B-121815, DEC. 14, 1955

B-121815: Dec 14, 1955

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THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND THE MARSHAL OF THE CANAL ZONE WAS IN CONTRAVENTION OF EXISTING LAW. YOU WERE REQUESTED TO TAKE IMMEDIATE STEPS TO REQUIRE SUCH OFFICIALS TO PAY A REASONABLE RENTAL FOR THE QUARTERS OCCUPIED BY THEM AND TO INFORM THIS OFFICE WHEN SUCH ACTION HAD BEEN TAKEN. YOU SAY IN YOUR LETTER THAT THE THREE OFFICIALS ARE OF THE VIEW THAT OUR CONCLUSIONS IN THE MATTER ARE ERRONEOUS. THAT THESE OFFICIALS HAVE BEEN BILLED BY THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY FOR RENTALS BEGINNING IN APRIL 1955. THAT NONE OF THEM HAVE PAID SUCH BILLS AND WILL NOT NOT DO SO UNTIL OUR DECISION HAS BEEN TESTED IN A COURT OF LAW. YOU POINT OUT THAT THE THREE OFFICIALS DESIRE TO CONFER WITH YOU OR YOUR REPRESENTATIVE CONCERNING COURT ACTION BUT THAT YOU HAVE INFORMED THEM YOU DO NOT CARE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE FORMULATION OF ANY PLANS FOR TESTING THE ISSUE.

B-121815, DEC. 14, 1955

TO BRIGADIER GENERAL JOHN S. SEYBOLD:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 16, 1955, REFERRING TO OUR DECISIONS OF MARCH 16 AND AUGUST 18, 1955, B-121815, RELATIVE TO THE LEGALITY OF FURNISHING RENT-FREE GOVERNMENT RESIDENTIAL QUARTERS TO THE DISTRICT JUDGE, THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND THE MARSHALL OF THE CANAL ZONE.

IN OUR DECISION OF MARCH 16, TO YOU, WE HELD THAT THE FURNISHING OF FREE RESIDENTIAL QUARTERS TO THE DISTRICT JUDGE, THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND THE MARSHAL OF THE CANAL ZONE WAS IN CONTRAVENTION OF EXISTING LAW, AND YOU WERE REQUESTED TO TAKE IMMEDIATE STEPS TO REQUIRE SUCH OFFICIALS TO PAY A REASONABLE RENTAL FOR THE QUARTERS OCCUPIED BY THEM AND TO INFORM THIS OFFICE WHEN SUCH ACTION HAD BEEN TAKEN. IN OUR DECISION OF AUGUST 18 ADDRESSED TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE DIRECTOR, ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES COURTS, RENDERED INCIDENT TO THEIR REQUEST FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF OUR DECISION OF MARCH 16, WE ADHERED TO THE CONCLUSION REACHED IN THAT DECISION.

YOU SAY IN YOUR LETTER THAT THE THREE OFFICIALS ARE OF THE VIEW THAT OUR CONCLUSIONS IN THE MATTER ARE ERRONEOUS; THAT THESE OFFICIALS HAVE BEEN BILLED BY THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY FOR RENTALS BEGINNING IN APRIL 1955; AND THAT NONE OF THEM HAVE PAID SUCH BILLS AND WILL NOT NOT DO SO UNTIL OUR DECISION HAS BEEN TESTED IN A COURT OF LAW. YOU POINT OUT THAT THE THREE OFFICIALS DESIRE TO CONFER WITH YOU OR YOUR REPRESENTATIVE CONCERNING COURT ACTION BUT THAT YOU HAVE INFORMED THEM YOU DO NOT CARE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE FORMULATION OF ANY PLANS FOR TESTING THE ISSUE. ALSO APPEARS THAT THE OFFICIALS CONTEMPLATE TESTING THE ISSUE IN SOME ACTION AGAINST THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY RATHER THAN THE UNITED STATES (CANAL ZONE GOVERNMENT) BUT THAT YOU BELIEVE THAT ANY ISSUE CONCERNING THE RIGHT OF THESE OFFICIALS TO FREE QUARTERS AND RELATED SERVICES IS BETWEEN SUCH OFFICIALS AND THE CANAL ZONE GOVERNMENT.

YOU FURTHER STATE IN YOUR LETTER THAT ANY LITIGATION IN THIS MATTER WOULD BE BOUND TO HAVE UNDESIRABLE SIDE EFFECTS ON THE ISTHMUS; THAT YOU SINCERELY HOPE THAT SOME MEANS CAN BE FOUND OF SETTLING THE MATTER AMICABLY AND WITHOUT LITIGATION; AND THAT YOU WOULD APPRECIATE ANY SUGGESTIONS IN THE MATTER WHICH WE MAY CARE TO OFFER. ALSO, YOU APPEAR CONCERNED ABOUT THE FACT THAT UNDER THE CANAL ZONE CODE THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY HAS THE DUTY OF CONDUCTING ALL LEGAL PROCEEDINGS FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THE CANAL ZONE AS WELL AS THE DUTY OF ADVISING YOU UPON REQUEST ON MATTERS PERTAINING TO THE OFFICE OF GOVERNOR.

CONCERNING THE QUESTION OF WHETHER THE ISSUE IS BETWEEN THE SAID OFFICIALS AND THE CANAL ZONE GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN BETWEEN SUCH OFFICIALS AND THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY, IT IS POINTED OUT THAT PURSUANT TO THE REORGANIZATION ACT OF SEPTEMBER 26, 1950, 64 STAT. 1038, AND EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 10263, DATED JUNE 29, 1951, ALL PUBLIC HOUSING OF THE CANAL ZONE GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING THE QUARTERS OCCUPIED BY THE THREE OFFICIALS REFERRED TO ABOVE, WAS TRANSFERRED TO THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY. THUS, THOSE OFFICIALS OWE THE RENT TO THE COMPANY AND NOT THE CANAL ZONE GOVERNMENT. THE BURDEN THEN IS ON THE COMPANY TO TAKE ANY ACTION NECESSARY TO COLLECT RENTAL ON SUCH PROPERTY UNDER EXISTING REGULATIONS AND LAW (BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-45, DATED JUNE 3, 1952, AND SECTION 208 OF THE GENERAL GOVERNMENT MATTERS APPROPRIATION ACT, 1956, 69 STAT. 196).

REGARDING ANY SUGGESTIONS WE MAY HAVE TO OFFER IN THE MATTER, IT IS POINTED OUT THAT THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY BY THE ACT OF JUNE 29, 1948, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 26, 1950 (62 STAT. 1075, 64 STAT. 1038) WAS GRANTED CERTAIN GENERAL POWERS TO CARRY OUT ITS ACTIVITIES, INCLUDING, AMONG OTHERS, THE POWERS---

"/D) MAY SUE AND BE SUED IN ITS CORPORATE NAME

"/F) MAY ENTER INTO CONTRACTS, LEASES, AGREEMENTS OR OTHER TRANSACTIONS.

"/H) MAY DETERMINE THE CHARACTER OF AND NECESSITY FOR ITS OBLIGATIONS AND EXPENDITURES AND THE MANNER IN WHICH THEY SHALL BE INCURRED, ALLOWED, AND PAID, AND MAY INCUR, ALLOW, AND PAY THE SAME, SUBJECT TO PERTINENT PROVISIONS OF LAW GENERALLY APPLICABLE TO GOVERNMENT CORPORATIONS.

"/I) MAY PURCHASE, LEASE, OR OTHERWISE ACQUIRE, AND HOLD, OWN, MAINTAIN, WORK, DEVELOP, SELL, LEASE, EXCHANGE, CONVEY, MORTGAGE, OR OTHERWISE DISPOSE OF, AND DEAL IN, LANDS, LEASE-HOLDS, AND ANY INTEREST, ESTATE, OR RIGHTS IN REAL PROPERTY, AND ANY PERSONAL OR MIXED PROPERTY, AND ANY FRANCHISES, CONCESSIONS, RIGHTS, LICENSES, OR PRIVILEGES NECESSARY OR APPROPRIATE FOR ANY OF THE PURPOSES EXPRESSED IN THIS ARTICLE.'

THUS, IT IS EVIDENT THAT UNDER ITS CHART OR THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY HAS VERY BROAD POWERS, INCLUDING THE NECESSARY AUTHORITY TO TAKE WHATEVER ACTION IT DEEMS NECESSARY TO COLLECT RENTS FOR THE QUARTERS IN QUESTION, INCLUDING THE INSTITUTION OF SUIT TO RECOVER OWED RENT. WE SUGGEST, HOWEVER, IN VIEW OF YOUR DESIRE TO SETTLE THE MATTER AMICABLY AND WITHOUT LITIGATION THAT PRIOR TO CONSIDERATION BY THE COMPANY OF TAKING COURT ACTION IT FORMALLY NOTIFY THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE THAT THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND THE MARSHAL HAVE REFUSED TO PAY RENT FOR THE QUARTERS FURNISHED THEM BY THE COMPANY. ALSO, THE DIRECTOR, ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES COURTS, SHOULD BE FORMALLY NOTIFIED OF THE REFUSAL OF THE DISTRICT JUDGE TO MAKE RENTAL PAYMENTS FOR THE QUARTERS FURNISHED HIM BY THE COMPANY. THE DEPARTMENT AND THE DIRECTOR SHOULD BE REQUESTED TO TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION IN THE MATTER. IF THIS STEP PROVES UNAVAILING AND NO ACTION IS TAKEN TO RESCIND SECTION 6 OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 7676, IT APPEARS THAT THE ONLY REMEDY LEFT THE COMPANY TO EFFECT THE COLLECTION OF THE RENT WOULD BE COURT PROCEEDINGS.

AS TO YOUR APPREHENSION OVER THE FACT THAT THE CANAL ZONE CODE IMPOSES ON THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY THE DUTY OF CONDUCTING ALL LEGAL PROCEEDINGS FOR THE UNITED STATES AND THE CANAL ZONE GOVERNMENT, IF LEGAL PROCEEDINGS ARE NECESSARY WE PRESUME THAT SINCE THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY IS AN INTERESTED PARTY THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE WOULD APPOINT A SPECIAL ATTORNEY TO HANDLE THE MATTER. WE FURTHER PRESUME THAT THE DISTRICT JUDGE WOULD, FOR THE SAME REASON, DISQUALIFY HIMSELF IF THE MATTER CAME BEFORE HIM.

SHOULD LEGISLATION BE PROPOSED TO THE CONGRESS CONCERNING ALLOWANCE OF FREE LIVING QUARTERS TO THESE OFFICIALS, WE WOULD RECOMMEND AGAINST ITS ENACTMENT UPON THE FACTS NOW KNOWN TO US ON THE GROUNDS (1) THAT SUCH A LAW WOULD DISCRIMINATE AGAINST OTHER FEDERAL EMPLOYEES, BOTH IN THE CANAL ZONE AND ELSEWHERE, AND (2) THAT SUCH A LAW WOULD BE INCONSISTENT WITH THE PRINCIPLE OF FULL-COST RECOVERY FOR SERVICES FURNISHED BY THE CANAL ZONE GOVERNMENT OR PANAMA CANAL COMPANY, WHICH PRINCIPLE IS ADVOCATED BY BOTH THE CONGRESS AND THIS OFFICE.

WE ENCLOSE A COPY OF OUR LETTER OF TODAY TO THE DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF THE BUDGET, CONCERNING THIS MATTER.

Nov 22, 2017

Nov 21, 2017

  • A-P-T Research, Inc.
    We deny the protest in part and dismiss the protest in part.
    B-414825,B-414825.2

Nov 20, 2017

Nov 16, 2017

  • HBI-GF, JV
    We deny the protest.
    B-415036
  • Epsilon Systems Solutions, Inc.
    We dismiss the protest because it raises a matter of contract administration over which we do not exercise jurisdiction.
    B-414410.4

Nov 15, 2017

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