A-10902, SEPTEMBER 1, 1925, 5 COMP. GEN. 164

A-10902: Sep 1, 1925

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PURCHASES THEREUNDER MUST HAVE THE PRIOR WRITTEN AUTHORITY OF THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE. 1925: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 14. THE APPROPRIATION INVOLVED IN YOUR SUBMISSION IS IN THE FOLLOWING TERMS: MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES. THE EXPRESSION "CONTINGENT FUND" AS USED IN THE REVISED STATUTES EVIDENTLY WAS INTENDED TO APPLY TO THAT GROSS SUM SET APART BY CONGRESS FOR THE PROCUREMENT OF ARTICLES NOT SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY NAME IN THE APPROPRIATION ACT. WHICH ARE JUST AS ESSENTIAL TO CARRYING ON THE OPERATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT. THE OBJECT AND PURPOSE OF THE STATUTE IS TO PROTECT THIS FUND AGAINST ILL- ADVISED OR UNNECESSARY EXPENDITURE. IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT BECAUSE THE ITEMS ARE PLACED UNDER THE HEADING "MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES.

A-10902, SEPTEMBER 1, 1925, 5 COMP. GEN. 164

PURCHASES - CONTINGENT FUND - DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ARTICLES SPECIFICALLY NAMED IN THE APPROPRIATION ACT OF FEBRUARY 10, 1925, 43 STAT. 822, UNDER THE HEADING "MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE," MAY BE PURCHASED WITHOUT THE PRIOR WRITTEN AUTHORITY OF THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, BUT THAT PART OF SAID APPROPRIATION WHICH PROVIDES "AND FOR OTHER MISCELLANEOUS SUPPLIES AND EXPENSES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR AND NECESSARY FOR THE PRACTICAL AND EFFICIENT WORK OF THE DEPARTMENT" MUST BE VIEWED AS A CONTINGENT FUND WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 3683, REVISED STATUTES, AND PURCHASES THEREUNDER MUST HAVE THE PRIOR WRITTEN AUTHORITY OF THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, SEPTEMBER 1, 1925:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 14, 1925, REQUESTING DECISION WHETHER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3683, REVISED STATUTES, PROHIBIT THE PURCHASE OF THE ARTICLES SPECIFICALLY NAMED IN THE APPROPRIATION ACT FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE UNDER THE HEADING "MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE," EXCEPT ON PRIOR WRITTEN ORDERS SIGNED BY THE SECRETARY.

SECTION 3683, REVISED STATUTES, PROVIDES:

NO PART OF THE CONTINGENT FUND APPROPRIATED TO ANY DEPARTMENT, BUREAU, OR OFFICE, SHALL BE APPLIED TO THE PURCHASE OF ANY ARTICLES EXCEPT SUCH AS THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT SHALL DEEM NECESSARY AND PROPER TO CARRY ON THE BUSINESS OF THE DEPARTMENT, BUREAU, OR OFFICE, AND SHALL, BY WRITTEN ORDER, DIRECT TO BE PROCURED.

THE APPROPRIATION INVOLVED IN YOUR SUBMISSION IS IN THE FOLLOWING TERMS:

MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

FOR STATIONERY, BLANK BOOKS, TWINE, PAPER, GUM, DRY GOODS, SOAP, BRUSHES, BROOMS, MATS, OILS, PAINTS, GLASS, LUMBER, HARDWARE, ICE, FUEL, WATER AND GAS PIPES, HEATING APPARATUS, FURNITURE, CARPETS, AND MATTINGS; FOR LIGHTS, FREIGHT, EXPRESS CHARGES, ADVERTISING AND PRESS CLIPPINGS, TELEGRAPHING, TELEPHONING, POSTAGE, WASHING TOWELS, AND NECESSARY REPAIRS AND IMPROVEMENTS TO BUILDINGS AND HEATING APPARATUS; FOR THE PURCHASE, SUBSISTENCE, AND CARE OF HORSES AND THE PURCHASE AND REPAIR OF HARNESS AND VEHICLES, FOR OFFICIAL PURPOSES ONLY, INCLUDING NECESSARY EXPENSES FOR THE MAINTENANCE, REPAIR, AND OPERATION OF AN AUTOMOBILE FOR THE OFFICIAL USE OF THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE; FOR THE PAYMENT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE'S PROPORTIONATE SHARE OF THE EXPENSE OF THE DISPATCH AGENT IN NEW YORK; FOR OFFICIAL TRAVELING EXPENSES; AND FOR OTHER MISCELLANEOUS SUPPLIES AND EXPENSES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR AND NECESSARY FOR THE PRACTICAL AND EFFICIENT WORK OF THE DEPARTMENT, $144,000. (ACT OF FEBRUARY 10, 1925, 43 STAT. 822).

THE EXPRESSION "CONTINGENT FUND" AS USED IN THE REVISED STATUTES EVIDENTLY WAS INTENDED TO APPLY TO THAT GROSS SUM SET APART BY CONGRESS FOR THE PROCUREMENT OF ARTICLES NOT SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY NAME IN THE APPROPRIATION ACT, BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT READILY BE FORESEEN OR ANTICIPATED, BUT WHICH ARE JUST AS ESSENTIAL TO CARRYING ON THE OPERATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT, THE PURPOSE BEING TO LEAVE TO THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT THE DUTY OF DETERMINING THE NECESSITY FOR ANY SUCH ARTICLES AND OF SPECIFICALLY AND BY WRITTEN ORDER DIRECTING THE PURCHASE THEREOF. THE OBJECT AND PURPOSE OF THE STATUTE IS TO PROTECT THIS FUND AGAINST ILL- ADVISED OR UNNECESSARY EXPENDITURE, THE PROTECTION BEING SECURED BY REQUIRING THE PERSONAL JUDGMENT AND ACTION OF THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT, PREVIOUSLY EXERCISED, IN CONNECTION WITH PURCHASES THEREFROM. ENUMERATING CERTAIN ITEMS IN THE INSTANT APPROPRIATION, CONGRESS HAS SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED THEM, THEREBY REMOVING THEM FROM THE CLASS OF CONTINGENT ARTICLES, AND THEY BECOME ORDINARY ITEMS OF AUTHORIZED GENERAL EXPENSE. IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT BECAUSE THE ITEMS ARE PLACED UNDER THE HEADING "MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE" THEY LOSE THEIR CHARACTER AS AUTHORIZED ITEMS OF GENERAL EXPENSE. 21 COMP. DEC. 689.

I HAVE TO ADVISE, THEREFORE, THAT ONLY THAT PART OF THE APPROPRIATION PROVIDING "AND FOR OTHER MISCELLANEOUS SUPPLIES AND EXPENSES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR AND NECESSARY FOR THE PRACTICAL AND EFFICIENT WORK OF THE DEPARTMENT" IS TO BE VIEWED AS A CONTINGENT FUND WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 3683, REVISED STATUTES, AND THAT THE PURCHASE OF THE ARTICLES SPECIFICALLY NAMED IN THE APPROPRIATION DOES NOT REQUIRE THE PREVIOUS WRITTEN ORDER OF THE SECRETARY.