A-11037, MARCH 26, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 623

A-11037: Mar 26, 1927

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MAINTENANCE OF INDIAN IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE SYSTEMS THROUGH SPECIAL DEPOSIT ACCOUNTS BY DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE INDIAN SERVICE WILL BE DISCONTINUED AS OF JULY 1. THEREAFTER SUCH FUNDS WILL BE HANDLED THROUGH SPECIAL FUND APPROPRIATION ACCOUNTS IN THE TREASURY HEARING APPROPRIATE TITLES AND MAY BE WITHDRAWN THEREFROM ON PROPERLY APPROVED REQUISITIONS FOR EXPENDITURE AS AUTHORIZED BY LAW. 1927: REFERENCE IS MADE TO PREVIOUS CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THIS OFFICE AND THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT RELATIVE TO THE MATTER OF HANDLING AND ACCOUNTING FOR RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH THE MAINTENANCE. THE QUESTION FOR CONSIDERATION IS WHETHER THE COLLECTIONS MADE FROM SUCH PROJECTS MAY BE CARRIED BY DISBURSING OFFICERS IN SPECIAL DEPOSIT ACCOUNTS OR SHOULD BE HANDLED THROUGH SPECIAL FUND APPROPRIATION ACCOUNTS IN THE TREASURY.

A-11037, MARCH 26, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 623

ACCOUNTING - SPECIAL FUNDS - IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE SYSTEMS - INDIAN SERVICE THE PRACTICE NOW PREVAILING IN THE HANDLING OF FUNDS COLLECTED FOR CONSTRUCTION, OPERATION, AND MAINTENANCE OF INDIAN IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE SYSTEMS THROUGH SPECIAL DEPOSIT ACCOUNTS BY DISBURSING OFFICERS OF THE INDIAN SERVICE WILL BE DISCONTINUED AS OF JULY 1, 1927. THEREAFTER SUCH FUNDS WILL BE HANDLED THROUGH SPECIAL FUND APPROPRIATION ACCOUNTS IN THE TREASURY HEARING APPROPRIATE TITLES AND MAY BE WITHDRAWN THEREFROM ON PROPERLY APPROVED REQUISITIONS FOR EXPENDITURE AS AUTHORIZED BY LAW.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, MARCH 26, 1927:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO PREVIOUS CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THIS OFFICE AND THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT RELATIVE TO THE MATTER OF HANDLING AND ACCOUNTING FOR RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH THE MAINTENANCE, OPERATION, AND CONSTRUCTION OF THE WAPATO PROJECT, YAKIMA RESERVATION, AND OTHER IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE SYSTEMS OF THE INDIAN SERVICE. THE QUESTION FOR CONSIDERATION IS WHETHER THE COLLECTIONS MADE FROM SUCH PROJECTS MAY BE CARRIED BY DISBURSING OFFICERS IN SPECIAL DEPOSIT ACCOUNTS OR SHOULD BE HANDLED THROUGH SPECIAL FUND APPROPRIATION ACCOUNTS IN THE TREASURY.

THE ACT OF AUGUST 1, 1914, 38 STAT. 583, APPROPRIATING CERTAIN FUNDS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION, REPAIR, MAINTENANCE, AND OPERATION OF IRRIGATION PROJECTS FOR INDIAN RESERVATIONS AND INDIAN ALLOTTED LANDS, PROVIDED AS FOLLOWS:

* * * PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT THE PROCEEDS OF SALES OF MATERIAL UTILIZED FOR TEMPORARY WORK AND STRUCTURES SHALL BE COVERED INTO THE APPROPRIATION MADE THEREFOR AND BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PURPOSE OF THE APPROPRIATION; AND FOR LANDS IRRIGABLE UNDER ANY SUCH SYSTEM OR PROJECT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR MAY FIX MAINTENANCE CHARGES WHICH SHALL BE PAID AS HE MAY DIRECT, SUCH PAYMENTS TO BE AVAILABLE FOR USE IN MAINTAINING THE PROJECT OR SYSTEM FOR WHICH COLLECTED: PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT ALL MONEYS EXPENDED HERETOFORE OR HEREAFTER UNDER THIS PROVISION SHALL BE REIMBURSABLE WHERE THE INDIANS HAVE ADEQUATE FUNDS TO REPAY THE GOVERNMENT, SUCH REIMBURSEMENTS TO BE MADE UNDER SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS AS THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR MAY PRESCRIBE: PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED TO APPORTION THE COST OF ANY IRRIGATION PROJECT CONSTRUCTED FOR INDIANS AND MADE REIMBURSABLE OUT OF TRIBAL FUNDS OF SAID INDIANS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE BENEFITS RECEIVED BY EACH INDIVIDUAL INDIAN SO FAR AS PRACTICABLE FROM SAID IRRIGATION PROJECT, SAID COST TO BE APPORTIONED AGAINST SUCH INDIVIDUAL INDIAN UNDER SUCH RULES, REGULATIONS, AND CONDITIONS AS THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR MAY PRESCRIBE, * * *

WITH RESPECT TO THE WAPATO IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE SYSTEM, THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1920, 41 STAT. 431, PROVIDED FOR CONTINUING CONSTRUCTION, ENLARGEMENT OF THE PROJECT, ETC., WITH A PROVISO AS FOLLOWS:

* * * AND PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT THE SECRETARY OF INTERIOR IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED TO COLLECT ON OR BEFORE DECEMBER 31 OF EACHCALENDAR YEAR HEREAFTER INCLUDING 1920, FROM THE WHITE LANDOWNERS UNDER THE SAID SYSTEM THE SUM OF $5 PER ACRE FOR EACH ACRE OF LAND TO WHICH WATER FOR IRRIGATION PURPOSES CAN BE DELIVERED FROM THE SAID SYSTEM, WHICH SUM SHALL BE CREDITED ON A PER ACRE BASIS IN FAVOR OF THE LAND IN BEHALF OF WHICH IT SHALL HAVE BEEN PAID AND BE DEDUCTED FROM THE TOTAL PER ACRE CHARGE ASSESSABLE AGAINST SAID LAND WHEN THE AMOUNT OF SUCH TOTAL CHARGE CAN BE DETERMINED, AND THE TOTAL AMOUNT SO COLLECTED, INCLUDING ANY MONEY COLLECTED FROM INDIAN ALLOTTEES, SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR EXPENDITURE UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR FOR CONTINUING THE CONSTRUCTION WORK ON THE SAID SYSTEM.

THE COLLECTIONS THUS AUTHORIZED TO BE EXPENDED FOR MAINTENANCE OF IRRIGATION PROJECTS IN GENERAL UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF 1914 AND THE CONSTRUCTION CHARGES AUTHORIZED TO BE USED FOR CONTINUING CONSTRUCTION WORK IN THE WAPATO IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE SYSTEM UNDER THE ACT OF 1920, SUPRA, ARE JUST AS MUCH FUNDS APPROPRIATED BY LAW AS ARE OTHER FUNDS APPROPRIATED FOR DIFFERENT PURPOSES IN THE SAME ACTS, AND NO REASON APPEARS WHY THEY SHOULD BE HANDLED OTHER THAN AS APPROPRIATED PUBLIC FUNDS ARE REQUIRED TO BE HANDLED.

IT IS STATED IN YOUR LETTER TO THIS OFFICE OF JANUARY 20, 1926:

THE WAPATO PROJECT OF THE YAKIMA RESERVATION, IN WASHINGTON, IS THE ONLY ONE UPON WHICH CONGRESS HAS AUTHORIZED THE USE OF THE COLLECTIONS MADE ON ACCOUNT OF REPAYMENT OF CONSTRUCTION CHARGES. UPON ALL THE OTHER PROJECTS WHERE COLLECTIONS ARE MADE THE MONEY SO COLLECTED IS DEPOSITED IN THE TREASURY AS A REPAYMENT TO THE FUND FROM WHICH THE MONEY WAS ORIGINALLY EXPENDED.

THE COLLECTIONS ON ACCOUNT OF MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION, HOWEVER, ARE AVAILABLE FOR MAINTAINING AND OPERATING THE PARTICULAR PROJECT FOR WHICH COLLECTED. THESE MONEYS ARE COVERED INTO THE TREASURY TO THE PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF THE SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT AS "SPECIAL DEPOSITS," AND ARE EXPENDED UPON ALLOTMENT AND PROPER AUTHORIZATION BY THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR. THEY ARE ACCOUNTED FOR UNDER SEPARATE SUBTITLES ON THE ACCOUNT CURRENT OF THE OFFICER, AND RECEIVE THE SAME EXAMINATION AND AUDIT AND IN EVERY MANNER ARE TREATED AS AN APPROPRIATION BY CONGRESS.

IF THESE MONEYS WERE REQUIRED TO BE DEPOSITED TO THE CREDIT OF SOME "SPECIAL FUND" DESIGNATED BY THE TREASURY IT WOULD NECESSITATE THE DISBURSING OFFICER'S DRAWING HIS OFFICIAL CHECK TO THE TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES AFTER THE MONEYS COLLECTED WERE DEPOSITED TO HIS PERSONAL CREDIT WITH THE TREASURY, AS THEY ARE NOW CARRIED, AND THIS CHECK WOULD BE CREDITED TO SOME "SPECIAL D.' THESE MONEYS WOULD THEN BE PLACED TO HIS OFFICIAL CREDIT UPON REQUISITION. THIS MANNER, IT IS BELIEVED, WOULD ALMOST DOUBLE THE WORK INVOLVED AND ENTAIL A DELAY OF FROM SIXTY TO NINETY DAYS, WHICH IT IS UNDERSTOOD IS THE AVERAGE TIME REQUIRED TO MAKE SUCH A TRANSFER OF FUNDS, BEFORE THEY WOULD BE AVAILABLE FOR ACTUAL EXPENDITURE ON THE WORK.

APPARENTLY CONGRESS, IN AUTHORIZING THE USE OF COLLECTIONS MADE FROM THE WATER USERS FOR CONTINUING THE MAINTENANCE OF THE PROJECT FROM WHICH COLLECTED, LEFT THE MANNER OF HANDLING THESE MONEYS TO THE DISCRETION OF THE COMPTROLLER, AND WHEN THE MATTER CAME UP AFTER THE PASSAGE OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 1, 1914, SUPRA, THE PRESENT METHOD WAS ADOPTED AS BEING THE ONE WHEREBY EVERY SAFEGUARD WAS SECURED TO THE UNITED STATES AS FAR AS CONTROL OF EXPENDITURES AND AUDIT ARE CONCERNED, AND AT THE SAME TIME SECURING THE IMMEDIATE AVAILABILITY OF THE MONEY FOR USE ON THE PROJECT.

DEPOSITING THESE MONEYS TO A "SPECIAL FUND" WOULD WORK A MATERIAL HARDSHIP ON A PROJECT WHERE THERE IS NO LARGE SURPLUS ON HAND TO HANDLE EMERGENCIES, OWING TO THE DELAY, AND THIS IS THE CASE WITH MOST OF THE INDIAN IRRIGATION PROJECTS. ASSESSMENTS ARE MADE ON THE BASIS OF COSTS OF OPERATING AND MAINTAINING THE PARTICULAR PROJECT. THE INDIANS IN MANY INSTANCES ARE FINANCIALLY UNABLE TO PAY SUCH ASSESSMENTS, RESULTING IN CONGRESS APPROPRIATING FUNDS IN ADDITION TO SUCH COLLECTIONS THAT ARE MADE TO PERMIT OF THE OPERATION OF SUCH PROJECTS. CONGRESS REALIZED THIS CONDITION WHEN PROVIDING FOR THE USE OF THE COLLECTIONS FOR THIS PURPOSE. IT IS APPARENTLY THE INTENT OF CONGRESS TO ULTIMATELY HAVE THESE PROJECTS DEPEND ENTIRELY ON THE COLLECTIONS FOR MEANS OF OPERATING. IT IS UNNECESSARY TO POINT OUT THE NUMEROUS EMERGENCIES THAT ARISE ON IRRIGATION PROJECTS FROM TIME TO TIME DURING THE OPERATION SEASON THAT MUST BE HANDLED EFFICIENTLY AND EXPEDITIOUSLY TO AVOID GRAVE DANGER AND DESTRUCTION NOT ONLY OF THE PROJECT WORKS BUT OF LARGE AREAS OF GROWING CROPS OF ENORMOUS VALUE. CONDITIONS ARE, THEREFORE, DIFFERENT IN THE HANDLING OF THESE PROJECTS FROM THOSE OF MOST OF GOVERNMENTAL ACTIVITIES.

IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT THE MATTER OF HANDLING OR ACCOUNTING FOR THE FUNDS IN QUESTION THROUGH SPECIAL-DEPOSIT ACCOUNTS AS IS NOW BEING DONE WAS EVER SANCTIONED OR FORMALLY APPROVED BY THE FORMER COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY OR BY THIS OFFICE. IT APPEARS, ON THE CONTRARY, THAT FORMERLY COLLECTIONS MADE FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION OF MANY IRRIGATION PROJECTS WERE DEPOSITED IN THE TREASURY UNDER THE ACT OF AUGUST 1, 1914, SUPRA, AS SHOWN BY THE TREASURY COMBINED STATEMENT OF RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1925.

THE BASIS FOR YOUR STATEMENT THAT DEPOSITING THESE MONEYS TO A SPECIAL FUND WOULD WORK A MATERIAL HARDSHIP ON A PROJECT WHERE THERE IS NO LARGE SURPLUS ON HAND TO TAKE CARE OF EMERGENCIES IS NOT APPARENT. FOR THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH THE FUNDS ARE AUTHORIZED TO BE USED THERE APPEAR ALSO TO BE APPROPRIATIONS MADE FOR THE SAME PURPOSES, NAMELY, CONSTRUCTION, OPERATION, AND MAINTENANCE, AND IT IS THEREFORE NOT SEEN HOW ANY DIFFICULTY OR EMBARRASSMENT COULD ARISE FROM ANY DELAY NECESSARILY OCCASIONED BY THE COVERING OF THE MONEY COLLECTED INTO THE TREASURY AND WITHDRAWING THE SAME ON REQUISITIONS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ESTABLISHED PROCEDURE IN SUCH MATTERS.

SECTION 3617, REVISED STATUTES, PROVIDES THAT---

THE GROSS AMOUNT OF ALL MONEYS RECEIVED FROM WHATEVER SOURCE FOR THE USE OF THE UNITED STATES * * * SHALL BE PAID BY THE OFFICER OR AGENT RECEIVING THE SAME INTO THE TREASURY, AT AS EARLY A DAY AS PRACTICABLE, WITHOUT ANY ABATEMENT OR DEDUCTION * * *.

NO FACTS HAVE BEEN SHOWN, OR EVEN ALLEGED TO EXIST, EXEMPTING THE FUNDS IN QUESTION FROM THE OPERATION OF THE SPECIFIC TERMS OF THIS LAW. THE COLLECTIONS REPRESENT FUNDS OF THE UNITED STATES APPROPRIATED BY THE ACTS OF 1914 AND 1920 FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES AND SHOULD BE SO HANDLED. THE MONEYS SHOULD ACCORDINGLY BE ACCOUNTED FOR UNDER SPECIAL FUNDS IN THE TREASURY BEARING APPROPRIATE DESIGNATIONS AND THE DISBURSING AGENTS SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO DEPOSIT THEREUNDER THE FUNDS COLLECTED BY THEM FOR CONSTRUCTION, MAINTENANCE, OPERATION, AND OTHER CHARGES WITH RESPECT TO IRRIGATION PROJECTS OF THE INDIAN SERVICE. THE FUNDS MAY BE WITHDRAWN THEREFROM ON PROPERLY APPROVED REQUISITIONS FOR THE PAYING OF SUCH OBLIGATIONS AS ARE CONTEMPLATED UNDER THE ACTS PROVIDING FOR SUCH COLLECTIONS AND EXPENDITURES.

WITH RESPECT TO THE WAPATO PROJECT, IT MAY BE THAT FUNDS ARE COLLECTED UNDER THE ACT OF 1914, SUPRA, WHICH FUNDS ARE AVAILABLE ONLY FOR MAINTENANCE, AND ALSO UNDER THE ACT OF 1920, SUPRA, WHICH FUNDS ARE AVAILABLE ONLY FOR CONTINUING CONSTRUCTION. IF SO, TWO SPECIAL FUNDS MAY BE ESTABLISHED TO TAKE CARE OF THE MATTER, ONE ENTITLED "MAINTENANCE, IRRIGATION SYSTEM, WAPATO PROJECT, SPECIAL FUND, ACT OF AUGUST 1, 1914," AND THE OTHER "CONSTRUCTION, IRRIGATION SYSTEM, WAPATO PROJECT, SPECIAL FUND, ACT OF FEBRUARY 14, 1920.' THE OTHER PROJECTS, HAVING FUNDS MADE AVAILABLE FOR MAINTENANCE ONLY, MAY BE HANDLED UNDER ONE FUND, VIZ,"MAINTENANCE, IRRIGATION SYSTEM (NAME OF PROJECT), SPECIAL FUND, ACT OF AUGUST 1, 1914.' THE SPECIAL FUNDS ALREADY IN EXISTENCE IN THE TREASURY IN THE CASES OF CERTAIN PROJECTS MAY BE USED TO TAKE CARE OF LIKE FUNDS HEREAFTER COLLECTED ON ACCOUNT THEREOF.

IN ORDER TO AFFORD AMPLE TIME FOR NOTIFYING THE DISBURSING AGENTS IN THE FIELD, AND MAKE OTHER ARRANGEMENTS, IF ANY, FOUND NECESSARY IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, THE PROCEDURE HEREIN PRESCRIBED FOR HANDLING THE FUNDS HERE IN QUESTION UNDER SPECIAL FUNDS IN THE TREASURY WILL TAKE EFFECT AS OF JULY 1, 1927. THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY HAS BEEN FURNISHED COPY OF THIS LETTER FOR HIS INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE.