B-49329, MAY 10, 1945, 24 COMP. GEN. 814

B-49329: May 10, 1945

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WHERE THE PRIME PURPOSE OF THE MEMBERSHIP IS TO ACQUIRE SERVICES ADMINISTRATIVELY DEEMED NECESSARY TO THE MAINTENANCE OF MEDICAL. 1945: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 24. THE APPROPRIATIONS OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF MEMBERSHIP FEES OF VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITIES IN THE AMERICAN HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION. IT IS STATED THAT THE DUES FOR ACTIVE INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERS OF "TYPE I ARE $25.00 PER MONTH. FOR THOSE OF TYPES II AND III ARE $5.00 PER MONTH. IF IT IS DESIRED. EDUCATIONAL OFFICIALS AND MEMBERS OF THE MEDICAL STAFF OF THE FACILITIES TO APPLY FOR PERSONAL MEMBERSHIP AT $5 PER ANNUM SO LONG AS THEY ARE CONNECTED WITH THE FACILITIES. OR EXPENSES ARE AUTHORIZED TO BE PAID BY SPECIFIC APPROPRIATIONS FOR SUCH PURPOSES OR ARE PROVIDED FOR IN EXPRESS TERMS IN SOME GENERAL APPROPRIATION.

B-49329, MAY 10, 1945, 24 COMP. GEN. 814

FEES - MEMBERSHIP OF GOVERNMENT AGENCY IN PRIVATE ASSOCIATIONS THE INHIBITION IN SECTION 8 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 26, 1912, AGAINST PAYMENT FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS OF MEMBERSHIP FEES OR DUES OF "ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES * * *" IN ANY SOCIETY OR ASSOCIATION DOES NOT PROHIBIT THE USE OF VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION APPROPRIATIONS FOR PAYMENT OF FEES FOR MEMBERSHIP OF ITS FACILITIES, AS SUCH IN THE AMERICAN HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION, WHERE THE PRIME PURPOSE OF THE MEMBERSHIP IS TO ACQUIRE SERVICES ADMINISTRATIVELY DEEMED NECESSARY TO THE MAINTENANCE OF MEDICAL, HOSPITAL AND DOMICILIARY SERVICES, RATHER THAN TO ENABLE OFFICIALS AND MEMBERS OF THE MEDICAL STAFF TO OBTAIN PERSONAL MEMBERSHIP AT REDUCED RATES OR OTHER BENEFITS OR ADVANTAGES.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, MAY 10, 1945:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 24, 1945, REQUESTING DECISION AS TO WHETHER, IN VIEW OF THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 8 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 26, 1912, 37 STAT. 184, 5 U.S.C. 83, THE APPROPRIATIONS OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF MEMBERSHIP FEES OF VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITIES IN THE AMERICAN HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION. IT IS STATED THAT THE DUES FOR ACTIVE INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERS OF "TYPE I ARE $25.00 PER MONTH, PER ANNUM, AND FOR THOSE OF TYPES II AND III ARE $5.00 PER MONTH, PER ANNUM," AND THAT THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE AMERICAN HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION MAY, AT ITS DISCRETION VARY THE SCHEDULE TO MEET SPECIAL CONDITIONS, SO THAT, IF IT IS DESIRED, THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES COULD EXTEND ACTIVE MEMBERSHIP TO ALL VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITIES AND REGIONAL OFFICES AT ANY STIPULATED COMBINED ANNUAL RATE THE BOARD MAY FIX. ALSO, MEMBERSHIP OF THE FACILITIES WOULD PERMIT EXECUTIVE, ADMINISTRATIVE, AND EDUCATIONAL OFFICIALS AND MEMBERS OF THE MEDICAL STAFF OF THE FACILITIES TO APPLY FOR PERSONAL MEMBERSHIP AT $5 PER ANNUM SO LONG AS THEY ARE CONNECTED WITH THE FACILITIES.

SECTION 8 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 26, 1912, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

NO MONEY APPROPRIATED BY THIS OR ANY OTHER ACT SHALL BE EXPENDED FOR MEMBERSHIP FEES OR DUES OF ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES OR OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IN ANY SOCIETY OR ASSOCIATION OR FOR EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE OF ANY PERSON AT ANY MEETING OR CONVENTION OF MEMBERS OF ANY SOCIETY OR ASSOCIATION, UNLESS SUCH FEES, DUES, OR EXPENSES ARE AUTHORIZED TO BE PAID BY SPECIFIC APPROPRIATIONS FOR SUCH PURPOSES OR ARE PROVIDED FOR IN EXPRESS TERMS IN SOME GENERAL APPROPRIATION.

THE SOLICITOR OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION, IN AN OPINION QUOTED IN YOUR LETTER, EXPRESSES THE VIEW THAT PAYMENT OF MEMBERSHIP FEES OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITIES IN THE AMERICAN HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION IS AUTHORIZED, AND CITES AS AUTHORITY THEREFOR THE DECISION OF A FORMER COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES--- A-38236, MARCH 30, 1932--- WHEREIN IT WAS STATED IN MATERIAL PART, AS FOLLOWS:

THE PROHIBITION IN THE ACT OF JUNE 26, 1912, SUPRA, IS AGAINST THE EXPENDITURE OF APPROPRIATED MONEY FOR MEMBERSHIP FEES OR DUES "OF ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES.' ACCORDINGLY, IF MEMBERSHIP IN THE LIVESTOCK ASSOCIATION MAY BE ENTERED AND EXERCISED IN THE NAME OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION AND NOT IN THE NAME OF ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE THEREOF, AND NO OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE ATTENDS MEETINGS THEREOF, OR OTHERWISE TAKES ANY PART IN THE ACTIVITIES OF THE ASSOCIATION OR DERIVES ANY BENEFITS THEREFROM, THE PROHIBITION IN THE STATUTE WOULD NOT BE APPLICABLE AND THE FEES OR DUES WOULD BE PAYABLE FROM THE APPROPRIATION FOR EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION OF FARMS, IF OTHERWISE NECESSARY OR INCIDENT TO THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH SAID APPROPRIATION WAS MADE. SEE MY DECISION TO YOU OF SEPTEMBER 3, 1931, A- 38236. NEITHER WOULD THERE BE ANY OBJECTION TO THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION ACCEPTING A GRATUITOUS MEMBERSHIP IN LIVESTOCK ASSOCIATIONS. 27 COMP. DEC. 131; 7 COMP. GEN. 810.

BASED UPON SAID DECISION, YOUR SOLICITOR CONCLUDES THAT THE APPROPRIATION MADE TO YOUR ADMINISTRATION FOR MEDICAL AND DOMICILIARY CARE IS AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF THE COST OF THE NECESSARY MEMBERSHIP FEES OF THE FACILITIES IN THE ASSOCIATION INVOLVED PROVIDED IT BE DETERMINED THAT MEMBERSHIP IN THE ASSOCIATION IS NECESSARY OR INCIDENT TO THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE OBJECTIVES FOR WHICH THE APPROPRIATION WAS MADE AND PROVIDED FURTHER THAT "NO OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE ATTENDS MEETINGS THEREOF, OR OTHERWISE TAKES PART IN ACTIVITIES OF THE ASSOCIATION OR DERIVES ANY BENEFITS THEREFROM.' THE SOLICITOR FURTHER EXPRESSES THE VIEW THAT THE OPPORTUNITY AFFORDED OFFICIALS AND MEMBERS OF THE MEDICAL STAFF OF THE FACILITIES TO APPLY FOR PERSONAL MEMBERSHIP BY VIRTUE OF FACILITY MEMBERSHIP IN THE ASSOCIATION DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A DIRECT BENEFIT TO THE OFFICIALS SUCH AS WOULD PRECLUDE PAYMENT OF MEMBERSHIP FEES OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION IN THE ASSOCIATION UNDER THE HOLDING IN THE DECISION OF MARCH 30, 1932, SUPRA.

THE PROHIBITION CONTAINED IN THE ACT OF JUNE 26, 1912, SUPRA, IS AGAINST THE PAYMENT OF MEMBERSHIP FEES OR DUES OF "ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES OR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA," ONLY, AND DOES NOT APPLY TO PROHIBIT THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION, AS A GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENT, FROM BECOMING A MEMBER OF AN ASSOCIATION IF SUCH A MEMBERSHIP WOULD FURTHER ITS AUTHORIZED ACTIVITIES. AND THE MERE FACT THAT AN INDIRECT BENEFIT MAY ACCRUE TO OFFICIALS OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION BECAUSE OF THE MEMBERSHIP OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION SHOULD NOT OPERATE TO DEPRIVE YOUR ADMINISTRATION OF SUCH MEMBERSHIP. THE SOLE CRITERION HERE IS WHETHER MEMBERSHIP OF THE FACILITIES IN THE ASSOCIATION IS SOUGHT BECAUSE OF THE SERVICES TO BE FURNISHED TO, OR BENEFITS TO BE DERIVED THEREFROM BY, THE FACILITIES THEMSELVES, OR WHETHER MEMBERSHIP IN THE NAME OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION IS SOUGHT AS A PREREQUISITE FOR ADMITTANCE OF SUCH OFFICIALS TO MEMBERSHIP. THE FORMER WOULD BE LEGAL AND PROPER; THE LATTER, BY CIRCUMVENTION, WOULD DO VIOLENCE TO THE ACT OF JUNE 26, 1912.

ACCORDINGLY, IF, AS INDICATED IN YOUR LETTER, THE PRIME PURPOSE OF THE PAYMENT OF THE MEMBERSHIP FEES IS TO MAKE AVAILABLE TO THE FACILITIES THEMSELVES SERVICES OFFERED UNDER THE MEMBERSHIP ADMINISTRATIVELY DEEMED NECESSARY TO THE MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION OF MEDICAL, HOSPITAL, AND DOMICILIARY SERVICES OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION AND NOT TO ENABLE OFFICIALS AND MEMBERS OF THE MEDICAL STAFF OF THE FACILITIES TO OBTAIN PERSONAL MEMBERSHIP AT REDUCED RATES OR OTHER BENEFITS OR ADVANTAGES, I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT THE APPROPRIATION MADE TO YOUR ADMINISTRATION FOR MEDICAL AND DOMICILIARY CARE IS AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF SUCH MEMBERSHIP FEES. HOWEVER, PAYMENT OF MEMBERSHIP FEES OF THE OFFICIALS AND MEMBERS OF THE MEDICAL STAFF OF THE FACILITIES OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION IS PROHIBITED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 26, 1912, SUPRA. ..END :