B-68721, AUGUST 14, 1947, 27 COMP. GEN. 94

B-68721: Aug 14, 1947

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IT MAY BE CONSIDERED THAT AMERICAN SHIPS ARE NOT AVAILABLE WITHIN THE MEANING OF SAID SECTION 901. 1947: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 13. AS FOLLOWS: IN THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACTS HAVE CONTAINED LANGUAGE WHICH PROVIDED THAT THE PROVISIONS OF LAW PRESCRIBING THE USE OF VESSELS OF UNITED STATES REGISTRY BY EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT TRAVELING OVERSEAS (46 U.S.C. 1241) SHOULD NOT APPLY TO SUCH TRAVEL DURING THE FISCAL YEARS COVERED BY SUCH ACTS. EVEN AT THIS EARLY DATE HE WAS UNABLE TO OBTAIN SUITABLE RESERVATIONS. BRENNER WAS NOT ABLE TO DETERMINE THAT HE COULD OBTAIN RESERVATIONS ON THE S.S. YOUR OPINION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER. IT WILL NOT BE PROPER TO AUTHORIZE MR.

B-68721, AUGUST 14, 1947, 27 COMP. GEN. 94

TRANSPORTATION - VESSELS - USE OF AMERICAN REQUIREMENT - NONAVAILABILITY OF AMERICAN VESSELS WHERE THE USE OF SHIPS REGISTERED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES BY FEDERAL EMPLOYEES WHEN TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS OVERSEAS, AS REQUIRED BY SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT OF 1936, WOULD INTERFERE SERIOUSLY WITH, OR PREVENT THE PERFORMANCE OF, OFFICIAL BUSINESS, IT MAY BE CONSIDERED THAT AMERICAN SHIPS ARE NOT AVAILABLE WITHIN THE MEANING OF SAID SECTION 901, SO AS TO AUTHORIZE THE USE OF A SHIP UNDER A FOREIGN FLAG.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, AUGUST 14, 1947:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 13, 1947, AS FOLLOWS:

IN THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACTS HAVE CONTAINED LANGUAGE WHICH PROVIDED THAT THE PROVISIONS OF LAW PRESCRIBING THE USE OF VESSELS OF UNITED STATES REGISTRY BY EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT TRAVELING OVERSEAS (46 U.S.C. 1241) SHOULD NOT APPLY TO SUCH TRAVEL DURING THE FISCAL YEARS COVERED BY SUCH ACTS.

THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACT, 1948 ( P.L. 269--- 80TH CONGRESS), HOWEVER, DID NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVISIONS EXEMPTING GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES FROM USING VESSELS OF UNITED STATES REGISTRY AND, AS A RESULT, SUCH EMPLOYEES AGAIN BECAME SUBJECT TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT OF 1936 (46 (49) STAT. 2015).

EARLY IN APRIL 1947, MR. ABNER BRENNER, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF STANDARDS WHO MUST BE IN EUROPE DURING THE PERIOD SEPTEMBER 10-- - OCTOBER 9, 1947, ATTEMPTED TO OBTAIN RESERVATIONS FOR THE TRIP TO ENGLAND BY A VESSEL OF AMERICAN REGISTRY. EVEN AT THIS EARLY DATE HE WAS UNABLE TO OBTAIN SUITABLE RESERVATIONS, SO MADE RESERVATIONS ON THE VEENDAM, A SHIP OF THE HOLLAND-AMERICAN LINE, SAILING ON SEPTEMBER 3, 1947.

WITH THE PASSING OF THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACT, 1948, ABOVE CITED, MR. BRENNER AGAIN INVESTIGATED THE POSSIBILITY OF OBTAINING PASSAGE BY A VESSEL OF THE UNITED STATES REGISTRY AND FOUND THAT, DUE TO CANCELLATION, HE COULD OBTAIN RESERVATIONS ON THE S.S. AMERICA, A VESSEL OF UNITED STATES REGISTRY, WITH DEPARTURE DATE OF AUGUST 20, 1947.

INASMUCH AS MR. BRENNER WAS NOT ABLE TO DETERMINE THAT HE COULD OBTAIN RESERVATIONS ON THE S.S. AMERICA UNTIL AUGUST 11, 1947, IT WOULD BE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT AT THIS DATE FOR HIM TO CHANGE HIS PLANS TO SAIL BY THE UNITED STATES VESSEL AND SUCH CHANGE OF PLANS WOULD RESULT IN EXTREME HARDSHIP TO THE BUREAU AND IMPERIL THE SUCCESSFUL ACCOMPLISHMENT OF HIS MISSION; CONSEQUENTLY, YOUR OPINION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER, UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, IT WILL NOT BE PROPER TO AUTHORIZE MR. BRENNER'S TRAVEL BY VESSEL OF FOREIGN REGISTRY.

MR. BRENNER IS NOW ARRANGING, THROUGH THE WAR DEPARTMENT, A SERIES OF MEETINGS AND CONFERENCES WITH CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS IN ENGLAND WITH REGARD TO EROSION RESISTANCE OF GUN BORES AND OTHER SMALL ARMS PROBLEMS. THESE ARRANGEMENTS HAVE NOT YET BEEN COMPLETED AND IT IS DOUBTED THAT THEY CAN BE CONSUMMATED BY THE AUGUST 20 SAILING DATE. MOREOVER, CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS AT THE BUREAU OF STANDARDS WITH WHOM MR. BRENNER MUST CONFER AND FROM WHOM HE MUST OBTAIN DATA FOR HIS MISSION ARE NOW ON VACATION AND WILL NOT RETURN TO WASHINGTON UNTIL AFTER THAT DATE.

IN ADDITION, IF THE EARLIER SAILING DATE IS REQUIRED, MR. BRENNER WILL BE FORCED TO MISS A MEETING OF THE AMERICAN ELECTROPLATERS SOCIETY RESEARCH COMMITTEE WHICH HE IS SCHEDULED TO LEAD, AND WILL NOT BE ABLE TO COMPLETE SEVERAL IMPORTANT RESEARCH PROJECTS ON WHICH HE IS NOW WORKING.

IT SHOULD ALSO BE POINTED OUT THAT THE EARLIER SAILING DATE WILL RESULT IN AN ADDITIONAL COST OF APPROXIMATELY $300 TO THE DEPARTMENT.

IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT MR. BRENNER MUST ACCEPT HIS RESERVATIONS BEFORE THE CLOSE OF BUSINESS ON AUGUST 13, YOUR EARLY OPINION ON THIS MATTER WILL BE APPRECIATED.

SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT OF 1936, 49 STAT. 2015, 46 U.S.C. 1241, PROVIDES:

ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS OVERSEAS OR TO OR FROM ANY OF THE POSSESSIONS OF THE UNITED STATES SHALL TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT HIS PERSONAL EFFECTS ON SHIPS REGISTERED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES WHERE SUCH SHIPS ARE AVAILABLE UNLESS THE NECESSITY OF HIS MISSION REQUIRES THE USE OF A SHIP UNDER A FOREIGN FLAG: PROVIDED, THAT THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES SHALL NOT CREDIT ANY ALLOWANCE FOR TRAVEL OR SHIPPING EXPENSES INCURRED ON A FOREIGN SHIP IN THE ABSENCE OF SATISFACTORY PROOF OF THE NECESSITY THEREFOR. IT HAS BEEN HELD REPEATEDLY THAT QUESTIONS OF ECONOMY, ALONE, DO NOT JUSTIFY THE USE OF FOREIGN VESSELS. 14 COMP. GEN. 95; 18 ID. 858. HOWEVER, WHERE THE USE OF AMERICAN VESSELS WOULD INTERFERE SERIOUSLY WITH, OR PREVENT THE PERFORMANCE OF, OFFICIAL BUSINESS, AS WOULD APPEAR TO BE THE SITUATION IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES STATED IN YOUR SUBMISSION, IT MAY BE CONCLUDED THAT AMERICAN VESSELS ARE NOT AVAILABLE WITHIN THE INTENT OF THE STATUTE AND, ACCORDINGLY, THAT THE USE OF A FOREIGN VESSEL IS JUSTIFIED IN THIS CASE.