A-61087, MAY 10, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 825

A-61087: May 10, 1935

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REFERENCE IS MADE TO DISALLOWANCE IN CONNECTION WITH VOUCHERS 455. DISALLOWANCES WERE MADE BECAUSE THE ORIGINAL COPIES OF TELEGRAMS BEARING TRANSMISSION MARKS WERE NOT FILED IN SUPPORT OF VOUCHERS. 2. WHEN DISBURSING OFFICERS FOR THE WAR DEPARTMENT WERE DIRECTED TO MAKE PAYMENTS FOR OTHER SERVICES IN CONNECTION WITH THE ECW PROJECTS. THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS WERE ISSUED IN FINANCE BULLETIN 35. EQUIPMENT FROM THE EMERGENCY CONSERVATION FUND FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH THE EMERGENCY CONSERVATION WORK WILL BE MADE UNDER THE REGULATIONS. THE STATE PROCURING OFFICER FOR SOUTH DAKOTA ADVISED THAT ORIGINAL COPIES OF TELEGRAMS WERE NOT REQUIRED WITH THEIR ACCOUNTS. PAYMENT WAS MADE BY THIS OFFICE ON VOUCHERS SUPPORTED BY COPIES OF TELEGRAMS ONLY.

A-61087, MAY 10, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 825

TELEGRAMS CLAIMS FOR TELEGRAPH SERVICES, NOT OF A CONFIDENTIAL NATURE, WHEN PRESENTED TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR PAYMENT, MUST BE SUPPORTED BY THE ORIGINAL OF THE OUTGOING MESSAGES.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO MAJ. H. G. COYKENDALL, UNITED STATES ARMY, MAY 10, 1935:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED, THROUGH THE CHIEF OF FINANCE, UNITED STATES ARMY, REQUEST OF BESS HEATON, DEPUTY, FINANCE OFFICER, UNITED STATES ARMY, DATED MARCH 20, 1935, AS FOLLOWS:

1. REFERENCE IS MADE TO DISALLOWANCE IN CONNECTION WITH VOUCHERS 455, 909, OCTOBER 1933, AND VOUCHER 2860, NOVEMBER 1933, ACCOUNTS OF MAJOR H. G. COYKENDALL. THESE VOUCHERS COVER PAYMENTS MADE TO THE WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH COMPANY, HERMOSA, SOUTH DAKOTA, FOR SERVICES RENDERED THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE,IN CONNECTION WITH ECW PROJECTS. DISALLOWANCES WERE MADE BECAUSE THE ORIGINAL COPIES OF TELEGRAMS BEARING TRANSMISSION MARKS WERE NOT FILED IN SUPPORT OF VOUCHERS.

2. WHEN DISBURSING OFFICERS FOR THE WAR DEPARTMENT WERE DIRECTED TO MAKE PAYMENTS FOR OTHER SERVICES IN CONNECTION WITH THE ECW PROJECTS, THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS WERE ISSUED IN FINANCE BULLETIN 35, DATED APRIL 21, 1933:

"5. DEPARTMENTAL REGULATIONS.--- PROCUREMENT SERVICES, SUPPLIES, AND EQUIPMENT FROM THE EMERGENCY CONSERVATION FUND FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH THE EMERGENCY CONSERVATION WORK WILL BE MADE UNDER THE REGULATIONS, OR PROCEDURE OF THE PROCURING DEPARTMENT.'

THE STATE PROCURING OFFICER FOR SOUTH DAKOTA ADVISED THAT ORIGINAL COPIES OF TELEGRAMS WERE NOT REQUIRED WITH THEIR ACCOUNTS, CONSEQUENTLY, PAYMENT WAS MADE BY THIS OFFICE ON VOUCHERS SUPPORTED BY COPIES OF TELEGRAMS ONLY. NOTICES OF EXCEPTION WERE FIRST RECEIVED BY THIS OFFICE ON JULY 1ST, AND THE PROCURING OFFICER WAS IMMEDIATELY CALLED UPON TO FURNISH THE ORIGINAL COPIES. HE, IN TURN, ATTEMPTED TO OBTAIN THE ORIGINALS FROM THE TELEGRAPH COMPANY. HOWEVER, THE MESSAGES HAD ALREADY BEEN DESTROYED AND THE WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH COMPANY FURNISHED A CERTIFICATE TO THAT EFFECT. THE MATTER HAS RECENTLY BEEN TAKEN UP WITH THE WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH COMPANY HERE IN OMAHA WHO ADVISES THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO FURNISH THE ORIGINALS AS TELEGRAPH MESSAGES WHICH ARE NOT CALLED FOR WITHIN THREE MONTHS AFTER TRANSMITTAL ARE DESTROYED. THE COMPANY FEELS THAT BECAUSE SERVICES WERE ACTUALLY RENDERED THAT THEY ARE ENTITLED TO THE PAYMENT MADE THEM AND SHOULD NOT BE REQUIRED TO REFUND BECAUSE THE MESSAGES WERE NOT CALLED FOR BY THE PROCURING OFFICER.

AS IT IS EVIDENT THAT THE SERVICES WERE ACTUALLY RENDERED TO THE GOVERNMENT AND THAT NEITHER THE PROCURING OFFICER OR THE FINANCE OFFICER WERE AT FAULT BECAUSE THEY WERE FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS WHICH HAD BEEN ISSUED UP TO THAT TIME, IT IS REQUESTED THAT THE DISALLOWANCES BE REVIEWED AND CREDIT BE ALLOWED FOR PAYMENTS WHICH APPARENTLY WERE MADE IN GOOD FAITH.

IT IS A WELL ESTABLISHED ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLE AND A LONG FOLLOWED PRACTICE OF ACCOUNTING OFFICERS TO REQUIRE, IN SUPPORT OF CLAIMS FOR TELEGRAPH SERVICES, THE ORIGINALS OF THE OUTGOING MESSAGES. THE REGULATIONS OF THE VARIOUS DEPARTMENTS AND BUREAUS OF THE GOVERNMENT QUOTE GENERALLY STATE THIS REQUIREMENT, AND THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE HAVE BEEN QUITE UNIFORM IN THIS REQUIREMENT, UNLESS AN UNUSUAL PUBLIC MATTER REQUIRED THE SENDING OF A CONFIDENTIAL TELEGRAM, WHICH IS NOT THE INSTANT CASE AND NEED NOT BE COMMENTED ON HERE. SEE 22 COMP. DEC. 26; 4 COMP. GEN. 860; A-15438, SEPTEMBER 4, 1926; A-19154, JULY 19, 1927; AND A-23232, JUNE 28, 1928. THE WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH CO. HAS RECOGNIZED THIS PRINCIPLE AND REQUIREMENT AND HAS INCORPORATED IN ITS TARIFF BOOK OF 1934, IN CONNECTION WITH INFORMATION CONCERNING GOVERNMENT TELEGRAMS AND COLLECTION THEREFOR, AT PAGE 401, PARAGRAPH 10 (A), THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS:

MESSAGES OF A RESIDENT GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT, BUREAU, AGENCY, OR REPRESENTATIVE WILL BE CHARGED TO A LOCAL MONTHLY CHARGE ACCOUNT, TO BE PAID TO THE LOCAL WESTERN UNION OFFICE BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT, BUREAU, AGENCY, OR REPRESENTATIVE. THE MONTHLY BILL WILL BE SUPPORTED BY THE ORIGINALS OF SENT-PAID MESSAGES AND THE CARBON OR TISSUE COPIES OF RECEIVED-COLLECT MESSAGES.

UNDER ITS OWN REGULATION, IT IS, THEREFORE, NECESSARY THAT THE CLAIM OF A LOCAL OFFICE OF THE COMPANY ON THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY FOR OUTGOING OFFICIAL MESSAGES BE SUPPORTED BY THE ORIGINAL MESSAGES.

IN VIEW OF THE WELL-ESTABLISHED ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLE AND THE FACT THAT THE WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH CO. HAS RECOGNIZED THE PRINCIPLE AND INCORPORATED IT IN ITS TARIFF BOOK OF 1934, THERE WAS NO REASONABLE JUSTIFICATION OR EXCUSE FOR THE FAILURE OF THE OFFICIALS OF THE TELEGRAPH COMPANY TO SUBMIT THE ORIGINAL MESSAGES WITH ITS VOUCHERS OR FOR THE ACTION OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER IN MAKING PAYMENTS ON VOUCHERS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE ORIGINAL MESSAGES. ACCORDINGLY, THE DISALLOWANCES MUST BE AND ARE SUSTAINED.