B-172189(2), MAY 27, 1971

B-172189(2): May 27, 1971

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ALTHOUGH CLAIMANT MAY NOT HAVE BEEN PROPERLY INFORMED ABOUT THE ONE YEAR STATUTORY REQUIREMENT. THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT LIABLE FOR THE ERRONEOUS ACTS OF ITS OFFICERS. GAO HAS NO AUTHORITY TO ALLOW A CLAIM WHICH IS BARRED BY A STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS OR TO WAIVE SUCH STATUTE. YOU WILL NOTE THAT WE HELD THAT SINCE THE STATUTE INVOLVED REQUIRES THAT THE CLAIM APPLICATION AND SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS MUST BE SUBMITTED TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR WITHIN ONE YEAR FROM THE DATE PROPERTY IS VACATED. IT IS CLEAR THAT NEITHER THOSE EXPENSES. DAMAGES WHICH ARE INCURRED BUT NOT CLAIMED PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION OF THE YEAR. DAMAGES WHICH ARE INCURRED AFTER THE EXPIRATION OF THAT YEAR MAY BE REIMBURSED.

B-172189(2), MAY 27, 1971

MOVING EXPENSES - PERIOD OF LIMITATION DECISION THAT CLAIMANT MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED FOR EXPENSES, LOSSES AND DAMAGES INCURRED BUT NOT CLAIMED PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION OF ONE YEAR NOR SIMILAR EXPENSES INCURRED AFTER THAT ONE YEAR PERIOD, DUE TO THE LIMITATION TIME PRESCRIBED BY PUB. L. 85-433, 43 U.S.C. 1231. ALTHOUGH CLAIMANT MAY NOT HAVE BEEN PROPERLY INFORMED ABOUT THE ONE YEAR STATUTORY REQUIREMENT, THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT LIABLE FOR THE ERRONEOUS ACTS OF ITS OFFICERS, AGENTS, OR EMPLOYEES, EVEN THOUGH COMMITTED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES. FURTHER, GAO HAS NO AUTHORITY TO ALLOW A CLAIM WHICH IS BARRED BY A STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS OR TO WAIVE SUCH STATUTE.

TO MR. JERRY M. MURRAY:

PURSUANT TO YOUR INFORMAL REQUEST WE OBTAINED FROM THE BUREAU OF SPORT FISHERIES AND WILDLIFE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, THE MEMORANDUM AND ATTACHMENTS SUBMITTED BY YOU TO THE BUREAU IN SUPPORT OF THE CLAIM OF YOUR CLIENT, MR. WILLIAM ALLEN, FOR MONEY AND RELATED EXPENSES INCURRED BY MR. ALLEN AS THE RESULT OF THE ACQUISITION BY THE BUREAU OF LAND OWNED BY HIM. YOU ASKED THAT WE CONSIDER YOUR MEMORANDUM IN CONNECTION WITH A DECISION REQUESTED FROM US BY THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR WHICH INVOLVED, IN PART, YOUR CLIENTS CLAIM.

WE CONSIDERED YOUR MEMORANDUM IN CONNECTION WITH THE REQUESTED DECISION. FROM THE ENCLOSED COPY OF OUR DECISION OF TODAY, B-172189, YOU WILL NOTE THAT WE HELD THAT SINCE THE STATUTE INVOLVED REQUIRES THAT THE CLAIM APPLICATION AND SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS MUST BE SUBMITTED TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR WITHIN ONE YEAR FROM THE DATE PROPERTY IS VACATED, IT IS CLEAR THAT NEITHER THOSE EXPENSES, LOSSES, AND DAMAGES WHICH ARE INCURRED BUT NOT CLAIMED PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION OF THE YEAR, NOR THOSE EXPENSES, LOSSES, AND DAMAGES WHICH ARE INCURRED AFTER THE EXPIRATION OF THAT YEAR MAY BE REIMBURSED.

THE MAJOR PORTION OF YOUR MEMORANDUM DEALT WITH THE AMOUNT OF MONEY TO WHICH YOUR CLIENT IS ENTITLED. THE QUESTION OF WHAT EXPENSES AND THE AMOUNT THEREOF THAT YOUR CLIENT MAY BE ENTITLED TO BE REIMBURSED WAS NOT BEFORE US AND IN OUR DECISION WE EXPRESSED NO OPINION ON THE ALLOWABILITY OF ANY SPECIFIC ITEMS.

IN ADDITION, YOU INDICATE IN YOUR MEMORANDUM THAT YOUR CLIENT MAY NOT HAVE BEEN PROPERLY INFORMED ABOUT THE ONE-YEAR PERIOD AND THAT, IN FACT, HE WAS MISLED AND MISINFORMED, BOTH IN WRITING AND ORALLY, BY OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE BUREAU, ABOUT THE STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS FOR FILING HIS CLAIM.

THERE HAVE BEEN NUMEROUS CASES BEFORE THIS OFFICE IN WHICH IT HAS APPEARED THAT PERSONS DEALING WITH THE GOVERNMENT HAVE INCURRED A LOSS AS A RESULT OF BEING GIVEN ERRONEOUS OR INCOMPLETE INFORMATION BY FEDERAL EMPLOYEES. IT HAS OFTEN BEEN URGED THAT WHERE THE CLAIMANT HAS BEEN GIVEN ERRONEOUS INFORMATION, THAT FACT BY ITSELF SHOULD BE REGARDED AS SUFFICIENT JUSTIFICATION FOR THE PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM. IN THIS REGARD, WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY HELD THAT THE RECEIPT BY ONE DEALING WITH A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL OF ERRONEOUS INFORMATION DOES NOT AFFORD A LEGAL BASIS FOR PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM, SINCE IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY, THE UNITED STATES IS NOT LIABLE FOR THE NEGLIGENT OR ERRONEOUS ACTS OF ITS OFFICERS, AGENTS OR EMPLOYEES, EVEN THOUGH COMMITTED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES. SEE, FOR EXAMPLE, ROBERTSON V SICHEL, 127 U.S. 507, 515 (1888); GERMAN BANK V UNITED STATES, 148 U.S. 573, 579 (1893); FEDERAL CROP INS. CORP. V MERRILL, 332 U.S. 380 (1947); 19 COMP. GEN. 503 (1939); 22 COMP. GEN. 221 (1942); 44 COMP. GEN. 337 (1964); AND 46 COMP. GEN. 348 (1966). THIS OF COURSE WOULD BE PARTICULARLY TRUE WHERE A CLAIM IS BARRED BY A STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS. FURTHER, THIS OFFICE HAS NO AUTHORITY TO ALLOW A CLAIM WHICH IS BARRED BY A STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS OR TO WAIVE SUCH STATUTE.

ACCORDINGLY, AND ABSENT THE ENACTMENT OF A PRIVATE RELIEF BILL, WE ARE AWARE OF NO BASIS FOR PAYMENT OF THAT PART OF YOUR CLIENT'S CLAIM WHICH IS BARRED BY THE STATUTORY LIMITATION INVOLVED HERE.