B-238239, Mar 19, 1991

B-238239: Mar 19, 1991

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Since the United States Embassy and Navy Squadron Commander who apparently was initially responsible for handling the claim have recommended payment. These expenses were asserted to have accrued during the military exercise "Northern Wedding/Bold Guard.". The Navy submission contained a report from a Navy Squadron Commander who apparently was involved in the exercise. The report found that although the pilotage services possibly were provided to the ships. Our Claims Group denied the claim for the pilotage services since the financial records of the vessels failed to show that the services were actually received. Has informed us that the amount claimed is legitimate and payable. We have long held that a claimant bears the burden of proof in establishing its claim.

B-238239, Mar 19, 1991

APPROPRIATIONS/FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT - Claims Against Government - Unauthorized contracts - Quantum meruit/valebant doctrine PROCUREMENT - Budget Process - Funding - Profits DIGEST: Denmark's claim for reimbursement for services furnished two Navy ships and for hospital services provided a Navy crew member may be paid despite absence of United States government records supporting the claim, since the United States Embassy and Navy Squadron Commander who apparently was initially responsible for handling the claim have recommended payment.

Danish Claim for Services Provided U.S. Navy Vessels and Navy Crew Member:

The Danish Defense Command has requested reimbursement of 11,794.92 Kronor (approximately $1,950) that it paid to contractors for pilot assistance allegedly provided the USS Trenton and USS Raleigh in September 1982, and for hospital services provided to a United States naval crew member in October 1982. These expenses were asserted to have accrued during the military exercise "Northern Wedding/Bold Guard." For the reasons discussed below, the claim may be paid.

Our Office received the claim from the Embassy on May 29, 1985, and from the Navy Regional Finance Center 1 week later. The Navy submission contained a report from a Navy Squadron Commander who apparently was involved in the exercise. The report found that although the pilotage services possibly were provided to the ships, neither ship had been able to verify actual receipt after a thorough check of records on board. The Commander also stated that because of the age and lack of substantiation of the pilotage claim, it should be paid from an "M" account. Neither the Navy Regional Finance Center nor the Embassy made any recommendation about payment.

By Settlement Certificate of February 20, 1987 (Z-2863307), our Claims Group denied the claim for the pilotage services since the financial records of the vessels failed to show that the services were actually received. The settlement certificate did not address the claim for the hospital services.

Subsequently, the Defense Command resubmitted the claim, including the claim for hospital services, and provided itemized bills for services provided. The Embassy forwarded the submission to our Office, and has informed us that the amount claimed is legitimate and payable.

We have long held that a claimant bears the burden of proof in establishing its claim. E.g., 31 Comp.Gen. 340 (1952). Nevertheless, claims may be paid even though official records have been lost or destroyed, or are otherwise unavailable, if the claimant furnishes other clear and satisfactory evidence which reasonably substantiates both the validity of the claim and absence of prior payment. B-225673, Nov. 6, 1987.

In B-225673, supra, we considered claims asserted against the United States Navy by the United Kingdom and Italian governments for provision of fuel or support services to Navy vessels. Although those governments had submitted bills for the services, due to lack of U.S. government records the Navy at best could only find that the services probably had been provided. The Navy did find, however, that the amounts claimed were reasonable and recommended payment. Based on these facts, we allowed payment.

In this instance, it appears probable that the services for which Denmark claims reimbursement and has submitted itemized bills were provided during the exercise described. Furthermore, the Embassy, as well as the Navy Squadron Commander who apparently was initially responsible for handling the claim, have recommended payment. Accordingly, consistent with BT225673, supra, the claim may be paid.