A-38326, SEPTEMBER 3, 1931, 11 COMP. GEN. 102

A-38326: Sep 3, 1931

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DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS - SERVICES BETWEEN - USE OF PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLES THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION. TO REIMBURSE THE RECLAMATION SERVICE ON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE USE BY AN EMPLOYEE OF THAT SERVICE OF A MOTOR VEHICLE BELONGING TO THE RECLAMATION SERVICE WHILE INVESTIGATING A PROJECT WHICH IS LICENSED BY THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION AND ASSIGNED TO THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION FOR SUPERVISION. AS FOLLOWS: UNDER DATE OF AUGUST 13 THERE WAS FORWARDED TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FOR PREAUDIT A VOUCHER FROM THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION. THE VOUCHER WAS RETURNED WITHOUT CERTIFICATION REQUESTING REFERENCE TO THE VOUCHERS ON WHICH ORIGINAL PAYMENTS WERE MADE.

A-38326, SEPTEMBER 3, 1931, 11 COMP. GEN. 102

DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS - SERVICES BETWEEN - USE OF PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLES THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION, IN THE ABSENCE OF A PROVISION IN ITS APPROPRIATION, FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION OF PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES, TO REIMBURSE THE RECLAMATION SERVICE ON A MILEAGE BASIS FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE USE BY AN EMPLOYEE OF THAT SERVICE OF A MOTOR VEHICLE BELONGING TO THE RECLAMATION SERVICE WHILE INVESTIGATING A PROJECT WHICH IS LICENSED BY THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION AND ASSIGNED TO THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION FOR SUPERVISION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION, SEPTEMBER 3, 1931:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 20, 1931, AS FOLLOWS:

UNDER DATE OF AUGUST 13 THERE WAS FORWARDED TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FOR PREAUDIT A VOUCHER FROM THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, COVERING NONPERSONAL EXPENSES INCURRED BY MR. H. D. COMSTOCK, SUPERINTENDENT, RIVERTON PROJECT, IN CONNECTION WITH SUPERVISION OF THE BOYSEN POWER PLANT, WYOMING, PROJECT NO. 149, LICENSED BY THIS COMMISSION AND ASSIGNED TO THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION FOR SUPERVISION. THE VOUCHER WAS RETURNED WITHOUT CERTIFICATION REQUESTING REFERENCE TO THE VOUCHERS ON WHICH ORIGINAL PAYMENTS WERE MADE.

THE CHARGE IN THIS VOUCHER IS FOR 168 MILES AT 10 CENTS PER MILE COVERING MILEAGE FROM RIVERTON TO BOYSEN AND RETURN FOR THE USE OF A MOTOR VEHICLE OWNED BY THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION. CONSEQUENTLY, THERE WOULD BE NO VOUCHER COVERING ORIGINAL PAYMENTS. HOWEVER, THERE IS DOUBT IN MY MIND AS TO WHETHER THIS COMMISSION CAN REIMBURSE THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION FOR USE OF PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES. THE ACT OF JUNE 23, 1930, REORGANIZING THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION PROVIDES, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"THE PRESIDENT MAY ALSO, AT THE REQUEST OF THE COMMISSION, DETAIL, ASSIGN, OR TRANSFER TO THE COMMISSION ENGINEERS IN OR UNDER THE DEPARTMENTS OF THE INTERIOR OR AGRICULTURE FOR FIELD WORK OUTSIDE THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE COMMISSION.

"THE COMMISSION MAY MAKE SUCH EXPENDITURES (INCLUDING EXPENDITURES FOR RENT AND PERSONAL SERVICES, AT THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT AND ELSEWHERE, FOR LAW BOOKS, PERIODICALS, AND BOOKS OF REFERENCE, AND FOR PRINTING AND BINDING) AS ARE NECESSARY TO EXECUTE ITS FUNCTIONS.'

SUCH AUTHORITY FOR THE SUPERVISION OR INVESTIGATION OF PROJECTS LICENSED UNDER THIS COMMISSION HAS BEEN REQUESTED AND RECEIVED FROM THE PRESIDENT. IT HAS BEEN THE PRACTICE OF THE REORGANIZED COMMISSION TO PAY BY TRANSFER VOUCHER OR DIRECT TRANSFER OF FUNDS THE NONPERSONAL EXPENSES ARISING FROM SUCH SUPERVISION OR INVESTIGATION TO THE DEPARTMENTS OF WAR, AGRICULTURE, AND INTERIOR, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF EXPENSES ARISING FROM THE OPERATION OF PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES. I FIND THAT SIMILAR CHARGES AS BILLED BY THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION WERE PAID UNDER THE OLD REGIME, AUTHORITY FOR SUCH PAYMENT APPARENTLY BEING PREDICATED ON YOUR DECISION TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR OF AUGUST 3, 1923, IN WHICH YOU HELD IN SUBSTANCE---

"THE RECLAMATION FUND BEING A REIMBURSABLE FUND, WHEN ANY EQUIPMENT PURCHASED THEREFROM IS USED FOR OBJECTS OTHER THAN THOSE FOR WHICH THE FUND WAS CREATED, THAT FUND SHOULD BE REIMBURSED TO THE EXTENT OF THE ESTIMATED DEPRECIATION OF THE EQUIPMENT BY SUCH USE, SUCH REIMBURSEMENT TO BE CHARGED TO THE APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR THE OBJECT UPON WHICH THE EQUIPMENT WAS USED.'

OUR APPROPRIATION ACT FOR THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR AND FOR PREVIOUS FISCAL YEARS CARRIED NO PROVISION FOR THE PURCHASE, MAINTENANCE, REPAIR, OR OPERATION OF MOTOR-PROPELLED PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES, AND IN VIEW OF SECTION 78, TITLE 5, OF THE U.S.C. I HAVE TO ASK YOUR OPINION AS TO WHETHER THIS COMMISSION IS AUTHORIZED TO PAY NON PERSONAL EXPENSES OF COOPERATING AGENCIES ARISING FROM THE USE, MAINTENANCE, REPAIR, OR OPERATION OF MOTOR-PROPELLED PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLES.

IT SEEMS ONLY JUST AND FAIR THAT THIS COMMISSION SHOULD REIMBURSE COOPERATION AGENCIES FOR ALL NONPERSONAL EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE SUPERVISION OR INVESTIGATION OF PROJECTS WHICH ARE LICENSED BY THIS COMMISSION, AND IF YOUR DECISION SHOULD BE THAT SUCH EXPENDITURES ARE NOT AUTHORIZED UNDER THE PRESENT APPROPRIATION ACT, IT IS MY INTENTION TO RECOMMEND FOR INCLUSION IN THE NEXT APPROPRIATION ACT SUITABLE LANGUAGE TO COVER SUCH EXPENDITURES. YOUR PROMPT DECISION IN THIS MATTER WILL BE APPRECIATED.

I AM INCLOSING THE VOUCHER AND PREAUDIT DIFFERENCE STATEMENT IN QUESTION AND REQUEST THAT THEY BE RETURNED TO THIS OFFICE.

THE DECISION, 3 COMP. GEN. 74, THE SYNOPSIS OF WHICH IS QUOTED IN YOUR LETTER, TO THE EFFECT THAT THE RECLAMATION FUND SHOULD BE REIMBURSED FOR THE COST OF OPERATION OF ANY EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FROM FUNDS THEREUNDER, SPECIFICALLY STATES THAT REIMBURSEMENT IS TO BE CHARGED TO THE APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR THE OBJECT UPON WHICH THE EQUIPMENT WAS USED. THE DECISION PRESUPPOSED THE AVAILABILITY OF AN APPROPRIATION FOR THE REIMBURSEMENT.

IN THE MATTER AS PRESENTED BY YOUR LETTER AND BY THE VOUCHER FOR THE PROPOSED REIMBURSEMENT IN THIS CASE TO THE RECLAMATION FUND, THERE APPEARS TO BE NO APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR THE PURPOSE. THE ACT OF JULY 16, 1914, 38 STAT. 508, SECTION 5, PROVIDES THAT THERE SHALL NOT BE EXPENDED OUT OF ANY APPROPRIATIONS MADE BY CONGRESS ANY SUM FOR PURCHASE, MAINTENANCE, REPAIR, OR OPERATION OF MOTOR VEHICLES FOR ANY BRANCH OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES UNLESS THE SAME IS SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY LAW. SINCE NO PROVISION HAS BEEN MADE IN THE APPROPRIATION FOR YOUR COMMISSION FOR PURCHASE, MAINTENANCE, AND/OR OPERATION OF MOTOR- PROPELLED PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE PAYMENT OF THE VOUCHER IN QUESTION. UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE VOUCHER WILL BE RETAINED IN THIS OFFICE.