B-132270, AUG. 29, 1957

B-132270: Aug 29, 1957

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IN THE EVENT WE SUSTAIN THE EXCEPTION WE ARE REQUESTED TO CLARIFY THE MANY DECISIONS OF OUR OFFICE UPON THE SUBJECT. IN THE PAST OUR DECISIONS UNIFORMLY HAVE CONSTRUED EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9805. AS AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT UPON A COMMUTED BASIS FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS BY A PERSONALLY OWNED HOUSE TRAILER ONLY WHERE IT IS SHOWN THAT THE EMPLOYEE. OUR DECISIONS HAVE NEVER PRESUMED THAT ADDITIONAL COSTS ARE INCURRED MERELY BY REASON OF THE FACT THAT THE TRAILER WEIGHT IS INCREASED BY THE WEIGHT OF THE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS CONTAINED THEREIN OR THAT AN EMPTY HOUSE TRAILER MAY BE MOVED MORE EASILY AND MORE ECONOMICALLY THAN A LOADED HOUSE TRAILER. IN SUCH CASES WE HAVE ALLOWED REIMBURSEMENT UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9805.

B-132270, AUG. 29, 1957

TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE:

ON JUNE 19, 1957, YOUR ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR ADMINISTRATION REQUESTED THAT WE CONSIDER THE REMOVAL OF OUR AUDIT EXCEPTION TO CERTAIN PAYMENTS REPRESENTING REIMBURSEMENT UPON A COMMUTED BASIS FOR THE TRANSPORTATION BY PERSONALLY OWNED HOUSE TRAILERS OF THE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS OF CERTAIN EMPLOYEES OF THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS. IN THE EVENT WE SUSTAIN THE EXCEPTION WE ARE REQUESTED TO CLARIFY THE MANY DECISIONS OF OUR OFFICE UPON THE SUBJECT.

IN THE PAST OUR DECISIONS UNIFORMLY HAVE CONSTRUED EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9805, NOVEMBER 25, 1946, AS AMENDED, AS AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT UPON A COMMUTED BASIS FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS BY A PERSONALLY OWNED HOUSE TRAILER ONLY WHERE IT IS SHOWN THAT THE EMPLOYEE, IN FACT, HAS INCURRED IDENTIFIABLE COSTS IN CONNECTION WITH SUCH TRANSPORTATION OVER AND ABOVE THE COSTS OF TRANSPORTING THE HOUSE TRAILER ITSELF. OUR DECISIONS HAVE NEVER PRESUMED THAT ADDITIONAL COSTS ARE INCURRED MERELY BY REASON OF THE FACT THAT THE TRAILER WEIGHT IS INCREASED BY THE WEIGHT OF THE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS CONTAINED THEREIN OR THAT AN EMPTY HOUSE TRAILER MAY BE MOVED MORE EASILY AND MORE ECONOMICALLY THAN A LOADED HOUSE TRAILER.

WHERE AN EMPLOYEE RENTS A TRAILER TO MOVE HIS HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS HE INCURS AN ACTUAL IDENTIFIABLE COST IN CONNECTION WITH THE MOVEMENT, AND IN SUCH CASES WE HAVE ALLOWED REIMBURSEMENT UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9805. CONSTRUING THAT EXECUTIVE ORDER, HOWEVER, IT MUST BE REMEMBERED THAT THE COMMUTED RATES CONTAINED THEREIN ARE BASED UPON THE COST OF COMMERCIAL TRANSPORTATION. THE ALLOWANCE OF REIMBURSEMENT ON THE BASIS OF THOSE RATES IN CASES WHERE SHIPMENT IS MADE BY AN EMPLOYEE IN HIS PERSONALLY OWNED HOUSE TRAILER WOULD RESULT, IN MANY CASES, IN A WINDFALL TO THE EMPLOYEE NOT CONTEMPLATED WHEN ESTABLISHING THE RATE STRUCTURE SET FORTH IN THE EXECUTIVE ORDER.

WE REALIZE THAT IT MAY BE ARGUED THAT JUDICIAL NOTICE SHOULD BE TAKEN OF THE FACT THAT A LOADED TRAILER IS MORE EXPENSIVE TO TRANSPORT THAN AN EMPTY ONE. YET, IN MANY CASES THE DIFFERENCE IN COST MIGHT BE INSIGNIFICANT AND REIMBURSEMENT UPON A COMMUTED BASIS WOULD IN EFFECT CONSTITUTE AN UNWARRANTED GRATUITY TO THE EMPLOYEE.

FURTHERMORE, AT THE PRESENT TIME, THE CONGRESS IS CONSIDERING LEGISLATION (S. 1408) WHICH WOULD AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT UPON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR SHIPMENTS BY HOUSE TRAILERS USED AS RESIDENCES. THE AMOUNTS OF REIMBURSEMENT WHICH WOULD BE AUTHORIZED UNDER THAT BILL WOULD, IN MANY CASES, BE SUBSTANTIALLY LESS THAN IF REIMBURSEMENT WERE AUTHORIZED AND EFFECTED UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9805.

FOR THESE REASONS WE FEEL COMPELLED, AT THIS TIME, TO SUSTAIN THE EXCEPTION REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER.