A-14526, JULY 26, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 73

A-14526: Jul 26, 1926

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THE DISALLOWANCE WAS MADE BECAUSE OF THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23. THE LANGUAGE OF THE SECTION QUOTED IS PLAIN AND COMPREHENSIVE AND HAS BEEN UNIFORMLY CONSTRUED TO PROHIBIT THE FURNISHING AT PUBLIC EXPENSE OF TELEPHONE SERVICE IN THE HOME OR QUARTERS OF A GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE. 19 COMP. THIS CIRCULAR PROVIDES IN PART AS FOLLOWS: * * * YOU ARE DIRECTED TO CAUSE TO BE IMMEDIATELY DISCONTINUED SUCH SERVICE IN ANY INSTANCE UNDER YOUR JURISDICTION. PROCEEDS OF LABOR" WHERE THE LATTER ARE AVAILABLE. THE OFFICE WILL BE UNABLE TO APPROVE ANY PAYMENT FOR SUCH PURPOSE FROM AN APPROPRIATION SUBSEQUENT TO THE PASSAGE OF AUGUST 23. WHEREIN IT IS PROVIDED: THAT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED TO USE THE MONEY WHICH HAS BEEN OR MAY HEREAFTER BE COVERED INTO THE TREASURY UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT APPROVED MARCH THIRD.

A-14526, JULY 26, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 73

TELEPHONES IN PRIVATE RESIDENCES THE COST OF TELEPHONE SERVICE INSTALLED IN THE RESIDENCES OF THE SUPERINTENDENT AND ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT OF AN INDIAN SCHOOL FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH THE OPERATION OF THE SCHOOL MAY BE PAID FROM THE TRIBAL FUNDS DERIVED FROM THE SCHOOL ACTIVITY.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, JULY 26, 1926:

GEORGE E. PETERS, ACTING SUPERINTENDENT AND SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT INDIAN FIELD SERVICE, REQUESTED MAY 17, 1926, REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT NO. C- 36639-IN, DISALLOWING IN HIS ACCOUNTS CREDIT IN THE SUM OF $9.50 REPRESENTING PAYMENT FROM THE APPROPRIATION "INDIAN MONEYS, PROCEEDS OF LABOR, HASKELL INSTITUTE" FOR TELEPHONE SERVICE IN THE RESIDENCES OF THE SUPERINTENDENT AND ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT FOR THE MONTHS OF JULY AND AUGUST, 1925. THE DISALLOWANCE WAS MADE BECAUSE OF THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23, 1912, 37 STAT. 414, WHICH PROVIDES:

THAT NO MONEY APPROPRIATED BY THIS OR ANY OTHER ACT SHALL BE EXPENDED FOR TELEPHONE SERVICE INSTALLED IN ANY PRIVATE RESIDENCE OR PRIVATE APARTMENT OR FOR TOLLS OR OTHER CHARGES FOR TELEPHONE SERVICE FROM PRIVATE RESIDENCES OR PRIVATE APARTMENTS, EXCEPT FOR LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE TOLLS REQUIRED STRICTLY FOR THE PUBLIC BUSINESS, AND SO SHOWN BY VOUCHERS DULY SWORN TO AND APPROVED BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT, DIVISION, BUREAU, OR OFFICE IN WHICH THE OFFICIAL USING SUCH TELEPHONE OR INCURRING THE EXPENSE OF SUCH TOLLS SHALL BE EMPLOYED.

THE LANGUAGE OF THE SECTION QUOTED IS PLAIN AND COMPREHENSIVE AND HAS BEEN UNIFORMLY CONSTRUED TO PROHIBIT THE FURNISHING AT PUBLIC EXPENSE OF TELEPHONE SERVICE IN THE HOME OR QUARTERS OF A GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE. 19 COMP. DEC. 198, 202, 212, AND 350; 21 ID. 248; 22 ID. 602; 4 COMP. GEN. 19, 891; 5 ID. 437.

IN HIS REQUEST FOR REVIEW THE SUPERINTENDENT CITES INDIAN OFFICE CIRCULAR LETTER NO. 706, DATED DECEMBER 14, 1912, AS AUTHORITY FOR PAYMENT OF RENTAL OF THE TELEPHONES IN QUESTION. THIS CIRCULAR PROVIDES IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

* * * YOU ARE DIRECTED TO CAUSE TO BE IMMEDIATELY DISCONTINUED SUCH SERVICE IN ANY INSTANCE UNDER YOUR JURISDICTION, UNLESS IN ANY CASE IT SHALL BE DESIRED TO MAINTAIN A TELEPHONE FROM ,INDIAN MONEYS, PROCEEDS OF LABOR" WHERE THE LATTER ARE AVAILABLE. THE OFFICE WILL BE UNABLE TO APPROVE ANY PAYMENT FOR SUCH PURPOSE FROM AN APPROPRIATION SUBSEQUENT TO THE PASSAGE OF AUGUST 23, 1912.

THE AUTHORITY FOR THE USE OF MONEYS FROM THE TRUST FUND INVOLVED APPEARS IN THE ACT OF MARCH 2, 1887, 24 STAT. 463, WHEREIN IT IS PROVIDED:

THAT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED TO USE THE MONEY WHICH HAS BEEN OR MAY HEREAFTER BE COVERED INTO THE TREASURY UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT APPROVED MARCH THIRD, EIGHTEEN HUNDRED AND EIGHTY- THREE, AND WHICH IS CARRIED ON THE BOOKS OF THAT DEPARTMENT UNDER THE CAPTION OF "INDIAN MONEYS, PROCEEDS OF LABOR," FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE SEVERAL TRIBES ON WHOSE ACCOUNT SAID MONEY WAS COVERED IN, IN SUCH WAY AND FOR SUCH PURPOSES AS IN HIS DISCRETION HE MAY THINK BEST, AND SHALL MAKE ANNUALLY A DETAILED REPORT THEREOF TO CONGRESS.

WITH REFERENCE TO THIS PROVISION IT WAS HELD THAT THE AUTHORITY TO USE MONEYS OF THE TRUST FUND IN QUESTION WAS IN THE DISCRETION OF THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, THE EXPENDITURE OF SUCH MONEY NOT BEING SPECIFICALLY DEFINED BEYOND THAT IT MUST BE FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PARTICULAR TRIBE TO WHOM IT BELONGS. 17 COMP. DEC. 995. HOWEVER, BY SECTION 27 OF THE ACT OF MAY 18, 1916, 39 STAT. 158, IN WHICH THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR WAS DIRECTED TO SUBMIT THROUGH THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY ANNUAL ESTIMATES OF RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES OF INDIAN TRIBAL FUNDS BEGINNING WITH THE FIRST MONDAY IN DECEMBER, 1917, IT WAS PROVIDED:

* * * THAT THEREAFTER NO MONEY SHALL BE EXPENDED FROM INDIAN TRIBAL FUNDS WITHOUT SPECIFIC APPROPRIATION BY CONGRESS EXCEPT AS FOLLOWS: EQUALIZATION OF ALLOTMENTS, EDUCATION OF INDIAN CHILDREN IN ACCORDANCE WITH EXISTING LAW, PER CAPITA AND OTHER PAYMENTS, ALL OF WHICH ARE HEREBY CONTINUED IN FULL FORCE AND EFFECT: * * *.

THE EFFECT OF THIS PROVISION WAS TO CURTAIL THE DISCRETIONARY POWER OF THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO THE EXTENT THAT UNLESS THE MONEYS BELONGING TO INDIAN TRIBES ARE SPECIFICALLY APPROPRIATED BY THE CONGRESS FOR THE PURPOSE, THEY MAY NOT BE USED EXCEPT AS STATED IN THE ABOVE QUOTATION. IN THIS RESPECT, THE INDIAN TRIBAL FUNDS HAVE BEEN PLACED IN THE SAME STATUS AS PUBLIC FUNDS. DECISION OF MAY 1, 1925, A 9406. HENCE, INDIAN TRIBAL FUNDS CARRIED AS "INDIAN MONEYS, PROCEEDS OF LABOR" MAY NOT BE USED TO PAY FOR THE SERVICE OF TELEPHONES INSTALLED IN ANY PRIVATE RESIDENCE OR PRIVATE APARTMENT UNLESS SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY LAW. APPEARS, HOWEVER, THAT THE FUNDS USED IN THIS INSTANCE WERE DERIVED FROM A SCHOOL ACTIVITY AS DISTINGUISHED FROM A TRIBAL ACTIVITY, AND AS THE EXPENDITURE WAS IN CONNECTION WITH THE OPERATION OF THE SCHOOL FROM WHICH THE FUND WAS DERIVED, CREDIT FOR THE EXPENDITURE IS AUTHORIZED. SEE IN THIS CONNECTION ACT OF MAY 10, 1926, 44 STAT. 453.

UPON REVIEW A DIFFERENCE OF $9.50 IS CERTIFIED FOR CREDIT IN THE DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNTS.