B-167744, SEP 15, 1969

B-167744: Sep 15, 1969

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IN ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE THAT MEMBER EXECUTED APPLICATION TO MESS SEPARATELY AND THAT SUCH REQUEST WAS APPROVED BY PROPER AUTHORITY MEMBER IS NOT ENTITLED TO PAYMENT FOR COMMUTED RATIONS. HATHORN: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 9. YOU WERE AUTHORIZED COMMUTED RATIONS VIA THE STANDARD PROCEDURE BY TELEPHONE CALL TO THE COMMANDING OFFICER. WHICH WAS SUBSEQUENTLY MISPLACED OR LOST BY THE PERSONNEL OFFICE. HE STATED THAT THE PROCESSING OF COMMUTED RATIONS REQUESTS FOR E-5 PERSONNEL AND ABOVE WAS A ROUTINE STEP IN THE "CHECK-IN" PROCEDURE AT THAT COMMAND AND IT WAS ASSUMED THAT THROUGH AN ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR YOUR REQUEST WAS NEVER FORWARDED FOR APPROVAL. IN CHECKING ON YOUR BASIC ALLOWANCE FOR QUARTERS CREDIT YOU WERE ADVISED THAT YOU WERE NOT BEING CREDITED FOR COMMUTED RATIONS.

B-167744, SEP 15, 1969

MILITARY - RATIONS DECISION TO NAVY ENLISTED MEMBER SUSTAINING SETTLEMENT DENYING CLAIM FOR COMMUTED RATIONS. IN ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE THAT MEMBER EXECUTED APPLICATION TO MESS SEPARATELY AND THAT SUCH REQUEST WAS APPROVED BY PROPER AUTHORITY MEMBER IS NOT ENTITLED TO PAYMENT FOR COMMUTED RATIONS.

JEFFREY C. HATHORN:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 9, 1969, CONCERNING YOUR CLAIM FOR COMMUTED RATIONS FOR THE PERIOD FROM OCTOBER 24, 1967 TO AUGUST 15, 1968.

AS A BASIS FOR ALLOWANCE OF YOUR CLAIM, YOU STATED THAT UPON REPORTING TO YOUR UNIT ON OCTOBER 24, 1967, YOU WERE AUTHORIZED COMMUTED RATIONS VIA THE STANDARD PROCEDURE BY TELEPHONE CALL TO THE COMMANDING OFFICER, NAVAL AIR STATION, QUONSET POINT, RHODE ISLAND, AND THAT YOU FILLED OUT A COMMUTED RATIONS REQUEST FORM (IND-GEN-310) VERIFYING THE ORAL APPROVAL, WHICH WAS SUBSEQUENTLY MISPLACED OR LOST BY THE PERSONNEL OFFICE. YOU SAID THAT YOU NEVER HAD A MEAL PASS AND PAID FOR YOU OWN MEALS DURING THE PERIOD OF YOUR CLAIM.

RELATED CORRESPONDENCE TRANSMITTED WITH THE CLAIM INDICATED THAT IT HAD BEEN SUBMITTED TO COVER A RETROACTIVE PERIOD. YOUR UNIT COMMANDER EXPLAINED THAT YOU SAID YOU HAD COMPLETED A REQUEST FOR COMMUTED RATIONS UPON YOUR ARRIVAL AT THAT STATION. HE STATED THAT THE PROCESSING OF COMMUTED RATIONS REQUESTS FOR E-5 PERSONNEL AND ABOVE WAS A ROUTINE STEP IN THE "CHECK-IN" PROCEDURE AT THAT COMMAND AND IT WAS ASSUMED THAT THROUGH AN ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR YOUR REQUEST WAS NEVER FORWARDED FOR APPROVAL.

IN A LETTER TO OUR CLAIMS DIVISION DATED MARCH 20, 1969, YOU REPEATED THE STATEMENTS YOU MADE IN YOUR CLAIM, INCLUDING THE FACT THAT ON OR ABOUT AUGUST 10, 1968, IN CHECKING ON YOUR BASIC ALLOWANCE FOR QUARTERS CREDIT YOU WERE ADVISED THAT YOU WERE NOT BEING CREDITED FOR COMMUTED RATIONS. YOU URGED THAT IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF YOUR CASE AND SINCE YOUR COMMANDING OFFICER REPORTED THAT THE LOSS OF YOUR APPLICATION WAS THROUGH NO FAULT OF YOURS THE CLAIM DOES NOT COVER A RETROACTIVE PERIOD.

YOUR CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED BY CLAIMS DIVISION SETTLEMENT DATED APRIL 17, 1969, FOR THE REASON THAT NO EVIDENCE WAS FURNISHED FROM AN OFFICIAL SOURCE THAT YOU MADE A WRITTEN APPLICATION FOR COMMUTED RATIONS ON OCTOBER 24, 1967, OR, THAT SUCH REQUEST, IF MADE, WAS APPROVED BY THE APPROPRIATE OFFICER CONCERNED.

SECTION 402(B) (2) OF TITLE 37, U.S.C. AUTHORIZES THE PAYMENT OF A BASIC ALLOWANCE FOR SUBSISTENCE (COMMUTED RATIONS) ON A DAILY BASIS FOR ENLISTED MEMBERS OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES "WHEN PERMISSION TO MESS SEPARATELY IS GRANTED." SUBSECTION (F) THEREOF PROVIDES THAT THE PRESIDENT MAY PRESCRIBE REGULATIONS FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF THAT SECTION.

SECTION 303(C) OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 11157, JUNE 22, 1964, 29 F.R. 7973- 7978, STATES THAT THE TERM "WHEN PERMISSION TO MESS SEPARATELY IS GRANTED" SHALL BE CONSIDERED APPLICABLE IN THE CASE OF ENLISTED MEMBERS ON DUTY AT STATIONS WHERE A MESS FOR SUBSISTING ENLISTED MEMBERS IS AVAILABLE AND WHEN SUCH MEMBERS ARE AUTHORIZED TO SUBSIST THEMSELVES INDEPENDENTLY.

IMPLEMENTING REGULATION PROMULGATED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY UNDER SECTION 302 OF THE CITED EXECUTIVE ORDER ARE CONTAINED IN ARTICLE A- 4404(7) OF THE BUREAU OF NAVAL PERSONNEL MANUAL. THOSE REGULATIONS PROVIDE THAT ENLISTED PERSONNEL ON DUTY WHERE A GENERAL MESS IS OPERATED AND WHO ARE ASSIGNED TO SUBSIST THERE MAY BE AUTHORIZED TO MESS SEPARATELY AND BE PAID A COMMUTED RATION. CREDIT OF COMMUTED RATIONS WILL COMMENCE ON THE DAY AND HOUR FROM WHICH THE MEMBER'S REQUEST IS APPROVED. THE REGULATIONS PROVIDE FURTHER THAT THE COMMANDING OFFICER'S APPROVAL MAY NOT COVER A RETROACTIVE PERIOD PRIOR TO THE DATE AND HOUR THE REQUEST IS SUBMITTED. ALSO, IT IS PROVIDED THAT NO ENLISTED MEMBER SHALL BE ALLOWED TO COMMUTE HIS RATION AND SUBSIST HIMSELF WITHOUT AUTHORITY.

THE AMOUNT TO BE PAID TO A MEMBER AS A SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE WHERE PERMISSION TO MESS SEPARATELY IS GRANTED IS THE AMOUNT DETERMINED TO BE THE DAILY COST OF FURNISHING MEALS FOR THAT MEMBER AT THE GENERAL MESS. MERE ABSENCE FROM THE MESS BY A MEMBER ASSIGNED TO THE MESS RESULTS IN NO SAVINGS TO THE GOVERNMENT AND IT IS ONLY WHERE PERMISSION TO MESS SEPARATELY IS ADMINISTRATIVELY AUTHORIZED THAT IT IS POSSIBLE FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO REALIZE THE BENEFIT OF A MEMBER'S ABSENCE FROM THE MESS. FURTHERMORE, THE REGULATIONS CAUTION THAT AUTHORIZATION FOR COMMUTED RATIONS SHOULD NEVER REDUCE THE MEMBERSHIP OF A GENERAL MESS TO THE POINT WHERE IT DOES NOT PERMIT ECONOMICAL ADMINISTRATION OF THAT MESS. ACCORDINGLY, UNDER THE CITED STATUTORY PROVISIONS AND REGULATIONS, THE PAYMENT OF THE COMMUTED RATIONS TO A NAVY ENLISTED MEMBER IS DEPENDENT UPON A SHOWING THAT HE NOT ONLY EXECUTED AN APPLICATION TO MESS SEPARATELY, BUT THAT SUCH REQUEST WAS APPROVED BY PROPER AUTHORITY PRIOR TO OR AT THE TIME OF THE PERIOD INVOLVED.

SINCE THERE IS NO OFFICIAL RECORD THAT YOU WERE GRANTED AUTHORITY TO MESS SEPARATELY, YOUR CASE DOES NOT MEET THE CONDITIONS OF THE REGULATIONS AND THERE IS NO BASIS ON THE RECORD BEFORE US FOR THE ALLOWANCE OF YOUR CLAIM. ALSO, WHILE IT MAY BE THAT YOUR APPLICATION FOR COMMUTED RATIONS WAS LOST THROUGH AN ERROR BY GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL, SUCH FACT IF ESTABLISHED WOULD NOT, IN OUR OPINION, AFFORD A LEGAL BASIS TO APPROVE PAYMENT FOR A PERIOD FOR WHICH NO AUTHORIZATION TO RATION SEPARATELY HAD BEEN GRANTED. ACCORDINGLY, THE SETTLEMENT OF APRIL 17, 1969, IS CORRECT AND IS SUSTAINED.

WITH RESPECT TO YOUR REQUEST FOR RETURN OF YOUR PAPERS, ORDINARILY THE PAPERS OF A CLAIM ARE NOT RETURNED AS THEY CONSTITUTE A PART OF THE RECORDS OF THIS OFFICE. 8 GAO 4. HOWEVER, WE ARE RETURNING COPIES OF THE CORRESPONDENCE FILED TOGETHER WITH A COPY OF THE SETTLEMENT CERTIFICATE OF APRIL 17, 1969.