B-1734, MARCH 7, 1939, 18 COMP. GEN. 700

B-1734: Mar 7, 1939

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EVEN WERE THERE NOT ALSO INVOLVED IN SUCH A CASE THE OBJECTIONABLE COMMINGLING OF PRIVATE MATTERS WITH GOVERNMENT BUSINESS. IS AS FOLLOWS: ONE OF THE CONSULTANTS EMPLOYED BY THE UNITED STATES HOUSING AUTHORITY ON A PER DIEM BASIS FOR NOT TO EXCEED TWENTY DAYS IN ANY ONE CALENDAR MONTH PLANS TO TRAVEL IN EUROPE IN THE NEAR FUTURE FOR PURPOSES OF HER OWN. WHILE SHE IS ABROAD. IT IS PROPOSED THAT SHE MAKE CERTAIN STUDIES OF EUROPEAN HOUSING WHICH ARE CONSIDERED DESIRABLE AND NECESSARY FOR THE PROPER ADMINISTRATION OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSING ACT OF 1937 (50 STAT. 888). THE VAST BACKGROUND OF EXPERIENCE OF THIS CONSULTANT IN THE STUDY OF EUROPEAN HOUSING CONDITIONS WILL MAKE THE WORK SUGGESTED TO BE PERFORMED BY HER ON BEHALF OF THIS AUTHORITY OF PARTICULAR VALUE.

B-1734, MARCH 7, 1939, 18 COMP. GEN. 700

COMPENSATION - UNITED STATES HOUSING AUTHORITY CONSULTANT TRAVELING IN EUROPE - STATUTORY TRAVEL LIMITATIONS, ETC., AND INTERMINGLING OF PRIVATE AND GOVERNMENT BUSINESS A CONSULTANT OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSING AUTHORITY, EMPLOYED ON A PER DIEM BASIS AND CONTEMPLATING TRAVEL IN EUROPE FOR PERSONAL REASONS, MAY NOT BE PAID HER PER DIEM COMPENSATION WHILE IN EUROPE AND WHILE ENGAGED IN HOUSING CONDITION STUDIES FOR THE AUTHORITY, THE INTENTION OF THE CONGRESS AS TO ANY EXPENDITURE OF PUBLIC FUNDS IN CONNECTION WITH TRAVEL ABROAD BEING EVIDENCED BY THE STATUTORY LIMITING OF TRAVELING EXPENSES TO TRAVEL IN THE UNITED STATES, ITS TERRITORIES, DEPENDENCIES, OR POSSESSIONS, AND THE RESTRICTING OF THE ESTABLISHING OF BRANCH OFFICES OR AGENCIES TO THE UNITED STATES, EVEN WERE THERE NOT ALSO INVOLVED IN SUCH A CASE THE OBJECTIONABLE COMMINGLING OF PRIVATE MATTERS WITH GOVERNMENT BUSINESS.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR, UNITED STATES HOUSING AUTHORITY, MARCH 7, 1939:

YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 21, 1939, IS AS FOLLOWS:

ONE OF THE CONSULTANTS EMPLOYED BY THE UNITED STATES HOUSING AUTHORITY ON A PER DIEM BASIS FOR NOT TO EXCEED TWENTY DAYS IN ANY ONE CALENDAR MONTH PLANS TO TRAVEL IN EUROPE IN THE NEAR FUTURE FOR PURPOSES OF HER OWN. WHILE SHE IS ABROAD, IT IS PROPOSED THAT SHE MAKE CERTAIN STUDIES OF EUROPEAN HOUSING WHICH ARE CONSIDERED DESIRABLE AND NECESSARY FOR THE PROPER ADMINISTRATION OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSING ACT OF 1937 (50 STAT. 888), AS AMENDED (52 STAT. 820), UNDER WHICH THIS AUTHORITY OPERATES. THE VAST BACKGROUND OF EXPERIENCE OF THIS CONSULTANT IN THE STUDY OF EUROPEAN HOUSING CONDITIONS WILL MAKE THE WORK SUGGESTED TO BE PERFORMED BY HER ON BEHALF OF THIS AUTHORITY OF PARTICULAR VALUE.

SECTION 6 (A) OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSING ACT OF 1937 PROVIDES IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"THE AUTHORITY MAY MAKE SUCH EXPENDITURES SUBJECT TO AUDIT UNDER THE GENERAL LAW * * * FOR ANY NECESSARY TRAVELING EXPENSES WITHIN THE UNITED STATES, ITS TERRITORIES, DEPENDENCIES, OR POSSESSIONS, AND FOR SUCH OTHER EXPENSES AS MAY FROM TIME TO TIME BE FOUND NECESSARY FOR THE PROPER ADMINISTRATION OF THIS ACT.'

IT IS RECOGNIZED THAT UNDER THIS PROVISION THE UNITED STATES HOUSING AUTHORITY MAY NOT ALLOW THE CONSULTANT A PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE OR REIMBURSE HER FOR HER TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES WHILE IN EUROPE. HOWEVER, NO LIMITATION HAS BEEN FOUND IN THE ACT OR IN THE GENERAL LAWS WHICH WOULD PROHIBIT THE PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION FOR SERVICES PERFORMED OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES, ITS TERRITORIES, DEPENDENCIES, OR POSSESSIONS.

YOUR OPINION IS, THEREFORE, REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE CONSULTANT MAY BE PAID THE PER DIEM COMPENSATION STIPULATED IN HER APPOINTMENT FOR THE TIME SHE ACTUALLY WORKS FOR US WHILE IN EUROPE AWAY FROM HER HEADQUARTERS IN NEW YORK CITY UPON TRAVEL FOR WHICH THE UNITED STATES HOUSING AUTHORITY MAY NOT REIMBURSE HER EXPENSES.

AS THIS CONSULTANT DESIRES TO LEAVE FOR EUROPE IN THE NEAR FUTURE, I WILL APPRECIATE A REPLY AT YOUR EARLIEST CONVENIENCE.

SECTION 5 (A) OF THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 1, 1937, 50 STAT. 890, PROVIDES IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

THE PRINCIPAL OFFICE OF THE AUTHORITY SHALL BE IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, BUT IT MAY ESTABLISH BRANCH OFFICES OR AGENCIES IN ANY STATE, AND MAY EXERCISE ANY OF ITS POWERS AT ANY PLACE WITHIN THE UNITED STATES.

THE PROVISION LIMITING TO THE UNITED STATES THE EXERCISING OF ANY OF THE FUNCTIONS OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSING AUTHORITY, TOGETHER WITH THE PROVISIONS IN SECTION 6 (A) OF THE SAME STATUTE, QUOTED IN YOUR LETTER, LIMITING TRAVELING EXPENSES TO TRAVEL WITHIN THE UNITED STATES, ITS TERRITORIES, DEPENDENCIES, OR POSSESSIONS, SHOWS AN INTENTION ON THE PART OF THE CONGRESS THAT PUBLIC FUNDS ARE NOT TO BE OBLIGATED EITHER IN THE FORM OF COMPENSATION OR TRAVELING EXPENSES DURING TRAVEL ABROAD ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS FOR THE AUTHORITY. AS YOU STATE, THE PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION IS NOT SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITED DURING PERIODS OF OFFICIAL DUTY ABROAD, BUT SINCE THE AUTHORITY TO PAY TRAVELING EXPENSES IS LIMITED TO TRAVEL IN THE UNITED STATES, ITS TERRITORIES, DEPENDENCIES, OR POSSESSIONS, AND THE AUTHORITY TO ESTABLISH BRANCH OFFICES OR AGENCIES IS LIMITED TO THE UNITED STATES, IT REASONABLY FOLLOWS THAT PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION ON OFFICIAL DUTY ABROAD IS NOT AUTHORIZED. FURTHERMORE, REGARDING THE COMMINGLING OF PRIVATE MATTERS WITH GOVERNMENT BUSINESS, SEE 1 COMP. GEN. 299; 5 ID. 746.