B-144735, B-144817 February 10, 1961

B-144735,B-144817: Feb 10, 1961

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Shirley Jones
(202) 512-8156
jonessa@gao.gov

 

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

Maritime Administration Dear Admiral Wilson: Reference is made to the claims of Bull-Insular Line. These claims were reported on by the General Counsel of your Agency under date of November 29. It was stated that these litigation expenses are reimbursable under the WSA General Agency Agreement (GAA 4/4/42) which provides for reimbursement of all expenses necessary for the operation of GAA vessels. That by Article 7 of the Agreement the United States is obligated to reimburse the General Agent for all expenditures of every kind made by it in performing procuring or supplying the services. Required which are directly and exclusively applicable to the maintenance. It also is stated that the claimants were advised that their claims.

B-144735, B-144817 February 10, 1961

Honorable Ralph E. Wilson Administrator, Maritime Administration

Dear Admiral Wilson:

Reference is made to the claims of Bull-Insular Line, Inc., for $1,175.43 and $1.551.96 asserted under contracts WSA-326, WSA-3632 and WSA-6989, dated March 28, 1942, October 1, 1942, and March 1, 1944, respectively, for attorney fees and disbursements paid to Kirlin, Campbell and Keating, attorneys at law, for services rendered incident to the defense of "overtime-on-overtime" suits. These claims were reported on by the General Counsel of your Agency under date of November 29, 1960.

The supporting papers attached to the claim voucher for $1,551.96 show that on July 23, 1959, the attorneys submitted their invoice for the services and disbursements stated to cover the period from September 1947 to July 23, 1959. The attachments to the claim voucher for $1,175.43 ($1,481.43 less an administrative exception of #306) show that on July 23, 1959, the attorneys submitted their invoice for professional services and disbursements covering the period of September 1947 to July 23, 1959. In the administrative report of November 29, 1960, it was stated that these litigation expenses are reimbursable under the WSA General Agency Agreement (GAA 4/4/42) which provides for reimbursement of all expenses necessary for the operation of GAA vessels, including legal fees and disbursements incurred in connection with unusual and extraordinary services rendered in the defense of law suits against General Agents; that under this Agreement, the General Agent has the obligation to perform required duties in an economical and efficient manner and to execute due diligence to protect and safeguard the interests of the United States in all respects and to avoid loss and damage of every nature to the United States (Article 38); that by Article 7 of the Agreement the United States is obligated to reimburse the General Agent for all expenditures of every kind made by it in performing procuring or supplying the services, etc., required which are directly and exclusively applicable to the maintenance, management, operation or the conduct of the business of the vessels under agencies; and that Article 17 provides that the General Agent in performing its services may rely on instructions and directions of the War Shipping Administrator, his officers and responsible employees. It also is stated that the claimants were advised that their claims, with the exception of the $306 deduction, were considered by the Maritime Administration to be responsible and proper expenses, but that since the War Shipping Administration appropriations from which claims of this type would be paid had expired on December 31, 1958, the Maritime Administration did not have funds for payment of such claims. In the circumstances, it was stated that it was suggested to the claimant that the claims should be submitted to the General Accounting office for reporting to the Congress under the act of April 10, 1928, 31 U.S.C. 236.

The Second Supplemental Appropriation Act, 1948, 61 Stat. 697, referred to in the administrative report contained provisions, as follows:

"* * * there is hereby appropriated to the Secretary of the Treasury such amount as may be necessary (not to exceed $200,000,000) to liquidate such obligations as may be found by the General Accounting Office as having been properly incurred against such funds prior to January 1, 1947; Provided, That the appropriation herein for liquidation of obligations shall be available only until March 31, 1948 * * *."

By subsequent appropriation acts the unexpended balance of the original liquidation appropriation was continued available each year thereafter through the fiscal year ending June 30, 1958, except for certain expenditure limitations for the fiscal years 1950, 1955, and 1956. By the act of June 25, 1958, 72 Stat. 231, the unexpended balance remaining in the account was "rescinded and carried to the surplus fund of the Treasury."

The legislative history of the June 25, 1958, act shows that it was anticipated that settlement of the obligations under the liquidation program would be completed in 1959, except claims in litigation over which Maritime Administration had no control and payments to disabled seamen which it was stated would continue indefinitely.

We have consistently held that the provisions of the act of April 10, 1928, were intended to be applied only to such cases as could properly be considered by our Office, which could not be paid because of the lack of any previously enacted statutory law authorizing payment of such claims, or other words, we have taken the position that the act was only intended to cover those claims which are considered and passed on in the exercixe of our statutory claims settlement jurisdiction.

Except for the specific jurisdiction conferred by the 1948 act quoted above, our office had no jurisdiction to settle claims against the War Shipping Administration, and our functions under the liquidation appropriation thereby created were confined to ascertaining (1) that under the facts and supporting documents the proposed payment was in satisfaction of an obligation actually incurred against War Shipping Administration funds prior to January 1, 1947, and (2) that, on its face, the item was of the general nature and type chargeable to such funds. B- 69148, August 29, 1947.

As indicated above, the unexpended balance of funds made available by the 1948 act and its extensions reverted to the surplus fund of the Treasury under the act of June 25, 1958, and our authority thereunder must be considered to have been terminated thereby. Accordingly, if it is felt that these claims and similar claims -- including the claim of the Bay Bridge Operating Company, Incorporated for $9,759.25 which was the subject of letter of December 13, 1960 (A 17-7:231-PRP), to our Claims Division from your Assistant General Counsel, Division of Litigation -- are proper for payment, the Congress should be requested to restore from the balance of funds carried to surplus under the act of June 25, 1958, or to make a new appropriation of, a sufficient amount to liquidate such claims.

The claims of the Bull-Insular Line, Inc., and the Bay Ridge Operating Company are returned.

Sincerely yours,

JOSEPH CAMPBELL Comptroller General of the United States

Enclosures