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I am unable to find that any exception to this statute has been made with respect to the Reclamation Service. The fact that the State, or the State through its instrumentalities, has undertaken to fix the rates to be charged by telephone companies is not sufficient to warrant contracting for the service in any other way than that required by section 3744. A statute so specific in its requirements may not be set aside for the sake of convenience. It may be observed that there are other important and essential elements of a contract besides the mere price for the service.

Your question is answered in the negative.

PACKING AND CRATING OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS OF ARMY

OFFICER.

The details governing the packing and crating of household goods of an Army

officer, incident to a permanent change of station, including the maximum expense to be borne by the United States, are matters within the sound discretion of the Secretary of War, and when the maximum expense fixed by regulations of the War Department has been exceeded the excess cost is

properly chargeable to the officer and his pay may be stopped to that extent Decision by Comptroller General McCarl, May 16, 1922:

J. J. Van Putten, captain, Finance Department, requested May 3, 1922, review of settlement No. W-655195, dated May 3, 1922, disallowing his claim for refund of $64.75 deducted from his pay as the excess over the packing and crating allowance for household goods when his goods were packed and crated incident to his permanent change of station November 12, 1920, from Washington, D. C., to the Panama Canal Department.

The total cost of lumber, nails, twine, excelsior, and other material, including the wages of one packer and one helper for three days, used by the Quartermaster Corps of the Army in packing and crating claimant's household goods on or about October 19, 1920, was $142.75. An itemized list showing the price per unit of the material used in the packing and crating was prepared by the Quartermaster General and sent to claimant with a request that he remit $64.75 as the excess over the allowance of $78 made by paragraph 1136, Army Regulations, 1913, as amended by changes No. 76, dated July 31, 1918, for a captain for packing and crating household goods, exclusive of professional books, incident to a permanent change of station. He declined to remit on various grounds, including allegations that there was a surplus of material on hand when the crating was finished; that the work was poorly done and some of the articles of his household goods were damaged in transit; that the lumber was turned over to the Army authorities when the goods were uncrated in the Canal Zone and was used in packing and crating other officers' goods; that a greater amount of household goods was crated in 1918, for only $10; and that the charge should be canceled. Finally, the Secretary of War, under the act of July 16, 1892, 27 Stat., 177, directed in circular dated August 15, 1921, that a stoppage of $64.75 be made against claimant's pay in satisfaction of his indebtedness to the United States. After the stoppage was made, claim for refund thereof was filed in the War Department Division of this office and there disallowed. Review of the disallowance has been requested on the ground that the equity in the packing and crating materials represented by the amount paid in excess of the allowance had not been settled.

The statutory authority for packing and crating household goods for officers of the Army is found in the annual appropriation acts, which for many years have provided for the transportation of the Army and its supplies, including the cost of packing and crating of baggage. The details governing such packing and crating, including the maximum expense therefor to be borne by the United States, are matters committed to the sound discretion of the Secretary of War. 22 Comp. Dec., 554.

So far as claimant's rights are concerned, this discretion was exercised in the promulgation of changes No. 76 to paragraph 1136, Army Regulations, fixing an amount of $78 as the maximum which could be used by the United States in the packing and crating of the household goods of a captain ordered to make a permanent change of station. There is no authority for the allowance of an amount in excess of that fixed by the regulations.

Whether claimant became the owner of the materials used in the packing and crating of his household goods to the value of that portion represented by the excess cost he was required to pay, and whether there was any salvage value in the material from uncrating the goods which claimant states was used by the Army, is unnecessary to determine, no objection to its use appearing to have been made by claimant at the time. The circumstances of its use can lay no basis for a claim against the United States therefor.

Upon review of the matter no differences are found due claimant and the settlement is sustained.

INCREASE OF COMPENSATION TO CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES

SHIPPING COMMISSIONERS.

Under the provision in the act of March 3, 1921, 41 Stat., 1308, limiting the in

crease of compensation to civilian employees for 1922 to not more than 60 per cent of the rate of total annual compensation, a shipping commissioner whose salary is limited to the amount of fees collected is entitled only to an amount of the increase which added to the increase previously receiver in that fiscal year will not exceed 60 per cent of the total amount of fees received up to that date.

Comptroller General McCarl to C. E. Molster, disbursing clerk, Department of Commerce, May 16, 1922:

I have your letter of May 4, 1922, requesting decision whether you are authorized to pay vouchers submitted by the Bureau of Navigation of your department for salary and increase of compensation for February, March, and April, 1922, of George W. Morse, shipping commissioner at Bath, Me., whose salary is fixed at not to exceed $1,000 per annum, the actual salary to be paid to be limited to the fees collected by the commissioner.

The payments already made to the commissioner during the current fiscal year, and the amounts of the vouchers for February, March, and April, are set forth in your letter as follows:

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The increase of compensation for the fiscal year 1922, as provided in the act of March 3 ,1921, 41 Stat., 1308, is at the rate of $240 per annum, with a proviso that no employee shall receive increase of compensation at a rate which is more than 60 per cent of the rate of the total annual compensation received by the employee.

There are two limitations on the payments of increase of compensation. First, they are not to exceed the rate of $240 per annum, which is equivalent to $20 per month, 25 Comp. Dec., 71, and, second, they are not to be more than 60 per cent of the rate of the total annual compensation. It is necessary, therefore, in making payment of increase of compensation for any month in which the amount of basic salary is less than $33.33 to ascertain, first, the total amount of basic salary, including the payment then under consideration that the employee has received during the fiscal year, and, second, the total amount of increase of compensation, including the month under consideration, that has been paid during the fiscal year. If the total of the increase of compensation is more than 60 per cent of the total of the basic salary then the increase of compensation for the month under consideration should be reduced sufficiently to bring the total increase of compensation within the 60 per cent limit.

Applying the rule to the present case, when the employee has been paid for April his basic salary to the end of April will amount to $325, 60 per cent of which is $195. The employee is entitled to only $15 increase of compensation for April, since that amount added to the $180 increase of compensation previously received gives a total of $195.

You are advised that the voucher for February and March may be paid as submitted and the voucher for April may be paid in the sum of ($20.47 plus $15) $35.47 if the vouchers are correct in all other respects.

INCREASE OF COMPENSATION TO CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES. The right of civilian employees to receive the increase of compensation for any

fiscal year depends on whether the employees come within the purview of the act granting the increase for that year and not upon their contracts of employment, and the fact that certain employees signed contracts of employment purporting to include the increase as part of their basic salary does not bar the receipt of the increase in addition to the amount specified

in the contract, if otherwise entitled thereto. A civilian employee who entered the Government service prior to June 30, 1920,

resigned after that date and was subsequently reinstated during the fiscal year 1922 is entitled to the increase of compensation from the date of reinstatement without the certification required in case of an original entry

into the service after June 30, 1920. Comptroller General McCarl to Maj. Charles F. Eddy, United States Army, May 16, 1922:

I have your letter of April 6, 1922, requesting decision whether payment is authorized of vouchers in favor of Marcelle Maufus, A. C. Gschwend, T. J. Fitzgerald, Nesta Jones, Ruth McMillan, Georgette Lamere, and Forest Yeo-Thomas for increase of compensation for services rendered in the office of the finance officer in Paris from July 1 to December 31, 1921.

It appears that all of the employees named were in the service of the United States prior to June 30, 1920; have been paid at rates less than $2,500 per annum; and did not receive an increase in salary in excess of the rate of $200 per annum during the fiscal years 1921 or 1922; and that they have not been paid increase of compensation for the period named in the vouchers. You are advised that payment of the vouchers in favor of the employees named in the preceding paragraph is authorized.

It is pointed out, however, that it is much better practice to pay the increase of compensation to employees who are entitled thereto at the same time the basic compensation is paid. The time to determine whether an employee is entitled to increase of compensation is when the service begins rather than months afterwards, when changes in the administrative officers or other changes make it difficult to ascertain the facts. In the event that a claim should later

be submitted by the employee for increase of compensation there is less danger that previous payment will be overlooked if the payment of increase of compensation was made on the same pay roll with the basic salary than if increase of compensation was paid on a separate voucher.

You also submit vouchers in favor of Yvonne Masson and Renelle Martin for increase of compensation for the period from July 1 to December 31, 1921, with the statement that these employees signed contracts dated July 1, 1921, which included increase of compensation. You are advised that the right to increase of compensation is not a matter of contract, but depends upon whether the employee comes within the provisions of the act granting the increase of compensation for the fiscal year in which the employee rendered service. Since the employecs named are otherwise entitled to increase of compensation for the period named in the vouchers, the fact that they signed contracts purporting to include increase of compensation as part of the basic pay does not deprive them of the right to increase of compensation. You are advised that payment of these vouchers is also authorized. See in this connection 27 Comp. Dec., 823.

In regard to the voucher in favor of Mildred A. James for increase of compensation for services rendered from August 10 to December 31, 1921, it appears that the employee entered the service prior to June 30, 1920, resigned in December, 1920, and was reinstated August 10, 1921. Such reinstatement is not regarded as a new entry into the service so as to require certificate to cntitle an employee to increase of compensation if otherwise entitled. You are advised that payment of the voucher in favor of Mildred A. James is authorized.

TRANSPORTATION OF DEPENDENTS-ARMY RESERVE CORPS

OFFICERS.

The act of May 18, 1920, 41 Stat., 604, providing for transportation of de

pendents of officers upon permanent change of station, does not authorize the furnishing of such transportation to the dependents of an Army Reserve Corps officer when proceeding to his first duty station upon being called into active service, nor upon his return home from his last station

upon release from active duty. Comptroller General McCarl to the Secretary of War, May 16, 1922:

I have your letter of April 29, 1922, requesting decision whether officers of the Reserve Corps when ordered to active duty with the War Department General Staff under sections 3a and 5 of the national defense act, 41 Stat., 760 and 762, are entitled to transportation for their dependents under section 12 of the act of May 18, 1920, 41 Stat., 604, from their homes to their first station and from their last station to their homes.

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