B-129858, DECEMBER 21, 1956, 36 COMP. GEN. 474

B-129858: Dec 21, 1956

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TRAINING COURSES A FIVE-DAY MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE FOR GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATORS TO EXCHANGE EXPERIENCES AND INFORMATION IN THE FIELD OF MANAGEMENT IS A "MEETING" RATHER THAN A "COURSE OF TRAINING OR INSTRUCTION" AS THOSE TERMS ARE USED IN STATUTES AND DECISIONS. THE FACT THAT PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS WHO ARE TO LEAD STUDY GROUPS OR WORKSHOP PROGRAMS ARE ALSO TO GIVE ADDRESSES ON SPECIFIC SUBJECTS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE CONFERENCE A COURSE OF TRAINING. THE USE OF FUNDS APPROPRIATED FOR ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED UNLESS IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THE MEETING IS NOT CONCERNED WITH SOME ASPECT OF THE ACTIVITY FOR WHICH APPROPRIATIONS ARE MADE. PAYMENT OF A REGISTRATION FEE FOR EMPLOYEES OF THE CIVIL AERONAUTICS ADMINISTRATION TO ATTEND A MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE WHICH IS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED TO BE IN FURTHERANCE OF ITS AUTHORIZED ACTIVITIES IS PROPER.

B-129858, DECEMBER 21, 1956, 36 COMP. GEN. 474

MEETINGS - ATTENDANCE, REGISTRATION FEES - MEETINGS V. TRAINING COURSES A FIVE-DAY MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE FOR GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATORS TO EXCHANGE EXPERIENCES AND INFORMATION IN THE FIELD OF MANAGEMENT IS A "MEETING" RATHER THAN A "COURSE OF TRAINING OR INSTRUCTION" AS THOSE TERMS ARE USED IN STATUTES AND DECISIONS, AND THE FACT THAT PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS WHO ARE TO LEAD STUDY GROUPS OR WORKSHOP PROGRAMS ARE ALSO TO GIVE ADDRESSES ON SPECIFIC SUBJECTS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE CONFERENCE A COURSE OF TRAINING. THE USE OF FUNDS APPROPRIATED FOR ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED UNLESS IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THE MEETING IS NOT CONCERNED WITH SOME ASPECT OF THE ACTIVITY FOR WHICH APPROPRIATIONS ARE MADE, AND, THEREFORE, PAYMENT OF A REGISTRATION FEE FOR EMPLOYEES OF THE CIVIL AERONAUTICS ADMINISTRATION TO ATTEND A MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE WHICH IS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED TO BE IN FURTHERANCE OF ITS AUTHORIZED ACTIVITIES IS PROPER.

TO N. H. TROUTWINE, CIVIL AERONAUTICS ADMINISTRATION, DECEMBER 21, 1956:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 8, 1956, TRANSMITTING A VOUCHER WHICH WAS PRESENTED TO YOU FOR CERTIFICATION, IN WHICH YOU REQUEST AN OPINION OF THIS OFFICE AS TO WHETHER PAYMENT THEREON MAY BE LEGALLY MADE. THE VOUCHER WHICH IS IN THE AMOUNT OF $30 REPRESENTS REIMBURSEMENT OF A REGISTRATION FEE PAID BY MR. ARTHUR J. DALTON, DEPUTY PERSONNEL OFFICER, CIVIL ADMINISTRATION, SIXTH REGION, FOR ATTENDANCE AT A MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE FOR GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATORS CONDUCTED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII, JUNE 17-22, 1956, UNDER THE SPONSORSHIP OF THE HAWAIIAN CHAPTER, AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION.

ENCLOSED WITH YOUR LETTER IS A PROSPECTUS SHOWING THE PURPOSE AND PROGRAM OF THE CONFERENCE AND IDENTIFYING THE VISITING AND RESIDENT FACULTY, LECTURERS AND LEADERS. ENCLOSED ALSO IS A COPY OF A MEMORANDUM DATED AUGUST 30, 1956, FROM THE PERSONNEL OFFICER, CIVIL AERONAUTICS ADMINISTRATION TO THE REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR QUOTING AN OPINION OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL CONCERNING THE PROPRIETY OF THE PAYMENT OF THE REGISTRATION FEES FOR ATTENDANCE AT THE CONFERENCE.

THE FIRST QUESTION RAISED IN YOUR LETTER IS WHETHER THE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE ATTENDED BY MR. DALTON WAS A "MEETING" OR A "COURSE OF INSTRUCTION OR TRAINING," AS THOSE TERMS ARE USED IN THE STATUTES AND/OR ARE DEFINED IN THE DECISIONS OF OUR OFFICE.

THE PROSPECTUS FURNISHED ON THE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE SHOWS THE FOLLOWING TO BE THE PURPOSE OF THE CONFERENCE:

THE OBJECTIVES OF THE CONFERENCE ARE TO PROVIDE A SERIES OF STIMULATING, DEVELOPMENTAL EXPERIENCES TO EXECUTIVES OF THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES--- FEDERAL, TERRITORIAL, CITY AND COUNTY--- IN HAWAII, AND TO LAY THE FOUNDATION FOR A CONTINUING PROGRAM OF PROFESSIONAL GROWTH FOR PUBLIC ADMINISTRATORS.

THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HAS COOPERATED BY SENDING FOUR PROFESSORS WHO ARE OUTSTANDING IN THE FIELD OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION. THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII HAS AUGMENTED THIS STAFF BY ASKING SIX PROFESSORS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PROCEEDINGS BY LEADING CASE STUDY GROUPS AND WORK SHOP PROGRAMS.

IT SEEMS CLEAR FROM THE QUOTED PORTION ABOVE THE THE CONFERENCE, WHILE HAVING EDUCATORS LEADING THE CASE STUDY GROUPS AND WORKSHOP PROGRAMS, IS FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING A MEANS FOR THE EXCHANGE OF EXPERIENCES AND INFORMATION IN THE FIELD OF MANAGEMENT. THE PAID PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS, UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES, ARE NOT TO BE REGARDED AS CONDUCTING A "COURSE OF TRAINING OR INSTRUCTION" BUT SHOULD BE REGARDED RATHER AS GUIDES OR PILOTS TO THE DISCUSSION IN THE CONFERENCE STUDY GROUPS ETC. ALSO, WHILE IT IS NOTED FROM THE PROGRAM THAT TIME WAS DEVOTED TO ADDRESSES BY THE EDUCATORS ON GIVEN SUBJECTS, THIS, OF ITSELF, WOULD NOT CONSTITUTE A "COURSE OF TRAINING OR INSTRUCTION" WHEN CONSIDERED IN THE LIGHT OF THE ANNOUNCED OBJECTIVE OF THE CONFERENCE SHOWN ABOVE. IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN A "MEETING" RATHER THAN A ,COURSE OF TRAINING OR INSTRUCTION.'

YOUR SECOND QUESTION INVOLVES AN INTERPRETATION OF THE PHRASE "ORGANIZATIONS CONCERNED WITH THE ACTIVITIES FOR WHICH THE APPROPRIATIONS ARE MADE" CONTAINED IN SECTION 103 OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATION ACT, 1956, 69 STAT. 234, WHICH PROVIDES IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

APPROPRIATIONS IN THIS TITLE AVAILABLE FOR SALARIES AND EXPENSES SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS OF ORGANIZATIONS CONCERNED WITH THE ACTIVITIES FOR WHICH THE APPROPRIATIONS ARE MADE * *

YOU SUGGEST THAT A RESTRICTIVE INTERPRETATION OF THIS PHRASE WOULD LIMIT ITS APPLICATION TO ORGANIZATIONS CONCERNED WITH AERONAUTICAL ACTIVITIES WHEREAS A BROAD INTERPRETATION OF THE PHRASE WOULD INCLUDE ORGANIZATIONS WHICH ARE CONCERNED WITH THE ADMINISTRATIVE FUNCTIONS WHICH ARE INVOLVED IN CARRYING OUT THE PRIMARY FUNCTIONS OF THE CIVIL AERONAUTICS ADMINISTRATION. YOU REQUEST OUR INTERPRETATION OF THE ABOVE-QUOTED PHRASE.

IN MAKING APPROPRIATIONS TO THE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES OF THE GOVERNMENT, THE CONGRESS VESTS BROAD DISCRETION IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS AS TO HOW THE FUNDS SHOULD BE SPENT. IT WOULD BE IMPRACTICABLE, IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE, TO LAY DOWN ANY GENERAL RULE AS TO WHAT WOULD CONSTITUTE ,ORGANIZATIONS CONCERNED WITH THE ACTIVITIES FOR WHICH THE APPROPRIATIONS ARE MADE.' EACH CASE MUST BE CONSIDERED IN THE LIGHT OF THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES ATTENDANT THEREON. UNLESS IT IS OBVIOUS ON ITS FACE THAT A PARTICULAR MEETING WAS NOT ONE OF AN ORGANIZATION CONCERNED WITH SOME ASPECT OF THE ACTIVITY FOR WHICH AN APPROPRIATION WAS MADE, WE WOULD NOT BE INCLINED TO QUESTION AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION OF THE PROPRIETY OF ATTENDANCE OF AN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AT SUCH A MEETING.

ACCORDINGLY, IF IT BE DETERMINED ADMINISTRATIVELY THAT ATTENDANCE OF THE EMPLOYEE INVOLVED AT THE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE WAS IN FURTHERANCE OF THE AUTHORIZED ACTIVITIES OF THE CIVIL AERONAUTICS ADMINISTRATION AND IF, AS YOU INDICATE IN YOUR LETTER, THE PAYMENT OF THE $30 REGISTRATION FEE DID NOT ENTITLE THE CONFEREES TO ANY MEALS, THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.