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COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY.
COMPUTING PAYMENTS OF ANNUAL OR MONTHLY COMPENSATION.
The provision in section 4 of the act of April 28, 1904, for computing payments of annual or monthly compensation is applicable to the compensation of employees in the mail-equipment shops of the Post-Office Department who are employed at a specified annual or monthly compensation.
(Acting Comptroller Mitchell to the Postmaster General, July 1, 1904.)
In your communication of June 15, 1904, you request my decision of a question which you present therein as follows:
"Referring to your circular No. 46, in reference to section 4 of the act making appropriations for sundry civil expenses of the Government for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1905, and for other purposes, I have the honor to inquire as to whether the eight-hour men and women employed by the year or month in the mail equipment shops of this Department come within the purview of the section in question.
"These employees are paid out of the postal revenues from the amount set apart for this and other purposes in the annual post-office appropriation bill, and are expected to work eight hours per day. If on duty during the entire month they receive the full monthly rate of wages, but if absent for a day, or any fractional part of a day, their pay varies according to the number of working days in each month.
"I may state further that the pay for the fifteen days' leave of absence allowed by law is calculated upon the same basis.
"Will you not kindly advise this Department as to whether, in your opinion, these employees should be paid for each day's service rendered on and after July 1, 1904, at the rate of onethirtieth of the monthly wages, or according to the varying number of working days (27, 26, 25, or 24, as the case may be) in the calendar months, as under existing arrangements?"
28007 Vol. 11-05-1
In your communication of June 24, 1904, you indicate that the employees referred to are employed at a specified annual or monthly compensation, without further provision affecting the method of payment, except that which may be implied in the statement that
"These employees, under their implied contract with the Government, are required to work eight hours per working day, and to abide by such rules and regulations as usually prevail in any private manufacturing workshop where the eight-hour per day rule, is in force.'
In reply, I have the honor to advise you that the compensation of these employees should be paid in accordance with section 4 of the act of April 28, 1904 (33 Stat., 513), to which you refer, and the Government Salary Tables of 1904. issued by this Department.
TRANSPORTATION OF BAGGAGE OF OFFICER OF THE MARINE CORPS ON CHANGE OF STATION.
The amount of baggage which an officer of the Marine Corps is entitled to haye transported on change of station is governed by the regulation in force at the time he performs the travel, and not by a subsequent regulation in force at the time the baggage was actually transported. (Acting Comptroller Mitchell to the Secretary of the Navy, July 7, 1904.)
I have received by your reference, with a request for a decision of the question therein presented, the following letter, dated June 10, 1904, from the quartermaster, United States Marine Corps:
"1. I have the honor to submit herewith for your decision a question of transportation of an officer's baggage. The facts of the case are as follows:
2. Col. George F. Elliott, U. S. Marine Corps, now Brigadier-General Commandant, was detached from command of the Marine Barracks, Navy-Yard, Norfolk, Va., on February 26, 1903, and ordered to command the Marine Barracks, Washington, D. C.
"3. On March 21, 1904, General Elliott requested the quartermaster of the Marine Corps to cause to be transported 2,400 pounds of extra baggage from Norfolk, Va., to Washington, D. C. This was the total amount of transportation of extra baggage allowed a colonel at the time General Elliott's orders were issued.
"4. On March 24, 1904, 2,400 pounds of baggage, the per
sonal property of General Elliott, were received by the Norfolk and Washington Steamboat Company, Norfolk, Va., for transportation to Washington, D. C. This baggage was received at Washington on March 25, 1904.
5. The bill for the transportation of the total amount of this furniture amounts to $26.72, $16.44 of which would have to be paid by General Elliott and the balance by the quartermaster of the Marine Corps, under the regulations as they existed on February 26, 1903, the date of General Elliott's orders, but on September 4, 1903, the regulations were changed so as to increase the allowance for a colonel from 2,400 pounds to 7,200 pounds.
"6. The question which now arises is whether the quartermaster of the Marine Corps is authorized to pay the bill for the total amount of the baggage shipped by General Elliott, whose allowance at the time of his detachment was only 2,400 pounds, but which allowance had been increased between that date and the date on which the baggage was actually transported to 7,200 pounds."
Officers of the Marine Corps are entitled to the same allowances as are or may be provided by or in pursuance of law for the officers of like grades in the infantry of the Army. (Sec. 1612, Rev. Stat.)
They are entitled to have baggage transported by the Quartermaster's Department in the same manner and to the same extent as officers of the Army under similar circumstances. (1 Comp. Dec., 326.)
The question of the transportation of baggage when changing station is a subject of regulation.
The Army Regulations of 1901 provide:
"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.
"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: * Field
officer, 2,400 pounds.
The authorized allowance of baggage of a field officer was changed from 2,400 to 7,200 pounds by General Orders, No. 10, of the War Department, dated September 4, 1903.
From the above it will be seen that the authorized allowance of a colonel upon a change of station in effect on February 26, 1903, when change was made, was 2,400 pounds, and on and after September 4, 1903, 7,200 pounds.
The terms "in changing station" and "upon change of
station" indicate that the officer is supposed to have his baggage shipped at the time he changes station. The right of the officer accrues and the duty and obligation of the Government attaches at the time that the officer changes his station. In practice, however, he is allowed to avail himself of this right within a reasonable time.
I am therefore of opinion that the right having accrued on February 26, 1903, remains fixed and is not affected by the order subsequently issued changing the amount of the allowance, which latter order must be construed as applicable only to officers who change station on or after the date of its promulgation.
The question, however, whether this officer availed himself of his right within a reasonable time deserves consideration.
It appears that Colonel Elliott changed his station from Norfolk, Va., to Washington in February, 1903, but did not have his allowance transported from his old to his new station until March, 1904, more than a year after he had changed his station. No reason or explanation is given why he delayed the transportation for this period of time. The transportation could have been effected within a very brief time after the change of station. If he could have delayed having his baggage transported one year, could he delay two, three, four, or five years and then avail himself of the benefits of the regulation?
I am informed, however, that it is the practice of the Quartermaster's Department of the Army to allow an officer, retired, or to the widow or personal representative of a deceased officer, a year thereafter in which to avail themselves of the benefit of the regulation. This practical construction of the regulation is certainly exceedingly liberal, and I see no reason to object to the practice, but the rule should be uniform and applicable to the officers alike. In view, however, of the practice and the rule above referred to, and the fact that the said rule has not heretofore been officially promulgated, I am of the opinion that it should not apply strictly to this case, but that the quartermaster of the Marine Corps be authorized to pay for the transportation of 2,400 pounds of the baggage of Colonel Elliott, and no more.
Attention is invited to General Orders, No. 10, of the War Department, of September 4, 1903, especially the paragraph under section 1241, which reads as follows: