A-86721, JUNE 14, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 1075

A-86721: Jun 14, 1937

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION SESQUICENTENNIAL COMMISSION TO BORROW PORTRAITS FOR THE PURPOSE OF AN HISTORICAL LOAN EXHIBITION. THIS COMMISSION IS PREPARING A LOAN EXHIBITION OF PORTRAITS OF THE DEPUTIES TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION AND THE SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. ATTACHED HEREWITH IS A COPY OF THE LETTER WHICH IS A FORM USED IN REQUESTING OWNERS OF PORTRAITS DESIRED FOR THE EXHIBITION TO LEND THEM TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES. IN THIS FORM LETTER THE OWNER OF THE PORTRAIT IS ADVISED THAT. INSURANCE WILL BE PLACED UPON THE PORTRAIT AND THAT THE SECURITY STORAGE COMPANY. WILL UNDERTAKE THE PACKING AND TRANSPORTATION OF THE PAINTING TO AND FROM THE EXHIBIT.

A-86721, JUNE 14, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 1075

UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION SESQUICENTENNIAL COMMISSION - EXHIBITION OF BORROWED PORTRAITS - APPROPRIATION AVAILABILITY THE ONLY EXPENDITURES AUTHORIZED TO BE MADE FROM FUNDS APPROPRIATED FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FORMATION OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES BEING THOSE INCIDENT TO THE PURPOSES SPECIFICALLY STATED IN THE APPROPRIATING ACT OF JUNE 22, 1936, 49 STAT. 1599, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION SESQUICENTENNIAL COMMISSION TO BORROW PORTRAITS FOR THE PURPOSE OF AN HISTORICAL LOAN EXHIBITION, NOR APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR ANY EXPENSES INCIDENT TO SUCH EXHIBITION.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE DIRECTOR GENERAL, UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION SESQUICENTENNIAL COMMISSION, JUNE 14, 1937:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 3, 1937, AS FOLLOWS:

PLEASE ADVISE IF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FINDS THE FOLLOWING FACTS SUFFICIENT GROUNDS FOR THE ELIMINATION OF COMPETITIVE BIDS FOR CERTAIN SERVICES DESIRED BY THIS COMMISSION HEREIN OUTLINED.

THIS COMMISSION IS PREPARING A LOAN EXHIBITION OF PORTRAITS OF THE DEPUTIES TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION AND THE SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, AT THE CORCORAN GALLERY OF ART FROM NOVEMBER 27, 1937, TO FEBRUARY 1, 1938.

ATTACHED HEREWITH IS A COPY OF THE LETTER WHICH IS A FORM USED IN REQUESTING OWNERS OF PORTRAITS DESIRED FOR THE EXHIBITION TO LEND THEM TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES. IN THIS FORM LETTER THE OWNER OF THE PORTRAIT IS ADVISED THAT, IN ORDER TO AFFORD COMPLETE PROTECTION OF THE PAINTING WHILE ON LOAN TO THE GOVERNMENT, INSURANCE WILL BE PLACED UPON THE PORTRAIT AND THAT THE SECURITY STORAGE COMPANY, OF WASHINGTON, D.C., WILL UNDERTAKE THE PACKING AND TRANSPORTATION OF THE PAINTING TO AND FROM THE EXHIBIT.

THE EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES, WHICH I WISH TO CALL TO YOUR ATTENTION AND FOR WHICH THIS COMMISSION DESIRES THAT THE SECURITY STORAGE COMPANY, OF WASHINGTON, D.C., DO THIS WORK, ARE AS FOLLOWS:

1. THERE WILL BE APPROXIMATELY TWO HUNDRED PAINTINGS FROM ALL OVER THE UNITED STATES BROUGHT TO WASHINGTON FOR THE EXHIBITION AND IT IS NECESSARY THAT ONE FIRM HERE IN WASHINGTON BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ENTIRE UNDERTAKING.

2. PROXIMITY OF THE SECURITY STORAGE COMPANY'S STORAGE VAULTS TO THE SCENE OF THE EXHIBIT WHEREIN THE PORTRAITS WILL BE DEPOSITED PRIOR AND AFTER THE EXHIBITION FOR INSPECTION BY THE AGENTS OF THIS COMMISSION AND OF THE CORCORAN GALLERY OF ART IN PREPARING NECESSARY DETAILS FOR THE CATALOGUE OF THE EXHIBIT, AND OF PLANNING FOR THE HANGING OF THE SAME ON THE WALLS IN THE GALLERIES.

3. THE COLLECTION OF PAINTINGS DESIRED FOR THE EXHIBITION CONSISTS OF ORIGINAL PORTRAITS EXECUTED DURING THE LIVES OF THE SUBJECTS. THESE PAINTINGS ARE OF GREAT VALUE IN THE ART MARKET AND OF INESTIMABLE EXTRINSIC VALUE TO THEIR OWNERS. BEFORE AN OWNER OF ONE OF THESE PORTRAITS WILL CONSIDER LENDING IT FOR AN EXHIBITION FULL AND COMPLETE INFORMATION MUST BE SUBMITTED TO HIM CONCERNING THE FIRM SELECTED TO HANDLE AND TO SUPERVISE THE PACKING OF THE PORTRAIT, AS HIS APPROVAL OF THE METHOD OF HANDLING THE PORTRAIT AND HIS CONFIDENCE IN THE AGENTS SELECTED TO PERFORM THE WORK INFLUENCE HIS DECISION WHETHER OR NOT TO RISK LENDING HIS PAINTING. THEREFORE THE COMMISSION FINDS IT NECESSARY TO SELECT A FIRM TO DO THIS WORK WHICH WILL MEET ALL THE REQUIREMENTS DEMANDED BY THE OWNERS. THE SECURITY STORAGE COMPANY ENJOYS A UNIQUE REPUTATION AMONG THOSE SOURCES FROM WHICH WE DESIRE TO OBTAIN PAINTINGS AND ONLY THE CONFIDENCE THEY PLACE IN THIS COMPANY WILL ENABLE THIS COMMISSION TO OBTAIN THEIR CONSENT TO LEND THE PAINTINGS WE DESIRE FOR THE EXHIBITION. THE PORTRAIT COMMITTEE FOR THE PROPOSED EXHIBITION, THE PERSONNEL OF WHICH SERVES WITHOUT REMUNERATION AND IS COMPOSED OF PERSONS EXPERIENCED IN CONDUCTING EXHIBITIONS AT MUSEUMS AND HISTORICAL SOCIETIES, ADVISE FROM THEIR EXPERIENCE THAT THE SECURITY STORAGE COMPANY CAN BEST SERVE THE COMMISSION PROPERLY AND EFFECTIVELY IN OBTAINING THE GREATEST NUMBER OF CONSENTS FROM THE OWNERS OF PAINTINGS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE EXHIBITION.

IT IS STATED IN THE REFERRED TO FORM OF LETTER OF FEBRUARY 23, 1937, USED IN REQUESTING OWNERS OF PORTRAITS DESIRED FOR THE EXHIBITION TO LEND THEM THEREFOR, THAT THERE HAD BEEN PLANNED, AS ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL EVENTS OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FORMATION OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES, AN HISTORICAL LOAN EXHIBITION OF AUTHENTIC PORTRAITS OF THE SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE AND THE DEPUTIES TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION; ALSO, THAT THE COMMISSION WOULD LIKE TO HAVE PORTRAITS OF THE WIVES, CHILDREN, AND FAMILY GROUPS OF SUCH SIGNERS AND DEPUTIES FOR INCLUSION THEREIN.

THE JOINT RESOLUTION OF AUGUST 23, 1935, 49 STAT. 735, ESTABLISHED A COMMISSION TO BE KNOWN AS THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION SESQUICENTENNIAL COMMISSION AND SECTION 4 THEREOF MADE IT THE DUTY OF SAID COMMISSION "TO PREPARE A PLAN OR PLANS AND A PROGRAM FOR THE ADEQUATE CELEBRATION OF THE SESQUICENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY," AND IT APPEARS THAT THIS HISTORICAL LOAN EXHIBITION HAS BEEN PLANNED BY THE COMMISSION AS "ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL EVENTS OF THE CELEBRATION.' BUT IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT THE CONGRESS HAS MADE ANY APPROPRIATION FOR SUCH CELEBRATION. SECTION 5 OF THE SAID JOINT RESOLUTION REQUIRED THAT THE COMMISSION ON OR BEFORE JANUARY 20, 1936,"MAKE A REPORT TO THE CONGRESS, IN ORDER THAT ENABLING LEGISLATION MAY BE ENACTED.' ONLY $10,000 WAS APPROPRIATED TO CARRY OUT THE PROVISIONS OF THE SAID RESOLUTION OF AUGUST 23, 1935, AND SAID APPROPRIATION WAS AVAILABLE ONLY TO JUNE 30, 1936. SEE ACT OF FEBRUARY 11, 1936, 49 STAT. 1112.

WHILE THE TITLE OF THE JOINT RESOLUTION OF JUNE 1, 1936, 49 STAT. 1392, INDICATES THAT ITS PURPOSE WAS TO ENABLE THE COMMISSION "TO CARRY OUT AND GIVE EFFECT TO CERTAIN APPROVED PLANS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES," THE BODY OF THE RESOLUTION SHOWS THAT THE ONLY WORK THEREIN AUTHORIZED TO BE CARRIED ON BY THE COMMISSION IS (1) "TO PREPARE AND PUBLISH CERTAIN HISTORICAL AND EDUCATIONAL MATERIAL, AS SPECIFIED IN THE APPROVED PLANS OF THE COMMISSION, FOR DISTRIBUTION TO LIBRARIES," ETC.; (2) TO "PREPARE AND PROVIDE FOR THE GENERAL DISTRIBUTION OF PHOTOLITHOGRAPHIC COPIES OF A PAINTING OF THE "SIGNING OF THE CONSTITUTION; ," (3) TO "PREPARE REPRODUCTIONS OF APPROVED PORTRAITS OF THE SIGNERS AND THE HISTORY OF THE CONSTITUTION, AND OF ITS TIME, TOGETHER WITH THEIR FACSIMILE SIGNATURES AND APPROPRIATE BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, FOR DISTRIBUTION TO LIBRARIES," ETC. , AND (4) TO "PREPARE AND PROVIDE FOR THE GENERAL DISTRIBUTION OF, SUITABLE MEDALS AND CERTIFICATES FOR COMMEMORATING THE CELEBRATION.' FOR CARRYING OUT THE WORK THUS AUTHORIZED THERE WAS AUTHORIZED TO BE APPROPRIATED, AND THERE HAS BEEN APPROPRIATED, THE SUM OF $200,000.

HOWEVER, NEITHER IN THE JOINT RESOLUTION OF JUNE 1, 1936, NOR IN THE APPROPRIATION MADE IN THE ACT OF JUNE 22, 1936, 49 STAT. 1599, TO CARRY OUT ITS PROVISIONS IS THERE ANY AUTHORIZATION FOR A CELEBRATION SUCH AS APPARENTLY WAS CONTEMPLATED AT THE TIME THE JOINT RESOLUTION OF AUGUST 23, 1935, WAS ENACTED. CONSEQUENTLY, THE ONLY EXPENDITURES AUTHORIZED TO BE MADE FROM THE EXISTING APPROPRIATION CONTAINED IN THE ACT OF JUNE 22, 1936, ARE THOSE INCIDENT TO THE FOUR ITEMS OF WORK SPECIFIED IN THE JOINT RESOLUTION OF JUNE 1, 1936, AS ABOVE ENUMERATED.

CONSEQUENTLY, I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT THERE IS NO STATUTE AUTHORIZING THE COMMISSION TO BORROW PORTRAITS FOR THE PURPOSE OF AN HISTORICAL LOAN EXHIBITION AT THE CORCORAN GALLERY OF ART, AS PROPOSED, AND THAT THERE IS NO APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR ANY EXPENSES INCIDENT TO SUCH A LOAN EXHIBITION. THEREFORE, THE SPECIFIC QUESTION PRESENTED IN YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 3, 1937, IS NOT FOR DECISION AT THIS TIME.