B-118079, FEBRUARY 1, 1954, 33 COMP. GEN. 333

B-118079: Feb 1, 1954

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HAVE NOT BEEN REPEALED BY THE ACT OF AUGUST 14. THEREFORE AGENCY APPROPRIATIONS ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF REGISTRY FEES ON SUCH MAIL. 1954: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE LETTER OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE TO THIS OFFICE DATED DECEMBER 17. IT IS THE VIEW OF YOUR DEPARTMENT THAT THE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES OF THE GOVERNMENT. - WHICH PREVIOUSLY WERE ENTITLED TO FREE REGISTRATION OF OFFICIAL MAIL UNDER 39 U.S.C. 321A. IT IS MY OPINION THAT THE VARIOUS STATUTES EXTENDING FREE REGISTRATION PRIVILEGES STILL REMAIN IN FULL FORCE AND EFFECT. IT IS CONTENDED IN SAID LETTER OF JANUARY 13. INCLUDING REGISTRY FEES IF REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. IT IS NOT LIKELY THAT THE CONGRESS INTENDED TO IMPOSE A LESSER OBLIGATION ON THE VARIOUS DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES.

B-118079, FEBRUARY 1, 1954, 33 COMP. GEN. 333

APPROPRIATIONS - AVAILABILITY - REGISTRY FEES ON OFFICIAL DOMESTIC LETTERS AND PARCELS - POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT - REGISTERED MAIL COST REIMBURSEMENT THE LAWS WHICH PROVIDE FOR FREE REGISTRY SERVICE FOR THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES IN WASHINGTON, 1.D.C., HAVE NOT BEEN REPEALED BY THE ACT OF AUGUST 14, 1953, WHICH AMENDED THE PENALTY MAIL ACT OF 1948, BY REQUIRING AGENCIES TO REIMBURSE THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT THE EQUIVALENT OF POSTAGE ON PENALTY MAIL, NOR BY SECTION 12 OF THE ACT OF OCTOBER 30, 1951, WHICH AUTHORIZED THE POSTMASTER GENERAL TO PRESCRIBE BY REGULATION THE FEES TO BE CHARGED FOR REGISTRY OF MAIL MATTER, AND THEREFORE AGENCY APPROPRIATIONS ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF REGISTRY FEES ON SUCH MAIL.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, FEBRUARY 1, 1954:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE LETTER OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE TO THIS OFFICE DATED DECEMBER 17, 1953, UPON WHICH YOU FURNISHED AN EXPRESSION OF YOUR VIEWS UNDER DATE OF JANUARY 13, 1954, WITH RESPECT TO THE APPLICABILITY OF PUBLIC LAW 286, 83D CONGRESS, 67 STAT. 614, TO REGISTRY FEES ON OFFICIAL DOMESTIC LETTERS AND PARCELS MAILED AT WASHINGTON, D.C.

SECTION 1 OF PUBLIC LAW 286, AMENDING THE PENALTY MAIL ACT OF 1948, 39 U.S.C. 321I, AUTHORIZES THE TRANSFER OF AMOUNTS EQUIVALENT TO POSTAGE ON PENALTY MAIL FROM ANY APPROPRIATIONS OR FUNDS AVAILABLE TO THE DEPARTMENTS, AGENCIES AND ESTABLISHMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT TO THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT FOR CREDIT TO POSTAL REVENUES, BASED ON THE ACCOUNTS REQUIRED BY 39 U.S.C. 321I.

IT IS THE VIEW OF YOUR DEPARTMENT THAT THE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES OF THE GOVERNMENT--- WHICH PREVIOUSLY WERE ENTITLED TO FREE REGISTRATION OF OFFICIAL MAIL UNDER 39 U.S.C. 321A; ID. 337; 8 U.S.C. 743, AND OTHER SIMILAR STATUTES--- MUST NOW PAY TO THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT THE PRESCRIBED REGISTRY FEES. HOWEVER, UPON CAREFUL AND THOROUGH CONSIDERATION OF THE ENTIRE MATTER, AND WITH DUE REGARD TO THE CONTENTIONS AND VIEWS ADVANCED IN YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 13, 1954, IT IS MY OPINION THAT THE VARIOUS STATUTES EXTENDING FREE REGISTRATION PRIVILEGES STILL REMAIN IN FULL FORCE AND EFFECT.

IT IS CONTENDED IN SAID LETTER OF JANUARY 13, THAT, SINCE SECTION 2 OF PUBLIC LAW 286 REQUIRES THAT POSTAGE ON FRANKED OFFICIAL MAIL OF MEMBERS AND OFFICIALS OF THE CONGRESS, INCLUDING REGISTRY FEES IF REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED, BE PAID BY LUMP-SUM APPROPRIATION FOR CREDIT TO POSTAL REVENUES, IT IS NOT LIKELY THAT THE CONGRESS INTENDED TO IMPOSE A LESSER OBLIGATION ON THE VARIOUS DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES. THE LETTER RECOGNIZES THAT SECTION 1 OF THE ACT PROVIDES EXPRESSLY FOR THE RECOVERY OF POSTAGE ONLY ON OFFICIAL MAIL, WITHOUT ANY MENTION OF REGISTRY FEES. ALSO, IT IS RECOGNIZED THAT THERE IS NO OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE IN THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE LAW AS TO THE REASON FOR THE OMISSION. HOWEVER, IN SUCH CONNECTION THE FOLLOWING ARGUMENT IS PRESENTED:

ONE VERY GOOD REASON FOR NOT EXPRESSLY INCLUDING REGISTRY FEES IN THAT SECTION WOULD BE THAT SECTION 12, TITLE I, OF THE ACT OF OCTOBER 30, 1951 (38 U.S.C. 246F) AUTHORIZED THE POSTMASTER GENERAL TO PRESCRIBE THE FEES WHICH SHALL BE CHARGED FOR THE REGISTRY OF MAIL MATTER. TITLE 39 U.S.C. 321A AND 337, 8 U.S.C. 743 AND SIMILAR LAWS ARE GOVERNING FEES FOR THE REGISTRY SERVICE. THEY COULD, THEREFORE, BE SUPERSEDED BY REGULATIONS ISSUED BY THE POSTMASTER GENERAL. THUS, IT WAS UNNECESSARY TO INCLUDE SPECIFIC PROVISION FOR THE RECOVERY OF SUCH FEES. ON THE OTHER HAND, SINCE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS DID NOT PREVIOUSLY ENJOY THE PRIVILEGE OF FREE REGISTRATION, CONGRESS COVERED SUCH FEES IN SECTION 2 OF PUBLIC LAW 286 BY PROVIDING THEY SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE LUMP SUM APPROPRIATION PROVIDED THEREIN.

IF ORIGINALLY THERE WAS ANY DOUBT AS TO THE DEPARTMENT'S AUTHORITY TO PRESCRIBE UNDER 39 U.S.C. 246F FEES FOR REGISTERED MAILINGS COVERED BY SUCH LAWS AS ARE CITED ABOVE, THAT DOUBT WOULD BE REMOVED BY CONGRESS' ACTION IN ENACTING PUBLIC LAW 286 IN CONTEMPLATION THEREOF.

SECTION 12 OF THE ACT OF OCTOBER 30, 1951, 65 STAT. 676, PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

SEC. 12. (A) THE POSTMASTER GENERAL IS AUTHORIZED TO PRESCRIBE BY REGULATION FROM TIME TO TIME THE FEES WHICH SHALL BE CHARGED BY THE POSTAL SERVICE---

(1) FOR THE REGISTRY OF MAIL MATTER:

(B) REGULATIONS ISSUED BY THE POSTMASTER GENERAL UNDER SUBSECTION (A) SHALL, TO THE EXTENT PRESCRIBED THEREIN, SUPERSEDE EXISTING LAWS, REGULATIONS, AND ORDERS GOVERNING THE FEES FOR THE SERVICES COVERED THEREBY.

THERE IS NOTHING IN SAID SECTION NOR DOES THERE APPEAR TO BE ANY OTHER PROVISION IN SAID PUBLIC LAW EXPRESSLY REPEALING OR PROVIDING SPECIFICALLY FOR THE SUBSEQUENT REPEAL OF THE LAWS PROVIDING FREE REGISTRY SERVICE FOR THE ESTABLISHMENTS AND DEPARTMENTS IN WASHINGTON. IT IS WELL SETTLED, OF COURSE, THAT REPEALS BY IMPLICATION WILL NOT BE PRESUMED TO HAVE BEEN INTENDED UNLESS THERE IS A CLEAR INTENT ON THE PART OF THE LEGISLATURE TO EFFECT SUCH A REPEAL. THERE MUST BE, IN FACT, A POSITIVE REPUGNANCE BETWEEN THE NEW STATUTE AND THE OLD. SEE UNITED STATES V. BORDEN COMPANY, 308 U.S. 187. NOTHING HAS BEEN FOUND IN THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE ACT OF OCTOBER 30, 1951, INDICATING IN ANY WAY AN INTENTION ON THE PART OF CONGRESS THAT THE FREE REGISTRATION STATUTES WERE TO COME WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF SECTION 12 (B) OR THAT SUCH STATUTES WERE EVEN CONSIDERED IN CONNECTION WITH THE ENACTMENT OF SUCH SECTION. RATHER, THE AUTHORITY GRANTED THEREIN TO FIX REGISTRY FEES BY REGULATION APPEARS TO PERTAIN TO SITUATIONS WHERE THE PAYMENT OF SOME REGISTRY FEE OTHERWISE WAS REQUIRED BY LAW. MOREOVER, IT CANNOT BE CONCLUDED THAT THERE IS ANY REPUGNANCE BETWEEN THE AUTHORITY GRANTED IN SECTION 12 (B) AND THE EXISTENCE OF THE FREE REGISTRY PRIVILEGE BETWEEN DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES, SINCE THE RIGHT OF THE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES TO THE FREE REGISTRY SERVICE HAS EXISTED FOR YEARS ALONGSIDE THE OBLIGATION OF OTHER USERS OF THE MAIL TO PAY THE REGISTRY SERVICE FEES. FURTHERMORE, THERE HAS BEEN NOTED THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 13 OF THE REFERRED-TO ACT OF OCTOBER 30, 1951, WHICH ESTABLISHED THE JOINT COMMITTEE OF THE POSTAL SERVICE FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING A STUDY AND INVESTIGATION OF, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THE EXPENDITURES FOR POSTAL SERVICES BEING PERFORMED FOR OTHER DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES OF THE GOVERNMENT BUT WHICH WERE BEING CHARGED TO THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT. BY SENATE RESOLUTION APPROVED MARCH 6, 1953, SUCH STUDIES AND INVESTIGATION WERE CONTINUED AND THERE IS NOW PENDING SENATE RESOLUTION 197, 83D CONGRESS, FOR THE CONTINUATION OF SUCH STUDIES UP TO MARCH 30, 1954. FOR THE FOREGOING REASONS, IT CANNOT BE CONCLUDED THAT CONGRESS HAS AUTHORIZED THE PAYMENT OF REGISTRY FEES BY DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS PURSUANT TO REGULATIONS OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT WHERE FREE REGISTRY SERVICE HAS EXISTED UNDER LAWS. THEREFORE, I AM CONSTRAINED TO HOLD THAT, IN THE ABSENCE OF FURTHER LEGISLATION, THE APPROPRIATIONS OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF REGISTRY FEES ON DOMESTIC MAILS AND PARCELS MAILED IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

A COPY OF THIS DECISION IS BEING FURNISHED TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE GUIDANCE OF HIS DEPARTMENT.