B-154953, AUG. 28, 1964

B-154953: Aug 28, 1964

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YOUR CASE WAS REPORTED TO THIS OFFICE BY LETTER OF FEBRUARY 4. YOU WERE AUTHORIZED SHIPMENT OF YOUR HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS. THE FACT IS NOT DISPUTED BY YOU. YOU HAVE REPEATEDLY REFUSED TO REFUND THE REQUIRED AMOUNT TO THE GOVERNMENT ON THE GROUND THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DAMAGE TO YOUR HOUSEHOLD GOODS WHICH OCCURRED WHILE IN TRANSIT. IT IS NOT CLEAR FROM THE RECORD WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH ITS REPRESENTATIVES ARRANGED FOR QUICK. SINCE THERE WAS NO AVAILABLE STORAGE SPACE IN THE ICA WAREHOUSES. YOUR GOODS WERE THEN SHIPPED BY ISTHMIAN LINES TO THIS COUNTRY AND TRANSPORTED BY THE B AND O RAILROAD TO THEIR FINAL DESTINATION. YOU SAY THAT WHILE IN TRANSIT YOUR HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS SUSTAINED HEAVY WATER DAMAGE FOR WHICH YOU FEEL THE GOVERNMENT IS RESPONSIBLE AND CONTEND THAT SINCE THE GOVERNMENT SELECTED THE VARIOUS AGENTS TO TRANSPORT YOUR PROPERTY TO THE UNITED STATES.

B-154953, AUG. 28, 1964

TO MR. DONALD W. MITCHELL, U.S. BUREAU OF MINES, HEALTH AND SAFETY ACTIVITY, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 20, 1964, CONCERNING THE CLAIM OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST YOU FOR $323.20, REPRESENTING THE COST OF TRANSPORTING THE EXCESS WEIGHT OF YOUR HOUSEHOLD GOODS FROM INDONESIA TO THE UNITED STATES UPON THE TERMINATION OF YOUR TWO-YEAR ASSIGNMENT WITH THE INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION ADMINISTRATION IN INDONESIA. YOUR CASE WAS REPORTED TO THIS OFFICE BY LETTER OF FEBRUARY 4, 1963, FROM THE AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, DEPARTMENT OF STATE.

BY TRAVEL ORDER NO. WO-ADM-154, DATED MAY 21, 1959, YOU WERE AUTHORIZED SHIPMENT OF YOUR HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS, NOT TO EXCEED 2,700 POUNDS NET WEIGHT, FROM BANDUNG, INDONESIA, TO BRIDGEVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA. THE RECORD INDICATES, AND THE FACT IS NOT DISPUTED BY YOU, THAT YOU EXCEEDED YOUR AUTHORIZED WEIGHT LIMITATION BY 453 POUNDS, RESULTING IN AN EXCESS COST TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION OF $323.20.

WHILE YOU DO NOT DENY LIABILITY FOR THE EXCESS TRANSPORTATION COST, YOU HAVE REPEATEDLY REFUSED TO REFUND THE REQUIRED AMOUNT TO THE GOVERNMENT ON THE GROUND THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DAMAGE TO YOUR HOUSEHOLD GOODS WHICH OCCURRED WHILE IN TRANSIT.

IT IS NOT CLEAR FROM THE RECORD WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH ITS REPRESENTATIVES ARRANGED FOR QUICK, AN INDONESIAN FIRM, TO PACK YOUR HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS IN LIFT VANS AND TRANSPORT THEM VIA TRUCK FROM BANDUNG TO DJAKARTA. HOWEVER, WHEN THE LIFT VANS ARRIVED IN DJAKARTA, REPRESENTATIVES OF ICA TURNED THEM OVER TO AN EXPEDITOR (ATO) FOR TEMPORARY STORAGE PENDING SHIPMENT TO THIS COUNTRY, SINCE THERE WAS NO AVAILABLE STORAGE SPACE IN THE ICA WAREHOUSES. YOUR GOODS WERE THEN SHIPPED BY ISTHMIAN LINES TO THIS COUNTRY AND TRANSPORTED BY THE B AND O RAILROAD TO THEIR FINAL DESTINATION.

YOU SAY THAT WHILE IN TRANSIT YOUR HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS SUSTAINED HEAVY WATER DAMAGE FOR WHICH YOU FEEL THE GOVERNMENT IS RESPONSIBLE AND CONTEND THAT SINCE THE GOVERNMENT SELECTED THE VARIOUS AGENTS TO TRANSPORT YOUR PROPERTY TO THE UNITED STATES, IT SHOULD BE FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DAMAGE RESULTING TO THAT PROPERTY WHILE UNDER THE CONTROL OF SUCH AGENTS.

AS A MATTER OF LAW THE MOVEMENT OF AN EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND EFFECTS IS NOT A GOVERNMENTAL FUNCTION AND WHEN THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH ITS REPRESENTATIVES UNDERTAKES TO PACK, CRATE, AND SHIP THE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS OF AN EMPLOYEE OR TO ARRANGE FOR SUCH SERVICES, IT DOES SO ONLY AS THE AGENT OF THE EMPLOYEE. THE RIGHT OF AN EMPLOYEE UNDER LAW TO HAVE HIS EFFECTS TRANSPORTED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE, AS WELL AS THE LIABILITY OF THE GOVERNMENT IS LIMITED BY THE SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF LAW AND REGULATION AUTHORIZING THE EXPENDITURE OF PUBLIC FUNDS FOR THAT PURPOSE. (SEE 22 U.S.C. 1136.) THERE IS NO PROVISION OF LAW AUTHORIZING THE PAYMENT OF AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT BY THE UNITED STATES TO COVER DAMAGES TO A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS WHILE SUCH EFFECTS ARE IN TRANSIT, AND IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY SUCH PROVISION THERE IS NO AUTHORITY WHEREBY APPROPRIATED FUNDS MAY BE EXPENDED FOR THAT PURPOSE. SEE 38 COMP. GEN. 314.

THEREFORE, SINCE THERE EXISTS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR OFFSETTING YOUR CLAIM FOR DAMAGES AGAINST YOUR INDEBTEDNESS FOR THE EXCESS TRANSPORTATION COSTS, WE MUST AGAIN ADVISE YOU TO FORWARD YOUR CHECK OR MONEY ORDER MADE PAYABLE TO THE "U.S. GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE" TO THIS OFFICE AT POST OFFICE BOX 2610,WASHINGTON, D.C. 20013.

REFERENCE SHOULD BE MADE TO DW-Z-2228041-DEM IN REMITTING YOUR PAYMENT.