A-84537, JUNE 11, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 1068

A-84537: Jun 11, 1937

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ARE CONTRACTS SUCH AS ARE REQUIRED BY LAW TO BE FILED IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE. INCLUDING THE ORIGINAL ACCEPTED BID WHERE SALES WERE BASED UPON SEALED PROPOSALS. A COPY OF SAID LETTER WAS SENT TO THE CHIEF OF THE FOREST SERVICE. IN REFERENCE THERETO THERE WAS RECEIVED A LETTER OF THE ACTING CHIEF. DIRECTS THAT BEFORE SALE IS MADE NOTICE THEREOF SHALL BE GIVEN FOR NOT LESS THAN THIRTY DAYS BY PUBLICATION IN ONE OR MORE NEWSPAPERS OF GENERAL CIRCULATION IN THE STATE OR TERRITORY. EXCEPT WHERE OTHERWISE PROVIDED OR AUTHORIZED BY LAW THE PRICES FOR UNADVERTISED SALES ARE BASED UPON APPRAISAL MADE LOCALLY. THE VALUES VARY SO WIDELY THAT IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO FIX A UNIFORM SCALE OF PRICES.

A-84537, JUNE 11, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 1068

NATIONAL FORESTS - PERMITS, SALES AGREEMENTS, ETC. - FILING IN GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE PERMITS, SALES AGREEMENTS, OR OTHER CONTRACTS OR INSTRUMENTS UNDER WHICH THE GOVERNMENT ACQUIRES A RIGHT TO COLLECT MONEY FOR PRIVILEGES GRANTED, MATERIALS SOLD, OR WORK DONE FOR, OR IN COOPERATION WITH, PRIVATE PARTIES IN THE NATIONAL FORESTS, ARE CONTRACTS SUCH AS ARE REQUIRED BY LAW TO BE FILED IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, THE ORIGINAL TO BE FURNISHED EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF LICENSES OR PERMITS REQUIRING THAT THE ORIGINALS BE GIVEN THE LICENSEE OR PERMITTEE, IN WHICH CASES THE PROCEDURE SHOULD BE AS OUTLINED IN 16 COMP. GEN. 490.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, JUNE 11, 1937:

IN THE AUDIT OF THE ACCOUNTS OF DISBURSING OFFICERS REPORTING COLLECTIONS ON BEHALF OF THE FOREST SERVICE, QUESTION HAS ARISEN AS TO THE PROPER EVIDENCE TO BE SUBMITTED TO THIS OFFICE IN SUPPORT OF COLLECTIONS ON ACCOUNT OF TIMBER SALES, SPECIAL USE PERMITS, AND COOPERATIVE WORK IN THE NATIONAL FORESTS. BY LETTER OF NOVEMBER 16, 1936, THIS OFFICE REQUESTED THE CHIEF DISBURSING OFFICER, DIVISION OF DISBURSEMENT, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, TO FURNISH FURTHER PARTICULARS WITH RESPECT TO SUCH TRANSACTIONS REFLECTED IN THE ATLANTA REGIONAL OFFICE, FOREST SERVICE, PORTION OF HIS ACCOUNT FOR OCTOBER 1935, INCLUDING THE ORIGINAL ACCEPTED BID WHERE SALES WERE BASED UPON SEALED PROPOSALS. A COPY OF SAID LETTER WAS SENT TO THE CHIEF OF THE FOREST SERVICE, AND IN REFERENCE THERETO THERE WAS RECEIVED A LETTER OF THE ACTING CHIEF, FOREST SERVICE, DATED DECEMBER 7, 1936, IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"YOUR LETTER LISTS A NUMBER OF RECEIPTS ITEMS COVERING PRINCIPALLY RECEIPTS FROM THE DISPOSITION OF TIMBER, INCLUDING A FEW SPECIAL USE AND TIMBER TRESPASS ITEMS. THE PARAGRAPH AT TOP OF PAGE 6 OF YOUR LETTER REQUESTS INFORMATION AS TO THE METHOD OF ADVERTISING AND MANNER OF ACCOMPLISHING SALES, TOGETHER WITH ADDITIONAL STATEMENTS CONCERNING THESE TRANSACTIONS.

IN CONNECTION WITH THE DISPOSAL OF TIMBER PRODUCTS THE LAW AUTHORIZES THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE UNDER RULES AND REGULATIONS PRESCRIBED BY HIM TO SELL TIMBER FOR NOT LESS THAN THE APPRAISED VALUE, AND DIRECTS THAT BEFORE SALE IS MADE NOTICE THEREOF SHALL BE GIVEN FOR NOT LESS THAN THIRTY DAYS BY PUBLICATION IN ONE OR MORE NEWSPAPERS OF GENERAL CIRCULATION IN THE STATE OR TERRITORY, BUT PROVIDES FURTHER THAT TIMBER, CORD WOOD, AND OTHER FOREST PRODUCTS NOT EXCEEDING $500.00 IN APPRAISED VALUE MAY BE SOLD WITHOUT ADVERTISEMENT (16 U.S.C., SECTION 476). TIMBER MAY ALSO BE GRANTED FREE UNDER REGULATIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARY TO SETTLERS, MINERS, RESIDENTS, ETC. (16 U.S.C., SECTION 477), OR MAY BE SOLD TO HOMESTEAD SETTLERS AND FARMERS FOR DOMESTIC USE AT PRICES NOT CONTROLLED BY APPRAISED VALUE (16 U.S.C., 489).

EXCEPT WHERE OTHERWISE PROVIDED OR AUTHORIZED BY LAW THE PRICES FOR UNADVERTISED SALES ARE BASED UPON APPRAISAL MADE LOCALLY, THE VALUE DEPENDING UPON THE SPECIES, ACCESSIBILITY, MARKET PRICES OF MANUFACTURED PRODUCT, ETC. THE VALUES VARY SO WIDELY THAT IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO FIX A UNIFORM SCALE OF PRICES, WHICH NECESSARILY VARY BY FORESTS AND AREAS WITHIN A FOREST. FOR QUANTITIES REQUIRING ADVERTISEMENT THE PRICE, OF COURSE, IS DETERMINED BY THE BIDS, WHICH MAY BE AT OR ABOVE THE ADVERTISED MINIMUM PRICE. COLLECTIONS FOR TIMBER TAKEN WITHOUT PERMIT (TIMBER TRESPASS) ARE BASED ON THE APPRAISED VALUE OF THE PRODUCT REMOVED. THE CHARGES FOR SPECIAL USE PERMITS ARE ALSO DETERMINED BY APPRAISAL, SUBJECT TO MINIMUM PRICES FIXED BY THE NATIONAL FOREST MANUAL. MORE DETAILED INFORMATION CONCERNING THE HANDLING OF THESE MATTERS MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE NATIONAL FOREST MANUAL, SEVERAL COPIES OF WHICH ARE IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, BEGINNING AT PAGE 3'S FOR TIMBER SALES, FREE USE, ETC., AND PAGE 8-L FOR SPECIAL USES.

BECAUSE OF THE LARGE NUMBER OF PERMITS AND OTHER PAPERS RELATING TO UTILIZATION OF NATIONAL FOREST RESOURCES THE COST OF FURNISHING COPIES IS CONSIDERED TO BE OUT OF ALL REASONABLE PROPORTION TO ANY USE THAT COULD BE MADE OF THEM BY YOUR OFFICE. THE FURNISHING OF SUCH PAPERS WAS THE SUBJECT OF CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL AND THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE SEVERAL YEARS AGO, AT WHICH TIME THE IMPRACTICABILITY OF FURNISHING THEM WAS EXPLAINED. THE SAME CONDITIONS STILL EXIST AND CONSEQUENTLY NO ACTION IS BEING TAKEN TOWARD FURNISHING THE PAPERS REQUESTED IN THE PARAGRAPH AT THE TOP OF PAGE 6.

DEPOSITS IN FUND 128028 (FOREST SERVICE COOPERATIVE FUND, TRUST FUND) ARE DETERMINED IN VARIOUS WAYS. IN SOME INSTANCES THE DEPOSITOR IS WILLING TO CONTRIBUTE SOME AMOUNT DETERMINED BY HIM, FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. WHERE THE DEPOSIT IS IN CONNECTION WITH REMOVAL OF TIMBER THE AMOUNT DEPENDS UPON THE QUANTITY OF TIMBER AND IS EXPENDED FOR DISPOSAL OF THE DEBRIS RESULTING FROM THE CUTTING (16 U.S.C., SECTION 490). IN OTHER CASES WHERE A GROUP OF COOPERATORS CONTRIBUTE TO A PARTICULAR PURPOSE A UNIFORM AMOUNT IS DETERMINED, WHICH IS PAID BY EACH MEMBER OF THE INTERESTED GROUP. ASIDE FROM DEPOSITS IN CONNECTION WITH DISPOSAL OF TIMBER DEBRIS OR A COOPERATIVE ARRANGEMENT IN WHICH THE COOPERATOR UNDERTAKES TO BEAR A PERCENTAGE OF THE WHOLE COST THERE IS NO BASIS OF MEASURING THE AMOUNT DUE. FOR EXAMPLE, AN UNDERTAKING MAY COST $300.00: DEPOSITS OF $5.00 MAY BE OBTAINED FROM SIXTY PERSONS OR A SMALLER NUMBER, IN WHICH LATTER EVENT THE FOREST SERVICE APPROPRIATION WOULD NECESSARILY BEAR THE REMAINDER OF THE COST.

THE DETERMINATION OF THE AMOUNT DUE FROM ANY PERMITTEE IS BASED ON THE VALUE OF THE PRODUCT OBTAINED, THE USE OF LAND OCCUPIED, ETC., THE ACCURACY OF WHICH CAN BE DETERMINED ONLY ON THE GROUND BY MEN FAMILIAR WITH THE METHODS AND BASES OF APPRAISAL AND (IN THE CASE OF TIMBER) WITH THE METHODS OF MEASUREMENT, INCLUDING ALLOWANCE FOR DEFECTS, ETC.

SECTION 3743, REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 18 OF THE ACT OF JULY 31, 1894, 28 STAT. 210, AND BY SECTION 304 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1921, 42 STAT. 24, PROVIDES THAT ALL CONTRACTS TO BE MADE, BY VIRTUE OF ANY LAW, AND REQUIRING THE ADVANCE OF MONEY, OR IN ANY MANNER CONNECTED WITH THE SETTLEMENT OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS, SHALL BE DEPOSITED PROMPTLY IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE. IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT THIS PROVISION APPLIES TO CONTRACTS INVOLVING COLLECTIONS BY THE UNITED STATES AS WELL AS TO THOSE INVOLVING PAYMENTS, AND THAT EACH AND EVERY LEASE, PERMIT, SALES AGREEMENT, OR OTHER CONTRACT UNDER WHICH THE GOVERNMENT ACQUIRES A RIGHT TO COLLECT MONEY OR ASSUMES AN OBLIGATION TO PAY MONEY SHOULD BE FILED IN THIS OFFICE. 6 COMP. GEN. 642; A-17771, MAY 14, 1927; A-32935, AUGUST 22, 1930; A-56219, AUGUST 1, 1934. SEE PARTICULARLY, MY DECISION OF NOVEMBER 14, 1936, A-58596, 16 COMP. GEN. 490, INVOLVING A PERMIT OR LICENSE ISSUED BY YOUR DEPARTMENT TO THE KANAGA ISLAND RANCHING CO. OF SEATTLE, WASH., WHICH DECISION WAS AFFIRMED BY DECISION OF FEBRUARY 20, 1937, A-58596, TO YOU, IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

* * * THE ACCOUNTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER OR OFFICERS EFFECTING COLLECTION UNDER THE LICENSE AGREEMENT HERE IN QUESTION ARE CLEARLY PUBLIC ACCOUNTS AND AS THE LAW SPECIFICALLY REQUIRES THIS OFFICE TO AUDIT AND SETTLE SUCH ACCOUNTS AND TO CERTIFY THE BALANCES ACCORDINGLY -- IN ADDITION TO THE SPECIFIC REQUIREMENT OF THE LAWS HEREINBEFORE MENTIONED THAT ALL CONTRACTS IN "CONNECTION WITH THE SETTLEMENT OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS" BE FILED HERE--- THE QUESTION OF WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE NECESSARY TO A PROPER AUDIT AND SETTLEMENT OF SUCH PUBLIC ACCOUNTS IS ONE EXCLUSIVELY FOR THE DETERMINATION OF THIS OFFICE.'

REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN PRESCRIBED BY YOUR DEPARTMENT, PURSUANT TO LAW, TO GOVERN THE UTILIZATION AND DISPOSITION OF NATIONAL FOREST RESOURCES. IS THE DUTY OF THIS OFFICE TO REQUIRE A SHOWING OF FACTS SUFFICIENT TO ENABLE EFFECT TO BE GIVEN THE LAW AND THE REGULATIONS IN THE AUDIT AND SETTLEMENT OF THE ACCOUNTS.

THERE HAS BEEN NOTED THE STATEMENT IN THE ABOVE-QUOTED LETTER OF THE ACTING CHIEF, FOREST SERVICE, THAT THE FURNISHING OF PAPERS OF THE CHARACTER HERE INVOLVED "WAS THE SUBJECT OF CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL AND THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE SEVERAL YEARS AGO.' SAID STATEMENT IS NOT SUFFICIENTLY DEFINITE TO IDENTIFY ANY SUCH CORRESPONDENCE IN THE FILES OF THIS OFFICE. HOWEVER, BY DECISION OF THE FORMER COMPTROLLER GENERAL DATED MARCH 27, 1925, A-8304, AFFIRMED ON OCTOBER 28, 1925, IT WAS HELD THAT AGREEMENTS INVOLVING DEPOSITS FOR COOPERATIVE WORK IN NATIONAL FORESTS, AND FOR BRUSH AND DEBRIS REMOVAL INCIDENT TO SALES OF TIMBER, PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACTS OF JUNE 30, 1914, 38 STAT. 430, AND AUGUST 11, 1916, 39 STAT. 462, RESPECTIVELY, SHOULD BE REDUCED TO WRITING AND FILED IN THIS OFFICE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENT OF SECTION 3743, REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED.

BUT, BE THAT AS IT MAY, PERMITS, SALES AGREEMENTS, OR OTHER CONTRACTS OR INSTRUMENTS UNDER WHICH THE GOVERNMENT ACQUIRES A RIGHT TO COLLECT MONEY FOR PRIVILEGES GRANTED, MATERIALS SOLD, OR WORK DONE FOR OR IN COOPERATION WITH PRIVATE PARTIES IN THE NATIONAL FORESTS, CLEARLY APPEAR TO BE CONTRACTS OF THE CHARACTER REQUIRED BY THE LAW TO BE FILED IN THIS OFFICE. THIS OFFICE HAS NO CHOICE IN THE MATTER OF SUCH REQUIREMENT, REGARDLESS OF ANY INCREASED COST WHICH COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW MAY ENTAIL IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE FOREST SERVICE.

IN THIS CONNECTION IT WILL BE NOTED THAT IT IS THE CONTRACTS THEMSELVES, AND NOT COPIES THEREOF, WHICH ARE REQUIRED BY THE LAW TO BE DEPOSITED IN THIS OFFICE. A SUFFICIENT NUMBER OF COPIES OF SUCH AGREEMENTS SHOULD BE MADE TO SATISFY THE ADMINISTRATIVE NEEDS FOR THE SAME, AND THE ORIGINALS SHOULD BE FORWARDED TO THIS OFFICE. HOWEVER, IN THE CASE OF LICENSES OR PERMITS WHERE THE ORIGINAL IS REQUIRED TO BE GIVEN TO THE PERSON OR COMPANY IN WHOSE FAVOR IT IS ISSUED, THE LICENSEE OR PERMITTEE SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO SIGN ON A CERTIFIED COPY OF THE PERMIT OR LICENSE AN INDORSEMENT TO THE EFFECT THAT HE ACCEPTS AND AGREES TO COMPLY WITH THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS THEREOF, AND THE FILING OF THE CERTIFIED COPY BEARING THE ORIGINAL INDORSEMENT WILL BE ACCEPTED AS IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW. 16 COMP. GEN. 490, SUPRA.

IT IS REQUESTED THAT THE PROPER OFFICERS OF THE FOREST SERVICE BE INSTRUCTED ACCORDINGLY.