A-35505, MARCH 10, 1931, 10 COMP. GEN. 404

A-35505: Mar 10, 1931

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AUTHORIZING THE ACCEPTANCE FOR ACCOUNTING PURPOSES OF THE CERTIFICATE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY THAT IN HIS JUDGMENT IT IS ADVISABLE NOT TO SPECIFY THE NATURE OF EXPENDITURES MADE. THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE ACCEPTING OF SUCH CERTIFICATE WITH RESPECT TO FUNDS ADVANCED FOR EXPENDITURES "TO BE MADE.'. MADE FROM FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR THE PURPOSE ARE SUBJECT TO THE SAME ACCOUNTING REQUIREMENTS AS OTHER ADVANCES OF PUBLIC FUNDS. FROM THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL OF THE NAVY SUBMITTING BY YOUR DIRECTION FOR CONSIDERATION AND DECISION THE QUESTION AS TO WHAT ACCOUNTING IS REQUIRED FOR PAYMENTS MADE TO THE DIRECTOR OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE FOR OBTAINING INFORMATION FROM ABROAD AND AT HOME UNDER THE APPROPRIATION.

A-35505, MARCH 10, 1931, 10 COMP. GEN. 404

PUBLIC FUNDS - ADVANCES - NAVY - EXPENSES INCIDENT TO COLLECTING CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 29, 1916, 39 STAT. 557, AUTHORIZING THE ACCEPTANCE FOR ACCOUNTING PURPOSES OF THE CERTIFICATE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY THAT IN HIS JUDGMENT IT IS ADVISABLE NOT TO SPECIFY THE NATURE OF EXPENDITURES MADE, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE ACCEPTING OF SUCH CERTIFICATE WITH RESPECT TO FUNDS ADVANCED FOR EXPENDITURES "TO BE MADE.' ADVANCES, IF ANY, MADE FROM FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR THE PURPOSE ARE SUBJECT TO THE SAME ACCOUNTING REQUIREMENTS AS OTHER ADVANCES OF PUBLIC FUNDS, EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED BY THE ACT OF AUGUST 29, 1916, APPLYING ONLY TO EXPENDITURES MADE AS DISTINGUISHED FROM ADVANCES.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, MARCH 10, 1931:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 20, 1931, FROM THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL OF THE NAVY SUBMITTING BY YOUR DIRECTION FOR CONSIDERATION AND DECISION THE QUESTION AS TO WHAT ACCOUNTING IS REQUIRED FOR PAYMENTS MADE TO THE DIRECTOR OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE FOR OBTAINING INFORMATION FROM ABROAD AND AT HOME UNDER THE APPROPRIATION,"PAY, MISCELLANEOUS.'

THE QUESTION WAS RAISED BY THE PAYMASTER GENERAL OF THE NAVY IN LETTER OF FEBRUARY 16, 1931, WITH RESPECT TO A SUSPENSION MADE BY THIS OFFICE IN CONNECTION WITH THE PAYMENT OF $45,000 MADE JUNE 27, 1930, FROM "PAY, MISCELLANEOUS, 1930," TO H. A. BALDRIDGE, CAPTAIN, UNITED STATES NAVY, DIRECTOR OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE, ON VOUCHER 68328, ACCOUNTS OF CAPT. E. R. WILSON (SC), UNITED STATES NAVY,"FOR COLLECTION OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION," SUPPORTED BY A CERTIFICATE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY TO THE EFFECT THAT THE PUBLIC INTEREST REQUIRED AND IT WAS DEEMED ADVISABLE NOT TO SPECIFY THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH THE "AMOUNT IS TO BE EXPENDED.'

IN THE CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO THE SUSPENSION IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER THERE HAS BEEN CITED AS AUTHORITY FOR THE PAYMENT OF THE PROVISO CONTAINED IN THE APPROPRIATION ,PAY, MISCELLANEOUS," FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1917, MADE BY THE ACT OF AUGUST 29, 1916, 39 STAT. 557, WHICH IS AS FOLLOWS:

* * * PROVIDED, THAT HEREAFTER EXPENDITURES FROM THE APPROPRIATION FOR OBTAINING INFORMATION FROM ABROAD AND AT HOME SHALL BE ACCOUNTED FOR SPECIFICALLY, IF, IN THE JUDGMENT OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, THEY MAY BE MADE PUBLIC, AND HE SHALL MAKE A CERTIFICATE OF THE AMOUNT OF SUCH EXPENDITURES AS HE MAY THINK IT ADVISABLE NOT TO SPECIFY, AND EVERY SUCH CERTIFICATE SHALL BE DEEMED A SUFFICIENT VOUCHER FOR THE SUM THEREIN EXPRESSED TO HAVE BEEN EXPENDED: * * *

IT WILL BE NOTED THIS LAW PROVIDES THAT EXPENDITURES MADE FROM THE ITEM OF APPROPRIATION IN QUESTION SHALL BE ACCOUNTED FOR SPECIFICALLY, IF IN THE JUDGMENT OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, SUCH EXPENDITURES MAY BE MADE PUBLIC, OR IN CASES WHERE HE MAY THINK ADVISABLE NOT TO SPECIFY HE SHALL MAKE A CERTIFICATE OF THE AMOUNT OF SUCH EXPENDITURES, SUCH CERTIFICATE TO BE DEEMED A SUFFICIENT VOUCHER OF THE SUM THEREIN EXPRESSED,"TO HAVE BEEN EXPENDED.' THERE IS NOTHING IN THIS LAW, HOWEVER, AUTHORIZING PAYMENTS IN ADVANCE WHICH ARE SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITED BY SECTION 3648, REVISED STATUTES, OR ADVANCES FOR FUTURE EXPENSES AS PROPOSED IN CONNECTION WITH THE $45,000 VOUCHER AS TO WHICH IT IS STATED IN THE CERTIFICATE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY THAT IT IS DEEMED ADVISABLE NOT TO SPECIFY THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH THE "AMOUNT IS TO BE EXPENDED.' IT SHOULD BE NOTED, ALSO, THAT THE PROVISO IN THE ACT OF 1916 COVERS ONLY AMOUNTS AVAILABLE FOR THE COLLECTION OF INFORMATION AND NOT THE OTHER ITEM OF APPROPRIATION "COST OF SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS ABROAD," WITH WHICH IT APPEARS TO BE GROUPED BY THE NAVY DEPARTMENT. FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1930, IT APPEARS FROM THE HEARINGS BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS THAT THERE WAS ESTIMATED AND INCLUDED AS A PART OF THE APPROPRIATION "PAY, MISCELLANEOUS," THE SUM OF $126,500, TO BE EXPENDED UNDER THE COGNIZANCE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE. IT IS NOT SHOWN HOW MUCH OF THIS AMOUNT IS TO BE EXPENDED FOR EACH OF THE TWO ITEMS, BUT IT APPEARS THAT ON JUNE 27, 1930, THREE DAYS BEFORE THE END OF THE FISCAL YEAR, THERE REMAINED, UNEXPENDED AND APPARENTLY UNOBLIGATED UNDER THIS APPROPRIATION FOR THE TWO ITEMS IN QUESTION, THE SUM OF $45,000, WHICH WAS ADVANCED TO THE DIRECTOR OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE APPARENTLY FOR FUTURE EXPENDITURES DURING THE SUCCEEDING FISCAL YEAR.

ASIDE FROM THE FACT THAT THE TRANSACTION APPEARS TO PRESENT A CASE OF AVOIDING FISCAL-YEAR LIMITATIONS WITH RESPECT TO AMOUNTS WITHDRAWN FROM THE TREASURY, THERE APPEARS TO BE NO AUTHORITY OF LAW FOR THE ADVANCE OF FUNDS UPON A CERTIFICATE BY THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, AS IS INVOLVED IN THE PRESENT MATTER. IF, IN PROPER CASES, IT IS FOUND NECESSARY TO ADVANCE FUNDS FOR THE OBTAINING OF INFORMATION ABROAD AND AT HOME, SUCH ADVANCES SHOULD BE MADE IN THE USUAL MANNER AND UNDER PROPER AUTHORITY OF LAW SUCH AS THE ACT OF JULY 3, 1926, 44 STAT. 888 (DISBURSEMENTS BY AGENT OFFICERS), THE ACT OF MAY 22, 1928, 45 STAT. 712 (ADVANCES TO NAVY PERSONNEL ON EMERGENCY SHORE DUTY), OR OTHER STATUTE PROVIDING FOR SUCH PROCEDURE, PROVIDED A PROPER ACCOUNTING IS RENDERED FOR SUCH ADVANCES AS PROVIDED BY LAW; THAT IS TO SAY, IN CASES OF ADVANCES FOR OBTAINING INFORMATION FROM ABROAD AND AT HOME, A DETAILED ACCOUNTING SHOULD BE RENDERED AS IN OTHER CASES OF EXPENDITURES OF PUBLIC FUNDS AS TO CASES IN WHICH, IN THE JUDGMENT OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, THE EXPENDITURES MAY BE MADE PUBLIC OR WITH RESPECT TO EXPENDITURES NOT DEEMED ADVISABLE TO DISCLOSE BY A CERTIFICATE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY THAT HE THINKS IT ADVISABLE NOT TO SPECIFY THE NATURE OF THE EXPENDITURES MADE; BUT THE VOUCHERS IN THIS LATTER CASE MUST SHOW THE NAME OF THE OFFICER MAKING THE EXPENDITURE AND BE FOR REIMBURSEMENT TO HIM. THE PROVISO OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 29, 1916, SUPRA, AUTHORIZES THE ACCEPTANCES OF THE CERTIFICATE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY AS A SUFFICIENT VOUCHER FOR ACCOUNTING PURPOSES ONLY IN CASES OF EXPENDITURES MADE AND NOT AS TO ADVANCES FOR EXPENDITURES TO BE MADE.

WITH RESPECT TO THE VOUCHER HERE UNDER CONSIDERATION, THE SUSPENSION IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER PAYING THE SAME WILL BE CONTINUED UNTIL A PROPER ACCOUNTING IS RENDERED OF THE FUNDS ADVANCED THEREON AS HEREIN SET FORTH, BEARING IN MIND THAT THE AMOUNT HAVING BEEN TAKEN UNDER AN APPROPRIATION FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1930, THE FUNDS ARE AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF OBLIGATIONS INCURRED DURING THAT FISCAL YEAR ONLY AND THE BALANCE, IF ANY, SHOULD BE RESTORED TO THE CREDIT OF THE APPROPRIATION UNDER WHICH THE ADVANCE WAS MADE.

AS TO THE PROCEDURE HEREAFTER IN CONNECTION WITH PAYMENTS FOR THE OBTAINING OF INFORMATION FROM ABROAD OR AT HOME, IT MAY BE STATED THIS OFFICE WILL ALLOW CREDIT IN THE ACCOUNTS OF DISBURSING OFFICERS MAKING SUCH PAYMENTS ONLY IN SUCH CASES IN WHICH IT APPEARS THAT THE EXPENDITURES HAVE BEEN INCURRED OR MADE, ADVANCES OF FUNDS FOR SUCH PURPOSES, IF ANY THERE BE UNDER PROPER AUTHORITY OF LAW, TO BE CONSIDERED AS FOR PROPER ACCOUNTING WHEN EXPENDITURES ARE MADE.