A-17740, APRIL 2, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 645

A-17740: Apr 2, 1927

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UPON TELEGRAPH MESSAGES SENT FOR OTHER DEPARTMENTS THROUGH COMMERCIAL LINES ARE NOT FOR ADJUSTMENT BETWEEN APPROPRIATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT IN WHICH THE MESSAGE ORIGINATES AND THE APPROPRIATION OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT ORIGINALLY CHARGED. ARE FOR ADJUSTMENT BETWEEN THE TELEGRAPH COMPANY AND THE WAR DEPARTMENT. 1927: THERE IS BEFORE THIS OFFICE FOR CONSIDERATION AN ADJUSTMENT OF APPROPRIATIONS REQUESTED BY THE CHIEF OF FINANCE IN CONNECTION WITH THE PAYING OF TELEGRAPH MESSAGES SENT FOR THE NAVY DEPARTMENT THROUGH COMMERCIAL TELEGRAPH COMPANIES BY THE SIGNAL CORPS. THE ADJUSTMENT REQUESTED IS IN CONNECTION WITH AN ITEM OF 65 CENTS SUSPENDED ON VOUCHER 9684. THE AMOUNTS SUSPENDED WAS DEDUCTED BY THE NAVY DEPARTMENT FROM A SUBSEQUENT REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHER.

A-17740, APRIL 2, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 645

DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS, SERVICES BETWEEN - TELEGRAPH SERVICE EXCESS CHARGES PAID BY THE SIGNAL CORPS, UNITED STATES ARMY, UPON TELEGRAPH MESSAGES SENT FOR OTHER DEPARTMENTS THROUGH COMMERCIAL LINES ARE NOT FOR ADJUSTMENT BETWEEN APPROPRIATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT IN WHICH THE MESSAGE ORIGINATES AND THE APPROPRIATION OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT ORIGINALLY CHARGED, BUT ARE FOR ADJUSTMENT BETWEEN THE TELEGRAPH COMPANY AND THE WAR DEPARTMENT, THE COMMERCIAL LINES IN SUCH CASES HAVING BEEN PAID IN EXCESS OF THE RATES PROPERLY CHARGEABLE TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE SERVICES PERFORMED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR, APRIL 2, 1927:

THERE IS BEFORE THIS OFFICE FOR CONSIDERATION AN ADJUSTMENT OF APPROPRIATIONS REQUESTED BY THE CHIEF OF FINANCE IN CONNECTION WITH THE PAYING OF TELEGRAPH MESSAGES SENT FOR THE NAVY DEPARTMENT THROUGH COMMERCIAL TELEGRAPH COMPANIES BY THE SIGNAL CORPS, UNITED STATES ARMY, IN SEPTEMBER, 1925.

THE ADJUSTMENT REQUESTED IS IN CONNECTION WITH AN ITEM OF 65 CENTS SUSPENDED ON VOUCHER 9684, NOVEMBER, 1925, ACCOUNTS OF COMMANDER J. H. MERRIAM (S.C.), UNITED STATES NAVY, REPRESENTING REIMBURSEMENT TO THE WAR DEPARTMENT FOR TOLL CHARGES OF NAVY MESSAGES CARRIED BY COMMERCIAL LINES AND PAID FOR BY THE SIGNAL CORPS. THE AMOUNTS SUSPENDED WAS DEDUCTED BY THE NAVY DEPARTMENT FROM A SUBSEQUENT REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHER, NO. 3019, JUNE, 1926, ACCOUNTS OF COMMANDER H. E. STEVENS (S.C.), UNITED STATES NAVY. PAYMENT TO THE COMMERCIAL LINES WAS ORIGINALLY MADE BY CAPT. C. J. DICK, UNITED STATES ARMY, ON VOUCHERS NOS. 680 AND 681, ACCOUNTS FOR OCTOBER, 1925.

IT IS CONTENDED BY THE CHIEF OF FINANCE THAT DEDUCTION IN THE REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHER OF COMMANDER STEVENS WAS ERRONEOUS, AND HE REQUESTS THAT ACTION BE TAKEN TO REIMBURSE THE APPROPRIATION "SIGNAL SERVICE OF THE ARMY, 1926," AND CHARGE THE PROPER NAVY APPROPRIATION IN THE AMOUNT OF 65 CENTS, EITHER BY TRANSFER SETTLEMENT OR NAVY DISBURSING OFFICER'S CHECK. IN FIRST INDORSEMENT OF MARCH 4, 1927, TO THIS OFFICE IT WAS STATED BY THE CHIEF OF FINANCE IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

2. AS STATED IN THE CORRESPONDENCE, THE QUESTION OF SUSPENSIONS BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE OF TOLL CHARGES IN DISPATCHES FILED WITH THE WAR DEPARTMENT MESSAGE CENTER BY OTHER DEPARTMENTS, WAS MADE THE SUBJECT OF A CONFERENCE IN THE OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF ACCOUNTS, MILITARY, DIVISION, AT WHICH IT WAS EXPLAINED TO THE ACCOUNTING AUTHORITIES THAT THE SIGNAL CORPS WAS UNABLE TO CENSOR SUCH BUSINESS OR TO DESIGNATE WHETHER THE SERVICE SHOULD BE PLACED ON COMMERCIAL LINES AT DAY OR NIGHT RATES, AND THAT THE WAR DEPARTMENT HAD NO RIGHT TO ASSUME THE RESPONSIBILITY OF DELAYING BUSINESS OF OTHER DEPARTMENTS BY SENDING THE SAME AT THE NIGHT RATE.

3. AS THE MATTER NOW STANDS, THE WAR DEPARTMENT REMAINS CHARGED WITH THE ITEM OF $0.65 EXPENDED FOR THE ACCOUNT OF THE NAVY, AND, WHILE NO MENTION IS MADE OF ANY SUSPENSION OR DISALLOWANCE IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT DISBURSING OFFICER WHO PAID THE ORIGINAL CHARGE TO THE TELEGRAPH COMPANY, IT IS ASSUMED THAT THE ACTION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN REFERENCE TO THE ACCOUNTS OF J. H. MERRIAM WAS COINCIDENT WITH A SUSPENSION IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT DISBURSING OFFICER CONCERNED. WHILE THE ITEM IN QUESTION IS VERY SMALL, THE OUTCOME OF THIS MATTER IS OF CONSIDERABLE IMPORTANCE TO THE WAR DEPARTMENT, INASMUCH AS A LARGE VOLUME OF BUSINESS OF THIS CHARACTER IS BEING HANDLED BY THE SIGNAL CORPS FOR OTHER GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS, IN WHICH THIS SITUATION WILL UNDOUBTEDLY FREQUENTLY RECUR.

THERE HAS BEEN NO SUGGESTION BY THIS OFFICE THAT THE SIGNAL CORPS OF THE ARMY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CENSORING OF COMMUNICATIONS ORIGINATING WITH OTHER DEPARTMENTS OR FOR DETERMINING WHETHER SUCH COMMUNICATIONS SHOULD BE SENT AS DAY OR NIGHT MESSAGES, AND IN THE INSTANT MATTER NO SUCH QUESTION IS INVOLVED. AS SHOWN BY THE DIFFERENCE SHEET IN THE ACCOUNT OF COMMANDER MERRIAM, COPY OF WHICH WAS FURNISHED THE CHIEF OF FINANCE, THE AMOUNT OF 65 CENTS WAS MADE UP OF FIVE DIFFERENT ITEMS, RANGING FROM 9 TO 26 CENTS, ALL OF WHICH REPRESENT OVERCHARGES BY THE COMMERCIAL LINES FOR THE MESSAGES CARRIED. COPIES OF MESSAGES IN THE ACCOUNTS OF CAPT. C. J. DICK SHOW THAT THEY WERE PROPERLY DESIGNATED AS NIGHT LETTERS OR NIGHT MESSAGES BUT THE TELEGRAPH COMPANY CHARGED AND WAS PAID FOR AN AMOUNT IN EXCESS OF THE RATES PROPERLY CHARGEABLE TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR SUCH SERVICES. VIEW OF SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES THE DEDUCTION MADE IN THE REIMBURSEMENT VOUCHER BY THE NAVY DEPARTMENT FOR THE AMOUNT IN QUESTION WAS PROPER AND AN ADJUSTMENT OF THE APPROPRIATION AS SUGGESTED BY THE CHIEF OF FINANCE IS NOT AUTHORIZED.

IN VIEW OF THE SMALL AMOUNT INVOLVED NO CHARGE WAS RAISED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF CAPT. C. J. DICK, AND THE ACCOUNTS OF COMMANDER MERRIAM HAVE BEEN ADJUSTED BY THE SUBSEQUENT DEDUCTION MADE BY THE COMMANDER STEVENS. THE WAR DEPARTMENT FEELS THAT THE APPROPRIATION "SIGNAL SERVICE OF THE ARMY, 1926," SHOULD BE REIMBURSED, IT SHOULD TAKE PROPER ACTION TO DO SO BY WITHHOLDING THAT AMOUNT FROM SUBSEQUENT BILLS PAID THE COMMERCIAL LINES INVOLVED OR CALL UPON SUCH COMMERCIAL LINES FOR REIMBURSEMENT THEREFOR, AS IT APPEARS FROM THE RECORDS THAT THE TELEGRAPH COMPANIES RATHER THAN THE NAVY DEPARTMENT SHOULD MAKE GOOD THIS AMOUNT. NO FURTHER ACTION IN THE MATTER WILL BE TAKEN BY THIS OFFICE.

WITH RESPECT TO THE STATEMENT OF THE CHIEF OF FINANCE QUOTED ABOVE THAT WHILE THE ITEM IN QUESTION IS VERY SMALL THE OUTCOME IS ONE OF CONSIDERABLE IMPORTANCE TO THE WAR DEPARTMENT DUE TO THE LARGE VOLUME OF BUSINESS OF SUCH CHARACTER BEING HANDLED BY THE SIGNAL CORPS FOR OTHER GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS, IT IS NOT APPARENT HOW SITUATIONS SUCH AS THIS WILL ARISE IN THE FUTURE UNDER THE NEW PROCEDURE ADOPTED, EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1926, PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF APRIL 15, 1926, 44 STAT. 267, AND DECISION THIS OFFICE, 5 COMP. GEN. 1041, AND FOR THAT REASON IT IS NOT DEEMED NECESSARY TO FURTHER CONSIDER THE MATTER AT THIS TIME.

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