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(Assistant Comptroller Mitchell to the Secretary of the Navy,
December 31, 1904.) You referred to me, under date of December 23, 1904, a bill presented by Pay Director L. G. Boggs, U. S. Nary, amounting to $120.30, for advances made to Charles E. Elliott and four other civilian employees of your Department, under the Bureau of Equipment, who had been ordered to proceed from New York to Guantanamo, Cuba, to perform certain services at the latter place. The advances were $24.06 to each man for the purchase of railroad tickets from Habana to Santiago, Cuba.
Attached to the bill is a writen request from the commandant of the New York Navy-Yard and Station to Pay Director Boggs to make the advances, and a receipt from each man for the amount advanced to him.
The Paymaster-General, by sixth indorsement, states:
“2. It is understood that Charles E. Elliott is an electrical machinist employed by the Bureau of Equipment to do certain work in connection with wireless telegraph installation in Cuba, and that the other four men mentioned are hydrographic surveyors selected by the Hydrographic Office for the Bureau of Equipment, en route to Guantanamo, Cuba, upon order of that Bureau.
“3. Under strict construction of the act appropriating money under appropriation “Pay miscellaneous, 1905,' viz, • for traveling expenses of civilian employees,' it would seem that the within-mentioned expenditure is a proper charge against that appropriation.
4. “Of late years, however, a practice has grown up, in sev. eral of the Bureaus, of contracting with experts from the public trades or professions to go to distant isolated points and do certain work not within the ability of contractors located there, and of charging the expense of their travel, as a part of the cost, to the appropriation applicable to the work itself; in the present instance to · Equipment of vessels, 1905,' the work being understood to be in connection with the installation of wireless telegraphy.
“5. In order that a uniform and authorized practice with regard to appropriations applicable to expenditures for travel of the character described in the preceding paragraph may be established, it is recommended that all papers be referred to the Comptroller of the Treasury for a decision in the premises.'
The seventh indorsement, by the Chief of Bureau of Equipment, is as follows:
"2. Charles E. Elliott was appointed by the Department, on the request of this Bureau, to assist in the work of installing and superintending the installation of the machinery for the wireless telegraph station at Guantanamo, with the understanding that transportation was to be furnished.
** 3. The other four men were also appointed by Department, on request of this Bureau, to assist in hydrographic surveys in preparing Guantanamo Bay for a naval station, to be paid from the appropriation ‘Ocean and lake surveys, also with understanding that transportation was to be furnished.
4. The Bureau concurs in the recommendation contained in paragraph 5 of the sixth indorsement."
You invite my attention to these two indorsements and re- . quest a decision in the case.
The indorsements present the question as to what appropriation the advances for traveling expenses should be charged. The facts disclosed by the papers submitted, however, suggest that the advances made by Pay Director Boggs may not be payable from any appropriation. This question will be considered first.
Section 3648 of the Revised Statutes provides: "No advance of public money shall be made in any case whatever. And in all cases of contracts for the performance of any service or the delivery of articles of any description for the use of the United States, payment shall not exceed the value of the service rendered or of the articles delivered previously to such payment. It shall, however, be lawful, under the special direction of the President, to make such advances to the disbursing officers of the Government as may be necessary to the faithful and prompt discharge of their respective duties and to the fulfillment of the public engagements. The President may also direct such advances as he may deem necessary and proper to persons in the military and naval service employed on distant stations, when the discharge of the pay and emoluments to which they may be entitled can not be regularly effected.”
To authorize any advances of the public money under the last clause of this statute, and then only to persons in the military and naval service, an order from the President is necessary.
The request of the commandant to make the advances in this case can not be held to be an order of the President, and no order by the President is shown to have been made. I find no authority given by the President through the Navy
Regulations. Certain of the regulations provide for advances to officers and pay clerks under certain conditions, and also to recruits, but I find no regulation which would authorize advances to civilian employees of the Navy Department. There being no such direction by the President, it does not become necessary to consider whether civilian employees are “persons in the military and naval service” to whom the President may direct advances to be made under the last clause of the statute (section 3648).
The advances made by Pay Director Boggs appear to have been made in violation of the statute quoted, and I am of opinion that there is no authority to reimburse him from any appropriation at the present time.
The actual traveling expenses of the men to whom the advances were made should be settled in the usual way, upon the presentation by them of itemized statements of the actual expenses incurred by them, including the cost of railroad tickets from Habana to Santiago, Cuba, if they purchased such tickets. In making these reimbursements notice should be taken of the advances made by Paymaster Boggs, and if the Government is protected from loss then the proper credits may be given to said paymaster.
As to the proper appropriation from which the actual trayeling expenses should be paid: It appears that the work to be performed by one of them at Guantanamo was authorized to be paid for by the act making appropriations for the naval service (33 Stat., 321) under “ Bureau of Equipment: Equipment of vessels" (33 Stat., 328), and the work of the others by appropriation, in the same act, “Ocean and lake surveys" (33 Stat., 329).
Among the various items of expense provided for by the appropriation “Pay, miscellaneous” (33 Stat., 324), are the following:
"Mileage for officers while traveling under orders in the United States, and for actual personal expenses of officers while traveling abroad under orders, and for traveling expenses of civilian employees, and for actual and necessary traveling expenses of midshipmen while proceeding from their homes to the Naval Academy for examination and appointment."
Thus it appears that this appropriation covers the expenses of travel of all officers and employees of the Navy Department. It is a specific appropriation for travel. There is a
well-settled rule of the accounting offices that where there is a specific appropriation for a certain object it is exclusive for that object, of all other appropriations not specifically providing for the same thing.
The appropriation “Equipment of vessels,” while detailing very many items, does not mention traveling expenses; neither does the appropriation “Ocean and lake surveys."
I am therefore of opinion that the expenses of these civilian employees en route from New York to Guantanamo when reimbursed to them should be charged to the appropriation "Pay, miscellaneous.”
PURCHASE OF LUMBER FOR BOOK-STACKS FOR STORING PUBLICATIONS OF THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
The various appropriations made in the act of April 28, 1904, for the Geo
logical Survey are not applicable to the purchase of lumber for the construction of shelving and book stacks for the storing of publications of said Bureau.
(Assistant Comptroller Mitchell to the Secretary of the Interior,
January 5, 1905.) I am in receipt of your communication of the 30th ultimo, requesting my decision on the question as to whether you may authorize the purchase of "the necessary lumber
for the construction of stacks and shelving for the storing of the publications of the Survey in the basement of the new annex to the Hooe Building, to be paid for from the various appropriations of the Geological Survey."
The facts appear to be as follows:
First. The Director of the Geological Survey requested the Secretary of the Interior to grant him authority to make said purchase and pay for the same from “the various appropriations of the Survey, as the case may be.""
Second. On December 17, 1904, the Secretary of the Interior returned said request and granted authority to make said purchase “ to be paid for from one of the various appropriations of the Geological Survey."
Third. On December 27, 1904, the Director of the Geological Survey returned said letter of authority of the Secretary of the Interior, dated December 17, 1904, and requested that it be changed so as to read “to be paid for from the various appropriations of the Geological Survey,” stating his reasons therefor in detail, among which it was stated that other similar authorities had been granted.
Fourth. The Secretary of the Interior by indorsement refers this request to this Office for decision of the question involved, stating that the similar authorities granted were inadvertently made, and giving as his reason for refusing to grant the authority asked that it would conflict with the Comptroller's decision of June 25, 1903. (9 Comp. Dec., 808, 809.) ·
Fifth. The Secretary of the Interior does not question the correctness of said decision, or as I understand it, request a modification of it, and the most that can be inferred from the reference is that he desires the decision of this Office as to the application of the decision of June 25, 1903, supra, to the case now on hand.
The question decided in 9 Comp. Dec., 808, was whether the “sum of $4,050 for the purchase of book stacks to be placed in the library of the United States Geological Survey can be properly charged against the several appropriations of this Office for the next fiscal year, the work of the library being incident to and connected with the work for which the several appropriations are made."
The expenditure now proposed to be made from the various appropriations is for lumber “ to be used in the construction of stacks and shelving for the storing of the publications of the Geological Survey in the basement of the latest annex to the Hooe Building,
The Director of the Geological Survey states, in explanation of his request“that the basement referred to is to be used not as a part of the library of the Survey but as a storeroom in which to store and keep readily accessible for distribution the various reports, folios, bulletins, monographs, etc., published by the Bureau. These publications are prepared by the various branches of the Survey; for instance, monographs and geological folios by the Geological Branch, the cost of the preparation being paid from the appropriation for geology; watersupply papers by the Hydrographic Branch, the cost of the