A-14081, JUNE 14, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 982

A-14081: Jun 14, 1926

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CUSTOMS SERVICE - PROCUREMENT OF MARINE INTELLIGENCE SERVICE FROM PRIVATE SOURCES THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE CUSTOMS SERVICE TO PROCURE AND PAY FOR MARINE INTELLIGENCE SERVICE FROM THE AGENCY OF THE SAN FRANCISCO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. WHERE IT APPEARS THAT THE INFORMATION COULD HAVE BEEN OBTAINED FROM GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. 1926: THERE IS BEFORE THIS OFFICE FOR CONSIDERATION VOUCHER 107. FROM THE SURVEYOR OF CUSTOMS READING AS FOLLOWS: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER FROM THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL. THE DISTANCE AT WHICH THEY ARE REPORTED DEPENDS UPON VISIBILITY AT THE TIME SUCH REPORTS ARE MADE. THEY VARY FROM THE FRACTION OF A MILE IN FOGGY WEATHER TO MORE THAN TWENTY MILES WHEN VISIBILITY IS UNOBSTRUCTED.

A-14081, JUNE 14, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 982

CUSTOMS SERVICE - PROCUREMENT OF MARINE INTELLIGENCE SERVICE FROM PRIVATE SOURCES THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE CUSTOMS SERVICE TO PROCURE AND PAY FOR MARINE INTELLIGENCE SERVICE FROM THE AGENCY OF THE SAN FRANCISCO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, WHERE IT APPEARS THAT THE INFORMATION COULD HAVE BEEN OBTAINED FROM GOVERNMENT AGENCIES.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, JUNE 14, 1926:

THERE IS BEFORE THIS OFFICE FOR CONSIDERATION VOUCHER 107, OCTOBER 1925, ACCOUNTS OF W. B. HAMILTON, COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF., COVERING A PAYMENT OF $310 TO THE SAN FRANCISCO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE FOR SERVICES RENDERED FROM JULY 1 TO OCTOBER 31, 1925, IN FURNISHING TO ALL CUSTOMS OFFICIALS AS DESIGNATED BY THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS INFORMATION AS TO THE ARRIVAL OF VESSELS AT THE PORT OF SAN FRANCISCO, SAID SERVICE HAVING BEEN RENDERED UNDER PROPOSAL AND ACCEPTANCE DATED SEPTEMBER 10, 1925.

IN RESPONSE TO A LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS BY THIS OFFICE ON MARCH 30, 1926, REQUESTING EXPLANATION OF THIS SERVICE, HE FORWARDED A COMMUNICATION DATED APRIL 7, 1926, FROM THE SURVEYOR OF CUSTOMS READING AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER FROM THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL, UNDER DATE OF MARCH 30, 1926, RELATIVE TO "VOUCHER 107, SAN FRANCISCO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. FURNISHING INFORMATION AS TO ARRIVAL OF VESSELS DURING PERIOD JULY 1 TO OCTOBER 31, 1925, UNDER PROPOSAL DATED SEPTEMBER 10, 1925 (NO. 76405), AT $77.50 PER MONTH.'

THE SERVICE FURNISHED BY THE SAN FRANCISCO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, REFERRED TO IN VOUCHER 107, CONSISTS OF REPORTING TO THE CUSTOMS SERVICE, DAY AND NIGHT, THE POSITION OF VESSELS BOUND FOR SAN FRANCISCO AS THEY APPROACH DESTINATION. THE DISTANCE AT WHICH THEY ARE REPORTED DEPENDS UPON VISIBILITY AT THE TIME SUCH REPORTS ARE MADE. THEY VARY FROM THE FRACTION OF A MILE IN FOGGY WEATHER TO MORE THAN TWENTY MILES WHEN VISIBILITY IS UNOBSTRUCTED. THIS IS ACCOMPLISHED BY THE USE OF HIGH-POWER TELESCOPIC INSTRUMENTS INSTALLED IN A LOOKOUT STATION LOCATED ON POINT LOBOS, A POINT OF LAND AT THE ENTRANCE TO SAN FRANCISCO BAY WITH SUFFICIENT ELEVATION TO COMMAND AN UNOBSTRUCTED VIEW SEAWARD.

THE INFORMATION THUS FURNISHED IS OF INESTIMABLE VALUE TO THE CUSTOMS SERVICE. IT FURNISHES A MEANS BY WHICH MEMBERS OF THE INSPECTION FORCE MAY BE ASSEMBLED FROM THEIR VARIOUS STATIONS TO MEET THE IMMEDIATE DEMANDS OF VESSELS ARRIVING, WITH A MINIMUM OF INTERFERENCE WITH THE DUTIES ENTAILED BY REGULAR ASSIGNMENTS, AND IT IS IN THE INTEREST OF ECONOMY AND EFFICIENCY.

THERE IS NO OTHER SOURCE FROM WHICH INFORMATION OF THE CHARACTER MENTIONED MAY BE OBTAINED TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE CUSTOMS SERVICE.

THROUGH INFORMAL INVESTIGATION IT HAS BEEN ASCERTAINED THAT A LOOKOUT STATION IS MAINTAINED BY THE COAST GUARD SERVICE AT POINT LOBOS, WHICH IS A SUBSTATION OF THE GOLDEN GATE STATION, AND THAT ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE NO WIRELESS ASHORE FROM POINT LOBOS THEY HAVE TELEPHONE COMMUNICATION WITH THE GOLDEN GATE STATION, WHICH IN TURN HAS COMMUNICATION WITH THE CITY. IT THUS APPEARS THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS AN AGENCY UNDER YOUR CONTROL THROUGH WHICH THE INFORMATION DESIRED BY THE CUSTOMS OFFICIALS MAY BE OBTAINED, AND THERE IS, ACCORDINGLY, NO NECESSITY FOR SECURING THE REQUIRED SERVICES FROM AN OUTSIDE AGENCY. THE CONTRACT UNDER WHICH THE PAYMENT IN QUESTION WAS MADE WAS THEREFORE UNAUTHORIZED, AND CREDIT FOR THE AMOUNT OF $310 PAID ON VOUCHER 107, OCTOBER, 1925, OF MR. HAMILTON'S ACCOUNTS MUST BE DISALLOWED IN THE SETTLEMENT OF HIS ACCOUNTS. IN THIS CONNECTION SEE DECISION OF MARCH 19, 1926, A-12969.