B-174946, FEB 5, 1973, 52 COMP GEN 479

B-174946: Feb 5, 1973

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MAY NOT BE REDEFINED TO INCLUDE ALL PERSONAL PROPERTY ASSOCIATED WITH THE HOME AND PERSON WHICH WILL BE ACCEPTED AND SHIPPED BY A CARRIER AT THE RATES ESTABLISHED IN THE APPROPRIATE TARIFFS FOR HOUSEHOLD GOODS ON THE BASIS OF THE RISK INVOLVED IN SHIPPING ITEMS NOT COVERED BY REGULATION SINCE THE RISK IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE OWNER WHO MAY PURCHASE INSURANCE IF HE DESIRES GREATER COVERAGE THAN NORMALLY PROVIDED BY THE CARRIER. REQUESTING A DECISION WHETHER THE TERM "HOUSEHOLD GOODS" AS DEFINED IN PARAGRAPH M8000- 2 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS MAY BE REDEFINED TO INCLUDE ALL PERSONAL PROPERTY ASSOCIATED WITH THE HOME AND PERSON WHICH WILL BE ACCEPTED AND SHIPPED BY A CARRIER AT THE RATES ESTABLISHED IN THE APPROPRIATE TARIFFS FOR HOUSEHOLD GOODS.

B-174946, FEB 5, 1973, 52 COMP GEN 479

TRANSPORTATION - HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS - LIMITATION ON DEFINITION OF TERM THE TERM "BAGGAGE AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS" USED IN 37 U.S.C. 406 TO AUTHORIZE TRANSPORTATION INCIDENT TO A TEMPORARY OR PERMANENT STATION CHANGE FOR A MEMBER OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES AND IN THE IMPLEMENTING JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, PARAGRAPH M8000-2, A TERM THAT DOES NOT LEND ITSELF TO PRECISE DEFINITION AND WHICH HAS BEEN INTERPRETED TO MEAN IN ITS ORDINARY AND COMMON USAGE AS REFERRING TO PARTICULAR KINDS OF PERSONAL PROPERTY ASSOCIATED WITH THE HOME AND PERSON, MAY NOT BE REDEFINED TO INCLUDE ALL PERSONAL PROPERTY ASSOCIATED WITH THE HOME AND PERSON WHICH WILL BE ACCEPTED AND SHIPPED BY A CARRIER AT THE RATES ESTABLISHED IN THE APPROPRIATE TARIFFS FOR HOUSEHOLD GOODS ON THE BASIS OF THE RISK INVOLVED IN SHIPPING ITEMS NOT COVERED BY REGULATION SINCE THE RISK IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE OWNER WHO MAY PURCHASE INSURANCE IF HE DESIRES GREATER COVERAGE THAN NORMALLY PROVIDED BY THE CARRIER.

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, FEBRUARY 5, 1973:

WE AGAIN REFER TO LETTER OF DECEMBER 9, 1971, FROM THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY (MANPOWER AND RESERVE AFFAIRS), REQUESTING A DECISION WHETHER THE TERM "HOUSEHOLD GOODS" AS DEFINED IN PARAGRAPH M8000- 2 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS MAY BE REDEFINED TO INCLUDE ALL PERSONAL PROPERTY ASSOCIATED WITH THE HOME AND PERSON WHICH WILL BE ACCEPTED AND SHIPPED BY A CARRIER AT THE RATES ESTABLISHED IN THE APPROPRIATE TARIFFS FOR HOUSEHOLD GOODS. THE REQUEST WAS ASSIGNED CONTROL NO. PDTATAC NO. 71- 59 BY THE PER DIEM, TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE.

THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY MENTIONS THAT 37 U.S.C. 406(B) PROVIDES THAT IN CONNECTION WITH A CHANGE OF TEMPORARY OR PERMANENT STATION A MEMBER IS ENTITLED TO TRANSPORTATION (INCLUDING PACKING, CRATING, DRAYAGE, TEMPORARY STORAGE, AND UNPACKING) OF BAGGAGE AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS, OR REIMBURSEMENT THEREFOR, WITHIN SUCH WEIGHT ALLOWANCES AS ARE PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARIES CONCERNED, WITHOUT REGARD TO THE COMPARATIVE COSTS OF THE VARIOUS MODES OF TRANSPORTATION. HE SAYS THAT SUBSECTION (C) OF THAT SECTION PROVIDES THAT THE ALLOWANCES AND TRANSPORTATION AUTHORIZED BY SUBSECTION (B) ARE SUBJECT TO SUCH CONDITIONS AND LIMITATIONS, FOR SUCH GRADES, RANKS AND RATINGS, AND TO AND FROM SUCH PLACES AS PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARIES CONCERNED.

THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY POINTS OUT THAT SECTION 406 CONTAINS NO DEFINITION OF "BAGGAGE AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS," AND THAT THE HEARINGS WHICH PRECEDED THE ENACTMENT OF THE STATUTE FURNISH NO CLUE AS TO THE SPECIFIC ITEMS TO BE INCLUDED IN THAT TERM. AS A RESULT, THE DEFINITION OF "HOUSEHOLD GOODS" IN THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS HAS BEEN AMENDED FROM TIME TO TIME AS A RESULT OF DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE TO INCLUDE OR EXCLUDE CERTAIN ITEMS.

THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY SAYS IT HAS BEEN ASCERTAINED THAT A NUMBER OF ITEMS WHICH NORMALLY WOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS "HOUSEHOLD GOODS," SUCH AS A DOG EXERCISE PEN CONSISTING OF SECTIONS OF FENCING AND SNOWMOBILES WILL BE ACCEPTED AND SHIPPED BY CARRIERS AT THE TARIFF RATES ESTABLISHED FOR HOUSEHOLD GOODS. HE ALSO SAYS THAT BY EXCLUDING CERTAIN ITEMS FROM BEING CONSIDERED AS "HOUSEHOLD GOODS" A MEMBER MAY HAVE NO RECOURSE WHEN SUCH AN ITEM IS ACCEPTED AND SHIPPED BY THE CARRIER AND THE ITEM IS DAMAGED, LOST, OR STOLEN WHILE IN TRANSIT. HE FURTHER SAYS THAT THE PROPOSED REVISION OF THE DEFINITION OF "HOUSEHOLD GOODS" IN THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS WOULD REDUCE CONSIDERABLY THE NEED TO OBTAIN AN ADVANCE DECISION FROM THIS OFFICE WHETHER AN ITEM CAN OR CANNOT BE CONSIDERED AS "HOUSEHOLD GOODS."

"BAGGAGE AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS" ARE GENERAL TERMS, NOT LENDING THEMSELVES TO PRECISE DEFINITION. THE TERMS VARY IN SCOPE DEPENDING UPON THE CONTEXT IN WHICH THEY ARE USED. IT HAS BEEN OUR VIEW, HOWEVER, THAT IN ORDINARY AND USUAL USAGE, THEY REFER TO PARTICULAR KINDS OF PERSONAL PROPERTY ASSOCIATED WITH THE HOME AND PERSON. AS GENERALLY UNDERSTOOD, THE TERM "HOUSEHOLD GOODS" REFERS TO FURNITURE AND FURNISHINGS OR EQUIPMENT USED IN AND ABOUT A PLACE OF RESIDENCE FOR THE COMFORT AND ACCOMMODATION OF THE MEMBERS OF A FAMILY. THUS, NOTWITHSTANDING THE LACK OF PRECISENESS OF THE TERM, IT HAS LONG BEEN CONSIDERED THAT VARIOUS ITEMS, SUCH AS BOATS, AIRPLANES AND HOUSETRAILERS DO NOT COME WITHIN ITS SCOPE. 44 COMP. GEN. 65(1964). IN CONFORMITY WITH THAT CONCEPT PARAGRAPH M8000-2 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS IS AS FOLLOWS:

HOUSEHOLD GOODS. THE TERM "HOUSEHOLD GOODS," AS USED IN THIS VOLUME, MEANS FURNITURE AND FURNISHINGS OR EQUIPMENT, CLOTHING, BAGGAGE, PERSONAL EFFECTS, PROFESSIONAL BOOKS, PAPERS, AND EQUIPMENT UNDER THE CONDITIONS DESCRIBED IN SUBPAR. 3, AND ALL OTHER PERSONAL PROPERTY ASSOCIATED WITH THE HOME AND PERSON. ALSO INCLUDED ARE SPARE PARTS FOR A PRIVATELY OWNED MOTOR VEHICLE (EXTRA TIRES AND WHEELS, TIRE CHAINS, TOOLS, BATTERY CHARGERS, ACCESSORIES, ETC.). THE TERM "HOUSEHOLD GOODS" DOES NOT INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

1. PERSONAL BAGGAGE WHEN CARRIED FREE ON TICKETS;

2. PRIVATELY OWNED MOTOR VEHICLE (FOR OVERSEAS SHIPMENT SEE CHAPTER 11);

3. TRAILERS, WITH OR WITHOUT OTHER PROPERTY;

4. BOATS;

5. WINES AND/OR LIQUORS;

6. ANIMALS NOT REQUIRED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES;

7. BIRDS;

8. GROCERIES AND PROVISIONS OTHER THAN THOSE FOR CONSUMPTION BY THE MEMBER AND HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY;

9. ARTICLES OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS ACQUIRED SUBSEQUENT TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF PERMANENT CHANGE-OF-STATION ORDERS EXCEPT WHEN PURCHASED IN THE UNITED STATES FOR SHIPMENT TO A DUTY STATION OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITY OF THE SERVICE CONCERNED, OR WHEN THEY ARE BONA FIDE REPLACEMENTS OF ARTICLES WHICH HAVE BECOME INADEQUATE, WORN OUT, BROKEN, OR UNSERVICEABLE ON OR AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF ORDERS BUT PRIOR TO THE DATE OF RELEASE OF THE BULK OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS TO THE TRANSPORTATION OFFICER OR CARRIER FOR SHIPMENT;

10. ARTICLES INTENDED DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FOR PERSONS OTHER THAN THE MEMBER AND HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY, OR ARTICLES FOR SALE.

WHILE THE OCEAN SHIPMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES HAS BEEN AUTHORIZED BY LAW, THE CONGRESS HAS NOT OTHERWISE AUTHORIZED THEIR MOVEMENT FROM STATION TO STATION. IT IS NOTED THAT AUTOMOBILES AND MOTOR VEHICLES INCLUDING SNOWMOBILES ARE ALSO SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDED FROM SHIPMENT AS HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS OF DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES. PARAGRAPH C1100, VOLUME 2, JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS. ALSO, A SEPARATE ALLOWANCE IS AUTHORIZED BY LAW FOR THE MOVEMENT OF TRAILERS. 37 U.S.C. 409.

WE DO NOT BELIEVE THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE MEMBER WOULD HAVE NO RECOURSE WHEN AN ITEM LONG EXCLUDED FROM "HOUSEHOLD GOODS" IS SHIPPED AND IS DAMAGED, LOST, OR STOLEN WHILE IN TRANSIT IS A VALID REASON FOR REVISION OF THE REGULATIONS TO INCLUDE SUCH ITEMS. THE RISK INVOLVED IN SHIPPING ITEMS NOT COVERED BY THE REGULATIONS IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE OWNER. PRESUMABLY HE MAY PURCHASE INSURANCE IF HE DESIRES GREATER COVERAGE THAN NORMALLY PROVIDED BY THE CARRIER.

IT IS NOTED THAT THE COMPLETE LISTS OF EXCLUDED ITEMS IN PARAGRAPH C1100, VOLUME 2, JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, AND IN SECTION 1.2H, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET CIRCULAR A-56, REVISED, AUGUST 17, 1971(FOR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES), CLOSELY PARALLEL THE EXCLUSIONS IN PARAGRAPH M8000 2 OF THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, QUOTED ABOVE. THUS, THE REGULATORY DEFINITIONS OF THE RESPECTIVE TERMS "BAGGAGE AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS," "FURNITURE AND HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL EFFECTS" AND "HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS" AS USED IN THE VARIOUS ACTS COVERING SHIPMENT OF "PERSONAL PROPERTY" FOR GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL HAVE RECOGNIZED, ON THE BASIS OF A SERIES OF SPECIFIC DETERMINATIONS OVER THE YEARS, THAT CERTAIN ITEMS SHOULD BE EXCLUDED.

IN VIEW OF THE SMALL NUMBER OF REQUESTS WE HAVE RECEIVED IN RECENT YEARS FOR ADVANCE DECISIONS AS TO WHETHER CERTAIN ITEMS MAY BE SHIPPED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE, IT WOULD SEEM THAT THE DEFINITIONS HAVE NOT GENERATED EITHER UNDUE HARDSHIP OR SIGNIFICANT ADMINISTRATIVE PROBLEMS. ADDITIONALLY, THE RECORD BEFORE US DOES NOT SUPPORT A FINDING THAT A SUFFICIENT IN-DEPTH REVIEW OF THE EXCLUDED ITEMS AND THE RESULTS FLOWING FROM ADOPTION OF THE SUGGESTED BROADER DEFINITION OF "HOUSEHOLD GOODS" HAS BEEN MADE SO AS TO JUSTIFY A MODIFICATION AT THIS TIME. HOWEVER, WE RECOGNIZE THAT THIS AREA IS ONE IN WHICH THE FINDINGS IN A STUDY THEREOF MAY PRESENT A BASIS IN SUPPORT OF MODIFICATIONS TO THE EXISTING DEFINITIONS. WE THEREFORE SUGGEST THAT YOUR AGENCY GIVE CONSIDERATION TO A MORE DETAILED REVIEW OF THIS MATTER, PERHAPS LOOKING TO A COOPERATIVE UNDERTAKING WITH THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND OUR OFFICE.

ACCORDINGLY, THE QUESTION PRESENTED IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE.