A-62406, AUGUST 10, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 121

A-62406: Aug 10, 1935

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EDUCATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES' CHILDREN - RECLAMATION PROJECTS AS THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES IS NOT NOW. APPROPRIATIONS FOR A RECLAMATION PROJECT ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF TUITION. IT IS PROPOSED IN THE CONTRACT HEREWITH THAT THE UNITED STATES PAY THE DISTRICT THAT PROPORTIONATE SHARE OF THE COST OF SCHOOL FACILITIES FOR THE SCHOOL YEARS 1934-1935. IT WAS HELD THAT FEDERAL FUNDS MIGHT BE USED TO ERECT A SCHOOL BUILDING AT RIMROCK. A REMOTE LOCALITY WHERE RECLAMATION WORK WAS IN PROGRESS. THE AGENCY VALLEY RESERVOIR IS BEING CONSTRUCTED IN A REMOTE LOCALITY. IF SCHOOL FACILITIES ARE NOT AVAILABLE THERE. IT IS REQUESTED THAT YOU CONSIDER THE TERMS OF THE PROPOSED CONTRACT AND ADVISE ME WHETHER PAYMENTS MAY BE MADE THEREUNDER IF THE CONTRACT IS EXECUTED BY THE SCHOOL DISTRICT AND THE UNITED STATES.

A-62406, AUGUST 10, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 121

EDUCATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES' CHILDREN - RECLAMATION PROJECTS AS THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES IS NOT NOW, AND NEVER HAS BEEN, REGARDED GENERALLY AS A RESPONSIBILITY OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIAL STATUTORY AUTHORITY, APPROPRIATIONS FOR A RECLAMATION PROJECT ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF TUITION, OR THE COST OF EDUCATION ON ANY OTHER BASIS, OF CHILDREN OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES ENGAGED ON SUCH PROJECTS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, AUGUST 10, 1935:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF MAY 25, 1935, AS FOLLOWS:

I AM ENCLOSING A DRAFT OF CONTRACT PROPOSED TO BE ENTERED INTO BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 11 OF MALHEUR COUNTY, OREGON. THE CONSTRUCTION IN THIS DISTRICT OF THE AGENCY VALLEY DAM, VALE PROJECT, BY THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THIS DEPARTMENT HAS ADDED MATERIALLY TO THE ENROLLMENT OF PUPILS IN THE DISTRICT SCHOOL, AND IT IS PROPOSED IN THE CONTRACT HEREWITH THAT THE UNITED STATES PAY THE DISTRICT THAT PROPORTIONATE SHARE OF THE COST OF SCHOOL FACILITIES FOR THE SCHOOL YEARS 1934-1935, AND 1935-36, WHICH THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN IN THE SCHOOL DEPENDENT UPON EMPLOYEES ENGAGED IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF SAID DAM BEARS TO THE TOTAL SCHOOL ENROLLMENTS FOR THESE TWO YEARS.

IN THE COMPTROLLER'S DECISION OF SEPTEMBER 24, 1917, IT WAS HELD THAT FEDERAL FUNDS MIGHT BE USED TO ERECT A SCHOOL BUILDING AT RIMROCK, WASHINGTON, A REMOTE LOCALITY WHERE RECLAMATION WORK WAS IN PROGRESS, AND WHERE THE EXISTENCE OF SCHOOL FACILITIES WOULD AID THE GOVERNMENT IN SECURING EFFICIENT EMPLOYEES TO PROSECUTE THE WORK IN THE REMOTE LOCALITY. YOU HELD UPON RECONSIDERATION OF YOUR DECISION A 38343 OF SEPTEMBER 29, 1931, THAT APPROPRIATIONS MADE FOR THE PROSECUTION OF WORK ON THE COLORADO RIVER DAM AT BOULDER CANYON, MIGHT BE USED FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF TEMPORARY SCHOOL BUILDINGS, THE CONTRACTOR TO BEAR THE EXPENSE OF MAINTAINING AND OPERATING THE SCHOOLS, UNLESS OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY LAW.

IN THE PRESENT CASE, THE AGENCY VALLEY RESERVOIR IS BEING CONSTRUCTED IN A REMOTE LOCALITY, AND IF SCHOOL FACILITIES ARE NOT AVAILABLE THERE, IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT OR IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE UNITED STATES TO OBTAIN MARRIED EMPLOYEES WITH CHILDREN TO CARRY ON THE WORK, OR FOR THE CONTRACTOR HAVING THE CONTRACT FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE DAM, TO OBTAIN LABORERS, FOREMEN, MECHANICS, AND OTHER EMPLOYEES TO CARRY OUT HIS CONTRACT.

IT IS REQUESTED THAT YOU CONSIDER THE TERMS OF THE PROPOSED CONTRACT AND ADVISE ME WHETHER PAYMENTS MAY BE MADE THEREUNDER IF THE CONTRACT IS EXECUTED BY THE SCHOOL DISTRICT AND THE UNITED STATES.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD FROM YOUR LETTER AND THE INCLOSURE, THAT THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE AGENCY VALLEY DAM IS A PART OF THE VALE RECLAMATION PROJECT AUTHORIZED BY THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1925, 43 STAT. 1168, AND FOR THE CONTINUATION OF CONSTRUCTION OF WHICH THERE HAS BEEN PROVIDED AN ANNUAL APPROPRIATION ITEM FOR THE LAST 10 FISCAL YEARS, INCLUDING THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR, 48 STAT. 381. YOUR LETTER WOULD INDICATE, ALSO, THAT A PUBLIC-WORKS ALLOTMENT UNDER TITLE II OF THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL RECOVERY ACT HAS BEEN MADE FOR THIS PROJECT.

IT HAS NOT BEEN MADE CLEAR WHY THE SCHOOL PROBLEM ARISES NOW AFTER THE PROJECT HAS BEEN IN COURSE OF CONSTRUCTION FOR A PERIOD OF APPROXIMATELY 10 YEARS. IN ANY EVENT, NOTWITHSTANDING THE VIEWS OF THE COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY, EXPRESSED IN DECISION OF SEPTEMBER 24, 1917, CITED BY YOU, THERE IS NO PROVISION IN THE RECLAMATION ACT OF JUNE 17, 1902, 32 STAT. 388, OR ANY OF ITS AMENDMENTS, OR IN ANY OF THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATION ITEMS FOR THIS PROJECT, OR IN THE TERMS OF TITLE II, OF THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL RECOVERY ACT, AUTHORIZING THE USE OF PUBLIC FUNDS FOR PAYMENTS OF SCHOOL TUITION, OR THE COST OF EDUCATING ON ANY OTHER BASIS OF CHILDREN OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES ENGAGED ON RECLAMATION PROJECTS. THE DECISION OF SEPTEMBER 29, 1931, A-38343, HELD TO THE SAME EFFECT WITH REGARD TO THE BOULDER CANYON PROJECT. THE DECISION OF OCTOBER 17, 1931, GIVING RECONSIDERATION TO THE MATTER, WITHDREW FURTHER OBJECTION BY THIS OFFICE TO THE ERECTION OF TEMPORARY SCHOOL BUILDINGS, IN THE OPINION OF THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR "NECESSARY TO CARRY OUT THE PURPOSES OF THE PROJECT," THE TITLE TO WHICH REMAINED IN THE UNITED STATES, ONLY WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT "THE CONTRACTOR WOULD BEAR THE EXPENSE OF MAINTAINING AND OPERATING THE SCHOOLS, UNLESS AND UNTIL OTHERWISE SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED BY LAW.'

THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES IS NOT NOW AND NEVER HAS BEEN REGARDED GENERALLY AS A RESPONSIBILITY OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, BUT AS A RESPONSIBILITY OF THE EMPLOYEES THEMSELVES AND/OR THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES.

IT IS TO BE OBSERVED THAT FEDERAL AID FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF A STATE BECAUSE OF THE ATTENDANCE OF PUPILS AS TO WHOM THE UNITED STATES RECOGNIZES A RESPONSIBILITY IS PROVIDED BY LAW. SEE, FOR EXAMPLE, PUBLIC NOS. 103 TO 108, 110 TO 114, 119, 126, AND 127, SEVENTY-FOURTH CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION.

YOU ARE ADVISED, THEREFORE, THAT THE PROPOSED CONTRACT IS UNLAWFUL, AND THAT, IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIAL STATUTORY AUTHORITY, FEDERAL FUNDS ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENTS PROPOSED BY SUCH CONTRACT.