B-142725, JUN. 7, 1960

B-142725: Jun 7, 1960

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SEAMAN: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 2. YOU MAINTAIN IN YOUR CORRESPONDENCE THAT THE INDEBTEDNESS NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSED UPON YOU. YOU FURTHER STATE THAT YOUR WIFE WAS WITHIN THE LATTER MONTHS OF PREGNANCY AND YOU WERE AWARE THAT THE ARMY VIEWS WITH DISFAVOR THE TRAVEL OF DEPENDENTS IN SUCH CONDITION. YOU BASE YOUR CONTENTION THAT YOU ARE NOT INDEBTED ON THE FACT THAT YOU WERE ADVISED BY ARMY PERSONNEL IN GERMANY THAT. YOU COULD REQUEST REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED BY YOUR WIFE SINCE IT WAS BECAUSE OF HER PHYSICAL CONDITION AT THE TIME THAT THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED. THE RECORD REVEALS THAT TRANSPORTATION IN KIND WAS FURNISHED YOUR DEPENDENT WIFE TO CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES.

B-142725, JUN. 7, 1960

TO MR. WALTER W. SEAMAN:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 2, 1960, AND PRIOR CORRESPONDENCE, RELATIVE TO THE MATTER OF YOUR INDEBTEDNESS TO THE UNITED STATES RESULTING FROM REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL OF YOUR WIFE DURING MAY 1956. YOU MAINTAIN IN YOUR CORRESPONDENCE THAT THE INDEBTEDNESS NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSED UPON YOU, AND YOU REQUEST TO BE ADVISED OF PROCEDURES FOR APPEAL. IN YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 27, 1959, TO THE DEBT BRANCH OF THE CLAIMS DIVISION OF THIS OFFICE YOU STATE:

"I DID NOT ASK THE ARMY TO PAY ME THE MONEY, BUT I FOLLOWED INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE BEST ADJUTANT IN GERMANY AND FILED FOR THE EXPENSES OF DEPENDENT TRAVEL WHEN I RETURNED TO THE U.S.'

YOU FURTHER STATE THAT YOUR WIFE WAS WITHIN THE LATTER MONTHS OF PREGNANCY AND YOU WERE AWARE THAT THE ARMY VIEWS WITH DISFAVOR THE TRAVEL OF DEPENDENTS IN SUCH CONDITION. APPARENTLY, YOU BASE YOUR CONTENTION THAT YOU ARE NOT INDEBTED ON THE FACT THAT YOU WERE ADVISED BY ARMY PERSONNEL IN GERMANY THAT, AFTER YOUR RETURN TO THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, YOU COULD REQUEST REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL PERFORMED BY YOUR WIFE SINCE IT WAS BECAUSE OF HER PHYSICAL CONDITION AT THE TIME THAT THE TRAVEL WAS PERFORMED. THE RECORD REVEALS THAT TRANSPORTATION IN KIND WAS FURNISHED YOUR DEPENDENT WIFE TO CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES.

THE ORIGINAL INDEBTEDNESS IN THE AMOUNT OF $39.54, NOW REDUCED TO $4.54 BY INSTALLMENT PAYMENTS, AROSE FROM AN ERRONEOUS REIMBURSEMENT TO YOU FOR TRAVEL OF YOUR DEPENDENT WIFE FROM MCGUIRE AIR FORCE BASE, NEW JERSEY, TO JOHNSON CITY, TENNESSEE, DURING THE PERIOD MAY 14 TO 20, 1956. OFFICE EXCEPTION WAS TAKEN TO THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENT UPON AN AUDIT OF THE PERTINENT DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNT, AND THE MATTER SUBSEQUENTLY WAS REFERRED TO THE DEBT SECTION OF THE CLAIMS DIVISION OF THIS OFFICE FOR COLLECTION ACTION, UNDER PROCEDURES AUTHORIZED BY LAW.

WITH RESPECT TO YOUR REQUEST FOR AN APPEAL TO HIGHER AUTHORITY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT TITLE 31, U.S.C. 71, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"ALL CLAIMS AND DEMANDS WHATEVER BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OR AGAINST IT, AND ALL ACCOUNTS WHATEVER IN WHICH THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES IS CONCERNED, EITHER AS DEBTOR OR CREDITOR, SHALL BE SETTLED AND ADJUSTED IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE.'

THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE ARE CONCLUSIVE UPON THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT. THE UNITED STATES COURT OF CLAIMS, HOWEVER, HAS INDEPENDENT JURISDICTION TO CONSIDER CERTAIN CLAIMS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES. YOUR REQUEST FOR INFORMATION CONCERNING APPEAL PROCEDURE WILL BE CONSIDERED AS A REQUEST FOR REVIEW OF YOUR INDEBTEDNESS.

SECTION 303 (C) OF THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT OF 1949, 63 STAT. 802, 814, PROVIDES, IN PART, THAT UNDER SUCH CONDITIONS AND LIMITATIONS AND FOR SUCH RANKS, GRADES, OR RATING, AND TO AND FROM SUCH LOCATIONS AS MAY BE PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARIES CONCERNED, MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES "WHEN ORDERED TO MAKE A CHANGE OF PERMANENT STATION," SHALL BE ENTITLED TO TRANSPORTATION IN KIND FOR DEPENDENTS OR TO REIMBURSEMENT THEREFOR.

PARAGRAPH 7000-9 OF JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS IN EFFECT DURING THE PERIOD MAY 14-20, 1956, PROVIDED THAT MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES WERE NOT ENTITLED TO TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS UPON A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION "WHERE THE DEPENDENTS DEPARTED OLD PERMANENT STATION PRIOR TO THE ISSUANCE OF ORDERS, AND THE VOUCHER IS NOT SUPPORTED BY A CERTIFICATE OF THE COMMANDING OFFICER, OR HIS DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVE, OF THE HEADQUARTERS ISSUING THE ORDERS THAT THE MEMBER WAS ADVISED PRIOR TO THE ISSUANCE OF CHANGE OF STATION ORDERS THAT SUCH ORDERS WOULD BE ISSUED.'

PARAGRAPH 7009-3, JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, PROVIDES FOR THE ADVANCE RETURN OF DEPENDENTS OF MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES FROM OVERSEAS TO THE UNITED STATES, IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND WITHIN THE LIMITATIONS THERE PRESCRIBED. SUCH REGULATIONS PROVIDE THAT COMMANDING OFFICERS OR OTHER COMPETENT AUTHORITY MAY, IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES AND UNDER UNUSUAL OR EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES, AUTHORIZE TRANSPORTATION AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE OF DEPENDENTS OF MEMBERS ON DUTY AT STATIONS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES PRIOR TO THE ISSUANCE OF ORDERS FOR THE RELIEF OF SUCH MEMBERS FROM THEIR STATIONS. SUCH ORDERS MUST SPECIFICALLY LIMIT TRANSPORTATION TO THE POINT OF DEBARKATION IN THE UNITED STATES. AUTHORIZED REIMBURSABLE TRAVEL BEYOND THAT POINT MUST AWAIT CHANGE OF STATION ORDERS OF THE MEMBER. AFTER RECEIVING GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION FOR YOUR DEPENDENT TO MCGUIRE AIR FORCE BASE, NO ADDITIONAL RIGHT TO TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS ACCRUED ON YOUR BEHALF UNTIL ON OR AFTER JUNE 30, 1956, THE DATE OF YOUR RELEASE FROM YOUR OVERSEAS STATION. APPARENTLY, YOUR DEPENDENT WAS LIVING IN COCOA, FLORIDA, AT THAT TIME.

UNDER THE ABOVE STATUTE AND REGULATIONS, A RIGHT TO TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE FROM OVERSEAS TO THE UNITED STATES PRIOR TO THE RECEIPT OF THE MEMBER'S CHANGE OF STATION ORDERS DEPENDS UPON THE APPROVAL OF THE APPROPRIATE MILITARY AUTHORITIES AND THE ISSUANCE OF ORDERS AUTHORIZING TRAVEL OF DEPENDENTS. AND, SUCH TRAVEL COULD BE AUTHORIZED ONLY TO THE POINT OF DEBARKATION IN THE UNITED STATES WHEN AUTHORIZED UNDER EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES. THE FACT THAT PERSONNEL AT YOUR OVERSEAS STATION MAY HAVE ADVISED YOU OF THE SUPPOSED RIGHT TO REIMBURSEMENT OF DEPENDENT TRAVEL BEYOND POINT OF DEBARKATION, CONTRARY TO THE REGULATIONS, CONSTITUTES NO BASIS TO RELIEVE YOU OF THE INDEBTEDNESS SINCE IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT THE MISTAKES OR ERRORS OF EMPLOYEES OR AGENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT BIND THE UNITED STATES IN THE ABSENCE OF A STATUTE SO PROVIDING.

IN THE ABSENCE OF THE NECESSARY CERTIFICATION TO AUTHORIZE THE TRAVEL PERFORMED PRIOR TO ISSUANCE OF CHANGE OF STATION ORDERS UNDER APPLICABLE LAWS, THE EXCEPTION TO THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENT WAS PROPERLY TAKEN AND THE ACTION TAKEN BY OUR CLAIMS DIVISION TO COLLECT THE AMOUNT OF YOUR INDEBTEDNESS MUST BE SUSTAINED.