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The authority for transportation of an officer's baggage on change of station is found in paragraphs 1241 and 1242 of Army Regulations, 1901, as amended by General Orders, No. 10, dated September 4, 1903, as follows:
"1241. In changing station an officer's authorized allowance of baggage will be turned over to a quartermaster for transportation as freight by ordinary freight lines. Quartermasters are authorized to transport, upon an officer's request, his entire baggage as freight on Government bill of lading, the excess in weight over his authorized allowance of personal baggage, professional books, official papers, etc., to be paid for by him to the Quartermaster's Department.
"1242. The baggage to be transported at public expense, including mess chests and personal baggage, upon change of station will not exceed the following weights: * * Captain, 6,000 pounds. * These allowances are in excess of the weights transported free of charge under the regular fare by public carriers."
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The Illinois Central Railroad Company is a land-grant road and under the law is entitled to only 50 per cent of the regular charges for the transportation of the property and troops of the United States. The claimant contends that the personal effects of an officer of the Army, over and above his authorized allowance on change of station, is not in any sense the property of the United States, and that the Government is merely acting as the voluntary agent of the owner of the freight, so far as the excess is concerned, and because of these facts there exists neither law nor authority to make a landgrant deduction from the freight charges on said excess. In this contention I concur.
The facts in this case are not analogous to those in the case decided in 2 Comp. Dec., 415, and that decision has no application to the case now under consideration.
It has been recognized that an officer in the discharge of his duties requires a greater amount of personal belongings than that which the carriers will transport free on a regular ticket. Therefore the Army Regulations provide that the Government will transport at its expense for him a certain fixed amount, called a "change of station allowance❞—in this case, 6,000 pounds. This can be done only on the theory that such baggage is necessary for the officer in the discharge of his duties. The property so authorized becomes invested with a
quasi public character, and as such the railroad is under obligation to transport it on the same terms as other Government property. I think, however, the railroad has rights in the premises, one of which is that neither the Government nor any officer thereof shall ask it to transport as Government property that which is not.
I know of no right or legal authority of any officer of the Government to include in a Government bill of lading private property of another officer or person in which the Government has no interest whatever and in respect to which it has no duty or obligation.
Whether the Government would be liable for the transportation charges on such excess, in any event I think, if said property is put on a Government bill of lading, and the carrier has no knowledge in advance of the shipment of such excess and can not be charged with notice of the same, there can be little doubt that the Government would be liable for the freight charges, regardless of whether it secured reimbursement from the owner of the goods.
It may also be a question whether the quartermaster, who by his acts in thus including purely private property in a Government bill of lading imposes a liability or loss on the Government, would become personally liable for such loss.
Be this as it may, I see no reason why the Government should undertake the duty and assume the liability for the shipment of purely private property of its officers or agents. To do so, and to settle with the railroads for the transportation, is to use the Government's money to pay the private debt of one of its officers-a transaction which has no authority in law.
The method in which this character of business is transacted leaves the accounting officers in ignorance of whether the Government has been reimbursed by the owner of the freight or not, and to undertake to keep track of such things is to impose a duty upon the accounting officers which is not warranted.
If the object of the clause providing for the transportation of the excess on a Government bill of lading is to secure reduced or carload rates on an entire shipment, it is possible that an arrangement might be made by shipping the whole baggage together in one car and including in the Government
bill of lading only that portion which the Government undertakes to transport free, and including in a regular commercial bill of lading the remainder. The question of rates then is one to be taken up in advance with the carrier and noted on the bill of lading.
There is nothing in the papers in this case to show that the carrier had knowledge of the fact that the Government bill of lading included an excess over the regular change of station allowance, and therefore the Government is probably liable for the proper charges, and such charges should be paid in full without a land-grant deduction on the excess.
The action of the Auditor is reversed, and a certificate of difference will issue in accordance with the views herein expressed.
The Auditor will raise a charge against Captain Wright for the full amount of the freight charges on the excess, provided that amount has not been refunded to the United States.
MEDICAL ATTENDANCE FOR EMPLOYEE OF THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
The appropriation made in the act of April 28, 1904, for the support of the Geological Survey, is not applicable to the expense of medical attendance for an employee who was injured while engaged in the performance of his duty in the field.
(Acting Comptroller Mitchell to John D. McChesney, chief disbursing clerk, Geological Survey, October 26, 1904.)
I am in receipt of your communication of the 21st instant, as follows:
"The inclosed bill for $15 in favor of Dr. William E. Duffield is for professional services rendered by him to Thomas Bell, a United States Geological Survey employee, who appears to have been injured by a premature explosion.
"The bill has been submitted to me for payment, and being in doubt about the propriety of paying it, I herewith forward it to you with the request that you will instruct me as to my duty in that regard.'
The appropriation for the Geological Survey made in the act of April 28, 1904 (33 Stat., 485, 486), does not contain any provision authorizing expenditures for medical attendance for
civilian employees, and I know of no regulation of the Department of the Interior or of general law that authorizes such expenditures.
The terms on which Mr. Bell was employed are not stated, but I assume for the purposes of this decision that there was no condition in his employment which required the Government to pay the expenses of medical attendance that he might incur while he was engaged in the performance of his duty in the field.
He was not therefore authorized to incur such expenses on behalf of the Government (6 Comp. Dec., 955).
In the case cited this office said (p. 956):
"It has been held with substantial uniformity by the accounting officers that there is no authority of law to furnish medicine or medical attendance to civilian officers or employees of the Government except in cases where the contract of employment provides for the same or where some existing regulation of the Department for which the service is ren dered makes the furnishing of such supplies or attendance a part of the contract of employment." (See other cases cited in this decision.)
You are not therefore authorized to pay the claim presented.
APPROPRIATION FOR PAYMENT OF MILEAGE IN THE ARMY.
Under the provision in the act of April 23, 1904, that all allowances for mileage should be paid solely from the appropriation therein made, mileage due an officer of the Army for travel on duty connected with the Board of Ordnance and Fortification should be paid from the appropriation made in said act, and not from the appropriation for the Board of Ordnance and Fortification.
(Decision by Acting Comptroller Mitchell, October 27, 1904.)
The Auditor for the War Department has submitted for approval, disapproval, or modification the following decision:
"In the examination of the accounts of Capt. T. C. Dickson, of the Ordnance Department of the Army, for the month of July, 1904, the question arises as to whether or not the mileage for travel by officers of the Army on duty connected with the Board of Ordnance and Fortification can properly be
charged against the appropriation Board of Ordnance and Fortification,' in view of the provision of law contained in the act of Congress for the support of the Army approved April 23, 1904, reading as follows:
"Provided, and all allowances for mileage shall be made solely from the sums herein appropriated for such purposes. (See 33 Stat., 267.)
"The provision cited occurs in one of the annual acts for the support of the Army and in connection with provisions governing the expenditure of the appropriation for the pay, mileage, and other miscellaneous expenses of the Army. Its meaning is that all allowances or payments to officers of the Army for mileage for the fiscal year 1905 shall be made solely from the sums appropriated in the act for said year for the allowance or payment of mileage.
"In a decision dated February 3, 1897, the Comptroller of the Treasury held, quoting the syllabus, as follows:
"The mileage of officers of the Army traveling on duty connected with the Board of Ordnance and Fortification is payable from the appropriation made for the Board as a part of the necessary expenses incident to the performance of its work.' (See 3 Comp. Dec., 332.)
"The appropriation referred to for the Board of Ordnance and Fortification provided in terms for the payment of the necessary expenses of the Board.'
"The current appropriation for the Board contains the same phraseology, but it should be construed in the light of the aforesaid provision directing that all allowances of mileage shall be made from the sums appropriated in the Army appropriation act of April 23, 1904, for such purposes.
"Under and since the Comptroller's decision of February 3, 1897, the mileage of officers of the Army traveling on duty connected with the Board of Ordnance and Fortification has been paid from the appropriations for said Board, but prior thereto it was paid from the general mileage appropriation.
"Section 1273 of the Revised Statutes, referring to the payment of mileage to army officers, directs that no payment shall be made to any officer except by a paymaster of the Army,' and it is presumed that the aforesaid provision was passed by Congress with a view to the payment of all mileage for army officers by officers of the Pay Department of the Army from the appropriation specifically made for the payment of such mileage, notwithstanding the established prac
"All allowances for mileage' for army officers for the fiscal year 1905 having been provided for in the appropriation Mileage to officers and contract surgeons, 1905,' whether said officers be on duty connected with the Board of Ordnance