B-63568, MARCH 11, 1947, 26 COMP. GEN. 668

B-63568: Mar 11, 1947

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1947: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 3. AS FOLLOWS: THERE IS TRANSMITTED HEREWITH FOR ADVANCE DECISION AS TO PROPRIETY OF PAYMENT. MANDEL IS A SOCIAL SCIENCE ANALYST WITH HEADQUARTERS AT NEW YORK CITY AND UNDER LETTER OF AUTHORIZATION NO. 428 DATED AUGUST 11. IS AUTHORIZED TO EMPLOY PERSONNEL FOR TEMPORARY DUTY SUBJECT TO CIVIL SERVICE RULES AND DEPARTMENT REGULATIONS. IN WHICH HE IS EMPLOYED DOES NOT MAINTAIN FIELD OFFICES. HIS HOME IS USED AS HIS OFFICE AND IT IS OFTEN NECESSARY TO USE HIS TELEPHONE FOR THE PURPOSE OF SUPERVISING 10 PART-TIME EMPLOYEES WORKING IN THE NEW YORK CITY AREA AND TO CONTACT PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES. CLAIM HAS BEEN MADE FOR 61 CALLS FROM HIS HOME (SWITCHBOARD SERVICE) AT 10 CENTS PER CALL OR $6.10 WHICH AMOUNT WAS PREVIOUSLY SUSPENDED FROM DISBURSING OFFICE VOUCHER NO. 1078853 PAID JANUARY 15.

B-63568, MARCH 11, 1947, 26 COMP. GEN. 668

TELEPHONES - PRIVATE RESIDENCES - STATUTORY PROHIBITION APPLICABILITY - RESIDENCE USED AS OFFICE IN VIEW OF THE PROHIBITION IN SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23, 1912, AGAINST THE EXPENDITURE OF APPROPRIATED MONEY FOR TOLLS OR OTHER CHARGES FOR TELEPHONE SERVICE FROM PRIVATE RESIDENCES OR APARTMENTS, EMPLOYEES MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED CHARGES FOR THE USE OF TELEPHONES IN THEIR PRIVATE RESIDENCES FOR LOCAL CALLS MADE ON GOVERNMENT BUSINESS, EVEN THOUGH THE EMPLOYEES HAD NO OFFICES ASSIGNED OR AVAILABLE TO THEM.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO V. MACMURRAY, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, MARCH 11, 1947:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 3, 1947, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE IS TRANSMITTED HEREWITH FOR ADVANCE DECISION AS TO PROPRIETY OF PAYMENT, THE CLAIMS OF HOWARD MANDEL AND MRS. GUDRUN P. DOUD, IN THE AMOUNTS OF $6.10 AND $1.87 COVERING REIMBURSEMENT FOR TELEPHONE CALLS MADE FROM THEIR HOMES.

MR. MANDEL IS A SOCIAL SCIENCE ANALYST WITH HEADQUARTERS AT NEW YORK CITY AND UNDER LETTER OF AUTHORIZATION NO. 428 DATED AUGUST 11, 1946, IS AUTHORIZED TO EMPLOY PERSONNEL FOR TEMPORARY DUTY SUBJECT TO CIVIL SERVICE RULES AND DEPARTMENT REGULATIONS. SINCE THE DIVISION OF SPECIAL SURVEYS, IN WHICH HE IS EMPLOYED DOES NOT MAINTAIN FIELD OFFICES, HIS HOME IS USED AS HIS OFFICE AND IT IS OFTEN NECESSARY TO USE HIS TELEPHONE FOR THE PURPOSE OF SUPERVISING 10 PART-TIME EMPLOYEES WORKING IN THE NEW YORK CITY AREA AND TO CONTACT PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES. CLAIM HAS BEEN MADE FOR 61 CALLS FROM HIS HOME (SWITCHBOARD SERVICE) AT 10 CENTS PER CALL OR $6.10 WHICH AMOUNT WAS PREVIOUSLY SUSPENDED FROM DISBURSING OFFICE VOUCHER NO. 1078853 PAID JANUARY 15, 1947 BY E. J. BRENNAN SYMBOL 2000-1030.

MRS. DOUD, UNDER LETTER OF AUTHORIZATION NO. 619 DATED JULY 18, 1946 WITH HEADQUARTERS AT LOS ANGELES, CALIF. IS AUTHORIZED TO DO RURAL AND URBAN INTERVIEWING FOR THE SAME DIVISION. IT IS OFTEN NECESSARY FOR HER TO CONTACT THE SEVERAL ENUMERATORS FOR WHOSE WORK SHE IS RESPONSIBLE AND ALSO TO ARRANGE FOR INTERVIEW WITH APPLICANTS FOR PART-TIME POSITIONS IN ORDER TO MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE WASHINGTON OFFICE. SINCE NO FIELD OFFICE IS MAINTAINED, THE CALLS ARE MADE FROM HER HOME. THIS EMPLOYEE CLAIMS REIMBURSEMENT AT THE RATE OF 3 1/2 CENTS A CALL.

THE DECISION OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL A-77017 DATED JULY 24, 1936 IN WHICH IT IS STATED THAT PAYMENT OF RENTAL ON A TELEPHONE INSTALLED IN A PRIVATE APARTMENT IS PROHIBITED BY SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23, 1912, 37 STAT. 414, HAS BEEN NOTED HOWEVER, THIS DECISION DOES NOT APPEAR TO APPLY IN THE INSTANT CASES SINCE PAYMENT FOR RENTAL IS NOT INVOLVED.

SINCE THIS OFFICE HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO FIND AN APPLICABLE DECISION AND MANY SIMILAR CLAIMS ARE EXPECTED, YOUR EARLY OPINION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER TELEPHONE CALLS ON OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT BUSINESS MADE FROM HOMES USED AS OFFICES ARE PROPER FOR PAYMENT FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS.

SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23, 1912, 37 STAT. 414, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

SEC. 7. THAT NO MONEY APPROPRIATED BY THIS OR ANY OTHER ACT SHALL BE EXPENDED FOR TELEPHONE SERVICE INSTALLED IN ANY PRIVATE RESIDENCE OR PRIVATE APARTMENT OR FOR TOLLS OR OTHER CHARGES FOR TELEPHONE SERVICE FROM PRIVATE RESIDENCES OR PRIVATE APARTMENTS, EXCEPT FOR LONG-DISTANCE TELEPHONE TOLLS REQUIRED STRICTLY FOR THE PUBLIC BUSINESS, AND SO SHOWN BY VOUCHERS DULY SWORN TO AND APPROVED BY THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT, DIVISION, BUREAU, OR OFFICE IN WHICH THE OFFICIAL USING SUCH TELEPHONE OR INCURRING THE EXPENSE OF SUCH TOLLS SHALL BE EMPLOYED.

IN VIEW OF THE PLAIN TERMS OF THAT STATUTE, ANY PAYMENT TO THE EMPLOYEES, HERE INVOLVED, FOR CHARGES FOR THE USE OF TELEPHONES IN THEIR PRIVATE RESIDENCES FOR LOCAL CALLS MADE ON GOVERNMENT BUSINESS CLEARLY IS PROHIBITED, REGARDLESS OF THE FACT THAT NO OFFICE WAS ASSIGNED OR AVAILABLE TO SAID EMPLOYEES.

ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHERS, WHICH ARE RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY NOT BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.