A-9166, MAY 22, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 977

A-9166: May 22, 1925

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

PERSONAL SERVICES - STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING - UNITED STATES TARIFF COMMISSION IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY THE STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS CONSTITUTING A PART OF THE REGULAR WORK OF A GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENT IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IS FOR PERFORMANCE BY THE REGULAR EMPLOYEES OF THAT ESTABLISHMENT EMPLOYED AT RATES OF COMPENSATION SPECIFIED IN THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF MARCH 4. 1925: THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED WITH YOUR APPROVAL REQUEST BY THE SECRETARY AND DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE UNITED STATES TARIFF COMMISSION FOR DECISION OF THE QUESTION WHETHER THE COMMISSION IS AUTHORIZED TO CONTRACT ON A PAGE BASIS FOR STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING AND FURNISHING COPIES OF THE REPORTS OF PUBLIC HEARINGS HELD BY THE COMMISSION.

A-9166, MAY 22, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 977

PERSONAL SERVICES - STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING - UNITED STATES TARIFF COMMISSION IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY THE STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS CONSTITUTING A PART OF THE REGULAR WORK OF A GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENT IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IS FOR PERFORMANCE BY THE REGULAR EMPLOYEES OF THAT ESTABLISHMENT EMPLOYED AT RATES OF COMPENSATION SPECIFIED IN THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF MARCH 4, 1923, 42 STAT. 1488.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL GINN TO THE CHAIRMAN, UNITED STATES TARIFF COMMISSION, MAY 22, 1925:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED WITH YOUR APPROVAL REQUEST BY THE SECRETARY AND DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE UNITED STATES TARIFF COMMISSION FOR DECISION OF THE QUESTION WHETHER THE COMMISSION IS AUTHORIZED TO CONTRACT ON A PAGE BASIS FOR STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING AND FURNISHING COPIES OF THE REPORTS OF PUBLIC HEARINGS HELD BY THE COMMISSION. WITH REGARD TO THE NECESSITY OF SUCH SERVICES IT IS STATED:

IT HAS BEEN THE PRACTICE OF THE COMMISSION FROM THE BEGINNING TO HAVE ITS PUBLIC HEARINGS REPORTED BY CONTRACT WITH SHORTHAND REPORTERS EQUIPPED FOR SUCH WORK. IT WOULD BE IMPRACTICABLE FOR THE COMMISSION TO DO OTHERWISE WITHOUT INCURRING NEEDLESSLY INCREASED EXPENSE TO OBTAIN THE SAME SERVICE. THE REPORTING OF PUBLIC HEARINGS, INCLUDING TESTIMONY AND ARGUMENT CONCERNING MANY AND DIVERSIFIED TECHNICAL SUBJECTS MATTER, REQUIRES THE SERVICES OF HIGHLY SKILLED REPORTERS. FURTHERMORE, IN ORDER THAT THERE MAY BE FURNISHED DAILY TRANSCRIPTS OF THE RECORD, IT IS NECESSARY THAT THREE OR FOUR REPORTERS SHALL WORK IN RELIEFS SO THAT THEIR NOTES MAY BE TRANSCRIBED IMMEDIATELY. IN ORDER THAT THE REQUISITE NUMBER OF COPIES OF THE TRANSCRIPT MAY BE AVAILABLE, IT IS NECESSARY THAT THE TRANSCRIPT BE MADE UPON STENCILS FOR USE UPON DUPLICATING MACHINES. IT IS THEREFORE NECESSARY THAT THE REPORTERS SHALL DICTATE THEIR NOTES TO PHONOGRAPH MACHINES, SO THAT SEVERAL TYPISTS MAY BE EMPLOYED AT ONCE IN MAKING THE STENCILS, FOR WHICH WORK PERSONS EXPERIENCED IN THIS MODE OF OPERATION MUST BE EMPLOYED. ALL OF THESE FACILITIES ARE READILY OBTAINED AT THE MINIMUM COST THROUGH CONTRACT WITH REPORTING FIRMS, WHICH ARE EQUIPPED FOR AND CAN EXECUTE WORK OF THIS CHARACTER IN REGULAR COURSE.

IF THE TARIFF COMMISSION WERE TO UNDERTAKE TO HAVE THIS WORK PERFORMED THROUGH PERSONNEL OF ITS OWN, UNDER PRESENT CONDITIONS IT WOULD BE NECESSARY TO ENGAGE AT HIGH SALARIES QUALIFIED REPORTERS WHO WOULD BE UNEMPLOYED DURING MUCH OF THE TIME. IT WOULD BE NECESSARY TO PURCHASE PHONOGRAPH MACHINES AND SUPPLIES WHICH WOULD BE IDLE DURING MUCH OF THE TIME. IT WOULD BE NECESSARY TO ADD TO THE STAFF TYPISTS QUALIFIED TO TRANSCRIBE FROM SUCH PHONOGRAPH MACHINES, AS OCCASION REQUIRED, DIRECTLY UPON STENCIL SHEETS. IN THE CASE OF HEARINGS HELD ELSEWHERE THAN IN WASHINGTON, IT WOULD BE NECESSARY FOR THE COMMISSION TO SEND ALL THESE EMPLOYEES AND THIS EQUIPMENT TO THE PLACES OF SUCH HEARINGS, AND THIS COURSE WOULD NECESSITATE ADDITIONAL HEAVY EXPENSE. UNDER ITS PRESENT CONTRACT THE COMMISSION HAS THE BENEFIT OF A LOW RATE, BECAUSE OF THE ADVANTAGE ALLOWED TO THE CONTRACTOR IN PERMITTING HIM TO SELL COPIES OF THE TRANSCRIPTS TO INTERESTED PARTIES.

TRANSCRIPTS OF THE RECORDS IN PUBLIC HEARINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION ARE NECESSARY IN THE WORK OF THE COMMISSION, AS THEY ARE THE ONLY MEANS, OTHER THAN OF MEMORY, OF PRESERVING TESTIMONY AND ARGUMENT SUBMITTED TO THE COMMISSION. THEY ARE REQUISITE TO THE COMPLETION OF THE RECORD IN SUCH PROCEEDINGS AND ARE THEREFORE A NECESSARY EXPENSE TO THE COMMISSION, AND NO LAW IS KNOWN TO THIS OFFICE WHICH INHIBITS THE INCURRENCE OF SUCH EXPENSES IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION OF THE COMMISSION. (SEE 19 COMP. DEC., 416; ALSO SECS. 315, 316, 317, ACT OF SEPT. 21, 1922, 42 STAT.L., P. 941.)

THE ACT OF AUGUST 5, 1882, 22 STAT. 255, PROHIBITS THE EMPLOYMENT AT THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT OF ANY EMPLOYEES EXCEPT PURSUANT TO SPECIFIC APPROPRIATIONS FOR SUCH PERSONAL SERVICES, AND PROHIBITS THE PAYMENT FOR PERSONAL SERVICES AT THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT FROM ANY CONTINGENT EXPENSE, SPECIFIC, OR GENERAL APPROPRIATION UNLESS SUCH EMPLOYMENT IS AUTHORIZED AND PAYMENT THEREFOR PROVIDED IN THE LAW GRANTING THE APPROPRIATION.

AS A GENERAL RULE THE REPORTING OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS IS FOR PERFORMANCE BY THE REGULAR EMPLOYEES; THERE APPEARS AN EXCEPTION WHERE THE AGENCY OF THE GOVERNMENT CONCERNED IS OF A TEMPORARY CHARACTER AS DISTINGUISHED FROM A PERMANENT ONE. DECISION OF OCTOBER 14,1921, 2 MS COMP. GEN. 632, WITH REFERENCE TO A HEARING BY THE COMMISSION TO APPRAISE THE WASHINGTON MARKET, AS TO WHICH IT WAS STATED:

THE STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING REQUIRED IN CONDUCTING THE HEARINGS IS NOT NECESSARILY CONNECTED WITH THE SERVICES OF THE STENOGRAPHER IN AN ADMINISTRATIVE CAPACITY.

IN ORDER TO AUTHORIZE THE CONTRACTING FOR STENOGRAPHIC REPORTS IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, THERE MUST FIRST BE AN APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR SUCH WORK AND SECOND THE HEARINGS MUST NECESSARILY BE OF SUCH NATURE AS TO PRECLUDE AN INTENT THAT THE REPORTING BE DONE BY THE REGULAR FORCE OF STENOGRAPHERS PROVIDED FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT.

THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE TARIFF COMMISSION FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1925 IN THE ACT OF JULY 7, 1924, 43 STAT. 529, IS IN THE FOLLOWING LANGUAGE:

FOR SALARIES AND EXPENSES OF THE UNITED STATES TARIFF COMMISSION * * * AS AUTHORIZED UNDER TITLE VII OF THE ACT * * * APPROVED SEPTEMBER 8, 1916, AND UNDER SECTIONS 315, 316, 317, AND 318 OF THE ACT * * * APPROVED SEPTEMBER 21, 1922, $671,980 * * *.

THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 8, 1916, 39 STAT. 795, REFERRED TO IN THE APPROPRIATION, CREATED THE UNITED STATES TARIFF COMMISSION AND PROVIDED THAT---

* * * IT SHALL HAVE AUTHORITY TO EMPLOY AND FIX THE COMPENSATIONS OF SUCH SPECIAL EXPERTS, EXAMINERS, CLERKS, AND OTHER EMPLOYEES AS THE COMMISSION MAY FROM TIME TO TIME FIND NECESSARY FOR THE PROPER PERFORMANCE OF ITS DUTIES.

WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE SECRETARY, A CLERK TO EACH COMMISSIONER, AND SUCH SPECIAL EXPERTS AS THE COMMISSION MAY FROM TIME TO TIME FIND NECESSARY FOR THE CONDUCT OF ITS WORK, ALL EMPLOYEES OF THE COMMISSION SHALL BE APPOINTED FROM LISTS OF ELIGIBLES TO BE SUPPLIED BY THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CIVIL-SERVICE LAW.

SEC. 706. THAT FOR THE PURPOSES OF CARRYING THIS TITLE INTO EFFECT THE COMMISSION * * * SHALL HAVE POWER TO SUMMON WITNESSES, TAKE TESTIMONY, ADMINISTER OATHS * * *.

THE EMPLOYEES OF THE TARIFF COMMISSION IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA HAVE BEEN CLASSIFIED UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF MARCH 4, 1923, 42 STAT. 1488. THE AUTHORITY GIVEN THE COMMISSION BY THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 8, 1916, SUPRA, TO EMPLOY PERSONAL SERVICES, DOES NOT AUTHORIZE SUCH EMPLOYMENT IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA BY CONTRACT AT RATES OTHER THAN AS PRESCRIBED IN THE CLASSIFICATION ACT. IN VIEW OF THE SPECIFIC PROVISION IN THE LAW FOR HOLDING HEARINGS, WHICH APPARENTLY CONSTITUTE A LARGE PART OF ITS REGULAR WORK, IT MAY BE PRESUMED THAT THE HEARINGS WERE INTENDED TO BE REPORTED BY THE REGULAR EMPLOYEES OF THE COMMISSION. IT APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN THE PRACTICE OF THE COMMISSION FOR SOME TIME TO HAVE ITS HEARINGS REPORTED BY CONTRACT REPORTERS AND AS ITS APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE PRESENT FISCAL YEAR AND THE FISCAL YEAR 1926 HAVE ALREADY BEEN MADE, THE EXISTING PRACTICE WILL BE PERMITTED TO CONTINUE UNTIL JUNE 30, 1926. THE SUSPENSIONS IN THE ACCOUNTS OF JOHN F. BETHUNE OF PAYMENTS ON VOUCHERS NOS. 3221 AND 3450 TO SMITH AND HULSE FOR STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING, WILL BE REMOVED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOREGOING.

IF CONSIDERED NECESSARY OR DESIRABLE TO CONTINUE THE PRACTICE OF CONTRACTING FOR STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING OF HEARINGS AFTER JUNE 30, 1926, SPECIFIC LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY THEREFOR SHOULD BE REQUESTED FROM CONGRESS.