B-5042, AUGUST 23, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 254

B-5042: Aug 23, 1939

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1939: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 7. WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR $37.50 AS REIMBURSEMENT ON ACCOUNT OF THE LOSS OF A TYPEWRITER ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN RENTED BY YOU FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH OFFICIAL BUSINESS. THE BASIS FOR THE DISALLOWANCE WAS THAT IT DID NOT APPEAR FROM THE EVIDENCE THAT THE RENTAL OF THE TYPEWRITER WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED. THAT WHILE IN YOUR CUSTODY AND DURING A FIELD TRIP THE TYPEWRITER WAS STOLEN. PARAGRAPH 75 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDES IN PART AS FOLLOWS: CHARGES FOR * * * RENTAL OF TYPEWRITING MACHINES IN CONNECTION WITH THE PREPARATION OF REPORTS OR CORRESPONDENCE * * * WILL BE ALLOWED WHEN AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIAL.

B-5042, AUGUST 23, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 254

RENTAL OF TYPEWRITER BY EMPLOYEE WHILE IN TRAVEL STATUS - LIABILITY FOR LOSS WHILE PARAGRAPH 75 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS AUTHORIZES THE RENTAL OF TYPEWRITERS UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES OUTLINED THEREIN, AND REIMBURSEMENT OF THE EMPLOYEE FOR THE CHARGES OF SUCH RENTAL, THE RENTAL OF THE TYPEWRITER UNDER THE SAID AUTHORITY CONSTITUTES A CONTRACT BETWEEN THE EMPLOYEE AND THE COMPANY FURNISHING THE TYPEWRITER, AND THE EMPLOYEE MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED FOR ANY LOSS SUSTAINED BY HIM THROUGH THE PAYMENT TO THE COMPANY OF THE VALUE OF THE MACHINE BECAUSE OF ITS HAVING BEEN STOLEN WHILE IN HIS POSSESSION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL BROWN TO FOREST H. HILL, AUGUST 23, 1939:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 7, 1939, REQUESTING REVIEW OF THAT PART OF THE SETTLEMENT DATED APRIL 14, 1938, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR $37.50 AS REIMBURSEMENT ON ACCOUNT OF THE LOSS OF A TYPEWRITER ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN RENTED BY YOU FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH OFFICIAL BUSINESS. THE BASIS FOR THE DISALLOWANCE WAS THAT IT DID NOT APPEAR FROM THE EVIDENCE THAT THE RENTAL OF THE TYPEWRITER WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED.

YOU NOW ALLEGE THAT PURSUANT TO AN ORAL AUTHORIZATION ISSUED IN ACCORDANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 75 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, BY HARRY R. HOUSTON, FORMER ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION, VIRGINIA, YOU RENTED UNDERWOOD PORTABLE TYPEWRITER NO. 4F-658378 FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR OFFICIAL DUTIES AS FIELD REPRESENTATIVE OF THE FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION; THAT WHILE IN YOUR CUSTODY AND DURING A FIELD TRIP THE TYPEWRITER WAS STOLEN; AND THAT UPON DEMAND OF THE TYPEWRITER SALES AND SERVICE CO., OWNERS OF THE MACHINE, YOU PAID $37.50, REPRESENTING THE VALUE OF THE LOST MACHINE.

PARAGRAPH 75 OF THE STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT TRAVEL REGULATIONS PROVIDES IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

CHARGES FOR * * * RENTAL OF TYPEWRITING MACHINES IN CONNECTION WITH THE PREPARATION OF REPORTS OR CORRESPONDENCE * * * WILL BE ALLOWED WHEN AUTHORIZED OR APPROVED BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIAL.

TO ESTABLISH YOUR AUTHORITY TO RENT THE TYPEWRITER IN QUESTION YOU SUBMITTED LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 25, 1939, FROM HARRY R. HOUSTON, FORMER ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION, VIRGINIA, AS FOLLOWS:

THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT I AUTHORIZED MR. FORREST H. HILL TO RENT A PORTABLE TYPEWRITER UNTIL SUCH A TIME ONE MIGHT BE PROVIDED FOR HIM. THERE WAS NONE AVAILABLE AT THE TIME. IT WAS REGARDED AS NECESSARY THAT MR. HILL HAVE A PORTABLE TYPEWRITER TO PROSECUTE THE CLASS OF FIELD WORK HE WAS DOING AT THAT TIME FOR THE FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION. AT THE TIME REFERRED TO I WAS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF VIRGINIA, UNDER WHOM MR. HILL WAS WORKING AND IT WAS APPROVED BY THE THEN DIRECTOR AND ALSO MR. MOON, THE AUDITOR FOR THE VIRGINIA OFFICE.

ASSUMING ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY TO RENT THE SAID TYPEWRITER WAS PROPERLY ISSUED, THE RENTAL OF THE TYPEWRITER UNDER AUTHORITY OF PARAGRAPH 75 OF THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES HERE INVOLVED CONSTITUTED A CONTRACT BETWEEN YOU AND THE TYPEWRITER SALES AND SERVICE CO. 12 COMP. GEN. 111. NEITHER UNDER SAID CONTRACT, HOWEVER, NOR UNDER THE TRAVEL REGULATIONS, SUPRA, WAS THERE IMPOSED UPON THE GOVERNMENT ANY OBLIGATION OTHER THAN TO PAY FOR THE RENTAL OF THE TYPEWRITER. IN OTHER WORDS, THERE IS NOTHING IN THE REGULATIONS OR IN YOUR ALLEGED AUTHORIZATION PERMITTING YOU TO PROCURE PROPERTY FOR USE OF THE GOVERNMENT SO AS TO CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGATE THE UNITED STATES FOR ANY LOSS OR DAMAGE TO SAID PROPERTY. NO OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES HAS AUTHORITY TO IMPOSE A CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION AGAINST PUBLIC FUNDS EXCEPT IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAW AND THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN HIM. SEE, THE FLOYD ACCEPTANCES, 7 WALL. 666; JACOB REED'S SONS V. UNITED STATES, 273 U.S. 200. THUS, ANY LOSS SUSTAINED UNDER YOUR RENTAL CONTRACT WITH THE TYPEWRITER SALES AND SERVICE CO. WAS PROPERLY FOR ADJUSTMENT BETWEEN YOU AND THAT COMPANY, AND IS NOT LOSS PROPERLY CHARGEABLE TO THE GOVERNMENT.

ACCORDINGLY, THE SETTLEMENT DISALLOWING YOUR CLAIM MUST BE, AND IS, SUSTAINED.