A-18110, APRIL 16, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 677

A-18110: Apr 16, 1927

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ADVANCE - WATER METERS - WATER SERVICE A DEPOSIT REPRESENTING THE APPROXIMATE VALUE OF A WATER METER TO BE INSTALLED IN A BUILDING LEASED BY THE UNITED STATES MAY BE MADE WHERE THE DEPOSIT WILL BE RETURNED WHEN THE METER IS DISCONTINUED. THE FORMER COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY DECIDED THAT PAYMENT FOR WATER IN ADVANCE OF SAME BEING SUPPLIED WAS PROHIBITED BY SECTION 3648. THE PRINCIPLE TO BE DRAWN FROM THESE DECISIONS IS THAT A PAYMENT MAY NOT BE MADE IN ADVANCE OF RENDITION OF SERVICE BUT IS TO BE APPLIED FOR THE SERVICE AS AND WHEN RENDERED. THE DEPOSIT REPRESENTING THE APPROXIMATE VALUE OF THE WATER METER INSTALLED AND TO BE RETURNED IF AND WHEN THE METER IS DISCONTINUED. ADVANCE PAYMENT FOR WATER SERVICE IS USUALLY EXACTED AS A SECURITY FOR PAYMENT AND REPRESENTATION TO THE INTERESTED WATER COMPANIES OF THE FACT THAT PAYMENTS MAY NOT BE MADE BY THE GOVERNMENT IN ADVANCE OF THE RENDITION OF SERVICE WILL DOUBTLESS RESULT IN PERMITTING THE GOVERNMENT TO SECURE THE WATER SERVICE AND THEN MAKE PAYMENT THEREFOR.

A-18110, APRIL 16, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 677

PAYMENTS, ADVANCE - WATER METERS - WATER SERVICE A DEPOSIT REPRESENTING THE APPROXIMATE VALUE OF A WATER METER TO BE INSTALLED IN A BUILDING LEASED BY THE UNITED STATES MAY BE MADE WHERE THE DEPOSIT WILL BE RETURNED WHEN THE METER IS DISCONTINUED, BUT PAYMENTS FOR WATER SERVICE MAY NOT BE MADE IN ADVANCE OF THE RENDITION OF SUCH SERVICE, UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3648, REVISED STATUTES.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, APRIL 16, 1927:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 21, 1927, INVITING ATTENTION TO A LETTER DATED JANUARY 31, 1927, FROM THE POST-OFFICE INSPECTOR AT FORT WORTH, TEX., AND INCLOSING A LETTER DATED MARCH 8, 1927, FROM THE POSTMASTER AT LAFAYETTE, IND. BY LETTER DATED APRIL 7, 1927, YOU INVITE ATTENTION TO CERTAIN PAPERS RELATIVE TO A LEASE OF THE POST-OFFICE BUILDING AT PALM BEACH, FLA. YOU REQUEST DECISION WHETHER ADVANCE PAYMENTS MAY BE MADE FOR (1) INSTALLATION OF WATER METERS AND (2) FOR WATER SERVICE AND IF EITHER, WHETHER THE PAYMENTS SHOULD BE MADE FROM THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION FOR "RENT, LIGHT, AND FUEL," OR FOR "MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS," AS CONTAINED IN THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATION FOR THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT AND HOW SUCH PAYMENTS SHOULD BE CARRIED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE POSTMASTER MAKING THEM.

SECTION 3648, REVISED STATUTES, PROVIDES THAT---

NO ADVANCE OF PUBLIC MONEY SHALL BE MADE IN ANY CASE WHATEVER. AND IN ALL CASES OF CONTRACTS FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF ANY SERVICE, OR THE DELIVERY OF ARTICLES OF ANY DESCRIPTION, FOR THE USE OF THE UNITED STATES, PAYMENT SHALL NOT EXCEED THE VALUE OF THE SERVICE RENDERED, OR OF THE ARTICLES DELIVERED PREVIOUSLY TO SUCH PAYMENT. * * *

IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT PAYMENT IN ADVANCE COULD BE MADE FOR THE REGISTERING OF A CABLE OR TELEPHONE ADDRESS, 1 COMP. GEN. 455; 4 ID. 465, AND FOR THE PURCHASE OF EXPENDABLE SUPPLIES TO BE SUBSEQUENTLY USED BY A STUDENT PURSUING A VOCATIONAL COURSE. 26 COMP. DEC. 735. IT HAS ALSO BEEN HELD THAT ADVANCE PAYMENT MAY NOT BE MADE FOR TELEPHONE SERVICE, 27 COMP. DEC. 885, AND IN A DECISION DATED DECEMBER 21, 1918, THE FORMER COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY DECIDED THAT PAYMENT FOR WATER IN ADVANCE OF SAME BEING SUPPLIED WAS PROHIBITED BY SECTION 3648, REVISED STATUTES.

THE PRINCIPLE TO BE DRAWN FROM THESE DECISIONS IS THAT A PAYMENT MAY NOT BE MADE IN ADVANCE OF RENDITION OF SERVICE BUT IS TO BE APPLIED FOR THE SERVICE AS AND WHEN RENDERED. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE TO THE QUESTIONS PRESENTED BY YOU NECESSITATES ADVISING YOU THAT PAYMENT MAY NOT BE MADE IN ADVANCE FOR WATER SERVICE BUT THAT A DEPOSIT MAY BE MADE FOR A WATER METER, THE DEPOSIT REPRESENTING THE APPROXIMATE VALUE OF THE WATER METER INSTALLED AND TO BE RETURNED IF AND WHEN THE METER IS DISCONTINUED. ADVANCE PAYMENT FOR WATER SERVICE IS USUALLY EXACTED AS A SECURITY FOR PAYMENT AND REPRESENTATION TO THE INTERESTED WATER COMPANIES OF THE FACT THAT PAYMENTS MAY NOT BE MADE BY THE GOVERNMENT IN ADVANCE OF THE RENDITION OF SERVICE WILL DOUBTLESS RESULT IN PERMITTING THE GOVERNMENT TO SECURE THE WATER SERVICE AND THEN MAKE PAYMENT THEREFOR. IF ANY OTHER PROCEDURE IS TO BE ADOPTED, SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY THEREFOR MUST BE SECURED. A WATER METER IS NEITHER RENT, LIGHT, NOR FUEL WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATION FOR THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, AND THE DEPOSIT FOR SUCH METER MUST BE CHARGED AS A "MISCELLANEOUS ITEM," AND IF AND WHEN REFUND IS SECURED, IT SHOULD BE PLACED TO THE CREDIT OF THE APPROPRIATION CHARGED THEREWITH.

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