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Office Equipment Service of the House of Representatives

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-02-04.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

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                                                                     RELEASED




                 Office Equipment Service
                 Of The
                 House Of Representatives ,_,,,,,,114865




                 BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL
                 OF THE UNITED STATES



                                                               FEB.      4,1971
            COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES
                       WASHINGTON. D.C. 20148




B-114865




Dear Mr. Jennings:

      This is our report on the Office Equipment Service of
the House of Representatives. The review was made in ac-
cordance with your request dated July 1, 1970.

    A copy of this report is being furnished to the Chairman,
Committee on House Administration.

                                Sincerely yours,




                                Comptroller General
                                of the United States

The Honorable W. Pat Jennings
Clerk of the House of Representatives
                          Cont ent s
                                                          Page
DIGEST                                                      1
CHAPTER

      1    INTRODUCTION                                    2
      2    OPERAT]DNS                                      4
               Accounting                                  4
               Messenger service                           6
               Typewriter repair service                   7
                   Inventory of typewriter repair parts    8
      3    DELAY IN RECORDING PURCHASES                    9

      4    PHYSICAL INVENTORIES                           10

      5    STATUS OF ITEMS PREVIOUSLY REPORTED TO THE
           CLERK                                          11
               Recommendation                             11
EXHIBIT

      A    Office Equipment Service, House of Representa-
             tives, summary of equipment accounts, Jan-
             uary 10, 1967, to June 30, 1970              15
APPENDIX

      I    Letter from the Clerk of the House of
             Representatives, dated July 1, 1970          19
                          ABBREVIATIONS

GAO        General Accounting Office

OES        Office Equipment Service
COMPTROLLER GENERAL'S                  OFFICE EQUIPMENT SERVICE OF THE HOUSE
REPORT TO THE CLERK OF                 OF REPRESENTATIVES   B-114865
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES


DIGEST

WHY THE REVIEW WAS MADE

     The General Accounting Office (GAO), at the request of the Clerk of the
     House of Representatives, reviewed the activities of the Office Equip-
     ment Service, House of Representatives, during the period January 10,
     1967, to June 30, 1970. (See appendix.)

FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

     Accounting control over electrical and mechanical office equipment was
     generally adequate except that:
       --In some instances purchases were not recorded upon receipt.   (See
         P. 9.)
       --Items of equipment which were not located during the December 1968
         physical inventory were still recorded at June 30, 1970. (See
         p. 11.)
       --Accounting control over typewriter repair parts was inadequate until
         new procedures were initiated and a physical inventory was taken in
         September 1970. (See p. 8.)

RECOMMENDATIONS OR SUGGESTIONS

     GAO's suggestion that all equipment purchases be recorded upon receipt
     was adopted. (See p. 9.)
     GAO is recommending that the Clerk of the House of Representatives:
       --Request approval of the Committee on House Administration to remove
         from the records of the Office Equipment Service those items of equip-
         ment not located during the December 1968 inventory.
       --Obtain such approval in connection with all future inventories which
         show that items cannot be located, so that the records will show the
         equipment actually on hand at. the date of the inventory. (See p.ll.)
                         CHAPTER I

                       INTRODUCTION

     The General Accounting Office, at the request of the
Clerk of the House of Representatives, has made a review of
the Office Equipment Service (OES) of the House of Represen-
tatives. (See appendix) Our review covered the period Jan-
uary 10, 1967, through June 30, 1970, and included an exam-
ination of selected purchases and disposals of electrical
and mechanical office equipment, appropriate tests of the
accounting records, a physical inventory of typewriter re-
pair parts, and such other auditing procedures as we consid-
ered necessary.

     Prior to January 1, 1970, the activities of the Clerk
of the House of Representatives were governed by the act of
March 25, 1953, as amended (2 U.S.C. 112a-d), which limited
the value, quantity, and type of electrical and mechanical
office equipment which could be purchased and charged to the
account of a member of the House of Representatives or the
Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico. Although the act
did not impose equipment limitations--except on the type of
equipment available for purchase--on committees and officers
of the House, the Committee on House Administration required,
in its regulations as revised on July 1, 1968, that all pur-
chases of office equipment by committees and officers of the
House be approved by the Committee on House Administration.

     The act of December 5, 1969 (2 U.S.C. 112e), which be-
came effective January 1, 1970, directs the Clerk of the
House to furnish electrical and mechanical office equipment
to members, the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico, of-
ficers, and committees, in accordance with the limitations
and regulations prescribed by the Committee on House Admin-
istration. The limitations prescribed by the Committee pro-
vide that the depreciated value of electrical and mechanical
office equipment furnished to, and charged to the account
of, each member and the Commissioner from Puerto Rico not
exceed $5,500 plus the cost of one automatic typewriter.

     The act of December 5, 1969, superseded all previous
laws dealing with electrical and mechanical office equipment


                             2
of the House of Representatives and did not limit or specify
the types of equipment that could be purchased. Instead,
the act provided for such limitations to be established by
the Committee on House Administration and to be revised pe-
riodically to meet the changing demands of the House of Rep-
resentatives.
                         CHAPTER 2

                         OPERATIONS

     The Clerk's responsibility for maintaining control over
electrical and mechanical office equipment is carried out by
OES. OES has three main functions--accounting, messenger,
and typewriter repair services--which are discussed in the
following sections of this chapter.

ACCOUNTING

     The accounting function is performed by the five em-
ployees of the accounting unit: a chief, an assistant
chief, two voucher examiners, and a clerk. The accounting
unit is responsible for purchasing all electrical and me-
chanical office equipment for the House of Representatives
and for the accounting and physical control of the equip-
ment. The chief and assistant chief of the accounting unit
also exercise supervisory control over the messenger and
typewriter repair services.

     After determining that requests from members for the
acquisition and disposal of electrical and mechanical office
equipment are within the scope of the regulations prescribed
by the Committee on House Administration, the accounting
unit initiates the necessary action to fulfill the request.
Requests of committees and officers of the House for the
acquisition of equipment are approved by the Committee on
House Administration, but the committees' and officers' re-
quests for disposal of equipment are referred to OES for
approval.

     The accounting records for electrical and mechanical
office equipment are maintained on the House of Representa-
tives computer. The basic computerized records are the
"control printout" and the "member printout", which are up-
dated monthly.

     The control printout contains information on the de-
scription of the machine; serial number; date purchased;
purchase order number; original cost; accumulated deprecia-
tion; book value; and member, committee, or officer to which


                             4
the machine is assigned. This printout also gives subtotals
and totals of the number of machines, original cost, depre-
ciation, and book value for each group and major classifica-
tion of equipment.

     The member printout contains the same information as
that of the control printout, except that the equipment is
listed by member, committee, or officer of the House, each
in alphabetical order. In addition, the member printout
shows the book value of equipment charged to a member's ac-
count and the balance of the member's allowance (see p. 2)
available for additional expenditure. A copy of the member
printout as of February 28, 1970, was furnished to each
member, committee, and officer of the House of Representa-
tives in March 1970, and a copy of other monthly member
printouts is available to each upon request.

     We have been informed by an OES official that informa-
tion contained in the control and member printouts has aided
the personnel of the unit in making decisions and in an-
swering questions from members, committees, and officers
about their accounts.

     Other printouts which also aid in the accounting con-
trol over electrical and mechanical office equipment are
(1) a listing of equipment by serial number and (2) a
monthly "transaction printout" which is a listing of all
changes made to the computer records during the month.

     In addition, the repair service history records for
each machine are presently being converted from a manual
system to a computerized system, and a perpetual inventory
of in-house repair parts is currently being established and
will be maintained on the computer.

     Prior to establishing the computerized-equipment ac-
counting records in March 1969, OES maintained subsidiary
cards for each piece of equipment. These cards contained
basically the same information as that of the control print-
out but did not contain the current book value and accumu-
lated depreciation. OES also manually maintained subsid-
iary account cards for each member, committee, and officer
of the House, which listed and summarized the equipment
charged to their accounts. All acquisitions, disposals,
transfers, summarizations, footings, and reconciliations
had to be posted and performed manually.

     We prepared a summary of the equipment accounts (see
p. 15) as of June 30, 1970, which showed that 8,748 units
of electrical and mechanical equipment, having an acquisi-
tion cost of $4,568,667 and a book value of $2,431,469, were
on hand.

MESSENGER SERVICE

     The messenger unit consists of four messenger-laborers
and a supervisor and is responsible for making all pickups,
deliveries, and transfers of electrical and mechanical of-
fice equipment in the House of Representatives. During fis-
cal year 1970 the unit made 6,131 messenger calls, an aver-
age of about 511 calls a month.

     In addition to being responsible for messenger services,
the unit is responsible for maintaining physical control
over the equipment charged to the "house inventory" account.
This equipment consists of unassigned useable machines that
are maintained for use in emergencies. At June 30, 1970,
there were 91 machines with an original cost of $37,193.33
and a book value of $21,054.38 charged to the house-
inventory account. These machines consisted of 18 manual
typewriters, six automatic typewriters, 45 electric type-
writers, two duplicator cabinets, 16 adding machines, three
automatic letter openers, and one dictating machine.




                             6
TYPEWRITER REPAIR SERVICE

     Prior to May 1968 OES obtained repair services on elec-
tric and automatic typewriters exclusively from outside ven-
dors. In May 1968 the Committee on House Administration au-
thorized the establishment of the typewriter repair unit to
provide an in-house repair service which was to be supple-
mented by outside vendors during periods of high workloads.
When first established the unit included one automatic type-
writer repairman supervisor, two automatic typewriter repair-
men, and four electric typewriter repairmen. As of Octo-
ber 31, 1970, the unit included an additional automatic type-
writer repairman and an additional electric typewriter re-
pairman.

     For each job performed the in-house repairman prepares
a service ticket which includes a description of the work
performed, the serial and control numbers of the machine
serviced, the office to which the machine is assigned, the
time expended on the repair, and the part number and cost
of all parts used. These service tickets are turned in
daily to the accounting unit where they are summarized and
posted to service history record cards maintained for each
piece of equipment. As previously stated, these records
are presently being converted for maintenance by the com-
puter.

     Although outside vendors are not used to repair type-
writers, except during periods of high workloads, OES con-
tinues to use outside vendors to repair all other types of
electrical and mechanical office equipment. Since the estab-
lishment of the Typewriter Repair Service, expenditures for
outside vendor services on all equipment has steadily de-
creased, as shown below.

                                   Expenditures
                                   for outside
           Fiscal year           vendors services

              1966                 $ 63,625.76
              1967                   89,771.63
              1968                  124,617.06
              1969                   65,553.54
              1970                   36,544.53


                             7
Inventory of typewriter repair parts

     Prior to September 10, 1970, inadequate control was
exercised over the maintenance and reorder of typewriter re-
pair parts. All repairmen in the typewriter repair unit had
access to the parts and placed telephone orders to replenish
the stock whenever they believed the supply of a particular
part was low. Neither a purchase order nor a requisition
was prepared for these ordered parts, so there was never an
adequate record of what was on order.

     A physical inventory of the typewriter repair parts, as
of September 10, 1970, was taken by OES personnel with the
assistance of GAO. The inventory was conducted in accordance
with the physical inventory procedures established by the
Data Processing Office,House of Representatives. In Sep-
tember 1970 OES established new controls over the purchase
and issuance of repair parts. One employee was made respon-
sible for the inventory, including distributing all parts
requested by repairmen and recording all parts received.
These transactions are recorded either on service tickets
or on computer worksheets, which are used to periodically
update the inventory.

     To strengthen controls over the purchase of repair
parts, in August 1970 OES initiated a new purchase order
form to be used solely for parts and supplies required for
the in-house repair service.
                         CHAPTER 3

               DELAY IN RECORDING PURCHASES

     During our review we noted that electrical and mechan-
ical office equipment purchased by OES was not always re-
corded upon receipt. We noted 19 such instances which oc-
curred during fiscal year 1970. In one instance there was
a delay of 5 months from the date that an item was received
until it was recorded by OES, and in seven other instances
there were similar delays of 3 months each. The delays oc-
curred because OES followed the practice of not recording
an item until all items included on the same purchase order
had been received. OES informed us that this practice was
instituted to reduce paper work, eliminate confusion, and
minimize the possibility of losing documents.

     As a result of this practice, the accounts of the mem-
bers who ordered items of equipment were not correct for
the periods that the purchases of the equipment remained
unrecorded.

     We suggested that OES record all items purchased as
they were received. OES personnel have agreed to our sug-
gestion and are taking the appropriate steps necessary to
implement it.




                             9
                        CHAPTER 4

                  PHYSICAL INVENTORIES

      Regulations established by the House Office Building
Commission on July 15, 1965, pursuant to the act of March 4,
1907, as amended (40 U.S.C. 175), provided that a physical
inventory of all furniture, typewriters, and other equipment
owned by the House of Representatives be taken after the ad-
journment of each Congress. The last physical inventory un-
der these regulations was taken after the adjournment of the
Ninetieth Congress in 1968. The act of December 5, 1969
(2 U.S.C. 112e), gave the Committee on House Administration
responsibility for establishing regulations on the furnish-
ing of, and control over, electrical and mechanical office
equipment.

     In January 1970 the Committee on House Administration
issued regulations requiring a physical inventory of elec-
trical and mechanical office equipment to be taken by OES
at the beginning of the first session of each Congress. The
regulations provide that, at the beginning of the second
session of each Congress, the Clerk furnish each member,
committee, or officer of the House with a list (in duplicate)
of all equipment assigned to that member, committee, or of-
ficer. The regulations provide also that each member,
chairman of a committee, or top official of an office return
to the Clerk one copy of the list and certify that the items
shown on the list are or are not located in his offices. If
the certification is not received within 30 days, the Clerk
is required to take a physical inventory of the equipment
charged to that member, committee, or officer.

     The Clerk provided each member, committee, and officer
of the House with a list of equipment assigned to each at
February 28, 1970; however, certification of the list was
not requested.

     OES intends to take a physical inventory of electrical
and mechanical office equipment at the beginning of the
Ninety-second Congress which convenes in January 1971.




                             10
                         CHAPTER 5

     STATUS OF ITEMS PREVIOUSLY REPORTED TO THE CLERK

     In our "Report On Determination Of Accountability Of
The Clerk Of The House Of Representatives For Electrical And
Mechanical Equipment As Of January 10, 1967" (B-114865, Feb-
ruary 2, 1968), we made two recommendations for improving
accountability for such equipment. We recommended that the
Clerk of the House consider affixing on each piece of equip-
ment a decal showing the control number (number assigned to
indicate the type of equipment and keyed to a master file
maintained by OES) and indicating that the equipment is the
property of the House of Representatives. This recommenda-
tion was accepted and a decal was attached to all electrical
and mechanical equipment during a physical inventory com-
pleted in December 1968.

     We recommended also that the Clerk of the House require
that all future physical inventories be reconciled with the
inventory records and that adjustments of the records be made
when necessary. During the physical inventory in December
1968, 42 machines could not be located. According to the
Chief of OES, the question of disposition of these machines
wasbrought to the attention of the Committee on House Ad-
ministration but was never acted upon. At present these ma-
chines are still included in the accounting records since OES
cannot relieve the members of accountability for the equip-
ment without the approval of the Committee on House Adminis-
tration.

RECOMMENDATION

     We recommend that the Clerk of the House resubmit the
matter of the unaccounted-for machines to the Committee on
House Administration and that approval be requested to re-
move the equipment from the records of OES. We recommend
also that this procedure be followed in connection with all
future inventories which show that items cannot be located,
so that the records will show the equipment actually on hand
at the date of the inventory.
  EXHIBIT




13
                            OFFICE EQUIPMENT SERVICE

                            HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES




                          SUMMARY OF EQUIPMENT ACCOUNTS

                       JANUARY 10, 1967, TO JUNE 30, 1970




                                            Balance
                                        Jan. 10, 1967          Acquisitions
                Type                  Units       Cost      Units      Cost

ADDRESSING EQUIPMENT                    704   $   200,285     138   $    69,742

AUTOMATIC TYPEWRITERS                 1,003    1,253,275      264       405,531

TYPEWRITERS:
    Electrical                        3,269    1,396,525    2,038       869,058
    Manual                            1,374      222,670)

DICTATING EQUIPMENT                     890       271,475     602       190,042

DUPLICATING EQUIPMENT                 1,273       429,313    314        158,709

ADDING MACHINES AND CALCULATORS        -            -        183         94,984 a

MISCELLANEOUS (note b)                 188        101,055    180        247,245C

        Total                        8,701    $3,874,598    3719    $2,035,311


aIncludes $81,559 for adding machines and calculators, which were trans-
 ferred in April 1970 from the miscellaneous equipment account.

bIncludes automatic letter openers and sealers, automatic letter folders
 and inserters, tying machines, delivery trucks, and other miscellaneous
 equipment.

CIncludes $198,076 for miscellaneous equipment transferred to the records
 of OES in May 1968 from other operating units of the House of Representa-
 tives.
                                                                      EXHIBIT A




                                     Balance
      Disposals                   June 30, 1970         Accumulated
Units        Cost              Units         Cost      depreciation    Book value
  310     $    43,561           -532     $   226,466    $   128,759    $    97,707
  608         407,882            659      1,250,924         525,043        725,881


  1,571       516,450          4,074      1,787,420         794,556        992,864
                               1,036        184,383         124,229         60,154

  387          76,344          1,105         385,173        171,604        213,569
  601         180,758            986         407,264        208,577        198,687

                 -               183          94,984         49,481         45,503
  195         1 1 6 ,2 4 7 a     173         232,053        134,949         97,104
3,672     $1,341,242           8,748     $4,568,667     $2,137,198     $2,431,469




                                             15
                                                        APPENDIX I




                            ffirt of tIke (9erk
                          Pvne
                             u -f Peyres0tetatires
                         pustigton, PC.   29515




                                    July 1, 1970



Honorable Elmer B. Staats
Comptroller General of the
   United States
General Accounting Office
Washington, D. C.
Dear Mr. Staats:

          I would appreciate it if you would take the necessary
steps to review the Office Equipment Service of the House of

Representatives, to include parts inventory and purchases

made by this Department.

          With kind regards, I am

                                    Sincerely,



                                    W. <T/JENNIN , Clerk
                                    U. S.House of Representatives




U.S GAO, Wash., D.C.
                                    19