B-156062, JUN. 21, 1965, 44 COMP. GEN. 809

B-156062: Jun 21, 1965

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OF TRAILER WHEN A MEMBER OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES TOWS HIS HOUSE TRAILER OR ARRANGES TO HAVE IT MOVED BY COMMERCIAL CARRIER. DELIVERY OF THE TRAILER IS PRECLUDED BY BREAKDOWN OR DAMAGE EN ROUTE IN CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND HIS CONTROL. THE MEMBER'S ENTITLEMENT TO REIMBURSEMENT ON A TRAILER ALLOWANCE BASIS CONTINUES EVEN THOUGH THE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS ARE SHIPPED TO THE NEW STATION. THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS MAY BE AMENDED TO AUTHORIZE THE PAYMENT OF A TRAILER ALLOWANCE FOR THE DISTANCE THE TRAILER WAS HAULED. WHERE THE TRAILER IS SHIPPED UNDER A GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING. HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS REIMBURSEMENT IS LIMITED TO THE AMOUNT OF THE TRAILER ALLOWANCE TO DESTINATION. NO DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE IS AUTHORIZED.

B-156062, JUN. 21, 1965, 44 COMP. GEN. 809

TRAILER ALLOWANCES - MILITARY PERSONNEL - ELECTION OF ALLOWANCE - BREAK DOWN, ETC., OF TRAILER. TRAILER ALLOWANCE - MILITARY PERSONNEL - ELECTION OF ALLOWANCE - BREAK-DOWN, ETC., OF TRAILER WHEN A MEMBER OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES TOWS HIS HOUSE TRAILER OR ARRANGES TO HAVE IT MOVED BY COMMERCIAL CARRIER, ELECTING THE TRAILER ALLOWANCE AUTHORIZED BY 37 U.S.C. 409 IN LIEU OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS SHIPMENT AND DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE, AND DELIVERY OF THE TRAILER IS PRECLUDED BY BREAKDOWN OR DAMAGE EN ROUTE IN CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND HIS CONTROL, THE MEMBER'S ENTITLEMENT TO REIMBURSEMENT ON A TRAILER ALLOWANCE BASIS CONTINUES EVEN THOUGH THE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS ARE SHIPPED TO THE NEW STATION, AND THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS MAY BE AMENDED TO AUTHORIZE THE PAYMENT OF A TRAILER ALLOWANCE FOR THE DISTANCE THE TRAILER WAS HAULED, LIMITED IN THE CASE OF THE COMMERCIAL CARRIER TO THE CHARGES INCURRED BY THE MEMBER, PLUS REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF TRANSPORTING THE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS, THE TOTAL COST NOT TO EXCEED THE TRAILER ALLOWANCE PAYABLE HAD THE TRAILER REACHED DESTINATION, AND WHERE THE TRAILER IS SHIPPED UNDER A GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING, HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS REIMBURSEMENT IS LIMITED TO THE AMOUNT OF THE TRAILER ALLOWANCE TO DESTINATION, LESS THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT TO HAUL THE TRAILER TO THE BREAKDOWN POINT, AND A TRAILER ALLOWANCE, IN EFFECT, HAVING BEEN PAID, NO DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE IS AUTHORIZED. THE LIABILITY OF THE GOVERNMENT TO A CARRIER FOR TRANSPORTATION CHARGES TO MOVE THE HOUSE TRAILER OF A MEMBER OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES INCIDENT TO A CHANGE OF DUTY STATION WHEN DELIVERY IS UNACCOMPLISHED BECAUSE OF DAMAGE TO THE TRAILER EN ROUTE DEPENDS ON THE APPLICATION OF THE TERMS OF THE LINE HAUL CONTRACT TO THE PARTICULAR FACTS INVOLVED, AND CONCEIVABLY THE RESULT COULD BE DIFFERENT WHEN THE DAMAGE OCCURS DUE TO AN ACT OF GOD OR DUE TO NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE MEMBER OR THE GOVERNMENT.

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE, JUNE 21, 1965:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED JANUARY 15, 1965, FROM THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE REQUESTING AN ADVANCE DECISION ON CERTAIN QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO A PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS TO PRESCRIBE ENTITLEMENT TO SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS, AND DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE WHERE APPLICABLE, FOR MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES WHEN THE MEMBER INITIALLY ELECTS TRAILER ALLOWANCES BUT DELIVERY OF HIS HOUSE TRAILER AT DESTINATION IS PRECLUDED BY BREAKDOWN OR DAMAGE TO THE TRAILER WHILE EN ROUTE. THE REQUEST WAS ASSIGNED CONTROL NO. 65-3 BY THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE PER DIEM, TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE.

IN THE LETTER IT IS STATED THAT UNDER THE PROPOSAL A MEMBER WOULD BE ENTITLED TO TRAILER ALLOWANCES TO THE PLACE AT WHICH THE BREAKDOWN OR DAMAGE TO THE TRAILER WAS INCURRED, AND TO SHIPMENT OF THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS CONTAINED IN THE HOUSE TRAILER FROM SUCH PLACE TO THE NEW STATION, OR OTHER AUTHORIZED PLACE. APPARENTLY IT IS CONTEMPLATED THAT SUCH AUTHORITY WOULD BE LIMITED TO CASES IN WHICH THE MOVEMENT IS BY THE MEMBER AT PERSONAL EXPENSE OR UNDER HIS OWN ARRANGEMENT WITH A COMMERCIAL TRANSPORTER. IN CASES WHERE THE HOUSE TRAILER IS TRANSPORTED BY A COMMERCIAL CARRIER UNDER GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING AND THE CARRIER IS NOT ENTITLED TO PAYMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION TO THE PLACE OF BREAKDOWN OR DAMAGE, THE MEMBER WOULD BE AUTHORIZED SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS, AND DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE, IF APPLICABLE, TO WHICH OTHERWISE ENTITLED. SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS IN SUCH CASES WOULD PRECLUDE ENTITLEMENT TO ANY TRAILER ALLOWANCE EVEN THOUGH A REPLACEMENT TRAILER IS DELIVERED TO THE MEMBER'S NEW STATION.

THE QUESTIONS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

"A. IS A CARRIER ENTITLED TO PAYMENT FOR TRANSPORT SERVICES INCIDENT TO MOVEMENT OF A HOUSE TRAILER IF THE TRAILER IS UNDELIVERABLE BECAUSE OF DAMAGE SUSTAINED EN ROUTE?

"B. IF THE ANSWER TO THE ABOVE QUESTION IS IN THE NEGATIVE, MAY THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE THAT, UNDER SUCH CONDITIONS, THE MEMBER WOULD NOT FORFEIT HIS RIGHT TO SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PAYMENT OF DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE, IF APPLICABLE?

"C. IF YOUR DECISION RELATIVE TO A ABOVE IS THAT THE CARRIER IS ENTITLED TO PAYMENT OF TRANSPORTATION BUT ONLY TO THE POINT OF DAMAGE OR DESTRUCTION, COULD THE JTR BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE FOR AN ENTITLEMENT TO SHIPMENT OF PERSONAL PROPERTY AND DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE (IF APPLICABLE) FROM THE POINT OF DESTRUCTION TO ULTIMATE DESTINATION?

"D. IF YOUR DECISION RELATIVE TO A ABOVE IS IN THE NEGATIVE, IS THE CARRIER REQUIRED TO RELEASE THE PERSONAL PROPERTY BEING MOVED AS CONTENTS OF THE TRAILER TO AN AGENT OF THE OVERNMENT?

"E. IF DAMAGE WAS INCURRED AS A RESULT OF STRUCTURAL WEAKNESS AND THROUGH NO FAULT OF THE CARRIER, CAN THE CARRIER BE PAID FOR TRANSPORTATION TO THE POINT OF BREAKDOWN AND THE MEMBER STILL BE ENTITLED TO MOVEMENT OF PERSONAL PROPERTY FROM THAT POINT TO ULTIMATE DESTINATION?

THE PROBLEMS TO WHICH YOUR QUESTIONS ARE DIRECTED AS WE UNDERSTAND IT IS WHAT TRAILER ALLOWANCE AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS SHIPMENT RIGHTS MAY BE AUTHORIZED FOR A MEMBER WHO HAS CLAIMED TRAILER ALLOWANCE IN LIEU OF SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS AND DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE BUT DELIVERY OF HIS HOUSE TRAILER AT DESTINATION CANNOT BE MADE BECAUSE OF BREAKDOWN, DAMAGE OR DESTRUCTION EN ROUTE.

THE PERTINENT STATUTE, 37 U.S.C. 409, PROVIDES THAT UNDER REGULATIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARIES CONCERNED, AND IN LIEU OF TRANSPORTATION OF BAGGAGE AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS OR PAYMENT OF DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE, A MEMBER OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES, OR IN THE CASE OF HIS DEATH HIS DEPENDENT, WHO WOULD OTHERWISE BE ENTITLED TO TRANSPORTATION OF BAGGAGE AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS MAY TRANSPORT A HOUSE TRAILER OR MOBILE DWELLING WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, WITHIN ALASKA, OR BETWEEN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES AND ALASKA, FOR USE AS A RESIDENCE.

THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE TRAILER ALLOWANCE PROVISIONS SHOWS THE PRIMARY PURPOSE FOR THEIR ENACTMENT WAS TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARIES TO PRESCRIBE APPROPRIATE REGULATIONS TO PROVIDE A MILEAGE ALLOWANCE TO A MEMBER WHO TRANSPORTS HIS TRAILER FOR USE AS A RESIDENCE IN LIEU OF SHIPPING HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PAYMENT OF AUTHORIZED DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE. SEE SENATE REPT. NO. 125, 84TH CONGRESS, 1ST SESSION, TO ACCOMPANY H.R. 4720, WHICH BECAME THE CAREER INCENTIVE ACT OF 1955. THESE REGULATIONS, CHAPTER 10 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, DECLARE (PARAGRAPH 10000) THAT THE PURPOSE OF THE CHAPTER IS TO PROVIDE TRAILER ALLOWANCE FOR TRANSPORTATION OF A HOUSE TRAILER WITHIN THE UNITED STATES, WITHIN ALASKA, AND BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND ALASKA, FOR USE AS A RESIDENCE. PARAGRAPH 10002 OF THE REGULATIONS PROVIDES THAT ANY MEMBER OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES (EXCEPT AVIATION CADETS) WHO WOULD OTHERWISE BE ENTITLED TO HAVE HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS TRANSPORTED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE REGULATIONS IS ENTITLED TO TRAILER ALLOWANCE AS SET FORTH IN CHAPTER 10 PROVIDED THAT THE TRAILER IS TRANSPORTED FOR USE AS A RESIDENCE AT DESTINATION AND THAT THE MEMBER ELECTS TRAILER ALLOWANCE IN LIEU OF BOTH DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE IF ELIGIBLE THEREFOR, AND TRANSPORTATION OF BAGGAGE AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS. IT FURTHER PROVIDES THAT WHERE A REPLACEMENT HOUSE TRAILER IS ACQUIRED BY A MEMBER BECAUSE OF THE TOTAL OR SUBSTANTIAL DESTRUCTION OF HIS HOUSE TRAILER BY FIRE, ACCIDENT, ACT OF GOD, ETC., OR BECAUSE THE HOUSE TRAILER HAS BECOME INADEQUATE, WORN -OUT, DANGEROUS, OR OTHERWISE UNSERVICEABLE THROUGH NORMAL USE AND WEAR, THE ENTITLEMENT ESTABLISHED BY PARAGRAPH 10002 SHALL BE EXTENDED TO THE BONA FIDE REPLACEMENT ACQUIRED SUBSEQUENT TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION ORDERS AND PRIOR TO THE DELIVERY OF THE ORIGINAL HOUSE TRAILER AT THE AUTHORIZED DESTINATION.

THE STATUTE DOES NOT SPECIFICALLY COVER THE SITUATION HERE INVOLVED. HOWEVER, WE FIND NOTHING IN THE LAW OR ITS LEGISLATIVE HISTORY TO INDICATE THAT A MEMBER WHOSE TRAILER IS DESTROYED EN ROUTE TO HIS NEW STATION IS TO BE DEPRIVED OF ALL PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS AND TRAILER MOVEMENT BENEFITS.

IN OUR DECISION IN 39 COMP. GEN. 40, WE CONSIDERED THE SOMEWHAT SIMILAR SITUATION OF A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE WHO COMMENCED TRAVEL TO A NEW PERMANENT DUTY STATION BY PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE AND WHO TOWED A HOUSE TRAILER LOADED WITH HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS. BECAUSE OF REPEATED BREAKDOWNS EN ROUTE HE WAS REQUIRED TO TURN THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS OVER TO A COMMERCIAL TRUCKING FIRM FOR THE BALANCE OF THE TRIP. WE HELD THERE, THAT SINCE THE NECESSITY FOR HIRE OF A COMMON CARRIER TO MOVE THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS FROM A PLACE EN ROUTE TO DESTINATION AROSE BECAUSE OF CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND THE CONTROL OF THE EMPLOYEE, AND SINCE THE TRAILER WAS ACTUALLY TOWED TO THE EMPLOYEE'S NEW DUTY STATION TO BE USED FOR DWELLING PURPOSES, THAT THE EMPLOYEE COULD BE PAID A COMMUTED ALLOWANCE FOR TRANSPORTATION OF HIS EFFECTS FOR THE DISTANCE TO THE NEW STATION, IF ADMINISTRATIVELY APPROVED, AND MILEAGE FOR THE DISTANCE THE TRAILER WAS HAULED, PROVIDED THAT THE TOTAL AMOUNT DOES NOT EXCEED THE MILEAGE WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN PAYABLE FOR TRANSPORTATION OF THE TRAILER BY COMMERCIAL HAULER BETWEEN THE SAME POINTS. SEE 41 COMP. GEN. 811.

WE BELIEVE THE BROAD PURPOSE OF THE LAW AUTHORIZING FOR MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES EITHER TRAILER ALLOWANCE OR TRANSPORTATION OF BAGGAGE AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS AND PAYMENT OF DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE WOULD BE SERVED BY APPLYING IN CASES OF THIS NATURE THE RATIONALE OF 39 COMP. GEN. 40, INVOLVING THE SOMEWHAT SIMILAR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE TRAILER ALLOWANCE PROVISIONS. UNDER THE RATIONALE OF THAT DECISION ENTITLEMENT TO REIMBURSEMENT ON A TRAILER ALLOWANCE BASIS CONTINUES EVEN THOUGH IT ULTIMATELY BECOMES NECESSARY TO SHIP THE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS TO THE NEW STATION. THEREFORE, WE WOULD NOT OBJECT TO AN AMENDMENT TO THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS WHICH WOULD PROVIDE THAT A MEMBER WHO HAS ELECTED TRAILER ALLOWANCE, WHO TOWS THE TRAILER HIMSELF OR CONTRACTS PERSONALLY WITH A COMMERCIAL CARRIER FOR MOVEMENT OF HIS TRAILER, AND WHO, BECAUSE OF DAMAGE TO THE TRAILER EN ROUTE, IN CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND HIS CONTROL, TURNS HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS OVER TO A COMMERCIAL CARRIER TO BE MOVED TO HIS DUTY STATION, MAY BE PAID TRAILER ALLOWANCE FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE TRAILER FOR THE DISTANCE THE TRAILER WAS HAULED, LIMITED, IN THE CASE OF A COMMERCIAL CARRIER, TO THE CHARGES ACTUALLY INCURRED BY THE MEMBER, PLUS REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF TRANSPORTING HIS HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS SUBJECT TO THE LIMITATION THAT THE TOTAL PAYMENT IN SUCH CASES SHOULD NOT EXCEED THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR TRAILER ALLOWANCE IF THE TRAILER HAD BEEN HAULED THE ENTIRE DISTANCE BY COMMERCIAL CARRIER. IN CASES WHERE THE HOUSE TRAILER IS TRANSPORTED BY A COMMERCIAL CARRIER UNDER GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING AND BREAKDOWN OCCURS EN ROUTE REIMBURSEMENT OF THE COST OF SHIPPING HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS MAY NOT EXCEED THE AMOUNT OF TRAILER ALLOWANCE WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN PAYABLE IF THE TRAILER HAD BEEN DELIVERED AT DESTINATION, LESS THE COST, IF ANY, TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION OF THE TRAILER TO THE POINT OF BREAKDOWN. SINCE IN ALL THE FOREGOING CASES TRAILER ALLOWANCE WOULD, IN EFFECT, BE PAID, THERE WOULD BE NO AUTHORITY FOR PAYMENT OF DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE IN ANY OF SUCH CASES.

NO GENERAL ANSWER MAY BE GIVEN TO QUESTION A, CONCERNING THE LIABILITY OF THE GOVERNMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION CHARGES IF THE HOUSE TRAILER IS UNDELIVERABLE BECAUSE OF DAMAGE EN ROUTE. EACH SUCH INDIVIDUAL CASE NECESSARILY WOULD HAVE TO BE DECIDED BY THE APPLICATION OF THE TERMS OF THE LINE HAUL CONTRACT TO THE PARTICULAR FACTS INVOLVED. IN THIS CONNECTION YOUR ATTENTION IS INVITED TO THE OPINION OF THE COURT OF CLAIMS IN THE CASE OF NATIONAL TRAILER CONVOY, INC. V. THE UNITED STATES DECIDED MAY 14, 1965, CT.CL. NO. 51-64. CONCEIVABLY THE RESULT COULD BE DIFFERENT IF THE DAMAGE IS RESULT OF AN ACT OF GOD OR OF NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE MEMBER OR OF THE GOVERNMENT. IN VIEW, HOWEVER, OF THE CONCLUSION REACHED HEREIN, SPECIFIC ANSWERS TO THE VARIOUS QUESTIONS ASKED BY THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY AS THEY RELATE TO RIGHTS OF THE CARRIER OR CONDITION ENTITLEMENT TO TRAILER ALLOWANCE ON SUCH RIGHTS DO NOT APPEAR TO BE REQUIRED AT THIS TIME.