B-4117, JUNE 9, 1939, 18 COMP. GEN. 919

B-4117: Jun 9, 1939

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

NONFURNISHING OF QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE DURING VESSEL REPAIRS MEMBERS OF THE CREW OF A PATROL VESSEL OF THE BUREAU OF MARINE INSPECTION AND NAVIGATION PLACED IN DRY DOCK FOR REPAIRS WHO ARE REQUIRED TO ASSIST IN THE WORK DONE BUT CANNOT BE QUARTERED OR SUBSISTED ON BOARD DURING THE REPAIRS. WHOSE PAY IS FIXED UPON AN ANNUAL BASIS UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923. THE VALUE OF QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE FURNISHED IN KIND ON THE VESSELS WHICH VALUE IS DEDUCTED FROM THE TOTAL SALARY WHEN SO FURNISHED IN KIND. ORDINARILY THE "ACTUAL COST OF PROVISIONS FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT" IS NOT THE PROPER BASIS FOR ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINING. 1939: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF MAY 25. AS FOLLOWS: IT IS REQUESTED THAT AN OPINION BE RENDERED ON THE FOLLOWING QUESTION WHICH HAS ARISEN IN THE BUREAU OF MARINE INSPECTION AND NAVIGATION: EXTENSIVE REPAIRS ARE IN THE PROCESS OF BEING MADE TO THE U.S.M.V.

B-4117, JUNE 9, 1939, 18 COMP. GEN. 919

QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE IN KIND - MARINE INSPECTION AND NAVIGATION VESSEL CREWS - REASONABLE VALUE DETERMINATION BASIS, AND NONFURNISHING OF QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE DURING VESSEL REPAIRS MEMBERS OF THE CREW OF A PATROL VESSEL OF THE BUREAU OF MARINE INSPECTION AND NAVIGATION PLACED IN DRY DOCK FOR REPAIRS WHO ARE REQUIRED TO ASSIST IN THE WORK DONE BUT CANNOT BE QUARTERED OR SUBSISTED ON BOARD DURING THE REPAIRS, AND WHOSE PAY IS FIXED UPON AN ANNUAL BASIS UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923, AS AMENDED, AND INCLUDES PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3, ACT OF MARCH 5, 1928, 45 STAT. 193, THE VALUE OF QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE FURNISHED IN KIND ON THE VESSELS WHICH VALUE IS DEDUCTED FROM THE TOTAL SALARY WHEN SO FURNISHED IN KIND, MAY NOT, WHERE NOT IN A TRAVEL STATUS, BE PAID ANY ADDITIONAL AMOUNT BECAUSE OF THE NONFURNISHING OF QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE IN KIND EXCEPT THAT THERE NEED BE NO DEDUCTION FROM THE TOTAL SALARY RATE IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES. COMP. GEN. 590, DISTINGUISHED. ORDINARILY THE "ACTUAL COST OF PROVISIONS FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT" IS NOT THE PROPER BASIS FOR ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINING, UNDER SECTION 3, ACT OF MARCH 5, 1928, 45 STAT. 193, THE REASONABLE VALUE THEREOF FOR DEDUCTION FROM THE TOTAL SALARY RATE OF THE EMPLOYEE INVOLVED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL BROWN TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, JUNE 9, 1939:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF MAY 25, 1939, AS FOLLOWS:

IT IS REQUESTED THAT AN OPINION BE RENDERED ON THE FOLLOWING QUESTION WHICH HAS ARISEN IN THE BUREAU OF MARINE INSPECTION AND NAVIGATION:

EXTENSIVE REPAIRS ARE IN THE PROCESS OF BEING MADE TO THE U.S.M.V. NAVIGATION, A PATROL VESSEL OF THAT BUREAU, WHICH NECESSITATED IT BEING PLACED IN DRY DOCK AT JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA. CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE CREW HAVE BEEN DETAILED TO OTHER PATROL VESSELS. HOWEVER, IT HAS BEEN FOUND NECESSARY THAT THE MASTER REMAIN IN JACKSONVILLE TO OVERSEE THE REPAIR JOB, AND OTHER MEMBERS OF THE CREW WILL BE REQUIRED TO ASSIST IN THE WORK TO BE DONE. IT WILL, OF COURSE, BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR THESE MEN TO BE QUARTERED OR SUBSISTED ON BOARD THE VESSEL WHILE THE REPAIRS ARE BEING MADE.

AS YOU ARE AWARE, IT IS THE PRACTICE OF THIS BUREAU TO SUBSIST THE CREW AT THE RATE OF SEVENTY-FIVE CENTS PER DAY WHILE ON THE VESSEL, WHICH COVERS THE ACTUAL COST OF PROVISIONS FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT. THE QUESTION NOW ARISES AS TO THE MANNER IN WHICH THESE MEN MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES, I.E., LODGING AND MEALS, WHILE AT JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, SINCE THEY ARE NOT IN TRAVEL STATUS.

IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE WORK IS NOW IN PROCESS IT WOULD BE APPRECIATED IF THIS MATTER BE GIVEN YOUR PROMPT ATTENTION.

THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 26, 1931, 46 STAT. 1421, PROVIDES:

THAT THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE IS AUTHORIZED IN HIS DISCRETION, TO CONTINUE THE SYSTEM OF PAY AND ALLOWANCES, INCLUDING ALLOWANCES FOR LONGEVITY, FOR OFFICERS AND MEN ON VESSELS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, THAT WAS IN OPERATION AS OF JULY 1, 1929, UNTIL SUCH TIME AS LEGISLATION SHALL BE ENACTED PURSUANT TO SECTION 2 OF THE ACT APPROVED MAY 28, 1928 (45 STAT. 785), OR SIMILAR LEGISLATION AFFECTING THE CLASSIFICATION OF VESSEL EMPLOYEES IN THE FIELD SERVICE OF THE GOVERNMENT.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD FROM INFORMAL ADVICES FROM THE BUREAU OF MARINE INSPECTION AND NAVIGATION THAT--- UNLIKE THE PROCEDURE WITH RESPECT TO THE CREWS OF VESSELS OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE (SEE 18 COMP. GEN. 590) AND WITHOUT REGARD TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 26, 1931, SUPRA--- THE SALARIES OF THE CREWS OF THE PATROL VESSELS OF THE BUREAU OF MARINE INSPECTION AND NAVIGATION ARE FIXED UPON AN ANNUAL BASIS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TERMS OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923, AS AMENDED, AND THAT, UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 5, 1928, 45 STAT. 193, THE VALUE OF QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE FURNISHED IN KIND ON THE VESSELS IS REGARDED AS A PART OF THE COMPENSATION OF THE POSITIONS AND DEDUCTED FROM THE TOTAL SALARY OF THE POSITIONS WHEN SO FURNISHED IN KIND- -- THE BALANCE, ONLY, BEING PAID IN CASH. SUCH INFORMAL ADVICES APPEAR CORROBORATED BY THE PAY ROLLS ON FILE IN THIS OFFICE.

ACCORDINGLY, SINCE--- AS YOU STATE--- THE EMPLOYEES HERE INVOLVED ARE NOT IN A TRAVEL STATUS WHILE REMAINING AT JACKSONVILLE DURING THE PERIOD THEIR VESSEL IS BEING REPAIRED AND QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE ON THE VESSEL ARE NOT AVAILABLE TO THEM, THERE MAY BE PAID IN CASH TO THE EMPLOYEES ONLY THE TOTAL SALARY RATE OF THEIR POSITIONS, WHICH TOTAL SALARY RATE, OF COURSE, INCLUDES 75 CENTS PER DAY OR $22.50 PER MONTH WHICH APPARENTLY HAS BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED AS THE VALUE OF QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE FURNISHED IN KIND ON THE VESSEL. THAT IS TO SAY, IF THE MEMBERS OF THE CREW ARE NOT IN A TRAVEL STATUS AND, THEREFORE, ARE NOT ENTITLED TO PER DIEM IN LIEU OF SUBSISTENCE DURING THE PERIOD THEY ARE NOT QUARTERED ON THE VESSEL, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO PAY THEM ANY AMOUNT IN ADDITION TO THEIR REGULAR SALARY RATE BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE IN KIND ARE NOT AVAILABLE ON THE VESSEL--- THERE APPEARING NO EXPRESS STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR THE FIXING OF A COMMUTATION OF RATIONS ALLOWANCE FOR THESE MEN. CF. 18 COMP. GEN. 590. SEE DECISION OF AUGUST 27, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 161, 164, WHEREIN IT IS STATED, AS FOLLOWS:

* * * IF THE TOTAL SALARY RATES OF THE FIELD POSITIONS WERE FIXED ON THE BASIS OF THE DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSITIONS TO CORRESPOND WITH SIMILAR POSITIONS IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA SUBJECT TO THE CLASSIFICATION ACT, THERE IS NOW NO AUTHORITY TO INCREASE THOSE RATES BY THE AMOUNT OF THE DETERMINED VALUE OF THE ALLOWANCES FURNISHED IN KIND, AS SUCH A PROCEDURE WOULD BE IN DIRECT VIOLATION OF THE PURPOSE AND INTENT OF THE STATUTES. 5 COMP. GEN. 37, ID. 156. SEE ALSO 4 COMP. GEN. 582, ID. 599, ID. 625, 626, ID. 755, ID. 1077; 5 ID. 73, ID. 231, ID. 235.

THERE IS NOTED THE STATEMENT IN YOUR LETTER THAT THE RATE OF 75 CENTS PER DAY--- THE AMOUNT DEDUCTED FROM THE TOTAL SALARY AS THE REASONABLE VALUE OF QUARTERS AND SUBSISTENCE FURNISHED IN KIND--- "COVERS THE ACTUAL COST OF PROVISIONS FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT.' IT MAY BE STATED, IN THAT CONNECTION, THAT ORDINARILY THE "ACTUAL COST OF PROVISIONS FURNISHED BY THE GOVERNMENT" IS NOT THE PROPER BASIS FOR ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINING THE "REASONABLE VALUE OF SUCH ALLOWANCES" WHEN FURNISHED IN KIND. SEE DECISION OF JUNE 3, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 957 (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS) AS FOLLOWS:

THE REASONABLE VALUE OF THE ALLOWANCES FURNISHED IN KIND TO FIELD EMPLOYEES AFTER JULY 1, 1926, IS NOT NECESSARILY TO BE LIMITED TO THE COST OF THE ALLOWANCES TO THE GOVERNMENT, BUT THE BASIS IS TO BE THE REASONABLE VALUE TO THE EMPLOYEE DURING THE PARTICULAR PERIOD AND IN THE PARTICULAR LOCALITY WHERE EMPLOYED. WHILE THE POSITION AND SALARY OF AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE ARE FOR CONSIDERATION IN DETERMINING THE REASONABLE VALUE TO HIM OF THE ITEM--- PARTICULARLY QUARTERS--- FURNISHED, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR FIXING A SCHEDULE OF VALUES FOR ALL ITEMS--- PARTICULARLY SUBSISTENCE- -- BASED SOLELY ON THE SALARY OF THE POSITION HELD.

ALSO, THERE IS CALLED TO YOUR ATTENTION THE FACT THAT IF THE POSITIONS OF THESE EMPLOYEES HAVE BEEN CLASSIFIED, AS IS UNDERSTOOD TO BE THE CASE, THE PAY ROLLS SHOULD SHOW THE GRADE IN WHICH THE POSITIONS HAVE BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY ALLOCATED--- IT APPEARING FROM A FEW OF THE PAY ROLLS OF THE BUREAU OF MARINE INSPECTION AND NAVIGATION BEFORE ME THAT SUCH INFORMATION IS NOT BEING SHOWN THEREON.