B-127121, APR. 3, 1956

B-127121: Apr 3, 1956

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TO THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 23. REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE ALASKA RAILROAD IS AUTHORIZED TO RETAIN IN ITS REVOLVING FUND ALL AMOUNTS RECEIVED BY IT OVER AND ABOVE AMOUNTS REQUIRED FOR MAINTENANCE CHARGES AND OPERATING EXPENSES AND. WHETHER SUCH AMOUNTS ARE AVAILABLE TO THE RAILROAD FOR CONSTRUCTION AND IMPROVEMENTS. IN THE EVENT IT IS RULED THAT THE FUNDS MAY BE USED ONLY FOR OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE. OUR ADVICE IS REQUESTED AS TO THE TYPE OF WORK THAT CONSTITUTES . IT IS STATED THAT THE QUESTIONS ARISE FROM A CONSIDERATION. IT IS ASSUMED THAT THE CONCERN OF YOUR DEPARTMENT STEMS FROM AN INQUIRY RAISED BY OUR REGIONAL AUDITOR IN LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 6.

B-127121, APR. 3, 1956

TO THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 23, 1956, FROM THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY, REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE ALASKA RAILROAD IS AUTHORIZED TO RETAIN IN ITS REVOLVING FUND ALL AMOUNTS RECEIVED BY IT OVER AND ABOVE AMOUNTS REQUIRED FOR MAINTENANCE CHARGES AND OPERATING EXPENSES AND, IF SO, WHETHER SUCH AMOUNTS ARE AVAILABLE TO THE RAILROAD FOR CONSTRUCTION AND IMPROVEMENTS. IN THE EVENT IT IS RULED THAT THE FUNDS MAY BE USED ONLY FOR OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE, OUR ADVICE IS REQUESTED AS TO THE TYPE OF WORK THAT CONSTITUTES ,MAINTENANCE" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT OF MARCH 12, 1914, 38 STAT. 305, 48 U.S.C. 301-307.

IT IS STATED THAT THE QUESTIONS ARISE FROM A CONSIDERATION, ON THE ONE HAND, OF SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 12, 1914, AND, ON THE OTHER, THE PROVISIONS CONCERNING THE RAILROAD CARRIED IN THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION ACTS IN RECENT YEARS. IT IS ASSUMED THAT THE CONCERN OF YOUR DEPARTMENT STEMS FROM AN INQUIRY RAISED BY OUR REGIONAL AUDITOR IN LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 6, 1955, ADDRESSED TO THE GENERAL MANAGER OF THE ALASKA RAILROAD, AS TO THE AUTHORITY TO RETAIN AMOUNTS IN THE REVOLVING FUND OVER AND ABOVE MAINTENANCE AND OPERATING EXPENSES.

SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 12, 1914, PROVIDES, IN PERTINENT PART:

"THAT ALL MONEYS DERIVED FROM THE LEASE * * * OF ANY OF THE PUBLIC LANDS * * * IN ALASKA * * * AND THE EARNINGS OF SAID RAILROAD, OR RAILROADS * * * ABOVE MAINTENANCE CHARGES AND OPERATING EXPENSES, SHALL BE PAID INTO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES AS OTHER MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS ARE PAID.

THE FOREGOING REQUIREMENT WAS RENDERED INOPERATIVE BY THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION ACTS FOR FISCAL YEARS 1926 THROUGH 1950 WHICH CONTAINED LANGUAGE CLEARLY AUTHORIZING THE RETENTION AND USE OF REVENUES FOR EXPENDITURES OTHER THAN MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION. FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1951, THE DEPARTMENT SUBMITTED TO THE APPROPRIATION COMMITTEES A REVISED APPROPRIATION STRUCTURE FOR THE PURPOSE OF CONSOLIDATING AND MAKING UNIFORM THE DEPARTMENT'S APPROPRIATION PATTERN. SUCH CHANGE WAS NOT FOR THE PURPOSE OF ACQUIRING ADDITIONAL AUTHORITY NOR TO DIMINISH THE AUTHORITY WHICH CONGRESS HAD PREVIOUSLY CONFERRED UPON YOUR DEPARTMENT. THE CHANGE IS EXPLAINED AS FOLLOWS IN A STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, IN HOUSE REPORT 1797, 81ST CONGRESS, 2D SESSION:

"REVISED APPROPRIATION STRUCTURE FOR INTERIOR DEPARTMENT

"A SIMPLIFIED AND MORE ORDERLY PATTERN OF APPROPRIATIONS HAS BEEN PRESENTED IN THE BUDGET FR THE DEPARTMENT, AND WITH MINOR REVISIONS THIS HAS BEEN APPROVED BY THE COMMITTEE. ASSURANCE HAS BEEN GIVEN BY THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR THAT THE INTENT OF CONGRESS IN APPROVING APPROPRIATIONS AND ALLOCATIONS OF FUNDS TO VARIOUS ACTIVITIES AND FOR SPECIFIC OBJECTS WILL BE SCRUPULOUSLY OBSERVED EVEN THOUGH THE APPROPRIATION ACT DOES NOT SO SPECIFY IN DETAIL. THE NEW APPROPRIATION STRUCTURE HAS BEEN RECOMMENDED BY THE COMMITTEE FOR ONLY ONE REASON. THAT IS TO FACILITATE AND ENCOURAGE THE MEASUREMENT AND CONTROL OF THE COSTS OF PERFORMING THE WORK OF THE DEPARTMENT.'

SUBSEQUENT TO THE CHANGE IN APPROPRIATION STRUCTURE, BEGINNING FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1951, ACTS APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR THE ALASKA RAILROAD HAVE UNIFORMLY PROVIDED THAT THE REVOLVING FUND "SHALL CONTINUE AVAILABLE UNTIL EXPENDED FOR THE WORK AUTHORIZED BY LAW.' THIS LANGUAGE, COUPLED WITH THE ABOVE EXPLAINED REASON FOR REVISING THE APPROPRIATION STRUCTURE, AND WHEN VIEWED IN LIGHT OF THE BASIC AUTHORITY FOR THE CONSTRUCTION, OPERATION, AND MAINTENANCE OF THE RAILROAD AS CONTAINED IN THE ACT OF MARCH 12, 1914, IS DEEMED AS SUFFICIENT AUTHORITY FOR THE DEPOSIT OF REVENUES INTO THE REVOLVING FUND AND THE USE THEREOF FOR OTHER THAN OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE EXPENSES. ACCORDINGLY, THE FIRST QUESTION IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE, AND THE SECOND QUESTION IN THE AFFIRMATIVE TO THE EXTENT THAT ANNUAL JUSTIFICATIONS TO THE CONGRESS INCLUDE THE ACTIVITIES AND SPECIFIC OBJECTS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS QUOTED ABOVE.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, CONSIDERATION OF THE QUESTION AS TO THE TYPE OF THE WORK THAT CONSTITUTES "MAINTENANCE" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT OF MARCH 12, 1914, DOES NOT APPEAR NECESSARY.