A-29453, NOVEMBER 26, 1929, 9 COMP. GEN. 225

A-29453: Nov 26, 1929

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PUBLIC FUNDS - ADVANCES - FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION REQUISITIONS FOR THE ADVANCE OF PUBLIC FUNDS TO A DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION MAY NOT BE RECOGNIZED BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES UNLESS THEY ARE APPROVED EITHER BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMISSION OR BY THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY. WITH REFERENCE TO YOUR LETTER AND TO TELEPHONE CONVERSATION BETWEEN YOURSELF AND THE CHIEF CLERK OF THE COMMISSION I HAVE TO INVITE ATTENTION TO SECTION 2 OF THE FEDERAL WATER POWER ACT AND TO THE COMMISSION'S FORMAL ORDERS. THE CHIEF CLERK OF THE COMMISSION WAS INSTRUCTED TO SIGN (PARAGRAPH (: "ROUTINE FISCAL BUSINESS OF THE OPERATIONS DIVISION. THE ADMINISTRATIVE CERTIFICATION OF REQUISITIONS SUCH AS THE ENCLOSED IS REGARDED AT THIS COMMISSION AS A MATTER OF ROUTINE FISCAL BUSINESS.

A-29453, NOVEMBER 26, 1929, 9 COMP. GEN. 225

PUBLIC FUNDS - ADVANCES - FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION REQUISITIONS FOR THE ADVANCE OF PUBLIC FUNDS TO A DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION MAY NOT BE RECOGNIZED BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES UNLESS THEY ARE APPROVED EITHER BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMISSION OR BY THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, TO WHOM SUCH DUTY HAS BEEN SPECIFICALLY DELEGATED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION, NOVEMBER 26, 1929:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED, PRESUMABLY BY YOUR DIRECTION, THE FOLLOWING COMMUNICATION FROM THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF YOUR COMMISSION, ADDRESSED TO THE CHIEF OF THE BOOKKEEPING DIVISION OF THIS OFFICE:

I RETURN THE REQUISITION FOR DISBURSING FUNDS RECEIVED WITH YOUR LETTER OF EVEN DATE, HAVING GIVEN THE SAME MY APPROVAL, IN ORDER THAT ADVANCE OF FUNDS MAY NOT BE DELAYED.

WITH REFERENCE TO YOUR LETTER AND TO TELEPHONE CONVERSATION BETWEEN YOURSELF AND THE CHIEF CLERK OF THE COMMISSION I HAVE TO INVITE ATTENTION TO SECTION 2 OF THE FEDERAL WATER POWER ACT AND TO THE COMMISSION'S FORMAL ORDERS, NOS. 1 AND 2. THESE APPEAR AT PAGES 33 AND 201 OF THE ENCLOSED COPY OF THE THIRD ANNUAL REPORT. THE ACT AUTHORIZES THE COMMISSION TO APPOINT AN EXECUTIVE SECRETARY AND TO PRESCRIBE HIS DUTIES. PARAGRAPH 2 OF ORDER NO. 2 PRESCRIBES AS PART OF THOSE DUTIES--- DUTIES---

"TO SUPERVISE UNDER THE ACT AND REGULATIONS ALL PERSONNEL THAT MAY BE EMPLOYED BY OR DETAILED OR ASSIGNED TO THE COMMISSION, AND TO PRESCRIBE THEIR DUTIES WITHIN THE LIMITS OF THE ACT AND REGULATIONS.'

PURSUANT TO THIS AUTHORITY, BY MEMORANDUM OF OCTOBER 8, 1929, COPY OF WHICH HAS BEEN FORWARDED TO THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL, THE CHIEF CLERK OF THE COMMISSION WAS INSTRUCTED TO SIGN (PARAGRAPH (:

"ROUTINE FISCAL BUSINESS OF THE OPERATIONS DIVISION, INCLUDING APPROVALS OF PAY ROLLS AND VOUCHERS, ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF REMITTANCES, AND CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO SUSPENSIONS, DISALLOWANCES, AND EXPLANATIONS, OF EXPENSE ACCOUNTS.'

THE ADMINISTRATIVE CERTIFICATION OF REQUISITIONS SUCH AS THE ENCLOSED IS REGARDED AT THIS COMMISSION AS A MATTER OF ROUTINE FISCAL BUSINESS. SUCH IT CLEARLY COMES WITHIN THE AUTHORIZATION IN THE MEMORANDUM OF OCTOBER 8, AND WITHIN THE SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATIONS ABOVE QUOTED FROM THE FEDERAL WATER POWER ACT AND ORDER NO. 2 OF THE COMMISSION.

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO THE TWO DECISIONS MENTIONED BY YOU (17 COMP. 315; 27 ID. 256), BUT AS THE FIRST CONSTRUES AN ACT SPECIFICALLY APPLYING TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR AND THE LATTER AN ACT SPECIFICALLY MENTIONING DUTIES OF THE CHIEF OF FINANCE AND THE SECRETARY OF WAR, WHICH ACTS HAVE NO REFERENCE TO THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION, IT IS NOT UNDERSTOOD THAT THEY ARE APPLICABLE IN THIS CASE, WHICH AS ABOVE STATED, RESTS UPON THE ACT CONSTITUTING THE COMMISSION AND REGULATING ITS OPERATIONS.

I WOULD REQUEST FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF THE QUESTION AT ISSUE AND ADVICE AT YOUR EARLY CONVENIENCE.

ALL STEPS RELATING TO EXPENDITURE OF PUBLIC MONEYS INVOLVE AN ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBILITY, PRIMARILY THAT OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE HEAD AND MAY NOT BE CLASSED ROUTINE. THE FACT THAT THE MONEYS OF THE PUBLIC ARE CONCERNED REQUIRES THIS STRICT OFFICIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND LIMITS THE CLASS OF THOSE WHO MAY ACT THEREIN. THE REQUISITIONING FOR ADVANCES OF PUBLIC MONEYS IS A PRELIMINARY TO PAYING OUT OF PUBLIC MONEYS. THE DUTY OF SIGNING REQUISITIONS FOR ADVANCES OF PUBLIC MONEYS FOR DISBURSEMENT IS THAT OF THE HEAD OF THE RESPECTIVE DEPARTMENTS OR ESTABLISHMENTS AND MAY BE DELEGATED ONLY WHERE AUTHORIZED BY LAW. SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1920, 41, STAT. 1063, CREATING THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION, AUTHORIZES THE COMMISSION TO APPOINT AN EXECUTIVE SECRETARY AND TO "PRESCRIBE HIS DUTIES.' THIS MAY BE REGARDED AS AUTHORIZING THE COMMISSION TO DELEGATE TO THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY THE DUTY OF SIGNING REQUISITIONS FOR MONEYS, AS APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN DONE BY ORDER NO. 1, ISSUED BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMISSION JULY 31, 1920, BUT THERE IS ROOM FOR DOUBT ON THIS POINT, AS THE CONGRESS USUALLY EMPLOYS MORE SPECIFIC TERMS WHEN THE DELEGATION OF OFFICIAL AUTHORITY IS CONTEMPLATED. SEE IN THIS CONNECTION SECTION 311 (E) OF THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1921, 42 STAT. 25, AND SECTION 5 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 7, 1924, 43 STAT. 608.

ORDER NO. 2, DATED AUGUST 23, 1920, PRESCRIBES OTHER DUTIES TO BE PERFORMED BY THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, AMONG WHICH IS THE DUTY "TO SUPERVISE UNDER THE ACT AND REGULATIONS ALL PERSONNEL THAT MAY BE EMPLOYED BY OR DETAILED OR ASSIGNED TO THE COMMISSION AND TO PRESCRIBE THEIR DUTIES WITHIN THE LIMITS OF THE ACT AND REGULATIONS.'

THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY CONTENDS THAT THE QUOTATION FROM ORDER NO. 2 AUTHORIZES HIM TO DELEGATE TO THE CHIEF CLERK THE AUTHORITY TO PERFORM THE DUTIES SPECIFICALLY DELEGATED TO THE EXECUTIVE BY ORDER NO. 1. IF THIS WERE POSSIBLE THERE WOULD BE NO END TO THE DELEGATION OF DUTIES, AS IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE UNDER SUCH A CONSTRUCTION FOR THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY TO DELEGATE TO THE CHIEF CLERK THE DUTY TO PRESCRIBE THE DUTIES OF OTHERS, AND THE CHIEF CLERK COULD THEN DELEGATE THAT DUTY TO A STENOGRAPHER, CLERK, OR MESSENGER. SUCH A REDELEGATION OF AUTHORITY MAY NOT BE RECOGNIZED UNDER EXISTING LAW.

WHILE THE DECISIONS IN 17 COMP. DEC. 315 AND 27 ID. 256 CONSTRUED LAWS SPECIFICALLY APPLICABLE TO THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AND THE WAR DEPARTMENT, THE LAWS SO CONSTRUED ARE SIMILAR, IN SO FAR AS THEY REFER TO THE DELEGATION OF DUTIES, TO THE STATUTE APPLICABLE TO THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION, AND THE DECISIONS ARE, THEREFORE, FOR APPLICATION HERE. SEE ALSO 18 COMP. DEC. 531.

IT MUST BE HELD, THEREFORE, THAT REQUISITIONS FOR THE ADVANCE OF PUBLIC MONEYS TO A DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION MAY NOT BE RECOGNIZED UNLESS APPROVED EITHER BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMISSION OR BY THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, TO WHOM SUCH DUTY HAS BEEN SPECIFICALLY DELEGATED.