A-94119, APRIL 26, 1938, 17 COMP. GEN. 873

A-94119: Apr 26, 1938

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HAS BEEN MADE FROM THE INDIVIDUAL FOR WHOSE BENEFIT THE SERVICES WERE RENDERED. PROVIDED THE VOUCHER SHOWS THE FULL COST OF THE TELEGRAMS AT COMMERCIAL RATES IS BEING CHARGED TO THE SPECIAL DEPOSIT ACCOUNT. 9 COMP. WHICH IS FOR APPLICATION WHERE TELEGRAPH SERVICE CHARGES ARE PROPERLY FOR PAYMENT FROM APPROPRIATED MONEYS. 1938: THERE IS BEFORE ME MEMORANDUM OF APRIL 9. REPORTING AS FOLLOWS: THERE ARE TRANSMITTED HEREWITH NATIONAL BITUMINOUS COAL COMMISSION. IT APPEARS THAT THE AMOUNT CLAIMED BY PAYEE IS $9.25 AND THAT THIS AMOUNT WAS INCREASED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE TO COVER THE DIFFERENCE OF 54 CENTS BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND COMMERCIAL RATES ON THE UNOFFICIAL MESSAGE. THE AMOUNT OF 50 CENTS RECLAIMED ON VOUCHER OF THIS OFFICE WAS PREVIOUSLY DEDUCTED FROM BUREAU VOUCHER NO. 1963 BY PREAUDIT DIFFERENCE STATEMENT OF MARCH 3.

A-94119, APRIL 26, 1938, 17 COMP. GEN. 873

TELEGRAMS - PERSONAL - COLLECTION FROM EMPLOYEES AT COMMERCIAL RATES - TELEGRAPH COMPANY BILLING CHANGES BY GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES MAY INCREASE AMOUNTS CLAIMED FOR TELEGRAPH SERVICES BY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT RATE BILLED AND THE COMMERCIAL RATE FOR MESSAGES OF A PERSONAL NATURE WHERE COLLECTION AT THE COMMERCIAL RATE, PLUS TAX, HAS BEEN MADE FROM THE INDIVIDUAL FOR WHOSE BENEFIT THE SERVICES WERE RENDERED, AND DEPOSITED IN A SPECIAL DEPOSIT ACCOUNT, PROVIDED THE VOUCHER SHOWS THE FULL COST OF THE TELEGRAMS AT COMMERCIAL RATES IS BEING CHARGED TO THE SPECIAL DEPOSIT ACCOUNT. 9 COMP. GEN. 251, PROHIBITING, GENERALLY, THE INCREASING OF THE AMOUNT CLAIMED ON A VOUCHER, AND WHICH IS FOR APPLICATION WHERE TELEGRAPH SERVICE CHARGES ARE PROPERLY FOR PAYMENT FROM APPROPRIATED MONEYS, DISTINGUISHED.

DECISION BY ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT, APRIL 26, 1938:

THERE IS BEFORE ME MEMORANDUM OF APRIL 9, 1938, OF THE AUDIT DIVISION, REPORTING AS FOLLOWS:

THERE ARE TRANSMITTED HEREWITH NATIONAL BITUMINOUS COAL COMMISSION, INTERIOR DEPARTMENT, VOUCHER BUREAU NO. 5740, IN FAVOR OF WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH COMPANY, FORT SMITH, ARKANSAS, IN THE AMOUNT OF $9.79, SUBMITTED TO THIS OFFICE FOR PREAUDIT ON SCHEDULE NO. 2378, AND GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH COMPANY, WASHINGTON, D.C., IN THE AMOUNT OF 50 CENTS, SUBMITTED TO THIS DIVISION FOR PREAUDIT ON SCHEDULE 896.

THE AMOUNT OF THE NATIONAL BITUMINOUS COAL COMMISSION VOUCHER, $9.79, INCLUDES THE COMMERCIAL CHARGE OF 90 CENTS FOR UNOFFICIAL MESSAGE OF FEBRUARY 18, 1938, ADDRESSED TO ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO. IT APPEARS THAT THE AMOUNT CLAIMED BY PAYEE IS $9.25 AND THAT THIS AMOUNT WAS INCREASED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE TO COVER THE DIFFERENCE OF 54 CENTS BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND COMMERCIAL RATES ON THE UNOFFICIAL MESSAGE.

THE AMOUNT OF 50 CENTS RECLAIMED ON VOUCHER OF THIS OFFICE WAS PREVIOUSLY DEDUCTED FROM BUREAU VOUCHER NO. 1963 BY PREAUDIT DIFFERENCE STATEMENT OF MARCH 3, 1938, BECAUSE THE TWO MESSAGES CONCERNED WERE OF A PERSONAL NATURE. THIS RECLAIM VOUCHER CONTEMPLATES THE PAYMENT TO THE TELEGRAPH COMPANY OF THE GOVERNMENT CHARGES ONLY.

THE QUESTION ARISES AS TO WHETHER THE CLAIMED AMOUNT OF A VOUCHER MAY PROPERLY BE INCREASED BY AN ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE BY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND COMMERCIAL RATES OF UNOFFICIAL MESSAGES, WHEN THE COMMERCIAL CHARGES ARE PAYABLE FROM SPECIAL DEPOSITS.

IT WAS HELD IN 9 COMP. GEN. 251 THAT---

"* * * INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT REQUIRE THAT THERE BE NO INCREASE, BY WAY OF CORRECTION OR ALTERATION, IN THE TOTAL AMOUNT CLAIMED ON A VOUCHER, UNLESS SUCH CORRECTION OR ALTERATION BE MADE BY THE CLAIMANT, AND THEN ONLY IN THE FORM OF A NEW VOUCHER FOR THE CORRECT AMOUNT CLAIMED.'

IN 2 COMP. GEN. 709 IT WAS STATED:

"* * * SAID UNDERPAYMENTS SHOULD BE BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS IN CASES WHERE THE FACT THAT THEY ARE UNDERPAYMENTS IS PERFECTLY CLEAR AND IN WHICH TO DO SO WILL SIMPLIFY PROPER ACCOUNTING AND AVOID THE UNNECESSARY FILING OF CLAIMS FOR SUCH SHORT PAYMENTS.'

BY DECISIONS OF DECEMBER 3, 1937, TO THE NATIONAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE, A- 89840, AND MARCH 14, 1938, TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, A 92370, THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES ARE REQUIRED TO COLLECT FROM THE INTERESTED PARTIES THE COMMERCIAL RATE, PLUS TAX, FOR PERSONAL MESSAGES CHARGED ON GOVERNMENT BILLS.

IT APPEARS THAT THE PROHIBITION IN 9 COMP. GEN. 251 AGAINST THE INCREASING OF THE CLAIMED AMOUNT OF A VOUCHER WOULD NOT BE FOR APPLICATION IN THE CASES CONCERNED, IN VIEW OF THE OTHER DECISIONS REFERRED TO AND THE FACT THAT ANY INCREASES ON ACCOUNT OF COLLECTIONS FOR PERSONAL MESSAGES ARE PAYABLE FROM SPECIAL DEPOSITS AND DO NOT REPRESENT INCREASED CLAIMS AGAINST APPROPRIATED FUNDS.

INSTRUCTIONS ARE REQUESTED.

GENERAL REGULATIONS NO. 40, SUPPLEMENTS NOS. 2 AND 3, DATED NOVEMBER 28, 1930, AND OCTOBER 28, 1932, AND DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE A-89840, DECEMBER 3, 1937, AND A-92370, MARCH 14, 1938, REQUIRE THAT ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES COLLECT, AT THE COMMERCIAL RATE, CHARGES FOR TELEGRAMS OF A PERSONAL NATURE PLUS THE TAX INVOLVED, FROM THE INDIVIDUAL FOR WHOSE BENEFIT THE SERVICES WERE RENDERED AND TO DEPOSIT THE AMOUNT IN A SPECIAL DEPOSIT ACCOUNT. THEREAFTER THE SPECIAL DEPOSIT ACCOUNT IS TO BE CHARGED WITH THE PAYMENT OF THE TAX TO THE COLLECTOR OF INTERNAL REVENUE AND WITH THE PAYMENT OF THE TELEGRAPH CHARGES AT COMMERCIAL RATES TO THE TELEGRAPH COMPANY.

IT IS APPARENT THAT WHEN BILLING AN ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE GOVERNMENT FOR SERVICES RENDERED, THE TELEGRAPH COMPANY IS NOT IN A POSITION TO KNOW THAT ITS BILL CONTAINS ITEMS WHICH THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS OR THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS WILL CONSIDER AS CHARGES FOR MESSAGES OF PERSONAL NATURE TO BE HANDLED IN ACCORDANCE WITH GENERAL REGULATIONS, SUPRA. THE SITUATION IN SUCH A CASE IS TO BE DISTINGUISHED FROM THAT CONSIDERED IN 9 COMP. GEN. 251. ACCORDINGLY, NO OBJECTION NEED BE RAISED IN THOSE CASES WHERE ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION IS TAKEN TO INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF THE BILL BY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND THE COMMERCIAL RATES PROVIDED, OF COURSE, THE VOUCHER SHOWS THAT THE FULL COST OF THE TELEGRAMS AT COMMERCIAL RATES IS BEING CHARGED TO A SPECIAL DEPOSIT ACCOUNT. THE RULE STATED IN 9 COMP. GEN. 251 SHOULD BE FOLLOWED, HOWEVER, WITH RESPECT TO THOSE ITEMS REPRESENTING PROPER CHARGES AGAINST THE APPROPRIATION.

ACCORDINGLY, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT THE VOUCHER OF THE NATIONAL BITUMINOUS COAL COMMISSION, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, MAY BE PREAUDIT APPROVED FOR PAYMENT.

WITH REFERENCE TO GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE RECLAIM VOUCHER FOR 50 CENTS, WHICH COVERS CHARGES AT THE GOVERNMENT RATE FOR TWO MESSAGES OF A PERSONAL NATURE, IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT THERE HAS BEEN COLLECTED FROM THE EMPLOYEE FOR WHOSE BENEFIT THE SERVICES WERE RENDERED THE SUM OF $1.20, AS THE CHARGE FOR THE TELEGRAMS AT THE COMMERCIAL RATE PLUS 6 CENTS TAX AND THAT THE SUM OF $1.26 SO COLLECTED IS NOW BEING HELD IN A SPECIAL DEPOSIT ACCOUNT. IT IS ACCORDINGLY PROPER THAT THE VOUCHER BE PREAUDIT APPROVED FOR PAYMENT IN THE AMOUNT DUE THE WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH CO. FOR TRANSMITTING THE MESSAGES AT THE COMMERCIAL RATE.