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authority of a power of attorney was the precise issue considered in our decision of January 13, 1956, 35 Comp. Gen. 397 (B-125489). It was held (quoting from the syllabus) that:

The authority vested in competent members of the armed services to make a survivorship annuity election under the Uniform Services Contingency Option Act of 1953 cannot be delegated to an agent and, therefore, an election form signed by the daughter of a retired warrant officer after the member had executed a power of attorney in favor of his daughter does not constitute a valid election so as to entitle his widow to an annuity.

This conclusion rests on the view that while an election may be exercised (by the head of the department concerned and in the manner specifically prescribed in the statute) on behalf of members who have been determined to be mentally incompetent, no similar course is prescribed for a mentally competent member. On that point, it was stated in the decision of January 13, 1956, that the Contingency Option Act

** does not provide for the substitution of the judgment of anyone else in the case of a mentally competent member. Whether such a member elects an option under the act is, and must be, a matter of his own choosing, his own personal decision. It follows that authority to make such a decision cannot be delegated to an agent.

The rule of that decision is applicable to the present matter and hence it must be concluded that Mrs. Constance Patterson was not authorized by virtue of the power of attorney vested in her to exercise an election of options on behalf of her husband, Lieutenant Colonel Patterson.

There remains, however, the question whether in the circumstances shown it may be considered that it was the officer's intention to sign the election of options form and that on October 31, 1958, Mrs. Patterson affixed his name on his behalf due solely to his physical incapacity. It was held in decision of May 20, 1955, B-122222, that—

* a valid election is to be regarded as having been made where the record shows that the retired member had knowledge of his rights, and his duty to elect if he desired the benefits of the law, and his acts, viewed in the light of all the circumstances, show that he intended to make an election. The pertinent facts in the decision of May 20, 1955, clearly established that the naval officer there concerned "intended to make an election under the act,” that no question of incompetency was involved, and that while the election form was not signed by the officer “* * * it was executed by his wife at his request and nothing appears to indicate any improper conduct in its execution." On that basis it was concluded that the election was valid and became effective when it "passed irretrievably out of the control" of the officer and his wife and into the hands of the appropriate naval authorities. In another similar case (decision of October 3, 1955, B-124013, to the Secretary of the Army) it was held that a valid election of options had been exercised where the facts disclosed that the officer concerned was

aware of the requirements and benefits of the Uniformed Services Contingency Option Act of 1953, that it was his intention to make an election, and that the election of options form was completed by his wife in his behalf due to his physical incapacity to sign the form himself.

Thus it will be seen that in the case of a mentally competent member of the uniformed services who is not capable of executing or signing an election of options form due to physical incapacity, the election of options form may be validly executed and signed on his behalf, provided that the member is fully aware of the decision he is making under authority of the Uniformed Services Contingency Option Act, knows what its effect will be, and approves such action so as to constitute the "signing of his name his own signature in legal effect." 35 Comp. Gen. 397, 398.

In the present case, the record indicates that Lieutenent Colonel Patterson was physically incapable of signing an election of options form at the time (in October 1958) that his wife attempted to act on his behalf under authority of the power of attorney held by her. However, the record before this Office fails to establish that the offi

cer, who appears to be mentally competent, was aware of the require

ments and benefits of the Contingency Option Act, that the election of options was the result of his own free and independent choice, and that he in fact intended to sign such election form, but being unable to do so solely because of his physical incapacity, authorized and approved the signing of his name thereon by his wife so as to constitute such signing his own signature in legal effect. In fact, the officer actually states in a letter dated April 27, 1959, addressed by him to the Retired Pay Division that "Being quite ill from Sept. thru January, I have no recollection of making this decision regarding an election." The letter of April 27, 1959, concludes with the statement that "No deduction or election is authorized."

In the circumstances thus disclosed, it cannot be determined with any degree of certainty that the DA Form 1041 executed by Mrs. Patterson constituted a valid election of options by or on behalf of Colonel Patterson on the date, October 31, 1958, it was submitted. Accordingly, refund to Lieutenant Colonel Patterson is authorized of the remittances made to cover the costs of the annuity.

The voucher stated in favor of Lieutenant Colonel Patterson has been approved by the certifying officer in the amount of $381.80. The correct amount appears to be $381.70 (October 1958 to February 1959, inclusive, 5 months at $76.34). The voucher, which is returned herewith, stated in the correct amount, may be paid.


Civilian Personnel-Travel Expenses-Ferry Fares—Automobiles Ferried Across English Channel

The transportation of an employee, who is in a travel status, and his privately owned automobile across the English channel by air ferry or surface vessel where the automobile is driven directly on and off the aircraft or vessel without the preparation, packing or drainage of gasoline involved in freight shipments of autos and when the purpose of the service is to connect the highway system of England with that of France is properly regarded as a ferry service and the charges are reimbursable under section 3.5b (1) of the Standardized Government Travel Regulations which permits reimbursement of ferry fares in addition to the payment of mileage. 34 Comp. Gen. 530; B-112971, April 18, 1955, modified.

To Sidney Sobelman, August 19, 1959:

Your letter of March 9, 1959, requests review of our settlement of March 2, 1959, which disallowed your claim for reimbursement of $47.60 representing costs of air ferry service from Lydd, England to Le Touquet Field, France on July 2, 1958, and return on August 23, 1958, for yourself and your auto while on official travel as an employee of the Department of the Army.

Your travel was pursuant to orders dated June 4, 1958, which provided for a determination of an appropriate mode of travel by the transportation officer who apparently approved travel by privately owned auto at the rate of 8 cents per mile. Your claim for reimbursement of air ferry service charges is exclusive of your claim for auto mileage for which you already have been paid.

Your letter states several bases upon which you believe charges for air ferry service between Lydd, England, and Le Touquet Field, France, properly may be considered a ferry fare within the meaning of the term as used in section 3.5b (1) of the Standardized Government Travel Regulations, issued pursuant to the Travel Expense Act of 1949, as amended (5 U.S.C. 837). The problem of fares charged by vessels plying between English and French Channel ports previously has been considered by the Comptroller General. See 34 Comp. Gen. 530 and B-112971, April 18, 1955. In both instances such fares were considered to be outside the meaning of "ferry fares" as used in the Travel Expense Act of 1949, and the Standardized Government Travel Regulations. In both of those instances the claims for reimbursement were made by members of the uniformed services under paragraph 4400-12 of the Joint Travel Regulations which in 34 Comp. Gen. 530, and B-112791, April 18, 1955, were construed to contain no authority for the allowance of ferry tolls. Inasmuch as the Career Compensation Act of 1949 (37 U.S.C. 253) was found not to authorize reimbursement of ferry fares, bridge, road, and tunnel tolls to members of the uniformed services who were authorized mile

age, a conclusion whether or not the Channel ferries are ferries within the meaning of the Travel Expense Act of 1949, and the Standardized Government Travel Regulations will not affect the holding of the decision with respect to members of the uniformed services.

We have obtained information from officials of our Office in Europe, including brochures, which clearly indicate, inter alia, that the air ferries which transport passengers and autos between England and France are specially designed craft used for short regular runs. Autos are driven directly aboard the aircraft prior to takeoff and are driven directly off upon landing, without the preparation, packing or gasoline drainage, etc., that is usual in air freight shipments. The distance involved is comparatively short and the purpose of the service is to connect the highway system of England with that of France. In view of such information the charges for air ferry service between Lydd, England and Le Touquet Field, France may be considered "ferry fares" within the meaning of the Travel Expense Act of 1949. We also have obtained similar information regarding the carrying of automobiles across the English Channel by surface vessels. The statements in 34 Comp. Gen. 530 and B-112971, April 18, 1955, that channel ferry fares were not allowable "ferry fares" under the Travel Expense Act of 1949 and the Standardized Government Travel Regulations should be disregarded.

Therefore, your claim is today being referred to our Claims Division for allowance of the proper amount due.


Civilian Personnel-Wife Accompanying Husband on Official Trip-Lodging Furnished Wife-Charge

In the absence of any law of general application which permits the furnishing of Government quarters to private persons without charge, the joint occupancy of Government-furnished quarters by a wife who accompanies her employeehusband during an official trip at his own personal expense requires a charge against the employee for the reasonable value of the lodging furnished to the wife, in addition to the deduction from per diem required by the regulations to be made for lodgings furnished by the Government to the employee.

To Neal J. Price, International Cooperation Administration, August 19, 1959:

On June 26, 1959, you requested our decision whether an item in the amount of $77.85 shown on an enclosed reclaim voucher in favor of Mr. George B. Beitzell may be certified for payment. The item is reported to represent one half of 70 percent deducted from claimant's per diem because his wife, who had no Government travel authorization, shared with him Government furnished quarters during the period of his official duty in Mogadiscio, Somalia.

You say that Mrs. Beitzell accompanied her husband at his own expense. However, she did share Government furnished quarters from January 28 to March 13, 1959, the period of his official duty in Mogadiscio. Under these circumstances you ask if the additional 35 percent deduction should have been made from the employee's per diem allowance based on Manual Order 560.2. You point out that even though the Government may not have incurred any additional expenses resulting from the employee's wife occupying Government quarters, it eliminated the necessity for the employee to pay for her accommodations elsewhere.

The pertinent provisions of ICA Manual Order No. 560.2, Paragraph II, G, 1a, reads as follows:

***Authorizing officers should see that travel authorizations permit only such per diem allowances as are justified by the circumstances of travel. This is also true with respect to authorizations covering travel by local employees. The rate allowed should not be in excess of that required to meet necessary subsistence expenses. Where meals and/or lodging are officially furnished by a Federal Government Agency without charge, or at a nominal cost, the per diem will be reduced by 15% for each meal and 35% for lodging, less the actual amounts paid by the traveller for such meals and/or lodging. *

While the above-quoted regulation clearly requires a deduction of 35 percent from an employee's per diem for lodging furnished without charge by a Federal Government Agency, the regulation does not require an additional 35 percent charge for the occupation without charge of Government quarters by the employee's wife. However, we know of no law of general application under which private persons may be furnished Government lodging without charge. In fact, if this were permitted under the circumstances in this case, it would have the effect of giving private persons a distinct advantage over a Government employee who must have his per diem reduced by 35 percent when Government lodging is furnished without charge or at a nominal cost.

Therefore, our view is that the employee in this case, whose wife occupied Government quarters, should be charged the reasonable value of the lodging furnished by the Government. Since it is the responsibility of the administrative office concerned to ascertain the reasonable value of such lodging, we will not question the administrative determination in this case that 35 percent of the employee's per diem should be used as the means of determining the reasonable value of the lodging furnished the employee's wife. However, consideration should be given as to whether an additional 35 percent reduction might be excessive in view of the claimant's allegation that he provided linens and other items not furnished by the Government. We have not verified the computations and deductions made by the administrative office on the original voucher No. 9214053 which ap

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