A-27111, MAY 11, 1929, 8 COMP. GEN. 600

A-27111: May 11, 1929

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THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE SURVEY TO CHARGE FOR DEPRECIATION ON PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLES USED IN SUCH COOPERATIVE WORK. 1929: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF MAY 2. THERE IS NATURALLY AN EXTENSIVE USE OF AUTOMOBILES AS IN ITS REGULAR WORK. UNDER PRESENT PRACTICE THE ONLY REIMBURSEMENT MADE FOR THE USE OF GEOLOGICAL SURVEY AUTOMOBILES IS THE CURRENT OPERATING AND MAINTENANCE EXPENSES WHICH DO NOT. THE RESULT BEING THAT INDIRECTLY THE APPROPRIATIONS OF THE OTHER ESTABLISHMENTS ARE AUGMENTED BY REASON OF THE FACT THAT THE DEPRECIATION OF THE AUTOMOBILES. WHICH IS CONSIDERABLE. IS BORNE BY THE RESPECTIVE APPROPRIATIONS OF THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY MADE FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES. THAT CONSIDERATION BE GIVEN TO SOME MEANS OF PROPERLY CHARGING THE APPROPRIATIONS OF THE ESTABLISHMENTS FOR WHICH WORK IS PERFORMED MORE NEARLY FOR THE ACTUAL COST OF SUCH SERVICE.

A-27111, MAY 11, 1929, 8 COMP. GEN. 600

DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS - SERVICES BETWEEN - DEPRECIATION OF VEHICLES USED IN COOPERATIVE WORK UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF LAW CONTAINED IN THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATION ACTS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AUTHORIZING THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY TO PERFORM SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL INVESTIGATIONS FOR BUREAUS AND ESTABLISHMENTS HAVING FUNDS AVAILABLE THEREFOR, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE SURVEY TO CHARGE FOR DEPRECIATION ON PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLES USED IN SUCH COOPERATIVE WORK.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, MAY 11, 1929:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF MAY 2, 1929, AS FOLLOWS:

IN CONNECTION WITH THE SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL WORK WHICH THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY PERFORMS FOR OTHER BUREAUS AND ESTABLISHMENTS, THERE IS NATURALLY AN EXTENSIVE USE OF AUTOMOBILES AS IN ITS REGULAR WORK. UNDER PRESENT PRACTICE THE ONLY REIMBURSEMENT MADE FOR THE USE OF GEOLOGICAL SURVEY AUTOMOBILES IS THE CURRENT OPERATING AND MAINTENANCE EXPENSES WHICH DO NOT, OF COURSE, BEGIN TO REPRESENT THE COST OF FURNISHING SUCH SERVICE, THE RESULT BEING THAT INDIRECTLY THE APPROPRIATIONS OF THE OTHER ESTABLISHMENTS ARE AUGMENTED BY REASON OF THE FACT THAT THE DEPRECIATION OF THE AUTOMOBILES, WHICH IS CONSIDERABLE, IS BORNE BY THE RESPECTIVE APPROPRIATIONS OF THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY MADE FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES.

IT SEEMS APPROPRIATE, THEREFORE, THAT CONSIDERATION BE GIVEN TO SOME MEANS OF PROPERLY CHARGING THE APPROPRIATIONS OF THE ESTABLISHMENTS FOR WHICH WORK IS PERFORMED MORE NEARLY FOR THE ACTUAL COST OF SUCH SERVICE. IT SEEMS PROBABLE THAT THE USE OF A MILEAGE CHARGE FOR THE AUTOMOBILES USED WOULD MORE NEARLY REPRESENT THE ACTUAL COST OF THIS PHASE OF THE WORK, AND IT IS THEREFORE REQUESTED THAT YOU ADVISE ME IF SUCH A PLAN MAY BE ADOPTED IN ORDER THAT APPROPRIATE STEPS MAY BE TAKEN BY THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY TO SEEK REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF THE AUTOMOBILE TRANSPORTATION FURNISHED.

IN THIS CONNECTION, REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR DECISION IN 3 COMP. GEN. 74, AFFECTING THE RECLAMATION SERVICE. THE SITUATION IN THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY IS NOT ESSENTIALLY DIFFERENT, INASMUCH AS THE APPROPRIATIONS MADE FOR TOPOGRAPHIC SURVEYS AND THE GAGING OF STREAMS, FOR INSTANCE, COVER SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES, AND TO FAIL TO FULLY REIMBURSE SUCH APPROPRIATIONS BY NOT CHARGING FOR THE DEPRECIATION OF AUTOMOBILES USED ON OTHER PROJECTS SEEMS TO BE UNWARRANTED, ESPECIALLY AS THE USE OF THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY CARS HAS BECOME VERY EXTENSIVE.

ON THE BASIS OF KNOWN FACTS, IT IS BELIEVED THAT A MILEAGE RATE OF 7 CENTS--- THE MAXIMUM AUTHORIZED IN THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY PORTION OF THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION ACT FOR THE USE OF PERSONALLY OWNED CARS ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS--- WOULD BE A REASONABLE FIGURE FOR SUCH SERVICE.

EARLY CONSIDERATION WILL BE APPRECIATED.

THE GENERAL RULE IS THAT WHEN THE PERFORMANCE OF SERVICES BY ONE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT FOR ANOTHER ESTABLISHMENT DOES NOT INVOLVE THE INCURRING OF ANY EXTRA EXPENSE OR THE INCREASING OF THE REGULAR FORCE AND EQUIPMENT, THERE IS NO BASIS FOR CHARGING THE APPROPRIATION OF THE ESTABLISHMENT RECEIVING THE BENEFITS OF SUCH SERVICES. 5 COMP. GEN. 1036; 6 ID. 81, 217; 7 ID. 709. AS TO PROPERTY AND EQUIPMENT OF ONE GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY BORROWED AND USED BY ANOTHER, IT IS A WELL-RECOGNIZED PRINCIPLE OF LAW THAT THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO DEMAND A RETURN OR COMPENSATION BASED UPON THE USE ALONE. 25 COMP. DEC. 682; 5 COMP. GEN. 162.

THE DECISION, 3 COMP. GEN. 74, CITED IN YOUR SUBMISSION AS A BASIS FOR THE PROPOSED CHARGING OF APPROPRIATIONS OF BUREAUS AND ESTABLISHMENTS FOR WHICH THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY PERFORMS SCIENTIFIC OR TECHNICAL INVESTIGATIONS, IS AN EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL RULE BASED UPON THE THEORY THAT AS THE RECLAMATION FUND IS A REIMBURSABLE APPROPRIATION, THE EQUIPMENT ACQUIRED THEREUNDER REPRESENTS AN ASSET WHICH SHOULD NOT BE PERMITTED TO BE DEPRECIATED FROM USE ON OTHER THAN OBJECTS FOR WHICH THE FUND WAS CREATED. NO SUCH SITUATION IS PRESENTED WITH RESPECT TO PROPERTY AND EQUIPMENT OF THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. THE APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE SURVEY ARE ANNUAL APPROPRIATIONS MADE FOR THE NEED OF THE SERVICE FOR EACH FISCAL YEAR AND, NO DOUBT, AS A RULE, THE DEPRECIATION OF PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES OCCURS LARGELY IN FISCAL YEARS SUBSEQUENT TO THAT IN WHICH THE VEHICLES WERE ACQUIRED.

THE AUTHORITY FOR THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY TO PERFORM SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL INVESTIGATIONS FOR OTHER BUREAUS AND ESTABLISHMENTS IS CONTAINED EACH YEAR IN THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATION ACTS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AND IS TO THE EFFECT THAT ANY DEPARTMENT OR INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT HAVING FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATIONS AND REQUIRING COOPERATIVE WORK BY THE SURVEY ON SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL INVESTIGATIONS "WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THE FUNCTIONS OF THAT BUREAU AND WHICH IT IS UNABLE TO PERFORM WITHIN THE LIMITS OF ITS APPROPRIATIONS MAY, WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, TRANSFER TO THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY SUCH SUMS AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO CARRY ON SUCH INVESTIGATIONS.' SEE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1929, 45 STAT. 1595.

IT WILL BE NOTED THE SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL INVESTIGATIONS CONTEMPLATED BY THIS LAW ARE LIMITED TO THOSE WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THE FUNCTIONS OF THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY, AND THE TRANSFER OF THE FUNDS IS AUTHORIZED ONLY WHEN THE SURVEY IS UNABLE TO PERFORM THE COOPERATIVE WORK WITHIN THE LIMITS OF ITS APPROPRIATIONS. THE LOGICAL INFERENCE TO BE DRAWN FROM THE LAW AS THUS EXPRESSED IS THAT IF THE WORK INVOLVED IN ANY GIVEN INVESTIGATION CAN BE PERFORMED BY THE SURVEY WITHIN THE LIMIT OF ITS APPROPRIATIONS, NO REIMBURSEMENT OR ADVANCE SHOULD BE SOUGHT FROM THE GOVERNMENTAL BUREAU OR AGENCY RECEIVING THE DIRECT BENEFIT OF SUCH INVESTIGATION. FURTHERMORE, AS THE INVESTIGATIONS AUTHORIZED ARE THOSE WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THE FUNCTIONS OF THE SURVEY, IT WAS EVIDENTLY CONTEMPLATED BY THE CONGRESS THAT IN PERFORMING SUCH COOPERATIVE WORK THE SURVEY WOULD DERIVE SOME BENEFIT THEREFROM. HENCE, IT MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED THAT THE APPROPRIATIONS OF THE SURVEY ARE IMPROPERLY BURDENED IN BEARING SUCH INDIRECT EXPENSES OF SUCH INVESTIGATING WORK AS MAY BE INVOLVED IN THE USE AND DEPRECIATION OF PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES.

IT IS NOTED YOU REFER IN YOUR SUBMISSION TO THE PROVISION IN THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATION ACTS RELATING TO THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY AUTHORIZING AN ALLOWANCE OF NOT TO EXCEED 7 CENTS PER MILE FOR THE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES ON OFFICIAL MATTERS AND SUGGEST THE SAME RATE WOULD BE A REASONABLE FIGURE TO BE CHARGED FOR THE DEPRECIATION OF PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES OF THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY USED FOR SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL INVESTIGATING WORK FOR OTHER BUREAUS AND ESTABLISHMENTS. IT IS NOT APPARENT WHAT RELATION THE FIGURE OF 7 CENTS PER MILE MAY HAVE TO THE PRESENT MATTER. IN CASES OF PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILES THE ALLOWANCE COVERS EXPENSES OF MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION, INCLUDING GASOLINE, OIL, ETC., WHEREAS IN THE MATTER PRESENTED BY YOU IT WOULD COVER DEPRECIATION ONLY, SINCE YOU STATE THAT THE COST OF MAINTAINING AND OPERATING SUCH VEHICLES WHILE USED UNDER A PARTICULAR PROJECT IS CHARGED TO THE FUNDS MADE AVAILABLE FOR THE PURPOSE. SUCH BASIS OF COMPUTING THE CHARGES WOULD NOT APPEAR TO BE PROPER EVEN IF THE LAW AUTHORIZED SOME CHARGE.

ACCORDINGLY, IN SPECIFIC ANSWER TO THE QUESTION SUBMITTED BY YOU, I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY TO CHARGE OTHER BUREAUS AND ESTABLISHMENTS FOR DEPRECIATION ON PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLES USED IN SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL INVESTIGATIONS PERFORMED FOR THEM.