE REQUIRED TO OBJECT TO THE USE OF FUNDS APPROPRIATED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY FOR MOVEMENT OF THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS OF THE MILITARY AND CIVILIAN PERSONNEL IN THE STATED CIRCUMSTANCES.