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year and the method of their employment rests wholly within your executive discretion. Respectfully, yours,
EDW. A. BOWERS,
Acting Comptroller. The SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE.
IN RE CLAIM OF WILLIAM X. SMITH FOR UNLIQUI.
The accounting officers of the Treasury have no jurisdiction to settle
claims for unliquidated damages arising from the torts of the agents of the Government.
September 21, 1895. The claimant is the owner of a fruit and vegetable ranch, situated on the Upper Columbia River, and alleges that during the blasting of the United States Engineer Corps in conducting the work of improvement on that river, his fruit trees and vegetables, as well as the soil, were injured by the rocks thrown thereon. The Auditor for the War Department beld that
“The claim is manifestly one for unliquidated damages, and of such claims it has always been held the accounting officers of the Treasury can not take jurisdiction. This claim is consequently dismissed, as this office has no power to adjudicate it."
The accounting officers of the Treasury have jurisdiction to settle claims based on a contract with the Government, either express or implied, where it is possible to ascertain, either from the terms of the contract or from extraneous proof, the justice of the claim and the correctness of the amount; but they can not take cognizance of claims for unliquidated damages arising from tort or breach of contract. This has been repeatedly held by the Court of Claims and in opinions of the Attorneys. General. (McKee's Case, 12 C. Cls. R., 556; Dennis v. United States, 20 C. Cls. R., 119; 14 Opin. A. G., 24.)
In this case no contract relation has existed at any time between the United States and the claimant. The damages, if any, resulted from the tortious action of the agent of the United States engaged in the blasting, and the claim is there. fore one for unliquidated damages arising on a tort. As such
the accounting officers have no jurisdiction to entertain it, and I accordingly affirm the action of the Auditor in rejecting the claim.
EDW. A. BOWERS,
AIRE OF QUARTERS FOR ENLISTED MEN OF THE
MARINE CORPS. There is no provision of law authorizing the hire of quarters for enlisted
men of the Marine Corps, excepting certain men specially named in the annual appropriation acts, and the renting of quarters for other men prior to an appropriation therefor by Congress is prohibited by the act of June 22, 1874.
September 23, 1895. SIR: I am in receipt of your letter of the 17th instant inclosing a communication addressed to the quartermaster of the United States Marine Corps by Capt. Paul St. C. Murphy, commanding Marine Barracks, Washington, D. C., in which it is requested, in view of the decision of the Auditor for the Navy Department fixing the status of the leader of the Marine Band as that of principal musician, entitling him to one room as quarters, and there being no room available at said post, that authority be granted to hire quarters elsewhere. You ask:
First. Is the quartermaster justified under the circumstances to authorize the hire of quarters (one room) for the principal musician of the Corps ?
Second. What should be the amount paid for such hire of quarters!
Third. To what particular appropriation may such expense be properly charged!
In reply I have to advise you that there is no statutory authority for the hiring of quarters for enlisted men of the Marine Corps to which class the principal musician of the Corps belongs, and that there is no appropriation to which such expense is properly chargeable.
The act of March 2, 1895 (28 Stat., 840), making appropriation for the Marine Corps, makes appropriation for the hiring of quarters for officers serving with troops where there are no public quarters belonging to the United States, or where there are not sufficient quarters possessed by the United States to accommodate them, and also provides for hiring quarters for certain specified enlisted men of the Marine Corps, of whom the principal musician is not one. No other provision is made for hiring quarters for the Marine Corps. Moreover, the act of June 22, 1874 (18 Stat., 144), provides
66 Hereafter no contract shall be made for the rent of any building, or part of any building, in Washington, not now in use by the Government, to be used for the purposes of the Government until an appropriation therefor shall have been made in terms by Congress."
It will thus be seen that the hiring of quarters for the principal musician is unauthorized and forbidden, and this conclusion precludes the necessity of inquiring into the matters suggested by your other questions. Respectfully, yours,
EDW. A. BOWERS,
Acting Comptroller. The SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.
PAYMENT OF TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES OF THE FIELD FORCE OF THE COAST SURVEY WHEN SICK.
Under the authority of the Superintendent of the Coast and Geodetic Sur
vey to employ and fix the pay and subsistence allowance of temporary employees of the field force, he may pay a “hand” employed at a monthly salary and retained on the roll during a short sickness, his full month's salary and commutation, although he was not able to render service for the period covered by his sickness.
September 23, 1895. SIR: I am in receipt of your letter of the 11th instant submitting a voucher for the payment of certain members of the field force employed by Assistant Winston in the work upon which he is engaged. It appears from the papers that F.C. S. Harter and J. R. Chase, employed as “hands" at the rate of $25 per month, with an allowance of $1 per day for subsistence, were sick and unable to perform their duties for several days during the month of July, 1895, and you ask whether you are authorized under the law to pay them their full salaries and subsistence allowance for that month.
Paragraph 56 of the Regulations of the Coast and Geodetic Survey provides that chiefs of parties may employ the neces
sary recorders, foremen, rodmen, laborers, etc., in such num. bers and at such rates of compensation as may be approved by the Superintendent. Paragraph 59 provides that such employees may be allowed either actual subsistence or commutation therefor, in the discretion of the Superintendent, not exceeding $1.50 per day.
In my opinion there is nothing in the law, nor in the regulatious governing the Survey, which will prohibit the Superintendent from authorizing the payment of the voucher above referred to. When an assistant has, under authority from the Superintendent, employed the necessary hands to carry out the work he has in charge and has agreed to pay them a monthly compensation with an allowance for subsistence, they are entitled to such pay and allowance during the entire month unless sooner discharged. Whether it is for the best interests of the service to retain an employee during a brief period of sickness while on duty in the field, or to immediately discharge him, is a question for the determination of the Superintendent in the exercise of his supervisory direction of the field work of the Survey.
You are therefore authorized to pay the monthly salary and allowances of said employees, without deduction on account of temporary sickness, if so instructed by the Superintendent. Respectfully, yours
EDW. A. BOWERS, Mr. R. J. GRIFFIN,
Acting Comptroller. Disbursing Agent, Coast and Geodetic Survey.
TRAVELING EXPENSES OF THE HYDROGRAPHIC INSPECTOR OF THE COAST AND GEODETIC SORVEY.
The hydrographic inspector of the Coast and Geodetic Survey is an officer
of the Navy detailed for that duty, and his expenses when traveling on any business of the Survey are payable only from the appropriations for field expenses of the Survey under the provision for "traveling expenses of officers and men of the Navy on duty."
September 23, 1895. SIR: I am in receipt, by your reference for my decision, of the letter of the 6th instant from the Superintendent of the
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Coast and Geodetic Survey in reference to the traveling expenses of the hydrographic inspector of the Survey. He presents the question in the following language:
“For many years an item of appropriation has been contained in the bill for the Coast and Geodetic Survey as follows: • For traveling expenses of officers and men of the Navy on duty, and for any special surveys that may be required by the Light-House Board or other proper authority, and contingent expenses incident thereto, three thousand dollars.'
* Formerly officers of the Navy detailed for the Survey and traveling under orders to join a party in the field were paid their expenses from the field appropriation under wbich they were employed, but about ten years ago it was decided that all such travel must be paid from the appropriation quoted.
"The hydrographic inspector is a naval officer stationed in this office and, under my direction, has charge of the Navy personnel, but his duties are of such a character that he is employed largely in a civil capacity. He is the technical expert in repairing all the vessels, both hull and machinery, and has occasion to visit various points where repairs are made, to make contracts, inspect the work, etc., and he also acts largely in a civil capacity in the office; in fact, is on a basis similar to that of a chief of bureau of the Navy Department, a position occupied by a naval officer but largely regarded as a civil office.
"I beg, therefore, to request that I be informed whether the hydrographicinspector, when traveling underorders as the technical expert of this office on duty in connection with the repairs of the vessels of the Survey, may have his traveling expenses paid from the appropriation For repairs and maintenance of the complement of vessels used in the Coast and Geodetic Survey,' etc.”
In reply to the question thus presented, I have the honor to advise you that, in my opinion, the traveling expenses of the hydrographic inspector are properly payable only from che appropriation specifically made “ for traveling expenses of officers and men of the Navy on duty.” He is an officer of the Navy detailed for duty with the Survey. So far as the pay. ment of his traveling expenses is concerned, in view of the language of the appropriation just quoted, the particular work of the Survey upon which he may from time to time be engaged, whether superintending the repairs of vessels, or duty in the office, is immaterial. Were there no appropriation made especially for the expenses of officers and men of the Navy, their expenses would, no doubt, be properly payable from the appropriation made for the work upon which they were respectively