B-114716, JULY 6, 1953, 33 COMP. GEN. 7

B-114716: Jul 6, 1953

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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA - EMPLOYEES SURETY BONDS - PERSONAL LIABILITY FOR BOND PREMIUMS THE PRACTICE OF REQUIRING BONDED EMPLOYEES OF THE FEDERAL AND DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA GOVERNMENT TO BEAR THE COST OF THEIR BONDS AS A PERSONAL EXPENSE IS ONE OF LONG STANDING. 1953: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 14. THERE IS FOR CONSIDERATION THE FACT THAT THE PRACTICE OF REQUIRING BONDED EMPLOYEES OF THE FEDERAL AND DISTRICT GOVERNMENTS TO BEAR THE COST OF THEIR BONDS AS A PERSONAL EXPENSE IS OF LONG STANDING AND FAR ANTEDATES THE ACT OF AUGUST 5. DISCLOSES THAT THE 61ST CONGRESS WAS VERY MUCH DISTURBED BY THE INCLUSION IN THE ACT OF APRIL 30. WAS TO ELIMINATE THAT REQUIREMENT. THIS PROHIBITION WAS INTENDED TO PLACE THE MATTER OF PAYMENT OF BOND PREMIUMS "BACK TO WHERE WE WERE BEFORE THE ADOPTION OF THE CLAUSE OF THE 30TH DAY OF APRIL 1908.

B-114716, JULY 6, 1953, 33 COMP. GEN. 7

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA - EMPLOYEES SURETY BONDS - PERSONAL LIABILITY FOR BOND PREMIUMS THE PRACTICE OF REQUIRING BONDED EMPLOYEES OF THE FEDERAL AND DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA GOVERNMENT TO BEAR THE COST OF THEIR BONDS AS A PERSONAL EXPENSE IS ONE OF LONG STANDING, AND THEREFORE, IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA MAY NOT ISSUE REGULATIONS AUTHORIZING THE PROCUREMENT OF BLANKET, POSITION SCHEDULE, OR OTHER TYPE OF SURETY BONDS COVERING OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE DISTRICT GOVERNMENT WHOSE BONDS RUN TO THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND MAY NOT PAY THE PREMIUMS FOR SUCH BONDS FROM FUNDS AVAILABLE TO THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA FOR ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE PRESIDENT, BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, JULY 6, 1953:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 14, 1953, REQUESTING THE OPINION OF THIS OFFICE AS TO WHETHER THERE WOULD BE ANY OBJECTION, FIRST, TO THE ISSUANCE BY THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA OF REGULATIONS AUTHORIZING THE PROCUREMENT OF BLANKET, POSITION SCHEDULE, OR OTHER TYPE OF SURETY BONDS COVERING OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA WHOSE BONDS RUN TO THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND PAYING THE PREMIUMS THEREFOR FROM FUNDS AVAILABLE TO THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA FOR ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES AND, SECOND, TO THE INCLUSION IN SUCH REGULATIONS OF THOSE OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA WHOSE BONDS RUN TO THE UNITED STATES AND/OR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

YOUR LETTER POINTS OUT THAT THE ACT OF JUNE 28, 1935, 49 STAT. 430, SPECIFICALLY APPLIED TO THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ONLY THAT PORTION OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 5, 1909, 36 STAT. 125, 6 U.S.C. 14, WHICH RELATES TO RATES OF PREMIUMS, AND, THEREFORE, THE PORTION THEREOF PROHIBITING PAYMENT OF SUCH PREMIUMS FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS WOULD NOT APPEAR TO BE SPECIFICALLY APPLICABLE TO THE DISTRICT. WHILE THAT MAY WELL BE, THERE IS FOR CONSIDERATION THE FACT THAT THE PRACTICE OF REQUIRING BONDED EMPLOYEES OF THE FEDERAL AND DISTRICT GOVERNMENTS TO BEAR THE COST OF THEIR BONDS AS A PERSONAL EXPENSE IS OF LONG STANDING AND FAR ANTEDATES THE ACT OF AUGUST 5, 1909, SUPRA. A PERUSAL OF THE DEBATES PERTAINING TO THAT ACT AS CONTAINED IN VOLUME 44.5 OF THE CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, PP. 4559-4584, DISCLOSES THAT THE 61ST CONGRESS WAS VERY MUCH DISTURBED BY THE INCLUSION IN THE ACT OF APRIL 30, 1908, 35 STAT. 75, OF A PROVISION REQUIRING THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY THE PREMIUMS ON THE BONDS REQUIRED TO BE FURNISHED BY ANY AGENT, SUPERINTENDENT, OR OTHER DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE INDIAN BUREAU, AND THAT THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF THE PROHIBITION IN THE ACT OF AUGUST 4, 1909, WAS TO ELIMINATE THAT REQUIREMENT. AS EXPRESSED DURING THE DEBATE, ON PAGE 4562, THIS PROHIBITION WAS INTENDED TO PLACE THE MATTER OF PAYMENT OF BOND PREMIUMS "BACK TO WHERE WE WERE BEFORE THE ADOPTION OF THE CLAUSE OF THE 30TH DAY OF APRIL 1908, WHEN WE FIRST PROVIDED IN ALL THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES FOR PAYING A PREMIUM ON THE BONDS OF AGENTS AND OFFICERS IN THE INDIAN BUREAU OR ANY OTHER BUREAU OR DEPARTMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT.' SINCE THIS ACT CONSTITUTED A RESTORATION AND REITERATION OF THE TIME-HONORED PRINCIPLE OF PERSONAL LIABILITY FOR BOND PREMIUMS AS AN ESTABLISHED CONGRESSIONAL POLICY, THIS OFFICE WOULD NOT FEEL JUSTIFIED IN PERMITTING ANY DEPARTURE THEREFROM IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC LEGISLATION AUTHORIZING SUCH DEPARTURE. IN THIS CONNECTION, IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THERE HAVE BEEN BEFORE THE CONGRESS IN RECENT YEARS NUMEROUS BILLS, SUCH AS H.R. 3302 AND 3775, 83D CONGRESS, H.R. 2830, 2871, 4048, 4642 AND 8706, AND S. 193, 1692, 1997 AND 2515, 81ST CONGRESS, PROPOSING TO REQUIRE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO PAY THE PREMIUMS ON BONDS OF ITS EMPLOYEES. EXTENSIVE HEARINGS HAVE BEEN HELD ON THESE AND SIMILAR BILLS PROPOSING TO CHANGE THE EXISTING PROCEDURE CONCERNING EMPLOYEES' BONDS, BUT NOTWITHSTANDING THE CAREFUL CONSIDERATION GIVEN TO ALL ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF SUCH CHANGES, THE CONGRESS HAS AS YET ADHERED TO THE PRINCIPLE OF PERSONAL LIABILITY FOR BOND PREMIUMS. MOREOVER, WITH THE ENACTMENT OF THE ACT OF JUNE 28, 1935, THERE WAS NO DEVIATION BY THE DISTRICT GOVERNMENT FROM THE LONG ESTABLISHED PRACTICE IN THIS RESPECT AND ADMINISTRATIVE CONSTRUCTION OF SUCH ACT FOR MORE THAN 18 YEARS REQUIRING PAY OF PREMIUMS BY THE INDIVIDUALS COVERED BY THE BONDS LENDS ADDITIONAL SUPPORT FOR THE REQUIREMENT OF SPECIFIC LEGISLATION.

ACCORDINGLY, YOUR FIRST QUESTION IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE, RENDERING UNNECESSARY AN ANSWER TO THE SECOND QUESTION.