B-41427, MAY 2, 1944, 23 COMP. GEN. 831

B-41427: May 2, 1944

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PERSONAL FURNISHINGS - APPROPRIATION AVAILABILITY - TELEPHONE AMPLIFYING DEVICE WHILE IT IS THE ESTABLISHED RULE THAT THE COST OF SPECIAL EQUIPMENT TO ENABLE AN EMPLOYEE TO QUALIFY HIMSELF TO PERFORM HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES CONSTITUTES A PERSONAL EXPENSE OF THE EMPLOYEE AND. IS NOT PAYABLE FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS. THE RENTAL THEREOF IS A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE DEPARTMENT'S APPROPRIATION. 1944: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 11. 1944: THE CHIEF DISBURSING OFFICER IS CONSIDERING THE ASSIGNMENT OF AN EMPLOYEE TO THE POSITION OF ACCOUNTANT IN THE REGIONAL DISBURSING OFFICE AT PHILADELPHIA. WHO IS PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED BY DEAFNESS. THE PERFORMANCE OF THE DUTIES IT WILL BE NECESSARY FOR THE EMPLOYEE TO CONTACT THE VARIOUS ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCIES SERVED.

B-41427, MAY 2, 1944, 23 COMP. GEN. 831

PERSONAL FURNISHINGS - APPROPRIATION AVAILABILITY - TELEPHONE AMPLIFYING DEVICE WHILE IT IS THE ESTABLISHED RULE THAT THE COST OF SPECIAL EQUIPMENT TO ENABLE AN EMPLOYEE TO QUALIFY HIMSELF TO PERFORM HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES CONSTITUTES A PERSONAL EXPENSE OF THE EMPLOYEE AND, AS SUCH, IS NOT PAYABLE FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS, IN VIEW OF THE PRESENT DIFFICULTY OF SECURING QUALIFIED EMPLOYEES, THE RENTAL BY THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT OF AN AMPLIFYING DEVICE TO BE ATTACHED TO AN OFFICIAL TELEPHONE AS A MEANS OF OBTAINING THE BEST RESULTS FROM AN EMPLOYEE PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED BY DEAFNESS MAY BE CONSIDERED NECESSARY FOR THE EXPEDITIOUS AND SATISFACTORY PERFORMANCE OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS, AND, THEREFORE, THE RENTAL THEREOF IS A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE DEPARTMENT'S APPROPRIATION.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL YATES TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, MAY 2, 1944:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 11, 1944:

THE CHIEF DISBURSING OFFICER IS CONSIDERING THE ASSIGNMENT OF AN EMPLOYEE TO THE POSITION OF ACCOUNTANT IN THE REGIONAL DISBURSING OFFICE AT PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, WHO IS PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED BY DEAFNESS. THE PERFORMANCE OF THE DUTIES IT WILL BE NECESSARY FOR THE EMPLOYEE TO CONTACT THE VARIOUS ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCIES SERVED, BY TELEPHONE. OVERCOME THE HANDICAP OF THE EMPLOYEE IT IS PROPOSED TO PROVIDE A TELEPHONE WITH AMPLIFYING DEVICE AT A RECURRING CHARGE OF $1.25 PER MONTH.

FROM A STUDY OF PAST DECISIONS OF YOUR OFFICE IT WOULD APPEAR THAT UNDER NORMAL CONDITIONS FUNDS APPROPRIATED FOR THE OPERATION OF THE DIVISION OF DISBURSEMENT WOULD NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR THE RENTING OF THIS DEVICE. THE CONDITION HERE IS SUCH THAT BECAUSE OF THE MANPOWER SITUATION AND INDUCTIONS INTO THE MILITARY SERVICES, OTHER THAN THE HANDICAP ABOVE- MENTIONED THE EMPLOYEE IS THE BEST QUALIFIED AND TRAINED IN THIS CLASS OF WORK OF ALL THE EMPLOYEES IN THAT OFFICE AND TO TRANSFER AN EMPLOYEE FROM ANOTHER OFFICE WOULD MERELY SHIFT A PROBLEM BECAUSE OF SHORTAGE OF TRAINED HELP.

YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER OR NOT, UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE CHIEF DISBURSING OFFICER MAY AUTHORIZE THE INSTALLATION OF THE SPECIAL EQUIPMENT FOR THE USE OF THE EMPLOYEE.

IT IS THE ESTABLISHED RULE THAT THE COST OF SPECIAL EQUIPMENT TO ENABLE AN EMPLOYEE TO QUALIFY HIMSELF TO PERFORM HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES CONSTITUTES A PERSONAL EXPENSE OF THE EMPLOYEE AND, AS SUCH, IS NOT PAYABLE FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS. AS A GUIDE IN DETERMINING WHETHER ANY PARTICULAR EQUIPMENT IS TO BE CONSIDERED PERSONAL TO THE EMPLOYEE, THE FOLLOWING RULES WERE STATED IN 3 COMP. GEN. 433:

IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR THE PURCHASE OF PERSONAL EQUIPMENT, PARTICULARLY WEARING APPAREL OR PARTS THEREOF, THE FIRST QUESTION FOR CONSIDERATION IN CONNECTION WITH A PROPOSED PURCHASE OF SUCH EQUIPMENT IS WHETHER THE OBJECT FOR WHICH THE APPROPRIATION INVOLVED WAS MADE CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED AS EXPEDITIOUSLY AND SATISFACTORILY FROM THE GOVERNMENT'S STANDPOINT, WITHOUT SUCH EQUIPMENT. IF IT BE DETERMINED THAT USE OF THE EQUIPMENT IS NECESSARY IN THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE PURPOSES OF THE APPROPRIATION, THE NEXT QUESTION TO BE CONSIDERED IS WHETHER THE EQUIPMENT IS SUCH AS THE EMPLOYEE REASONABLY COULD BE REQUIRED TO FURNISH AS PART OF THE PERSONAL EQUIPMENT NECESSARY TO ENABLE HIM TO PERFORM THE REGULAR DUTIES OF THE POSITION TO WHICH HE WAS APPOINTED OR FOR WHICH HIS SERVICES WERE ENGAGED. UNLESS THE ANSWER TO BOTH OF THESE QUESTIONS IS IN THE NEGATIVE, PUBLIC FUNDS CAN NOT BE USED FOR THE PURCHASE. DETERMINING THE FIRST OF THESE QUESTIONS THERE IS FOR CONSIDERATION WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT OR THE EMPLOYEE RECEIVES THE PRINCIPAL BENEFIT RESULTING FROM USE OF THE EQUIPMENT AND WHETHER AN EMPLOYEE REASONABLY COULD BE REQUIRED TO PERFORM THE SERVICE WITHOUT THE EQUIPMENT. CONNECTION WITH THE SECOND QUESTION THE POINTS ORDINARILY INVOLVED ARE WHETHER THE EQUIPMENT IS TO BE USED BY THE EMPLOYEE IN CONNECTION WITH HIS REGULAR DUTIES OR ONLY IN EMERGENCIES OR AT INFREQUENT INTERVALS AND WHETHER SUCH EQUIPMENT IS ASSIGNED TO AN EMPLOYEE FOR INDIVIDUAL USE OR IS INTENDED FOR AND ACTUALLY TO BE USED BY DIFFERENT EMPLOYEES.

IN VIEW OF THE PRESENT DIFFICULTY OF SECURING QUALIFIED EMPLOYEES AND THE FACT THAT THE AMPLIFYING DEVICE IS NOT A HEARING DEVICE FOR EXCLUSIVE USE BY THE EMPLOYEE AND WILL NOT BE USED FOR HIS COMFORT OR CONVENIENCE, BUT WILL BE ATTACHED TO THE OFFICIAL TELEPHONE AS A MEANS OF OBTAINING THE BEST RESULTS FROM AVAILABLE PERSONNEL, IT MAY BE CONCLUDED THAT THE AMPLIFYING DEVICE IS NECESSARY FOR THE EXPEDITIOUS AND SATISFACTORY PERFORMANCE OF THE GOVERNMENT BUSINESS WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE RULE STATED IN THE DECISION, SUPRA, AND, ACCORDINGLY, THE RENTAL THEREOF MAY BE CONSIDERED A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE APPROPRIATION FOR SALARIES AND EXPENSES, DIVISION OF DISBURSEMENT, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, ACT OF JUNE 30, 1943, 57 STAT. 253, PUBLIC LAW, 102.