A-32400, SEPTEMBER 8, 1930, 10 COMP. GEN. 115

A-32400: Sep 8, 1930

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THE RESPONSIBILITY OF DETERMINING WHETHER OR NOT VALID TITLES TO PROPERTIES SO ACQUIRED ARE OBTAINED BY THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA RESTS WITH SAID COMMISSIONERS. SUCH A CERTIFICATION BY A SUBORDINATE OFFICER OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IS INSUFFICIENT. 1930: THERE IS INCLOSED FOR YOUR INFORMATION COPY OF MY DECISION OF THIS DATE RESPECTING WHETHER SECTION 355. IS APPLICABLE TO PURCHASES OF LAND FOR THE MUNICIPAL CENTER PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 28. 000.00 THE VOUCHERS ARE CERTIFIED BY THE PROPERTY SURVEY OFFICER. THE CONTRACTS UNDER WHICH THE PURCHASES WERE MADE REQUIRED THE OWNERS OF THE PROPERTIES TO FURNISH TITLE SATISFACTORY TO THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

A-32400, SEPTEMBER 8, 1930, 10 COMP. GEN. 115

REAL ESTATE - TITLES - DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA UNDER THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1929, 45 STAT. 1408, AUTHORIZING AND DIRECTING THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA "TO ACQUIRE BY PURCHASE, CONDEMNATION, OR OTHERWISE" CERTAIN LAND AS A SITE FOR A MUNICIPAL CENTER FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, THE RESPONSIBILITY OF DETERMINING WHETHER OR NOT VALID TITLES TO PROPERTIES SO ACQUIRED ARE OBTAINED BY THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA RESTS WITH SAID COMMISSIONERS. VOUCHERS COVERING PAYMENT FOR PROPERTY ACQUIRED UNDER THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1929, 45 STAT. 1408, SHOULD BEAR A CERTIFICATION BY THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA TO THE EFFECT THAT A VALID TITLE TO THE PROPERTY, FREE FROM ENCUMBRANCES, HAS BECOME VESTED IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. SUCH A CERTIFICATION BY A SUBORDINATE OFFICER OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IS INSUFFICIENT.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, SEPTEMBER 8, 1930:

THERE IS INCLOSED FOR YOUR INFORMATION COPY OF MY DECISION OF THIS DATE RESPECTING WHETHER SECTION 355, REVISED STATUTES, WHICH REQUIRES THE OPINION OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL UPON TITLE TO LAND PURCHASED FOR THE UNITED STATES, IS APPLICABLE TO PURCHASES OF LAND FOR THE MUNICIPAL CENTER PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1929, 45 STAT. 1408, PAYMENT FOR WHICH APPEARS IN THE ACCOUNTS OF J. R. LUSBY FOR MARCH, 1930, ON VOUCHERS AS FOLLOWS: CHART VOUCHER 26229. MICHAEL J. KEANE ----------- ------- $34,557.90 VOUCHER 25698. FLORENCE CRITTENTON HOME ---------- $16,750.00 VOUCHER 25684. THE RIGGS NATIONAL BANK OF WASHINGTON D.C., TRUSTEE ---------------------- ------------------- $39,507.00 VOUCHER 23620. NATIONAL HOTEL COMPANY ---------- $580,000.00

THE VOUCHERS ARE CERTIFIED BY THE PROPERTY SURVEY OFFICER, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AS HAVING BEEN STATED IN STRICT ACCORDANCE WITH THE TERMS OF PURCHASE, AND THE CONTRACTS UNDER WHICH THE PURCHASES WERE MADE REQUIRED THE OWNERS OF THE PROPERTIES TO FURNISH TITLE SATISFACTORY TO THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. THE ACT UNDER WHICH THE PURCHASES WERE MADE, HOWEVER, AUTHORIZES THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA "TO ACQUIRE BY PURCHASE, CONDEMNATION, OR OTHERWISE" THE LANDS IN QUESTION. IN VIEW OF THIS PROVISION IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR DETERMINING WHETHER OR NOT A VALID TITLE TO THE PROPERTIES ACQUIRED HAS BEEN OBTAINED BY THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IS COMMITTED TO THE JUDGMENT AND DISCRETION OF THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. SEE IN THIS CONNECTION 12 COMP. DEC. 691 AND 5 COMP. GEN. 953. WHILE THE CONTRACT REQUIRED THAT A TITLE SATISFACTORY TO THE COMMISSIONERS SHOULD BE FURNISHED, THERE IS NO STATEMENT BY THE COMMISSIONERS TO THE EFFECT THAT A VALID TITLE TO THE PROPERTIES CONCERNED HAS BECOME VESTED IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND THE CERTIFICATION BY THE PROPERTY SURVEY OFFICER CAN NOT BE CONSIDERED AS SUFFICIENT TO SHOW A DETERMINATION BY THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA THAT A VALID TITLE HAS BEEN ACQUIRED. ACCORDINGLY, THERE SHOULD BE TRANSMITTED TO THIS OFFICE A CERTIFICATE BY THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, TO THE EFFECT THAT A VALID TITLE, FREE FROM ENCUMBRANCE, TO THE PROPERTIES COVERED BY THE ABOVE VOUCHERS IS VESTED IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. SIMILAR CERTIFICATIONS SHOULD BE MADE IN CONNECTION WITH OTHER VOUCHERS RELATING TO ACQUISITIONS IN THE FUTURE OF OTHER PARCELS OF LAND, WHERE SAID LANDS ARE ACQUIRED BY THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNDER AUTHORITY OF AN ACT OF CONGRESS CONTAINING PROVISIONS SIMILAR TO THAT CONTAINED IN THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1929, SUPRA, UNDER WHICH THESE PROPERTIES WERE ACQUIRED.