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business, and therefore, the amounts paid to the employees on such basis are clearly for reimbursement by the Government under the terms of the contract.
Accordingly, the voucher and supporting papers are returned, herewith, and you are advised that payment thereon is authorized, if otherwise correct.
PREPARATION AND TRANSPORTATION OF REMAINS CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES DYING AT TEMPORARY DUTY STATION
A civilian employee who died at a place to which he had been ordered for "temporary duty" under orders precluding the payment of a per diem in lieu of subsistence may be considered as having been in a "travel status" at the time of his death within the meaning of the act of July 8, 1940, which authorizes the preparation and transportation of the remains of civilian personnel at Government expense when death occurs while in a travel status.
Comptroller General Warren to the Secretary of War, December 19, 1941:
Mr. Harmon D. Nutting, Associate Inspector of Ordnance Material, whose permanent station was the Cincinnati Ordnance District Office at Cincinnati, Ohio, died at Muncie, Indiana, while assigned there on temporary duty without per diem. A copy of paragraph 9, Special Order No. 214, assigning him to this duty, is inclosed herewith. Your decision is requested as to whether this inspector is to be considered as having been in a travel status, in which case it would be in order to pay, in accordance with War Department Bulletin No. 30, dated October 30, 1940, for preparation and transportation of the remains to his home or official station.
For your information, it is the practice of the Ordnance District Offices to prepare travel orders similar to the one inclosed herewith for employees engaged upon inspection work when they are assigned for temporary duty at a plant under the jurisdiction of a particular District Office, when such plant is located a sufficient distance from the particular District Office to make it impracticable for the employee to reach the plant from the District Office to perform his daily work. It is the policy of the District Offices when assigning such employees to temporary duty to word the travel order to allow per diem in lieu of subsistence only while actually traveling. This action is taken to obviate a question arising concerning the date when it might be determined the temporary duty station should be considered the official duty station, in case the employee is to remain at the site of the plant indefinitely and there would, therefore, be reason to effect his transfer rather than to continue him on a temporary duty assignment.
The referred-to special order No. 214 is dated September 16, 1941, and reads as follows:
9. Pursuant to authority contained in Ordnance Department Order No. 179, War Department, Office, Chief of Ordnance, Washington, D. C., dated July 14, 1941, the following named employee(s) of the Cincinnati Ordnance District is (are) directed to proceed on or about September 16, 1941, from Cincinnati, Ohio, to the city indicated above named on temporary duty and official business in connection with the manufacture of ordnance material:
To: Muncie, Indiana.
Name: Harmon D. Nutting. Title: Assistant Inspector, Ordnance Material.
In lieu of subsistence while actually traveling from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Muncie,
per diem in accordance with existing law and regulations chargeable to: (294) FD 1466 P 11-06 A 0410-2 Travel of the Army, 1942. Mr. Hewitt is authorized to use a personally owned automobile for the travel directed and will be reim bursed at the rate of 3¢ per mile, it having been administratively determined in advance that the allowance at that rate will be more economical and advantageous to the government than travel by common carrier. The travel directed is necessary in the public service.
The act of July 8, 1940, 54 Stat. 743, provides as follows:
That in case any civilian officer or employee of the United States dies (1) while in a travel status away from his official station in the United States or (2) while performing official duties in a Territory or possession of the United States or in a foreign country or in transit thereto or therefrom, the head of the department, independent establishment, agency, or federally owned or controlled corporation, hereinafter called department, in the service of which such officer or employee was engaged, is hereby authorized, under regulations to be prescribed by the President and except as otherwise provided by law, to pay from the appropriation available for the activity in which he was engaged— (a) In case of the death of the officer or employee in such travel status in the United States, or in the case of the death of the officer or employee while performing official duties in a Territory or possession of the United States or in a foreign country or in transit thereto or therefrom, the expenses of preparing and transporting the remains of such officer or employee to his home or official station or such other place as the head of the department concerned shall determine to be the appropriate place of interment.
(b) In case of the death of the officer or employee while performing official duties in a Territory or possession of the United States or in a foreign country or in transit thereto or therefrom, the transportation expenses of his dependents, including expenses incurred in packing, crating, drayage, and transportation of household effects and other personal property to his former home or such other place as the head of the department shall determine.
SEC. 2. The benefits of section 1 of this act shall not be denied in any case on the ground that the deceased was temporarily absent from duty when death occurred.
SEC. 3. This act shall become effective sixty days after its enactment.
Pursuant to the above-quoted statute the President, by Executive Order No. 8557 dated September 30, 1940, issued regulations, in pertinent part, as follows:
PART II. PREPARATION AND TRANSPORTATION OF THE REMAINS OF EMPLOYEES DYING WHILE IN A TRAVEL STATUS AWAY FROM THEIR OFFICIAL STATION AND WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL LIMITS OF THE UNITED STATES
SECTION 2. When an employee dies while traveling on official business within the continental limits of the United States, the head of the department concerned shall pay the expenses of preparing the remains of the decedent and of transporting the remains to the home or official station of the decedent or to such other place as the head of the department may designate as the appropriate place of interment, provided that in no case shall the expenses payable be greater than the amount which would have been payable had the place of interment been the home or official station, whichever shall be more distant.
SECTION 3. Preparation of Remains.-The costs of preparation of remains allowable under section 2 of these regulations shall include costs of embalming, cremation, necessary clothing, and casket. The total amount allowed for such preparation shall not exceed $100.
SECTION 4. Transportation of Remains.-The costs of transportation of remains allowable under section 2 of these regulations shall include the costs of removal of the remains from the place where death occurred to an undertaking establishment, procurement of burial and shipping permits, furnishing an outside case for shipment (including, when necessary, the sealing of such shipping case), removal to a common carrier, transporting the body by common carrier, and one removal at the place of interment from the common carrier to an undertaking establishment or other place of immediate delivery. Instead of conveyance by common carrier, removal of the remains overland by hearse (including ferry charges, bridge tolls, and similar items) may be allowed, pro
vided that the total charges for transportation shall not exceed the total costs of transportation had conveyance been made by common carrier. If conveyance is by hearse, no allowance shall be made for an outside shipping case.
SECTION 14. Death During Period of Absence From Duty.-When an employee dies while temporarily absent from duty during a period of travel on official business or during the period of his assignment to a post outside the continental limits of the United States, the provisions of these regulations shall apply, except that the amount allowed for the transportation of the remains to the place of interment shall not exceed the amount which would have been allowable had death occurred at the point from which the decedent departed on such temporary absence.
It will be noted that section 14, supra, provides that the regulations shall apply "when an employee dies while temporarily absent from duty during a period of travel on official business." The travel order in this case describes the duty to which assigned as "temporary," which is a term generally used to describe duty to be performed while in a travel status. The fact that the travel order precludes payment of a per diem in lieu of subsistence while at the place of temporary duty is not controlling insofar as the question here involved is concerned. The terms, "temporary duty," and "travel status," frequently are used synonymously.
As it would appear from your submission that, when the travel orders were issued to the employee involved, there was no administrative intention that the employee should remain indefinitely or permanently at Muncie and-the length of his stay at that place prior to his death not being sufficient to warrant any different conclusion— the deceased employee may be considered as having been in a travel status at the time of his death. Accordingly, the cost of preparation and transportation of his remains to his home or official station may be at Government expense, if otherwise within the terms of the statute and the President's Regulations, supra.
CONTRACTS COST-PLUS-EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF PAYMENTS BY
In lieu of requiring cost-plus-a-fixed-fee contractors to establish their rights to reimbursement by furnishing receipts from payees when payment is made by check, there may be shown on the contractors' pay rolls and vendors' invoices the date and number of the checks in payment, supported by a certification that the payments by check were witnessed by a Government representative and that the payments have been properly included in the contractors' cost and expenditure accounts, and it will no longer be necessary to submit to this office reconciliation statements of the contractors' depository accounts unless called for in a particular case. 20 Comp. Gen. 341, amplified.
Comptroller General Warren to the Secretary of War, December 19, 1941:
A question has arisen in this department as to whether a separate signed receipt must be procured for all payments made by a prime contractor under a
cost-plus-a-fixed-fee contract for labor and materials even though such payments are made by check. It has been the commercial practice of many prime contractors to make payments for labor and materials by nonbearer checks without requiring signed receipts. In some instances reimbursement for labor has been effected to a prime contractor for payments made by check without requiring receipts from employees. In such cases the contractor's bank account is audited by a Government Field Auditor and reference made to the cashed checks which have been endorsed by payees in order to reconcile payments made for labor. The reconciliation statement is furnished your office for filing with applicable payment voucher.
Your office has approved reimbursement for labor to a prime contractor under a cost-plus-a-fixed-fee contract where payments were made in cash to employees without requiring signed receipts. See 20 Comp. Gen. 477. See also B-13879, dated December 17, 1940, where payments by check were approved without requiring a separate receipt.
The requirement that signed receipts be obtained even though payments are made by check places a heavy burden on the contractor's personnel and causes considerable delay and confusion in making payment to laborers during pay-off period. This increases the cost of administration to the prime contractor which, in turn, is charged to the Government. In many instances where the prime contractor's employees are engaged jointly in Government work and on the contractor's commercial work, separate signed receipts are burdensome and of little value inasmuch as total earnings only are shown on the receipts.
Many minor errors are made by laborers in signing receipts which result in discrepancies between the names of employees shown on the pay rolls and those shown on receipts for wages. Also, the auditing and filing of receipts are costly as to time and money in that the prime contractor, the service involved, and the Finance Department are required to perform these functions.
If a bank reconciliation statement is acceptable to your office, the Government field auditor will reconcile the prime contractor's bank account at least monthly. Reimbursement vouchers will be certified to the effect that payments were witnessed by a Government representative and that reconciliation statement will be furnished when the prime contractor's bank account is reconciled. If certain checks have not been cashed by payees, such checks will be listed by number, date, name of payee, and amount. The succeeding month's reconciliation statement will either clear or otherwise dispose of checks in this category.
It is the view of this office that signed receipts for labor and materials could be dispensed with in those cases where the prime contractor makes payment by nonbearer check without disturbing the existing accounting functions of the General Accounting Office. It is believed that the Government's interests will be adequately safeguarded by such procedure. This will effect savings of much time and money in the National Defense Program throughout the War Department. Canceled checks covering such payments will be available for examination by representatives of your office at any time.
It is proposed that a Government representative witness the pay-off of employees and witness the placing in the mail of checks addressed to material vendors. Furthermore, it is proposed to insert on pay rolls and vendors' invoices the pertinent check numbers. Therefore, reimbursement will be effected upon issuance of checks by the prime contractor and a reconciliation statement will be furnished your office periodically.
Accordingly, information is requested as to whether your office will accept a reconciliation statement of the contractor's bank account certified to by a Government field auditor for all payments made by nonbearer check to material vendors and laborers without requiring separate signed receipts for such payments. Inasmuch as the installation of procedures at several plants is being held in abeyance pending your decision, it is requested that the matter be expedited.
The practice of requiring cost-plus-a-fixed-fee contractors to furnish receipts signed by payees, where payments were made by said contractors to vendors of material or to laborers by check, was considered in my decision to you of January 2, 1941, B-14020, 20 Comp. Gen. 341. It appears there from that for use in connection with the audit of vouchers covering reimbursements to cost-plus-a-fixed-fee
contractors, the Audit Division of this office requested your Department to furnish, among other evidence, the following:
H. If payments were made in cash, receipts should be furnished, or, if paid by check, citations to checks by dates and numbers should be furnished.
I. In addition there should be furnished the War Department auditor's reconciliation statement of the contractor's depository account if payments are made by check.
In your letter of December 14, 1940, replying to said request of this office, it was stated, in pertinent part, as follows:
ITEM H. It appears in many instances that where payments by a contractor are made by check, receipts are obtained at the same time. In this event, it is the view of the War Department that if check payments are evidenced by a receipt, citation to the checks by dates and numbers need not be furnished. Likewise, under item I, it is deemed unnecessary to furnish the auditor's reconciliation statement of the contractor's depository account when receipts are obtained for either cash or check payments by the contractor. Your decision is requested as to whether the foregoing is in accordance with your audit requirements. Accordingly, in my decision of January 2, 1941, you were advised that it would be satisfactory to this office if payments by the contractor, either by cash or by check, were evidenced by a receipt of the payee, in which case citations to checks issued by the contractor in payment of invoices, together with a reconciliation of the contractor's depository account, need not be furnished. Hence, it appears that the practice of requiring cost-plus-a-fixed-fee contractors to furnish receipts from payees when payments were made by the prime contractors by check was the result of the recommendation contained in your letter of December 14, 1940, that said receipts be furnished in lieu of citations to the numbers and dates of the checks and a Government auditor's reconciliation statement of the contractor's depository account.
However, it is now stated by you that the procedure of requiring receipts from payees when payments are made by the prime contractor by check has not been found to be practicable, and you request that there be substituted for said requirement the practice outlined in detail in said letter. In other words, in lieu of requiring cost-plus-a-fixedfee contractors to furnish receipts from payees when payment is made by check, it is proposed in said cases to insert on the contractors' pay rolls and the vendors' invoices the date and number of the check by which payment was made, together with a certification that said payments by check were witnessed by a Government representative, and, subsequently, to furnish a monthly reconciliation statement of the contractors' depository accounts, certified to by a Government field auditor.
Since you now propose in this class of cases to have a showing made on the contractors' pay rolls and the vendors' invoices of the date and number of the checks in payment, and to support such showing with a certification that the payments by check were witnessed by a Government representative, said evidence will be acceptable to establish the