B-181991, APR 8, 1975

B-181991: Apr 8, 1975

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IS DENIED AS SECTION 6.4D(2) OF OMB CIRCULAR NO. THE ACQUISITION OF INSURANCE IN THIS CASE IS IN ADDITION TO THE ACTUAL EXPENSE AND AROSE AS THE RESULT OF A SEPARATE CONTRACT BETWEEN THE EMPLOYEE AND THE INSURER. WEAVER CONTENDS THAT EXCESS INSURANCE IS DEFINED AS THAT OVER AND ABOVE THE NORMAL SHIPPING INSURANCE RATE. THE AMOUNT HE PAID IS FOR THE TOTAL. THERE IS NO OTHER INSURANCE ON THE GOODS. SINCE THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS WAS FROM ZAIRE TO THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES. REIMBURSEMENT IS TO BE MADE ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 6.4 OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET CIRCULAR (OMB) NO. THE ACQUISITION OF INSURANCE IS IN ADDITION TO THE ACTUAL EXPENSE AND IN THIS CASE AROSE AS THE RESULT OF A SEPARATE CONTRACT BETWEEN DR.

B-181991, APR 8, 1975

CLAIM BY AN EMPLOYEE OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF AN EXCESS INSURANCE CHARGE INCURRED INCIDENT TO MOVEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS FROM ZAIRE TO RENO, NEVADA, IS DENIED AS SECTION 6.4D(2) OF OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-56 PROVIDES FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS TO AND FROM AN OVERSEAS DESTINATION. THE ACQUISITION OF INSURANCE IN THIS CASE IS IN ADDITION TO THE ACTUAL EXPENSE AND AROSE AS THE RESULT OF A SEPARATE CONTRACT BETWEEN THE EMPLOYEE AND THE INSURER, AND NOT AS A RESULT OF A REQUIREMENT EITHER IN ZAIRESE LAW OR IN THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS.

DONALD S. WEAVER, M.D. EXCESS INSURANCE CHARGE:

THIS ACTION CONCERNS A REQUEST FROM DONALD S. WEAVER, M.D., AN EMPLOYEE OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION, FOR RECONSIDERATION OF A SETTLEMENT ISSUED BY OUR TRANSPORTATION AND CLAIMS DIVISION. THE SETTLEMENT DISALLOWED REIMBURSEMENT OF AN INSURANCE CHARGE ($321.93) DEEMED "EXCESS" INCURRED BY DR. WEAVER INCIDENT TO HIS APPOINTMENT TO THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION OFFICE, RENO, NEVADA, AND THE SUBSEQUENT AUTHORIZED SHIPMENT OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS FROM THE REPUBLIC OF ZAIRE TO RENO, NEVADA.

DR. WEAVER CONTENDS THAT EXCESS INSURANCE IS DEFINED AS THAT OVER AND ABOVE THE NORMAL SHIPPING INSURANCE RATE; THE AMOUNT HE PAID IS FOR THE TOTAL, ONE AND ONLY, INSURANCE REQUIRED IN ZAIRE TO SHIP HIS GOODS TO THE UNITED STATES; THERE IS NO OTHER INSURANCE ON THE GOODS.

SINCE THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS WAS FROM ZAIRE TO THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, REIMBURSEMENT IS TO BE MADE ON AN ACTUAL EXPENSE BASIS IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 6.4 OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET CIRCULAR (OMB) NO. A-56, REVISED AUGUST 17, 1971. SECTION 6.4D(2) PROVIDES THAT SHIPMENTS OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS TO OR FROM POINTS OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES SHALL BE BY GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING. OTHERWISE REIMBURSEMENT SHALL BE TO THE EMPLOYEE FOR TRANSPORTATION COSTS ACTUALLY AND NECESSARILY INCURRED WITHIN THE PRESCRIBED LIMITATION. SEE B -175984, FEBRUARY 12, 1973. THE ACQUISITION OF INSURANCE IS IN ADDITION TO THE ACTUAL EXPENSE AND IN THIS CASE AROSE AS THE RESULT OF A SEPARATE CONTRACT BETWEEN DR. WEAVER AND THE INSURER. THE RECORD SO STATES, AS DR. WEAVER, IN HIS UNDATED LETTER RECEIVED IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE ON JUNE 12, 1974, EXPLAINS THAT, "ANOTHER COMPANY IN ZAIRE INDEPENDENT OF THE OTHERS, INSURES THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS AT A FIXED RATE."

THE RECORD WAS FURTHER EXPANDED TO INCLUDE A LETTER OF INQUIRY TO THE EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZAIRE. THE AMBASSADOR OF THAT REPUBLIC ADVISED THIS OFFICE THAT HE WAS UNAWARE OF A ZAIRESE LAW REQUIRING INSURANCE ON THE SHIPPING OF GOODS. THEREFORE, THE ACQUISITION OF ANY AMOUNT OF INSURANCE FROM A SEPARATE INSURER WAS NOT A NECESSARY PREREQUISITE TO THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND IS THUS CONSIDERED TO BE "EXCESS." 27 COMP. GEN. 737 (1948); 28 COMP. GEN. 679 (1949).

THE RECORD FURTHER INDICATES THAT THE CONTRACT OF INSURANCE COVERED THE ENTIRE VOYAGE UNTIL THE ARRIVAL OF THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS AT THE PORT OF SAN FRANCISCO. THE INSURANCE CONTRACT IS ANNOTATED UNDER THE HEADING "VOYAGE" "KINSHASA/PORT MATADI/USA/SAN FRANCISCO." THE INSURANCE ACQUIRED BY DR. WEAVER, THEN, IS IN ADDITION TO THE OCEAN CARRIER'S NORMAL LIABILITY UNDER THE CARRIAGE OF GOODS BY SEA ACT, 46 U.S.C. SEC. 1304(5) (1970). THE CITED SECTION LIMITS THE CARRIER'S LIABILITY FOR ANY LOSS OR DAMAGE TO OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE TRANSPORTATION OF GOODS TO $500 PER PACKAGE. THE CARRIER'S OCEAN BILL OF LADING CONTRACT USUALLY IMPLEMENTS THIS PROVISION. AN EMPLOYEE MAY DECLARE A VALUATION ABOVE THE MINIMUM PERMITTED ONLY IF HE ASSUMES ALL ADDITIONAL EXPENSES RESULTING THEREFROM, INCLUDING THE COST OF INSURANCE NEEDED TO PROTECT THE HIGHER VALUATION. SEE OMB CIRCULAR A 56, SEC. 6.4E(3).

UNDER THE MILITARY PERSONNEL AND CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE'S CLAIMS ACT OF 1964, AS AMENDED, 31 U.S.C. SEC. 240-241 (1970), THE HEAD OF AN AGENCY MAY SETTLE CLAIMS OF UP TO $15,000 FOR THE LOSS OF, OR DAMAGE TO, HOUSEHOLD GOODS OF MILITARY PERSONNEL OR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES SHIPPED INCIDENT TO AN AUTHORIZED MOVE. HOWEVER, SUCH COVERAGE IS NOT CONSTRUED AS GOVERNMENT PAYMENT OF THE COST OF INSURANCE BUT RATHER AS STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR THE REDRESS OF EMPLOYEES WHO INCUR LOSSES TO THEIR PROPERTY INCIDENT TO THEIR GOVERNMENT SERVICE.

ACCORDINGLY, THERE IS NO BASIS FOR GOVERNMENT PAYMENT OF THE UNNECESSARY INSURANCE PURCHASED BY DR. WEAVER, AND OUR OFFICE SETTLEMENT OF APRIL 22, 1974, MUST BE SUSTAINED.