B-135064, MAR. 14, 1958

B-135064: Mar 14, 1958

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THE DEPUTY POSTMASTER GENERAL ADVISED THAT THE ONLY TELEPHONE PRESENTLY AVAILABLE IS LOCATED IN THE OFFICE OF THE CLERK OF THE COURT AND ITS USE BY SUCH PERSONS INTERRUPTS THE WORK OF THE COURT. THE INSTALLATION OF THIS PAY TELEPHONE INVOLVES AN UNUSUAL PROBLEM IN THAT THE COURT IS IN SESSION IN THE FEDERAL BUILDING AT PECOS ONLY ABOUT 35 DAYS EACH YEAR AND THE TELEPHONE WILL GENERATE LITTLE. THE DEPUTY POSTMASTER GENERAL ADVISED THAT THE TELEPHONE COMPANY IS AGREEABLE TO INSTALLING THE TELEPHONE WITHOUT REQUIRING THEIR CUSTOMARY MINIMUM CHARGE IF THEY ARE ALLOWED TO KEEP ALL THE REVENUE EMANATING THEREFROM AND ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PAY A COMMISSION THEREON TO THE GOVERNMENT. OUR ADVICE IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE INSTALLATION OF THE PAY TELEPHONE ON THE PROPOSED BASIS IS PERMISSIBLE IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES.

B-135064, MAR. 14, 1958

TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL:

ON JANUARY 28, 1958, THE DEPUTY POSTMASTER GENERAL REQUESTED OUR ADVICE CONCERNING THE INSTALLATION OF A PAY TELEPHONE IN THE FEDERAL BUILDING AT PECOS, TEXAS. THE DEPUTY POSTMASTER GENERAL STATED THAT THE FEDERAL COURT, HOUSED IN THE FEDERAL BUILDING AT PECOS IN WHICH THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, HAS REQUESTED THE INSTALLATION OF A PAY TELEPHONE IN OR NEAR THE COURT'S QUARTERS ON THE SECOND FLOOR OF THE BUILDING. THE TELEPHONE WOULD BE FOR THE USE OF THE VARIOUS LAWYERS, JURORS, AND MEMBERS OF THE COURT FOR OUTSIDE AND TOLL CALLS. THE DEPUTY POSTMASTER GENERAL ADVISED THAT THE ONLY TELEPHONE PRESENTLY AVAILABLE IS LOCATED IN THE OFFICE OF THE CLERK OF THE COURT AND ITS USE BY SUCH PERSONS INTERRUPTS THE WORK OF THE COURT.

THE INSTALLATION OF THIS PAY TELEPHONE INVOLVES AN UNUSUAL PROBLEM IN THAT THE COURT IS IN SESSION IN THE FEDERAL BUILDING AT PECOS ONLY ABOUT 35 DAYS EACH YEAR AND THE TELEPHONE WILL GENERATE LITTLE, IF ANY, REVENUE DURING THE BALANCE OF THE YEAR. THUS, THE LOCAL TELEPHONE COMPANY'S USUAL AGREEMENT FOR THE INSTALLATION OF A PAY TELEPHONE, WHICH REQUIRES A MINIMUM CHARGE OF $15 PER MONTH, WOULD RESULT IN A LOSS TO THE GOVERNMENT ON THIS TELEPHONE. HOWEVER, THE DEPUTY POSTMASTER GENERAL ADVISED THAT THE TELEPHONE COMPANY IS AGREEABLE TO INSTALLING THE TELEPHONE WITHOUT REQUIRING THEIR CUSTOMARY MINIMUM CHARGE IF THEY ARE ALLOWED TO KEEP ALL THE REVENUE EMANATING THEREFROM AND ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PAY A COMMISSION THEREON TO THE GOVERNMENT. OUR ADVICE IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE INSTALLATION OF THE PAY TELEPHONE ON THE PROPOSED BASIS IS PERMISSIBLE IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES. THE DEPUTY POSTMASTER GENERAL FURTHER STATED THAT, IF INSTALLATION ON THAT BASIS IS APPROVED, THE SITUATION WILL BE APPRAISED FROM TIME TO TIME TO DETERMINE WHETHER ANY MATERIAL INCREASE IN THE USE OF THE TELEPHONE HAS OCCURRED WHICH WOULD JUSTIFY RENEGOTIATION WITH THE TELEPHONE COMPANY.

IT IS THE GENERAL PRACTICE TO REQUIRE TELEPHONE COMPANIES INSTALLING PAY TELEPHONES IN GOVERNMENT-OWNED OR CONTROLLED PREMISES TO DO SO ON TERMS AT LEAST AS FAVORABLE TO THE GOVERNMENT AS THOSE GRANTED FOR THE INSTALLATION OF SUCH TELEPHONES IN NON-GOVERNMENTAL PREMISES. SUCH PRACTICE IS BASED UPON THE THEORY THAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE COMPENSATED FOR PERMITTING THE USE OF GOVERNMENT-OWNED OR CONTROLLED PREMISES BY THE TELEPHONE COMPANY.

IT IS APPARENT IN THE PRESENT INSTANCE, HOWEVER, THAT INSTALLATION OF THE PAY TELEPHONE ON THE USUAL BASIS WOULD RESULT IN A LOSS TO THE GOVERNMENT. HENCE, INSISTENCE UPON INSTALLATION OF THE TELEPHONE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE GENERAL PRACTICE AS STATED ABOVE CLEARLY WOULD NOT BE IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT. ON THE OTHER HAND, IT IS EQUALLY APPARENT FROM THE INFORMATION FURNISHED BY THE DEPUTY POSTMASTER GENERAL THAT INSTALLATION OF A PAY TELEPHONE IN OR NEAR THE COURT'S QUARTERS WOULD RELIEVE THE EXISTING TELEPHONE IN THE OFFICE OF THE CLERK OF THE COURT OF AN UNNECESSARY BURDEN OF CALLS AND ELIMINATE INTERRUPTION IN THE WORK OF THE COURT CAUSED THEREBY, AS WELL AS CONSTITUTING A GREAT CONVENIENCE TO THE LAWYERS, JURORS AND MEMBERS OF THE COURT. MOREOVER, THESE BENEFITS WOULD ACCRUE AT NO COST TO THE GOVERNMENT BY INSTALLATION OF A PAY TELEPHONE ON THE PROPOSED BASIS.

HENCE, WE PERCEIVE NO OBJECTION TO THE INSTALLATION OF A PAY TELEPHONE IN OR NEAR THE QUARTERS OF THE FEDERAL COURT ON THE SECOND FLOOR OF THE FEDERAL BUILDING IN PECOS, TEXAS, ON THE BASIS PROPOSED.