B-149493, DEC 28, 1977

B-149493: Dec 28, 1977

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PROCUREMENT OF PHOTOGRAPHS OF INTERAGENCY PARTICIPANTS IN A CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION (CSC) TRAINING SYMPOSIUM IN ORDER TO PROVIDE FREE COPIES TO PARTICIPANTS IS NOT A PROPER USE OF CSC APPROPRIATIONS SINCE IT IS NOT A NECESSARY EXPENSE IN THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF AN AGENCY PURPOSE. PHOTOGRAPHER MAY BE PAID FOR HIS SERVICES SINCE THEY WERE OBTAINED AND PERFORMED IN GOOD FAITH AND NO SPECIFIC STATUTORY PROHIBITION IS INVOLVED. ROSBOTHAM WAS HIRED TO TAKE A GROUP PHOTOGRAPH OF THE SYMPOSIUM PARTICIPANTS. A COPY OF THE PHOTOGRAPH WAS PROVIDED FREE OF CHARGE TO EACH PARTICIPANT AND ADDITIONAL COPIES WERE RETAINED BY THE TRAINING CENTER. IN 31 COMP.GEN. 452 (1952) WE HELD THAT THE COST OF PHOTOGRAPHS OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES IS A PERSONAL EXPENSE WHICH IS NOT CHARGEABLE TO PUBLIC FUNDS IN THE ABSENCE OF AN INDICATION AS TO ITS NECESSITY IN THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF SOME PURPOSE FOR WHICH THE APPROPRIATION WAS MADE.

B-149493, DEC 28, 1977

PROCUREMENT OF PHOTOGRAPHS OF INTERAGENCY PARTICIPANTS IN A CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION (CSC) TRAINING SYMPOSIUM IN ORDER TO PROVIDE FREE COPIES TO PARTICIPANTS IS NOT A PROPER USE OF CSC APPROPRIATIONS SINCE IT IS NOT A NECESSARY EXPENSE IN THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF AN AGENCY PURPOSE. HOWEVER, PHOTOGRAPHER MAY BE PAID FOR HIS SERVICES SINCE THEY WERE OBTAINED AND PERFORMED IN GOOD FAITH AND NO SPECIFIC STATUTORY PROHIBITION IS INVOLVED.

CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION - PAYMENT FOR PHOTOGRAPHS OF TRAINING PARTICIPANTS:

AN AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER OF THE UNITED STATES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION (CSC) HAS SUBMITTED AN INVOICE FOR PHOTOGRAPHIC SERVICES OBTAINED FROM MR. LYLE ROSBOTHAM BY CSC IN CONNECTION WITH THE PRESENTATION OF AN INTERAGENCY PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT TRAINING CENTER SYMPOSIUM, AND REQUESTS OUR OPINION AS TO WHETHER HE MAY CERTIFY THE VOUCHER FOR PAYMENT. MR. ROSBOTHAM WAS HIRED TO TAKE A GROUP PHOTOGRAPH OF THE SYMPOSIUM PARTICIPANTS. APPARENTLY, A COPY OF THE PHOTOGRAPH WAS PROVIDED FREE OF CHARGE TO EACH PARTICIPANT AND ADDITIONAL COPIES WERE RETAINED BY THE TRAINING CENTER.

IN 31 COMP.GEN. 452 (1952) WE HELD THAT THE COST OF PHOTOGRAPHS OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES IS A PERSONAL EXPENSE WHICH IS NOT CHARGEABLE TO PUBLIC FUNDS IN THE ABSENCE OF AN INDICATION AS TO ITS NECESSITY IN THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF SOME PURPOSE FOR WHICH THE APPROPRIATION WAS MADE. LATER HELD IN 47 COMP.GEN. 321 (1967) THAT WHERE THE USE OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS ACCOMPLISHES A DEFINITE GOVERNMENT PURPOSE, THIS IS A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE APPROPRIATION. HOWEVER, WE REAFFIRMED THE GENERAL RULE STATED IN THE 1952 DECISION.

WE FAIL TO SEE HOW THE PHOTOGRAPHS HERE ACCOMPLISH A LEGITIMATE AGENCY PURPOSE OF THE CSC. MOREOVER, THE AGENCY ITSELF DOES NOT ATTEMPT TO JUSTIFY THIS PURCHASE OF PHOTOGRAPHS. THUS, IN A MEMORANDUM FROM THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR TRAINING OPERATIONS TO THE CHIEF, OFFICE SERVICES DIVISION, IT IS STATED:

"*** AFTER CONSIDERING ALL OF THE BACKGROUND AS WELL AS THE EVENTS LEADING TO ACQUIRING THE SERVICES OF MR. ROSBOTHAM, I AM OF THE OPINION THAT, ON THE ONE HAND, AN ERROR IN JUDGMENT WAS MADE BUT, ON THE OTHER HAND, THE CIRCUMSTANCES ARE SUCH THAT REQUIRING MS. HILL TO PERSONALLY PAY THE $180 FOR PHOTOGRAPHIC SERVICES REPRESENTS AN OVERLY SEVERE PENALTY.

"WE HAVE TAKEN STEPS TO PREVENT RECURRENCE OF THE INCIDENT BY INCLUDING IN THE SYMPOSIUM PROCEDURES A PROHIBITION OF USE OF CONTRACT PHOTOGRAPHERS. RATHER, AN OFFER OF A CHOICE WILL BE MADE TO PARTICIPANTS TO PURCHASE GROUP PICTURES THEMSELVES. WE ASSUME THIS WILL BE A SATISFACTORY ARRANGEMENT.

"IN SUMMARY, AN ERROR IN JUDGMENT WAS MADE IN THIS INSTANCE AND CORRECTIVE ACTIONS HAVE BEEN TAKEN TO PRECLUDE REPETITION. ***"

HOWEVER, UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, WE BELIEVE THAT MR. LYLE ROSBOTHAM IS ENTITLED TO PAYMENT. IF APPEARS THAT HIS SERVICES WERE OBTAINED AND PERFORMED IN GOOD FAITH. WHILE THE PROCUREMENT WAS IMPROPER, IT WAS NOT CONTRARY TO A SPECIFIC STATUTE. SEE 55 COMP.GEN. 1196 (1976).

ACCORDINGLY, WE ARE RETURNING HEREWITH THE INVOICE, WHICH MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IF OTHERWISE CORRECT. OF COURSE, AN ARRANGEMENT SUCH AS THIS SHOULD NOT BE MADE IN THE FUTURE.