[Reimbursements for Expenses Incurred by Government Officials Using Cellular Telephones in Private Automobiles]

B-229406: Dec 9, 1988

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Shirley Jones
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Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested a decision concerning the legality of using appropriated funds to reimburse one of its directors for charges associated with the installation and use of a cellular telephone installed in his personal automobile. GAO held that: (1) the statutes prohibiting the use of appropriated funds to pay for telephone services in a private residence did not apply to cellular telephone charges; (2) FDA could reimburse the official for charges and fees connected with official government calls made from the telephone; and (3) FDA could not use appropriated funds to reimburse the official for all or part of the telephone's cost, since the official intended to retain the equipment as his personal property. Accordingly, FDA could pay certain cellular telephone charges.

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