B-165620, MAR. 18, 1969

B-165620: Mar 18, 1969

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WE HAVE STUDIED THE RECORD OF ITS HANDLING IN THE ARMY FINANCE CENTER AND IN OUR TRANSPORTATION DIVISION. WAS PROPER UNDER THE LAW AND OUR REGULATIONS. WAS RECEIVED IN THE ARMY FINANCE CENTER ON JUNE 17. THE BILLS OF LADING INDICATE THAT THE SHIPMENTS WERE DELIVERED JUNE 9 AND JUNE 16. WHEN THE BILL WAS REACHED FOR CERTIFICATION OF THE AMOUNT PAYABLE. BILL NO. 964 WAS RECEIVED IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE AUGUST 26. IT WAS THEREFORE RETURNED TO THE CARRIER WITHOUT SETTLEMENT ACTION. IT SEEMS PROBABLE THAT THESE ARE THE CORRECT DELIVERY DATES. YOU THEREFORE URGE THAT BILL NO. 964 WAS TIMELY RECEIVED IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE AND SHOULD THEREFORE BE PAID. THIS BILL WAS RECEIVED IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE MORE THAN THREE YEARS AFTER DELIVERY.

B-165620, MAR. 18, 1969

TO MR. CHARLES A. MORAN, JR.:

SUBJECT: CLAIM OF MASTERS FAST FREIGHT SERVICE, INC., FOR $376.60 ON BILL NO. 964

WE REFER AGAIN TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 7, 1968, CONCERNING THE SUBJECT CLAIM. WE HAVE STUDIED THE RECORD OF ITS HANDLING IN THE ARMY FINANCE CENTER AND IN OUR TRANSPORTATION DIVISION. WE CONCLUDE THAT DISPOSITION OF THE CLAIM BY RETURN OF ALL PAPERS TO THE CARRIER, WITHOUT CONSIDERATION ON THE MERITS, WAS PROPER UNDER THE LAW AND OUR REGULATIONS.

BRIEFLY, MASTERS FAST FREIGHT SERVICE, INC., BILL NO. 964, DATED JUNE 14, 1968, CLAIMING $376.60 FOR TRANSPORTATION FURNISHED IN JUNE 1965 IN CONNECTION WITH GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING C-1417864 AND CERTIFICATE IN LIEU OF LOST BILL OF LADING C-1417865, WAS RECEIVED IN THE ARMY FINANCE CENTER ON JUNE 17, 1968. THE BILLS OF LADING INDICATE THAT THE SHIPMENTS WERE DELIVERED JUNE 9 AND JUNE 16, 1965; THEREFORE, WHEN THE BILL WAS REACHED FOR CERTIFICATION OF THE AMOUNT PAYABLE, THE ARMY FINANCE CENTER SENT IT TO OUR TRANSPORTATION DIVISION, SINCE MORE THAN THREE YEARS HAD APPARENTLY PASSED SINCE DELIVERY OF THE GOODS. BILL NO. 964 WAS RECEIVED IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE AUGUST 26, 1968; IT WAS THEREFORE RETURNED TO THE CARRIER WITHOUT SETTLEMENT ACTION.

COPIES OF THE CARRIER'S PRO NOS. P 88945 AND P 89316, SUBMITTED WITH THE BILLS OF LADING, SHOW DELIVERY DATES OF JUNE 19 AND JUNE 21; IT SEEMS PROBABLE THAT THESE ARE THE CORRECT DELIVERY DATES. YOU THEREFORE URGE THAT BILL NO. 964 WAS TIMELY RECEIVED IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE AND SHOULD THEREFORE BE PAID. THE LANGUAGE OF THE STATUTE, HOWEVER, MAKES RECEIPT IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE THE CONDITION UPON WHICH TIMELINESS DEPENDS. THIS BILL WAS RECEIVED IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE MORE THAN THREE YEARS AFTER DELIVERY, THE TIME WHEN THE CAUSE OF ACTION ACCRUED.

SECTION 322 OF THE TRANSPORTATION ACT OF 1940, AS AMENDED, 72 STAT. 860, 49 U.S.C. 66, PROVIDES FOR PAYMENT OF TRANSPORTATION BILLS UPON PRESENTATION, SUBJECT TO THE PROVISO THAT: "EVERY CLAIM COGNIZABLE BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FOR CHARGES FOR TRANSPORTATION WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE FOREVER BARRED UNLESS SUCH CLAIM SHALL BE RECEIVED IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WITHIN THREE YEARS * * * FROM THE DATE OF (1) ACCRUAL OF THE CAUSE OF ACTION THEREON, * * *.'

OUR REGULATIONS POINT OUT THAT THE FILING OF A CLAIM WITH ANOTHER AGENCY DOES NOT MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF SECTION 322; THE CLAIM MUST BE RECEIVED HERE WITHIN THREE YEARS OF ACCRUAL. 4 CFR 54.6A (A). AND CLAIMANTS ARE ADVISED, IF THE APPLICABLE STATUTORY PERIOD OF LIMITATIONS IS ABOUT TO EXPIRE, THAT CLAIMS MAY BE FILED INITIALLY WITH THE TRANSPORTATION DIVISION OF THIS OFFICE, RATHER THAN WITH THE APPROPRIATE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE. 4 CFR 54.6.

AS YOU KNOW, THE PURPOSE OF THE STATUTE IS TO TERMINATE CONTROVERSY AFTER A REASONABLE PERIOD OF TIME AND TO ASSURE THE GOVERNMENT AS WELL AS THE CARRIERS PROTECTION FROM OLD CLAIMS ON WHICH RECORDS HAVE BECOME DESTROYED, LOST OR IMPRACTICABLE TO OBTAIN. FROM THE DOCUMENTS SUPPORTING BILL NO. 964, WE REALIZE THAT THE DELAY IN ITS SUBMISSION FOR PAYMENT MAY HAVE BEEN OCCASIONED IN PART BY EFFORTS TO LOCATE ONE OF THE BILLS OF LADING OR TO SECURE A CERTIFICATE IN LIEU THEREOF.

HOWEVER, CERTIFICATE IN LIEU OF LOST BILL OF LADING C-1417865 WAS ISSUED JULY 18, 1967; THE CARRIER'S CERTIFICATE AND WAIVER WAS EXECUTED MARCH 14, 1968, BY THE SAME OFFICIAL (LORETTA HICKEY) OF THE CLAIMANT WHO, THREE MONTHS LATER, JUNE 14, 1968, PREPARED AND SUBMITTED THE BILL FOR PAYMENT ONLY A FEW DAYS BEFORE, ACCORDING TO PRO NOS. P 88945 AND P 89316, THE THREE-YEAR LIMITATION WOULD EXPIRE.

PARENTHETICALLY, WE NOTE THAT BILL NO. 964 INCLUDES A CHARGE OF $75.60 INDICATED AS HAVING ACCRUED ON BOTH BILLS OF LADING AND "P 90613.' THE CHARGE IS NOT SUBSTANTIATED BY ANYTHING ON THE BILLS OF LADING AND "P 90613" IS NOT FURNISHED IN SUPPORT OF THE CHARGE. THE TOTAL AMOUNT CLAIMED, $376.60, IS IN ERROR; THE TRANSPORTATION CHARGES OF $100.50 ON EACH OF THE TWO BILLS OF LADING PLUS THE UNSUPPORTED CLAIM FOR $75.60 TOTAL $276.60.

IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE ACTION OF OUR TRANSPORTATION DIVISION IN RETURNING BILL NO. 964, WITH SUPPORTING PAPERS, TO MASTERS FAST FREIGHT SERVICE, INC., WAS CORRECT AND IT IS SUSTAINED. THE PAPERS SUBMITTED WITH YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 7, 1968, ARE RETURNED HEREWITH.