B-66737, JULY 28, 1947, 27 COMP. GEN. 25

B-66737: Jul 28, 1947

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ARE CHARGEABLE TO THE APPROPRIATION CURRENT AT THE TIME SUCH EXPENSES ARE INCURRED. IS TRANSFERRED FROM ONE OFFICIAL STATION TO ANOTHER. PRIOR RULINGS OF YOUR OFFICE HAVE HELD THAT THE APPROPRIATION CURRENT AT THE TIME THE TRAVEL EXPENSES OF THE EMPLOYEE WERE ACTUALLY INCURRED IS TO BE CHANGED WITH SUCH EXPENSES. THE QUESTION ARISES AS TO WHETHER THE TIME ELEMENT OF THESE RULINGS IS REQUIRED TO BE APPLIED WITH EQUAL FORCE TO THE TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES OF THE EMPLOYEE'S IMMEDIATE FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS WHICH ARE ALSO AUTHORIZED AT THE TIME THE EMPLOYEE IS DIRECTED TO CHANGE HIS OFFICIAL STATION. OVER WHICH THE ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY IS WITHOUT CONTROL AS TO THE TIME WHEN SUCH TRANSPORTATION COSTS WILL ACTUALLY BE INCURRED BY THE EMPLOYEE.

B-66737, JULY 28, 1947, 27 COMP. GEN. 25

APPROPRIATIONS - FISCAL YEAR - EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS THE EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION OF AN EMPLOYEE'S IMMEDIATE FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS IN CONNECTION WITH A TRANSFER OF OFFICIAL STATION, AS AUTHORIZED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSE STATUTE OF AUGUST 2, 1946, ARE CHARGEABLE TO THE APPROPRIATION CURRENT AT THE TIME SUCH EXPENSES ARE INCURRED, AND NOT TO THE APPROPRIATION CURRENT AT THE TIME OF ISSUANCE OF THE TRANSFER ORDER, IN THE ABSENCE OF A SPECIFIC STATUTORY PROVISION TO THE CONTRARY.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, JULY 28, 1947:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF MAY 28, 1947, AS FOLLOWS:

PUBLIC LAW 600, 79TH CONGRESS, PROVIDES AMONG OTHER THINGS, THAT UNDER PRESCRIBED REGULATIONS ANY CIVILIAN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT WHO, IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT, IS TRANSFERRED FROM ONE OFFICIAL STATION TO ANOTHER, SHALL, WHEN AUTHORIZED IN THE ORDER DIRECTING THE TRAVEL, BE ALLOWED AND PAID FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS THE EXPENSES OF TRAVEL FOR HIMSELF AND THE EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION OF HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS. PRIOR RULINGS OF YOUR OFFICE HAVE HELD THAT THE APPROPRIATION CURRENT AT THE TIME THE TRAVEL EXPENSES OF THE EMPLOYEE WERE ACTUALLY INCURRED IS TO BE CHANGED WITH SUCH EXPENSES.

UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF PUBLIC LAW 600, THE QUESTION ARISES AS TO WHETHER THE TIME ELEMENT OF THESE RULINGS IS REQUIRED TO BE APPLIED WITH EQUAL FORCE TO THE TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES OF THE EMPLOYEE'S IMMEDIATE FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS WHICH ARE ALSO AUTHORIZED AT THE TIME THE EMPLOYEE IS DIRECTED TO CHANGE HIS OFFICIAL STATION, BUT OVER WHICH THE ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY IS WITHOUT CONTROL AS TO THE TIME WHEN SUCH TRANSPORTATION COSTS WILL ACTUALLY BE INCURRED BY THE EMPLOYEE. IF IT IS HELD THAT THE TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES OF THE EMPLOYEE'S IMMEDIATE FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS, GENERALLY, A MAJOR PORTION OF THE OBLIGATION, ARE NOT CHARGEABLE TO THE APPROPRIATION CURRENT AT THE TIME THE EMPLOYEE ACTUALLY CHANGES OFFICIAL STATION, WITHOUT REGARD TO THE TIME SUCH TRANSPORTATION ACTUALLY OCCURS, BUDGETARY AND ACCOUNTING PROBLEMS ARE CREATED IN THAT TWO OR MORE ANNUAL APPROPRIATIONS ARE ENCUMBERED BY THE AUTHORIZATION TO PAY THESE TRANSPORTATION COSTS IF THE EMPLOYEE IS UNABLE, OR DOES NOT WISH TO MOVE HIS FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS AT THE SAME TIME HE CHANGES OFFICIAL STATION. UNLESS THE OBLIGATION CREATED BY THE AUTHORIZATION CAN BE DEFINITELY TIED TO THE APPROPRIATION PROVIDED THEREFOR, CURRENT AT THE TIME THE AUTHORIZATION WAS ISSUED AND RESERVED FOR PAYMENT OF THE EXPENSES AUTHORIZED, THE FUNDS SO RESERVED, BUT NOT USED BY THE END OF THE FISCAL YEAR, WILL REQUIRE THAT A CORRESPONDING AMOUNT OF THE NEW FISCAL YEAR FUNDS NOT PROVIDED FOR PAYMENT THEREFOR, BE RESERVED FOR THIS PRIOR OBLIGATION, CONTRARY TO THE RULE THAT AN ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY IS WITHOUT AUTHORITY TO OBLIGATE FUNDS PRIOR TO THEIR BEING APPROPRIATED BY CONGRESS. IN OTHER WORDS, IF SUCH AN AUTHORIZATION IS NOT A VALID, CONTINUING OBLIGATION AGAINST THE FUNDS CURRENT AT THE TIME THE EMPLOYEE CHANGES HIS OFFICIAL STATION, THE PROHIBITION IN THE ABOVE RULE WOULD PREVENT AN ACTUAL OBLIGATION BEING CREATED. IN ADDITION, FUNDS RESERVED IN THIS MANNER AND REPORTED IN THE OFFICIAL ACCOUNTS AS UNLIQUIDATED OBLIGATIONS OF THE APPROPRIATION, MAY NOT REPRESENT A TRUE STATEMENT OF THE ACCOUNT BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT IT CANNOT BE DETERMINED WHEN THE TRANSPORTATION WILL ACTUALLY BE CONSUMMATED. REGULATIONS ALLOW THE PAYMENT OF SUCH EXPENSES, WITH CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS, PROVIDED THE MOVEMENT BEGINS WITHIN TWO YEARS OF THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE TRANSFER AND, ACCORDINGLY, TWO, OR EVEN THREE, ANNUAL APPROPRIATIONS MAY BE SO INVOLVED. WHEREAS THE LAW IS SILENT REGARDING THE FUNDS TO BE USED FOR PAYING THE TRANSPORTATION COSTS AUTHORIZED, THERE IS NOT INDICATED INTENT OF THE LAW OR REGULATIONS TO CONDITION THIS OBLIGATION ON THE AVAILABILITY OF FUTURE APPROPRIATIONS.

PUBLIC LAW 731, CREATING THE FARMERS HOME ADMINISTRATION, REQUIRED THE ABOLITION, NOT LATER THAN JUNE 30, 1947, OF THE FORMER FARM SECURITY ADMINISTRATION AND THE EMERGENCY CROP AND FEED LOAN REGIONAL OFFICES. SINCE THIS PROVISION OF LAW NECESSITATES THE TRANSFER OF THE SELECTED REGIONAL OFFICE EMPLOYEES TO THE STATE, AREA, OR NATIONAL OFFICES, THE ABOVE QUESTION HAS BECOME OF CONSIDERABLE MAGNITUDE TO THAT ADMINISTRATION, PARTICULARLY, AS UNDER THE HOUSING SHORTAGES STILL PREVAILING IN SUCH HEADQUARTERS CITIES, IT HAS BEEN EXTREMELY DIFFICULT FOR THE MAJORITY OF THE EMPLOYEES SO TRANSFERRED READILY TO SECURE SUITABLE LIVING ACCOMMODATIONS. THE AUTHORIZATIONS COVERING THE TRANSFER OF THESE EMPLOYEES TO THEIR NEW OFFICIAL STATIONS RESERVED CURRENT FHA FUNDS TO PAY THE TRANSPORTATION COSTS OF THE EMPLOYEES' IMMEDIATE FAMILIES AND HOUSEHOLD BELONGINGS; YET, BECAUSE OF THE EMERGENCY HOUSING CONDITIONS, IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT THESE EMPLOYEES WILL FIND SUITABLE LIVING ACCOMMODATIONS PRIOR TO THE CLOSE OF THIS FISCAL YEAR, AND THERE APPEARS TO BE LITTLE LIKELIHOOD THAT ANY APPRECIABLE PORTION OF THESE TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES CAN BE PAID FROM SUCH FUNDS UNLESS SUCH TRANSPORTATION COSTS CAN BE PAID THEREFROM WITHOUT REGARD TO THE TIME THE TRANSPORTATION ACTUALLY TAKES PLACE.

THE TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION DIRECTING AN EMPLOYEE TO TRANSFER HIS OFFICIAL STATION, WITH PROVISIONS FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE AS PROVIDED BY LAW, APPEARS TO BE NOT ONLY A TRAVEL-AUTHORIZATION FOR HIS OWN TRAVEL, BUT ALSO FOR ALL INTENT AND PURPOSES, A CONTRACT BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND THE EMPLOYEE TO PAY THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION FOR HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS. CONSIDERED THUSLY, SUCH AN AUTHORIZATION OR CONTRACT WOULD BECOME AN OBLIGATION OF THE GOVERNMENT EFFECTIVE AS OF THE DATE OF THE TRANSFER ORDER AND ALL EXPENSES INCIDENT THERETO APPEAR TO BE PROPERLY PAYABLE FROM THE FUNDS AVAILABLE AT THE TIME THE CONTRACT COMES INTO BEING. THE INDETERMINATE DATE OF ACTUAL MOVEMENT SEEMS TO BE WITHOUT EFFECT.

FAVORABLE CONSIDERATION OF THIS IMMEDIATE AND CONTINUING PROBLEM TO PERMIT THE DEPARTMENT TO HAVE ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL OVER SUCH TRANSPORTATION COSTS THE SAME AS OVER OTHER OBLIGATIONS INCURRED AGAINST APPROPRIATIONS PROVIDED THEREFOR BY AUTHORIZING THE APPROPRIATION CURRENT AT THE TIME THE EMPLOYEE IS TRANSFERRED AS PROPERLY CHARGEABLE WITH THE TOTAL EXPENSE INCIDENT TO THE TRANSFER, WILL BE VERY MUCH APPRECIATED.

AS STATED IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER, SUPRA, IT CONSISTENTLY HAS BEEN HELD THAT THE TRAVEL EXPENSES OF A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES PROPERLY ARE CHARGEABLE TO THE APPROPRIATION CURRENT AT THE TIME SUCH EXPENSES ARE INCURRED. A SIMILAR CONCLUSION HAS BEEN REACHED WITH RESPECT TO THE EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION OF THE EMPLOYEE'S DEPENDENTS AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS WHEN AUTHORIZED IN APPROPRIATE CASES. THAT IS TO SAY, SUCH EXPENSES PROPERLY ARE CHARGEABLE TO THE APPROPRIATION CURRENT AT THE TIME THEY ARE INCURRED OR AT THE TIME A VALID AGREEMENT FOR SUCH TRANSPORTATION IS ENTERED INTO WITH THE CARRIER--- NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THE TRAVEL EXPENSES OF THE EMPLOYEE MAY HAVE BEEN CHARGED TO A PRIOR APPROPRIATION. SEE 1 COMP. GEN. 655; 5 ID. 1; 16 ID. 843; 21 ID. 436. THE BASIS FOR THE HOLDINGS IN THOSE DECISIONS IS THAT THE ISSUANCE OF A TRAVEL OR TRANSPORTATION ORDER, IN ITSELF, DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION. RATHER, SUCH ORDERS MERELY CONSTITUTE AUTHORIZATIONS FOR THE PERSONS SPECIFIED THEREIN TO INCUR THE OBLIGATIONS. HENCE, TO PERMIT THE CHARGING OF TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES TO THE APPROPRIATIONS CURRENT AT THE TIME SUCH EXPENSES ARE INCURRED, WOULD CONTRAVENE SECTION 3690, REVISED STATUTES, 31 U.S.C. 712, WHICH PROVIDES:

EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY LAW, ALL BALANCES OF APPROPRIATIONS CONTAINED IN THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATION BILLS AND MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR THE SERVICE OF ANY FISCAL YEAR AND REMAINING UNEXPENDED AT THE EXPIRATION OF SUCH FISCAL YEAR, SHALL ONLY BE APPLIED TO THE PAYMENT OF EXPENSES PROPERLY INCURRED DURING THAT YEAR, OR TO THE FULFILLMENT OF CONTRACTS PROPERLY MADE WITHIN THAT YEAR; AND BALANCES NOT NEEDED FOR SUCH PURPOSES SHALL BE CARRIED TO THE SURPLUS FUND. * * * ( ITALICS SUPPLIED.) SEE, ALSO, DECISION OF JUNE 27, 1947, B-66834, 26 COMP. GEN. 961, TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, INVOLVING A CLOSELY RELATED PROBLEM.

SO FAR AS CONCERNS THE FISCAL YEAR PROPERLY CHARGEABLE WITH THE EXPENSES OF TRANSPORTATION OF AN EMPLOYEE'S IMMEDIATE FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS, I FIND NOTHING IN THE PROVISIONS OF PUBLIC LAW 600, 60 STAT. 806, REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER WHICH WARRANTS ANY DIFFERENT CONCLUSION THAN THAT HERETOFORE REACHED IN SUCH MATTERS. ACCORDINGLY, I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT, IN THE ABSENCE OF A SPECIFIC STATUTORY PROVISION TO THE CONTRARY, NO DEPARTURE FROM THE SETTLED RULE GOVERNING SUCH MATTERS APPEARS AUTHORIZED.