B-55643, MARCH 8, 1946, 25 COMP. GEN. 639

B-55643: Mar 8, 1946

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IS 50 PERCENTUM OF THE AMOUNT OBLIGATED OR COMMITTED. WHICH ACTION WOULD HAVE THE EFFECT OF LIMITING THE AMOUNT AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS OF THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1946. FOR EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS OF ORGANIZATIONS CONCERNED WITH THE FUNCTION OR ACTIVITY FOR WHICH THE APPROPRIATION CONCERNED IS MADE: PROVIDED. ARE NOT APPLICABLE TO THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY. THE TENOR OF SAID OPINION IS THAT THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY WAS NOT RESTRICTED BY ANY APPROPRIATION PROVISION. THAT BY REASON THEREOF THE AUTHORITY IS NOT SUBJECT TO THE CURTAILMENT PROVISION CONTAINED IN SECTION 201 (C). THE OPINION IS THE EFFECT THAT SINCE THE CONGRESS DID NOT PLACE A SPECIFIC LIMITATION UPON THE AMOUNT THAT COULD BE SPENT FOR EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS OF THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1945.

B-55643, MARCH 8, 1946, 25 COMP. GEN. 639

TRAVELING EXPENSES - ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS - 1946 FISCAL YEAR LIMITATION UNDER SECTION 201 (C) OF THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACT, 1946, PROVIDING THAT APPROPRIATIONS AVAILABLE FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES MAY BE USED FOR EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS IN AN AMOUNT "NOT TO EXCEED 50 PERCENTUM OF THE AMOUNT AUTHORIZED FOR THE SAME PURPOSE * * * FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1945," THE AMOUNT AVAILABLE THEREFOR TO THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY, THE FISCAL YEAR 1945 APPROPRIATION FOR WHICH CONTAINED NO SPECIFIED AMOUNT UPON WHICH THE LIMITATION MAY OPERATE, IS 50 PERCENTUM OF THE AMOUNT OBLIGATED OR COMMITTED--- EVEN THOUGH NOT FULLY LIQUIDATED--- IN THE FISCAL YEAR 1945.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE CHAIRMAN, TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY, MARCH 8, 1946:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 28, 1946, REQUESTING A REVIEW OF THE ACTION OF THE ACCOUNTING AND BOOKKEEPING DIVISION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE IN THE MATTER OF THE INTERPRETATION PLACED UPON THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 201 (C) OF THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACT, 1946, PUBLIC LAW 49, APPROVED MAY 3, 1945, 59 STAT. 131, WHICH ACTION WOULD HAVE THE EFFECT OF LIMITING THE AMOUNT AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS OF THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1946,"TO 59 PERCENTUM OF THE AMOUNT ACTUALLY EXPENDED FOR SUCH PURPOSES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1945.' SAID SECTION 201 (C) PROVIDES:

APPROPRIATIONS CONTAINED IN THIS ACT, AVAILABLE FOR EXPENSES OF TRAVEL SHALL BE AVAILABLE, WHEN SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY THE HEAD OF THE ACTIVITY OR ESTABLISHMENT CONCERNED, FOR EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS OF ORGANIZATIONS CONCERNED WITH THE FUNCTION OR ACTIVITY FOR WHICH THE APPROPRIATION CONCERNED IS MADE: PROVIDED, THAT THERE SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR SUCH PURPOSE DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1946 TO EACH SUCH AGENCY OR ESTABLISHMENT NOT TO EXCEED 50 PERCENTUM OF THE AMOUNT AUTHORIZED FOR THE SAME PURPOSE FOR EACH SUCH AGENCY OR ESTABLISHMENT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1945, EXCEPT THAT IN THE CASE OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION THE AMOUNT AVAILABLE FOR SUCH PURPOSE SHALL NOT EXCEED 75 PERCENTUM OF THE AMOUNT AUTHORIZED FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1945.

THERE ACCOMPANIED YOUR LETTER A COPY OF THE LEGAL OPINION RENDERED BY THE GENERAL COUNSEL, TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY, TO YOU, WHICH HOLDS, IN EFFECT, THAT THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 201 (C), SUPRA, ARE NOT APPLICABLE TO THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY. THE TENOR OF SAID OPINION IS THAT THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY WAS NOT RESTRICTED BY ANY APPROPRIATION PROVISION, OR OTHERWISE, TO A SPECIFIC AMOUNT, OR "NOT TO EXCEED" A SPECIFIC AMOUNT, FOR EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1945, AND THAT BY REASON THEREOF THE AUTHORITY IS NOT SUBJECT TO THE CURTAILMENT PROVISION CONTAINED IN SECTION 201 (C), SUPRA. IN OTHER WORDS, THE OPINION IS THE EFFECT THAT SINCE THE CONGRESS DID NOT PLACE A SPECIFIC LIMITATION UPON THE AMOUNT THAT COULD BE SPENT FOR EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS OF THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1945, SAID AGENCY WAS NOT ONE SOUGHT TO BE REACHED AND CURTAILED WITH RESPECT TO SIMILAR EXPENSES DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1946. YOUR LETTER CONCURS IN THE OPINION THUS RENDERED.

WHILE IT IS CONTENDED THAT THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE PERTINENT APPROPRIATION ACTS FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1945 AND 1946 SUPPORTS THE VIEW THAT THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY IS NOT SUBJECT TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 201 (C), SUPRA, AN EXAMINATION THEREOF DOES NOT APPEAR TO SUPPORT SUCH CONTENTION. SECTION 201 (C), SUPRA, IS CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS AS TO THE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES COVERED THEREBY, NAMELY, THOSE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES WHOSE APPROPRIATIONS "CONTAINED IN THIS CT" ARE AVAILABLE FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES. THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1946 IS ONE OF THOSE CONTAINED IN THE REFERRED-TO ACT--- THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACT, 1946. HOWEVER, THE ACT IS AMBIGUOUS WITH RESPECT TO THE LIMITATION PLACED UPON THE AMOUNT AVAILABLE FOR EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1946. THE EXACT LANGUAGE OF THE PROVISO IS AS FOLLOWS:

* * * THAT THERE SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR SUCH PURPOSE DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1946 TO EACH SUCH AGENCY OR ESTABLISHMENT NOT TO EXCEED 50 PERCENTUM OF THE AMOUNT AUTHORIZED FOR THE SAME PURPOSE FOR EACH SUCH AGENCY OR ESTABLISHMENT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1945 * * *. (ITALICS SUPPLIED.)

AS TO THOSE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES WHOSE APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1945 CONTAINED AUTHORITY TO SPEND A SPECIFIED AMOUNT OR "NOT TO EXCEED" A PARTICULAR AMOUNT, THERE IS NO QUESTION OF THEIR AUTHORITY TO SPEND IN THE FISCAL YEAR 1946 BUT 50 PERCENTUM OF THE AMOUNT DESIGNATED. HOWEVER, WHERE NO AMOUNT WAS AUTHORIZED TO BE SPENT FOR EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS IN THE FISCAL YEAR 1945 APPROPRIATIONS THE MATTER IS NOT CLEAR. A STRICT INTERPRETATION OF THE PROVISO MIGHT LEAD TO THE CONSTRUCTION THAT NO FUNDS WOULD BE AVAILABLE FOR EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1946 IF NO AMOUNT WAS AUTHORIZED IN THE 1945 FISCAL YEAR APPROPRIATION TO BE SPENT FOR SUCH PURPOSE. HOWEVER, IT IS OBVIOUS THAT NO SUCH RESULT WAS INTENDED BY THE CONGRESS. ON THE OTHER HAND, IT MIGHT BE ARGUED THAT THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY WAS "AUTHORIZED" TO SPEND FOR SUCH PURPOSE DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1945 AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO ITS ESTIMATE FOR TRAVEL FOR ALL PURPOSES, SINCE THE ONLY LIMITATION ON ITS TRAVEL FOR THAT YEAR, WHETHER TO MEETINGS OR OTHERWISE, WAS CONTAINED IN SECTION 105 OF THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACT, 1945, APPROVED JUNE 27, 1944, 58 STAT. 384, WHICH LIMITED EXPENDITURES FOR ALL TRAVEL TO AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED THAT SET FORTH IN THE BUDGET ESTIMATES SUBMITTED TO THE CONGRESS AS THE BASIS FOR THE APPROPRIATION. IN THE CASE OF THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY THE BUDGET ESTIMATE FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1945 WAS $670,000. TO CONSTRUE THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 201 (C), SUPRA, TO MEAN THAT 50 PERCENTUM OF THAT AMOUNT, OR $335,000, WOULD BE AVAILABLE FOR EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1946, WOULD, AS STATED IN THE LEGAL OPINION OF YOUR GENERAL COUNSEL, BE ABSURD.

THE PURPOSE OF THE CURTAILMENT PROVISION IN SECTION 201 (C), SUPRA, IS OBVIOUS. AT THE TIME OF ITS ENACTMENT THE NATION WAS AT WAR; TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES WERE TAXED TO THE LIMIT; AND TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS WERE IN FULL FORCE. IN ORDER TO RELIEVE THE SITUATION FURTHER, THE CONGRESS SOUGHT TO REDUCE TRAVEL BURDENS IN THE ENSUING FISCAL YEAR BY CUTTING IN HALF THE AMOUNTS THEN AVAILABLE FOR EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS OF THE AGENCIES COVERED BY THE ACT. HENCE, IN ORDER TO GIVE SOME EFFECT TO THE INTENT OF THE CONGRESS IN CASES SUCH AS THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY, WHERE NO SPECIFIED AMOUNT APPEARS IN THE FISCAL YEAR 1945 APPROPRIATIONS UPON WHICH THE 50 PERCENTUM REDUCTION MAY OPERATE, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE AMOUNT OBLIGATED OR COMMITTED--- EVEN THOUGH NOT FULLY LIQUIDATED--- IN THE FISCAL YEAR 1945, WOULD AFFORD A PROPER AND REASONABLE BASIS FOR FIXING THE LIMITATION UPON THE AMOUNT AVAILABLE FOR EXPENSES ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1946.

IN THE ABSENCE OF A CLEAR INDICATION OTHERWISE, THERE APPEARS NO PROPER BASIS FOR EXCLUDING THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY FROM THE OPERATION OF THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 201 (C), SUPRA, AND FOR THE REASONS HEREINBEFORE STATED, THE AMOUNT AVAILABLE TO THE AUTHORITY FOR EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1946 MUST BE HELD TO BE 50 PERCENTUM OF THE AMOUNT OBLIGATED OR COMMITTED--- EVEN THOUGH NOT FULLY LIQUIDATED--- IN THE FISCAL YEAR 1945. IN CONNECTION WITH THE FOREGOING IT MAY BE STATED THAT LIKE APPLICATION HAS BEEN MADE OF SAID STATUTORY PROVISIONS TO OTHER AGENCIES SIMILARLY SITUATED AND EMBRACED UNDER THE SAME APPROPRIATION ACT, SUCH AS THE FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION, SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, BUREAU OF THE BUDGET, ET ALIA.