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I have searched the forums and blogs on WIFCON and generally searched the web with Google and cannot find anything that speaks specifically to our issue.

The situation is as follows: DoD has facilities in England, many of which have been there for a very long time. In England there is a standard fee that all owners and users of a television must pay. Additionally, when using the TV, if the user decides to record content and potentially re-view the content later, there is an additional licensing fee. In the UK this fee is viewed as a tax by their Government. After speaking with our OGC and that of the Air Force, we feel that the SOFA does not allow us any option other than to pay the fee. If we refuse to pay the bill (even though no one obligated the GOV) then we cannot use the TVs in the facilities, let alone record content from them.

The problem with the fee is that it is essentially automatic. At one point in the past the UK tax authorities began billing our organization for these television related fees. The bill comes at the beginning of the year each year, automatically because they know we have TVs and that we record content.

The real issue here is that our organization is trying to pin the billing on someone as an Unauthorized Commitment which I do not believe is correct.

My apologies if my question is unclear and for my rambling, I'm relatively new with limited experience in contracting and this is my first post to the Wifcon site.

Thank you in advance for any clarification or guidance that anyone can provide.

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Your question appears to be about unauthorized commitments and ratifications, so let's start there. An "unauthorized commitment" is defined as an "agreement that is not binding solely because the Government representative who made it lacked the authority to enter into that agreement on behalf of the Government." FAR 1.602-3(a).

EDIT (thanks jj20874 for your Post #3 below).

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There is no agreement.

No ratification is needed. No Government employee entered into an agreement.

The Queen gave a command, and all her subjects (and sojourners in her realm) must obey. God save the Queen!

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Thanks jj20874. I’ve removed irrelevant questions and observations from my post above.

I understand that the TV license fee is called a tax, but it really seems more like a user fee to me. Consider whether the following from the Red Book might be relevant. Admittedly, the quote is not written specifically with foreign utilities in mind, but it still might be instructive:

Government agencies are not required to enter into contracts with public utilities when charges are based on rates that are fixed by regulatory bodies. However, contracts may be used if desired by the utility or the agency. GAO, Policy and Procedures Manual for Guidance of Federal Agencies, title 7, s. 6.2.C.5 (Washington, DC: May 18, 1993).

If there is a contract, monthly estimates of the cost of services to be performed, based on past experience, may be recorded as obligations. If there is no contract, obligations should be recorded only on the basis of services actually performed. 34 Comp. Gen. 459, 462 (1955). See also B-287619, July 5, 2001; B-259274, May 22, 1996.

GAO OGC, POFAL (3d Ed), at 7-54. If the television license could reasonably be viewed as a public utility, then this may avoid the need for thinking about the obligation as one grounded in contract.

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ji20874 and Jacques, thank you for your replies, I am in agreement and will attempt to explain this POV to our folks...

If anyone else has any input, I'm still open.

thanks again.

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