B-26685, JUNE 24, 1942, 21 COMP. GEN. 1128

B-26685: Jun 24, 1942

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A CERTIFYING OFFICER IS ENTITLED TO A DECISION ONLY ON A QUESTION OF LAW INVOLVED IN PAYMENT ON A SPECIFIC VOUCHER PRESENTED TO HIM FOR CERTIFICATION. 1942: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 10. AS FOLLOWS: THE GOVERNMENT IS ACQUIRING FOR CONDEMNATION. WHICH IS IN THE EASTERN DISTRICT. IN DURHAM AND PERSON COUNTIES WHICH IS IN THE MIDDLE DISTRICT. AN OFFICE IS SET UP AT DURHAM. THIS OFFICE IS IN DURHAM AND NO DOUBT WILL HAVE TO BE FREQUENTLY VISITED BY THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF THE EASTERN DISTRICT OR SOME REPRESENTATIVE OF HIS FOR CONFERENCES WITH REFERENCE TO THE TITLE ABSTRACTS AND ACQUISITION OF THIS LAND. 170 U.S. 522 HOLDS: "THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY APPOINTED UNDER THIS SECTION IS THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE DISTRICT.

B-26685, JUNE 24, 1942, 21 COMP. GEN. 1128

GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE - DECISIONS - CERTIFYING OFFICERS - NECESSITY FOR PRESENTATION OF SPECIFIC VOUCHER UNDER SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, GRANTING TO CERTIFYING OFFICERS THE RIGHT TO OBTAIN DECISIONS BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL, A CERTIFYING OFFICER IS ENTITLED TO A DECISION ONLY ON A QUESTION OF LAW INVOLVED IN PAYMENT ON A SPECIFIC VOUCHER PRESENTED TO HIM FOR CERTIFICATION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO J. O. CARR, ESQ., UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, JUNE 24, 1942:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 10, 1942, AS FOLLOWS:

THE GOVERNMENT IS ACQUIRING FOR CONDEMNATION, BY MY OFFICE AND THE OFFICE OF MR. CARLISLE HIGGINS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF THE MIDDLE DISTRICT, CERTAIN LANDS FOR CAMP BUTNER LOCATED IN GRANVILLE COUNTY, WHICH IS IN THE EASTERN DISTRICT, AND IN DURHAM AND PERSON COUNTIES WHICH IS IN THE MIDDLE DISTRICT. AN OFFICE IS SET UP AT DURHAM, N.C., BY THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FOR THE PURPOSE OF ACQUIRING AND PREPARING THE DATA BY WAY OF TITLE ABSTRACTS, ETC., NECESSARY TO BE USED IN THESE CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS IN THE EASTERN AND MIDDLE DISTRICTS RESPECTIVELY. THIS OFFICE IS IN DURHAM AND NO DOUBT WILL HAVE TO BE FREQUENTLY VISITED BY THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF THE EASTERN DISTRICT OR SOME REPRESENTATIVE OF HIS FOR CONFERENCES WITH REFERENCE TO THE TITLE ABSTRACTS AND ACQUISITION OF THIS LAND.

SECTION 481, TITLE 28, U.S.C. PROVIDES:

"THERE SHALL BE APPOINTED IN EACH DISTRICT, INCLUDING THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, A PERSON LEARNED IN THE LAW TO ACT AS ATTORNEY FOR THE UNITED STATES IN SUCH DISTRICT.' ( ITALICS MINE.)

I NOTICE THAT THE CASE OF U.S. V. WINSTON, 170 U.S. 522 HOLDS:

"THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY APPOINTED UNDER THIS SECTION IS THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE DISTRICT. SO FAR AS LOCALITY IS CONCERNED, THE BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICTS ARE THE LIMITS OF DUTY. WITHIN THESE BOUNDARIES HE IS TO DISCHARGE ALL HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES. BEYOND THEM HE IS NOT CALLED TO ACT.'

QUESTION: IN THE EVENT THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY SHOULD DECIDE THAT IT IS TO THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT TO GO OR SEND A REPRESENTATIVE TO DURHAM, OUTSIDE OF THE DISTRICT, FOR THE PURPOSE OF A CONFERENCE OR OBTAINING FROM THOSE ACQUIRING SUCH INFORMATION, COULD HE LEGITIMATELY CHARGE PER DIEM AND TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR SUCH TRIPS?

THIS IS REMANDED TO YOU FOR DECISION UNDER SECTION 3, PUBLIC LAW 389, 77TH CONGRESS, APPROVED DECEMBER 29, 1941, SO THAT I MAY PROPERLY MAKE OUT SUCH ACCOUNT IN THE EVENT THE EXPENSE IS INCURRED.

SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 29, 1941, 55 STAT. 876, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

THE LIABILITY OF CERTIFYING OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES SHALL BE ENFORCED IN THE SAME MANNER AND TO THE SAME EXTENT AS NOW PROVIDED BY LAW WITH RESPECT TO ENFORCEMENT OF THE LIABILITY OF DISBURSING AND OTHER ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS; AND THEY SHALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO APPLY FOR AND OBTAIN A DECISION BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL ON ANY QUESTION OF LAW INVOLVED IN A PAYMENT ON ANY VOUCHERS PRESENTED TO THEM FOR CERTIFICATION. ( ITALICS SUPPLIED.)

UNDER THE ABOVE-QUOTED SECTION OF THE STATUTE A CERTIFYING OFFICER IS ENTITLED TO OBTAIN A DECISION BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL ONLY ON A QUESTION OF LAW INVOLVED IN PAYMENT ON A SPECIFIC VOUCHER PRESENTED TO HIM FOR CERTIFICATION. IN THE INSTANT CASE, NOT ONLY IS YOUR SUBMISSION NOT ACCOMPANIED BY A VOUCHER INVOLVING THE MATTER SET OUT IN YOUR LETTER, BUT YOUR LETTER CLEARLY INDICATES THAT AS YET NO TRAVEL OF THE NATURE DESCRIBED THEREIN HAS BEEN PERFORMED OR EXPENSE INCIDENT THERETO INCURRED. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, A DECISION IN THE PREMISES MAY NOT BE RENDERED TO YOU BY THIS OFFICE.

IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBT AS TO WHETHER YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO TRAVEL, OR TO DIRECT ANYONE CONNECTED WITH YOUR OFFICE TO TRAVEL, AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE, UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES RELATED IN YOUR LETTER, IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE MATTER BE TAKEN UP WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL WHO HAS AUTHORITY TO SUBMIT SUCH QUESTIONS TO THIS OFFICE FOR DECISION.