A-65529, DECEMBER 12, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 485

A-65529: Dec 12, 1935

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ARMS AND AMMUNITION - PURCHASE - VIRGIN ISLANDS COMPANY THE VIRGIN ISLANDS COMPANY IS A "DEPARTMENT" AND SUGAR CANE GROWN ON LAND CONTROLLED AND OPERATED BY SAID COMPANY IS "PROPERTY" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3. AUTHORIZING AND DIRECTING THE SECRETARY OF WAR TO ISSUE ARMS AND AMMUNITION TO THE HEAD OF ANY DEPARTMENT FOR THE PROTECTION OF PUBLIC PROPERTY AND ARMS AND AMMUNITION REQUIRED IN THE PROTECTION OF THE SUGAR CANE SO GROWN FROM DESTRUCTION BY DOMESTIC ANIMALS ARE FOR PROCUREMENT IN ACCORDANCE WITH SAID STATUTE. 1935: THERE WAS RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 13. OWN AND HAVE AROUND THE ESTATE VILLAGES. ARE VERY DESTRUCTIVE INSOFAR AS SUGAR CANE IS CONCERNED. THEY HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO CLEAR A CONSIDERABLE ACREAGE OF SUGAR CANE WHEN IT WAS YOUNG.

A-65529, DECEMBER 12, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 485

ARMS AND AMMUNITION - PURCHASE - VIRGIN ISLANDS COMPANY THE VIRGIN ISLANDS COMPANY IS A "DEPARTMENT" AND SUGAR CANE GROWN ON LAND CONTROLLED AND OPERATED BY SAID COMPANY IS "PROPERTY" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1879, 20 STAT. 412, AUTHORIZING AND DIRECTING THE SECRETARY OF WAR TO ISSUE ARMS AND AMMUNITION TO THE HEAD OF ANY DEPARTMENT FOR THE PROTECTION OF PUBLIC PROPERTY AND ARMS AND AMMUNITION REQUIRED IN THE PROTECTION OF THE SUGAR CANE SO GROWN FROM DESTRUCTION BY DOMESTIC ANIMALS ARE FOR PROCUREMENT IN ACCORDANCE WITH SAID STATUTE, THERE BEING NO SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION FOR THEIR PURCHASE IN THE STATUTE PURSUANT TO WHICH FUNDS WHERE ALLOTTED TO SAID COMPANY.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO LESLIE F. HUNTT, DISBURSING OFFICER, THE VIRGIN ISLANDS CO., DECEMBER 12, 1935:

THERE WAS RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 13, 1935, AS FOLLOWS:

THE VIRGIN ISLANDS COMPANY CONTROLS AND OPERATES APPROXIMATELY 3,000 ACRES OF LAND ON WHICH IT HAS PLANTED APPROXIMATELY 650 ACRES OF CANE. THE NATIVE ELEMENT ON THE ISLANDS, PARTICULARLY THOSE LIVING ON THE VARIOUS ESTATES, OWN AND HAVE AROUND THE ESTATE VILLAGES, NUMEROUS GOATS, DOGS, AND OTHER DOMESTIC ANIMALS. THESE ANIMALS, PARTICULARLY THE GOATS, ARE VERY DESTRUCTIVE INSOFAR AS SUGAR CANE IS CONCERNED. THEY HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO CLEAR A CONSIDERABLE ACREAGE OF SUGAR CANE WHEN IT WAS YOUNG, AND ARE GENERALLY DETRIMENTAL TO THE CROP. IT HAS, THEREFORE, BECOME NECESSARY FOR THE VIRGIN ISLANDS COMPANY TO PURCHASE FOUR SHOTGUNS TO BE ISSUED TO SUPERVISORS AT STRATEGIC POINTS OVER THE PROPERTIES CONTROLLED BY THE COMPANY.

THERE IS A LAW ON THE VIRGIN ISLANDS TO THE EFFECT THAT SHOULD THESE ANIMALS BE CAUGHT DESTROYING CROPS OR OTHER PROPERTY, THE OWNER OF THE CROPS HAS THE RIGHT TO SHOOT AND KILL THESE ANIMALS ON SIGHT, BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT IT IS UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE TO DETERMINE BY WHOM THESE GOATS, OR HERDS OF GOATS, ARE OWNED. THIS IS PECULIARLY SO BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT THE NATIVES ARE PRONE NOT TO REVEAL THE OWNERSHIP OF THE ANIMALS.

ON JUNE 13TH, INVITATIONS WERE SENT OUT TO FIVE CONCERNS TO SECURE BIDS ON FOUR SHOTGUNS. ON JULY 9TH THESE BIDS WERE OPENED, THERE HAVING BEEN FOUR RETURNS. ON JULY 11TH THE BID WAS AWARDED TO THE LOWEST BIDDER, THE REMINGTON ARMS COMPANY, INC. THE GUNS WERE RECEIVED, AND THE VOUCHER WAS PUT THROUGH FOR PAYMENT, AFTER CERTIFICATION AND APPROVAL BY THE OFFICERS OF THE COMPANY.

AFTER THE GUNS WERE RECEIVED AND BEFORE THE VOUCHER WAS PUT THROUGH FOR PAYMENT, THE GUNS WERE REGISTERED WITH THE DIRECTOR OF POLICE OF THE MUNICIPALITY OF ST. CROIX, WHICH REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED BY THE LAWS OF THE MUNICIPALITY AND CONSISTS OF THE STAMPING OF A NUMBER ON EACH GUN. THIS LAW ALSO PROVIDES THAT PERMISSION MUST BE SECURED FROM THE GOVERNOR AND THE DIRECTOR OF POLICE TO IMPORT, PURCHASE AND OWN ANY GUNS THAT ARE BROUGHT INTO THE ISLANDS, WHICH PERMISSION WAS SECURED.

WHEN THE VOUCHER REACHED THE DESK OF MR. IRA L. WRIGHT, OF YOUR DEPARTMENT, FOR PREAUDIT, IT WAS DISALLOWED, AS IS SHOWN ON HIS STATEMENT OF PREAUDIT DIFFERENCES ATTACHED TO THE VOUCHER, BOTH OF WHICH ARE ENCLOSED HEREWITH. THIS SUSPENSION IS BASED UPON THE FACT THAT SUCH FIREARMS SHOULD HAVE BEEN SECURED FROM THE SECRETARY OF WAR, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1879.

TO BE PERFECTLY FRANK, I WAS ENTIRELY IGNORANT OF THIS PREVAILING STATUTE, AND ACTED PURELY UPON BUSINESS METHODS AND BECAUSE OF THE EXISTING NECESSITY AT THE TIME THE GUNS WERE PURCHASED.

IN VIEW OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES SET FORTH ABOVE, IT IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED THAT THIS VOUCHER BE APPROVED FOR PAYMENT, AND THAT AN EARLY DECISION BE FURNISHED THIS OFFICE.

IT IS FURTHER REQUESTED THAT A DECISION BE GIVEN AS TO THE RIGHT TO PURCHASE AMMUNITION FOR THESE GUNS SHOULD APPROVAL OF THE PURCHASE BE GRANTED.

THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1879, 20 STAT. 412, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

THAT UPON THE REQUEST OF THE HEAD OF ANY DEPARTMENT, THE SECRETARY OF WAR BE, AND HE HEREBY IS, AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED TO ISSUE ARMS AND AMMUNITION WHENEVER THEY MAY BE REQUIRED FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE PUBLIC MONEY AND PROPERTY, AND THEY MAY BE DELIVERED TO ANY OFFICER OF THE DEPARTMENT DESIGNATED BY THE HEAD OF SUCH DEPARTMENT, TO BE ACCOUNTED FOR TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR, AND TO BE RETURNED WHEN THE NECESSITY FOR THEIR USE HAS EXPIRED. * * *

THIS STATUTE IS MANDATORY AND IT HAS UNIFORMLY BEEN HELD BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES THAT WHERE NO SPECIFIC APPROPRIATION FOR THE PURCHASE OF ARMS AND AMMUNITION HAS BEEN MADE, A DEPARTMENT MAY NOT PURCHASE SUCH ARTICLES BUT, WHEN NEEDED, THEY MUST BE PROCURED FROM THE SECRETARY OF WAR UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SAID STATUTE. ANY INSTRUMENTALITY OF THE GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING THE VIRGIN ISLANDS CO., IS A "DEPARTMENT" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE STATUTE, AND ANY PROPERTY OWNED BY SUCH INSTRUMENTALITY, INCLUDING THE CROP OF CANE HERE NEEDING PROTECTION, IS "PROPERTY" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE STATUTE.

AS THERE IS NO SPECIFIC PROVISION IN THE STATUTE PURSUANT TO WHICH THERE WERE ALLOTTED TO THE VIRGIN ISLANDS CO. THE APPROPRIATED FUNDS HERE SOUGHT TO BE CHARGED AUTHORIZING PURCHASE OF ARMS AND AMMUNITION, THE ADMINISTRATIVELY APPROVED VOUCHER PRESENTED MAY NOT BE PAID. FOR THE SAME REASON, THE PURCHASE OF AMMUNITION IS NOT AUTHORIZED. 4 COMP. GEN. 606. THE AUDIT ACTION MUST BE AND IS SUSTAINED.