A-13057, MARCH 13, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 725

A-13057: Mar 13, 1926

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THE PRACTICE APPEARS TO HAVE LONG MAINTAINED TO INCLUDE SUCH STAMPS IN COMPENSATION COMPUTATIONS OF FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTERS. FOR DECISION WHETHER POSTMASTERS AT FOURTH-CLASS OFFICES ARE ENTITLED TO COMMISSION ON CANCELLATION OF STAMPS COVERING REGISTRY. IT IS URGED BY THE POSTMASTER GENERAL IN SUPPORT OF THE CLAIM THAT IT HAS LONG BEEN THE PRACTICE OF INCLUDING THE CANCELLATION OF SUCH STAMPS IN THE CANCELLATIONS OF POSTMASTERS OF THE FOURTH CLASS. THAT THE PRACTICE IS SO WELL ESTABLISHED IT SHOULD NOT NOW BE CHANGED. A SOMEWHAT SIMILAR QUESTION TO THAT WHICH IS NOT PRESENTED WAS THE MATTER OF A DECISION BY THIS OFFICE TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL JULY 10. IT WAS THERE SHOWN THAT SPECIAL DELIVERY STAMPS HAD NOT BEEN CONSIDERED AS POSTAGE STAMPS WITH RESPECT TO THE PROVISIONS OF PRIOR LAWS.

A-13057, MARCH 13, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 725

POSTAL SERVICE - COMPENSATION OF FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTERS STAMPS FOR REGISTRY, INSURANCE, AND C.O.D. FEES REPRESENT PAYMENTS FOR A SERVICE, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM POSTAGE, AND THEIR CANCELLATION SHOULD NOT BE INCLUDED IN THE COMPUTATION OF COMMISSIONS OF FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTERS AS PROVIDED FOR IN THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1925, 43 STAT. 1054. THE PRACTICE APPEARS TO HAVE LONG MAINTAINED TO INCLUDE SUCH STAMPS IN COMPENSATION COMPUTATIONS OF FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTERS, BUT IN THE ABSENCE OF LEGISLATION THERE WOULD BE NO JUSTIFICATION TO CREDIT SUCH PAYMENTS AFTER JUNE 30, 1926.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, MARCH 13, 1926:

THE POSTMASTER GENERAL MADE REQUEST BY LETTER OF FEBRUARY 9, 1926, FOR DECISION WHETHER POSTMASTERS AT FOURTH-CLASS OFFICES ARE ENTITLED TO COMMISSION ON CANCELLATION OF STAMPS COVERING REGISTRY, INSURANCE, AND C.O.D. FEES.

THE QUESTION ARISES OUT OF DISALLOWANCE BY THIS OFFICE JUNE 24, 1925, OF THE CLAIM OF FLORENCE B. SYMES, POSTMASTER AT CAMAS PRAIRIE, MONT., FOR ADDITIONAL COMPENSATION AMOUNTING TO $77.71 AS COMMISSION ON CANCELLATION OF POSTAGE STAMPS REPRESENTING REGISTRY AND INSURANCE FEES.

IT IS URGED BY THE POSTMASTER GENERAL IN SUPPORT OF THE CLAIM THAT IT HAS LONG BEEN THE PRACTICE OF INCLUDING THE CANCELLATION OF SUCH STAMPS IN THE CANCELLATIONS OF POSTMASTERS OF THE FOURTH CLASS, AND THAT THE PRACTICE IS SO WELL ESTABLISHED IT SHOULD NOT NOW BE CHANGED.

THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1925, 43 STAT. 1054, AUTHORIZED THE COMPENSATION OF POSTMASTERS OF THE FOURTH CLASS TO BE FIXED, AMONG OTHER THINGS, UPON THE BASIS OF "COMMISSIONS UPON THE AMOUNT OF CANCELED POSTAGE-DUE STAMPS AND ON POSTAGE STAMPS, STAMPED ENVELOPES, AND POSTAL CARDS CANCELED, ON MATTER ACTUALLY MAILED AT THEIR OFFICES, AND ON THE AMOUNT OF NEWSPAPER AND PERIODICAL POSTAGE COLLECTED IN MONEY, AND ON THE POSTAGE COLLECTED IN MONEY ON IDENTICAL PIECES OF THIRD AND FOURTH CLASS MATTER UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF APRIL 28, 1904, WITHOUT POSTAGE STAMPS AFFIXED, AND ON POSTAGE COLLECTED IN MONEY ON MATTER OF THE FIRST CLASS MAILED UNDER PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF APRIL 24, 1920, WITHOUT POSTAGE STAMPS AFFIXED, AND ON AMOUNTS RECEIVED FROM WASTE PAPER, DEAD NEWSPAPERS, PRINTED MATTER, AND TWINE SOLD, AT THE FOLLOWING RATES.'

A SOMEWHAT SIMILAR QUESTION TO THAT WHICH IS NOT PRESENTED WAS THE MATTER OF A DECISION BY THIS OFFICE TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL JULY 10, 1925, 5 COMP. GEN. 20, WITH RESPECT TO WHETHER SPECIAL HANDLING STAMPS MAY BE INCLUDED IN THE COMPENSATION OF POSTMASTERS UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF 1925 CITED, AND IT WAS THERE SHOWN THAT SPECIAL DELIVERY STAMPS HAD NOT BEEN CONSIDERED AS POSTAGE STAMPS WITH RESPECT TO THE PROVISIONS OF PRIOR LAWS, ACT OF JUNE 5, 1920, 41 STAT. 1048, FIXING THE COMPENSATION OF POSTMASTERS OF THE FOURTH CLASS AND THAT THERE APPEARED NOTHING IN SAID ACT OF 1925 CITED "TO INDICATE AN INTENT TO CHANGE THE PRACTICE THERETOFORE EXISTING WITH REFERENCE TO EXCLUDING SPECIAL-DELIVERY STAMPS FROM THE CANCELLATIONS ON WHICH THE COMMISSION IS TO BE ALLOWED, AND SINCE THE "SPECIAL HANDLING" STAMPS ARE ANALOGOUS TO SPECIAL-DELIVERY STAMPS, I AM CONSTRAINED TO AGREE WITH YOUR VIEW THAT UNLESS THE CONGRESS FURTHER ENACTS WITH RESPECT THERETO THE "SPECIAL-HANDLING" STAMPS CANCELED MAY NOT BE INCLUDED IN COMPUTING THE COMMISSIONS.'

THERE APPEARS TO BE NO QUESTION THAT STAMPS REPRESENTING REGISTRY, INSURANCE, AND C.O.D. FEES ARE NOT POSTAGE STAMPS AS COMMONLY UNDERSTOOD, BUT IT IS URGED NEVERTHELESS THAT SUCH STAMPS REPRESENTING REGISTRY, INSURANCE, AND C.O.D. FEES SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE COMPUTATION OF COMMISSIONS FOR THE REASON THE PRACTICE HAS BEEN TO SO INCLUDE THEM. THE SUBMISSION MADE CITES MANY STATUTES BUT NONE CLEARLY SHOW AN AUTHORITY TO INCLUDE SUCH STAMPS WITHIN THE COMPUTATION OF COMMISSIONS; NOR MAY THEY BE SAID TO BE INCLUDED IN THE LATEST ENACTMENT, THE ACT OF 1925 CITED. THERE WAS DOUBT IN THE CONSIDERATION OF THE MATTER OF SPECIAL DELIVERY STAMPS WHETHER THE TERM POSTAGE STAMPS AS USED IN THE ENACTMENT OF 1925 CITED MIGHT INCLUDE SPECIAL HANDLING STAMPS BECAUSE THEY ARE AFFIXED AS ARE POSTAGE STAMPS AND ARE REQUIRED TO BE CANCELED BY THE MAILING OFFICE, BUT IT WAS VIEWED THAT THESE SPECIAL HANDLING STAMPS WERE FOR THE PURPOSE OF SECURING A SPECIAL SERVICE IN ADDITION TO THAT COVERED BY THE ORDINARY RATES OF POSTAGE AND THEREFORE WERE TO BE REGARDED AS ANALOGOUS IN SUCH RESPECT TO SPECIAL DELIVERY STAMPS WHICH LIKEWISE ARE STAMPS AND REQUIRED TO BE CANCELED BY THE MAILING OFFICE.

I THINK THE REASONABLE CONCLUSION AS TO THE STAMPS IN QUESTION MUST BE THE SAME. THEY REPRESENT PAYMENT FOR A SERVICE, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM POSTAGE, AND AS SUCH MAY NOT LAWFULLY BE INCLUDED IN THE COMPUTATION OF COMMISSIONS. IN VIEW, HOWEVER, OF THE PRACTICE THAT THE POSTMASTER GENERAL REPORTS AS HAVING LONG MAINTAINED, I DO NOT FEEL IT IMPERATIVE TO REQUIRE AN ABRUPT DISCONTINUANCE THEREOF. THE PROCEDURE DOES NOT APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN SPECIFICALLY BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF THIS OFFICE PRIOR TO THE PRESENT CLAIM, THE MAIN REASON APPARENTLY BEING A SERIOUS PRACTICAL DIFFICULTY IN CORRECTLY VERIFYING THE DAILY CANCELLATIONS OF THE LARGE NUMBER OF FOURTH CLASS POSTMASTERS, NUMBERING MORE THAN 35,000. IT WILL BE APPRECIATED OF COURSE, THAT SUCH A DIFFICULTY, EVEN IF OF A SERIOUS NATURE, PROVIDES NO JUSTIFICATION FOR GOING BEYOND THE LAW IN THE MATTER OF MAKING PAYMENTS, BUT RATHER JUSTIFIES A SUBMISSION OF THE PROBLEM TO THE CONGRESS FOR ITS CONSIDERATION.

IN VIEW OF THE PRESENT LACK OF STATUTORY AUTHORITY TO INCLUDE CANCELLATIONS OF STAMPS FOR REGISTRY, INSURANCE, AND C.O.D. SERVICES, IN COMPUTING THE COMPENSATION OF FOURTH CLASS POSTMASTERS, THE SITUATION IS SUCH THAT UNLESS THERE BE DIRECTION BY THE CONGRESS TO THE CONTRARY, THIS OFFICE WOULD NOT BE JUSTIFIED IN ALLOWING CREDIT FOR PAYMENTS, SO FAR AS THEY INCLUDE THE CANCELLATION OF SUCH STAMPS, MADE AFTER JUNE 30, 1926.