B-139388, JUN 4, 1959

B-139388: Jun 4, 1959

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REIMBURSEMENT IS CLAIMED FOR PAYMENT MADE FROM THE PRIVATE FUNDS OF THE LIBRARIAN TO COVER A PURCHASE FROM THE AMERICAN STANDARDS ASSOCIATION. SPECIFICATION STANDARDS WHICH ARE ISSUED BY THE ASSOCIATION FROM TIME TO TIME. THE COUPONS ARE USED IN LIEU OF CASH OR CHECK PAYMENTS AT THE TIME ORDERS FOR THE SPECIFICATIONS ARE MADE. YOU POINT OUT THAT A SAVINGS WILL RESULT TO THE GOVERNMENT BY USE OF THE COUPON BOOK BECAUSE ORDERS RECEIVED WITHOUT REMITTANCE ARE SUBJECT TO A 50 CENT HANDLING CHARGE. YOU ENCLOSED A LETTER FROM THE MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE SUPPLYING ORGANIZATION IN WHICH IT IS INDICATED THAT IF THE COUPONS ARE NOT USED. REFUND WILL BE MADE. THE FACT REMAINS THAT THE PURCHASE OF THE COUPON BOOK WAS AN ADVANCE PAYMENT WHICH IS SPECIFICALLY PRECLUDED BY SECTION 3648 OF THE REVISED STATUTES.

B-139388, JUN 4, 1959

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

J. E. PERRY, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR:

ON APRIL 14, 1959, YOU REQUESTED A DECISION AS TO WHETHER AN ENCLOSED VOUCHER FOR $12 IN FAVOR OF ERIK BROMBERG, LIBRARIAN OF THE BONNEVILLE POWER ADMINISTRATION, COULD PROPERLY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

REIMBURSEMENT IS CLAIMED FOR PAYMENT MADE FROM THE PRIVATE FUNDS OF THE LIBRARIAN TO COVER A PURCHASE FROM THE AMERICAN STANDARDS ASSOCIATION, INC., OF A COUPON BOOK FOR USE IN PROCURING, FOR OFFICIAL PURPOSES, SPECIFICATION STANDARDS WHICH ARE ISSUED BY THE ASSOCIATION FROM TIME TO TIME. THE COUPONS ARE USED IN LIEU OF CASH OR CHECK PAYMENTS AT THE TIME ORDERS FOR THE SPECIFICATIONS ARE MADE.

YOU POINT OUT THAT A SAVINGS WILL RESULT TO THE GOVERNMENT BY USE OF THE COUPON BOOK BECAUSE ORDERS RECEIVED WITHOUT REMITTANCE ARE SUBJECT TO A 50 CENT HANDLING CHARGE. YOU ENCLOSED A LETTER FROM THE MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE SUPPLYING ORGANIZATION IN WHICH IT IS INDICATED THAT IF THE COUPONS ARE NOT USED, REFUND WILL BE MADE.

NOTWITHSTANDING THE VALIDITY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE REASONS FOR WANTING TO REIMBURSE THE LIBRARIAN, THE FACT REMAINS THAT THE PURCHASE OF THE COUPON BOOK WAS AN ADVANCE PAYMENT WHICH IS SPECIFICALLY PRECLUDED BY SECTION 3648 OF THE REVISED STATUTES, 31 U.S.C. 529. THE ONLY EXCEPTION TO THE PROHIBITION OF SECTION 3648 WHICH RELATES TO YOUR ADMINISTRATION IS FOUND AT 31 U.S.C. 530 CONCERNING ADVANCE PAYMENTS FOR SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR NEWSPAPERS, MAGAZINES AND OTHER PERIODICALS FOR OFFICIAL USE. THE FACTS REPORTED HERE DO NOT JUSTIFY A RULING THAT THE PURCHASE INVOLVED WAS ONE SUCH AS TO COME WITH THE EXCEPTION OF 31 U.S.C. 530.

AS TO POINT OUT, THERE HAVE BEEN RULINGS BY OUR OFFICE AT 14 COMP. GEN. 322 AND AT 25 COMP. GEN. 834 WHICH, ON THEIR FACE, WOULD APPEAR TO BE JUSTIFICATION FOR AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT NOTWITHSTANDING SECTION 3648. HOWEVER, AN EXAMINATION OF THESE CASES DEMONSTRATES THAT THEY INVOLVED SITUATIONS WHICH DIFFER FROM THE QUESTION HERE PRESENTED. THE DECISION REPORTED AT 14 COMP. GEN. 322 DEALT WITH ADVANCE PURCHASES OF STREET-CAR PASSES. ONE OF THE PRIMARY REASONS FOR AUTHORIZING SUCH PAYMENTS WAS BECAUSE OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE PRACTICE OF LONG STANDING OF BUYING STREET- CAR TICKETS OR TOKENS IN NECESSARY QUANTITIES FOR ISSUE TO EMPLOYEES AS THE NEED AROSE. NO SUCH PRACTICE OF LONG STANDING IN GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION WHERE PRIVATE PUBLISHERS ARE CONCERNED IS INDICATED IN THE CASE BEING CONSIDERED. IN 25 COMP. GEN. 634 THE DECISION DEALT WITH ADVANCE PAYMENTS FROM GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT. IT WAS POINTED OUT IN THAT CASE THAT CONGRESS HAD, BY A STATUTE THAT WAS DIRECTLY ANALOGOUS, PROVIDED FOR ADVANCE PAYMENTS BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. IN THIS CASE WE DO NOT HAVE PRESENTED A SIMILAR REASON FOR CONSIDERATION.

ACCORDINGLY, AS THE PURCHASE OF THE COUPON BOOK WAS AN ADVANCE PAYMENT WHICH IS PRECLUDED BY SECTION 3648, AND AS THE PURCHASE DOES NOT APPEAR TO FALL WITHIN THE EXCEPTIONS TO SECTION 3648, THE VOUCHER WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.