[Request for Decision on Rent-Free Space at Expositions and Trade Shows]

B-210620: Jun 28, 1984

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The general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requested a decision as to whether FCC could legally accept offers of rent-free exhibition space at trade shows and similar events. The general counsel stated that FCC participates in such events to inform the public about the effective use of radio technology and that such participation acts as a drawing card for promoters. GAO did not object to the FCC administrative determination that participation in such events was directly related to its mission. In addition, GAO noted that, since no money changed hands, rent-free exhibition by the FCC was permitted and, further, that the promoter who initially rented the space was free to determine the charges for its use. GAO held that the mutually beneficial arrangement between the promoter and FCC was neither an augmentation of congressional appropriations nor an illegal retention of a gift. Finally, GAO noted that FCC has discretion to determine how to carry out its public information responsibilities and is not required to participate in such events.

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