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AFGE v. FREEMAN

March 3, 1981

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
R. G. FREEMAN, III, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREENE

This action is presently before the Court on cross-motions for summary judgment after an earlier denial of defendant's motion to dismiss. The plaintiffs *fn1" seek a declaratory judgment that regulations promulgated by the General Services Administration (GSA) requiring federal employees to pay for the use of parking spaces in facilities controlled by GSA or other federal agencies were not issued pursuant to legitimate statutory or other authority and are unlawful. They also request the Court to set aside these regulations, enjoin the Administrator of GSA from charging federal employees for parking in federal buildings, and order him to make restitution to the employees for monies paid for such parking. *fn2" The Court finds that the government acted without proper authority, and an order issued contemporaneously herewith accordingly grants summary judgment to plaintiffs and enjoins the further collection of parking fees.

 Although the President is the head of the Executive Branch and as such the manager of both federal employees and federal property, his powers with respect to both are generally *fn3" circumscribed by statute. It is likewise clear that when Congress enacts legislation granting specific powers to the President or to other officials in the Executive Branch, these powers must be exercised in accordance with such legislation and the congressional purposes. See NFFE v. Brown, 207 U.S. App. D.C. 92, 645 F.2d 1017 (D.C. Cir. 1981). And to the extent that the relevant statutes contain explicit or implicit limitations or restrictions, they are binding upon the President and other Executive Branch officials as they are on all other citizens. In the consideration of issues of this case, these fundamental principles must be kept in mind.

 On March 22, 1979, a packet of materials was sent to President Carter under a cover memorandum from two presidential aides entitled "Energy Issues." *fn4" Among other materials, the packet contained a four-page document entitled "Phase-out of Federal Employee Parking Subsidies" (Parking Paper). This document framed the following issue for the President's consideration:

 
Should parking subsidies for Federal employees be phased-out at location where nongovernment workers typically pay commercial parking rates? (The authority for implementing such action rests with OMB under GAO rulings involving Federal Property and Administrative Services Act (40 U.S.C. §§ 471 et seq.)). Parking Paper, p. 1.

 After considering the pros and cons of eliminating the subsidy, *fn5" the paper stated that the head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had concluded that the subsidy should be phased out in all urban areas in the United States and not merely in the nation's capital. He proposed that, should the President have no objection, OMB would issue a draft circular to that effect to all federal agencies in April, 1979, to be followed by a final circular some time later after agency comments had been received. The paper also contained a schedule for the phasing in of the fees, with the full rate to go into effect in October, 1981. The last page of the document contains a decision block; next to the words "Agree. Issue draft circular" are a checkmark and the President's initial.

 The President addressed the Nation on April 5, 1979 to discuss the severity and deterioration of the nation's energy problems, and to propose programs directed towards energy conservation and the reduction of the dependence of the United States upon imports of foreign oil. As part of the proposed effort, he stated that

 
Steps will be taken to eliminate free parking for government employees in order to reduce the waste of energy, particularly gasoline, in commuting to and from work. *fn6"

 Plaintiffs argue that GSA failed to exercise the discretion vested in it by statute but instead improperly relied on orders from OMB. They further claim that, in any event, the Executive Branch was without authority under law to impose paid parking on federal employees as a means of achieving a reduction in the consumption of energy. The government asserts that it was acting pursuant to lawful authority under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act as amended, in particular upon that part of the Act which is codified in 40 U.S.C. § 490 (hereinafter referred to as the Public Buildings Amendments). *fn7" It thus becomes necessary to examine the provisions of that statute and its purposes.

 II

 Sections 490(j) and 490(k) of title 40, U.S.Code, provide in relevant part that

 
(j) The Administrator is authorized and directed to charge anyone furnished services, space, quarters, maintenance, repair, or other facilities (hereinafter referred to as space and services), at rates to be determined by the Administrator from time to time and provided for in regulations issued by him. Such rates and charges shall approximate commercial charges for comparable space and services, except that with respect to those buildings for which the Administrator of General Services is responsible for alterations only ... the rates charged the occupant for such services shall be fixed by the Administrator so as to recover only the approximate applicable cost incurred by him in providing such alterations.
 
(k) Any executive agency, other than the General Services Administration, which provides to anyone space and services set forth in subsection (j) of this section, is authorized to charge the occupant for such ...

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