Prizes for Interior Contest Winners

B-158831(1): Published: Jun 8, 1966. Publicly Released: Jun 8, 1966.

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A certifying officer for the Department of the Interior requested GAO?s opinion as to whether reimbursement vouchers were certifiable for payment. The vouchers represented claims for reimbursement by Imprest Fund cashiers for funds expended by them. Subvouchers were issued to cover items that were given as prizes to winners of a contest at the Mountain Home Job Corps Conservation Center. Other subvouchers covered amounts expended for toilet articles and cigarettes.

GAO determined that the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964?s provision for recreational services involves a large amount of administrative discretion, and since there is no statutory prohibition regarding the provision for such awards, we do not object to the purchase of the prizes herein questioned. With regard to the claim for reimbursement for amounts expended for cigarettes and certain toilet articles, it is noted that certain items of clothing and toilet articles have been specifically prescribed in the applicable Table of Allowance as special purchase items for initial issuance to enrollees. The items here in question do not appear in that table and thus must be considered to be items personal to individual enrollees to be provided at personal expense if desired by them. Accordingly, no basis is perceived whereby appropriated funds may be used to provide enrollees with the questioned personal items and the voucher insofar as it covers the cost of such items may not, therefore, properly be certified for payment. The remaining voucher for consideration represents a reclaim of $25 expended for the purchase of flowers for dedication day ceremonies at the opening of the Job Corps Conservation Center. The holding of dedication ceremonies and the laying of cornerstones connected with the construction of public buildings and public works have been traditional practices, and any expenses necessarily incident thereto have generally been charged to the appropriation for construction of the building or works. Since appropriations available to the Office of Economic Opportunity are available for the acquisition and construction of buildings and other facilities, if the cost of flowers is administratively determined to be a necessary cost incidental to the dedication of the Center, the voucher, if otherwise proper, may be certified for payment.

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