Authorization for Payment of Vouchers Involving Interagency Property Damage Liability

B-197682: Jun 5, 1980

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An advance decision was requested as to whether two vouchers could be certified for payment. The first voucher concerned the General Services Administration's (GSA) system of charging commercial rates for rental space using the Standard Level User Charge (SLUC). Subsequent to the GSA implementation of the SLUC system, paper stored by the Government Printing Office (GPO) in a GSA Stores Depot was damaged by water leaking through the roof. Deductions were made from the current SLUC billings, but GSA and the GPO legal staff denied the right of recovery based on a GAO decision. GAO agreed with the GPO legal staff. In authorizing SLUC payments, Congress intended to generate revenue, and not to create a landlord-tenant relationship with all the attendant legal rights and duties. GAO held that GSA was entitled to payment of the SLUC assessed GPO without reduction. The voucher to reimburse GSA for deductions made from SLUC charges was certified for payment. The second voucher concerned a GSA invoice that included an amount representing repairs to a GSA rental vehicle damaged in an accident in which a GPO employee was the driver. In this instance, the GPO legal staff recommended payment. The law authorizes the payment of all costs connected with the establishment, maintenance, and operation of motor vehicle pools or systems from the General Supply Fund, and the recovery of these costs from agency users. It was clear that expenses connected with the repair of a vehicle used to provide interagency motor pool service is a part of these costs. It was the opinion of GAO that charging such losses directly to the agency whose driver was responsible for the loss was properly within the discretion of GSA. Consequently, GPO is required to reimburse GSA for damage to vehicles which are a part of the interagency motor pool operated by GSA. The voucher was certified for payment.