Claim for Advertising Services

B-205094: Nov 24, 1981

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The Navy requested reconsideration of the disallowance by the Claims Group of the claim of two newspapers for advertising services provided to the Navy. The claim was disallowed because Federal regulations require that evidence of written authorization in advance of the advertising services be obtained and presented with the bill. In requesting reconsideration, the Navy submitted two documents which it contended satisfied the statutory requirements. The first document indicated that a Notice of Finding of No Significant Impact should have been published in the local news media and copies mailed to interested parties. The second document stated that authority was granted to publish a Finding of No Significant Impact in the local media, in accordance with Navy implementing instructions. The documents did not establish that written authorization to publish was obtained prior to publication. In view of the mandatory language of the statute, GAO has held that after-the-fact approval or attempted ratification is not sufficient to remove the statutory bar against payment and, under the circumstances, GAO concluded that the disallowance was correct. The newspapers carried the advertisements as requested, and the Navy had received the full benefit of the required advertisements. The Navy stated that the amount claimed by the newspaper was fair and reasonable. They also contained a statement that action was being taken to prevent a recurrence of unauthorized commitments. Accordingly, the claim was submitted to Congress pursuant to the Meritorious Claims Act recommending that payment be authorized.