A-5217, OCTOBER 10, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 371

A-5217: Oct 10, 1924

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

AVAILABILITY OF INDIAN SERVICE APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE PURCHASE OF LAND IN THE PURCHASE OF LAND UNDER THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE INDIAN SERVICE THE APPROPRIATION CURRENT AT THE TIME OF EXECUTION OF A VALID DEED OF CONVEYANCE IS THE APPROPRIATION PROPERLY CHARGEABLE RATHER THAN THE APPROPRIATION CURRENT AT THE DATE OF COMPLETION OF EXAMINATION OF TITLE OR OTHER FORMALITIES REQUIRED UNDER THE LAW AS A PREREQUISITE TO PAYMENT OF THE PURCHASE PRICE. 1924: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 15. REQUESTING DECISION OF QUESTIONS PRESENTED BY THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AS FOLLOWS: THIS OFFICE IS IN POSSESSION OF A DEED FROM N. CONVEYING TO THE UNITED STATES FOR A CONSIDERATION OF $700 A 20-ACRE TRACT OF LAND IN MISSISSIPPI ON WHICH A DAY SCHOOL IS TO BE CONSTRUCTED.

A-5217, OCTOBER 10, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 371

AVAILABILITY OF INDIAN SERVICE APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE PURCHASE OF LAND IN THE PURCHASE OF LAND UNDER THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE INDIAN SERVICE THE APPROPRIATION CURRENT AT THE TIME OF EXECUTION OF A VALID DEED OF CONVEYANCE IS THE APPROPRIATION PROPERLY CHARGEABLE RATHER THAN THE APPROPRIATION CURRENT AT THE DATE OF COMPLETION OF EXAMINATION OF TITLE OR OTHER FORMALITIES REQUIRED UNDER THE LAW AS A PREREQUISITE TO PAYMENT OF THE PURCHASE PRICE. THE APPROPRIATION ANNUALLY OF $4,000 OF THE INDIAN SERVICE FOR THE PURCHASE OF LAND FOR THE USE OF INDIANS DOES NOT AUTHORIZE THE PURCHASE AT ONE TIME OR WITHIN ANY ONE FISCAL YEAR OF A TRACT OF LAND AT A PURCHASE PRICE IN EXCESS OF $4,000.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, OCTOBER 10, 1924:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 15, 1924, REQUESTING DECISION OF QUESTIONS PRESENTED BY THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AS FOLLOWS:

THIS OFFICE IS IN POSSESSION OF A DEED FROM N. F. WALLACE AND OMEGA WALLACE, HIS WIFE, OF LEAKE COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, CONVEYING TO THE UNITED STATES FOR A CONSIDERATION OF $700 A 20-ACRE TRACT OF LAND IN MISSISSIPPI ON WHICH A DAY SCHOOL IS TO BE CONSTRUCTED.

SECTION 9 OF THE ACT OF CONGRESS OF MAY 25, 1918 (40 STAT.L. 561 573),MADE APPROPRIATION FOR THE ESTABLISHING AND MAINTAINING OF DAY SCHOOLS FOR CHOCTAW INDIANS IN MISSISSIPPI AND THE PURCHASE OF LAND TO BE SOLD TO INDIANS UNDER RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THIS DEPARTMENT. EACH APPROPRIATION ACT SINCE 1918 HAS CONTAINED AN APPROPRIATION FOR THESE PURPOSES.

THE ABOVE DEED WAS EXECUTED ON MAY 25, 1923, AND, TOGETHER WITH THE ABSTRACT OF TITLE, WAS FORWARDED TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL ON JULY 6, 1923, FOR AN OPINION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THE DEED IF ACCEPTED WOULD VEST THE UNITED STATES WITH A VALID TITLE TO THE PROPERTY. THE ATTORNEY GENERAL RETURNED THE DEED AND ABSTRACT ON JULY 13, 1923, WITH CERTAIN SUGGESTIONS RELATING TO THE CESSION OF JURISDICTION BY THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 4788, HEMINGWAY'S ANNOTATED CODE OF MISSISSIPPI, AND STATED THAT WHEN THE RECOMMENDATIONS HAD BEEN COMPLIED WITH THE UNITED STATES WOULD BE VESTED WITH VALID TITLE. THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL WERE COMPLIED WITH, AND ON NOVEMBER 26, 1923, THE PAPERS WERE REFERRED TO THE SOLICITOR FOR THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT FOR HIS OPINION AS TO THE VALIDITY OF THE TITLE. HIS OPINION WAS EXPRESSED ON DECEMBER 13, 1923. BY THE TIME THE CASE WAS RETURNED FROM THE SOLICITOR THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE PAYMENT FOR THE LANDS,"EDUCATION OF CHOCTAWS IN MISSISSIPPI, 1923," WAS EXHAUSTED AND NO FUNDS WERE AVAILABLE FROM THE 1923 APPROPRIATION TO MEET THE OBLIGATION.

THIS OFFICE HAS ANOTHER DEED FROM N. F. WALLACE AND OMEGA WALLACE, HIS WIFE, OF LEAKE COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, CONVEYING 180 ACRES OF LAND TO BE SOLD TO INDIANS. THE VARIOUS APPROPRIATION ACTS SINCE 1918 HAVE EACH APPROPRIATED $4,000 FOR THE PURCHASE OF LAND FOR THIS PURPOSE. THE DEED FOR THE 180 ACRES WAS DATED MAY 30, 1923, AND THE SOLICITOR FOR THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT EXPRESSED AN OPINION AS TO THE VALIDITY OF THE TITLE ON FEBRUARY 1, 1924. IN THE OPINION CERTAIN RECOMMENDATIONS WERE MADE WHICH NECESSITATED A REFERENCE OF THE DEED AND THE ABSTRACT TO THE AGENCY. THE SUGGESTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS HAVE BEEN MET, BUT AS THE PURCHASE PRICE OF THE LAND IS $5,300, THE APPROPRIATION OF $4,000 IN THE FUND "LAND AND IMPROVEMENTS FOR CHOCTAWS IN MISSISSIPPI, 1923," HAS BEEN EXCEEDED.

ON NOVEMBER 17, 1916, THE HONORABLE COMPTROLLER DECIDED THAT PAYMENT FOR LAND IN CALIFORNIA PURCHASED ON MAY 22, 1916, SHOULD BE PAID FOR FROM THE 1916 APPROPRIATION. HOWEVER, IN THAT CASE NO SUBSEQUENT APPROPRIATION HAD BEEN MADE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PURCHASING LANDS FOR INDIAN SCHOOLS AND AGENCY BUILDINGS.

THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE COMPTROLLER IS DESIRED AS TO WHETHER THE CONSIDERATION NAMED IN THE DEED FIRST ABOVE MENTIONED CAN BE PAID FROM THE FUND "EDUCATION OF CHOCTAWS IN MISSISSIPPI, 1924," ALSO AS TO WHETHER THE CONSIDERATION OF $5,300 NAMED IN THE SECOND DEED CAN BE PAID PARTLY FROM "LAND AND IMPROVEMENTS FOR CHOCTAWS IN MISSISSIPPI, 1923," AND PARTLY FROM "LAND AND IMPROVEMENTS FOR CHOCTAWS IN MISSISSIPPI, 1924.'

THE FACTS OF THE CASE REFERRED TO IN THE SUBMISSION, DECISION OF THE COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY OF NOVEMBER 17, 1916, 79 MS. COMP. DEC. 477, APPEAR TO BE THAT UNDER DATE OF OCTOBER 27, 1913, THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE FORT BIDWELL INDIAN SCHOOL TRANSMITTED TO THE INDIAN OFFICE A DEED PURPORTING TO RUN FROM ONE HENRY DIGGINS, SOLE HEIR OF JIM DIGGINS, A DECEASED PIT RIVER ALLOTTEE, COVERING FIVE ACRES OF LAND THEREIN DESCRIBED, SUCH LAND BEING NEEDED FOR THE USE OF THE FORT BIDWELL SCHOOL; THAT THE DEED, WHICH WAS NOT CONSIDERED IN PROPER FORM, WAS RETURNED FOR PROPER EXECUTION, THE MATTER OF THE PURCHASE BEING HELD IN ABEYANCE UNTIL RECEIPT OF ANOTHER DEED FROM DIGGINS, THE SAME BEING ACKNOWLEDGED BEFORE A NOTARY ON MAY 2, 1916; THAT THE DEED SO RECEIVED WAS THEREAFTER SUBMITTED TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR EXAMINATION AS TO ITS SUFFICIENCY AS REQUIRED BY SECTION 355, REVISED STATUTES, AND RETURNED AFTER THE CLOSE OF THE FISCAL YEAR 1916, BEING PRONOUNCED SATISFACTORY; AND THAT UPON ITS RECEIPT IT WAS RECORDED IN THE RECORDS OF THE INDIAN OFFICE AND IN THE LAND RECORDS OF MODOC COUNTY, CALIFORNIA.

ON THAT STATE OF FACTS IT WAS SAID:

IT THUS APPEARS THAT THE QUESTION SUBMITTED HINGES ON WHETHER THE TRANSACTION ABOVE DESCRIBED COULD BE CONSIDERED AS CONCLUDED BEFORE JUNE 30, 1916. IF SO, THE APPROPRIATIONS THEN IN FORCE WERE CHARGED WITH THE PURCHASE PRICE OF THE LAND; IF NOT, THERE WAS NO AUTHORITY OF LAW FOR ANY CONTRACT OR PURCHASE SUBSEQUENTLY MADE.

I THINK THE FACTS ABOVE SET FORTH WARRANT THE CONCLUSION THAT THE TRANSACTION WAS, FOR ALL PRACTICAL PURPOSES, CLOSED WHEN DIGGINS HAD EXECUTED THE DEED THAT WAS LATER FOUND TO MEET ALL TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS OF LAW. THE DEED WAS ACCEPTED ON ITS RECEIPT, SUBJECT ONLY TO ITS BEING FOUND LATER BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO BE A VALID TRANSFER OF TITLE, AND THE TRANSACTION HAVING BEEN THUS CLOSED DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1916, THE APPROPRIATIONS IN FORCE FOR THAT YEAR BECAME CHARGED WITH THE OBLIGATION THUS ASSUMED.

THE PURCHASE PRICE OF THE LAND MAY, IF OTHERWISE PROPER, ACCORDINGLY BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATION "INDIAN SCHOOL AND AGENCY BUILDINGS, 1916.'

THE APPROPRIATION FOR "EDUCATION OF CHOCTAWS IN MISSISSIPPI, 1923," ACT OF MAY 24, 1922, 42 STAT. 570, WAS FOR $22,500, AND THE SAME APPROPRIATION FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1924, ACT OF JANUARY 24, 1923, 42 STAT. 1191, WAS FOR $21,500, THE LANGUAGE OF EACH APPROPRIATION, BEING IDENTICAL, PROVIDING AS FOLLOWS:

* * * FOR THEIR EDUCATION BY ESTABLISHING, EQUIPPING, AND MAINTAINING DAY SCHOOLS, INCLUDING THE PURCHASE OF LAND AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF NECESSARY BUILDINGS AND THEIR EQUIPMENT, * * *.

THE APPROPRIATIONS FOR "LANDS AND IMPROVEMENTS FOR CHOCTAWS IN MISSISSIPPI," FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1923, ACT OF MAY 24, 1922, 42 STAT. 570, AND 1924, ACT OF JANUARY 24, 1923, 42 STAT. 1191, WERE IDENTICAL BOTH AS TO LANGUAGE AND AMOUNT, PROVIDING AS FOLLOWS:

* * * FOR THE PURCHASE OF LANDS, INCLUDING IMPROVEMENTS THEREON, NOT EXCEEDING EIGHTY ACRES FOR ANY ONE FAMILY, FOR THE USE AND OCCUPANCY OF SAID INDIANS, TO BE EXPENDED UNDER CONDITIONS TO BE PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, FOR ITS REPAYMENT TO THE UNITED STATES UNDERSUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS AS HE MAY DIRECT, $4,000; * * *.

THE SEVERAL MATTERS FOR DECISION WILL BE CONSIDERED IN THE ORDER OF THEIR SUBMISSION.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD FROM THE MATTERS SUBMITTED THAT THE TRANSACTION INVOLVING THE 20-ACRE TRACT OF LAND WAS CLOSED, IN SO FAR AS N. F. WALLACE AND OMEGA WALLACE, HIS WIFE, WERE CONCERNED, WHEN THEIR DEED OF MAY 25, 1923, WAS EXECUTED, AND THE THINGS THAT THEREAFTER REMAINED TO BE DONE TO VEST A VALID TITLE IN THE UNITED STATES WERE FOR ACCOMPLISHMENT BY OTHER THAN THE GRANTORS. IF THAT BE A FACT, THE APPROPRIATION OBLIGATED BY THE PURCHASE WAS THE ONE CURRENT ON THE DATE THE DEED WAS EXECUTED, TO WIT, THE APPROPRIATION FOR "EDUCATION OF CHOCTAWS IN MISSISSIPPI, 1923," 42 STAT. 570, AND NO OTHER EXISTING APPROPRIATION MAY BE USED FOR THAT PURPOSE. IF THE BALANCE OF THAT APPROPRIATION IS INSUFFICIENT TO PAY THE OBLIGATION, THE MATTER IS IN THE STATUS OF A DEFICIENCY.

ANSWERING SPECIFICALLY THE QUESTION SUBMITTED AS TO THE 20-ACRE TRACT, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE CONSIDERATION NAMED IN THE DEED OF MAY 23, 1923, IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO BE PAID UNDER THE APPROPRIATION FOR "EDUCATION OF CHOCTAWS IN MISSISSIPPI, 1924," 42 STAT. 1191.

SECTION 3732, REVISED STATUTES, PROVIDES:

NO CONTRACT OR PURCHASE ON BEHALF OF THE UNITED STATES SHALL BE MADE, UNLESS THE SAME IS AUTHORIZED BY LAW OR IS UNDER AN APPROPRIATION ADEQUATE TO ITS FULFILLMENT, EXCEPT IN THE WAR AND NAVY DEPARTMENTS, FOR CLOTHING, SUBSISTENCE, FORAGE, FUEL, QUARTERS, OR TRANSPORTATION, WHICH, HOWEVER, SHALL NOT EXCEED THE NECESSITIES OF THE CURRENT YEAR.

SECTION 3679, REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 27, 1906, 34 STAT. 49, PROVIDES:

NO EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT OR OTHER GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENT OF THE UNITED STATES SHALL EXPEND, IN ANY ONE FISCAL YEAR, ANY SUM IN EXCESS OF APPROPRIATIONS MADE BY CONGRESS FOR THAT FISCAL YEAR, OR INVOICE THE GOVERNMENT IN ANY CONTRACT OR OTHER OBLIGATION FOR THE FUTURE PAYMENT OF MONEY IN EXCESS OF SUCH APPROPRIATIONS UNLESS SUCH CONTRACT OR OBLIGATION IS AUTHORIZED BY LAW. * * * ANY PERSON VIOLATING ANY PROVISION OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE SUMMARILY REMOVED FROM OFFICE AND MAY ALSO BE PUNISHED BY A FINE OF NOT LESS THAN ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS OR BY IMPRISONMENT FOR NOT LESS THAN ONE MONTH.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD FROM THE MATTERS SUBMITTED THAT THE TRANSACTION INVOLVING THE 180 ACRES OF LAND WAS CLOSED IN SO FAR AS N. F. WALLACE AND OMEGA WALLACE, HIS WIFE, WERE CONCERNED WHEN THEIR DEED OF MAY 30, 1923, WAS EXECUTED. IF THAT BE A FACT, THE APPROPRIATION OBLIGATED BY THE PURCHASE WAS THE ONE CURRENT ON THE DATE THE DEED WAS EXECUTED, TO WIT, THE APPROPRIATION FOR ,LANDS AND IMPROVEMENTS FOR CHOCTAWS IN MISSISSIPPI, 1923," 42 STAT. 570. HOWEVER, THE APPROPRIATION FOR "LANDS AND IMPROVEMENTS FOR CHOCTAWS IN MISSISSIPPI, 1923," COULD NOT BE OBLIGATED IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT THEREOF, AND I KNOW OF NO LAW APPLICABLE TO THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT AUTHORIZING CONTRACTS TO BE MADE FOR THE FUTURE PAYMENT OF MONEY IN EXCESS OF AVAILABLE APPROPRIATIONS.

IN 3 COMP. GEN. 973, WHICH IS EQUALLY APPLICABLE HERE, IT WAS SAID, WITH REFERENCE TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTIONS 3679 AND 3732, REVISED STATUTES, THAT---

A CONTRACT ENTERED INTO DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1924 CALLING FOR EXPENDITURE OF $14,337 WOULD BE IN DIRECT CONTRAVENTION OF THESE PROVISIONS OF LAW AS BEING A CONTRACT IN EXCESS OF ANY AVAILABLE FISCAL YEAR APPROPRIATION. SUCH A CONTRACT WOULD NOT BE AUTHORIZED UNDER THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1924 BECAUSE SAID APPROPRIATION IS INADEQUATE. * * * THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE EXECUTION OF ONE CONTRACT, AS SUGGESTED, OBLIGATING PARTS OF APPROPRIATIONS FOR TWO DIFFERENT FISCAL YEARS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION COSTS OF ONE BUILDING AT AN INDIAN SCHOOL. * * *

ANSWERING SPECIFICALLY THE QUESTION SUBMITTED AS TO THE 180-ACRE TRACT YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE CONSIDERATION OF $5,300 NAMED IN THE DEED OF MAY 30, 1923, IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO BE PAID PARTLY FROM THE 1923 AND PARTLY FROM THE 1924 APPROPRIATIONS FOR "LANDS AND IMPROVEMENTS FOR CHOCTAWS IN MISSISSIPPI.'