B-131695, MAY 24, 1957

B-131695: May 24, 1957

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED MARCH 22. THESE CONTRACTS PROVIDE THAT THEY ARE IN FORCE "UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE" AND THAT THEY ARE SUBJECT TO ALL RATES. AUTHORIZES CHANGES IN CHARGES WHENEVER THE NEW CHARGES ARE APPROVED BY THE LEGALLY CONSTITUTED AUTHORITY. THE SPECIFIED MONTHLY RATE WAS CHANGED BY SUPPLEMENTAL AGREEMENT WHEN THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION APPROVED THOSE CHANGES. THE PURPOSE OF THE CHARGE WAS TO PERMIT THE AIRPORT TO PASS ON TO THE SUBSCRIBERS OF ITS COMMUNICATION SYSTEM THE ACTUAL COST OF OPERATING THE SWITCHBOARD AND OTHER COMMON FACILITIES PLUS THE COST OF BILLING AND HANDLING TELEPHONE ORDERS. A RECLAIM BY THE AIRPORT DEPARTMENT FOR DEDUCTIONS OF THE MONTHLY SERVICE CHARGE THAT HAVE BEEN MADE SINCE MARCH 1952.

B-131695, MAY 24, 1957

TO MR. HARRY NUNN, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, CIVIL AERONAUTICS ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED MARCH 22, 1957, WITH ENCLOSURES, FORWARDED HERE BY LETTER DATED APRIL 29, 1957, FROM THE CHIEF, AUDIT DIVISION, BUDGET AND FINANCE OFFICE, CIVIL AERONAUTICS ADMINISTRATION, REQUESTING AN ADVANCE DECISION AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF CERTIFYING FOR PAYMENT IN FAVOR OF THE AIRPORT DEPARTMENT, PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION, CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO, A VOUCHER IN THE AMOUNT OF $385.05 REPRESENTING, IN PART, A SERVICE CHARGE FOR INTRA-AIRPORT TELEPHONE SWITCHBOARD SERVICE.

UNDER CONTRACT C4CA-759-A (FORMERLY NUMBERED C6EA-1585) DATED JULY 26, 1943, THE AIRPORT DEPARTMENT, PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION, CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO, AGREED TO AN INSTALLATION CHARGE AND A SPECIFIED MONTHLY RATE TO INSTALL TELEPHONES FOR THE AIRWAY COMMUNICATION STATION AND THE CIVIL AERONAUTICS ADMINISTRATION STANDBY GENERATOR PLANT. UNDER CONTRACT C4CA-760-A (FORMERLY NUMBERED C6CA 2241) DATED JUNE 19, 1947, THE AFORESAID AIRPORT DEPARTMENT AGREED TO AN INSTALLATION CHARGE AND A SPECIFIED MONTHLY RATE TO FURNISH TELEPHONE SERVICE FROM THE SWITCHBOARD ON STATIONS 223 AND 225 TO THE AIRPORT TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER, SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO. THESE CONTRACTS PROVIDE THAT THEY ARE IN FORCE "UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE" AND THAT THEY ARE SUBJECT TO ALL RATES, CHARGES, RULES, PRACTICES OR REQUIREMENTS WHICH MAY BE LAWFULLY ESTABLISHED. ALSO, PARAGRAPH 5 OF THE INSTRUCTIONS, ON THE REVERSE SIDE OF THE CONTRACTS, AUTHORIZES CHANGES IN CHARGES WHENEVER THE NEW CHARGES ARE APPROVED BY THE LEGALLY CONSTITUTED AUTHORITY. FROM TIME TO TIME, THE SPECIFIED MONTHLY RATE WAS CHANGED BY SUPPLEMENTAL AGREEMENT WHEN THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION APPROVED THOSE CHANGES.

BEGINNING MARCH 1, 1952, IN ADDITION TO THE CHARGES COLLECTED FOR OPERATION OF THE INTRA-AIRPORT TELEPHONE SERVICE FOR PAYMENT TO THE PACIFIC TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY, THE AIRPORT DEPARTMENT APPLIED TO ALL TENANT USERS OF THE AIRPORT'S COMMUNICATION SYSTEM A $1.50 SERVICE CHARGE FOR EACH STATION ON THE INTRA-AIRPORT TELEPHONE SWITCHBOARD. THE PURPOSE OF THE CHARGE WAS TO PERMIT THE AIRPORT TO PASS ON TO THE SUBSCRIBERS OF ITS COMMUNICATION SYSTEM THE ACTUAL COST OF OPERATING THE SWITCHBOARD AND OTHER COMMON FACILITIES PLUS THE COST OF BILLING AND HANDLING TELEPHONE ORDERS.

YOUR OFFICE HAS EXPLAINED TO THE AIRPORT DEPARTMENT THAT THE $1.50 MONTHLY SERVICE CHARGE CAN NOT BE ACCEPTED SINCE IT DOES NOT RESULT FROM A RATE CHANGE APPROVED BY THE LEGALLY CONSTITUTED AUTHORITY HAVING JURISDICTION TO CHANGE THE RATES AS REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 5 OF THE INSTRUCTIONS. THE SUBJECT VOUCHER IN THE AMOUNT OF $385.05 REPRESENTS, IN PART, A RECLAIM BY THE AIRPORT DEPARTMENT FOR DEDUCTIONS OF THE MONTHLY SERVICE CHARGE THAT HAVE BEEN MADE SINCE MARCH 1952.

THE $1.50 MONTHLY SERVICE CHARGE IS NOT SUBJECT TO A FORMAL TARIFF AND DOES NOT INVOLVE ANY QUESTION AS TO WHETHER IT WAS AUTHORIZED BY A LEGALLY CONSTITUTED AUTHORITY. SEE B-73240, FEBRUARY 9, 1948.

NEITHER CONTRACT CONTAINS ANY PROVISION FOR THE $1.50 MONTHLY SERVICE CHARGE. THE CONTRACT TERMS AND CONDITIONS VEST IN THE GOVERNMENT THE RIGHT TO RECEIVE THE SERVICES AT THE LAWFULLY ESTABLISHED RATES. IT IS A WELL-ESTABLISHED RULE THAT NO OFFICER OF THE GOVERNMENT MAY RELEASE RIGHTS VESTED IN THE UNITED STATES WITHOUT LEGAL CONSIDERATION. 18 COMP. GEN. 114, 116. ACCORDINGLY, ANY ATTEMPT TO CHARGE MORE THAN THE LAWFULLY ESTABLISHED RATE CANNOT OBLIGATE THE GOVERNMENT AND SO MUCH OF THE SUBJECT VOUCHER AS REPRESENTS THE MONTHLY SERVICE CHARGE IMPOSED BY THE AIRPORT DEPARTMENT MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.