B-130564, MAR. 18, 1957

B-130564: Mar 18, 1957

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THE LETTER STATES THAT THE BUREAU IS CONDUCTING EXPERIMENTAL WORK ON RADIO PROPAGATION PROBLEMS ON THE SITE WHICH IS PRESENTLY BEING LEASED PENDING FINAL ACQUISITION BY PURCHASE. IT IS REPORTED THAT ALTHOUGH THE BUREAU HAD INTENDED TO CARRY OUT ITS WORK PRIOR TO PURCHASE OF THE SITE IN TEMPORARY METAL STRUCTURES. PRELIMINARY EXPERIMENTATION WITH PROTOTYPE ANTENNAS DISCLOSED THAT FOREIGN METAL OBJECTS OF DIMENSIONS GREATER THAN FIVE FEET NEAR THE ANTENNAS WOULD SERIOUSLY DEGRADE OR RUIN THE RESULTS OF ONE OF YOUR EXPERIMENTAL PROGRAMS WHICH IS IMPORTANT TO THE NATIONAL DEFENSE. 000 WORTH OF EQUIPMENT WHICH WILL BE IN OPERATION 24 HOURS PER DAY AND UNATTENDED MOST OF THE TIME. IT IS DEEMED UNWISE TO USE WOOD CONSTRUCTION.

B-130564, MAR. 18, 1957

TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE:

LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 1, 1957, FROM YOUR ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR ADMINISTRATION, REQUESTS OUR DECISION WHETHER THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF STANDARDS MAY CONSTRUCT A SMALL CINDER-BLOCK LABORATORY BUILDING ON AN 810 ACRE TRACT OF LEASED LAND IN THE COUNTY OF BOULDER, STATE OF COLORADO.

THE LETTER STATES THAT THE BUREAU IS CONDUCTING EXPERIMENTAL WORK ON RADIO PROPAGATION PROBLEMS ON THE SITE WHICH IS PRESENTLY BEING LEASED PENDING FINAL ACQUISITION BY PURCHASE, AND THAT A BILL TO ACQUIRE THE SITE BY PURCHASE HAS BEEN PREPARED AND FORWARDED TO THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET FOR CLEARANCE PRIOR TO ITS SUBMISSION TO THE CONGRESS. IT IS REPORTED THAT ALTHOUGH THE BUREAU HAD INTENDED TO CARRY OUT ITS WORK PRIOR TO PURCHASE OF THE SITE IN TEMPORARY METAL STRUCTURES, PRELIMINARY EXPERIMENTATION WITH PROTOTYPE ANTENNAS DISCLOSED THAT FOREIGN METAL OBJECTS OF DIMENSIONS GREATER THAN FIVE FEET NEAR THE ANTENNAS WOULD SERIOUSLY DEGRADE OR RUIN THE RESULTS OF ONE OF YOUR EXPERIMENTAL PROGRAMS WHICH IS IMPORTANT TO THE NATIONAL DEFENSE. THE LETTER FURTHER STATES THAT THE LABORATORY BUILDING WOULD BE USED FOR THE HOUSING OF NEARLY $100,000 WORTH OF EQUIPMENT WHICH WILL BE IN OPERATION 24 HOURS PER DAY AND UNATTENDED MOST OF THE TIME. BECAUSE OF THIS, IT IS DEEMED UNWISE TO USE WOOD CONSTRUCTION, PARTICULARLY IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT TWO FIRES WITHIN THE LAST 18 MONTHS HAVE DESTROYED APPROXIMATELY $100,000 WORTH OF EQUIPMENT THAT WAS HOUSED IN NONFIREPROOF HOUSES AT FIELD INSTALLATIONS. THE ESTIMATED COST FOR CONSTRUCTION OF THE CINDER-BLOCK BUILDING COMPLETE WITH WIRING AND INSULATION BUT WITHOUT HEAT AND AIR CONDITIONING IS $3,200.

SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF JULY 21, 1950, 64 STAT. 371, 15 U.S.C. 286, PROVIDES:

"WITHIN THE LIMITS OF FUNDS WHICH MAY BE APPROPRIATED THEREFOR, THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE IS AUTHORIZED TO MAKE IMPROVEMENTS TO EXISTING BUILDINGS, GROUNDS, AND OTHER PLANT FACILITIES, INCLUDING CONSTRUCTION OF MINOR BUILDINGS AND OTHER FACILITIES OF THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF STANDARDS IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND IN THE FIELD TO HOUSE SPECIAL APPARATUS OR MATERIAL WHICH MUST BE ISOLATED FROM OTHER ACTIVITIES: PROVIDED, THAT NO IMPROVEMENT SHALL BE MADE NOR SHALL ANY BUILDING BE CONSTRUCTED UNDER THIS AUTHORITY AT A COST IN EXCESS OF $25,000, UNLESS SPECIFIC PROVISION IS MADE THEREFOR IN THE APPROPRIATION CONCERNED.'

THE ACT OF OCTOBER 26, 1949, 63 STAT. 907, 5 U.S.C. 596A (F) AUTHORIZES APPROPRIATIONS TO BE MADE FOR ACTIVITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE FOR

"/F) ERECTING, * * * BY CONTRACT OR OTHERWISE, SUCH * * * WORKING QUARTERS AND FACILITIES AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO CARRY OUT ITS AUTHORIZED WORK AT REMOTE LOCALITIES NOT ON FOREIGN SOIL WHERE SUCH * * * WORKING ACCOMMODATIONS ARE NOT OTHERWISE AVAILABLE.'

THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE APPROPRIATION ACT, 1957, 70 STAT. 314, 321, UNDER THE HEADING ,NATIONAL BUREAU OF STANDARDS," MAKES AN APPROPRIATION FOR THE "IMPROVEMENT AND CONSTRUCTION OF TEMPORARY OR SPECIAL FACILITIES AS AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF JULY 21, 1950 (15 U.S.C. 286).' ALSO, UNDER THE HEADING "GENERAL PROVISIONS DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE," THE APPROPRIATION ACT PROVIDES THAT DURING THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR APPLICABLE FUNDS AVAILABLE TO THE DEPARTMENT SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE ACTIVITIES SPECIFIED IN THE ACT OF OCTOBER 26, 1949, 5 U.S.C. 596A. HOWEVER, THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF BOTH OF THE BASIC PROVISIONS QUOTED ABOVE (15 U.S.C. 286, AND 5 U.S.C. 596A (F) (, AS WELL AS THAT OF THE APPROPRIATION ACT, FAILS TO INDICATE THAT THE CONGRESS INTENDED TO AUTHORIZE THE ERECTION OF PERMANENT-TYPE BUILDINGS ON PRIVATELY OWNED LANDS. HENCE, THE AUTHORITY TO CONSTRUCT MINOR BUILDINGS WITHOUT SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION MUST BE CONSTRUED AS RELATING TO BUILDINGS ON GOVERNMENT-OWNED LANDS. 6 COMP. DEC. 295.

THE DEPARTMENT RECOGNIZES THE GENERAL RULE PROHIBITING THE USE OF APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO PRIVATE PROPERTY UNLESS SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY LAW, BUT URGES THAT IMPROVEMENT TO THE LAND AS A RESULT OF THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE BUILDING, FROM THE LESSOR'SSTANDPOINT, WOULD BE UNIMPORTANT SINCE THE USE OF THIS LAND BY THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF STANDARDS IS PART OF A LONG RANGE PROGRAM AND THE PURCHASE OF THIS SITE BY THE GOVERNMENT, SUBJECT TO THE APPROVAL OF THE CONGRESS, IS IMMINENT.

EXCEPTIONS HAVE BEEN MADE TO THE GENERAL RULE STATED ABOVE WHERE THE IMPROVEMENTS WERE OF A TEMPORARY CHARACTER, THE LEASE PROVIDED THAT THEY REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE GOVERNMENT WITH THE RIGHT RESERVED TO REMOVE THEM AT THE EXPIRATION OF THE LEASE AND THE IMPROVEMENT WAS ESSENTIAL TO ACCOMPLISH THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH AN APPROPRIATION WAS MADE. SEE 10 COMP. GEN. 140; 15 ID. 761; 20 ID. 927; 35 ID. 715; AND DECISIONS B-126950, MARCH 12, 1956, AND B-127807, MAY 14, 1956, TO YOU. HOWEVER, IT APPEARS THAT THE LABORATORY BUILDING NOW PROPOSED IS TO BE OF PERMANENT-TYPE CONSTRUCTION AND DOES NOT COME WITHIN THE EXCEPTIONS HERETOFORE RECOGNIZED. FURTHER, WE SEE NO REASON FOR PERMITTING AN EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL RULE BASED UPON AN EVALUATION OF THE FUTURE BENEFITS TO THE LESSOR BECAUSE OF THE LONG-RANGE PROGRAM AND FORECAST AS TO THE PROBABILITY OF PURCHASE OF THE SITE UPON WHICH THE LABORATORY IS TO CONSTRUCTED. MOREOVER, THE ERECTION OF A PERMANENT-TYPE BUILDING, SO AFFIXED TO THE REALTY AS TO BECOME A PART THEREOF, MIGHT RESULT IN THE GOVERNMENT HAVING TO PAY A GREATER CONSIDERATION FOR THE SITE IF IT LATER PURCHASED THE SAME THAN FOR THE UNIMPROVED LAND EVEN THOUGH THE BUILDING WERE TO BE ERECTED AT ITS EXPENSE.

ACCORDINGLY, WE HAVE TO ADVISE THAT THE CONTEMPLATED PERMANENT-TYPE CONSTRUCTION OF A LABORATORY BUILDING AT THIS TIME IS NOT AUTHORIZED.