B-158616, APR. 4, 1966

B-158616: Apr 4, 1966

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

NAVY FINANCE CENTER: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 7. ADMIRAL SAGER (THEN CAPTAIN SAGER) WAS DETACHED FROM DUTY AT THE BUREAU OF NAVAL WEAPONS. WHICH WERE TRANSPORTED UNDER GOVERNMENT BILLS OF LADING A-1126083 AND A-1126325. 695 POUNDS AT $14.95 CWT. $402.90 THE RECORD DOES NOT SHOW WHETHER CORRESPONDING EXCESS CHARGES TO COVER ACCESSORIAL SERVICES OR STORAGE FEES FOR THE EXCESS WEIGHT INVOLVED WERE LEVIED AGAINST THE OFFICER. YOU SAY IN YOUR LETTER THAT IT IS THE CONTENTION OF ADMIRAL SAGER THAT A PORTION OF THE EXCESS WEIGHT RESULTED FROM THE FACT THAT ELEVEN CRATED ITEMS INCLUDED IN HIS VAN SHIPMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN REDUCED BY 40 PERCENT IN LIEU OF 5 PERCENT TO COMPENSATE FOR THE WEIGHT OF CRATING MATERIALS USED.

B-158616, APR. 4, 1966

TO THE DISBURSING OFFICER, FREIGHT AND PASSENGER ACCOUNTS, U.S. NAVY FINANCE CENTER:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 7, 1966, AND ENCLOSURES, REQUESTING AN ADVANCE DECISION (PDTATAC CONTROL NO. 66 10) AS TO THE LIABILITY OF REAR ADMIRAL JOHN P. SAGER, USN, FOR EXCESS COST OF TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES DESCRIBED.

IN YOUR LETTER YOU SAY THAT BY BUREAU OF NAVAL PERSONNEL ORDERS DATED MAY 13, 1961, ADMIRAL SAGER (THEN CAPTAIN SAGER) WAS DETACHED FROM DUTY AT THE BUREAU OF NAVAL WEAPONS, WASHINGTON, .C., AND ASSIGNED TO THE STAFF COMMANDER, NAVAL AIR FORCE, UNITED STATES PACIFIC FLEET, U.S. NAVAL AIR STATION, NORTH ISLAND, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, FOR DUTY. INCIDENT TO THAT MOVE HE REQUESTED TWO SHIPMENTS OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS. THE FIRST SHIPMENT CONSISTED OF 433 POUNDS OF PERSONAL EFFECTS SHIPPED VIA EXPRESS, AND THE SECOND ONE CONSISTED OF 14,800 POUNDS OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS, INCLUDING 800 POUNDS OF PROFESSIONAL BOOKS, SHIPPED VIA VAN, WHICH WERE TRANSPORTED UNDER GOVERNMENT BILLS OF LADING A-1126083 AND A-1126325, RESPECTIVELY, FROM BETHESDA, MARYLAND, TO SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA. THE COPY OF THE PAY ADJUSTMENT AUTHORIZATION DATED OCTOBER 16, 1961, ISSUED BY THE U.S. NAVY REGIONAL ACCOUNTS OFFICE, WASHINGTON, D.C., WHICH YOU FORWARDED, SHOWS THAT ADMIRAL SAGER EXCEEDED HIS WEIGHT ALLOWANCE BY 2,695 POUNDS RESULTING IN AN EXCESS COST OF $402.90 COMPUTED AS FOLLOWS:

CHART

AUTHORIZED NET WEIGHT ALLOWANCE 11,000 POUNDS

SHIPMENT NO. 1, REA 433 POUNDS

LESS 40 PERCENT (173) NET 260 POUNDS

BALANCE NET WEIGHT ALLOWANCE 10,740 POUNDS

SHIPMENT NO. 2, VAN 14,000

POUNDS LESS 5 PERCENT (700) NET 13,300 POUNDS

BALANCE NET WEIGHT ALLOWANCE 10,740 POUNDS

NET EXCESS WEIGHT 2,560 POUNDS

PLUS 5.263 PERCENT (PACK) 135 POUNDS

GROSS EXCESS WEIGHT 2,695 POUNDS

EXCESS COST FOR EXCESS WEIGHT

TRANSPORTATION 2,695 POUNDS

AT $14.95 CWT. $402.90 THE RECORD DOES NOT SHOW WHETHER CORRESPONDING EXCESS CHARGES TO COVER ACCESSORIAL SERVICES OR STORAGE FEES FOR THE EXCESS WEIGHT INVOLVED WERE LEVIED AGAINST THE OFFICER. SEE PARAGRAPH 58118, VOLUME V, BUREAU OF SUPPLIES AND ACCOUNTS MANUAL.

YOU SAY IN YOUR LETTER THAT IT IS THE CONTENTION OF ADMIRAL SAGER THAT A PORTION OF THE EXCESS WEIGHT RESULTED FROM THE FACT THAT ELEVEN CRATED ITEMS INCLUDED IN HIS VAN SHIPMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN REDUCED BY 40 PERCENT IN LIEU OF 5 PERCENT TO COMPENSATE FOR THE WEIGHT OF CRATING MATERIALS USED. YOU HAVE FURNISHED A COMPUTATION COVERING THESE ELEVEN CRATED ITEMS SHOWING THAT THEY HAD A CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT OF 244 POUNDS BASED ON THE MEASUREMENT OF THE BOXES TOTALING 34.8 CUBIC FEET MULTIPLIED BY 7 POUNDS PER CUBIC FOOT, THE METHOD PROVIDED BY REGULATION FOR WEIGHT DETERMINATION WHERE ACTUAL WEIGHT OF THE SHIPMENT IS UNOBTAINABLE. ADMIRAL SAGER HAS FURNISHED INVENTORIES OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS SHIPPED TO WASHINGTON, D.C., UNDER PREVIOUS PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION ORDERS AND OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS SHIPPED UNDER THIS PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION FOR COMPARISON, AND HE HAS LISTED ITEMS WHICH HE DISPOSED OF DURING HIS WASHINGTON TOUR OF DUTY. THE LIST SHOWS THE APPROXIMATE WEIGHT OF THE ITEMS TO BE 2,013 POUNDS, AND ADMIRAL SAGER BELIEVES THAT THE WEIGHT OF SHIPMENT NO. 2 SHOULD BE REDUCED BY AT LEAST AN EQUAL AMOUNT.

SECTION 406 OF TITLE 37, U.S.C. PROVIDES FOR THE TRANSPORTATION (INCLUDING PACKING, CRATING, DRAYAGE, TEMPORARY STORAGE, AND UNPACKING) OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS OF MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES TO AND FROM SUCH PLACES AND WITHIN SUCH WEIGHT ALLOWANCES AS MAY BE PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARIES CONCERNED. BECAUSE OF THE OBVIOUS IMPRACTICABILITY INVOLVED IN WEIGHING EACH OF THE MANY SHIPMENTS OF SUCH EFFECTS BY SERVICE PERSONNEL BEFORE PACKING AT ORIGIN OR AFTER UNPACKING AT DESTINATION FOR THE PURPOSE OF COMPUTING EXCESS COST ON THE BASIS OF THE ACTUAL NET WEIGHTS INVOLVED, THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS SPECIFY CERTAIN METHODS OF PACKING AND SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS WITH PROVISION FOR THE COMPUTATION OF EXCESS COST FOR EXCESS WEIGHT SHIPPED BY SUCH MEANS. PARAGRAPH M8001 OF THE REGULATIONS IN EFFECT AT THE TIME HERE INVOLVED PROVIDED, IN CASES WHERE THE ACTUAL NET WEIGHT OF THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS WAS NOT KNOWN, THAT THE NET WEIGHT OF THE GOODS CHARGEABLE AGAINST THE MEMBER'S PRESCRIBED WEIGHT ALLOWANCE WOULD BE DETERMINED BY SUBTRACTING 40 PERCENT FROM THE GROSS WEIGHT OF A SHIPMENT WHEN IT WAS MADE IN CRATED CONDITION BY MOTOR, RAIL, WATER, OR AIR FREIGHT, BY FREIGHT FORWARDER, OR BY A COMBINATION THEREOF, AND BY SUBTRACTING 5 PERCENT FROM THE GROSS WEIGHT WHEN SHIPMENT WAS MADE IN UNCRATED CONDITION BY COMMERCIAL MOTOR VAN, MOTOR VAN--- SEA VAN, MOTOR VAN--- AIR VAN, OR FREIGHT FORWARDER. PARAGRAPH M8001 OF THE REGULATIONS ALSO PROVIDED THAT WHERE SHIPMENTS INVOLVED WEIGHTS IN EXCESS OF THE PRESCRIBED ALLOWANCE, THE TRANSPORTATION CHARGES ON SUCH EXCESS WEIGHTS WOULD BE BORNE BY THE OWNER. GENERALLY, THE REGULATIONS CONTEMPLATED THE SHIPMENT AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS, AS PACKED FOR SHIPMENT, AT NOT TO EXCEED AN OVER-ALL WEIGHT ALLOWANCE OF THE NET WEIGHT AUTHORIZED BY VIRTUE OF THE MILITARY RANK OR GRADE OF THE SHIPPER PLUS AUTHORIZED WEIGHT ALLOWANCE INCREASE TO COVER PACKING MATERIALS, AND SUCH OVER ALL WEIGHT REPRESENTED THE MAXIMUM WEIGHT THAT COULD BE SHIPPED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE ACTUAL NET WEIGHT OF THE GOODS SHIPPED EXCEEDED THE NET WEIGHT ALLOWANCES SET FORTH IN THE REGULATIONS.

PARAGRAPH M8400-5 OF THE REGULATIONS, IN EFFECT AT THE TIME INVOLVED, PROVIDED THAT THE OFFICER DESIGNATED BY THE SERVICE CONCERNED WOULD DETERMINE ANY COST IN EXCESS OF AUTHORIZED ALLOWANCES FOR WEIGHT, DISTANCE, AND METHOD OF SHIPMENT AND WOULD NOTIFY THE MEMBER OF THE AMOUNT PAYABLE AND THE METHOD OF PAYMENT. IT FURTHER PROVIDED THAT AMOUNTS DETERMINED BY PERSONS OTHER THAN SUCH DESIGNATED OFFICER WILL BE CONSIDERED AS MERE ESTIMATES NOT TO BE USED TO DISPUTE THE AMOUNTS DETERMINED BY HIM. THUS, THE QUESTION OF WHETHER AND TO WHAT EXTENT THE WEIGHT OF ADMIRAL SAGER'S HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS EXCEEDED HIS WEIGHT ALLOWANCE WAS A MATTER PRIMARILY FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION WHICH THIS OFFICE WOULD NOT BE WARRANTED IN QUESTIONING IN THE ABSENCE OF THE CLEAREST EVIDENCE OF ERROR. SEE B-156396, JUNE 8, 1965, AND SEPTEMBER 3, 1965.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT IN RESPONSE TO INQUIRY OF THE NAVY REGIONAL FINANCE OFFICE, WASHINGTON, D.C., CONCERNING THE CONTENTION OF ADMIRAL SAGER THAT THE EXCESS WEIGHT INVOLVED IN HIS SHIPMENT RESULTED FROM THE EXCESSIVE USE OF HEAVY PACKING MATERIALS, THE SUPPLY OFFICER AT THE U.S. NAVAL STATION, WASHINGTON NAVY YARD ANNEX, ADVISED THAT FURTHER INVESTIGATION REVEALED NO EVIDENCE OF OVERPACKING. TO THE CONTRARY, IT IS INDICATED THAT A WEIGHT ESTIMATE BY THE NAVY INSPECTOR MADE IN THE COURSE OF SUCH INVESTIGATION AND BASED ON THE INVENTORY OF GOODS SHIPPED SHOWED MUCH HIGHER WEIGHTS THAN THE WEIGHT ON THE WEIGHT TICKETS.

WITH REGARD TO A COMPARISON OF THE INVENTORIES OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS ADMIRAL SAGER SHIPPED TO WASHINGTON, D.C., AND THE SHIPMENT UNDER HIS ORDERS OF MAY 13, 1961, OUR OFFICE HAS NO PRACTICAL WAY TO DETERMINE THE EFFECT ON THE TOTAL WEIGHT OF A SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS BY THE ARTICLES A MEMBER MAY HAVE ACQUIRED OR DISPOSED OF BETWEEN SHIPMENTS. WE ARE NECESSARILY REQUIRED TO ACCEPT THE WEIGHT CERTIFICATE AND THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION FOR THE SHIPMENT INVOLVED IN THE ABSENCE OF A CLEAR SHOWING THAT AN ERROR HAS BEEN MADE. SEE B-156396, JUNE 8, 1965, AND SEPTEMBER 3, 1965; B-147165, OCTOBER 17, 1961; B-135354, MARCH 19, 1958.

ON THE RECORD WE FIND NO BASIS UPON WHICH WE MAY CONCLUDE THAT ADMIRAL SAGER DID NOT EXCEED HIS WEIGHT ALLOWANCE IN THE SHIPMENT OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS UNDER THE ORDERS OF MAY 13, 1961, AND IT IS OUR VIEW THAT HE IS LEGALLY LIABLE FOR THE EXCESS COSTS.