B-140315, AUG. 24, 1959

B-140315: Aug 24, 1959

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IF MORE THAN ONE OFFER IS FILED THEN PRIORITIES WILL BE DETERMINED BY PUBLIC DRAWING. IT IS STATED IN THE LETTER THAT THE PROCEDURE OF HOLDING A DRAWING TO DETERMINE PRIORITIES HAS BEEN A REGULAR FEATURE IN THE DISPOSAL OF PUBLIC LANDS AND RESOURCES FOR A CONSIDERABLE PERIOD OF TIME. THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY ASKS IF OUR OFFICE WOULD HAVE ANY OBJECTION TO THE PROMULGATION OF PROPOSED REGULATIONS UNDER WHICH THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT WOULD RETAIN THE FILING FEE OF THE UNSUCCESSFUL OFFERORS. SHALL BE ACCOMPANIED BY: "/1) A FILING FEE OF $10 WHICH WILL BE RETAINED AS A SERVICE CHARGE. IT IS REPORTED THAT THE ASSESSMENT OF FILING FEES IS MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RECOMMENDATIONS SET FORTH IN BUREAU OF THE BUDGET BULLETIN NO. 58 -3.

B-140315, AUG. 24, 1959

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR:

ON JULY 23, 1959, THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR REQUESTED OUR DECISION ON A QUESTION REGARDING THE PROMULGATION OF PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO REGULATIONS, PENDING IN THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, RELATING TO THE SIMULTANEOUS FILING OF OIL AND GAS LEASE OFFERS WHEN LAND BECOMES AVAILABLE TO LEASING AS A RESULT OF CANCELLATION, RELINQUISHMENT, TERMINATION, OR EXPIRATION OF EXISTING LEASES.

THE LETTER INDICATES THAT THE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS PROVIDED THAT AFTER NOTICE OF THE LAND BEING AVAILABLE FOR LEASING HAS BEEN POSTED ON BULLETIN BOARDS OF THE LAND OFFICES, SIMULTANEOUS FILINGS TO LEASE ALL OR PART OF THE AVAILABLE ACREAGE MAY BE MADE DURING A SPECIFIED PERIOD OF TIME, AND IF MORE THAN ONE OFFER IS FILED THEN PRIORITIES WILL BE DETERMINED BY PUBLIC DRAWING. ALSO, IT IS STATED IN THE LETTER THAT THE PROCEDURE OF HOLDING A DRAWING TO DETERMINE PRIORITIES HAS BEEN A REGULAR FEATURE IN THE DISPOSAL OF PUBLIC LANDS AND RESOURCES FOR A CONSIDERABLE PERIOD OF TIME.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY ASKS IF OUR OFFICE WOULD HAVE ANY OBJECTION TO THE PROMULGATION OF PROPOSED REGULATIONS UNDER WHICH THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT WOULD RETAIN THE FILING FEE OF THE UNSUCCESSFUL OFFERORS.

WE NOTE THAT SECTION 192.42 (E) (1) OF TITLE 43 OF THE CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS, IN EFFECT AT THE PRESENT TIME, REGARDING NONCOMPETITIVE OIL AND GAS LEASES PROVIDES, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"/E) EACH OFFER, WHEN FIRST FILED, SHALL BE ACCOMPANIED BY:

"/1) A FILING FEE OF $10 WHICH WILL BE RETAINED AS A SERVICE CHARGE, * * * EVEN THOUGH THE OFFER SHOULD BE REJECTED OR WITHDRAWN IN WHOLE OR IN PART.'

IT IS REPORTED THAT THE ASSESSMENT OF FILING FEES IS MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RECOMMENDATIONS SET FORTH IN BUREAU OF THE BUDGET BULLETIN NO. 58 -3, DATED NOVEMBER 13, 1957, AND IT APPEARS THAT THE PURPOSE OF RETAINING SUCH FILING FEES IS TO RETURN AN AMOUNT TO THE TREASURY TO DEFRAY THE COST OF PROCESSING THE LEASE OFFERS AND HOLDING THE DRAWINGS.

IN VIEW OF WHAT HAS BEEN STATED ABOVE, OUR OFFICE WOULD HAVE NO OBJECTION TO THE PROMULGATION OF PROPOSED REGULATIONS UNDER WHICH THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT WOULD CONTINUE TO RETAIN AND WOULD CREDIT TO AN EARNED ACCOUNT THE FILING FEES OF UNSUCCESSFUL OFFERS FOR OIL AND GAS LEASES.