A-97751, OCTOBER 28, 1938, 18 COMP. GEN. 389

A-97751: Oct 28, 1938

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BUILDING CHANGES - PERFORMANCE OF WORK BY INTERIOR DEPARTMENT - REIMBURSABLE OR NON-REIMBURSABLE BASIS WHERE BUILDING CHANGES ARE NOT THOSE NECESSARY TO THE ORDINARY USE OR OPERATION OF THE BUILDING AND DO NOT INVOLVE STRUCTURAL CHANGES OR BUILDING MAINTENANCE. INVOLVE WORK NECESSARY TO ACCOMMODATE THE SPACE IN THE BUILDINGS FOR THE CONDUCT OF ACTIVITIES FOR WHICH THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE IS CHARGED AND FOR WHICH APPROPRIATIONS HAVE BEEN MADE. IF THE WORK IS SUCH AS IS REQUIRED TO BE PERFORMED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ON A NON-REIMBURSABLE BASIS. AS FOLLOWS: THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE IS FACING A SITUATION WHICH IS CAUSING EMBARRASSMENT DUE TO THE DIFFICULTY IN HAVING ESSENTIAL MECHANICAL WORK ACCOMPLISHED EXPEDITIOUSLY.

A-97751, OCTOBER 28, 1938, 18 COMP. GEN. 389

BUILDING CHANGES - PERFORMANCE OF WORK BY INTERIOR DEPARTMENT - REIMBURSABLE OR NON-REIMBURSABLE BASIS WHERE BUILDING CHANGES ARE NOT THOSE NECESSARY TO THE ORDINARY USE OR OPERATION OF THE BUILDING AND DO NOT INVOLVE STRUCTURAL CHANGES OR BUILDING MAINTENANCE, REPAIR, OR IMPROVEMENT, BUT INVOLVE WORK NECESSARY TO ACCOMMODATE THE SPACE IN THE BUILDINGS FOR THE CONDUCT OF ACTIVITIES FOR WHICH THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE IS CHARGED AND FOR WHICH APPROPRIATIONS HAVE BEEN MADE, THE REQUIRED WORK APPEARS PROPER FOR PERFORMANCE BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ON A REIMBURSABLE BASIS UNDER SECTION 601 (A) OF THE ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932, 47 STAT. 417, BUT, IF THE WORK IS SUCH AS IS REQUIRED TO BE PERFORMED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ON A NON-REIMBURSABLE BASIS, THE INADEQUACY OF INTERIOR DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATIONS DOES NOT AUTHORIZE THE USE OF AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATIONS FOR SUCH PURPOSE.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, OCTOBER 28, 1938:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 3, 1938, AS FOLLOWS:

THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE IS FACING A SITUATION WHICH IS CAUSING EMBARRASSMENT DUE TO THE DIFFICULTY IN HAVING ESSENTIAL MECHANICAL WORK ACCOMPLISHED EXPEDITIOUSLY. NO ATTEMPT HAS EVER BEEN MADE BY THE DEPARTMENT TO DEVELOP A CONTINGENT FUND TO COVER THE COST OF THE MECHANICAL SHOP WORK REQUIRED BY THE VARIOUS OPERATING UNITS OF THE BUREAUS AND OFFICES. IT HAS BEEN THE UNIFORM POLICY AND PRACTICE TO CHARGE THE COST OF THE WORK REQUIRED BY THESE UNITS TO THE SPECIFIC APPROPRIATIONS INVOLVED. IN CONSEQUENCE WHEN OUR MECHANICAL SHOPS WERE TRANSFERRED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR BY EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 6166, DATED NOVEMBER 1, 1933, THIS DEPARTMENT CONTINUED THE PRACTICES WHICH HAS BEEN IN FORCE FOR MANY YEARS AND HAS BEEN REIMBURSING THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE FOR THIS TYPE OF WORK. THE DEPARTMENT'S OPERATION ARE OF SUCH VARIED CHARACTER AND ARE SO CONSTANTLY BEING CHANGED AND AMPLIFIED BY LEGISLATION THAT SPACE ALLOCATIONS ARE NECESSARILY CHANGED FROM TIME TO TIME. THE DIVERSITY OF OPERATIONS IS ILLUSTRATED BY THE FACT THAT IN THE FISCAL YEAR 1938 THE DEPARTMENT HAD 137 APPROPRIATIONS AND 304 SUB- APPROPRIATIONS. THE CHANGES REQUIRED BY THE CONTRACTION AND EXPANSION OF INDIVIDUAL ORGANIZATIONS AND THE INTRODUCTION OF NEW PROJECTS MAKE CERTAIN MECHANICAL WORK NECESSARY IN ORDER TO EQUIP THE SPACE FOR THE PARTICULAR USE TO WHICH IT WILL BE PUT BY BUREAUS, AND IT SEEMS APPROPRIATE TO CHARGE SUCH COSTS TO THE FUNDS APPROPRIATED TO CARRY OUT THE PARTICULAR PROGRAMS.

REPAIRS TO THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED BUILDINGS OCCUPIED BY THIS DEPARTMENT DUE TO ORDINARY WEAR AND TEAR HAVE BEEN MADE BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR WITHOUT CHARGE BUT OTHER MECHANICAL WORK HAS BEEN DONE ON A REIMBURSABLE BASIS. EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1938, CERTAIN TYPES OF WORK WHICH WERE FORMERLY PERFORMED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ON A REIMBURSABLE BASIS ARE NOW CLASSIFIED AS NON REIMBURSABLE BY THAT DEPARTMENT. WE HAVE ISSUED NUMEROUS WORK REQUESTS AND HAVE BEEN INFORMED THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR IS WITHOUT SUFFICIENT FUNDS TO FINANCE THE WORK ON A NON- REIMBURSABLE BASIS AND, ON THE OTHER HAND IS WITHOUT AUTHORITY TO ACCEPT REIMBURSEMENT FROM THIS DEPARTMENT FOR THE COST OF PERFORMING THE SERVICES. THE POSITION TAKEN BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR OPERATES TO THE SERIOUS DISADVANTAGE OF THIS DEPARTMENT AND UNLESS RELIEF CAN BE HAD THE ACTIVITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT WILL BE HANDICAPPED TO A MAJOR DEGREE.

THIS FACT IS RECOGNIZED IN THE DESIGN OF THE SOUTH AGRICULTURE BUILDING, AS THE STRUCTURE IS PROBABLY THE ONLY GOVERNMENT-OWNED BUILDING IN THE CITY WHICH IS EQUIPPED WITH REMOVABLE PARTITIONS. IF THE DEPARTMENT IS DENIED THE PRIVILEGE OF HAVING SHOP WORK PERFORMED ON A REIMBURSABLE BASIS, ITS WORK WILL BE GREATLY HAMPERED AND BUREAUS WILL BE PREVENTED FROM PROCEEDING VIGOROUSLY WITH THE EXECUTION OF CAREFULLY MADE PLANS.

YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF MAKING REIMBURSEMENT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF WORK WHICH IS DEFINITELY REQUIRED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND WHICH DOES NOT INVOLVE BUILDING MAINTENANCE OR REPAIR IN THE ACCEPTED SENSE, BUT DOES REPRESENT NEEDS DEVELOPED AS THE RESULT OF THE CONDUCT OF THE WORK WITH WHICH THE DEPARTMENT IS CHARGED. IF UNCERTAINTY EXISTS AS TO CORRECTNESS OF THE PROPOSAL UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF EXISTING LAW, IT IS REQUESTED THAT THE DEPARTMENT BE AUTHORIZED TO CONTINUE TO MAKE REIMBURSEMENT UNTIL JUNE 30, 1939, IN ORDER THAT AN OPPORTUNITY MAY BE AFFORDED TO ATTEMPT TO SECURE THE ENACTMENT OF SPECIFIC LEGISLATION.

ALTHOUGH NO DEFINITE CLASSES OF WORK OR SERVICES ARE INDICATED BY YOU, IT IS UNDERSTOOD FROM YOUR LETTER, QUOTED ABOVE, THAT THE WORK DESIRED IS NOT NECESSARY TO THE ORDINARY USE OR OPERATION OF THE BUILDING AND DOES NOT INVOLVE STRUCTURAL CHANGES OR BUILDING MAINTENANCE, REPAIR OR IMPROVEMENT, BUT IS WORK NECESSARY TO ACCOMMODATE THE SPACE IN THE BUILDINGS FOR THE CONDUCT OF ACTIVITIES FOR WHICH THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE IS CHARGED AND FOR WHICH APPROPRIATIONS HAVE BEEN MADE.

IF SUCH BE THE CASE THE REQUIRED WORK APPEARS PROPER FOR PERFORMANCE BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ON A REIMBURSABLE BASIS IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 601 (A) OF THE ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932, 47 STAT. 417. 16 COMP. GEN. 160; ID. 816; ID. 1071. IT IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD, OF COURSE, THAT IF THE WORK IS SUCH AS IS REQUIRED TO BE PERFORMED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ON A NONREIMBURSABLE BASIS, THE INADEQUACY OF APPROPRIATIONS OF THAT DEPARTMENT THEREFOR CANNOT OPERATE TO AUTHORIZE THE USE OF DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE APPROPRIATIONS FOR SUCH PURPOSE. 17 COMP. GEN. 1050.