B-49196 May 5, 1945
B-49196: May 5, 1945
Burt: Reference is made to your letter of April 10. The nearest point having motion picture theaters is Yakima Washington. "The Government's urgent need for employees at Midway appears to have justified the determination of the part of the Bonneville Power Administration that Government-provided entertainment facilities at that point are necessary and in the best interest of the Government.". "I am familiar with the decision found at 18 C.G. 147 which states in part as follows: "The use of appropriated funds for the furnishing of recreational and entertainment facilities for Government personnel is unauthorized in the absence of specific statutory authority or authority by necessary implication.
B-49196 May 5, 1945
Mr. A.D. Burt, Authorized Certifying Officer, Department of the Interior, Bonneville Power Administration, Portland 8, Oregon.
Dear Mr. Burt:
Reference is made to your letter of April 10, 1945, requesting an advance decision, pursuant to the provisions of section 3 of the act of December 29, 1941, 55 Stat. 876, as follows:
"There has been presented to me for approval, as an authorized certifying officer, the enclosed voucher in the amount of $15.30, drawn in favor of Screen Adetts, Inc., for rental of a 16mm film program which included the fictional feature 'Wells Fargo'."
"Midway has no permanent population, no stores, no post office, and no public facilities for recreation and entertainment. The nearest point having motion picture theaters is Yakima Washington, 35 miles away. That distance, under the present condition of tire and gasoline shortages, practically renders unavailable, to the Government's employees stationed at Midway, the entertainment facilities at Yakima. The lack of any recreational facilities whatsoever at Midway contributes adversely to the employee morale situation and makes recruitment of employees for this location extremely difficult, especially in the view of the fact that all employees must be recruited away from Midway and usually from the larger population centers in Washington and Idaho."
"The Government's urgent need for employees at Midway appears to have justified the determination of the part of the Bonneville Power Administration that Government-provided entertainment facilities at that point are necessary and in the best interest of the Government."
"I am familiar with the decision found at 18 C.G. 147 which states in part as follows:
"The use of appropriated funds for the furnishing of recreational and entertainment facilities for Government personnel is unauthorized in the absence of specific statutory authority or authority by necessary implication, notwithstanding it may be highly desirable to furnish such facilities because of the absence thereof otherwise and the location of the work -- in this case, a river and harbor appropriation project at Midway Island."
"However, Section 9b of the Bonneville Act (Pub. 329, 75th Congress) grants to the Bonneville Power Administrator the authority to make such expenditures for offices, vehicles, furnishings, equipment, supplies and books, for attendance at meetings, and for such other facilities and services as he may find necessary for the proper administration of the Bonneville Act. That is a broad authority and has, in some quarters, been construed as permitting the expenditure covered by the enclosed voucher. However, as a certifying officer, I have raised the question as to whether Section 9b of the Bonneville Act, by implication, permits the expenditure in question. Your opinion is, therefore, respectfully requested as to whether I may certify the enclosed voucher for payment."
The appropriation for the Bonneville Power Administration, for which payment for the service covered by the voucher is proposed to be paid, is contained in the Interior Department Appropriation Act, 1945, approved June 28, 1944, Public Law 369, 58 Stat. 466, 78th Congress, as follows:
"Not to exceed $3,813,540 of the unobligated balance of the appropriation 'Construction, operation, and maintenance, Bonneville power transmission system', shall be available under the account for said appropriation in the fiscal year 1945 for expenses of marketing and operation of transmission facilities, and administrative costs in connection therewith, including $24,000 for personal services in the District of Columbia, and not to exceed $485,000 of the construction funds in said unobligated balance shall be available for the construction of the transmission line from the Grand Coulee Dam to Brewster, Washington."
It is at once apparent from the similarity of the factual situations involved that the conclusion to be reached in the present matter must be controlled by the same principles upon which the decision in 18 Comp. Gen. 147, cited in your letter, supra. was decided. There, as here, the Government activity was located at an isolated point remote from populous communities; there, as here, the location of the activity precluded ready access to recreational or entertainment facilities for its employees; and there, as here, the furnishing of such facilities by the Government was deemed requisite to the maintenance of employee morale, and as a material factor in facilitating the recruitment of personnel. And, again the proposed use of appropriated funds necessarily involves section 3678, Revised Statutes, 31 U.S.C. 28, which provides:
"Except as otherwise provided by law, sums appropriated for the various branches of expenditure in the public service shall be applied solely to the objects for which they are respectively made, and for no others."
Since there is nothing in the appropriation hereinabove referred to or in the basic statute creating the Bonneville Power Administration (act approved August 20, 1937, 16 U.S.C. 832) which reasonably may be construed as making the appropriation available for the furnishing of entertainment facilities to its employees, there would appear to be no sound basis for departing from the rule of that decision and, such being the case, it must be held that an expenditure of the nature here involved is not authorized.
With respect to the suggested construction of section 9(b) 58 Stat. 726, of the act of August 20, 1937, cited in your letter, as permitting of the expenditures here involved, it may be stated while the authority vested thereby in the Bonneville Power Administrator reasonably contemplates the exercise of a broad discretion in making such expenditures as may be deemed necessary to carry out the purposes of said act, there is believed to be no room for doubt that said authority is not sufficient to render appropriated funds available for any item of expenditure the Administrator may approve, regardless of its nature, but that it is to be limited to expenditures the purposes of which bear a direct relationship to the purpose to be accomplished by said act, namely, the production, transmission and marketing of electrical energy. Neither the said act of 1937 nor its legislative history warrants the view that the Congress intended to vest in the Administrator unlimited powers in connection with expenditures from the appropriated funds under his control. While the furnishing of entertainment facilities to Government employees, probably are desirable, particularly under the conditions set forth in your submission, yet, I am constrained to the view that the connection between an expenditure for such a purpose and the general purposes of the basic act here involved is too remote to justify the use of the appropriation in question, in the absence of authority therefor either express or clearly implied.
Accordingly, the voucher transmitted with your letter, which is returned herewith, may not be certified for payment.
(Signed) Lindsay C. Warren Comptroller General of the United States