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Comptroller General McCarl to the Secretary of the Treasury, August 15, 1922:
I have your letter of July 15, 1922, requesting decision whether warrant officers of the United States Coast Guard on duty in the United States at Coast Guard life-saving stations, and themselves in the occupancy of quarters at such stations, are entitled under the joint service pay act of June 10, 1922, 42 Stat., 625, to a rental allowance because no quarters are provided at their stations for their dependents or because for administrative reasons the quarters of the officers are not permitted to be shared by their dependents.
The right of a warrant officer of the Coast Guard to a rental allowance is that conferred upon him by sections 11 and 6 of the joint service pay act of June 10, 1922, and is a general right to $40 per month, in addition to his pay, “if public quarters are not available,” if he has dependents, and if he has none, subject to the further provision—not here material and not otherwise construed or interpreted—that it shall accrue while he is
on field or sea duty, temporary duty away from his permanent station, in hospital, on leave of absence or on sick leave, regardless of any shelter that may be furnished him for his personal use, if his dependent or dependents are not occupying public quarters during such period, but no rental allowance shall be made to any officer without dependents by reason of his employment on field or sea duty.
A warrant officer serving in the United States at a Coast Guard station is clearly not serving in any of the conditions mentioned in the above-quoted provision, and his right to a rental allowance is confined to the general one that he possesses independently of it.
The sole question then is whether when public quarters are avail. able at such a station for the warrant officer himself, and he himself is in the occupancy of them, they are yet “not available” for the purpose of payment of the rental allowance if his dependents do not share them with him, either by reason of their inadequacy or because for administrative reasons they are excluded from doing so; or, in other words, whether the quarters a warrant officer is thus in fact occupying at his station are constructively “not available" for him to occupy for the purposes of the rental allowance unless also available for occupancy by his dependents.
I find nothing in either sections 11 or 6 of the act of June 10, 1922, which indicates any intent that the allowance shall be payable to a warrant officer so stationed when quarters are available for the officer himself. On the other hand, under those sections the identical allowance is payable in such a case independently of whether the officer has or has not dependents, conditioned equally in either event upon “quarters not being available.” The quarters the availability of which is in question are quarters for the officer himself independently of their actual occupancy by his dependents. The test of
their availability is whether they are available for him, whether he in fact occupies them or whether he does not, or whether if he occupies them his dependents can or can not share them. The statute in such a case confers no direct right on the dependents to quarters in kind, either for occupancy of the quarters with the officer or otherwise, nor upon the officer to quarters that shall be available for his dependents, nor to any increased rental allowance because he has dependents. The officer therefore does not acquire the status of quarters being “not available” and consequent right to rental allowance because of the fact that his dependents if he have any are not furnished quarters with him.
Coupled with the right of warrant officers to a rental allowance under sections 11 and 6 of the act of June 10, 1922, is their right under section 21 of the act to retain the former right, if any, they may have possessed to quarters in kind. This does not, however, alter the situation. The right, if any, to quarters in kind that could be retained by a Coast Guard warrant officer stationed in the United States would be one that would likewise be met or satisfied by the furnishing of quarters to the warrant officer himself alone and independently of him having dependents, or, if he had them, whether they could or did share his quarters with him, and whether the quarters thus available for himself consisted of one room only.
It is therefore concluded that quarters are available for warrant officers serving in the United States at Coast Guard stations when available for and occupied by themselves separately and apart from any dependents they may possess, and independently of whether such dependents are excluded therefrom by inadequacy or otherwise, and that the rental allowance does not accrue to warrant officers of the Coast Guard so situated.
Your question is answered in the negative.
MAINTENANCE ALLOWANCE-VOCATIONAL TRAINEES OF
The allowance for support and maintenance of vocational trainees authorized
by act of July 11, 1919, 41 Stat., 159, does not constitute salary within the meaning of the act of May 10, 1916, as amended, 39 Stat., 120, 582, prohibiting the payment of two salaries to one person when they aggregate
more than $2.000. The maximum amounts of the allowance for support and maintenance of voca
tional trainees authorized by the act of July 11, 1919, 41 Stat., 159, as increased by the act of June 5, 1920, 41 Stat., 1021, being dependent upon the judgment of the Federal Board for Vocational Education and its successor, the Veterans’ Bureau, the regulation by the board fixing $2.000 as the maximum aggregate rate of training allowance and salary from a Government position to be received by any trainee, was effective fron April 1, 1921, the date fixed by such regulation, until set aside by order of the Director of the Veterans' Bureau effective April 1, 1922.
Comptroller General McCarl to the Director, United States Veterans' Burean, August 15, 1922:
I have your letter of July 25, 1922, requesting decision whether tho Veterans' Bureau vocational trainees are entitled to the maximum maintenance allowance provided by law in case the trainee is in the
ploy of the Government and the Government salary and the maintenance allowance exceed in the aggregate the rate of $2,000 per annum.
Section 2 of the act of July 11, 1919, 41 Stat., 159, provided for the furnishing by the Federal Board for Vocational Education of courses of vocational rehabilitation, and provided further that every person electing to follow such a course of vocational rehabilitation shall, while following the same, be paid monthly by the said board from the appropriation hereinafter provided such sum as in the judgment of the said board is necessary for his maintenance and support and for the maintenance and support of persons dependent upon him, if any: Provided, however, That in no event shall the sum so paid such person while pursuing such course be more than $80 per month for a single man without dependents or for a man with dependents $100 per month plus the several sums prescribed as family alJowances under section 204 of Article 11 of the War Risk Insurance Act.
The act of June 5, 1920, 41 Stat., 1021, increased these maximum maintenance allowances of trainees to $100 and $120, respectively.
The Comptroller of the Treasury held that this allowance for support and maintenance of vocational trainees does not constitute salary within the meaning of the act of May 10, 1916, as amended, prohibiting payment of two salaries to one person where the aggregate payment exceeds the rate of $2,000 per annum. 26 Comp. Dec., 575.
It appears that thereafter, in March, 1921, the Federal Board for Vocational Education adopted the following resolution:
The Federal Board for Vocational Education, in order to conform with the spirit of the act of May 10, 1916, as amended, limiting to $2,000 per annum compensation payable to persons receiving more than one salary from the Government, has directed that any person who is concurrently both a trainee of the board and an employee of the Government in tbe classified civil service shall not be paid by the board a support and maintenance allowance in excess of a rate which, together with the salary received from such position, will in the aggregate exceed a rate of $2,000 per annum plus any bonus which is authorized by Congress. The board's resolution is made effective April 1, 1921.
Section 3 of the act of August 9, 1921, 42 Stat., 148, transferred to the Veterans' Bureau the functions, powers, and duties conferred upon the Federal Board for Vocational Education by the vocational rehabilitation act hereinbefore referred to, and on April 4, 1922, the Director of the Veterans' Bureau issued district manager letter No. 2 advising district managers that allowances to trainees are not a salary within the inhibition of the act of May 10, 1916, and are payable whether or not the trainees are employed and receiving salaries which with the allowance would exceed $2,000 a year. Letter No. 6, of May 8, 1922, refers to letter No. 4 and directs that
payments to be made under that letter are made effective as of April 1, 1922, and that no retroactive payments prior to April 1, 19:22, are authorized
The law did not fix the amount of support and maintenance allowance which trainees shall receive. It only provided for allowance to a trainee of such sum within a prescribed maximum as in the judgment of the Federal Board for Vocational Education was necessary for his maintenance and support and for the maintenance and support of persons dependent upon him. The act of June 5, 1920, hereinbefore cited made the increase of maximum provided for therein conditioned upon residence“ where maintenance and support is above the average and comparatively high.” The law clearly contemplated that the allowance should be fixed by the board according to its judgment of the necessities of the case. In this connection see also 27 Comp. Dec., 762.
It was competent for the board to limit trainee allowances to such amount as with the salary received would equal $2,000 per annum, and such is the purport of the board's resolution. It was competent for the Director of the Veterans' Bureau to remove this limitation of the board and permit payment of the maximum allowance in proper cases regardless of the receipt by the trainee of a Government salary. The resolution of the board was effective until superseded by letter No. 4, which letter is not and does not purport to be retroactively effective.
From its effective date to April 1, 1922, the regulation of the board was effective to limit the rights of trainees to such allowance as with their salary would aggregate $2,000 a year. The letter of the director is effective to supersede the board's regulation from and after March 31, 1922, and set aside thereafter the limitation of the resolution. Payment of allowances should be governed accordingly.
CONFIDENTIAL EXPENDITURES–DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR
A certificate issued by the Secretary of State under section 291, Revised
Statutes, requesting that credit be allowed a disbursing officer for certain disallowances in his accounts upon the ground that the nature and object of such expenditures are such as should not be disclosed is unauthorized and ineffective when the facts concerning the expenditures are not con
fidential in character but are disclosed in the voucher and certificate. Decision by Comptroller General McCarl, August 16, 1922:
The Secretary of State applied July 27, 1922, for review of the action of this office in disallowing an item of $596.40 in the account of Edward Bell, American chargé d'Affaires ad interim at Tokyo. Japan, representng payment in excess of $600 for rent of quarters for student interpreters for the fiscal year 1921.
The act of June 4, 1920, 41 Stat., 741, making appropriation for the diplomatic and consular service for the fiscal year 1921 carries the following item:
For rent of quarters for the student interpreters attached to the embassy to Japan, $600.
Vouchers for payment of rent for these student interpreters' quarters for the fiscal year 1921 aggregated $1,196.40, of which $600, the full amount appropriated, was allowed and $596.40 was first suspended and subsequently disallowed by this office as in excess of the amount appropriated. The Secretary of State presented the following certificate dated October 19, 1921, as a basis for credit to the disbursing officer of the amount of this disallowance:
By direction of the President and in pursuance of section 291 of the Revised Statutes of the United States. I hereby certify that Edward Bell, chargé d'affaires ad interim, Tokyo, Japan, has expended the sum of five hundred ninety-six and 40/100 dollars ($596.40) during the period from January 1 to June 30, 1921, and suspended in Mr. Bell's accounts as follows, $299.10 in March quarter, 1921, and $297.30 in June quarter, 1921, from the appropriation for “Quarters for student interpreters at embassies, 1921," for which the drafts covering these expenditures should have been paid from the appropriation, “ Emergencies arising in the Diplomatic and Consular Service, 1921," the nature and object of which expenditure it is deemed inexpedient to make known, and I hereby request the accounting officers of the Treasury in the settlement of the accounts of the said Edward Bell, chargé d'affaires ad interim of the United States, Tokyo, Japan, to allow him a credit for the amount above named ($596.40).
The above expenditures are payable under authorization No. 55, of October 19, 1921.
The emergency appropriation referred to in this certificate is the appropriation carried by the act of June 20, 1920, aforesaid, to enable the President to meet unforeseen emergencies arising in the diplomatic and consular services, to be expended pursuant to the requirements of section 291, Revised Statutes, which provides :
Whenever any sum of money has been or shall be issued from the Treasury for the purposes of intercourse or treaty with foreign nations in pursuance of any law the President is authorized to cause the same to be duly settled annually with the proper accounting officers of the Treasury, by causing the same to be accounted for specifically, if the expenditure may, in his judgment, be made public; and by making or causing the Secretary of State to make a certificate of the amount of such expenditure as he may think it advisable not to specify, and every such certificate shall be deemed a sufficient voucher for the sum therein expressed to have been expended.
The Chief, State and Other Departments Division, this office, submitted a memorandum dated January 17, 1922, requesting instruction whether the item should be allowed on the facts shown. By memorandum of the Comptroller General dated February 14, 1922, disallowance of the item was directed. The ground for this direction rested upon the conclusion that the expense in question was not of the character contemplated by the emergency appropriation and section 291, Revised Statutes, that no unforeseen emergency existed and the element of administrative discretion to withhold specification of the items of expense was entirely wanting, the char.