B-125715, NOV. 10, 1955

B-125715: Nov 10, 1955

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VETERANS ADMINISTRATION: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 5. YOU REQUEST OUR VIEWS AS TO WHETHER THE FUND MAY BE USED TO SUPPLEMENT FUNDS DONATED FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A CHAPEL AT A DESIGNATED VETERANS ADMINISTRATION FACILITY BUT WHICH DONATED FUNDS ARE NOT SUFFICIENT TO CONSTRUCT THE TYPE OF CHAPEL REQUIRED. THE "GENERAL POST FUND" IS THE OFFICIAL DESIGNATION OF A FUND WHICH ORIGINALLY WAS UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE BOARD OF MANAGERS OF THE NATIONAL HOME FOR DISABLED VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS. MONIES ACCUMULATED IN THE FUND WERE DERIVED FROM PROFITS OF OPERATIONS OF STORES. BY RECEIPT OF EFFECTS OF DECEASED MEMBERS OF THE HOME WHO DIE LEAVING NO HEIRS OR NEXT OF KIN AND WITHOUT HAVING DISPOSED OF THEIR ESTATES BY WILL UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF CONGRESS.

B-125715, NOV. 10, 1955

TO HONORABLE H. V. HIGLEY, ADMINISTRATOR, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 5, 1955, AND ENCLOSURES, CONCERNING, IN GENERAL, THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH EXPENDITURES MAY BE MADE FROM THE "GENERAL POST FUND.' SPECIFICALLY, YOU REQUEST OUR VIEWS AS TO WHETHER THE FUND MAY BE USED TO SUPPLEMENT FUNDS DONATED FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A CHAPEL AT A DESIGNATED VETERANS ADMINISTRATION FACILITY BUT WHICH DONATED FUNDS ARE NOT SUFFICIENT TO CONSTRUCT THE TYPE OF CHAPEL REQUIRED.

THE "GENERAL POST FUND" IS THE OFFICIAL DESIGNATION OF A FUND WHICH ORIGINALLY WAS UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE BOARD OF MANAGERS OF THE NATIONAL HOME FOR DISABLED VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS, A CORPORATION ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO THE ACT OF MARCH 21, 1866, 14 STAT. 10. MONIES ACCUMULATED IN THE FUND WERE DERIVED FROM PROFITS OF OPERATIONS OF STORES, HOTELS, RESTAURANTS, CANTEENS AND RENTAL FROM CONCESSIONS; BY GIFTS AND BEQUESTS AND PROCEEDS OF PROPERTY LEFT IN THE CARE OF THE HOME BY FORMER MEMBERS; BY THE RECEIPT OF UNPAID PENSION MONEY STANDING TO THE CREDIT OF DECEASED MEMBERS OF THE HOME, WHO DIE WITHOUT PENSIONABLE HEIRS UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF CONGRESS, JULY 1, 1902, 32 STAT. 564; AND BY RECEIPT OF EFFECTS OF DECEASED MEMBERS OF THE HOME WHO DIE LEAVING NO HEIRS OR NEXT OF KIN AND WITHOUT HAVING DISPOSED OF THEIR ESTATES BY WILL UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF CONGRESS, JUNE 25, 1910, 36 STAT. 736. WHILE UNDER CONTROL OF THE BOARD OF MANAGERS EXPENDITURES FROM THE FUND WERE MADE TO PROVIDE AMUSEMENTS, ENTERTAINMENT, BUILDINGS, MAINTAINING THEATRES, LIBRARIES, AND CHAPELS, IMPROVING AND DECORATING GROUNDS, ETC.

BY THE ACT OF JULY 3, 1930, 46 STAT. 1016, AND EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 5398 OF JULY 21, 1930, THE POWERS, DUTIES, AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE BOARD OF MANAGERS WERE TRANSFERRED TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS AFFAIRS. AS A RESULT OF THIS CONSOLIDATION THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, BY LETTER OF AUGUST 26, 1930, REQUESTED A DECISION OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL REGARDING THE PROPER DISPOSITION TO BE MADE OF THE FUND. BY DECISION OF DECEMBER 11, 1930, A-33194, THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS AFFAIRS WAS ADVISED THAT SUCH FUND SHOULD BE COVERED INTO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE CREDIT OF A SPECIAL FUND ACCOUNT PRESCRIBED THEREIN. IT WAS FURTHER STATED IN THAT DECISION THAT---

"* * * IT WAS NOT THE INTENT THAT THESE PROVISIONS FOR SUPPLEMENTING THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATIONS MADE BY THE CONGRESS FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF THE NATIONAL HOMES FOR DISABLED VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS SHOULD BE DISCONTINUED BECAUSE OF THE CONSOLIDATION OF ALL VETERANS' AFFAIRS UNDER THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION, AND THAT THE FUNDS SO ARISING ARE AUTHORIZED TO BE USED FOR THE PURPOSES HERETOFORE PROPER UNDER THE LAWS APPLICABLE TO THE NATIONAL HOMES FOR DISABLED VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS. * * *"

YOUR QUESTION NOW AS TO THE USE THAT MAY BE MADE OF MONIES IN THE FUND IS STATED TO ARISE BY REASON OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 26, 1941, 55 STAT. 868, WHICH IN SECTION 4 PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"DISBURSEMENTS FROM THE GENERAL POST FUND SHALL BE MADE BY THE DIVISION OF DISBURSEMENTS, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, UPON THE ORDER AND WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS FOR THE BENEFIT OF MEMBERS AND PATIENTS WHILE BEING SUPPLIED CARE OR TREATMENT BY THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION IN ANY FACILITY OR HOSPITAL, AND THIS AUTHORITY IS NOT LIMITED TO FACILITIES OR HOSPITALS UNDER DIRECT ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION: * * *"

THIS DISCRETIONARY AUTHORITY OF THE ADMINISTRATOR TO MAKE DISBURSEMENTS FROM THE FUND FOR THE BENEFIT OF MEMBERS AND PATIENTS WHILE BEING SUPPLIED CARE OR TREATMENT WAS SOMEWHAT LIMITED BY THE ACT OF JULY 16, 1946, 60 STAT. 537, WHICH IN SECTION 3 THEREOF PROVIDES THAT IF A DEVISE, BEQUEST, OR GIFT BE MADE FOR A PARTICULAR USE, THE SAME SHOULD BE USED OR DISBURSED AS SO DIRECTED.

THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 26, 1941, PROVIDES LITTLE, IF ANY, AID IN DETERMINING THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH THE CONGRESS INTENDED THAT MONIES IN THE FUND MIGHT BE EXPENDED. THE ONLY COMMENT MADE IN THIS CONNECTION APPEARS ON PAGE 5203, VOLUME 87, CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, AS FOLLOWS:

"MR. VAN ZANDT. A MOMENT AGO THE GENTLEMAN MENTIONED THAT THIS MONEY BE USED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE VETERANS. WILL THE GENTLEMAN PLEASE TELL THE HOUSE JUST HOW THE VETERANS WILL BE ENEFITED?

"MR. RANKIN OF MISSISSIPPI. THE VETERANS HAVE A POST AND THEY HAVE A FUND THAT THEY USE FOR RECREATIONAL PURPOSES.

"MR. VAN ZANDT. THE GENTLEMAN, WHEN MENTIONING POST MEANS HOSPITAL?

"MR. RANKIN OF MISSISSIPPI. AT THE HOSPITAL, TO BUY LITERATURE,MAGAZINES, NEWSPAPERS, AND VARIOUS THINGS THAT THE VETERANS WHO ARE ABLE TO STIR AROUND MAY ENTERTAIN THEMSELVES WITH. THIS FUND IS USED FOR THAT PURPOSE.'

THUS, THERE IS AN INDICATION THAT EXPENDITURES WERE CONTEMPLATED FOR THE PERSONAL BENEFIT OF MEMBERS AND PATIENTS ASIDE FROM ANYTHING THEY OTHERWISE WOULD BE ENTITLED TO AS SUCH.

ADMITTEDLY, THE AUTHORITY TO DISBURSE FROM THE FUND,"UPON THE ORDER AND WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS," IS RATHER BROAD. FURTHERMORE, IN DIRECTING THAT THE MONIES BE EXPENDED "FOR THE BENEFIT OF MEMBERS AND PATIENTS WHILE BEING SUPPLIED CARE OR TREATMENT," IT IS REASONABLE TO ASSUME THAT EXPENDITURES FROM THE GENERAL POST FUND WOULD BE FOR BENEFITS OTHER THAN CARE OR TREATMENT. SUCH BEING THE CASE WE ARE OF THE VIEW THAT THE FUND WAS NOT INTENDED TO BE USED FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF OR REPAIRS TO HOSPITALS AND HOMES OR FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH SINCE SUCH EXPENDITURES ARE DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE "CARE OR TREATMENT" OF PATIENTS.

ON THE OTHER HAND, THE CONSTRUCTION OF A CHAPEL OR A RECREATION BUILDING MAY REASONABLY BE VIEWED AS BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PATIENTS. MOST, IT MIGHT BE CONSIDERED AS ONLY INDIRECTLY RELATED TO THEIR "CARE OR TREATMENT.' CONSEQUENTLY, WE FEEL THAT EXPENDITURES FROM THE FUND FOR SUCH PURPOSES WOULD NOT CONSTITUTE AN ABUSE OF THE DISCRETION VESTED IN YOU BY THE ACT OF DECEMBER 26, 1941. YOUR SPECIFIC QUESTION IS ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY.