B-4568 June 27, 1939

B-4568: Jun 27, 1939

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There was a list of appropriation symbols and titles with limitations symbols prescribed under General Regulations No. 83. Was not specifically limited by the appropriation act to cover the cost of the work in question. When the 1940 Bureau of Standards appropriation estimates were presented to the Bureau of the Budget. An effort was made to secure approval for an appropriation of $20. The Bureau of the Budget was without any information upon which to base an appropriation allowance to cover the cost of the work. It was considered that the best way to handle to situation under the circumstances was to make $20. It will be noted that the estimates of the Federal Trade Commission for 1940 included a net total increase of $102.

B-4568 June 27, 1939

Chairman, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C.

Sir:

There has been received letter of the Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, dated may 17, 1939, which reads in part as follows:

"Accompanying your office letter of March 29, 1939 (reference AB 2.1 HGS), there was a list of appropriation symbols and titles with limitations symbols prescribed under General Regulations No. 83, dated June 9, 1936, for use in accounting for appropriation funds under the limitations specified in the Independent Office Appropriation Act, Public No. 8, 76th Congress, approved March 16, 1939.

"The amount of $20,000 set up under limitation symbol 2900100.004, covering funds available for transfer to the Bureau of Standards of the Department of Commerce, for scientific investigations required by the Federal Trade Commission, was not specifically limited by the appropriation act to cover the cost of the work in question, and the amount should be included under the limitation symbol 2900100.001, increasing same from $2,242,500 to $2,262,500.

"The Bureau of Standards has for a number of years made scientific investigations for the Federal Trade Commission in connection with its enforcement of the Federal Trade Commission Act, and prior to the submission of the 1940 appropriation estimates no effort had ever made by the Bureau of Standards to secure an appropriation to cover the cost of the work. When the 1940 Bureau of Standards appropriation estimates were presented to the Bureau of the Budget, an effort was made to secure approval for an appropriation of $20,000 to cover the cost of the work in question. However, inasmuch as cost records had not been maintained by the Bureau of Standards to indicate the cost of this work on a yearly basis during previous years, the Bureau of the Budget was without any information upon which to base an appropriation allowance to cover the cost of the work. The Federal Trade Commission could not determine in advance the number of investigations which it would require during the fiscal year 1940, and it was considered that the best way to handle to situation under the circumstances was to make $20,000 of the appropriation of the Federal Trade Commission available for transfer to the Bureau of Standards to cover the cost of such expense.

"By reference to page 189 of the Hearings before the Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, it will be noted that the estimates of the Federal Trade Commission for 1940 included a net total increase of $102,739 for unlawful practice work cover the amount included for that project in the 1939 appropriation, and that out of the total increase of $102,739, $20,000 was made available by the Bureau of the Budget for transfer to the Bureau of Standards to cover salaries investigations for the Federal Trade Commission. This is referred to in paragraph 1, page 12, of Report No. 23 of the Committee on Appropriations, submitted under date of February 6, 1939, in connection with the consideration of the Independent Offices Appropriation Bill for 1940.

"In view of the information included herein, and the language contained in the Independent Offices Appropriation Act of 1940, Public No. 8, 76th Congress, approved March 16, 1939, it is requested that the limitation symbol 2900100.004 be canceled on the books of your office, and that the $20,000 covered thereby be included in limitation symbol 2900100.001."

The appropriation in question is as follows:

"For five Commissioners, and for all other authorized expenditures of the Federal Trade Commission in performing the duties imposed by law or in pursuance of law, including secretary to the Commission and other personal services, contract stenographic reporting services; supplies and equipment, law books, books of reference, periodicals, garage rentals, traveling expenses, including not to exceed $900 for expenses of attendance, when specifically authorized by the Commission, at meetings concerned with the work of the Federal Trade Commission, for newspapers and press clippings not to exceed $600, foreign postage, and witness fees and mileage in accordance with section 9 of the Federal Trade Commission Act; $2,264,000. Provided, that not to exceed $20,000 of this amount shall be available for transfer to the Bureau of Standards of the Department of Commission for scientific investigation required by said Commission in connection with its enforcement of said Act: Provided further, That the Commission may procure supplies and services without regard to section 3709 of the Revised Statues (41 U.S.C. 5) when the aggregate amount involved does not exceed $50." (Underscoring supplied.)

The limitation account "2900100.004" was prescribed to provide an accounting control over the limitation embodied in the underscored portion of the foregoing act, but it is apparent that the function of the limitation account has been misunderstood in the Commission. The establishment of such account does not require that the sum of $20,000 be available exclusively for transfer to the Bureau of Standards, but merely that a sum not to exceed $20,000 be available for such purpose. In this connection it should be understood that the amount of $2,242,500 set opposite the account "2900100.001 All Other Expenditures" in letter of this office, supra, was not intended as a definite amount, as it may be increased by amounts not expended under limitations ",002", ",003, and ",004".

There appears, therefore, in the letter of the Commission no valid reason for the cancellation of the limitation account in question. The appropriation act clearly limits the amount available for transfer to the Bureau of Standards, and the limitation account as prescribed is required to provide an accounting control of such funds for use not only by the Federal Trade Commission but also by this office.

Repectfully,

(Signed) Fred H. Brown Comptroller General of the United States.