A-44006, September 3, 1941, 21 COMP. GEN. 1159

A-44006: Sep 3, 1941

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Others Concerned: It has come to the attention of this office that many requisitions for printing and binding have been prepared and transmitted to the Government Printing Office during the latter part of each fiscal year manifestly for the sole purpose of obligating an expiring current appropriation. As such services could not possibly have been obtained in time. Nor were they of a character. To supply the needs of the fiscal year in which the requisition were issued. In a number of cases such requisitions have borne notations to the effect that manuscript and illustrations will follow. Requests have frequently been made by the requisitioning offices. For the return of documents which were transmitted with the requisitions in order that they could be further edited or revised.

A-44006, September 3, 1941, 21 COMP. GEN. 1159

PRINTING AND BINDING REQUISITION SEEKING TO OBLIGATE EXPIRING CURRENT APPROPRIATIONS

SEPTEMBER 3, 1941.

To the Heads of Department, Independent Establishments, Agencies, and Others Concerned:

It has come to the attention of this office that many requisitions for printing and binding have been prepared and transmitted to the Government Printing Office during the latter part of each fiscal year manifestly for the sole purpose of obligating an expiring current appropriation, as such services could not possibly have been obtained in time, nor were they of a character, to supply the needs of the fiscal year in which the requisition were issued.

In a number of cases such requisitions have borne notations to the effect that manuscript and illustrations will follow, and requests have frequently been made by the requisitioning offices, simultaneously with the submission of requisitions or immediately thereafter, for the return of documents which were transmitted with the requisitions in order that they could be further edited or revised. In such instances it is not generally possible for the Government Printing Office to estimate the cost of the job to be performed or to begin work thereon, and the only objective accomplished by presenting requisitions under such circumstances is the improper obligation of a current fiscal year appropriation.

In this connection attention is directed to the provisions of section 3690, Revised Statutes (U. S. C 31:712), as follows:

"Except as otherwise provided by law, all balances of appropriations contained in the annual appropriation bills and made specifically for the service of any fiscal year, and remaining unexpended at the expiration of such fiscal year, shall only be applied to the payment of expenses properly incurred during that year, or to the fulfillment of contracts properly made within that year; and balances not needed for such purposes shall be carried to the surplus fund. This section, however, shall not apply to appropriations known as permanent or indefinite appropriations."

Section 80 of the act approved January 12 1895, 28 Stat. 621 (U S. C. 44: 115 provides that--

"No document or report to be illustrated or accompanied by maps shall be printed by the Public Printer until the illustration or maps designed therefor shall be ready for publication and no order for public printing be acted upon by the Public Printer after the expiration of one year unless the entire copy and illustration for the work shall have been furnished within that period."

The general rule for lawfully obligating a fiscal year appropriation is that the supplies or services are intended to serve a bona fide need of the fiscal year in which the need arises or to replace stock used in such fiscal year. A requisition improperly issued will not obligate the appropriation current at the time the requisition is issued, and ordinarily where a requisition is issued during one fiscal year and the services are not performed or required until the succeeding fiscal year the appropriation current at the time the services are rendered is properly chargeable with the cost.

To avoid the withholding of credit for expenditures in disbursing officers' accounts due to the improper administrative designation of the fiscal year appropriation to be charged, it is incumbent upon all officials and employees concerned to take appropriate action in accordance with the foregoing.

R.N. Elliott, Acting Comptroller General of the United States