B-149717, SEPTEMBER 5, 1962, 42 COMP. GEN. 149

B-149717: Sep 5, 1962

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1962: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED AUGUST 14. WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE PURPOSE OF THE VOUCHER IS TO REIMBURSE AN OFFICIAL OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT FOR EXPENDITURES MADE BY HIM FROM HIS PERSONAL FUNDS TO PROVIDE CARRY-OUT RESTAURANT FOOD FOR CERTAIN POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES. IT IS STATED IN THE LETTER THAT PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 10988 DIRECTING THAT AGENCIES MUST ACCORD INFORMAL. WAS DESIGNATED TO PLAN AND FULLY EXECUTE THE ELECTION. THAT THE ELIGIBILITY CHECK AND THE COUNT AND TALLY OF BALLOTS WAS ACCOMPLISHED DURING THE PERIOD JULY 9. ALL OF THE TEAM MEMBERS WERE OFFICIALLY ORDERED TO REMAIN ON DUTY DURING THIS PERIOD BEYOND REGULAR OFFICIAL DUTY HOURS (8:45 A.M.

B-149717, SEPTEMBER 5, 1962, 42 COMP. GEN. 149

SUBSISTENCE - MEALS FURNISHED CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES - AUTHORIZATION REQUIREMENT. FUNDS - IMPREST - AVAILABILITY IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC AUTHORITY IN THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION ACT (TITLE II OF PUBLIC LAW 87-575), OR ANY OTHER STATUTE, AUTHORIZING EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL RULE THAT THE GOVERNMENT MAY NOT PAY THE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES OF OR FURNISH FREE FOOD TO CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES AT HEADQUARTERS IN ADDITION TO REGULAR COMPENSATION, EVEN THOUGH WORK MAY BE PERFORMED UNDER UNUSUAL CONDITIONS, REIMBURSEMENT MAY NOT BE MADE TO AN OFFICIAL OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT WHO MADE HIMSELF A VOLUNTARY CREDITOR OF THE UNITED STATES BY THE EXPENDITURE OF PERSONAL FUNDS TO PROVIDE FOOD FOR EMPLOYEES REQUIRED TO REMAIN ON DUTY BEYOND THEIR REGULAR OFFICIAL DUTY HOURS, 5 U.S.C. 71 PROHIBITING ANY CIVIL OFFICER OF THE GOVERNMENT FROM RECEIVING ANY COMPENSATION OR PERQUISITES BEYOND THE COMPENSATION ALLOWED BY LAW. AN IMPREST FUND ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO FEDERAL PROCUREMENT REGULATIONS, SECTION 1-3.604-4 (B), FOR EMERGENCY PURCHASES OF SUPPLIES OR SERVICES, FOR THE SECURING OF PERISHABLE SUBSISTENCE, ETC., MAY NOT BE USED TO REIMBURSE A VOLUNTARY CREDITOR OF THE GOVERNMENT WHO EXPENDED PERSONAL FUNDS TO PROVIDE FOOD TO EMPLOYEES REQUIRED TO REMAIN ON DUTY BEYOND REGULAR OFFICIAL DUTY HOURS, THE FEDERAL PROCUREMENT REGULATIONS ON THE USE OF IMPREST FUNDS NOT AUTHORIZING EXPENDITURES BUT MERELY SETTING FORTH PROCUREMENT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR SMALL PURCHASES OTHERWISE PROPER UNDER THE LAW.

TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, SEPTEMBER 5, 1962:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED AUGUST 14, 1962 (FILE 605), FROM THE ACTING POSTMASTER GENERAL REQUESTING OUR DECISION AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF PAYMENT OF A VOUCHER IN THE AMOUNT OF $66 COVERING PERISHABLE SUBSISTENCE PURCHASED IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR DEPARTMENT'S PROGRAM IMPLEMENTING EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 10988 ON EMPLOYEE-MANAGEMENT COOPERATION IN THE FEDERAL SERVICE.

WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE PURPOSE OF THE VOUCHER IS TO REIMBURSE AN OFFICIAL OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT FOR EXPENDITURES MADE BY HIM FROM HIS PERSONAL FUNDS TO PROVIDE CARRY-OUT RESTAURANT FOOD FOR CERTAIN POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES.

IT IS STATED IN THE LETTER THAT PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 10988 DIRECTING THAT AGENCIES MUST ACCORD INFORMAL, FORMAL, OR EXCLUSIVE RECOGNITION TO EMPLOYEE ORGANIZATIONS WHICH REQUEST SUCH RECOGNITION IN CONFORMITY WITH CERTAIN CRITERIA SPECIFIED IN THE ORDER ITSELF, THE POSTMASTER GENERAL DIRECTED THAT A SERVICE WIDE ELECTION BE CONDUCTED TO DETERMINE, BY VOTE OF POSTAL EMPLOYEES, THEIR INDIVIDUAL CHOICE OF AN ORGANIZATION TO REPRESENT THEM; THAT ACCORDINGLY, A GROUP OF SIX OFFICIALS, COMPRISING A TEAM OF EXPERTS, WAS DESIGNATED TO PLAN AND FULLY EXECUTE THE ELECTION; THAT THIS ELECTION TEAM, IN TURN, DESIGNATED OTHER POSTAL OFFICIALS IN VARIOUS FIELD OFFICES TO REPRESENT, AND ACT FOR, THE DEPARTMENT AT SPECIFIED LOCATIONS; THAT AS A PART OF THE FIELD TEAMS, THE HEADQUARTERS TEAM ALSO OBTAINED THE SERVICES OF INDEPENDENT EXPERTS IN LABOR-INDUSTRY MANAGEMENT RELATIONS TO SERVICE AS IMPARTIAL SUPERVISING AGENTS IN THE VOTE COUNT, TALLY, AND CERTIFICATION OF BALLOTS PROCEDURE; THAT THE HEADQUARTERS TEAM CONDUCTED THE NECESSARY INDOCTRINATION AND TRAINING OF THESE FIELD TEAMS; THAT THE ELIGIBILITY CHECK AND THE COUNT AND TALLY OF BALLOTS WAS ACCOMPLISHED DURING THE PERIOD JULY 9, 1962, THROUGH JULY 17, 1962; THAT THE HEADQUARTERS TEAM SERVED AS CONTACTS WITH THE REGIONAL OFFICE TEAMS TO PROVIDE THEM WITH GUIDANCE AND NECESSARY ASSISTANCE IN PERFORMING THESE FUNCTIONS; THAT IN ORDER TO PERFORM THIS ESSENTIAL SERVICE, ALL OF THE TEAM MEMBERS WERE OFFICIALLY ORDERED TO REMAIN ON DUTY DURING THIS PERIOD BEYOND REGULAR OFFICIAL DUTY HOURS (8:45 A.M. TO 5:15 P.M.) IN A DESIGNATED OFFICE IN YOUR HEADQUARTERS UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THE DAILY REPORT OF THE VOTE COUNT TALLY FROM EACH REGION WAS RECEIVED; THAT THE SERVICES OF THE FULL TEAM WERE ESSENTIAL TO MAN THE BATTERY OF TELEPHONES IN ANSWERING INQUIRIES FROM FIFTEEN DIFFERENT REGIONS; THAT VARIANCE IN TIME ZONES REQUIRED THEIR PRESENCE IN THE DESIGNATED ROOM UNTIL AFTER 11:00 P.M. EACH NIGHT FROM JULY 9 THROUGH JULY 15, AND ON THE NIGHT OF JULY 17, 1962; AND THAT ALL OF THE OFFICIALS INVOLVED ARE IN HIGH-LEVEL POSITIONS NOT ENTITLING THEM TO OVERTIME COMPENSATION.

IT IS FURTHER STATED THAT THE EXPENDITURES FOR FOOD FOR THE TEAM MEMBERS WERE MADE AS A RESULT OF LACK OF FACILITIES WITHIN THE BUILDING AND THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF THEIR REMAINING CONSTANTLY AVAILABLE, WITHOUT RECESS, FOR CONSULTATION WITH REGIONAL POSTAL ELECTION TEAMS; THAT THESE WERE THE ONLY OFFICIALS IN THE HEADQUARTERS QUALIFIED TO RESOLVE PROBLEMS CONCERNING THE VALIDITY OF BALLOTS, ACTIONS OF MEMBERS OF REGIONAL TEAMS (SUCH AS REPRESENTATIVES OF EMPLOYEE ORGANIZATIONS ASSIGNED TO EACH TEAM IN "OBSERVER" CAPACITY) AND TO MAKE ON-THE-SPOT DECISIONS ENABLING THE WORK TO PROGRESS RAPIDLY AND WITHOUT INTERRUPTION; THAT HAD THE REGIONS BEEN DEPRIVED OF THIS SERVICE DUE TO UNAVAILABILITY OF THE HEADQUARTERS TEAM MEMBERS FOR EVEN SHORT PERIODS OF TIME, IT WOULD HAVE SERIOUSLY IMPEDED THIS PHASE OF THE ELECTION PROCESS, CREATING CONFUSION, JEOPARDIZING ACCURACY OF THE RESULTS, INTERRUPTING CONTINUITY BY DELAYING PROCEEDINGS WITH RESULTANT WASTE OF MANPOWER AND HEAVY ADDITIONAL EXPENSE TO THE DEPARTMENT IN CONCLUDING THE VOTE COUNT AND TALLY OF VOTES; AND THAT, FOR EXAMPLE, THE ADDITIONAL COSTS INVOLVED IF DELAYS HAD CAUSED EXTENSION OF THE PERIOD OF DUTY OF THE INDEPENDENT EXPERTS ALONE WOULD HAVE FAR EXCEEDED THE AMOUNT OF THE VOUCHER HEREIN DISCUSSED, IN ADDITION TO OTHER COSTS WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN INVOLVED.

THE LETTER CONTINUES AS FOLLOWS:

IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE FACTS, PLEASE ADVISE WHETHER THE EXPENDITURES INVOLVED MAY BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATION "ADMINISTRATION AND REGIONAL OPERATIONS" IN TITLE II OF P.L. 87-575, USING THE IMPREST FUND ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO THE FEDERAL PROCUREMENT PROGRAM. SEE FPR SEC. 1-3.604-4 (B) WHICH STATES "THE FOLLOWING ARE TYPICAL PROCUREMENTS FOR WHICH THE USE OF IMPREST FUNDS WOULD BE SUITABLE:

"/1) EMERGENCY, FILL-IN, OCCASIONAL, OR SPECIAL PURCHASES OF SUPPLIES OR SERVICES:

"/2) (3) PERISHABLE SUBSISTENCE; * * *"

IN THE EVENT YOUR ANSWER TO THE ABOVE IS NEGATIVE INSOFAR AS THE GENERAL PORTION OF THE APPROPRIATION IS CONCERNED, YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER PAYMENT COULD BE MADE UNDER THAT PART OF THE PROVISIONS OF P.L. 87-575, TITLE II,"ADMINISTRATION AND REGIONAL OPERATION," WHICH PROVIDES:

"FOR EXPENSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR, NECESSARY FOR ADMINISTRATION OF THE POSTAL SERVICE, * * * NOT TO EXCEED $25,000 FOR MISCELLANEOUS AND EMERGENCY EXPENSES (INCLUDING NOT TO EXCEED $6,000 FOR OFFICIAL RECEPTION AND REPRESENTATION EXPENSES UPON APPROVAL BY THE POSTMASTER GENERAL) * *

IN VIEW OF THE MAGNITUDE OF THIS NEW PROGRAM AND THE EXTREME COMPLEXITY OF PLACING IT INTO EFFECTIVE OPERATION, IT IS MY FEELING THAT THE EXPENDITURES CLAIMED WERE NECESSARY AND PROPER IN FURTHERANCE OF PROPER ADMINISTRATION OF THE POSTAL ELECTION PROCESS.

IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT THE GOVERNMENT MAY NOT PAY THE SUBSISTENCE EXPENSES OF OR FURNISH FREE FOOD TO CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES AT HEADQUARTERS IN ADDITION TO THEIR REGULAR COMPENSATION WITHOUT SPECIFIC AUTHORITY OF LAW, EVEN THOUGH THEY MAY BE WORKING UNDER UNUSUAL CONDITIONS. SEE 16 COMP. GEN. 158 AND B-141142, DECEMBER 15, 1959, AND B-129004, SEPTEMBER 6, 1956, COPIES ENCLOSED. IN THIS CONNECTIONSEE, ALSO, 5 U.S.C. 71 WHICH PROVIDES THAT NO CIVIL OFFICER OF THE GOVERNMENT SHALL RECEIVE ANY COMPENSATION OR PERQUISITES, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FROM THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES BEYOND HIS COMPENSATION ALLOWED BY LAW.

WE FIND NOTHING IN THE CITED POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION ACT, 76 STAT. 313, OR ANY OTHER STATUTE SPECIFICALLY OR BY NECESSARY IMPLICATION AUTHORIZING ANY EXCEPTION IN THIS INSTANCE TO THE GENERAL RULE STATED ABOVE OR TO 5 U.S.C. 71. THE FEDERAL PROCUREMENT REGULATIONS ON THE USE OF IMPREST FUNDS DO NOT AUTHORIZE EXPENDITURES; THEY MERELY SET FORTH PROCUREMENT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR SMALL PURCHASES OTHERWISE PROPER UNDER THE LAW.

MOREOVER, NO PERSON MAY MAKE HIMSELF A VOLUNTARY CREDITOR OF THE UNITED STATES BY INCURRING AND PAYING OBLIGATIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT WHICH IS NOT LEGALLY REQUIRED OR AUTHORIZED TO INCUR OR PAY AND REIMBURSEMENT THEREFOR GENERALLY IS NOT AUTHORIZED. SEE 31 U.S.C. 665; B-129004, SEPTEMBER 6, 1956; 2 COMP. GEN. 581; 3 ID. 70; 7 ID. 104; 8 ID. 627; AND 18 ID. 424.

ACCORDINGLY, WE ARE NOT AWARE OF ANY AUTHORITY FOR PAYMENT OF THE INSTANT VOUCHER AND YOUR QUESTIONS MUST BE ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE.