B-126950, MAR. 12, 1956

B-126950: Mar 12, 1956

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THE ROAD IS DESCRIBED AS BEING APPROXIMATELY ONE MILE LONG. THE BUREAU IS LIMITED BY THE 25 PERCENTUM LIMITATION FOR THE PURCHASE OF GRAVEL FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING THE INSTALLATION ACCESSIBLE WHEN NECESSARY. IN JUSTIFICATION FOR THE PROPOSED ADDITIONAL EXPENDITURE IT IS STATED THAT IT IS NECESSARY TO VISIT THE PROJECT INSTALLATIONS DAILY FOR THE PURPOSE OF SERVICING THE OPERATING EQUIPMENT. IT IS STATED FURTHER THAT DURING DRY OR EXTREMELY COLD WEATHER IT IS POSSIBLE TO REACH THE SITES IN AN ORDINARY VEHICLE BUT THAT WHEN THE THAWS MAKE THE GROUND WET. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO USE EVEN A FOUR-WHEEL-DRIVE VEHICLE TO TRAVEL TO THE PROJECT LOCATIONS THROUGH THE MUD AND OTHER OBSTACLES. IT IS ASSERTED THAT IF THE PROJECT WORK IS NOT TO BE INTERRUPTED BY THE WARM THAWS PERIODICALLY OCCURRING DURING A SUBSTANTIAL PART OF THE WINTER AND SPRING.

B-126950, MAR. 12, 1956

TO THE HONORABLE, THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE:

YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 7, 1956, REQUESTS OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF STANDARDS MAY SPEND $3,000 TO $4,000 FOR IMPROVEMENT OF AN ACCESS ROAD LOCATED ON UNIMPROVED LAND LEASED TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR OPERATION OF A RADIO PROPAGATION PROGRAM AT AN ANNUAL RENTAL OF $2,500. THE ROAD IS DESCRIBED AS BEING APPROXIMATELY ONE MILE LONG, NOT ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC AND LOCATED ENTIRELY WITHIN THE UNIMPROVED LEASED ACREAGE.

YOUR LETTER STATES THAT ALMOST THE FULL AMOUNT AUTHORIZED UNDER THE 25 PERCENTUM LIMITATION OF SECTION 322 OF THE ECONOMY ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932, 47 STAT. 412, AS AMENDED, 40 U.S.C. 278/A), NAMELY $625, PREVIOUSLY HAS BEEN EXPENDED FOR GRADING THE ROUTE USED AS A ROAD. ACCORDINGLY, YOU STATE THAT THE SOLE QUESTION INVOLVED APPEARS TO BE WHETHER, UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES AS RELATED IN YOUR LETTER, THE BUREAU IS LIMITED BY THE 25 PERCENTUM LIMITATION FOR THE PURCHASE OF GRAVEL FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING THE INSTALLATION ACCESSIBLE WHEN NECESSARY.

IN JUSTIFICATION FOR THE PROPOSED ADDITIONAL EXPENDITURE IT IS STATED THAT IT IS NECESSARY TO VISIT THE PROJECT INSTALLATIONS DAILY FOR THE PURPOSE OF SERVICING THE OPERATING EQUIPMENT. IT IS STATED FURTHER THAT DURING DRY OR EXTREMELY COLD WEATHER IT IS POSSIBLE TO REACH THE SITES IN AN ORDINARY VEHICLE BUT THAT WHEN THE THAWS MAKE THE GROUND WET, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO USE EVEN A FOUR-WHEEL-DRIVE VEHICLE TO TRAVEL TO THE PROJECT LOCATIONS THROUGH THE MUD AND OTHER OBSTACLES. IT IS ASSERTED THAT IF THE PROJECT WORK IS NOT TO BE INTERRUPTED BY THE WARM THAWS PERIODICALLY OCCURRING DURING A SUBSTANTIAL PART OF THE WINTER AND SPRING, SURFACING OF THE ROAD WILL BE NECESSARY AT LEAST IN THE WORST PLACES. IT IS EXPLAINED THAT PERMANENT IMPROVEMENTS ARE NOT CONTEMPLATED AS IT IS FELT THAT A LAYER OF GRAVEL APPLIED WHERE NECESSARY WILL BE ADEQUATE.

THE WELL-ESTABLISHED RULE IS THAT APPROPRIATED FUNDS ORDINARILY MAY NOT BE USED FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO PRIVATE PROPERTY UNLESS SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY LAW. 5 COMP. DEC. 478, 6 ID. 295; 2 COMP. GEN. 606; 15 ID. 761; 20 ID. 105; ID. 927. SECTION 322 OF THE ECONOMY ACT RELATING TO THE AMOUNT THAT MAY BE EXPENDED FOR REPAIRS, ALTERATIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS, TO LEASED PREMISES, IN EFFECT, CONSTITUTES A LIMITED EXCEPTION TO THE ABOVE GENERAL RULE. 21 COMP. GEN. 908. HOWEVER, AS INDICATED IN YOUR LETTER THE 25 PERCENTUM LIMITATION HAS NOT BEEN REGARDED AS APPLICABLE TO UNIMPROVED LAND LEASED AS SUCH TO THE GOVERNMENT. EVEN THOUGH SUCH LIMITATION IS NOT APPLICABLE HERE THERE STILL REMAINS FOR CONSIDERATION THE QUESTION WHETHER CONSTRUCTION AND IMPROVEMENT OF THE ROAD CONTRAVENE THE GENERAL RULE STATED ABOVE. B 122439, FEBRUARY 23, 1955. IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT UNDER THE GENERAL RULE OF APPROPRIATION CONSTRUCTION AN EXPRESS STATUTORY PROVISION IS NOT REQUIRED FOR EVERY ITEM OF EXPENDITURE, BUT AN APPROPRIATION IN GENERAL TERMS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE IS AVAILABLE FOR EXPENDITURES NECESSARY TO ACCOMPLISH THAT PURPOSE EXCEPT AS TO EXPENDITURES IN CONTRAVENTION OF SOME STATUTORY PROVISION OR FOR WHICH OTHER APPROPRIATIONS ARE SPECIFICALLY AVAILABLE. AS PERMANENT IMPROVEMENTS ARE NOT CONTEMPLATED AND SINCE THE PROPOSED EXPENDITURES IS STATED TO BE NECESSARY TO AVOID BREAKS IN THE CONTINUITY OF OPERATIONS, WE WILL NOT OBJECT TO THE PROPOSED EXPENDITURE.