B-33931, MAY 3, 1943, 22 COMP. GEN. 1015

B-33931: May 3, 1943

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1943: I HAVE YOUR UNSIGNED LETTER OF APRIL 14. AS FOLLOWS: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR RECENT UNPUBLISHED DECISION NUMBERED B 3230 (B- 32030) DATED FEBRUARY 20. THIS AGENCY IS CONFRONTED WITH THE PROBLEM OF FURNISHING ARMY UNIFORMS FOR EMPLOYEES OF THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION WHO ARE LOCATED IN WAR ZONES. PROVIDES IN PART: "* * * THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION WILL PLAN. THE PROGRAM FOR FOREIGN PROPAGANDA IN AREAS OF ACTUAL OR PROJECTED MILITARY OPERATIONS WILL BE COORDINATED WITH MILITARY PLANS THROUGH THE PLANNING AGENCIES OF THE WAR AND NAVY DEPARTMENTS. PARTS OF THE FOREIGN PROPAGANDA PROGRAM WHICH ARE TO BE EXECUTED IN A THEATER OF MILITARY OPERATIONS WILL BE SUBJECT TO THE CONTROL OF THE THEATER COMMANDER.'.

B-33931, MAY 3, 1943, 22 COMP. GEN. 1015

PERSONAL FURNISHINGS - UNIFORMS FOR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES IN WAR ZONES IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY OTHERWISE, UNIFORMS REQUIRED BY ARMY REGULATIONS TO BE WORN BY CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF A GOVERNMENT AGENCY IN WAR ZONES MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS EQUIPMENT TO BE PROCURED AND FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT AT PUBLIC EXPENSE, BUT MUST BE CONSIDERED AS PERSONAL FURNISHINGS TO BE PROCURED AT THE EXPENSE OF THE EMPLOYEES.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION, MAY 3, 1943:

I HAVE YOUR UNSIGNED LETTER OF APRIL 14, 1943, AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR RECENT UNPUBLISHED DECISION NUMBERED B 3230 (B- 32030) DATED FEBRUARY 20, 1943 ADDRESSED TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION REGARDING THE PURCHASE OF ARMY UNIFORMS FOR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE COMMISSION.

THIS AGENCY IS CONFRONTED WITH THE PROBLEM OF FURNISHING ARMY UNIFORMS FOR EMPLOYEES OF THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION WHO ARE LOCATED IN WAR ZONES.

THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION APPROPRIATION FOR THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR DOES NOT SPECIFICALLY PROVIDE FOR THE PURCHASE OF CLOTHING OR PERSONAL FURNISHINGS. HOWEVER, THE FIRST SUPPLEMENTAL NATIONAL DEFENSE APPROPRIATION ACT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1943 DOES STATE IN PART:

"* * * AND SUCH OTHER ITEMS AS THE DIRECTOR MAY DEEM NECESSARY TO CARRY OUT THE PROGRAM OF THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION. * * *"

FURTHER, EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9312, ISSUED MARCH 9, 1943, PROVIDES IN PART:

"* * * THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION WILL PLAN, DEVELOP, AND EXECUTE ALL PHASES OF THE FEDERAL PROGRAM OF RADIO, PRESS, PUBLICATION, AND RELATED FOREIGN PROPAGANDA ACTIVITIES INVOLVING THE DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION. THE PROGRAM FOR FOREIGN PROPAGANDA IN AREAS OF ACTUAL OR PROJECTED MILITARY OPERATIONS WILL BE COORDINATED WITH MILITARY PLANS THROUGH THE PLANNING AGENCIES OF THE WAR AND NAVY DEPARTMENTS, AND SHALL BE SUBJECT TO THE APPROVAL OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF. PARTS OF THE FOREIGN PROPAGANDA PROGRAM WHICH ARE TO BE EXECUTED IN A THEATER OF MILITARY OPERATIONS WILL BE SUBJECT TO THE CONTROL OF THE THEATER COMMANDER.'

THIS OFFICE HAS APPROXIMATELY 250 CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES PERFORMING OFFICIAL DUTIES IN DIFFERENT WAR ZONES OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL LIMITS OF THE UNITED STATES AND THEY ARE REQUIRED BY THE UNITED STATES ARMY IN ARMY REGULATION 600-40, PARAGRAPH 18C TO WEAR ARMY OFFICER'S UNIFORMS. THESE UNIFORMS ARE WORN ONLY WHILE ON DUTY IN WAR ZONES.

IT IS THE OPINION OF THIS OFFICE THAT SINCE THESE EMPLOYEES ARE ON DUTY FOR THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION AND ARE REQUIRED TO WEAR ARMY UNIFORMS BEFORE THEY CAN EXERCISE THEIR DUTIES, THE WEARING OF SUCH UNIFORMS CAN BE CONSIDERED ESSENTIAL IN CARRYING OUT THE PROGRAM OF THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION AND THE PURCHASE OF SAME CAN BE CHARGED TO THE PRESENT APPROPRIATIONS.

IT IS NOTED IN YOUR DECISION THAT UNIFORMS AND OTHER ARTICLES OF WEARING APPAREL FOR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES LONG HAVE BEEN REGARDED BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT AS PERSONAL FURNISHINGS WHICH IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY THEREFOR MAY NOT BE PROVIDED AT THE EXPENSE OF THE UNITED STATES. THE DECISIONS YOU HAVE CITED WITH REFERENCE TO THE FOREGOING HAVE BEEN REVIEWED BY THIS OFFICE AND IT IS FOUND THAT THEY PERTAIN MOSTLY TO COATS, OVERCOATS, RAINCOATS, BOOTS, GLOVES, APRONS AND SUITS FOR CHAUFFEURS, COOKS AND WAITERS. IT APPEARS THAT THESE DECISIONS ALSO PERTAIN TO PURCHASES WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL LIMITS OF THE UNITED STATES AND TO EMPLOYEES WHO ARE MORE OR LESS AWARE OF THE FACT THAT EQUIPMENT OF THIS TYPE IS NEEDED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF SUCH DUTIES AND THE PURCHASE OF SAME IS TO BE PAID FOR AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. PERSONS FOR FOREIGN ASSIGNMENT ARE ORIGINALLY EMPLOYED AS FIELD REPRESENTATIVES OF THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION AND WHEN THEY ARE HIRED IT IS NOT KNOWN WHERE THEY WILL BE SENT. FREQUENTLY SUCH EMPLOYEES ARE ADVISED ONLY A DAY IN ADVANCE OF THEIR DEPARTURE FOR A WAR ZONE WHERE ARMY UNIFORMS ARE NECESSARY FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR DUTIES. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, IT APPEARS THAT THE PURCHASE OF THE UNIFORMS IN QUESTION WOULD NOT COME WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE DECISIONS CITED.

IT IS FURTHER NOTED IN YOUR DECISION THAT THE UNIFORMS PROPOSED TO BE PURCHASED BY THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION WITH APPROPRIATED FUNDS ARE APPARENTLY TO BECOME THE PERSONAL PROPERTY OF THE EMPLOYEES. THE UNIFORMS PROPOSED TO BE PURCHASED WITH APPROPRIATED FUNDS OF THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION WILL NOT BECOME THE PERSONAL PROPERTY OF THE EMPLOYEES. THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION WILL REQUIRE THAT EMPLOYEES UPON COMPLETION OF THEIR FOREIGN DUTY RETURN THE UNIFORMS TO THIS OFFICE FOR WHATEVER DISPOSITION IS DEEMED ADVISABLE AT THAT TIME. IF THE UNIFORMS CAN SERVE A FURTHER PURPOSE, APPROPRIATE ARRANGEMENTS WILL BE MADE FOR THAT PURPOSE.

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO VOLUME THREE, PAGE 433 OF COMPTROLLER GENERAL DECISIONS CONCERNING THE PURCHASE OF LABORATORY COATS IN WHICH IT IS STATED IN PART THAT:

"* * * IN DETERMINING THE FIRST OF THESE QUESTIONS THERE IS FOR CONSIDERATION WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT OR THE EMPLOYEE RECEIVES THE PRINCIPAL BENEFIT RESULTING FROM THE USE OF THE EQUIPMENT AND WHETHER AN EMPLOYEE REASONABLY COULD BE REQUIRED TO PERFORM THE SERVICES WITHOUT THE EQUIPMENT. * * *"

IN THE CASE OF THE PURCHASE OF OUR EMPLOYEES UNIFORMS THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS THE PRINCIPAL BENEFACTOR SINCE OUR EMPLOYEES CANNOT PERFORM THEIR DUTIES IN A WAR ZONE UNLESS THEY COMPLY WITH A WAR DEPARTMENT REGULATION WHICH REQUIRES CIVILIANS ON SUCH MISSIONS TO BE IN UNIFORM.

ONE OTHER POINT FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION IN THE PURCHASE OF THE SUBJECT UNIFORMS IS WHETHER SAME MAY BE CONSIDERED AS PART OF AN EMPLOYEE'S TRAVELING EXPENSES. IN THE AFOREMENTIONED APPROPRIATION ACT IT IS STATED IN PART:

"* * * TRAVELING EXPENSES OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL LIMITS OF THE UNITED STATES WITHOUT REGARD TO THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND THE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSE ACT. * * *"

SINCE THE EMPLOYEES ARE IN A TRAVEL STATUS AND THE UNIFORMS ARE REQUIRED FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR DUTIES WHILE IN THIS TRAVEL STATUS IT APPEARS THAT THE UNIFORMS COULD BE CONSIDERED AS PART OF THEIR TRAVELING EXPENSES.

YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION MAY PURCHASE ARMY UNIFORMS FOR USE BY OUR EMPLOYEES WHILE SERVING IN WAR ZONES.

IN THE DECISION OF FEBRUARY 20, 1943, B-32030, TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION, IT WAS SAID:

IT IS STATED IN YOUR LETTER THAT THE REQUIREMENT OF THE MILITARY AUTHORITIES THAT CERTAIN CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES WEAR ARMY UNIFORMS HAS APPLICATION AT THE PRESENT TIME ONLY TO FIVE EMPLOYEES OF YOUR COMMISSION ATTACHED TO ARMY HEADQUARTERS IN NORTH AFRICA. HOWEVER, IT WOULD SEEM QUITE PROBABLE THAT THE SAME NECESSITY FOR UNIFORMS MAY ARISE WITH RESPECT TO EMPLOYEES SIMILARLY ATTACHED IN OTHER AREAS WHERE ACTIVE MILITARY OPERATIONS ARE BEING OR MAY BE CARRIED ON. THUS, WHILE THE INSTANT QUESTION CONCERNS ONLY A FEW EMPLOYEES OF THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION, THERE MAY NOT BE OVERLOOKED THE BROADER ASPECT OF THE MATTER.

UNIFORMS AND OTHER ARTICLES OF WEARING APPAREL FOR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES LONG HAVE BEEN REGARDED BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT AS PERSONAL FURNISHINGS WHICH IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY THEREFOR MAY NOT BE PROVIDED AT THE EXPENSE OF THE UNITED STATES. SEE, GENERALLY, 2 COMP. GEN. 258 AND DECISIONS CITED THEREIN. SEE ALSO, 3 COMP. GEN. 433; 5 ID. 57.

APPARENTLY, THE UNIFORMS HERE PROPOSED TO BE PURCHASED WITH APPROPRIATED FUNDS ARE TO BECOME THE PERSONAL PROPERTY OF THE EMPLOYEES. CF. 11 COMP. GEN. 247; B-13849, DECEMBER 17, 1940; B 30882, DECEMBER 22, 1942. AND, HAVING REGARD FOR THE CONDITIONS UNDERLYING THE REQUIREMENT FOR THE WEARING OF THE UNIFORMS IT WOULD SEEM PROBABLE THAT SUCH UNIFORMS ARE TO BE WORN NOT ONLY WHILE THE EMPLOYEES ARE ON DUTY BUT AT OTHER TIMES AS WELL. CF. B-30882, DECEMBER 22, 1942. ALSO, THE INDETERMINABILITY OF THE DURATION OF THE PRESENT ASSIGNMENT OF SUCH EMPLOYEES SUGGESTS THE POSSIBILITY THAT UNIFORMS MAY WELL BE CONSIDERED PART OF THE PERSONAL EQUIPMENT NECESSARY TO ENABLE THEM TO PERFORM THE WORK UPON WHICH THEY ARE NOW ENGAGED SUCH AS THEY MIGHT REASONABLY BE REQUIRED TO PURCHASE FROM PERSONAL FUNDS. SEE, IN THIS CONNECTION, 2 COMP. GEN. 652; 3 ID. 926.

UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, THE FURNISHING OF SUCH UNIFORMS FOR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF YOUR COMMISSION AT PUBLIC EXPENSE IS NOT AUTHORIZED IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY THEREFOR.

IT WILL BE NOTED THAT WHILE THE SUBMISSION IN THE ABOVE-QUOTED CASE REFERS ONLY TO FIVE EMPLOYEES IT WAS TREATED ON A MUCH BROADER BASIS AND THE DECISION WAS SO WORDED AS TO BE APPLICABLE TO ALL CASES OF CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES WHO MAY BE REQUIRED TO WEAR MILITARY UNIFORMS WHILE ON DUTY IN WAR ZONES AND WOULD, THEREFORE, BE APPLICABLE TO THE EMPLOYEES OF YOUR OFFICE, UNLESS THE FACTS, THE CIRCUMSTANCES, AND THE APPLICABLE APPROPRIATIONS ARE SUCH AS TO WARRANT A DISTINCTION IN RESPECT OF EMPLOYEES OF YOUR OFFICE.

THE LANGUAGE QUOTED FROM THE APPROPRIATION FOR YOUR OFFICE MAKING THAT APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR "SUCH OTHER ITEMS AS THE DIRECTOR MAY DEEM NECESSARY TO CARRY OUT THE PROGRAM OF THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION," CONSTITUTES MERELY A GENERAL AUTHORITY SUCH AS COMMONLY FOUND IN PRACTICALLY ALL APPROPRIATIONS FOR ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE SPECIFIC AUTHORITY FOR THE PURCHASE OF UNIFORMS, NOR COULD UNIFORMS BE CONSIDERED AS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE HEAD OF TRAVELING EXPENSES AS THEY DO NOT CONSTITUTE TRANSPORTATION OR SUBSISTENCE ITEMS.

THERE IS NOTED, ALSO, YOUR STATEMENT THAT THE UNIFORMS WILL NOT BECOME THE PERSONAL PROPERTY OF THE EMPLOYEES, BUT IN THAT CONNECTION THERE MAY NOT BE OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT FOR ALL PRACTICAL PURPOSES THEY ARE TO BE USED BY THE EMPLOYEES AS THOUGH PERSONALLY OWNED BY THEM, FOR, OBVIOUSLY, THE UNIFORMS MUST BE TAILORED TO FIT THE PARTICULAR EMPLOYEES AND GENERALLY COULD NOT BE REISSUED TO OTHER EMPLOYEES WITHOUT ALTERATIONS; ALSO, THE USE OF THE UNIFORMS WOULD NOT BE CONFINED TO PARTICULAR EMPLOYEES OF A GROUP, BUT WOULD BE REQUIRED OF ALL EMPLOYEES IN WAR ZONES AND WOULD BE ISSUED TO AND WORN BY ALL SUCH EMPLOYEES FOR THE ENTIRE PERIOD OF SERVICE IN SUCH ZONES AND NOT MERELY ISSUED TO THEM FROM DAY TO DAY. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, THE UNIFORMS REQUIRED TO BE WORN BY EMPLOYEES OF YOUR OFFICE IN WAR ZONES, MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS EQUIPMENT TO BE PROCURED AND FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT AT PUBLIC EXPENSE, BUT MUST BE CONSIDERED AS PERSONAL FURNISHINGS TO BE PROCURED AND PAID FOR BY THE EMPLOYEES.