A-60503, MARCH 1, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 675

A-60503: Mar 1, 1935

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DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION TO MEMBERS OF THE CONGRESS - HOME OWNERS' LOAN CORPORATION THERE IS NO LEGAL OBJECTION TO THE USE OF FUNDS AND PERSONNEL OF THE FEDERAL HOME LOAN BANK BOARD OR OF THE HOME OWNERS' LOAN CORPORATION CREATED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 13. THE REASONABLENESS OF SUCH REQUESTS AND WHETHER THERE ARE PERSONNEL AND SUFFICIENT FUNDS ON HAND FOR COMPLIANCE WITH SUCH REQUESTS ARE MATTERS PRIMARILY FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION. THE SUGGESTION IS MADE THAT DIVULGING INFORMATION REGARDING THE IDENTITY OF APPLICANTS FOR LOANS WOULD BE CONTRARY TO THE SPIRIT AND INTENT OF THE STATUTE. AS FOLLOWS: THE HOME OWNERS' LOAN CORPORATION IS RECEIVING NUMEROUS REQUESTS FROM MEMBERS OF CONGRESS FOR INFORMATION WHICH IT DOES NOT COMPILE REQUIRING THE EXPENDITURE OF VERY CONSIDERABLE SUMS OF MONEY AND THE EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONNEL CONCERNING WHICH IT IS IN DOUBT AS TO ITS AUTHORITY UNDER THE LAW TO INCUR THE EXPENDITURE INVOLVED.

A-60503, MARCH 1, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 675

DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION TO MEMBERS OF THE CONGRESS - HOME OWNERS' LOAN CORPORATION THERE IS NO LEGAL OBJECTION TO THE USE OF FUNDS AND PERSONNEL OF THE FEDERAL HOME LOAN BANK BOARD OR OF THE HOME OWNERS' LOAN CORPORATION CREATED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 13, 1933, 48 STAT. 128, IN FURNISHING INFORMATION AS TO THE IDENTITY OF APPLICANTS FOR LOANS OR THE STATUS OF EMPLOYEES. THE REASONABLENESS OF SUCH REQUESTS AND WHETHER THERE ARE PERSONNEL AND SUFFICIENT FUNDS ON HAND FOR COMPLIANCE WITH SUCH REQUESTS ARE MATTERS PRIMARILY FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION. THE SUGGESTION IS MADE THAT DIVULGING INFORMATION REGARDING THE IDENTITY OF APPLICANTS FOR LOANS WOULD BE CONTRARY TO THE SPIRIT AND INTENT OF THE STATUTE.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL HOME LOAN BANK BOARD, MARCH 1, 1935:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 25, 1935, AS FOLLOWS:

THE HOME OWNERS' LOAN CORPORATION IS RECEIVING NUMEROUS REQUESTS FROM MEMBERS OF CONGRESS FOR INFORMATION WHICH IT DOES NOT COMPILE REQUIRING THE EXPENDITURE OF VERY CONSIDERABLE SUMS OF MONEY AND THE EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONNEL CONCERNING WHICH IT IS IN DOUBT AS TO ITS AUTHORITY UNDER THE LAW TO INCUR THE EXPENDITURE INVOLVED.

THE FOLLOWING ARE EXAMPLES OF THE KIND OF INFORMATION REQUESTED:

(1) LISTS OF EMPLOYEES IN CERTAIN OF OUR OFFICES AND IN CERTAIN STATES GIVING THEIR ADDRESSES, SALARIES RECEIVED, AND POLITICAL AND OTHER ENDORSEMENTS. TO PROVIDE THIS INFORMATION AN EXTENDED EXAMINATION OF OUR FILES WOULD BE NECESSARY REQUIRING THE SERVICES OF A CONSIDERABLE NUMBER OF OUR EMPLOYEES WHO WOULD OTHERWISE BE ENGAGED UPON THE REGULAR WORK OF THE CORPORATION OR THE EMPLOYMENT OF ADDITIONAL PERSONNEL IN ORDER TO ASSEMBLE THE INFORMATION. THERE ARE SOME CASES, OF COURSE, WHERE THE NUMBER OF PERSONS INVOLVED IS SO SMALL THAT BUT LITTLE LABOR WOULD BE INVOLVED. HERE, HOWEVER, WE ARE CONFRONTED WITH THE QUESTION OF POSSIBLE DISCRIMINATION. IF WE RESPOND TO THE REQUEST OF ONE MEMBER OF CONGRESS CONCERNING HIS STATE OR DISTRICT WE FEEL THAT WE CANNOT DENY SIMILAR REQUESTS FROM OTHERS. IF WE ATTEMPTED TO RESPOND AT ALL, THE COST WOULD BE VERY LARGE AND THE TIME CONSUMED WOULD SERIOUSLY INTERFERE WITH OUR NORMAL OPERATIONS.

(2) WE RECEIVE REQUESTS FROM MEMBERS OF CONGRESS FOR LISTS OF EMPLOYEES WITH THEIR WAGE RATES AND ADDRESSES, WHO ARE SEPARATED FROM THE SERVICE IN THE STATES AS OUR FORCES ARE REDUCED. IF WE ATTEMPT TO MEET THESE REQUESTS WE ARE CONFRONTED WITH THE SAME EMBARRASSMENTS AS THOSE OUTLINED UNDER PARAGRAPH (1).

(3) WE HAVE REQUESTS FROM MEMBERS OF CONGRESS FOR LISTS OF PERSONS WITH THEIR ADDRESSES WHO HAVE RECEIVED LOANS FROM THE CORPORATION IN VARIOUS STATES AND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS. THERE ARE NOW NEARLY 800,000 SUCH CLOSED LOANS IN THE COUNTRY. PREPARING INFORMATION OF THIS KIND WOULD INVOLVE A LARGE EXPENDITURE, AND GRAVE DISRUPTION OF THE ORDINARY OPERATIONS OF OUR OFFICES.

(4) WE HAVE REQUESTS FOR THE NAMES AND ADDRESSES OF PERSONS WHO HAVE APPLIED FOR LOANS WHICH HAVE NOT BEEN GRANTED. THERE ARE MORE THAN 900,000 FILES CONTAINING APPLICATIONS OF THIS SORT IN OUR OFFICES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. ANY EFFORT TO MAKE SUCH LISTS WOULD LEAD TO COMPLETE DISORGANIZATION OF OUR ACTIVITIES FOR SOME MONTHS AT A COST REPRESENTING A VERY LARGE SUM.

WE WOULD APPRECIATE A RULING FROM YOU AS TO OUR AUTHORITY TO DIVERT OUR EMPLOYEES FROM THEIR REGULAR TASKS TO PREPARE INFORMATION OF THIS KIND, TO ENGAGE ADDITIONAL EMPLOYEES TO PERFORM SUCH TASKS, AND TO EXPEND THE MONEY INVOLVED IN ATTEMPTING TO COMPLY WITH REQUESTS OF THIS CHARACTER.

THE INFORMATION REFERRED TO IS NOT COMPILED AT PRESENT FOR THE REGULAR USE OF THE CORPORATION OR FOR THE INFORMATION OF THE PUBLIC.

THE PROPRIETY OF FURNISHING INFORMATION TO MEMBERS OF THE CONGRESS REGARDING THE STATUS OF PERSONNEL OF THE HOME OWNERS' LOAN CORPORATION OR AS TO THE IDENTITY OF BORROWERS IS PRIMARILY FOR THE ADMINISTRATIVE CONSIDERATION AND DETERMINATION OF THE PROPER OFFICERS OF THE CORPORATION UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF JUNE 13, 1933, 48 STAT. 128, AUTHORIZING THE CREATION OF THE HOME OWNERS' LOAN CORPORATION AND PRESCRIBING ITS FUNCTIONS. SEE PARTICULARLY SECTION 4 (A), (C), (J), (K).

THERE IS NO LEGAL OBJECTION TO THE USE OF FUNDS AND PERSONNEL OF THE BOARD AND THE CORPORATION IN FURNISHING INFORMATION IN RESPONSE TO REASONABLE REQUESTS OF MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. THE REASONABLENESS OF SUCH REQUESTS AND WHETHER THERE ARE PERSONNEL AND SUFFICIENT FUNDS ON HAND FOR COMPLIANCE WITH SUCH REQUESTS ARE MATTERS PRIMARILY FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION--- UNDERSTANDING THAT THE DATA REQUESTED ARE NOT ASSEMBLED OR COMPILED IN YOUR OPERATIONS, AND WOULD HAVE TO BE SPECIALLY UNDERTAKEN AND INVOLVE LARGE EXPENDITURES OF MONEY AND EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONNEL.

IT MAY BE SUGGESTED THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF AN EXPRESS STATUTORY PROVISION REQUIRING PUBLICITY IN SUCH MATTERS, DIVULGING INFORMATION REGARDING THE IDENTITY, ETC., OF APPLICANTS FOR LOANS UNDER THE ACT--- GRANTED OR NOT GRANTED--- WOULD BE CONTRARY TO THE SPIRIT AND INTENT OF THE STATUTE.