A-19144, JULY 15, 1927, 7 COMP. GEN. 41

A-19144: Jul 15, 1927

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THE STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS CONSTITUTING PART OF THE REGULAR WORK OF THE FEDERAL RADIO COMMISSION IS NOT FOR PROCUREMENT BY CONTRACT. IS FOR PERFORMANCE BY EMPLOYEES OF THAT COMMISSION AT RATES OF COMPENSATION SPECIFIED IN THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF MARCH 4. NO REGULAR EMPLOYEES OF THE COMMISSION ARE QUALIFIED OR AVAILABLE. THE NECESSITY FOR ACCURACY OF SUCH RECORDS IS OBVIOUS. EVEN THOUGH QUALIFIED STENOGRAPHERS WERE OBTAINABLE THROUGH CIVIL SERVICE. YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER IT IS POSSIBLE. THE HEARINGS IN QUESTION WILL BEGIN ON JULY 26. IT IS REQUESTED THAT YOUR DECISION BE RENDERED AT THE EARLIEST POSSIBLE DATE. IT IS PROVIDED THAT THE COMMISSION.

A-19144, JULY 15, 1927, 7 COMP. GEN. 41

PERSONAL SERVICES - STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY, THE STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS CONSTITUTING PART OF THE REGULAR WORK OF THE FEDERAL RADIO COMMISSION IS NOT FOR PROCUREMENT BY CONTRACT, BUT IS FOR PERFORMANCE BY EMPLOYEES OF THAT COMMISSION AT RATES OF COMPENSATION SPECIFIED IN THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF MARCH 4, 1923, 42 STAT. 1488. NO REGULAR EMPLOYEES OF THE COMMISSION ARE QUALIFIED OR AVAILABLE, THE SERVICE MAY BE PROCURED BY TEMPORARY HIRE UNDER CIVIL SERVICE RULES AND REGULATIONS AT RATES FIXED BY THE CLASSIFICATION ACT.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RADIO COMMISSION, JULY 15, 1927:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF JULY 8, 1927, AS FOLLOWS:

I AM SUBMITTING HEREWITH, FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION AND DECISION, THE QUESTION OF EMPLOYING COURT REPORTERS FOR THE PURPOSE OF TAKING TESTIMONY AT THE HEARINGS OF THE FEDERAL RADIO COMMISSION.

SINCE THE RADIO ACT OF 1927 DIRECTS THE COMMISSION TO SIT AS A COURT, SUMMON WITNESSES, ADMINISTER OATHS, TAKE TESTIMONY AND KEEP A RECORD OF HEARINGS, ITS DECISIONS BEING SUBJECT TO APPEAL TO THE COURTS, THE NECESSITY FOR ACCURACY OF SUCH RECORDS IS OBVIOUS.

IT APPEARS TO THIS BODY THAT IT WOULD BE INADVISABLE, MORE EXPENSIVE, AND LESS EFFICIENT TO ORGANIZE A CORPS OF STENOGRAPHERS FOR THIS WORK, EVEN THOUGH QUALIFIED STENOGRAPHERS WERE OBTAINABLE THROUGH CIVIL SERVICE, OWING TO THE LAPSE OF TIME BETWEEN HEARINGS WHEN THESE EMPLOYEES COULD NOT BE MADE USE OF BY THE COMMISSION.

YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER IT IS POSSIBLE, UNDER THE LAW AND THE RADIO ACT OF 1927, FOR THE COMMISSION TO EMPLOY THE SERVICES OF COURT REPORTERS FOR THIS WORK FROM THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE ENFORCEMENT, WIRELESS COMMUNICATION LAWS.

THE HEARINGS IN QUESTION WILL BEGIN ON JULY 26, 1927, AND IT IS REQUESTED THAT YOUR DECISION BE RENDERED AT THE EARLIEST POSSIBLE DATE.

UNDER SECTION 4-/K) OF THE FEDERAL RADIO ACT OF FEBRUARY 23, 1927, 44 STAT. 1163-1164, IT IS PROVIDED THAT THE COMMISSION, FROM TIME TO TIME, AS PUBLIC CONVENIENCE, INTEREST OR NECESSITY REQUIRES, SHALL---

HAVE AUTHORITY TO HOLD HEARINGS, SUMMON WITNESSES, ADMINISTER OATHS, COMPEL THE PRODUCTION OF BOOKS, DOCUMENTS, AND PAPERS, AND TO MAKE SUCH INVESTIGATIONS AS MAY BE NECESSARY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF ITS DUTIES. THE COMMISSION MAY MAKE SUCH EXPENDITURES--- INCLUDING EXPENDITURES FOR RENT AND PERSONAL SERVICES AT THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT AND ELSEWHERE, FOR LAW BOOKS, PERIODICALS, AND BOOKS OF REFERENCE, AND FOR PRINTING AND BINDING-- - AS MAY BE NECESSARY FOR THE EXECUTION OF THE FUNCTIONS VESTED IN THE COMMISSION AND AS FROM TIME TO TIME MAY BE APPROPRIATED FORBY CONGRESS. ALL EXPENDITURES OF THE COMMISSION SHALL BE ALLOWED AND PAID UPON THE PRESENTATION OF ITEMIZED VOUCHERS THEREFOR APPROVED BY THE CHAIRMAN.

SECTION 5 OF THE SAID ACT PRESCRIBES CERTAIN DUTIES OF THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE UNDER THE ACT AND PROVIDES FOR APPEALS TO THE COMMISSION FROM THE ACTION BY THE SECRETARY, AND THAT THE COMMISSION SHALL HEAR SUCH APPEALS DE NOVO UNDER SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS AS IT MAY DETERMINE. DECISIONS BY THE COMMISSION ON MATTERS SO APPEALED AND ALL OTHER MATTERS UNDER ITS JURISDICTION ARE DECLARED TO BE FINAL, SUBJECT TO THE RIGHT OF APPEAL GIVEN IN THE ACT. PARAGRAPH 16 OF THE ACT PROVIDES FOR APPEALS FROM THE ACTION OF THE COMMISSION TO THE COURT OF APPEALS IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

SECTION 37 OF THE ACT, 44 STAT. 1174, MAKES AVAILABLE BOTH FOR EXPENSES OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE FEDERAL RADIO ACT AND FOR THE PURPOSES SPECIFIED IN SUCH ITEMS THE APPROPRIATION "WIRELESS COMMUNICATION LAWS" FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1927 AND 1928. THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 24, 1927, 44 STAT. 1206, APPROPRIATES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1928 AS FOLLOWS:

WIRELESS COMMUNICATION LAWS: TO ENABLE THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE TO ENFORCE THE ACTS OF CONGRESS "TO REQUIRE APPARATUS AND OPERATORS FOR RADIO COMMUNICATION ON CERTAIN OCEAN STEAMERS" AND "TO REGULATE RADIO COMMUNICATION" AND CARRY OUT THE INTERNATIONAL RADIOTELEGRAPHIC CONVENTION, EXAMINE AND SETTLE INTERNATIONAL RADIO ACCOUNTS, INCLUDING PERSONAL SERVICES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND TO EMPLOY SUCH PERSONS AND MEANS AS MAY BE NECESSARY, TRAVELING AND SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES, PURCHASE AND EXCHANGE OF INSTRUMENTS, TECHNICAL BOOKS, TABULATING, DUPLICATING, AND OTHER OFFICE MACHINERY AND DEVICES, RENT AND ALL OTHER MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS AND NECESSARY EXPENSES NOT INCLUDED IN THE FOREGOING, $220,000, OF WHICH AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED $45,000 MAY BE EXPENDED FOR PERSONAL SERVICES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

THE AUTHORITY GIVEN THE COMMISSION TO EMPLOY PERSONAL SERVICES DOES NOT AUTHORIZE SUCH EMPLOYMENT IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA BY CONTRACT OR AT RATES OTHER THAN AS PRESCRIBED BY THE CLASSIFICATION ACT. 5 COMP. GEN. 968, 1015; 6 ID. 181. FURTHERMORE, IT HAS BEEN REPEATEDLY HELD BY THIS OFFICE THAT WHEN THE CONGRESS, BY STATUTE, MAKES IT THE REGULAR DUTY OF A DEPARTMENT OR INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENT TO HOLD HEARINGS AND IN THEIR APPROPRIATION PROVIDES FOR PERSONAL SERVICES BUT DOES NOT GIVE STATUTORY AUTHORITY TO CONTRACT FOR STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING SERVICE, IT MUST BE PRESUMED THAT THE HEARINGS, IF REQUIRED TO BE REPORTED, WERE INTENDED TO BE REPORTED BY THE REGULAR EMPLOYEES OF THAT SERVICE. 4 COMP. GEN. 908; ID. 977; A-10076, OF AUGUST 17, 1925; AND A-11393, OF OCTOBER 21, 1925. YOU ARE ADVISED, THEREFORE, THAT THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR YOU TO CONTRACT WITH REPORTERS FOR REPORTING THE HEARINGS TO BE HELD BY YOUR COMMISSION.

IF THE REGULAR EMPLOYEES OF YOUR COMMISSION ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO PERFORM THE NECESSARY REPORTING SERVICE IT MAY BE PERFORMED BY TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES ENGAGED UNDER THE CIVIL SERVICE RULES AND AT RATES SPECIFIED IN THE CLASSIFICATION ACT.

IF IT IS CONSIDERED NECESSARY OR DESIRABLE IN THE FUTURE TO CONTRACT FOR STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING SERVICE, THE MATTER WOULD APPEAR PROPER FOR PRESENTATION TO THE CONGRESS FOR ITS CONSIDERATION AND SUCH ACTION AS MAY BE DEEMED APPROPRIATE. IN THIS CONNECTION, SEE ACT OF APRIL 22, 1926, 44 STAT. 307, 311, 312, AND 317, WHEREIN SUCH AUTHORITY HAS BEEN GIVEN THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION, THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION, THE TARIFF COMMISSION, AND THE BOARD OF TAX APPEALS.