A-44147, AUGUST 31, 1932, 12 COMP. GEN. 308

A-44147: Aug 31, 1932

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THE FACT THAT WORK HAS BEEN UNDERTAKEN BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE BY THE USE OF DAY-LABOR FORCES DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A CONTRACT WITHIN THE MEANING OF THIS SECTION AND THE REDUCTION PROVIDED IS APPLICABLE IN SUCH CASES WHERE THERE HAS BEEN MADE AVAILABLE A SPECIFIC AMOUNT FOR A PARTICULAR PROJECT. AS FOLLOWS: YOUR OPINION IS REQUESTED AS TO THE APPLICABILITY OF SEC. 320 OF PUBLIC ACT NO. 212. THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR APPROVED THE ALLOCATIONS OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE APPROPRIATIONS AS RECOMMENDED BY THE DIRECTOR AND THEREAFTER THE SUPERINTENDENTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL PARKS WERE AUTHORIZED TO PROCEED WITH THEIR APPROVED CONSTRUCTION ITEMS. IN THE LARGER NATIONAL PARKS WHERE PERMANENT MAINTENANCE FORCES ARE MAINTAINED.

A-44147, AUGUST 31, 1932, 12 COMP. GEN. 308

ECONOMY ACT - REDUCTION OF COST OF PUBLIC BUILDINGS UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 320 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932, 47 STAT. 412, PROVIDING FOR REDUCTION OF AUTHORIZATIONS FOR PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND THAT, IN CASES OF CONTRACTS FOR LESS THAN THE AUTHORIZATIONS, THE COST OF SUCH CONTRACTS SHOULD NOT BE INCREASED BY CHANGES AND/OR ADDITIONS EXCEPT AS MAY BE ESSENTIAL FOR THE COMPLETION OF THE PROJECT AS ORIGINALLY PLANNED, THE FACT THAT WORK HAS BEEN UNDERTAKEN BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE BY THE USE OF DAY-LABOR FORCES DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A CONTRACT WITHIN THE MEANING OF THIS SECTION AND THE REDUCTION PROVIDED IS APPLICABLE IN SUCH CASES WHERE THERE HAS BEEN MADE AVAILABLE A SPECIFIC AMOUNT FOR A PARTICULAR PROJECT.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, AUGUST 31, 1932:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 16, 1932, AS FOLLOWS:

YOUR OPINION IS REQUESTED AS TO THE APPLICABILITY OF SEC. 320 OF PUBLIC ACT NO. 212, 72D CONGRESS, WITH REFERENCE TO CONDITIONS INVOLVING CERTAIN CONSTRUCTION WORK IN THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

THE ACT MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1933, APPROVED APRIL 22, 1932, PROVIDES FOR THE INDIVIDUAL NATIONAL PARKS AND NATIONAL MONUMENTS SEPARATE LIMITATIONS FOR CONSTRUCTION OF PHYSICAL IMPROVEMENTS WITH SPECIFIC AUTHORITY SET OUT IN THE APPROPRIATION ITEMS FOR BUILDINGS COSTING $1,500 OR MORE. THE ACT ALSO PROVIDES: ,THAT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR SHALL NOT AUTHORIZE FOR EXPENDITURE PRIOR TO JULY 1, 1932, ANY OF THE AMOUNTS HEREIN APPROPRIATED EXCEPT THOSE FOR CONSTRUCTION OF PHYSICAL IMPROVEMENTS, FOR TREE DISEASE AND INSECT CONTROL AND FOR FIRE PREVENTION MEASURES, AND FOR THE PURCHASE OF EQUIPMENT.' UNDER DATE OF APRIL 29, 1932, THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR APPROVED THE ALLOCATIONS OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE APPROPRIATIONS AS RECOMMENDED BY THE DIRECTOR AND THEREAFTER THE SUPERINTENDENTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL PARKS WERE AUTHORIZED TO PROCEED WITH THEIR APPROVED CONSTRUCTION ITEMS.

IN THE LARGER NATIONAL PARKS WHERE PERMANENT MAINTENANCE FORCES ARE MAINTAINED, AUTHORIZED CONSTRUCTION WORK IS GENERALLY UNDERTAKEN BY DAY LABOR AFTER APPROVAL OF PLANS BY THE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE. WHERE THE WORK IS OF SUFFICIENT IMPORTANCE SPECIFICATIONS ARE ALSO PREPARED AND APPROVED IN ADVANCE. HOWEVER, IN THE MAJORITY OF CASES THERE IS MERELY A PLAN APPROVED. ALL OF THESE RELATIVELY SMALL PROJECTS ARE ESTIMATED VERY CLOSELY IN ADVANCE AND IN THE PROCESS OF APPROVAL THE CONSTRUCTION ITEMS MAY BE SLIGHTLY CUT UNDER THE FUNDS REQUESTED. THIS IS PARTICULARLY TRUE IN THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE WHERE COSTS OF PREVIOUS PROJECTS ARE ACCURATELY KEPT; ALSO THE APPROPRIATION ACT GRANTS A TEN PERCENT INTERCHANGE OF APPROPRIATIONS TO MEET SITUATIONS WHERE CONSTRUCTION ITEMS HAVE BEEN ESTIMATED TOO LOW.

ON THOSE AUTHORIZED CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS FOR WHICH PLANS WERE APPROVED AND THE WORK STARTED BY DAY-LABOR FORCES PRIOR TO JUNE 30, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE SAME OBLIGATION OF FUNDS HAD BEEN MADE AS THOUGH A FORMAL CONTRACT HAD BEEN ENTERED INTO AND IN SUCH CASES THE TEN PERCENTUM REDUCTION REQUIRED BY THE ECONOMY ACT WOULD NOT BE NECESSARY.

SPECIFICALLY, IN YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK THERE IS AN AUTHORIZATION IN THE 1933 APPROPRIATION ACT OF NOT EXCEEDING $39,200 FOR THE EXTENSION AND IMPROVEMENT OF THE ELECTRIC SYSTEM. THIS INVOLVES BUILDING A STEEL TOWER HIGH-TENSION TRANSMISSION LINE FROM THE PARK BOUNDARY TO THE PARK POWER HOUSE. IN COOPERATION WITH GOVERNMENT PROJECT, THE SAN JOAQUIN LIGHT AND POWER CORPORATION ALLOTTED $56,000 FOR BUILDING THE LAST SECTION OF THE COMPANY'S STEEL TOWER LINE BETWEEN INCLINE AND THE PARK BOUNDARY, A DISTANCE OF APPROXIMATELY FIVE AND A HALF MILES. THIS PROJECT IS WELL UNDER WAY. THESE TWO SECTIONS COMPLETE A STEEL-TOWER TRANSMISSION LINE INSULATED FOR 70,000 VOLTS FROM THE COMPANY'S EXCHEQUER POWER PLANT TO THE YOSEMITE POWER PLANT. THE PARK HAD PURCHASED AND WERE RECEIVING THE FABRICATED STEEL TOWERS, THE EXCAVATIONS HAD BEEN DUG AND HAD COMMENCED ASSEMBLY AND BACKFILL OF STEEL FOOTINGS WHEN WORD WAS RECEIVED THAT TEN PERCENT OF THE CONSTRUCTION APPROPRIATION WAS TO BE IMPOUNDED. IF THE EXCAVATIONS HAVE TO STAND THROUGH THE WINTER, MUCH ADDITIONAL WORK WILL BE NECESSARY NEXT SUMMER IN REEXCAVATION.

THE YOSEMITE APPROPRIATION FOR CONSTRUCTION OF PHYSICAL IMPROVEMENTS IS $71,500, OF WHICH TEN PERCENT IS $7,150. OTHER ITEMS SPECIFICALLY SET OUT IN THE APPROPRIATIONS ARE $5,000 FOR A COMFORT STATION, $5,500 FOR A DORMITORY, $2,100 FOR A STORAGE SHED AND $1,700 FOR A REFRIGERATING PLANT. THE BALANCE OF THE WORK CONSISTS OF SMALL BUILDINGS, WATER, SEWER AND TELEPHONE EXTENSIONS AND CAMP-GROUND DEVELOPMENT. ALL OF THE PROJECTS, EXCEPT THE RANGER CLUB HOUSE IMPROVEMENTS, TELEPHONE SYSTEM EXTENSION, AND CAMP-GROUND DEVELOPMENT INVOLVING EXPENDITURES OF $6,100, HAD ACTUALLY BEEN STARTED AND WERE WELL ALONG ON JUNE 30, 1932.

IN ORDER THAT THE INDIVIDUAL PROJECTS COULD GO FORWARD TO COMPLETION, IT WAS DECIDED TO MAKE THE ENTIRE SAVING IN THE ITEM FOR THE STEEL-TOWER LINE, AS IT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE TO HAVE COMPLETED THIS PROJECT WITH A TEN PERCENT CUT IN THAT PARTICULAR ITEM. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT IT WILL REQUIRE $7,080 TO COMPLETE THIS PROJECT, WHICH IS NOW ABOUT 70 PERCENT COMPLETED. THESE FUNDS ARE NEEDED FOR THE ERECTION OF 55 STRUCTURES ABOVE FOOTINGS, STRINGING WIRE 5.33 MILES, FABRICATION OF ONE SPECIAL TOWER, ADDITIONAL CLEARINGS, AND CLEAN-UP. UNLESS THIS WORK CAN BE COMPLETED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ORIGINAL APPROVED PLAN, THE $56,000 INVESTMENT OF THE SAN JOAQUIN LIGHT AND POWER CORPORATION WILL BE PARTIALLY IDLE, AS IT WILL BE NECESSARY TO CONTINUE THE PRESENT 30,000 VOLTAGE USING THE PRESENT TWO GOVERNMENT WOODEN POLE LINES WHICH WERE THE CAUSE OF 85 PERCENT OF THE BREAKDOWNS OCCURRING LAST WINTER. YOSEMITE IS A YEAR-ROUND OPERATION, THE GOVERNMENT AND PARK OPERATOR BEING DEPENDENT ON UNINTERRUPTED POWER FOR LIGHTING, COOKING, AND A LARGE AMOUNT OF HEATING. THE OPERATION OF THE SEWER AND WATER SYSTEMS IS ALSO DEPENDENT ON THE POWER SYSTEM.

IF THOSE CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS WHICH WERE UNDER WAY ON JUNE 30, BY DAY- LABOR FORCES COULD BE CONSIDERED IN THE SAME CLASS AS THOSE PROJECTS FOR WHICH FORMAL CONTRACTS HAD BEEN ENTERED INTO, THEN THE TEN PERCENTUM REDUCTION IN YOSEMITE WOULD APPLY ONLY TO THOSE PROJECTS NOT STARTED AND WHICH AMOUNT TO $6,100, OR A SAVING OF $610. THIS WOULD RELEASE FUNDS AND ENABLE THE COMPLETION OF THE TRANSMISSION LINE. AS A MATTER OF FACT THERE WILL BE A SAVING IN THE YOSEMITE CONSTRUCTION FUNDS OF APPROXIMATELY $1,600 DUE TO CERTAIN PROJECTS BEING COMPLETED UNDER THEIR ESTIMATED COST.

YOUR EARLY ADVICE WILL BE APPRECIATED, AS THE WORK MUST BE PUSHED TO COMPLETION BEFORE BAD WEATHER.

SECTION 320 OF THE ECONOMY ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932, 47 STAT., 412, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

SEC. 320. AUTHORIZATIONS HERETOFORE GRANTED BY LAW FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS, WHETHER AN APPROPRIATION THEREFOR HAS OR HAS NOT BEEN MADE, ARE HEREBY AMENDED TO PROVIDE FOR A REDUCTION OF 10 PERCENTUM OF THE LIMIT OF COST AS FIXED IN SUCH AUTHORIZATION, AS TO PROJECTS WHERE NO CONTRACT FOR THE CONSTRUCTION HAS BEEN MADE. AS TO SUCH PROJECTS WHERE A CONTRACT HAS BEEN MADE AT A COST LESS THAN THAT UPON WHICH THE AUTHORIZATION WAS BASED, SUCH COST SHALL NOT, UNLESS AUTHORIZED BY THE PRESIDENT, BE INCREASED BY ANY CHANGES OR ADDITIONS NOT ESSENTIAL FOR THE COMPLETION OF THE PROJECT AS ORIGINALLY PLANNED.

IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT BY THE SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION, PROJECTS ARE DIVIDED INTO TWO CLASSES--- (1) THOSE AS TO WHICH NO CONTRACT HAS BEEN ENTERED INTO AND (2) THOSE FOR WHICH A CONTRACT FOR CONSTRUCTION HAS BEEN MADE. AS TO THE FIRST CLASS, THERE IS PROVIDED THAT THE AUTHORIZATIONS THERETOFORE GRANTED BY LAW ARE AMENDED BY PROVIDING A REDUCTION OF 10 PERCENT OF THE LIMIT OF COST AS FIXED BY SUCH AUTHORIZATIONS, AND WITH RESPECT TO THE SECOND CLASS IT IS PROVIDED THAT WHERE THE CONTRACT WAS ENTERED INTO AT A COST LESS THAN THAT ON WHICH THE AUTHORIZATION WAS BASED, THE COST OF THE PROJECT SHALL NOT BE INCREASED BY CHANGES OR ADDITIONS NOT ESSENTIAL FOR THE COMPLETION OF THE PROJECT AS ORIGINALLY PLANNED.

IN CASES SUCH AS PRESENTED BY YOUR SUBMISSION, WHERE THE WORK IS BEING PERFORMED BY DAY-LABOR FORCES, IT CAN NOT BE HELD THAT A CONTRACT FOR THE CONSTRUCTION HAD BEEN MADE PRIOR TO JUNE 30, 1932. CLEARLY THERE WAS NO DEFINITE AMOUNT OBLIGATED PRIOR TO SAID DATE FOR THE COMPLETION OF THE PROJECT ON THE BASIS OF THE ORIGINAL AUTHORIZATION SO AS TO RENDER IT IMPOSSIBLE TO REDUCE THE LIMIT OF THE AUTHORIZATION WITHOUT IMPOSING A LEGAL OBLIGATION OR PRECLUDING THE COMPLETION OF THE PROJECT IN ACCORDANCE WITH PLANS ON WHICH THE OBLIGATION WAS BASED. NEITHER IS THERE ANY BASIS HERE FOR DETERMINING WHAT CONSTITUTES A CHANGE OR ADDITION TO THE PROJECT AS ORIGINALLY CONTEMPLATED WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE SECOND SENTENCE OF THE SECTION.

UNDER THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES AS PRESENTED IN YOUR SUBMISSION IT MUST BE HELD THAT AS TO ALL SUCH CASES IN WHICH NO CONTRACT HAD BEEN ENTERED INTO PRIOR TO JUNE 30, 1932, WHETHER THE WORK HAS OR HAS NOT BEGUN, THE LIMIT OF THE AUTHORIZATION AS GRANTED BY LAW HAS BEEN REDUCED 10 PERCENT BY SECTION 320 OF THE ECONOMY ACT. FOR EXAMPLE, THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT NOW AUTHORIZED TO BE EXPENDED FOR CONSTRUCTION OF BUILDINGS IN YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK HAS BEEN REDUCED FROM $22,900 TO $20,610, AND THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT AUTHORIZED TO BE EXPENDED FOR EXTENSION AND IMPROVEMENT OF ELECTRIC SYSTEM IN SAID PARK HAS BEEN REDUCED FROM $39,200, TO $35,280.