B-40899, MAY 1, 1944, 23 COMP. GEN. 827

B-40899: May 1, 1944

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THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION AS TO WHICH OF THE TWO SHALL BE USED WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS. THE CONTINUED USE OF THE APPROPRIATION SELECTED TO THE EXCLUSION OF ANY OTHER FOR THE SAME PURPOSE IS REQUIRED IN THE ABSENCE OF CHANGES IN THE APPROPRIATION ACTS. " THAT THE FUNDS APPROPRIATED THEREFOR ARE AVAILABLE FOR EXPENSES NECESSARY AND INCIDENTAL TO THE OPERATION AND PROTECTION OF POST OFFICES AND BUSINESS CONDUCTED IN CONNECTION THEREWITH. ARE CHARGEABLE TO SAID ITEM. 1944: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 23. AS SUCH MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES WERE AWAY FROM THEIR RESERVATIONS WHILE ASSISTING IN THE HANDLING OF MAIL THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT OBVIOUSLY WAS REQUIRED TO DEFRAY THE COST OF FURNISHING THE NECESSARY MEALS.

B-40899, MAY 1, 1944, 23 COMP. GEN. 827

APPROPRIATIONS - TWO AVAILABLE FOR SAME PURPOSE WHERE EITHER OF TWO APPROPRIATIONS REASONABLY MAY BE CONSTRUED AS AVAILABLE FOR EXPENDITURES NOT SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED UNDER ANY APPROPRIATION, THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION AS TO WHICH OF THE TWO SHALL BE USED WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS, BUT, WHEN SUCH DETERMINATION AND ELECTION HAS BEEN MADE, THE CONTINUED USE OF THE APPROPRIATION SELECTED TO THE EXCLUSION OF ANY OTHER FOR THE SAME PURPOSE IS REQUIRED IN THE ABSENCE OF CHANGES IN THE APPROPRIATION ACTS. IN VIEW OF THE SPECIFIC PROVISION IN THE TREASURY AND POST OFFICE DEPARTMENTS APPROPRIATION ACT, 1944, UNDER " MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS, FIRST AND SECOND CLASS POST OFFICES," THAT THE FUNDS APPROPRIATED THEREFOR ARE AVAILABLE FOR EXPENSES NECESSARY AND INCIDENTAL TO THE OPERATION AND PROTECTION OF POST OFFICES AND BUSINESS CONDUCTED IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, NOT PROVIDED FOR IN OTHER APPROPRIATIONS, THE EXPENSES OF FURNISHING MEALS, TRANSPORTATION, AND LODGING TO ENLISTED MEN OF THE ARMY AND NAVY DETAILED TO SUCH POST OFFICES TO ASSIST IN THE HANDLING OF CHRISTMAS MAILS, IN THE ABSENCE OF AN APPROPRIATION SPECIFICALLY AVAILABLE THEREFOR, ARE CHARGEABLE TO SAID ITEM.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, MAY 1, 1944:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 23, 1944, AS FOLLOWS:

IN ORDER TO EFFECT THE DELIVERY OF THE EXTRAORDINARILY HEAVY MAILS RECEIVED DURING THE CHRISTMAS SEASON OF 1943, THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT FOUND IT NECESSARY TO REQUEST THE COOPERATION OF THE WAR AND NAVY DEPARTMENTS WITH RESPECT TO PERMITTING SOLDIERS AND SAILORS TO ASSIST THE POSTMASTER AT CERTAIN FIRST AND SECOND CLASS OFFICES BECAUSE OF THE CURRENT LABOR SHORTAGE. AS SUCH MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES WERE AWAY FROM THEIR RESERVATIONS WHILE ASSISTING IN THE HANDLING OF MAIL THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT OBVIOUSLY WAS REQUIRED TO DEFRAY THE COST OF FURNISHING THE NECESSARY MEALS. IN THOSE INSTANCES WHERE THE MILITARY RESERVATION WAS SOME DISTANCE FROM THE POST OFFICE REQUIRING ASSISTANCE IT WAS NECESSARY THAT WE PAY THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION AND LODGING IN ADDITION TO MEALS.

PUBLIC LAW 102 (APPROVED JUNE 30, 1943) PROVIDED THAT THE APPROPRIATION " MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS, FIRST AND SECOND CLASS POST OFFICES" SHALL BE USED " FOR MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS NECESSARY AND INCIDENTAL TO THE OPERATION AND PROTECTION OF POST OFFICES OF THE FIRST AND SECOND CLASSES, AND THE BUSINESS CONDUCTED IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, NOT PROVIDED FOR IN OTHER APPROPRIATIONS, $2,300,000.'

IN VIEW OF THE PROVISO THAT THIS APPROPRIATION SHALL BE CHARGED WITH ALL ITEMS OF COST NECESSARY FOR THE OPERATION OF THE FIRST AND SECOND CLASS POST OFFICES THAT ARE NOT PROVIDED FOR IN OTHER APPROPRIATIONS, AND, FURTHER, SINCE CONGRESS, THROUGH THE ENACTMENT OF PUBLIC LAW 128 ( JULY 1943), HAS CLEARLY INDICATED ITS INTENTION THAT THE PAYMENT OF SUBSISTENCE NECESSITATED THROUGH THE TEMPORARY DETAIL OF EMPLOYEES TO CERTAIN LOCALITIES TO PREVENT A BREAKDOWN OF THE POSTAL SERVICE AT THAT POINT BE PAID FROM THIS APPROPRIATION, YOUR OPINION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE EXPENDITURE OF FUNDS FOR MEALS, TRANSPORTATION, AND LODGING FURNISHED SOLDIERS AND SAILORS AS EXPLAINED HEREIN, MAY PROPERLY BE CHARGED TO THE APPROPRIATION " MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS, FIRST AND SECOND CLASS POST OFFICES.'

DURING THE CHRISTMAS SEASON OF 1942 THE POSTAL ACCOUNTS DIVISION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE PERMITTED US TO CHARGE SIMILAR ITEMS OF EXPENDITURE TO THE APPROPRIATION " UNUSUAL CONDITIONS.' WE SUBSEQUENTLY CONCLUDED THAT THESE EXPENSES ARE PROPERLY CHARGEABLE TO " MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS, FIRST AND SECOND CLASS POST OFFICES," AND SO CHARGED SUCH EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE QUARTER ENDED DECEMBER 31, 1943. THE POSTAL ACCOUNTS DIVISION OF YOUR OFFICE HAS QUESTIONED THE PROPRIETY OF SUCH CHARGES.

IT HAS BEEN A LONG-ESTABLISHED PRACTICE OF THE WAR AND NAVY DEPARTMENTS TO FURNISH MOTOR VEHICLES TO THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT AND TO DETAIL ENLISTED MEN AS DRIVERS THEREOF TO ASSIST IN THE DELIVERY OF THE CHRISTMAS MAILS. IN THAT CONNECTION IT WAS STATED IN DECISION OF THIS OFFICE TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, MAY 10, 1926, A-14054, WITH RESPECT TO THE PROPRIETY OF CHARGING THE APPROPRIATION " VEHICLE SERVICE," AS ADMINISTRATIVELY RECOMMENDED, WITH THE COST OF MEALS FURNISHED BY THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT TO ARMY ENLISTED MEN SO DETAILED DURING DECEMBER 1925, THAT---

THE FURNISHING OF MEALS TO THE ENLISTED MEN DETAILED FOR DRIVING THE VEHICLES WAS IN NO SENSE AN INCREASE IN OR ADDITION TO THEIR PAY OR ALLOWANCES AS FIXED BY LAW, AND THE EXPENSE THEREOF MAY BE REGARDED AS A NECESSARY EXPENSE INCIDENT TO THE OPERATION OF SAID VEHICLES AS WAS THE FURNISHING OF GASOLINE, OIL, ETC., FOR THE VEHICLES, AND UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES STATED, PAYMENT THEREOF IS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE POST OFFICE APPROPRIATION FOR " VEHICLE SERVICE.'

IT APPEARS THAT SIMILAR EXPENSES INCURRED IN SUBSEQUENT YEARS HAVE BEEN CHARGED TO THE ITEM " VEHICLE SERVICE" APPEARING IN THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATION ACTS FOR THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT--- PRESUMABLY BECAUSE OF THE DECISION, SUPRA. HOWEVER, AS STATED IN YOUR LETTER, IT NOW IS PROPOSED TO CHARGE THE 1944 APPROPRIATION ITEM " MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS, FIRST- AND SECOND-CLASS POST OFFICES," WITH THE EXPENSES INCURRED BY FIRST- AND SECOND-CLASS POST OFFICES IN THE QUARTER ENDED DECEMBER 31, 1943, FOR MEALS, TRANSPORTATION, AND LODGING FURNISHED ENLISTED MEN DETAILED THERETO TO ASSIST IN THE HANDLING OF THE CHRISTMAS MAILS. BUT NO EXPLANATION IS GIVEN FOR THE PROPOSED DEPARTURE FROM THE PROCEDURE THERETOFORE FOLLOWED WITH RESPECT TO THE EXPENSES INCURRED FOR MEALS FURNISHED THE ENLISTED MEN, EXCEPT THAT, AS STATED IN YOUR LETTER, IT WAS "CONCLUDED THAT THESE EXPENSES ARE PROPERLY CHARGEABLE TO " MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS, FIRST- AND SECOND-CLASS POST OFFICES.'"

IT IS WELL SETTLED THAT WHERE EITHER OF TWO APPROPRIATIONS REASONABLY MAY BE CONSTRUED AS AVAILABLE FOR EXPENDITURES NOT SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED UNDER ANY APPROPRIATION, THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION AS TO WHICH OF THE TWO SHALL BE USED WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS. 15 COMP. DEC. 101; 5 COMP. GEN. 479. HOWEVER, WHEN SUCH ELECTION HAS BEEN MADE, THE CONTINUED USE OF THE APPROPRIATION SELECTED TO THE EXCLUSION OF ANY OTHER FOR THE SAME PURPOSE IS REQUIRED IN THE ABSENCE OF CHANGES IN THE APPROPRIATION ACTS. 15 COMP. DEC. 101; 10 COMP. GEN. 440.

THE ACT OF JANUARY 22, 1925, 43 STAT. 763, 784, APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1926--- THE APPROPRIATION ACT UNDER CONSIDERATION IN THE REFERRED-TO DECISION OF MAY 10, 1926--- PROVIDED, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

OFFICE OF THE FIRST ASSISTANT POSTMASTER GENERAL

FOR MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS NECESSARY AND INCIDENTAL TO POST OFFICES OF THE FIRST AND SECOND CLASSES, $975,000.

FOR VEHICLE ALLOWANCE, THE HIRING OF DRIVERS, THE RENTAL OF VEHICLES, AND THE PURCHASE AND EXCHANGE AND MAINTENANCE, INCLUDING STABLE AND GARAGE FACILITIES OR WAGONS OR AUTOMOBILES, FOR, AND THE OPERATION OF,SCREEN- WAGON AND CITY DELIVERY AND COLLECTION SERVICE, $15,400,000: * * * AND THE ACT OF JUNE 31, 1943, 57 STAT. 265, 267, APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1944, PROVIDES, IN PART:

OFFICE OF FIRST ASSISTANT POSTMASTER GENERAL * *

MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS FIRST- AND SECOND-CLASS POST OFFICES: FOR MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS NECESSARY AND INCIDENTAL TO THE OPERATION AND PROTECTION OF POST OFFICES OF THE FIRST AND SECOND CLASSES, AND THE BUSINESS CONDUCTED IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, NOT PROVIDED FOR IN OTHER APPROPRIATIONS, $2,300,000.

OFFICE OF THE FOURTH ASSISTANT POSTMASTER GENERAL

VEHICLE SERVICE: FOR VEHICLE SERVICE; THE HIRE OF VEHICLES; THE RENTAL OF GARAGE FACILITIES; THE PURCHASE, MAINTENANCE, AND REPAIR OF MOTOR VEHICLES * * * ACCIDENT PREVENTION; THE HIRE OF SUPERVISORS, CLERICAL ASSISTANCE, MECHANICS, DRIVERS, GARAGEMEN, AND SUCH OTHER EMPLOYEES AS MAY BE NECESSARY IN PROVIDING VEHICLES AND VEHICLE SERVICE FOR USE IN THE COLLECTION, TRANSPORTATION, DELIVERY, AND SUPERVISION OF THE MAIL, AND UNITED STATES OFFICIAL MAIL AND MESSENGER SERVICE, $17,200,000 * * *.

IT IS APPARENT THAT THE LANGUAGE CONTAINED IN THE CURRENT APPROPRIATION ITEMS DIFFERS SUBSTANTIALLY FROM THAT CONTAINED IN THE SIMILAR ITEMS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1926. THE CURRENT APPROPRIATION FOR " VEHICLE SERVICE," WHILE AVAILABLE FOR THE "PURCHASE, MAINTENANCE, AND REPAIR OF MOTOR VEHICLES," CONTAINS NO SPECIFIC PROVISION--- AS DID THE 1926 APPROPRIATION ITEM--- FOR EXPENSES OTHERWISE NECESSARY FOR THE OPERATION OF VEHICLES. ALSO, THE LANGUAGE IN THE CURRENT ACT APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR " MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS, FIRST- AND SECOND CLASS POST OFFICES" HAS BEEN MODIFIED TO INCLUDE SPECIFICALLY EXPENSES NECESSARY AND INCIDENTAL TO THE OPERATION AND PROTECTION OF POST OFFICES AND THE BUSINESS CONDUCTED IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, NOT PROVIDED FOR IN OTHER APPROPRIATIONS. HENCE, IT CLEARLY APPEARS THAT THE SCOPE OF THE APPROPRIATION ITEMS HERE INVOLVED HAS BEEN CHANGED MATERIALLY SINCE THE REFERRED-TO DECISION WAS RENDERED--- PARTICULARLY THE APPROPRIATION FOR " MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS, FIRST- AND SECOND-CLASS POST OFFICES"--- THE ADMINISTRATIVE ELECTION AS TO THE APPROPRIATION TO BE CHARGED, THEREIN CONSIDERED AND ACCEPTED BY THIS OFFICE IS NOT CONTROLLING IN THE INSTANT MATTER.

CLEARLY, THE EXPENSES OF FURNISHING MEALS, TRANSPORTATION, AND LODGING TO THE ENLISTED MEN PROPERLY MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED WITHIN THE AUTHORIZATION FOR EXPENDITURES FOR THE "HIRE" OF PERSONNEL FOR THE DELIVERY OF THE MAIL, CONTAINED IN THE APPROPRIATION ITEM " VEHICLE SERVICE; " NEITHER ARE SUCH EXPENSES OTHERWISE EXPRESSLY MENTIONED IN THAT OR ANY OTHER POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION ITEM FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1944. FURTHERMORE, WHILE YOUR LETTER MAKES NO REFERENCE TO THE PARTICULAR NATURE OF THE DUTIES PERFORMED BY THE ENLISTED MEN IN THE INSTANT MATTER--- OTHER THAN THAT THEY ASSISTED "IN THE HANDLING OF MAIL"--- IT APPEARS THAT THEY RENDERED SERVICES OTHER THAN AS DRIVERS OF MILITARY OR NAVAL VEHICLES LOANED TO YOUR DEPARTMENT--- THE SITUATION CONSIDERED IN THE DECISION OF MAY 10, 1926, SUPRA. AND ESPECIALLY DOES THIS APPEAR TRUE WITH RESPECT TO THE ENLISTED MEN FOR WHOM IT WAS NECESSARY TO PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION FROM AND TO THEIR STATIONS. MOREOVER, THE RECORDS OF THIS OFFICE DISCLOSE THAT, AT LEAST IN ONE INSTANCE, THE SERVICES OF ENLISTED MEN WERE UTILIZED FOR CLERICAL DUTIES. MANIFESTLY, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO CHARGE THE APPROPRIATION FOR " VEHICLE SERVICE" WITH THE COST OF MEALS, TRANSPORTATION AND LODGING FURNISHED ENLISTED MEN WHO PERFORMED CLERICAL DUTIES AT THE VARIOUS POST OFFICES; NEITHER DOES THERE APPEAR ANY PERTINENT OR COGENT REASON, IN VIEW OF THE SPECIFIC LANGUAGE NOW CONTAINED IN THE APPROPRIATION ITEM " MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS, FIRST- AND SECOND-CLASS POST OFFICES," FOR CHARGING THE APPROPRIATION ITEM FOR " VEHICLE SERVICE" WITH SUCH EXPENSES INCURRED ON BEHALF OF ENLISTED MEN WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN EMPLOYED AS DRIVERS OR HELPERS ON VEHICLES USED TO DELIVER THE MAILS.

ACCORDINGLY, I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT, IN THE ABSENCE OF AN APPROPRIATION SPECIFICALLY MADE AVAILABLE THEREFOR, THE APPROPRIATION ITEM " MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS, FIRST- AND SECOND-CLASS POST OFFICES," APPEARING IN THE ACT APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1944, IS THE ONLY APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR THE EXPENSES OF MEALS, TRANSPORTATION, AND LODGING FURNISHED BY THE VARIOUS POST OFFICES IN THE QUARTER ENDED DECEMBER 31, 1943, TO ENLISTED MEN DETAILED TO ASSIST IN THE HANDLING OF THE CHRISTMAS MAILS.

IT IS REPORTED BY THE POSTAL ACCOUNTS DIVISION OF THIS OFFICE THAT EXPENSES APPARENTLY SIMILAR TO THOSE REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER HAVE BEEN CHARGED BY CERTAIN POST OFFICES, AS FOLLOWS:

LOS ANGELES, CALIF., $3,289.76---- VEHICLE SERVICE.

ST. LOUIS, MO., $230.75--- VEHICLE SERVICE.

CHICAGO, ILL., $41,940.48--- MISC. ITEMS, ST AND 2ND CL. P.O.

SAVANNAH, GA., $1,063.50--- MISC. ITEMS, ST AND 2ND CL. P.O.

MUSKOGEE, OKLA., $149.05--- MISC. ITEMS, ST AND 2ND CL. P.O. THERE HAS BEEN FURNISHED NO EXPLANATION OF THE OBVIOUS INCONSISTENCY IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE ACCOUNTING PROCEDURE FOR SUCH EXPENDITURES AND IT IS NOTED THAT IN TWO OF THE INSTANCES LISTED ABOVE THE PROCEDURE FOLLOWED CLEARLY IS CONTRARY TO THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN YOUR LETTER. AS HEREINBEFORE STATED, IT IS SETTLED THAT THERE IS NO RIGHT TO ELECT ADMINISTRATIVELY TO USE FIRST ONE AND THEN THE OTHER OF TWO APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE SAME PURPOSE. THE USE OF THE APPROPRIATIONS MUST BE CONSISTENT. 15 COMP. DEC. 101; 10 COMP. GEN. 440. ACCORDINGLY, AND IN THE LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING DETERMINATION RESPECTING THE AVAILABILITY OF THE APPROPRIATION ITEM " MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS, FIRST AND SECOND-CLASS POST OFFICES" FOR EXPENSES OF THE CHARACTER DESCRIBED IN YOUR LETTER, THE ABOVE CHARGES TO " VEHICLE SERVICE" DO NOT APPEAR TO BE AUTHORIZED AND, IN THE ABSENCE OF A CLEAR SHOWING THAT THE EXPENSES WHICH THEY REPRESENT ARE OF A CHARACTER DIFFERENT FROM THOSE HERE INVOLVED, AN APPROPRIATE ADJUSTMENT IN THE INVOLVED APPROPRIATIONS WILL BE UNDERTAKEN IN THE AUDIT OF THOSE ACCOUNTS BY THIS OFFICE.