B-158037, DEC. 13, 1965, 45 COMP. GEN. 333

B-158037: Dec 13, 1965

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MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED A VALID EXPENDITURE THAT IS CHARGEABLE TO FUNDS APPROPRIATED TO THE DEPARTMENT FOR RESEARCH. THE CONGRESS WILL BE HELD IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IN SEPTEMBER 1966. YOU STATE THAT THE OBJECTIVES OF THE CONGRESS ARE SEVERAL. YOU ADVISE THAT ALTHOUGH IT IS HOPED THAT PUBLIC FUNDS WILL BE AVAILABLE. ADDITIONAL SUPPORT WILL BE NEEDED. YOU ADVISE THAT FOR THE SPONSORSHIP THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION WILL RECEIVE A $10 REDUCTION IN THE INDIVIDUAL REGISTRATION FEES OF THOSE PLANNING TO ATTEND. THE DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY IS OF THE OPINION THAT THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION EMPLOYEES WHO ATTEND THE CONGRESS WILL GAIN CONSIDERABLE KNOWLEDGE BY THE VARIOUS DISCUSSIONS AND PAPERS PRESENTED BY SCIENTISTS FROM A NUMBER OF FOREIGN COUNTRIES IN THE FIELD OF KIDNEY RESEARCH.

B-158037, DEC. 13, 1965, 45 COMP. GEN. 333

MEETINGS - ATTENDANCE, ETC., FEES - RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FUNDS THE PURCHASE OF A SPONSORSHIP MEMBERSHIP IN THE AMOUNT OF $3,000 IN THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF NEPHROLOGY, MEETING TO EXCHANGE SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE, BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY TO FURTHER THE RESEARCH FUNCTIONS AUTHORIZED IN 38 U.S.C. 4101, MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED A VALID EXPENDITURE THAT IS CHARGEABLE TO FUNDS APPROPRIATED TO THE DEPARTMENT FOR RESEARCH, ABSENT CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL, AND THE CONFERENCE SCHEDULED FOR SEPTEMBER 1966, TIME PERMITS THE DISCLOSURE OF THE PROPOSED MEMBERSHIP PURCHASE, THE REQUEST FOR FUNDS, AND THE OBTAINING OF THE ACQUIESCENCE OF THE CONGRESS TO SPONSORING A SUPPORT MEMBERSHIP.

TO THE ADMINISTRATOR, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION, DECEMBER 13, 1965:

YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 12, 1965, REQUESTS A DECISION AS TO WHETHER MEDICAL RESEARCH FUNDS MAY BE USED BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY, TO PURCHASE A MEMBERSHIP IN THE "THIRD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE (CONGRESS) OF NEPHROLOGY.' THE CONGRESS WILL BE HELD IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IN SEPTEMBER 1966.

YOU STATE THAT THE OBJECTIVES OF THE CONGRESS ARE SEVERAL, INCLUDING THE PROMOTION OF EXCHANGE OF SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION RELATING TO KIDNEY RESEARCH AND TRANSPLANTATION PROBLEMS. YOU ADVISE THAT ALTHOUGH IT IS HOPED THAT PUBLIC FUNDS WILL BE AVAILABLE, ADDITIONAL SUPPORT WILL BE NEEDED. THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN REQUESTED TO SPONSOR A MEMBERSHIP IN THE COMING CONGRESS AT A COST OF $3,000. YOU ADVISE THAT FOR THE SPONSORSHIP THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION WILL RECEIVE A $10 REDUCTION IN THE INDIVIDUAL REGISTRATION FEES OF THOSE PLANNING TO ATTEND. THE DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY IS OF THE OPINION THAT THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION EMPLOYEES WHO ATTEND THE CONGRESS WILL GAIN CONSIDERABLE KNOWLEDGE BY THE VARIOUS DISCUSSIONS AND PAPERS PRESENTED BY SCIENTISTS FROM A NUMBER OF FOREIGN COUNTRIES IN THE FIELD OF KIDNEY RESEARCH.

YOU REFER TO 38 U.S.C. 4101 WHICH PROVIDES THAT THE FUNCTIONS OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY "SHALL BE THOSE NECESSARY FOR A COMPLETE MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICE, INCLUDING RESEARCH, AS PRESCRIBED BY THE ADMINISTRATOR PURSUANT TO THIS CHAPTER AND OTHER STATUTORY AUTHORITY, FOR THE MEDICAL CARE AND TREATMENT OF VETERANS.'

ALSO, YOU DIRECT OUR ATTENTION TO CERTAIN PROVISIONS IN THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACT, 1966, 79 STAT. 520, UNDER THE HEADING "VETERANS ADMINISTRATION," SUBHEADING "MEDICAL ADMINISTRATION AND MISCELLANEOUS OPERATING EXPENSES" AND "MEDICAL AND PROSTHETIC RESEARCH," RESPECTIVELY, WHICH READ, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

FOR EXPENSES NECESSARY FOR ADMINISTRATION OF THE MEDICAL, HOSPITAL, DOMICILIARY, CONSTRUCTION AND SUPPLY, RESEARCH, EMPLOYEE EDUCATION AND TRAINING ACTIVITIES, AS AUTHORIZED BY LAW, $13,496,000 * * *.

FOR EXPENSES NECESSARY FOR CARRYING OUT PROGRAMS OF MEDICAL AND PROSTHETIC RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, AS AUTHORIZED BY LAW, * * * $40,893,000 * * *.

YOU REFER TO OUR DECISION OF NOVEMBER 29, 1961, B-147552, WHEREIN WE STATED THAT WE WOULD NOT OBJECT TO THE MARITIME ADMINISTRATION USING ITS APPROPRIATION FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT TO ASSIST IN MEETING THE EXPENSES OF A CONFERENCE CONCERNING CARGO HANDLING ON SHIPS, SINCE IT WAS ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN RESEARCH ACTIVITIES ON THE CONFERENCE SUBJECT. YOU STATE THAT THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION LIKEWISE, HAS SPECIFIC AUTHORITY TO CONDUCT RESEARCH AND FUNDS HAVE BEEN APPROPRIATED FOR THIS PURPOSE; AND THAT RESEARCH IN THE AREA OF NEPHROLOGY, PARTICULARLY NEPHRITIS, PYELONEPHRITIS AND TRANSPLANTATION PROBLEMS ARE OF PRIME CONCERN AND ARE OF THE PRINCIPAL CONCERNS OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY.

OUR DECISION OF NOVEMBER 29, 1961, B-147552, INVOLVED A CONFERENCE WHICH WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN HELD IF THREE FEDERAL AGENCIES HAD NOT UNDERWRITTEN THE TOTAL COST OF THE CONFERENCE, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM PURCHASING A MEMBERSHIP THEREIN. THERE IS NOTHING IN YOUR LETTER TO INDICATE THE CONGRESS REFERRED TO THEREIN WILL NOT BE HELD IF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION DOES NOT SPONSOR A MEMBERSHIP OR THAT THE BENEFITS OF THE DISCUSSIONS AND PAPERS PRESENTED AT THE CONGRESS CANNOT BE OBTAINED UNLESS THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION PURCHASES A MEMBERSHIP THEREIN.

IN ANY EVENT, WHILE WE DID NOT OBJECT IN OUR DECISION OF NOVEMBER 29, 1961, TO THE MARITIME ADMINISTRATION PAYING PART OF THE CONFERENCE EXPENSES, WE ADVISED THE ADMINISTRATOR THAT IF THIS PROCEDURE WAS TO BE USED GENERALLY TO SECURE RESEARCH DATA, THE MATTER SHOULD BE FULLY DISCLOSED TO THE CONGRESS PRIOR TO SUCH GENERAL USE. IN VIEW THEREOF, AND INASMUCH AS THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF NEPHROLOGY INVOLVED IN THE INSTANT CASE IS NOT TO BE HELD UNTIL SEPTEMBER 1966, IT IS OUR VIEW THAT BEFORE YOUR APPROPRIATIONS ARE USED TO PURCHASE A MEMBERSHIP IN THE CONGRESS THE MATTER SHOULD BE FULLY DISCLOSED TO THE CONGRESS AND FUNDS SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED FOR SUCH PURPOSE AND THE ACQUIESCENCE OF THE CONGRESS OBTAINED.