B-112809, DECEMBER 23, 1952, 32 COMP. GEN. 296

B-112809: Dec 23, 1952

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1952: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 10. IT IS STATED IN YOUR LETTER THAT THE RESERVATION FOR THE HOSPITAL EXTENDS 37.8 FEET SOUTH OF THE CENTER LINE OF THE HIGHWAY. SINCE THE ENTRANCE TO THE HOSPITAL GROUNDS WAS BELIEVED TO INVOLVE A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS TRAFFIC HAZARD. WHEREIN IT WAS HELD THAT SINCE THE BENEFIT TO THE GOVERNMENT IN THOSE INSTANCES WAS ONLY INCIDENTAL. APPROPRIATIONS WERE NOT AVAILABLE THEREFOR. YOU ATTEMPT TO DISTINGUISH THE INSTANT PROPOSAL FROM THOSE CASES ON THE BASIS THAT THE IMPROVEMENT HERE IS "PRIMARILY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION AS THE DECELERATION LANES ARE TO BE CONSTRUCTED SOLELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF INSTITUTING A SAFETY MEASURE FOR VETERANS.

B-112809, DECEMBER 23, 1952, 32 COMP. GEN. 296

ROADS - CONSTRUCTION ON STATE-OWNED LAND - APPROPRIATION AVAILABILITY A DECELERATION LANE PROPOSED TO BE CONSTRUCTED ON STATE-OWNED LAND FOR THE PURPOSE OF ELIMINATING A DANGEROUS TRAFFIC HAZARD ON A STATE HIGHWAY ADJOINING THE ENTRANCE TO A VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL MAY NOT BE FINANCED BY FEDERAL FUNDS IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL FISHER TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, DECEMBER 23, 1952:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 10, 1952, REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MAY UTILIZE FUNDS APPROPRIATED TO THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION TO CONSTRUCT (OR CONTRIBUTE TO THE COST OF CONSTRUCTION OF) A DECELERATION LANE ON ONE SIDE OF A STATE HIGHWAY--- U.S. HIGHWAY 6--- ADJOINING THE ENTRANCE TO THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL AT IOWA CITY, IOWA.

IT IS STATED IN YOUR LETTER THAT THE RESERVATION FOR THE HOSPITAL EXTENDS 37.8 FEET SOUTH OF THE CENTER LINE OF THE HIGHWAY, WHICH BORDERS THE RESERVATION ON THE NORTH. SINCE THE ENTRANCE TO THE HOSPITAL GROUNDS WAS BELIEVED TO INVOLVE A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS TRAFFIC HAZARD, BOTH FOR AUTOMOBILES ARRIVING AT AND LEAVING THE STATION, REPRESENTATIVES OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION CONTACTED THE IOWA STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSION WHICH PROPOSED THAT IT WOULD CONSTRUCT A DECELERATION LANE ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY IF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION WOULD EITHER PROVIDE THE ADDITIONAL CONSTRUCTION ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY OR CONTRIBUTE THE COST THEREOF TO THE HIGHWAY COMMISSION.

YOUR LETTER REFERS TO DECISIONS OF A FORMER COMPTROLLER GENERAL TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, 6 COMP. GEN. 353, AND TO THE DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED STATES VETERANS BUREAU, NOVEMBER 24, 1928, A-25189, WHEREIN IT WAS HELD THAT SINCE THE BENEFIT TO THE GOVERNMENT IN THOSE INSTANCES WAS ONLY INCIDENTAL, THE PRIMARY OBJECT AND USE OF THE ROADS BEING AS A PUBLIC HIGHWAY, THE USE OF FEDERAL FUNDS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OR REPAIR OF THOSE PUBLIC HIGHWAYS COULD NOT BE REGARDED AS OTHER THAN A VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTION AND, IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR SUCH CONTRIBUTIONS, APPROPRIATIONS WERE NOT AVAILABLE THEREFOR. YOU ATTEMPT TO DISTINGUISH THE INSTANT PROPOSAL FROM THOSE CASES ON THE BASIS THAT THE IMPROVEMENT HERE IS "PRIMARILY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION AS THE DECELERATION LANES ARE TO BE CONSTRUCTED SOLELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF INSTITUTING A SAFETY MEASURE FOR VETERANS, EMPLOYEES, AND OFFICERS ENTERING OR LEAVING THE HOSPITAL GROUNDS BY AUTOMOBILES.'

THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE PROPOSED DECELERATION LANES OBVIOUSLY WOULD BENEFIT ALL PERSONS TRAVELING THE HIGHWAY AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE VA HOSPITAL AT IOWA CITY, ESPECIALLY INSOFAR AS THEY WOULD REMOVE A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS TRAFFIC HAZARD. HOWEVER, IT IS NOT BELIEVED NECESSARY TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE BENEFIT TO THE GOVERNMENT WHEN COMPARED WITH THE BENEFIT TO THE PUBLIC GENERALLY WOULD BE PRIMARY OR ONLY INCIDENTAL, THIS FACT NOT APPEARING TO BE NECESSARILY CONTROLLING.

THE PROPOSED DECELERATION LANES, IF CONSTRUCTED ON FEDERAL PROPERTY, UNDOUBTEDLY WOULD CONSTITUTE A "PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THAT TERM AS USED IN SECTION 3733, REVISED STATUTES, 41 U.S.C. 12, WHICH PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

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.

THIS PROVISION OF LAW PROHIBITS THE EXECUTION OF A CONTRACT FOR "ANY PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT" UNLESS FUNDS ARE SPECIFICALLY APPROPRIATED THEREFOR.

THUS, IF SPECIFIC ACTION IS REQUIRED BY THE CONGRESS WITH RESPECT TO PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS ON FEDERAL PROPERTY, A FORTIORI, SPECIFIC AUTHORITY WOULD BE REQUIRED FOR THE FINANCING FROM FEDERAL FUNDS OF PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS ON STATE PROPERTY.

CONSIDERING ALL OF THE FACTORS INVOLVED, INCLUDING THE BELIEF THAT NUMEROUS OTHER REQUESTS WOULD BE MADE IF FEDERAL PARTICIPATION IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF THESE PROPOSED LANES WERE PERMITTED, THE CONCLUSION SEEMS INESCAPABLE THAT THE USE OF FEDERAL FUNDS TO IMPROVE PUBLIC ROADS NEAR FEDERAL FACILITIES IS A MATTER FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF THE CONGRESS. WHILE THE CONGRESS HAS GRANTED THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION SPECIFIC AUTHORITY TO IMPROVE FACILITIES IN THE SEVERAL HOSPITALS AND HOMES UNDER ITS JURISDICTION, NO PROVISION OF LAW AUTHORIZING YOUR ADMINISTRATION TO MAKE IMPROVEMENTS ON STATE OR PRIVATE PROPERTY HAS BEEN FOUND.

ACCORDINGLY, I FEEL REQUIRED TO CONCLUDE THAT THE USE OF ANY FUNDS AVAILABLE TO YOUR ADMINISTRATION TO CONSTRUCT (OR CONTRIBUTE TO THE COST OF CONSTRUCTION OF) A DECELERATION LANE ON ONE SIDE OF U.S. HIGHWAY 6, ADJOINING THE ENTRANCE TO THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL AT IOWA CITY, IOWA, IS NOT AUTHORIZED.