B-139589, JUNE 5, 1959, 38 COMP. GEN. 822

B-139589: Jun 5, 1959

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PROPERTY - PUBLIC - TRANSFERS - CANAL ZONE PROPERTY WHILE THE TRANSFER OF A BUILDING SITE IN THE CANAL ZONE FROM THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION AGENCY FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF HOUSING MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS A TRANSFER WHICH WILL RESULT IN THE ELIMINATION OF "DUPLICATE ACTIVITIES AND RELATED FACILITIES" TO COME WITHIN THE AUTHORITY OF SECTION 204 OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATION ACT. IF A DETERMINATION HAS BEEN MADE THAT THE PROPERTY IS EXCESS TO THE NEEDS OF THE CANAL AGENCIES. THE SECRETARY OF THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY REQUESTED A DECISION AS TO WHETHER YOU ARE AUTHORIZED. THE QUESTION IS SAID TO BE PRESENTED IN COMPLIANCE WITH REQUEST MADE BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS.

B-139589, JUNE 5, 1959, 38 COMP. GEN. 822

PROPERTY - PUBLIC - TRANSFERS - CANAL ZONE PROPERTY WHILE THE TRANSFER OF A BUILDING SITE IN THE CANAL ZONE FROM THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION AGENCY FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF HOUSING MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS A TRANSFER WHICH WILL RESULT IN THE ELIMINATION OF "DUPLICATE ACTIVITIES AND RELATED FACILITIES" TO COME WITHIN THE AUTHORITY OF SECTION 204 OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATION ACT, 1956, WHICH AUTHORIZES TRANSFERS BETWEEN AGENCIES FOR PURPOSES OF CONSOLIDATION OR ELIMINATION OF GOVERNMENTAL FUNCTIONS, THE TRANSFER COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED UNDER TITLE IV OF THE FEDERAL PROPERTY AND ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES ACT OF 1949, 40 U.S.C. 511-514, RELATING TO THE DISPOSAL OF FOREIGN SURPLUS PROPERTY, IF A DETERMINATION HAS BEEN MADE THAT THE PROPERTY IS EXCESS TO THE NEEDS OF THE CANAL AGENCIES.

TO MAJOR GENERAL W. E. POTTER, GOVERNOR OF THE CANAL ZONE, JUNE 5, 1959:

BY LETTER OF MAY 11, 1959, THE SECRETARY OF THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY REQUESTED A DECISION AS TO WHETHER YOU ARE AUTHORIZED, UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 204 OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATION ACT, 1956, 69 STAT. 236, TO TRANSFER TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION AGENCY A BUILDING SITE IN THE CANAL ZONE FOR THE PURPOSE OF ENABLING THAT AGENCY TO CONSTRUCT HOUSING THEREON. THE QUESTION IS SAID TO BE PRESENTED IN COMPLIANCE WITH REQUEST MADE BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS, DURING THE HEARINGS RECENTLY CONCLUDED ON THE APPROPRIATION BILL FOR 1960.

IT IS STATED THAT THE FEDERAL AVIATION AGENCY, THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY AND THE CANAL ZONE GOVERNMENT HAVE AGREED TO CONSTRUCTION OF NEW HOUSING BY FAA ON A SITE LOCATED AT CARDENAS, CANAL ZONE. THE SITE WAS PREVIOUSLY DEVELOPED IN PREPARATION FOR PANAMA CANAL COMPANY HOUSING PROJECT, BUT ABANDONED AFTER GRADING AND INSTALLATION OF CERTAIN UTILITIES. THE DOUBT AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF TRANSFERRING THE SITE OF FAA UNDER SECTION 204 IS SAID TO ARISE BECAUSE "A QUESTION HAS BEEN RAISED WHETHER SUCH A TRANSFER COULD BE REGARDED AS BEING "IN THE INTEREST OF THE ELIMINATION OF DUPLICATE ACTIVITIES AND RELATED FACILITIES" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE SECTION.'

SECTION 204 OF THE CITED ACT AUTHORIZES THE TRANSFER BETWEEN DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES, INCLUDING THE CANAL ZONE GOVERNMENT AND THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY, WITH OR WITHOUT EXCHANGE OF FUNDS, OF "ALL OR SO MUCH OF THE FACILITIES, BUILDINGS, STRUCTURES, IMPROVEMENTS, STOCK AND EQUIPMENT, OF THEIR ACTIVITIES LOCATED IN THE CANAL ZONE, AS MAY BE MUTUALLY AGREED UPON BY THE AGENCIES INVOLVED AND APPROVED BY THE DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET, IN THE INTEREST OF ELIMINATION OF DUPLICATE ACTIVITIES AND RELATED FACILITIES * * *.'

THE LANGUAGE OF SECTION 204 CLEARLY EXPRESSES THE PRIMARY OBJECTIVE SOUGHT TO BE ACCOMPLISHED BY THE CONGRESS, NAMELY, TO ACHIEVE GREATER ECONOMY AND EFFICIENCY WITHIN THE AGENCIES OPERATING IN THE CANAL ZONE THROUGH ELIMINATION OF DUPLICATE ACTIVITIES AND RELATED FACILITIES. YOU KNOW, THIS LEGISLATION DEVELOPED, AT LEAST IN SOME MEASURE, FROM OUR AUDIT REPORTS FOR FISCAL YEARS 1952 TO 1955 OF THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY AND THE CANAL ZONE GOVERNMENT WHEREIN WE POINTED OUT TO THE CONGRESS THE EXISTENCE OF CERTAIN DUPLICATE ACTIVITIES AND RECOMMENDED THAT THEY BE CONSOLIDATED OR ELIMINATED. SEE PAGES 6 TO 9 OF OUR REPORT ON AUDIT OF THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY AND THE CANAL ZONE GOVERNMENT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1955, HOUSE DOCUMENT NO. 465, 84TH CONGRESS, AND PAGES 1540 TO 1543 OF SENATE HEARINGS ON THE CIVIL FUNCTIONS, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY APPROPRIATIONS FOR 1955, PARTICULARLY AS TO THE TYPES OF DUPLICATE ACTIVITIES REFERRED TO THEREIN.

THE TERM "DUPLICATE ACTIVITIES" IN SECTION 204 WAS USED IN A BROAD SENSE TO DESCRIBE SIMILAR OR IDENTICAL AUTHORIZED DAY-TO-DAY GOVERNMENTAL FUNCTIONS PERFORMED BY THE AGENCIES OPERATING IN THE CANAL ZONE. AND THE TERM "RELATED FACILITIES," AS APPLIED TO "DUPLICATE ACTIVITIES," REFERS TO THE FACILITIES PERTAINING TO OR ALLIED WITH PERFORMANCE OF THE ACTIVITIES. IN EXPLANATION OF THE NEED FOR THIS LAW THERE ARE NOTED THE STATEMENTS CONTAINED AT PAGE 861 OF THE HOUSE HEARINGS ON THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATION BILL FOR 1956, AS FOLLOWS:

MR. NOBLE. PAGE 203 OF THE COMMITTEE PRINT, MR. CHAIRMAN:

THIS PARAGRAPH WOULD FACILITATE THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE FACILITIES ON THE CANAL ZONE WHERE IT IS DESIRABLE. AT THE PRESENT TIME, FOR INSTANCE, WHEN THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE HOSPITAL TOOK PLACE, IT REQUIRED SPECIFIC LEGISLATION FOR THE NAVY TO TRANSFER TO THE CANAL ZONE GOVERNMENT THE COCO SOLO HOSPITAL. (SEE SECTION 105 OF THE CIVIL FUNCTIONS APPROPRIATION ACT, 1955, 68 STAT. 335).

THERE ARE OTHER FACILITIES THAT PERHAPS COULD BE COMBINED, AND THIS IS GENERAL LANGUAGE THAT WOULD PERMIT THE TRANSFER OF FACILITIES INTO, OR FROM, THE COMPANY OR THE CANAL ZONE GOVERNMENT AND BETWEEN OTHER AGENCIES OF THE GOVERNMENT, TO FACILITATE THAT OPERATION WITHOUT HAVING TO HAVE SPECIFIC LEGISLATION THAT THE TRANSFER TAKE PLACE.

MR. PRESTON. THE LANGUAGE WOULD ENABLE YOU TO HAVE A MORE EFFICIENT OPERATION, YOU FEEL?

GOVERNOR SEYBOLD. THAT IS CORRECT.

IT IS CLEAR FROM THE LANGUAGE OF SECTION 204 AND ITS LEGISLATIVE HISTORY THAT THE PROPOSED TRANSFER OF THE BUILDING SITE TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION AGENCY WILL RESULT IN NO ELIMINATION OF ,DUPLICATE ACTIVITIES AND RELATED FACILITIES," WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE TERMS AS USED IN THE SECTION, EITHER ON THE PART OF THE CANAL AGENCIES OR FAA. IN OTHER WORDS, NO DUPLICATE GOVERNMENTAL FUNCTION IS CONSOLIDATED OR ELIMINATED BY THE MERE TRANSFER OF A BUILDING SITE.

ON THE OTHER HAND, THERE APPEARS TO BE HERE INVOLVED THE TRANSFER TO FAA OF THE USE OF A PARCEL OF DEVELOPED LAND SUITABLE FOR THE ERECTION OF HOUSING THEREON, WHICH APPARENTLY HAS BEEN DETERMINED BY THE CANAL AGENCIES TO BE EXCESS TO THEIR NEEDS. THAT BEING THE CASE, TRANSFER OF THE LAND COMES SQUARELY WITHIN THE PROVISIONS OF TITLE IV OF THE FEDERAL PROPERTY AND ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES ACT OF 1949, 63 STAT. 397, 40 U.S.C. 511-514, AUTHORIZING DISPOSAL OF FOREIGN EXCESS PROPERTY.

THEREFORE, AND IN SPECIFIC ANSWER TO THE QUESTION PRESENTED, WE CONCLUDE THAT TRANSFER TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION AGENCY OF THE BUILDING SITE UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF HOUSING IS NOT AUTHORIZED UNDER THE TERMS OF THE REFERRED-TO SECTION 204. HOWEVER, THE TRANSFER MAY BE ACCOMPLISHED UNDER THE CITED PROVISIONS OF THE FEDERAL PROPERTY AND ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES ACT OF 1949, IF OTHERWISE PROPER.