B-169236, APR. 21, 1970

B-169236: Apr 21, 1970

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CLAIMS ACT OF 1964 CLAIM FOR $64 COVERING JACKET AND EYEGLASSES FOUND MISSING BY GPO EMPLOYEE FROM EMPLOYMENT PREMISES IS NOT WITHIN JURISDICTION OF GAO SETTLEMENT AUTHORITY BUT IS FOR CONSIDERATION BY EMPLOYING AGENCY UNDER 31 U.S.C. 241 (B). SAFFORD'S CLAIM AS DISCLOSED BY THE RECORD ARE SET FORTH BELOW: ON JANUARY 7. THAT HE WAS UNABLE TO OPEN HIS LOCKER. THE MASTER KEY WAS OBTAINED AND THE LOCKER EASILY OPENED. UPON BEING OPENED THE ACTING FOREMAN NOTED THAT THE LOCKER WAS EMPTY AND QUESTIONED MR. A SEARCH OF THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY INCLUDING SEVERAL OF THE UNLOCKED LOCKERS WAS CARRIED OUT WITHOUT SUCCESS IN FINDING THE JACKET. SAFFORD WAS WORKING AT HIS DESK AND BECAME DESIROUS OF A DRINK OF WATER.

B-169236, APR. 21, 1970

PROPERTY--PRIVATE--DAMAGE, LOSS, ETC.--PERSONAL PROPERTY--CLAIMS ACT OF 1964 CLAIM FOR $64 COVERING JACKET AND EYEGLASSES FOUND MISSING BY GPO EMPLOYEE FROM EMPLOYMENT PREMISES IS NOT WITHIN JURISDICTION OF GAO SETTLEMENT AUTHORITY BUT IS FOR CONSIDERATION BY EMPLOYING AGENCY UNDER 31 U.S.C. 241 (B), SUPP. IV, IF FOR AMOUNT NOTE MORE THAN $6,500, ABSENT ANY OVERALL POLICIES PRESCRIBED BY PRESIDENT PURSUANT TO SEC. 3 (A) OF PUB. L. 88-558. SETTLEMENT OF ANY SUCH CLAIM MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH SAID STATUTORY AUTHORITY AND IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS OF AGENCY CONCERNED WOULD BE FINAL AND CONCLUSIVE UNDER 31 U.S.C. 242.

TO MR. A. N. SPENCE:

BY LETTER DATED MARCH 3, 1970, THE FORMER PUBLIC PRINTER REQUESTED OUR OPINION AS TO WHETHER FUNDS AVAILABLE TO THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE (GPO) COULD BE USED TO PAY THE CLAIM OF AN EMPLOYEE, MR. CHARLES R. SAFFORD (THE CLAIMED AMOUNT $64), UNDER THE MILITARY PERSONNEL AND CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES' CLAIMS ACT OF 1964, PUBLIC LAW 88-558, 78 STAT. 767, FOR MISSING PERSONAL PROPERTY.

THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES GIVING RISE TO MR. SAFFORD'S CLAIM AS DISCLOSED BY THE RECORD ARE SET FORTH BELOW:

ON JANUARY 7, 1970, MR. SAFFORD, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, REPORTED TO MR. JAMES K. MITCHELL, ACTING FOREMAN, THAT HE WAS UNABLE TO OPEN HIS LOCKER, #2723. THE MASTER KEY WAS OBTAINED AND THE LOCKER EASILY OPENED. UPON BEING OPENED THE ACTING FOREMAN NOTED THAT THE LOCKER WAS EMPTY AND QUESTIONED MR. SAFFORD AS TO WHY HE WANTED TO OPEN AN EMPTY LOCKER. MR. SAFFORD STATED THAT HE HAD PLACED A CORDUROY JACKET IN THE LOCKER WHICH HE HAD NOT REMOVED. A SEARCH OF THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY INCLUDING SEVERAL OF THE UNLOCKED LOCKERS WAS CARRIED OUT WITHOUT SUCCESS IN FINDING THE JACKET.

IN NOVEMBER 1969, MR. SAFFORD WAS WORKING AT HIS DESK AND BECAME DESIROUS OF A DRINK OF WATER. HE REMOVED HIS EYEGLASSES AND PLACED THEM ON HIS DESK. HE LEFT HIS DESK AREA AND UPON RETURNING, HIS EYEGLASSES WERE NO LONGER WHERE HE HAD PUT THEM. THIS WAS IMMEDIATELY REPORTED TO SUPERVISORY PERSONNEL AND A SEARCH OF THE PROXIMATE AREA CONDUCTED. THE SEARCH WAS NOT PRODUCTIVE.

IT IS STATED IN THE MARCH 3, 1970, LETTER:

"THERE IS, HOWEVER, A QUESTION AS TO WHETHER, IN VIEW OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE LOSS OF THE PROPERTY, THE LOSS OCCURRED 'INCIDENTAL' TO THE SERVICE, AND IF SO WHETHER FUNDS AVAILABLE TO THIS AGENCY MAY BE USED TO PAY THE CLAIM."

SECTION 3 (A) OF PUBLIC LAW 88-558, APPROVED AUGUST 31, 1964, 78 STAT. 767, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 3 (B) OF PUBLIC LAW 89-185, APPROVED SEPTEMBER 15, 1965, 79 STAT. 789, 31 U.S.C. 241 (B), SUPPLEMENT IV, READS, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS (QUOTING FROM THE UNITED STATES CODE):

"(1) SUBJECT TO ANY POLICIES THE PRESIDENT MAY PRESCRIBE TO EFFECTUATE THE PURPOSES OF THIS SUBSECTION AND UNDER SUCH REGULATIONS AS THE HEAD OF AN AGENCY * * * MAY PRESCRIBE, HE OR HIS DESIGNEE MAY SETTLE AND PAY A CLAIM ARISING * * * AGAINST THE UNITED STATES FOR NOT MORE THAN $6,500 MADE BY * * * A CIVILIAN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THAT AGENCY FOR DAMAGE TO, OR LOSS OF, PERSONAL PROPERTY INCIDENT TO HIS SERVICE. IF THE CLAIM IS SUBSTANTIATED AND THE POSSESSION OF THAT PROPERTY IS DETERMINED TO BE REASONABLE, USEFUL, OR PROPER UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE CLAIM MAY BE PAID * * *."

31 U.S.C. 242 READS AS FOLLOWS:

"NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW, THE SETTLEMENT OF A CLAIM UNDER SECTIONS 240-242 IS FINAL AND CONCLUSIVE."

WITH RESPECT TO WHETHER THE CLAIMED LOSS WAS INCURRED INCIDENT TO SERVICE WE WOULD POINT OUT THAT A REVIEW OF THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF PUBLIC LAW 88-558, AS AMENDED, FAILS TO REVEAL A SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO THE TYPES OF CLAIMS CONTEMPLATED BY THE LEGISLATION.

GPO'S REGULATIONS (ACCOUNTING PROCEDURE NO. 166, MARCH 1, 1968), SPECIFICALLY 0350.05, INDICATE THAT COMPENSATION FOR CERTAIN CATEGORIES OF PERSONAL PROPERTY WILL NOT BE ALLOWED UNLESS THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE LOSS FALL WITHIN THE EXCEPTIONS CITED IN THE ENUMERATED SUBSECTIONS. UNDER SUBSECTION (E) PERSONAL ITEMS (EYEGLASSES ARE SPECIFICALLY REFERRED TO) WOULD NOT BE COMPENSATED UNLESS THE LOSS OR DAMAGE WAS PURSUANT TO OFFICIAL TRAVEL, PURSUANT TO SHIPMENT OR STORAGE, OR IN CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE THE POSSESSION OR USE OF THE ITEMS AT THE TIME OF LOSS WAS FOR THE PRIMARY BENEFIT OF THE GPO. SUBSECTION (H) INDICATES THAT CLOTHING WHICH IS WORN WOULD BE COMPENSATED, BUT ONLY WHEN LOST OR DAMAGED AS A DIRECT RESULT OF A TASK UNDERTAKEN BY THE CLAIMANT REQUIRED BY THE WORK SITUATION OR ACTION BY THE CLAIMANT IN AN EMERGENCY SITUATION, SUCH AS AN EFFORT TO SAVE HUMAN LIFE OR GOVERNMENT PROPERTY OR AN ATTEMPT TO QUIET A CIVIL DISTURBANCE OR TO ALLEVIATE A PUBLIC DISASTER.

IN VIEW OF THE PROVISIONS OF PUBLIC LAW 88-558, AS AMENDED, IT IS NOT WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF OUR OFFICE TO CONSIDER CLAIMS FOR DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF, OR DAMAGE TO, PERSONAL PROPERTY OF EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE. IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY OVERALL POLICIES PRESCRIBED BY THE PRESIDENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 3 (A) OF THE ACT, THE CLAIMS ARE FOR CONSIDERATION UNDER THE REGULATIONS OF THE EMPLOYING AGENCY. ANY SUCH CLAIM IS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE PUBLIC PRINTER, OR HIS DESIGNEE, AND SETTLEMENT THEREOF, IF MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE ABOVE -CITED ACT AND APPLICABLE REGULATIONS WOULD BE FINAL AND CONCLUSIVE.