B-103117, MAY 29, 1951, 30 COMP. GEN. 487

B-103117: May 29, 1951

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PUBLIC BUILDINGS - CONSTRUCTION -APPROPRIATION AVAILABILITY A QUONSET HUT PROPOSED TO BE ERECTED ON GOVERNMENT-OWNED LAND BY THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT FOR THE PURPOSE OF STORING MAIL BAGS AWAITING REPAIR IS A PUBLIC BUILDING OR PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 3733. " IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE ERECTION OF SUCH BUILDING. 1951: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 27. 1951" IS AVAILABLE FOR THE ERECTION ON PROPERTY NOW OWNED BY THE GOVERNMENT. SUCH CONSTRUCTION IS PROHIBITED THEREBY. 21 COMP. IT IS NOTED THAT SUCH "CONSTRUCTION" CONSISTED OF REPAIRS. THE FACT THAT THE TRANSACTIONS MAY NOT HAVE BEEN QUESTIONED IN THE COURSE OF AUDIT WOULD NOT CONSTITUTE A PRECEDENT FOR THE ERECTION OF A NEW BUILDING AS NOW CONTEMPLATED.

B-103117, MAY 29, 1951, 30 COMP. GEN. 487

PUBLIC BUILDINGS - CONSTRUCTION -APPROPRIATION AVAILABILITY A QUONSET HUT PROPOSED TO BE ERECTED ON GOVERNMENT-OWNED LAND BY THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT FOR THE PURPOSE OF STORING MAIL BAGS AWAITING REPAIR IS A PUBLIC BUILDING OR PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 3733, REVISED STATUTES, PROHIBITING THE ERECTION, REPAIR, OR FURNISHING OF A PUBLIC BUILDING IN THE ABSENCE OF A SPECIFIC APPROPRIATION, AND THEREFORE THE APPROPRIATION FOR " POSTAL OPERATIONS, POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, 1951," IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE ERECTION OF SUCH BUILDING.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, MAY 29, 1951:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 27, 1951, REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE APPROPRIATION FOR " POSTAL OPERATIONS, POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, 1951" IS AVAILABLE FOR THE ERECTION ON PROPERTY NOW OWNED BY THE GOVERNMENT--- ADJACENT TO THE EQUIPMENT SHOPS BUILDING IN WASHINGTON, D.C.--- OF A QUONSET HUT, 40 X 100 FEET IN DIMENSIONS, ATTACHED TO A POURED CONCRETE BASE, FOR THE PURPOSE OF STORING DEFECTIVE MAIL BAGS AWAITING REPAIR, AT A COST OF APPROXIMATELY $20,000.

SECTION 3733, REVISED STATUTES, PROVIDES:

NO CONTRACT SHALL BE ENTERED INTO FOR THE ERECTION, REPAIR, OR FURNISHING OF ANY PUBLIC BUILDING, OR FOR ANY PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT WHICH SHALL BIND THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY A LARGER SUM OF MONEY THAN THE AMOUNT IN THE TREASURY APPROPRIATED FOR THE SPECIFIC PURPOSE.

IT SEEMS CLEAR THAT A STRUCTURE OF THE TYPE CONTEMPLATED WOULD BE A PUBLIC BUILDING OR PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ABOVE QUOTED PROVISION OF SECTION 3733, REVISED STATUTES AND, INASMUCH AS THERE APPEARS TO BE NO SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR THE ERECTION THEREOF, SUCH CONSTRUCTION IS PROHIBITED THEREBY. 21 COMP. DEC. 420; 5 COMP. GEN. 575; 6 ID. 619; 10 ID. 140.

WITH REFERENCE TO THE CITED INSTANCES OF EXPENDITURES DURING THE FISCAL YEARS 1945, 1947 AND 1948 FOR CONSTRUCTION AT THE MAIL-EQUIPMENT SHOPS AND PAYMENTS THEREFOR FROM THE APPROPRIATIONS FOR THAT ACTIVITY, IT IS NOTED THAT SUCH "CONSTRUCTION" CONSISTED OF REPAIRS, ETC., TO AN EXISTING BUILDING RATHER THAN THE "ERECTION" OF A NEW BUILDING AS PRESENTLY CONTEMPLATED. MOREOVER, EVEN IF THE WORK PERFORMED IN THE INSTANCES CITED COULD BE CONSIDERED AS PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS, THE FACT THAT THE TRANSACTIONS MAY NOT HAVE BEEN QUESTIONED IN THE COURSE OF AUDIT WOULD NOT CONSTITUTE A PRECEDENT FOR THE ERECTION OF A NEW BUILDING AS NOW CONTEMPLATED.

ACCORDINGLY, SINCE THE APPROPRIATION FOR " POSTAL OPERATIONS, POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, 1951" DOES NOT CONTAIN SPECIFIC AUTHORITY THEREFOR, IT IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE EXPENDITURE AS PROPOSED.