B-146433, SEPTEMBER 11, 1961, 41 COMP. GEN. 190

B-146433: Sep 11, 1961

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ROOMS HOTEL ROOMS OCCUPIED BY A NAVY CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE AND A MILITARY MEMBER DURING A PERIOD OF TEMPORARY DUTY WHILE IN CHARGE OF A SPECIAL PROJECT WHICH NECESSITATED THE INSTALLATION OF TELEPHONE SERVICE ARE NOT CONSIDERED A "PRIVATE RESIDENCE OR PRIVATE APARTMENT" WITHIN THE PROHIBITION IN SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23. UPON APPROVAL OF THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY OF THE EXPENDITURE AS A TRAVEL EXPENSE PROVIDED THAT IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION CONSIDERATION IS GIVEN. WHETHER EXISTING SERVICE WAS ADEQUATE AND WHETHER OTHER HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS WITH ADEQUATE SERVICE WERE REASONABLY AVAILABLE. " THE CLAIMANTS CONSIDERED IT NECESSARY TO HAVE TELEPHONES INSTALLED IN THEIR HOTEL ROOMS IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN LIAISON BETWEEN THEMSELVES AND APPROXIMATELY 75 TO 80 OTHER PERSONNEL WHO WERE PERFORMING TEMPORARY DUTY INCIDENT THERETO.

B-146433, SEPTEMBER 11, 1961, 41 COMP. GEN. 190

TELEPHONES - PRIVATE RESIDENCES - PROHIBITION - HOTEL, ETC., ROOMS HOTEL ROOMS OCCUPIED BY A NAVY CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE AND A MILITARY MEMBER DURING A PERIOD OF TEMPORARY DUTY WHILE IN CHARGE OF A SPECIAL PROJECT WHICH NECESSITATED THE INSTALLATION OF TELEPHONE SERVICE ARE NOT CONSIDERED A "PRIVATE RESIDENCE OR PRIVATE APARTMENT" WITHIN THE PROHIBITION IN SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23, 1912, 31 U.S.C. 679, AGAINST THE EXPENDITURE OF APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR TELEPHONE SERVICE IN PRIVATE RESIDENCES OR QUARTERS; THEREFORE, THE EMPLOYEE AND THE MILITARY MEMBER MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR THE TELEPHONE SERVICE CHARGES UNDER THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, RESPECTIVELY, UPON APPROVAL OF THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY OF THE EXPENDITURE AS A TRAVEL EXPENSE PROVIDED THAT IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION CONSIDERATION IS GIVEN, IN THE CASE OF SERVICE CHARGES, TO THE ADEQUACY AND AVAILABILITY OF TELEPHONE SERVICE AT GOVERNMENT INSTALLATIONS IN THE AREA, WHETHER EXISTING SERVICE WAS ADEQUATE AND WHETHER OTHER HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS WITH ADEQUATE SERVICE WERE REASONABLY AVAILABLE.

TO M. A. COUGHLAN, DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, SEPTEMBER 11, 1961:

BY FOURTH ENDORSEMENT DATED JULY 17, 1961, PDTATAC CONTROL NO. 61-9, THE PER DIEM, TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE COMMITTEE TRANSMITTED YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 1, 1961, WITH ENCLOSURES, FILE 3500-92:ED:MBK., REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF REIMBURSING MR. DAVID L. RINGWALT AND COMMANDER HARLIN M. KEISTER, USN, IN THE AMOUNTS OF $20.58 AND $24.82, RESPECTIVELY, FOR TELEPHONE SERVICE INSTALLED AND FURNISHED IN HOTEL ROOMS OCCUPIED BY THEM WHILE ON TEMPORARY DUTY IN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT WHILE ASSIGNED FOR TEMPORARY DUTY IN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, PURSUANT TO ORDERS IN CONNECTION WITH RESEARCH PROJECT " TRADEWINDS III," THE CLAIMANTS CONSIDERED IT NECESSARY TO HAVE TELEPHONES INSTALLED IN THEIR HOTEL ROOMS IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN LIAISON BETWEEN THEMSELVES AND APPROXIMATELY 75 TO 80 OTHER PERSONNEL WHO WERE PERFORMING TEMPORARY DUTY INCIDENT THERETO. MR. RINGWALT SERVED IN THE CAPACITY OF DIRECTOR OF THE PROJECT AND COMMANDER KEISTER WAS PROJECT COORDINATOR.

IN JUSTIFICATION OF THE EXPENDITURE, MR. RINGWALT SAYS THAT " PROJECT TRADEWINDS III INVOLVED THREE DIFFERENT AIRCRAFT, TWO FROM NRL AND ONE FROM COMBARPAC. IT WAS NECESSARY TO MAINTAIN LIAISON BETWEEN APPROXIMATELY 75-80 PEOPLE. THIS WAS ONLY POSSIBLE IF THE TWO INDIVIDUALS IN CHARGE OF THE OPERATION COULD BE CONTACTED AT ALL TIMES. THE SITUATION WAS COMPLICATED BY THE "OUT OF HOURS' LANDING AND TAKE-OFF TIMES OF ALL AIRCRAFT. WHEN HOTEL RESERVATIONS WERE MADE IT WAS NOT REALIZED THAT WE COULD NOT BE CONTACTED EASILY BY TELEPHONE. AFTER THE START OF THE PROJECT IT WAS EVIDENT THAT A TELEPHONE WAS NEEDED FOR THE ABOVE MENTIONED LIAISON PROBLEM. IT WAS NECESSARY FOR ME TO PAY FOR HAVING THE TELEPHONE INSTALLED PLUS TWO MONTHS TELEPHONE CHARGES FROM 7/7/60 TO 8/25/60.' COMMANDER KEISTER EXPLAINS THAT " AS PROJECT COORDINATOR IN CHARGE OF 34 MILITARY AND 25 CIVILIAN PERSONNEL THE OPERATION OF THREE AIRCRAFT, AND THE MAINTENANCE OF THOSE AIRCRAFT AT A CIVILIAN AIRFIELD WITHOUT LOGISTIC SUPPORT, IT WAS ESSENTIAL THAT I BE IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE 24 HOURS A DAY TO ENSURE THE SUCCESS OF THE OPERATION. * * * THE COMPLETION OF 98 PERCENT OF A 600-HOUR OPERATION AS SCHEDULED IN THE OPERATION ORDER INDICATES THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE COORDINATION. THE PHONE INVOLVED IN THIS CLAIM WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN ACHIEVING THAT COORDINATION * * *.' AND BY SECOND ENDORSEMENT OF JUNE 23, 1961, FROM THE OFFICE OF THE COMPTROLLER OF THE NAVY, IT IS STATED THAT " FURTHER, IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF TELEPHONE SERVICE, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN NECESSARY TO PERFORM MUCH ADDITIONAL TRAVEL AT CONSIDERABLE EXTRA EXPENSE TO ACCOMPLISH THE MISSION IN PERHAPS, NOT AS SATISFACTORY OR EXPEDITIOUS A MANNER AS WAS EFFECTED IN CLAIMANTS' INSTANCE.'

THE SPECIFIC QUESTION PRESENTED IN YOUR LETTER IS WHETHER HOTEL ROOMS ARE CONSIDERED PRIVATE RESIDENCES OR PRIVATE APARTMENTS WITHIN THE MEANING OF THOSE TERMS AS USED IN THE RESTRICTION IMPOSED IN SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23, 1912, 37 STAT. 414, 31 U.S.C. 679, PROVIDING THAT " 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 * * *.'

THE LANGUAGE OF THE QUOTED SECTION HAS BEEN UNIFORMLY CONSTRUED IN A LONG LINE OF DECISIONS TO PROHIBIT THE FURNISHING AT PUBLIC EXPENSE OF TELEPHONE SERVICE TO A GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE IN A PRIVATE RESIDENCE, APARTMENT OR QUARTERS, REGARDLESS OF THE DESIRABILITY OR NECESSITY OF SUCH SERVICE FROM AN OFFICIAL STANDPOINT. SEE 33 COMP. GEN. 530; 35 ID. 28, AND DECISIONS CITED THEREIN. CF. 21 ID. 905.

THE "HOTEL" ROOMS OCCUPIED BY MR. RINGWALT AND COMMANDER KEISTER WERE NOT THEIR USUAL RESIDENCES OR APARTMENTS BUT WERE OCCUPIED BY THEM ONLY DURING A LIMITED PERIOD OF TEMPORARY DUTY BECAUSE OF THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES IN CONNECTION WITH PROJECT " TRADEWINDS III.' WE DO NOT REGARD TRANSIENT ACCOMMODATIONS SO OCCUPIED AS BEING NECESSARILY A "PRIVATE RESIDENCE OR PRIVATE APARTMENT" WITHIN THE PROHIBITION OF THE CITED ACT.

BOTH THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AND JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, WHICH APPLY RESPECTIVELY TO THE TRAVEL OF MR. RINGWALT AND COMMANDER KEISTER, MAKE PROVISION FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF THE COST OF OFFICIAL LOCAL AND LONG-DISTANCE CALLS. WHILE THE APPROVAL OF THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY OF AN ITEM OF TRAVEL EXPENSE IS PRIMARILY FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT, AS TO THE SERVICE CHARGES, CONSIDERATION SHOULD BE GIVEN TO WHETHER ADEQUATE TELEPHONE SERVICE WAS AVAILABLE AT GOVERNMENT INSTALLATIONS IN THE AREA, WHETHER EXISTING SERVICE (IN COMMANDER KEISTER'S CASE) WAS ADEQUATE, AND WHETHER OTHER HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS WITH ADEQUATE SERVICE WERE REASONABLY AVAILABLE.

IF, UPON ADMINISTRATIVE CONSIDERATION OF THE FACTORS DEEMED APPROPRIATE, APPROVAL OF THE OFFICIAL NECESSITY OF THE EXPENDITURES IS GIVEN, THE VOUCHERS, RETURNED HEREWITH, ARE AUTHORIZED TO BE PAID, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.