B-119536, APRIL 28, 1954, 33 COMP. GEN. 530

B-119536: Apr 28, 1954

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AGAINST THE EXPENDITURE OF APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR FURNISHING TELEPHONE SERVICE TO A GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IN A PRIVATE RESIDENCE OR APARTMENT IS MANDATORY ON THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT. SO THAT NEITHER MILITARY NECESSITY NOR FACT THAT GOVERNMENT AND NOT OFFICER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR TELEPHONE IN AIR FORCE OFFICER'S PRIVATE RESIDENCE MAY BE CONSIDERED SUFFICIENT TO PERMIT PAYMENT OF COST OF SUCH TELEPHONE SERVICE FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS. 1954: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 3. WHICH WAS FORWARDED TO THIS OFFICE BY LETTER OF MARCH 31. ALSO ATTACHED TO YOUR LETTER WAS A STATEMENT SIGNED BY MAJOR GENERAL D. IT IS IMPERATIVE TO HAVE MEANS OF CONTACTING HIM DURING OFF DUTY HOURS.

B-119536, APRIL 28, 1954, 33 COMP. GEN. 530

TELEPHONES - PRIVATE RESIDENCES - MILITARY NECESSITY - STATUTORY PROHIBITION APPLICABILITY THE PROHIBITION IN SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23, 1912, AS AMENDED, AGAINST THE EXPENDITURE OF APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR FURNISHING TELEPHONE SERVICE TO A GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IN A PRIVATE RESIDENCE OR APARTMENT IS MANDATORY ON THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT, SO THAT NEITHER MILITARY NECESSITY NOR FACT THAT GOVERNMENT AND NOT OFFICER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR TELEPHONE IN AIR FORCE OFFICER'S PRIVATE RESIDENCE MAY BE CONSIDERED SUFFICIENT TO PERMIT PAYMENT OF COST OF SUCH TELEPHONE SERVICE FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO MAJOR H. C. JESSUP, DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE, APRIL 28, 1954:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 3, 1953, FILE REFERENCE NACF 100, ADDRESSED TO THE COMMANDER, SEVENTEENTH AIR FORCE, WHICH WAS FORWARDED TO THIS OFFICE BY LETTER OF MARCH 31, 1954, FROM THE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE, YOUR LETTER TRANSMITTED BUREAU VOUCHER NO. 54-6 COVERING THE INSTALLATION OF A TELEPHONE IN THE RESIDENCE OF COLONEL LESTER C. HESS, CHIEF OF STAFF IN HEADQUARTERS SEVENTEENTH AIR FORCE, FIFTH AIR DIVISION, AND REQUESTED ADVICE AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF THE PROPOSED PAYMENT. ALSO ATTACHED TO YOUR LETTER WAS A STATEMENT SIGNED BY MAJOR GENERAL D. W. HUTCHINSON, COMMANDER, SEVENTEENTH AIR FORCE, FIFTH AIR DIVISION, ADVISING THAT COLONEL HESS, AS CHIEF OF STAFF, ASSUMES COMMAND IN THE GENERAL'S ABSENCE, AND HENCE, IT IS IMPERATIVE TO HAVE MEANS OF CONTACTING HIM DURING OFF DUTY HOURS. THE STATEMENT FURTHER INDICATES THAT TELEPHONES ARE NOT COMMON IN MOROCCO BECAUSE OF THE HIGH INSTALLATION CHARGES VARYING FROM $30 TO $200; THAT ONLY ABOUT 30 AMERICANS IN THE AREA HAVE TELEPHONES, AND HENCE, A TELEPHONE FOR PERSONAL USE IS OF LITTLE VALUE SINCE THERE IS ALMOST NO ONE WHOM COLONEL HESS COULD OR WOULD CALL EXCEPT FOR BUSINESS CALLS TO HEADQUARTERS; THAT THE INSTALLATION OF A PHONE WAS A MILITARY NECESSITY; AND THAT EXCEPT FOR SUCH NECESSITY COLONEL HESS WOULD NOT HAVE ELECTED TO INSTALL A TELEPHONE.

SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23, 1912, 37 STAT. 414, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF APRIL 30, 1940, 54 STAT. 175, CODIFIED AS 31 U.S.C. 679, PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY LAW, NO MONEY APPROPRIATED BY ANY 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: * * *

THE LANGUAGE OF THIS SECTION IS PLAIN AND COMPREHENSIVE AND CONSTITUTES A MANDATORY PROHIBITION AGAINST THE PAYMENT FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS OF ANY PART OF THE EXPENSE OF FURNISHING TELEPHONE SERVICE TO A GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IN A PRIVATE RESIDENCE, APARTMENT OR QUARTERS, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE DESIRABILITY OR NECESSITY OF SUCH SERVICE FROM AN OFFICIAL STANDPOINT, AND HAS BEEN SO HELD IN A LONG LINE OF DECISION. COMP. DEC. 198; 22 ID. 602; 4 COMP. GEN. 19; 7 ID. 651; 11 ID. 87; ID. 365; 15 ID. 885; ID. 963; 16 ID. 59; 21 ID. 239; ID. 997; 26 ID. 668.

THE SITUATION HERE PRESENTED IS SIMILAR TO THAT INVOLVED IN THE DECISION OF THIS OFFICE DATED JANUARY 11, 1939, A-99355. IN THAT CASE A TELEPHONE HAD BEEN INSTALLED IN THE PRIVATE QUARTERS OF THE OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THE NAVAL RADIO STATION AT CHELTENHAM, MARYLAND. THE OFFICER HAD VERY LITTLE PERSONAL USE FOR THE TELEPHONE AND, IN FACT, HAD REQUESTED ITS REMOVAL. HOWEVER, IT WAS CONSIDERED BY NAVAL AUTHORITIES NOT ONLY DESIRABLE BUT ESSENTIAL THAT THIS OFFICER BE INSTANTLY AVAILABLE FOR COMMUNICATION PURPOSES 24 HOURS A DAY. NEVERTHELESS, IT WAS HELD IN THAT DECISION THAT PAYMENT FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR THE SERVICE WOULD BE IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23, 1912, 37 STAT. 414 SUPRA. ANOTHER SIMILAR CASE, EVEN STRONGER THAN THE PRESENT, APPEARS IN 21 COMP. GEN. 997, WHERE TELEPHONES WERE INSTALLED BECAUSE OF MILITARY NECESSITY IN GOVERNMENT-OWNED OFFICIAL QUARTERS LOCATED ON A NAVAL BASE, BUT THERE ALSO IT WAS HELD THAT APPROPRIATED FUNDS COULD NOT BE USED.

IT MAY BE, AS SET FORTH IN THE ENCLOSURES TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 3, 1953, THAT MILITARY NECESSITY REQUIRES THAT THERE BE SOME MEANS OF COMMUNICATION WHEREBY COLONEL HESS CAN BE CONTACTED DURING OFF DUTY HOURS. HOWEVER, SO FAR AS TELEPHONE SERVICE IS CONCERNED, THE ABOVE- QUOTED PROHIBITION IS MANDATORY AND LEAVES NO ROOM FOR THE EXERCISE OF DISCRETION ON THE PART OF THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT WITH REFERENCE TO THE MATTER. HENCE NEITHER MILITARY NECESSITY NOR THE FACT THAT THE TELEPHONE WAS INSTALLED BY DIRECTION OF THE COMMANDER, SEVENTEENTH AIR FORCE, FIFTH AIR DIVISION, AND NOT BY COLONEL HESS, AND THAT COLONEL HESS NEITHER REQUIRES NOR DESIRES A TELEPHONE IN HIS HOME RESIDENCE FOR PERSONAL OR PRIVATE USE, MAY BE CONSIDERED SUFFICIENT TO PERMIT PAYMENT OF THE COST OF THE TELEPHONE SERVICE FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS. CF. 18 COMP. GEN. 502; 21 ID. 905; 32 ID. 431.

ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.