A-17495, MARCH 14, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 573

A-17495: Mar 14, 1927

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WHICH IS AN APPROPRIATION FOR THE DEPARTMENTAL SERVICE IN WASHINGTON. SUCH PURCHASES THEREUNDER ARE PROHIBITED BY THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 15. CREDIT FOR THE PAYMENT WAS SUSPENDED BECAUSE OF THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3. PERIODICALS FOR USE IN ANY EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT OR GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENT AT THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT UNLESS SUCH PURCHASE IS AUTHORIZED AND PAYMENT THEREFOR IS SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED IN THE LAW GRANTING THE APPROPRIATION. " UNDER WHICH THE PAYMENT HERE IN QUESTION WAS MADE. PROVIDES: FOR NECESSARY EXPENSES CONNECTED WITH THE ADMINISTRATION OF ANY PUBLIC DEBT ISSUES AND UNITED STATES PAPER CURRENCY ISSUES WITH WHICH THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY IS CHARGED.

A-17495, MARCH 14, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 573

PURCHASES - LAW BOOKS AND BOOKS OF REFERENCE THERE BEING NO SPECIFIC PROVISION IN THE APPROPRIATION "PUBLIC DEBT SERVICE, 1926," FOR THE PURCHASE OF LAW BOOKS OR BOOKS OF REFERENCE, WHICH IS AN APPROPRIATION FOR THE DEPARTMENTAL SERVICE IN WASHINGTON, SUCH PURCHASES THEREUNDER ARE PROHIBITED BY THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 15, 1898, 30 STAT. 316.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, MARCH 14, 1927:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 10, 1927, RELATIVE TO THE SUSPENSION OF CREDIT FOR AN ITEM OF $5 IN THE ACCOUNTS OF J. L. SUMMERS, DISBURSING CLERK, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH, 1926, THE ITEM REPRESENTING A PAYMENT TO THE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC PROPERTY, STATE OF WISCONSIN, FOR TWO VOLUMES OF WISCONSIN STATUTES, 1925.

CREDIT FOR THE PAYMENT WAS SUSPENDED BECAUSE OF THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3, ACT OF MARCH 15, 1898, 30 STAT. 316, PROHIBITING THE PURCHASE OF LAW BOOKS, BOOKS OF REFERENCE, AND PERIODICALS FOR USE IN ANY EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT OR GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENT AT THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT UNLESS SUCH PURCHASE IS AUTHORIZED AND PAYMENT THEREFOR IS SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED IN THE LAW GRANTING THE APPROPRIATION.

THE APPROPRIATION "PUBLIC DEBT SERVICE, 1926," UNDER WHICH THE PAYMENT HERE IN QUESTION WAS MADE, PROVIDES:

FOR NECESSARY EXPENSES CONNECTED WITH THE ADMINISTRATION OF ANY PUBLIC DEBT ISSUES AND UNITED STATES PAPER CURRENCY ISSUES WITH WHICH THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY IS CHARGED, INCLUDING RENT IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND INCLUDING THE COMMISSIONER OF THE PUBLIC DEBT AND OTHER PERSONAL SERVICES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1923, 3,260,000: PROVIDED, THAT THE AMOUNT TO BE EXPENDED FOR PERSONAL SERVICES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA SHALL NOT EXCEED $3,113,414: PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT THE INDEFINITE APPROPRIATION ,EXPENSES OF LOANS," ACT OF SEPTEMBER 24, 1917, AS AMENDED AND EXTENDED, SHALL NOT BE USED DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1926 TO SUPPLEMENT THE APPROPRIATION HEREIN MADE FOR THE CURRENT WORK OF THE PUBLIC DEBT SERVICE. (ACT OF JANUARY 22, 1925, 43 STAT. 767.)

THIS LANGUAGE IS SUBSTANTIALLY THE SAME AS THAT USED IN THE CORRESPONDING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE FISCAL YEARS FROM 1923, THE FIRST YEAR IN WHICH SUCH APPROPRIATION WAS MADE, TO 1928 (ACT OF JANUARY 26, 1927, 44 STAT. 1031), AND THERE IS NOTHING IN THE PROVISIONS OF SUCH APPROPRIATION SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZING THE PURCHASE OF AND PAYMENT FOR LAW BOOKS, BOOKS OF REFERENCE, ETC.

YOU STATE THAT NUMEROUS PURCHASES OF LAW BOOKS, BOOKS OF REFERENCE, AND PERIODICALS HAVE BEEN NECESSARY DURING 1926 AND PRIOR FISCAL YEARS, IN CONNECTION WITH THE PROPER ADMINISTRATION OF PUBLIC-DEBT ISSUES, THAT THE COST THEREOF HAS BEEN CHARGED UNDER THE APPROPRIATION, PUBLIC DEBT SERVICE, AND THAT THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT HAS CONSIDERED SAID APPROPRIATION PROPERLY CHARGEABLE WITH SUCH EXPENDITURES, PARTICULARLY IN VIEW OF THE ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE APPROPRIATION.

YOU SUGGEST AS AUTHORITY FOR THE EXPENDITURE HERE IN QUESTION THAT THE APPROPRIATION INVOLVED IS AN OUTGROWTH OF THE INDEFINITE APPROPRIATIONS MADE BY THE FIRST AND SECOND LIBERTY LOAN ACTS OF APRIL 24, 1917, 40 STAT. 37, AND SEPTEMBER 24, 1917, 40 STAT. 292, IN WHICH FUNDS WERE PROVIDED TO COVER EXPENSES OF ISSUE, ETC., TO BE EXPENDED "AS THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY MAY DIRECT.'

REGARDLESS OF WHAT MAY HAVE BEEN THE AUTHORITY UNDER THE INDEFINITE APPROPRIATIONS, SUPRA, THE APPROPRIATION MADE FROM YEAR TO YEAR UNDER THE HEADING, PUBLIC DEBT SERVICE, BEGINNING WITH THE FISCAL YEAR 1923, IS ESSENTIALLY DIFFERENT FROM THOSE MADE UNDER THE LIBERTY LOAN ACTS.

BEGINNING WITH THE FISCAL YEAR 1923 THERE HAVE BEEN CARRIED FUNDS FOR EXPENDITURE, BOTH UNDER THE INDEFINITE APPROPRIATION, EXPENSES OF LOANS, AS PROVIDED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 16, 1921, 42 STAT. 36, FOR THE PURPOSE OF NEW PUBLIC-DEBT ISSUES AND UNDER THE APPROPRIATION, PUBLIC DEBT SERVICE, FOR EXPENDITURES IN CONNECTION WITH THE ADMINISTRATION OF ANY PUBLIC-DEBT ISSUE DURING THE FISCAL YEAR FOR WHICH MADE, NOT INCLUDING NEW ISSUES DURING THAT FISCAL YEAR OR THE LAST PRECEDING FISCAL YEAR. THE APPROPRIATION UNDER THE HEADING, PUBLIC DEBT SERVICE, IS CLEARLY ONE FOR THE DEPARTMENTAL SERVICE AT THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT, AND AS TO SUCH APPROPRIATION THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF 1898, SUPRA, ARE FOR APPLICATION. ANY PAYMENT MADE THEREFROM FOR LAW BOOKS, BOOKS OF REFERENCE, AND PERIODICALS IS IN DIRECT CONTRAVENTION OF LAW.

IT IS NOTED IN YOUR LETTER YOU STATE THAT ITEMS SUCH AS LAW BOOKS, BOOKS OF REFERENCE, PERIODICALS, ETC., HAVE BEEN INCLUDED IN THE BUDGET SUBSEQUENT TO THE FISCAL YEAR 1923 UNDER THE TITLE "0220, SCIENTIFIC AND EDUCATIONAL SUPPLIES," AND THAT THE AMOUNTS ESTIMATED THEREFOR HAVE BEEN REGULARLY APPROPRIATED. THE TERMS OF THE LAW HERE IN QUESTION, HOWEVER, ARE SPECIFIC IN THEIR REQUIREMENT THAT THE PURCHASE BE AUTHORIZED AND PAYMENT THEREFOR SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED "IN THE LAW GRANTING THE APPROPRIATION," AND A MERE ITEMIZED STATEMENT IN THE BUDGET OR A SHOWING THAT ESTIMATES WERE SUBMITTED FOR SUCH ARTICLES DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A COMPLIANCE WITH SUCH LAW. THE ONLY CASES IN WHICH THE PROVISIONS OF THE LAW HAVE BEEN HELD NOT TO APPLY HAVE BEEN THOSE IN WHICH IT HAS BEEN SHOWN THE PURCHASE OF THE BOOKS OF REFERENCE, ETC., WAS NOT ONLY DESIRABLE AND ADVANTAGEOUS BUT INDISPENSABLE TO THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF A SPECIFIC PURPOSE FOR WHICH A SPECIAL APPROPRIATION WAS MADE. 22 COMP. DEC. 317. NO SUCH NECESSITY HAS BEEN SHOWN OR APPEARS TO EXIST IN THE PRESENT MATTER. THE FACT THAT CREDIT FOR PAYMENTS MADE FOR SUCH PURCHASES BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1926 AND PRIOR FISCAL YEARS MAY HAVE BEEN ALLOWED IN THE DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNTS UP TO THE TIME OF THE PRESENT SUSPENSION SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED OR REGARDED BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER AS A PRECEDENT (SEE GENERAL REGULATIONS NO. 50 OF APRIL 21, 1926), AND CAN NOT SERVE TO AUTHORIZE ALLOWANCE OF CREDIT IN THIS INSTANCE FOR A PAYMENT MADE IN DIRECT CONTRAVENTION OF LAW.

YOU STATE THAT THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1928 HAS ALREADY BEEN MADE AND THAT IT WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT, IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE, TO SECURE AN AMENDMENT TO THE APPROPRIATION. FOR THAT REASON YOU SUGGEST THAT THE MATTER BE HELD IN ABEYANCE UNTIL THE DEPARTMENT HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO PRESENT TO THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET AND TO THE CONGRESS IN CONNECTION WITH THE 1929 ESTIMATES A REQUEST FOR SUCH CHANGES IN THE LANGUAGE OF THE APPROPRIATION AS WILL REMOVE ANY DOUBT AS TO ITS BEING APPLICABLE TO THE ITEM IN QUESTION.

THIS IS NOT A CASE IN WHICH PAYMENT WAS MADE BY THE DISBURSING OFFICER IN GOOD FAITH UNDER A PRACTICE ESTABLISHED AS A RESULT OF AN ERRONEOUS ASSUMPTION AS TO THE SCOPE OF AN APPROPRIATION OR AN INVOLVED PROVISION OF LAW THAT HAD NOT BEEN CONSTRUED BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS. IT INVOLVES A PAYMENT IN DIRECT CONTRAVENTION OF A PLAIN STATUTORY PROHIBITION AND OF THE DECISIONS OF THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE BUT TO DISALLOW CREDIT FOR THE PAYMENT AND TO ADVISE THAT NO FURTHER PURCHASE OF LAW BOOKS, BOOKS OF REFERENCE, OR PERIODICALS IS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE APPROPRIATION IN QUESTION. IN THIS CONNECTION YOUR ATTENTION IS INVITED TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATIONS FOR CONTINGENT EXPENSES OF THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT WHEREIN FUNDS ARE MADE SPECIFICALLY AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE OF LAW BOOKS, ETC., IN CONNECTION WITH THE BUSINESS OF THE DEPARTMENT. NO REASON APPEARS WHY SUCH APPROPRIATION SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR THE PURCHASE OF SUCH BOOKS FOR THE PUBLIC DEBT SERVICE IF SUCH PURCHASE IS NECESSARY.

WITH RESPECT TO THE LAST SENTENCE IN YOUR LETTER REQUESTING ADVICE "AS TO WHETHER ANY OTHER CHANGE IN THE LANGUAGE OF THE APPROPRIATION IS NECESSARY TO PROVIDE ADEQUATELY FOR ALL ITEMS HERETOFORE CHARGED THERETO," SO THAT PROPER INSERTIONS MAY BE MADE IN THE APPROPRIATION ACT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1929, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE APPROPRIATIONS HEREAFTER SHOULD BE MADE WITH RESPECT TO THE FUTURE NEEDS OF THE SERVICE RATHER THAN TO PROVIDE FOR ALL CLASSES OF ITEMS THAT MAY HAVE BEEN CHARGED AGAINST A CORRESPONDING APPROPRIATION IN THE PAST. IF YOU HAVE DOUBT WHETHER THE APPROPRIATION AS NOW WORDED WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR ANY PARTICULAR CLASS OF EXPENDITURES DEEMED NECESSARY FOR THE FUTURE, THE MATTER SHOULD BE SUBMITTED TO THIS OFFICE WITH REFERENCE TO SAID CLASS OF EXPENDITURES.

AS HEREINBEFORE SHOWN, CREDIT FOR THE ITEM OF $5 CAN NOT BE ALLOWED UNDER EXISTING LAWS AND REGULATIONS, AND THE AMOUNT OF SAID ITEM SHOULD BE DEPOSITED FORTHWITH.