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reclamation service, who were accidentally killed while working in the Gunnison tunnel, which is being constructed by the Government in the Uncompahgre Valley in Colorado.
Ordinarily the Government is not liable for the burial expenses of its deceased employees. Where it is necessary. however, for sanitary reasons to remove the remains of an employee from the grounds on which other employees are located, the reasonable expenses of a decent burial may be authorized as an incident to the work on which he was engaged.
As it appears from your letter that the relatives of the deceased workmen were unknown, and that no one voluntarily appeared to take charge of the bodies, and that the removal and burial thereof by the Government was necessary as a sanitary precaution, I have to advise you that payment of the claim in question is authorized, provided the amount thereof is no more than was necessary, under all the circumstances, for the decent burial of the deceased employees.
ORDERS GIVEN BY EMPLOYEES TO A DISBURSING OFFICER FOR THE PAYMENT OF THEIR SALARIES TO A THIRD PERSON.
The provision in section 3477, Revised Statutes, relative to the transfer and assignment of claims against the United States, is applicable to orders given by employees of the United States to disbursing officers for the payment of their salaries, or a part thereof, to a third person, and disbursing officers are not authorized to honor such orders unless they are executed in the form and manner prescribed by said section. (Comptroller Tracewell to W. P. Adams, disbursing agent, Smithsonion Institution, June 24, 1095.)
I am in receipt of your letter of the 21st instant, as follows: "I have the honor to inform you that in examining the papers belonging to the accounts of Mr. W. W. Karr, the late disbursing agent of the Smithsonian Institution, it is found that he had received an order from Mr. J. W. Hall, an employee of the National Museum, to pay to Messrs. Parker, Bridget & Co., of this city, $7 from his salary due May 15, 1905. Mr. Karr also received an order from Mr. J. J. Desmond and another from Mr. H. W. Hendley for $10 and $16.
respectively, to pay these sums from salaries due May 31, 1905, to Mr. Joseph Palmer. The sums above mentioned were deducted from the salaries of the three employees stated, but the several amounts, aggregating $33, were not delivered prior to the discontinuance of Mr. Karr's services on June 3, 1905. They are therefore in the safe of this office.
"In view of the foregoing explanation, I beg to inquire if the sum of $7 shall be delivered to Messrs. Parker, Bridget & Co., and $26 to Mr. Joseph Palmer?"
Section 3477 of the Revised Statutes contains the following provision:
"All transfers and assignments made of any claim upon the United States, or of any part or share thereof, or interest therein, whether absolute or conditional, and whatever may be the consideration therefor, and all powers of attorney, orders, or other authorities for receiving payment of any such claim, or of any part or share thereof, shall be absolutely null and void, unless they are freely made and executed in the presence of at least two attesting witnesses, after the allowance of such a claim, the ascertainment of the amount due, and the issuing of a warrant for the payment thereof. Such transfers, assignments, and powers of attorney must recite the warrant for payment, and must be acknowledged by the person making them, before an officer having authority to take acknowledgments of deeds, and shall be certified by the officer; and it must appear by the certificate that the officer, at the time of the acknowledgement, read and fully explained the transfer, assignment, or warrant of attorney to the person acknowledging the same."
The provisions of the above section are applicable to orders given by Government employees to disbursing officers for the payment of their salaries, or a part thereof, to a third person. (See 3 Comp. Dec., 222; and 11 Comp. Dec., 36.)
I have to advise you, therefore, that unless the orders in question were executed in the form and manner prescribed by section 3477, supra, you are not authorized to honor same, but should pay the respective balances of salary due the several employees to the employees themselves.
Where a person voluntarily present at the trial of insanity proceedings before a United States commissioner in the Indian Territory is called upon to testify, he is entitled for his services as such witness to the usual per diem, but not to mileage, although if mileage is paid him by order of the commissioner the marshal will be entitled to credit therefor.
(Comptroller Tracewell to W. H. Darrough, marshal, June 24, 1905.)
I have received your letter of the 31st ultimo, requesting a decision on the following state of facts:
On the 28th of May, 1905, United States Commissioner Bessey, of Claremore, Ind. T., issued an order for the payment of witnesses in the case of United States v. Mrs. L. J. Green, in the sum of $12, the charge against her being that of insanity, as appears from a letter of said commissioner to you of the 15th instant:
"In this case defendant was violently and boisterously insane and dangerous to be at large. Complaint was made under sections 3814-3815 of Mansfield Digest and a warrant issued. No subpoenas were issued for witnesses for the reason that the witnesses examined were relatives of the defendant and brought her before me for examination. The witnesses were examined and their testimony reduced to writing, and upon this testimony I found there was probable cause to believe defendant insane as charged and I committed her to the jail at Vinita, pending an investigation by the court and jury as the law provides. I am informed, though not officially, that this case was taken up by the court above the day following the commitment and investigation had and defendant was sent to the insane asylum."
The law under which this proceeding was instituted is found in chapter 82 of Mansfield's Digest of the Statutes of Arkansas made applicable to Indian Territory by the act of May 2, 1890. (26 Stat., 94.)
Sections 3814 and 3815 of said digest provide for the arrest of insane persons found at large and their restraint and commitment to jail by a magistrate preliminary to the proceeding for the transportation of such insane persons to an asylum.
The case appears to be one in which the United States should pay the legal witness fees, including in the proper case mileage and per diems. But it appears that no subpoena was issued or served on the witnesses in question; that they made no travel to attend the hearing in pursuance of having been served with a subpoena requiring their presence at the hearing. They were voluntarily present, and when called upon gave evidence.
Under such circumstances, in my judgment, no mileage should have been taxed or allowed them. But under the provisions of section 846 of the Revised Statutes you will be protected in making payment of such mileage if ordered so to do by the commissioner.
REIMBURSEMENT OF SPECIAL AGENT OF THE CENSUS OFFICE FOR USE OF HIS OWN CONVEYANCE.
A special agent of the Census Office who by the terms of his appointment is entitled to reimbursement of actual traveling expenses may be reimbursed for the use by him of his own horse and buggy on official business.
(Comptroller Tracewell to John W. Langley, disbursing clerk, Department of Commerce and Labor, June 27, 1905.)
I am in receipt of your letter of the 9th instant, as follows: "I transmit here with an account submitted to me for payment by Nathan Vale, a special agent of this Bureau, amounting to $3.15, in which he reclaims certain items suspended from his April account. Your attention is called to Mr. Vale's charge of $3 under date of April 7 and 8, for the use of his own buggy and two horses, in making a trip to Tuppers Plains via Long Bottom and Reno, Ohio; also to his letter explaining such charge. I have the honor to request your decision as to whether I can lawfully pay Mr. Vale for the use of his team, in view of the provision of the United States Statutes (18 U. S. Stat., 452), which is as follows:
"Hereafter only actual traveling expenses shall be allowed to any person holding appointment or employment under the. United States."
"For your information there is also inclosed a copy of the letter of authorization pursuant to which Mr. Vale performed the travel in question.
In another letter attached to the voucher Mr. Vale explains that he used his own team at an actual saving to the Government, the regular livery charge for the same, including board of horses, being some $7.50.
The sole question presented is whether an employee, authorized to incur expense of travel in the performance of his duties, can furnish the means of transportation himself, instead of obtaining such means from another person, and receive payment therefor as an actual traveling expense under the above statute.
If we adopt a strict construction of that act, that only actual traveling expenses shall be allowed, payment of the item in question would not be proper, it not representing an actual expense, or sum of money actually paid out by the employee for specific means of travel.
I do not think, however, such construction should prevail. In the present case, for instance, a showing is made that the use of the employee's team was a benefit to the Government. Objection may be made that such allowances might give opportunity for abuse, but I think that is a matter which can well be left to departmental control.
The case differs from that of an employee riding on a free pass (see 8 Comp. Dec., 333), for in that case the transportation costs the employee nothing, while a team is a constant expense, and if used by the Government the owner is deprived of other beneficial use, for which he should be compensated.
I am therefore of the opinion that if said item has the proper departmental approval, and is in other respects correct, the same may be paid by you.