B-165043, SEPTEMBER 23, 1968, 48 COMP. GEN. 147

B-165043: Sep 23, 1968

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

PRESCRIBING A MILEAGE ALLOWANCE FOR TRANSPORTING A HOUSETRAILER OR MOBILE DWELLING THAT IS USED AS A RESIDENCE IN LIEU OF SHIPPING HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND THE PAYMENT OF AN AUTHORIZED DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE CONTEMPLATING OVERLAND TRAVEL. WHICH IS REIMBURSED AT RATES FIXED ON THE BASIS OF TARIFFS FILED WITH INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION. THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS MAY NOT BE AMENDED TO AUTHORIZE INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION THE PAYMENT OF A TRAILER ALLOWANCE TO A MEMBER TRANSPORTING A HOUSEBOAT THAT IS USED AS A RESIDENCE. 1968: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED JULY 26. MAY BE AMENDED TO AUTHORIZE THE MOVEMENT OF A BOAT INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION WHEN SUCH BOAT IS ACTUALLY USED AS LIVING QUARTERS.

B-165043, SEPTEMBER 23, 1968, 48 COMP. GEN. 147

TRAILER ALLOWANCE - BOATS - STATUS OF HOUSEBOAT THE AUTHORITY IN 37 U.S.C. 409, PRESCRIBING A MILEAGE ALLOWANCE FOR TRANSPORTING A HOUSETRAILER OR MOBILE DWELLING THAT IS USED AS A RESIDENCE IN LIEU OF SHIPPING HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND THE PAYMENT OF AN AUTHORIZED DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE CONTEMPLATING OVERLAND TRAVEL, WHICH IS REIMBURSED AT RATES FIXED ON THE BASIS OF TARIFFS FILED WITH INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION, A BOAT USED AS LIVING QUARTERS DOES NOT COME WITHIN THE MEANING AND SCOPE OF THE TERM "MOBILE DWELLING" TO QUALIFY FOR THE PURPOSE OF A TRAILER ALLOWANCE AND, ACCORDINGLY, THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS MAY NOT BE AMENDED TO AUTHORIZE INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION THE PAYMENT OF A TRAILER ALLOWANCE TO A MEMBER TRANSPORTING A HOUSEBOAT THAT IS USED AS A RESIDENCE.

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, SEPTEMBER 23, 1968:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED JULY 26, 1968, FROM THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY REQUESTING DECISION WHETHER THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, VOLUME I, CHAPTER 10, GOVERNING THE PAYMENT OF TRAILER ALLOWANCES, MAY BE AMENDED TO AUTHORIZE THE MOVEMENT OF A BOAT INCIDENT TO A PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION WHEN SUCH BOAT IS ACTUALLY USED AS LIVING QUARTERS. THE REQUEST WAS ASSIGNED CONTROL NO. 68-30 BY THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE PER DIEM, TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE.

THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY SAYS THAT 37 U.S.C. 409 PROVIDES AUTHORITY FOR TRANSPORTING A HOUSETRAILER OR MOBILE DWELLING. FURTHER, HE SAYS THAT ALTHOUGH THE MEANING OF THE TERM ,HOUSETRAILER" IS QUITE CLEAR, NEITHER THE STATUTE NOR THE RELATED HEARINGS APPEAR TO REFLECT ANY INDICATION OF THE MEANING AND SCOPE OF THE TERM "MOBILE DWELLING.' THEREFORE, HE REQUESTS OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE LANGUAGE OF THE STATUTE IS BROAD ENOUGH TO PERMIT AMENDING THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS TO AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF TRAILER ALLOWANCES FOR TRANSPORTING A BOAT.

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 DEPENDENTS, WHO WOULD OTHERWISE BE ENTITLED TO TRANSPORTATION OF BAGGAGE AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS MAY TRANSPORT A HOUSETRAILER OR MOBILE DWELLING WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, WITHIN ALASKA, OR BETWEEN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES AND ALASKA, FOR USE AS A RESIDENCE. PARAGRAPH M10001-1 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS DEFINES HOUSETRAILER AS A RESIDENCE TO BE MOVED OVERLAND.

THE ALLOWANCE FOR THE MOVEMENT OF A HOUSETRAILER OR MOBILE HOME WAS FIRST ENACTED AS AN AMENDMENT TO SECTION 303 (C) OF THE CAREER COMPENSATION ACT OF 1949 BY SECTION 2 (13) OF THE CAREER INCENTIVE ACT OF 1955, 69 STAT. 22, WHICH AUTHORIZED AN ALLOWANCE OF NOT TO EXCEED 20 CENTS PER MILE UNDER REGULATIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARY CONCERNED. THE ACT DID NOT DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE AMOUNT PAID TO MEMBERS WHO TRANSPORTED THEIR HOMES THEMSELVES AND THE AMOUNT PAID TO THOSE WHO EMPLOYED COMMERCIAL MOVERS TO TRANSPORT SUCH HOMES. HOWEVER, THE SERVICES PRESENTLY LIMIT THE RATE OF PAYMENT TO A MEMBER WHO TRANSPORTS HIS OWN HOUSETRAILER OR MOBILE HOME TO 11 CENTS A MILE (PARAGRAPH M10006, JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS).

SUBSEQUENT AMENDMENTS CONTINUED THE MAXIMUM RATE OF 20 CENTS PER MILE IN THE EVENT THE MEMBER HIMSELF TRANSPORTS THE TRAILER AND INCREASED THE COMMERCIAL RATE CEILING TO 36 CENTS (PUBLIC LAW 87-374, ACT OF OCTOBER 4, 1961, 75 STAT. 804), THEN TO 51 CENTS (PUBLIC LAW 88 406, ACT OF AUGUST 7, 1964, 78 STAT. 383) AND FINALLY TO 74 CENTS, WHICH IS THE CURRENT LAW (PUBLIC LAW 90-246, ACT OF JANUARY 2, 1968, 81 STAT. 782). THUS, WHILE THE STATUTE AUTHORIZES THE MOVEMENT OF A HOUSETRAILER OR A "MOBILE DWELLING," PAYMENT OF THE ALLOWANCE IS ON A MILEAGE BASIS WHICH CONTEMPLATES OVERLAND TRAVEL.

THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE BASIC LAW AND SUBSEQUENT AMENDMENTS SHOWS THAT THE PURPOSE OF THE TRAILER ALLOWANCE PROVISIONS WAS TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARIES TO PRESCRIBE APPROPRIATE REGULATIONS TO PROVIDE A MILEAGE ALLOWANCE TO A MEMBER WHO TRANSPORTS HIS TRAILER OR MOBILE DWELLING FOR USE AS A RESIDENCE IN LIEU OF SHIPPING HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PAYMENT OF AUTHORIZED DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE. IT WAS BELIEVED THAT THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT WOULD BE MUCH LESS BY AWARDING THE MILEAGE ALLOWANCE THAN IT WOULD BE BY PAYMENT OF A DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE AND SHIPPING THE MEMBER'S HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS BY PRIVATE CARRIER UNDER THE PRESCRIBED LIMITATIONS. SEE S.REPT. NO. 125, 84TH CONG. 1ST SESS.,TO ACCOMPANY H.R. 4720, WHICH BECAME THE CAREER INCENTIVE ACT OF 1955. ALSO, IT SHOWS THAT THE INCREASES IN TRAILER ALLOWANCE HAVE TO A GREAT EXTENT BEEN DETERMINED ON THE BASIS OF THE RATES CHARGED BY CARRIERS FOR MOVEMENT OF MOBILE HOMES AND HOUSETRAILERS AS PUBLISHED IN THE TARIFFS FILED WITH THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION. SEE S.REPT. NO. 1189, 88TH CONG., 2D SESS., TO ACCOMPANY H.R. 8954, WHICH BECAME PUBLIC LAW 88-406, ACT OF AUGUST 7, 1964. IT IS OUR UNDERSTANDING THAT THESE TARIFFS WOULD NOT HAVE INCLUDED BOATS SINCE BOATS HAVE A SEPARATE CLASSIFICATION RATING IN THE TARIFF.

THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ACT OF 1946, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 12, 1958, PUBLIC LAW 85-326, 72 STAT. 14, AND THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 12, 1958, PUBLIC LAW 85-326, 72 STAT. 14, AND THE ACT OF OCTOBER 9, 1962, PUBLIC LAW 87-776, 76 STAT. 777 (5 U.S.C. 5724), ALSO PROVIDES FOR PAYMENT OF MILEAGE ALLOWANCE TO CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT FOR MOVEMENT OF A TRAILER AND IS PATTERNED AFTER THE PROVISIONS ENACTED IN THE CAREER INCENTIVE ACT OF 1955 FOR THE BENEFIT OF MILITARY PERSONNEL.

THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF 5 U.S.C. 5724 SHOWS THAT THE HOUSETRAILERS AND MOBILE DWELLINGS UNDER CONSIDERATION WERE THOSE TRANSPORTED OVERLAND. SEE H.REPT. NO. 1285, 85TH CONG., 2D SESS., TO ACCOMPANY S. 1408, WHICH BECAME PUBLIC LAW 85-326.

SECTION 1.2 (G) CIRCULAR NO. A-56, REVISED, OCTOBER 12, 1966, PROMULGATED BY THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, BUREAU OF THE BUDGET, PURSUANT TO THAT ACT STATES THE TERM "HOUSE RAILER" MEANS ALL TYPES OF MOBILE DWELLINGS CONSTRUCTED FOR USE AS RESIDENCES AND DESIGNED TO BE MOVED OVERLAND, EITHER BY BEING SELF-PROPELLED OR TOWED. WE BELIEVE THIS DEFINITION APPROPRIATELY DESCRIBES THE TYPES OF DWELLINGS FOR THE MOVEMENT OF WHICH THE TRAILER ALLOWANCE WAS INTENDED, BOTH FOR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES AND MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES. SECTION 9 OF THOSE REGULATIONS PROVIDES FOR THE COMPUTATION OF DISTANCES BASED ON STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDES.

THUS, THE REGULATIONS GOVERNING BOTH MILITARY AND CIVILIAN PERSONNEL HAVE LONG CONSTRUED MOBILE DWELLING TO MEAN A RESIDENCE DESIGNED TO BE MOVED OVERLAND AND NOT A BOAT DESIGNED TO TRAVEL AND BE USED ON WATER.

THERE HAS NOT BEEN OVERLOOKED DECISIONS OF THE COURTS IN WHICH HOUSEBOATS WERE CONSIDERED MOBILE HOMES FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES. IN RE BELL, 181 F.SUPP. 387 AND INTER-OCEAN CASUALTY CO. V WARFIELD, 292 S.W. 129. HOWEVER, THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORIES OF THE TRAILER ALLOWANCE STATUTES INDICATE THAT THESE ALLOWANCES WERE AUTHORIZED TO REIMBURSE A MEMBER OR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE FOR AN OVERLAND MOVEMENT (EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF A MOVEMENT BETWEEN THE 48 STATES AND ALASKA) OF HIS TRAILER OR MOBILE HOME WHEN TRANSFERRED FROM ONE STATION TO ANOTHER, WHETHER THE UNIT IS MOVED BY HIMSELF OR BY A COMMERCIAL TRANSPORTER.

AS STATED ABOVE, THE MAXIMUM RATES AUTHORIZED BY CONGRESS FOR TRANSPORTING A TRAILER OR MOBILE HOME HAVE BEEN FIXED ON THE BASIS OF TARIFFS FILED BY TRANSPORTERS WITH THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION FOR OVERLAND MOVEMENTS AND IT IS OUR UNDERSTANDING THAT THESE TARIFFS ARE NOT APPLICABLE TO THE MOVEMENT OF BOATS. THEREFORE, CONSIDERING THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH THE STATUTES WERE ENACTED AND SINCE THERE IS NOTHING IN SECTION 409 OR THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE STATUTES FROM WHICH IT WAS DERIVED TO INDICATE ANY INTENT THAT IT WAS TO BE APPLICABLE TO BOATS, IT IS OUR VIEW THAT UNDER THE LAW AS PRESENTLY CONSTITUTED A BOAT WOULD NOT QUALIFY AS A MOBILE DWELLING FOR THE PURPOSE OF TRAILER ALLOWANCE.