A-7856, APRIL 27, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 891

A-7856: Apr 27, 1925

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IN A ROOM EQUIPPED AND USED AS AN OFFICE FOR THE TRANSACTION OF PUBLIC BUSINESS IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF LIGHTHOUSES AT TIMES WHEN THE OFFICE OUTSIDE THE RESERVATION IS OFFICIALLY CLOSED. IS NOT WITHIN THE PROHIBITION BY SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23. WHEREIN THERE WAS DISALLOWED CREDIT IN THE AMOUNT OF $20 COVERING PAYMENTS TO THE PORTO RICO TELEPHONE CO. IT APPEARS THAT A TELEPHONE IS MAINTAINED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE IN THE OFFICE OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE WHICH IS OUTSIDE OF THE LIGHTHOUSE RESERVATION AND WHICH IS LEASED FROM THE WAR EPARTMENT. THAT THIS OFFICE IS CLOSED DAILY FROM 5 P.M. THAT THERE IS NO WATCHMAN IN THE OFFICE TO RECEIVE CALLS AFTER OFFICE HOURS. THAT THE SUPERINTENDENT'S RESIDENCE IS ON THE LIGHTHOUSE RESERVATION IN A BUILDING PROVIDED FOR THAT PURPOSE BY THE GOVERNMENT.

A-7856, APRIL 27, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 891

TELEPHONES IN PRIVATE RESIDENCES THE INSTALLATION OF A TELEPHONE IN THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED RESIDENCE OF THE SUPERINTENDENT OF LIGHTHOUSES, IN A ROOM EQUIPPED AND USED AS AN OFFICE FOR THE TRANSACTION OF PUBLIC BUSINESS IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF LIGHTHOUSES AT TIMES WHEN THE OFFICE OUTSIDE THE RESERVATION IS OFFICIALLY CLOSED, IS NOT WITHIN THE PROHIBITION BY SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23, 1912, 37 STAT. 414, AGAINST THE EXPENDITURE OF PUBLIC FUNDS FOR TELEPHONE SERVICE INSTALLED IN PRIVATE RESIDENCES.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, APRIL 27, 1925:

J. GONZALEZ QUINONES, SPECIAL DISBURSING OFFICER, LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, APPLIED FOR A REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT C-18966-C, DATED DECEMBER 13, 1924, OF HIS ACCOUNTS, WHEREIN THERE WAS DISALLOWED CREDIT IN THE AMOUNT OF $20 COVERING PAYMENTS TO THE PORTO RICO TELEPHONE CO. OF $2 PER MONTH FOR TELEPHONE SERVICE AT THE RESIDENCE OF SUPERINTENDENT OF LIGHTHOUSES, NINTH DISTRICT, SAN JUAN, P.R., SEPTEMBER, 1923, TO JUNE 30, 1924 (VOUCHERS 2260, 2316, 2385, 2483, 2556, 2599, 2679, 2756, 2821, 2880, RESPECTIVELY.)

SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23, 1912, 37 STAT. 414, PROVIDES:

THAT NO MONEY APPROPRIATED BY THIS OR ANY OTHER ACT SHALL BE EXPENDED FOR TELEPHONE SERVICE INSTALLED IN ANY PRIVATE RESIDENCE OR PRIVATE APARTMENT OR FOR TOLLS OR OTHER CHARGES FOR TELEPHONE SERVICE FROM PRIVATE RESIDENCES OR PRIVATE APARTMENTS, EXCEPT FOR LONG-DISTANCE TELEPHONE TOLLS REQUIRED STRICTLY FOR THE PUBLIC BUSINESS, AND SO SHOWN BY VOUCHERS DULY SWORN TO AND APPROVED BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT, DIVISION, BUREAU, OR OFFICE IN WHICH THE OFFICIAL USING SUCH TELEPHONE OR INCURRING THE EXPENSE OF SUCH TOLLS SHALL BE EMPLOYED.

IT APPEARS THAT A TELEPHONE IS MAINTAINED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE IN THE OFFICE OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE WHICH IS OUTSIDE OF THE LIGHTHOUSE RESERVATION AND WHICH IS LEASED FROM THE WAR EPARTMENT; THAT THIS OFFICE IS CLOSED DAILY FROM 5 P.M. TO 8 A.M., ALSO ON LEGAL HOLIDAYS, SUNDAYS, AND ON SATURDAY AFTERNOONS FROM JUNE 15 TO SEPTEMBER 15; THAT THERE IS NO WATCHMAN IN THE OFFICE TO RECEIVE CALLS AFTER OFFICE HOURS; THAT THE SUPERINTENDENT'S RESIDENCE IS ON THE LIGHTHOUSE RESERVATION IN A BUILDING PROVIDED FOR THAT PURPOSE BY THE GOVERNMENT; AND THAT FROM THE PHONE IN THE OFFICE OUTSIDE THE RESERVATION, UPON THE AUTHORITY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE, A LINE 770 FEET LONG WAS EXTENDED TO THE SUPERINTENDENT'S RESIDENCE AND A PHONE INSTALLED THEREIN, AT A COST OF $2 PER MONTH FOR SERVICE, IN A ROOM FITTED UP WITH GOVERNMENT-OWNED DESK AND DESK PHONE TO BE USED AS AN OFFICE. THIS EXTENSION, IT IS STATED, IS THE ONLY PHONE OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE ON THE LIGHTHOUSE RESERVATION, AND IS USED FOR NIGHT, HOLIDAY, AND EMERGENCY SERVICE ON PUBLIC BUSINESS ONLY, TO WIT, RADIO MESSAGES FROM THE BUREAU, FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE TENDER AWAY FROM SAN JUAN, AND FROM OTHER MARITIME SOURCES, TELEGRAMS, TELEPHONE CALLS ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, WEATHER REPORTS, ETC. AS AN INSTANCE OF SUCH SERVICE, IT IS STATED THAT---

* * * DURING A RECENT THREATENED HURRICANE THE WEATHER BUREAU CALLED THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE BY AGENCY OF THIS TELEPHONE AT INTERVALS OF ONE-HALF HOUR THROUGH THE NIGHT ADVISING THE PATH AND INTENSITY OF THE HURRICANE WHICH PASSED OVER ST. THOMAS, SO THAT THE LIGHTHOUSE TENDER AND CREW COULD BE MOVED TO A HURRICANE ANCHORAGE IF NEED BE * * *.

IN AN ADVANCE DECISION TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE MARCH 8, 1919, 88 MS. COMP. DEC. 1157, THE COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY STATED:

THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF 1912, SUPRA, HAVE BEEN CONSTRUED AS NOT PROHIBITING THE INSTALLATION OF TELEPHONES IN A GOVERNMENT-OWNED HOUSE OF AN EMPLOYEE, WHERE THE WORK REQUIRES THE USE OF A TELEPHONE AND THAT IS THE LOGICAL AND NECESSARY PLACE TO HAVE THE TELEPHONE IN CONDUCTING THE GOVERNMENT'S BUSINESS. (19 COMP. DEC. 212; ID., 350.)

THE SECRETARY WAS THEREIN ADVISED, WITH REFERENCE TO INQUIRY, WHETHER TELEPHONES AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE ARE AUTHORIZED TO BE INSTALLED IN LIGHT KEEPERS' DWELLINGS LOCATED ON GOVERNMENT LAND, IN ADDITION TO THE TELEPHONES MAINTAINED AT THE LIGHTHOUSE DEPOTS, THAT SUCH EXPENDITURE WAS PROHIBITED BY THE STATUTE, THE FACTS PRESENTED NOT SHOWING THAT THE TELEPHONES WERE TO BE INSTALLED FOR THE TRANSACTION OF PUBLIC BUSINESS BUT RATHER FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF CALLING THE EMPLOYEE TO DUTY WHEN HIS SERVICES ARE REQUIRED AND HE IS AT HOME. BUT APRIL 29, 1919, 89 MS. COMP. DEC. 670, THE SECRETARY WAS ADVISED, UPON FURTHER PRESENTATION OF FACTS, THAT UPON CERTIFICATION BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE THAT EMERGENCY CALLS WERE MADE AT TIMES WHEN THE KEEPER IS AUTHORIZED TO BE AT HIS DWELLING, AND THE DWELLING IS ACTUALLY A PLACE FOR THE TRANSACTION OF PUBLIC BUSINESS IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF LIGHTHOUSES, THE EXPENSE IS AUTHORIZED.

IN THE INSTANT CASE IT IS SHOWN THAT THE PHONE IN QUESTION, THE ONLY PHONE OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE THAT IS ON THE LIGHTHOUSE RESERVATION, IS INSTALLED IN A GOVERNMENT-OWNED HOUSE PROVIDED FOR THE RESIDENCE OF THE SUPERINTENDENT OF LIGHTHOUSES, IN A ROOM EQUIPPED AND USED AS AN OFFICE, UPON THE AUTHORITY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE AS APPARENTLY THE LOGICAL AND NECESSARY PLACE TO INSTALL THE SAME FOR THE TRANSACTION OF PUBLIC BUSINESS IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF LIGHTHOUSES AT TIMES WHEN THE OFFICE OUTSIDE THE RESERVATION IS OFFICIALLY CLOSED.

UPON REVIEW, A DIFFERENCE OF $20 IS CERTIFIED FOR CREDIT IN THE SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT'S ACCOUNT.

THE FACTS IN THIS CASE ARE ESSENTIALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE FACTS IN THE CASE DECIDED IN 22 COMP. DEC. 602. THE RULES ANNOUNCED IN SAID DECISION AND IN 19 COMP. DEC. 198, ARE NOT ABROGATED OR MODIFIED BY THE ACTION IN THIS CASE.