Justice and Law Enforcement:
Agriculture Research Appropriated Funds Used to Erect, Repair and Improve Buildings Subject to Restrictions
B-151369-O.M., Nov 15, 1963
The Department of Agriculture has, since 1944, been granted continuing legislative authority to erect, repair and improve buildings subject to restrictions carried in succeeding appropriation acts. Specifically, section 703 of the Department of Agriculture Organic Act of 1944, approved September 21, 1944, ch. 412., 58 Stat. 742, 5 U.S.C. 565a provides: "The Department of Agriculture is authorized to erect, alter, and repair such buildings and other public improvements as may be necessary to carry out its authorized work: Provided, That no building or improvement shall be erected or altered under this authority unless provision is made therefor in the applicable appropriation and the cost thereof is not in excess of limitations prescribed therein." The Agricultural Research Service takes the position that alterations, to provide an additional laboratory for research purposes, are for special purpose space and as such do not come within the restrictions of section 3733, R.S.
The agency's action in altering this structure for the purpose of constructing a laboratory without specific authority is unlawful. Such alterations and construction are viewed as a public improvement within the meaning of section 3733, R.S. Inasmuch as the estimated completion date for the laboratory was June 1963, it is assumed that the alteration and construction have been completed and the new laboratory is an accomplished fact.