B-7406, DECEMBER 19, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 594

B-7406: Dec 19, 1939

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APPROPRIATIONS - AVAILABILITY - PERSONAL HISTORY REPORTS ON PROSPECTIVE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES APPROPRIATED MONEYS ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR OBTAINING PERSONAL HISTORY REPORTS ON PROSPECTIVE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES FROM CREDIT COMPANIES IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC AUTHORITY OF LAW. " MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED SUCH SPECIFIC AUTHORITY AS IS REQUIRED FOR THAT PURPOSE. 1939: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 22. THE SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD IS DESIROUS OF ENTERING INTO A CONTRACT WITH THE CONSUMER CREDIT REPORTING CORPORATION FOR FURNISHING PERSONAL HISTORY REPORTS ON PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES. THIS SERVICE IS SIMILAR TO THAT REFERRED TO IN DECISION A-99615. FROM THE ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE RULING THAT "* * * THERE APPEARS NO AUTHORITY OF LAW FOR EXPENDING APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR OBTAINING CREDIT REPORTS ON PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES FOR YOUR DEPARTMENT UNLESS AND UNTIL SUCH EXPENDITURES ARE SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY THE CONGRESS.'.

B-7406, DECEMBER 19, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 594

APPROPRIATIONS - AVAILABILITY - PERSONAL HISTORY REPORTS ON PROSPECTIVE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES APPROPRIATED MONEYS ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR OBTAINING PERSONAL HISTORY REPORTS ON PROSPECTIVE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES FROM CREDIT COMPANIES IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC AUTHORITY OF LAW, AND THE PROVISION IN THE SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD APPROPRIATION FOR 1940, FOR EXPENDING A SPECIFIED SUM "FOR TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONS OR ORGANIZATIONS, BY CONTRACT OR OTHERWISE, FOR SPECIAL * * * STATISTICAL, TRANSLATING AND REPORTING, ENGINEERING, AND ORGANIZATIONAL SERVICES," MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED SUCH SPECIFIC AUTHORITY AS IS REQUIRED FOR THAT PURPOSE.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE FEDERAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR, DECEMBER 19, 1939:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 22, 1939, AS FOLLOWS:

THE APPROPRIATION ACT FOR THE SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD ( PUBLIC, NO. 8, 76TH CONGRESS) PROVIDES: , THAT THE BOARD MAY EXPEND NOT TO EXCEED $25,000 OF THE SUM HEREIN APPROPRIATED FOR TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT OF * * * ORGANIZATIONS, BY CONTRACT OR OTHERWISE, FOR SPECIAL * * * REPORTING * * * SERVICES DETERMINED NECESSARY BY THE BOARD, WITHOUT REGARD TO SECTION 3709 OF THE REVISED STATUTES (41 U.S.C. 5) * * *.'

THE SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD IS DESIROUS OF ENTERING INTO A CONTRACT WITH THE CONSUMER CREDIT REPORTING CORPORATION FOR FURNISHING PERSONAL HISTORY REPORTS ON PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES. THIS SERVICE IS SIMILAR TO THAT REFERRED TO IN DECISION A-99615, DATED DECEMBER 12, 1938, FROM THE ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE RULING THAT "* * * THERE APPEARS NO AUTHORITY OF LAW FOR EXPENDING APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR OBTAINING CREDIT REPORTS ON PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES FOR YOUR DEPARTMENT UNLESS AND UNTIL SUCH EXPENDITURES ARE SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY THE CONGRESS.'

THE AFOREMENTIONED DECISION APPARENTLY IS BASED ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF GETTING THE REPORTS IS TO DETERMINE THE APPLICANT'S CREDIT STANDING AND FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND TO PROTECT THE GOVERNMENT AGAINST FIDUCIARY RISKS OF THE TYPE WHICH ARE NORMALLY COVERED BY BONDS. THIS, HOWEVER, IS NOT THE MAIN PURPOSE OF OBTAINING HISTORY REPORTS FOR THE BOARD. THE INFORMATION REQUIRED ON PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES CONCERNS ACTUAL PERFORMANCE IN EMPLOYMENT, SUCH AS INDUSTRIOUSNESS, EFFICIENCY, DEPENDABILITY, COOPERATIVENESS, ABILITY TO WORK WITH OTHERS, PERSONAL HABITS, HONESTY, INTEGRITY, ASSOCIATIONS, ETC. THE INFORMATION ON CREDIT STANDING AND FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, AS SHOWN BY THE QUESTIONS ON OUR REPORT FORM, IS MERELY INCIDENTAL AND IS REQUIRED NOT TO GUARD AGAINST FINANCIAL LOSS DUE TO THE FAILURE OF THE EMPLOYEE TO ACCOUNT FOR THE FUNDS ENTRUSTED TO HIM (SINCE MOST OF OUR EMPLOYEES DO NOT HANDLE FUNDS) BUT TO GUARD AGAINST:

(A) APPOINTING AN EMPLOYEE WHO IS ALREADY IN DISREPUTE, FOR WHATEVER REASON, IN HIS OWN COMMUNITY; AND

(B) APPOINTING AN EMPLOYEE WHO, JUDGING FROM HIS PAST RECORD, IS LIKELY TO COME INTO DISREPUTE IN THE COMMUNITY TO WHICH HE IS TO BE ASSIGNED.

THE SORT OF RISK BEING GUARDED AGAINST BY OBTAINMENT OF THESE REPORTS CANNOT BE COVERED BY A BOND, BECAUSE THE INJURY TO OUR PROGRAM OCCASIONED BY OUR EMPLOYING PERSONS WHO ARE POORLY QUALIFIED OR WHO BRING DISCREDIT ON THE SERVICE CANNOT BE FINANCIALLY MEASURED IN TERMS OF THE AMOUNT OF A BOND, AS BONDS COVER ONLY DEMONSTRABLE FINANCIAL LOSSES AND DO NOT COVER INJURY TO PUBLIC RELATIONS.

IT WILL BE APPRECIATED IF AN EARLY DECISION CAN BE RENDERED AS TO WHETHER APPROPRIATED FUNDS MAY BE EXPENDED FOR PERSONAL HISTORY REPORTS OBTAINED FROM THE NATIONAL CONSUMER CREDIT REPORTING CORPORATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TERMS OF THE ENCLOSED CONTRACT.

THE "ENCLOSED CONTRACT" REFERRED TO DESCRIBES THE SERVICES TO BE REQUIRED THEREUNDER AS FOLLOWS:

TO FURNISH INFORMATION IN REPORT FORM REGARDING CHARACTER, ABILITY, BUSINESS AND PERSONAL HISTORY OF INDIVIDUALS CONCERNED WITH THE OFFICIAL BUSINESS OF THIS BOARD, AND LIVING WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES (EXCLUSIVE OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA). REPORTS SHALL BE SUBMITTED IN DUPLICATE ON FORMS PRINTED BY AND AT THE EXPENSE OF THE REPORTING AGENCY, AND SHALL CARRY THE CAPTION " PERSONAL HISTORY REPORT FOR THE SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD.' THESE FORMS SHALL EMBODY NOT LESS THAN THE SUBJECT MATTER CONTAINED IN THE FOLLOWING LIST OF QUESTIONS:

1. A. HOW MANY INFORMANTS HAVE BEEN INTERVIEWED?

B. WHAT IS THEIR CONNECTION WITH THE APPLICANT?

C. HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH APPLICANT?

2. A. DESCRIBE APPLICANT'S PRESENT OCCUPATION.

B. LIST FORMER OCCUPATIONS AND REASONS FOR LEAVING.

C. HAS APPLICANT EVER BEEN DISCHARGED FOR CAUSE OR FORCED TO RESIGN

FROM ANY POSITION? (IF SO, GIVE DETAILS UNDER REMARKS (6) ).

3. A. IS HE STEADY AND WILLING TO WORK?

B. IS HE EFFICIENT AND STRICTLY DEPENDABLE ON THE JOB?

C. IS HE COOPERATIVE AND OF GOOD DISPOSITION?

D. DOES HE ADJUST HIMSELF WELL TO HIS ASSOCIATES AND HIS JOB?

4. A. IS THE APPLICANT IN SOUND HEALTH? (DESCRIBE ANY PHYSICAL DEFECT

OR HANDICAP.)

B. IS THE APPLICANT TEMPERATE IN THE USE OF LIQUOR?

C. IS HE REGARDED AS STRICTLY HONEST IN ALL HIS PERSONAL AND BUSINESS

AFFAIRS?

D. ARE HIS FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES PERSONS OF GOOD REPUTATION?

5. A. HAS HE EVER BEEN CONNECTED WITH ANY ILLEGAL OR SHADY ENTERPRISE?

B. HAS HE HAD ANY FINANCIAL OR DOMESTIC DIFFICULTIES?

C. HAS APPLICANT EVER BEEN ARRESTED, INDICTED, OR CONVICTED ON ANY

CHARGE OTHER THAN MINOR TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS?

D. DO YOU KNOW OF ANY REASON WHATSOEVER WHY THE APPLICANT SHOULD NOT

BE EMPLOYED IN THE FEDERAL CIVIL SERVICE?

6. REMARKS: AMPLIFY BRIEFLY ANY INCOMPLETE OR UNFAVORABLE INFORMATION GIVEN ABOVE.

7. ADDITIONAL REMARKS: GIVE A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE APPLICANT, STRESSING ANY UNUSUAL HISTORY OR CONDITION. DO NOT MENTION RACIAL, RELIGIOUS, OR POLITICAL AFFILIATIONS.

8. CREDIT REPORT:

TYPE OF OWES AMT. PAST DUE

BUSINESS REPORTING NOW AND HOW LONG REMARKS:

WHEREVER NECESSARY OR DESIRABLE, THE FORM SHALL BE SUPPLEMENTED WITH ADDITIONAL INFORMATION UNDER " REMARKS," IN ORDER THAT A COMPLETE AND ACCURATE DELINEATION SHALL BE PRESENTED. UPON REQUEST, THE SERVICE SHALL INCLUDE, AT NO EXTRA COST, SPECIAL ITEMS WHICH MIGHT REASONABLY BE CONTAINED IN A CHARACTER CREDIT REPORT.

YOU WILL NOTE THAT THE SUBMISSION FROM THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, IN ANSWER TO WHICH THE DECISION OF DECEMBER 12, 1938, 18 COMP. GEN. 539, WAS RENDERED, AND WHICH IS QUOTED IN THE DECISION, URGED THE NECESSITY FOR REPORTS FROM CREDIT COMPANIES FOR MUCH THE SAME REASONS AS THOSE GIVEN IN YOUR SUBMISSION, AND THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION SUBMITTED WAS IN THE NEGATIVE.

ASIDE FROM THE GENERAL QUESTION INVOLVED IN THE MATTER OF OBTAINING CREDIT OR CHARACTER REPORTS ON PROSPECTIVE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, YOUR SUBMISSION PRESENTS FOR CONSIDERATION THE QUESTION WHETHER THE PROVISION OF LAW IN THE SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD APPROPRIATION FOR 1940, TO WHICH YOU REFER, AUTHORIZES THE ENTERING INTO A CONTRACT SUCH AS HERE PROPOSED WITHOUT REGARD TO SECTION 3709, REVISED STATUTES. THE FULL TEXT OF THE PROVISION IN QUESTION IS AS FOLLOWS:

* * * PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT THE BOARD MAY EXPEND NOT TO EXCEED $25,000 OF THE SUM HEREIN APPROPRIATED FOR TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONS OR ORGANIZATIONS, BY CONTRACT OR OTHERWISE, FOR SPECIAL ACCOUNTING, ACTUARIAL, STATISTICAL, TRANSLATING AND REPORTING, ENGINEERING, AND ORGANIZATIONAL SERVICES DETERMINED NECESSARY BY THE BOARD, WITHOUT REGARD TO SECTION 3709 OF THE REVISED STATUTES (41 U.S.C. 5), AND THE PROVISIONS OF OTHER LAWS APPLICABLE TO THE EMPLOYMENT AND COMPENSATION OF OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES: * * *

IT IS EVIDENT THAT THE TERM "REPORTING" AS USED IN THIS PROVISION--- CONNECTED AS IT IS WITH ,TRANSLATING"--- CONTEMPLATES PRIMARILY STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING, AND WAS NOT INTENDED TO EMBRACE THE PROCURING OF REPORTS SUCH AS INVOLVED IN THE PRESENT MATTER. FURTHERMORE, THE PROPOSED CONTRACT WOULD NOT INVOLVE THE "TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONS OR ORGANIZATIONS" FOR "SERVICES" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE QUOTED LAW, BUT WOULD INVOLVE THE FURNISHING OF INFORMATION OR DATA, AND NOT TEMPORARILY, BUT DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1940. A CONTRACT OF SUCH CHARACTER IS NOT ONE COVERED BY SAID PROVISION, AND, ACCORDINGLY, THE QUESTION YOU SUBMIT MUST BE AND IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE.