A-30098, JANUARY 21, 1930, 9 COMP. GEN. 309

A-30098: Jan 21, 1930

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

" IS NOT AVAILABLE UNDER EXISTING LAW FOR THE PAYMENT OF REWARDS FOR THE APPREHENSION AND CONVICTION OF PERSONS FOUND TAMPERING WITH AID TO NAVIGATION MAINTAINED BY THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE. 1930: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 3. AS FOLLOWS: YOUR DECISION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE APPROPRIATION "GENERAL EXPENSES. IS AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF A REASONABLE REWARD FOR THE APPREHENSION AND CONVICTION OF PERSONS FOUND TAMPERING WITH AIDS TO NAVIGATION MAINTAINED BY THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE OF THIS DEPARTMENT. MORE SPECIFICALLY IT IS DESIRED. TO OFFER SUCH A REWARD FOR THE APPREHENSION AND CONVICTION OF THE PERSON OR PERSONS WHO HAVE COMMITTED ACTS OF VANDALISM BY EXTINGUISHING LIGHTS AND BREAKING THE THE APPARATUS ON POSTLIGHTS ON THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI RIVER IN THE THIRTEENTH LIGHTHOUSE DISTRICT.

A-30098, JANUARY 21, 1930, 9 COMP. GEN. 309

APPROPRIATIONS - LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE - PAYMENT OF REWARDS THE APPROPRIATION "GENERAL EXPENSES, LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE," IS NOT AVAILABLE UNDER EXISTING LAW FOR THE PAYMENT OF REWARDS FOR THE APPREHENSION AND CONVICTION OF PERSONS FOUND TAMPERING WITH AID TO NAVIGATION MAINTAINED BY THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, JANUARY 21, 1930:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 3, 1930, AS FOLLOWS:

YOUR DECISION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE APPROPRIATION "GENERAL EXPENSES, LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE" (DIGEST OF APPROPRIATIONS, 1930, PAGE 214), IS AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF A REASONABLE REWARD FOR THE APPREHENSION AND CONVICTION OF PERSONS FOUND TAMPERING WITH AIDS TO NAVIGATION MAINTAINED BY THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE OF THIS DEPARTMENT.

MORE SPECIFICALLY IT IS DESIRED, IF LEGAL TO DO SO, TO OFFER SUCH A REWARD FOR THE APPREHENSION AND CONVICTION OF THE PERSON OR PERSONS WHO HAVE COMMITTED ACTS OF VANDALISM BY EXTINGUISHING LIGHTS AND BREAKING THE THE APPARATUS ON POSTLIGHTS ON THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI RIVER IN THE THIRTEENTH LIGHTHOUSE DISTRICT.

THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE IS CHARGED WITH ENFORCEMENT OF SECTION 6 OF THE ACT OF MAY 14, 1908 (U.S.C. TIT. 33, 761; 35 STAT. 162), WHICH PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"IT SHALL BE UNLAWFUL FOR ANY PERSON TO OBSTRUCT OR INTERFERE WITH ANY AID TO NAVIGATION ESTABLISHED OR MAINTAINED IN THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE OR TO ANCHOR ANY VESSEL IN ANY OF THE NAVIGABLE WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES SO AS TO OBSTRUCT OR INTERFERE WITH RANGE LIGHTS MAINTAINED THEREIN, AND ANY PERSON VIOLATING THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE DEEMED GUILTY OF A MISDEMEANOR AND BE SUBJECT TO A FINE NOT EXCEEDING THE SUM OF $500 FOR EACH OFFENSE, AND EACH DAY DURING WHICH SUCH VIOLATION SHALL CONTINUE SHALL BE CONSIDERED AS A NEW OFFENSE.'

IN YOUR DECISION OF MAY 31, 1927 (6 COMP. GEN. 774) IT WAS HELD THAT THE WAR DEPARTMENT MIGHT OFFER AND PAY A REWARD FOR THE RECOVERY OF PLATINUM THAT HAD BEEN STOLEN FROM THE ARMY, THE APPROPRIATION INVOLVED IN THAT CASE BEING THAT FOR "CONTINGENCIES OF THE ARMY.'

THE APPROPRIATION,"GENERAL EXPENSES, LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE," PROVIDES AMONG OTHER OBJECTS, FOR ,MAINTENANCE AND INCIDENTAL EXPENSES OF LIGHTHOUSES AND OTHER LIGHTS, BEACONS, BUOYAGE, FOR FOG SIGNALS, LIGHTING OF RIVERS HERETOFORE AUTHORIZED TO BE LIGHTED, OTHER AIDS TO NAVIGATION.' IT ALSO PROVIDED FOR "ALL OTHER CONTINGENT EXPENSES OF DISTRICT OFFICES * * *, AND NOT EXCEEDING $8,500 FOR CONTINGENT EXPENSES OF THE BUREAU OF LIGHTHOUSES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.'

IT IS SUGGESTED THAT IN VIEW OF THE DUTIES IMPOSED BY THE ACT OF MAY 14, 1908, SUPRA, THE OFFER AND PAYMENT OF A REASONABLE REWARD FOR THE APPREHENSION AND CONVICTION OF VIOLATORS OF SAID ACT MIGHT POSSIBLY BE REGARDED AS A PROPER AND NECESSARY ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSE, EITHER OF THE CENTRAL OFFICE OF THE BUREAU OF LIGHTHOUSES OR OF THE DISTRICT OFFICE CONCERNED.

THE DECISION CITED IN YOUR LETTER, 6 COMP. GEN. 774, WAS BASED ON THE EXCEPTIONAL FACTS AS SET FORTH WITH RESPECT TO THE CASE INVOLVED AND FURTHER UPON THE GROUND THAT THE APPROPRIATION ,CONTINGENCIES OF THE ARMY" PROVIDED SPECIFICALLY FOR ALL EMERGENCIES AND EXTRAORDINARY EXPENSES IMPOSSIBLE TO BE ANTICIPATED OR CLASSIFIED, THE EXPENDITURES UNDER SUCH APPROPRIATION TO BE MADE ON THE APPROVAL OR AUTHORITY OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR "FOR SUCH PURPOSES AS HE MAY DEEM PROPER.' SAID DECISION WAS RENDERED IN 1927, AND SUBSEQUENT THERETO, ON MAY 20, 1929, ANOTHER DECISION, 8 COMP. GEN. 613, WAS RENDERED INVOLVING IN GENERAL THE AVAILABILITY OF APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE PAYMENT OF REWARDS. IN THIS LATER DECISION IT WAS HELD IN SUBSTANCE THAT REWARDS FOR THE FURNISHING OF INFORMATION THAT IS NOT ESSENTIAL BUT HELPFUL IN THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF AN AUTHORIZED WORK, ARE NOT PAYABLE UNLESS SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED FOR IN THE APPROPRIATION OR OTHER STATUTE. IN THE COURSE OF SAID DECISION IT WAS SAID:

AN APPROPRIATION GENERAL IN TERMS IS AVAILABLE TO DO THE THINGS ESSENTIAL TO THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE WORK AUTHORIZED BY THE APPROPRIATION TO BE DONE. AS TO WHETHER SUCH AN APPROPRIATION MAY PROPERLY BE HELD AVAILABLE TO PAY A REWARD FOR THE FURNISHING OF INFORMATION, NOT ESSENTIAL BUT PROBABLY HELPFUL TO THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE AUTHORIZED WORK, THE DECISIONS OF THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS HAVE NOT BEEN UNIFORM. THE DOUBT ARISES GENERALLY BECAUSE SUCH REWARDS ARE NOT NECESSARILY IN KEEPING WITH THE VALUE OF THE INFORMATION FURNISHED AND POSSESS ELEMENTS OF A GRATUITY OR GIFT MADE IN APPRECIATION OF HELPFUL ASSISTANCE RENDERED.

THE CONGRESS HAS FREQUENTLY CONSIDERED THE WISDOM AND PROPRIETY OF PERMITTING PUBLIC MONEYS TO BE USED IN PAYING REWARDS FOR THE FURNISHING OF HELPFUL INFORMATION OR THE RENDERING OF OTHER ASSISTANCE TO OFFICIALS OF THE GOVERNMENT, AND IN CERTAIN INSTANCES HAS GRANTED SPECIFIC AUTHORITY THEREFOR.

THERE BEING GRAVE DOUBT AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF REGARDING AN APPROPRIATION GENERAL IN TERMS AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF SUCH REWARDS, AND THE CONGRESS HAVING ON MANY OCCASIONS ACCEPTED THE MATTER AS ONE FOR ITS CONSIDERATION AND EXPRESSION, IT APPEARS THE DUTY OF THIS OFFICE TO REQUIRE THOSE IN ADMINISTRATIVE PLACES WHO DESIRE TO OFFER REWARDS FOR INFORMATION OR OTHER ASSISTANCE IN THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF AUTHORIZED WORK, TO SUBMIT THEIR REQUIREMENTS TO THE CONGRESS FOR SPECIFIC LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY WITH RESPECT TO ALL APPROPRIATIONS HEREAFTER TO BE MADE.

THE APPROPRIATION "GENERAL EXPENSES, LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE," DOES NOT PROVIDE IN SPECIFIC TERMS FOR THE PAYMENT OF REWARDS SUCH AS REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER. SAID APPROPRIATION IN ADDITION TO SPECIFIC ITEMS THEREIN MENTIONED, PROVIDES, ALSO IN GENERAL, FOR THE PAYMENT OF MAINTENANCE AND INCIDENTAL EXPENSES OF LIGHTHOUSES, ETC; AND ALL OTHER CONTINGENT EXPENSES OF DISTRICT OFFICES, AND UNDER SUCH GENERAL TERMS THE APPROPRIATION IS AVAILABLE AS STATED IN THE ABOVE QUOTATION TO DO THE THINGS ESSENTIAL IN THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE WORK AUTHORIZED BY THE APPROPRIATION. THE REWARDS CONTEMPLATED, HOWEVER, DO NOT COME UNDER THE HEADING OF ESSENTIAL THINGS ALTHOUGH THEY MAY BE HELPFUL IN CONNECTION WITH THE CARRYING OUT OF THE OBJECTS CONTEMPLATED.

IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE OFFERING OF REWARDS BY THE LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE IS APPARENTLY A NEW FEATURE NOW BEING CONSIDERED WITH RESPECT TO THE ADMINISTRATION OF THAT SERVICE, PARTICULARLY IN CONNECTION WITH THE ENFORCEMENT OF SECTION 6 OF THE ACT OF MAY 14, 1908, 35 STAT. 162, THE MATTER WOULD APPEAR TO BE PROPER FOR SUBMISSION TO THE CONGRESS FOR CONSIDERATION WHETHER THE ENACTMENT OF SPECIFIC LEGISLATION FOR THE PURPOSE IS NECESSARY OR PROPER.

IN SPECIFIC ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION, I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT THE APPROPRIATION "GENERAL EXPENSES, LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE," IS NOT AVAILABLE UNDER EXISTING LAW FOR THE PAYMENT OF REWARDS FOR INFORMATION LEADING TO THE APPREHENSION AND CONVICTION OF PERSONS FOUND TAMPERING WITH AIDS TO NAVIGATION, ETC. ..END :