B-6728, SEPTEMBER 11, 1953, 33 COMP. GEN. 115

B-6728: Sep 11, 1953

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REQUIRES SUCH LANDS AND THE TIMBER THEREON TO BE APPRAISED AT LEAST ONCE IN EACH TEN-YEAR PERIOD FOR ASSESSMENT PURPOSES AND AS THE APPRAISAL INITIATED IN 1949 WAS THE FIRST SUCH ACTION SINCE 1939. WHILE THE APPRAISAL COMMITTEE TO APPRAISE THE COOS BAY WAGON ROAD GRANT LANDS IN OREGON AND THE TIMBER THEREON WAS CREATED PURSUANT TO FEDERAL LAW . - AND ITS EXPENSES ARE PAID OUT OF FEDERAL REVENUES. THE FUNCTION OF THE COMMITTEE IS TO MAKE FINDINGS AS TO THE VALUE OF THE LAND AND TIMBER INVOLVED INDEPENDENT OF FEDERAL SUPERVISION AND. THEREFORE SUCH COMMITTEE IS NOT A FEDERAL AGENCY WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF SECTION 601 OF THE ECONOMY ACT OF JUNE 30. PHYSICAL INVENTORIES OF THE TIMBER ON THE COOS BAY WAGON ROAD GRANT LANDS MAY BE MADE IF A PERPETUAL INVENTORY SYSTEM IS ADOPTED AT SUCH INTERVALS AS THE APPRAISAL COMMITTEE.

B-6728, SEPTEMBER 11, 1953, 33 COMP. GEN. 115

PUBLIC LANDS - COOS BAY WAGON ROAD GRANT LANDS - APPRAISALS UNDER ACT OF MAY 24, 1939 INASMUCH AS THE ACT OF MAY 24, 1939, WHICH AUTHORIZES PAYMENTS IN LIEU OF TAXES FROM FUNDS DERIVED FROM THE COOS BAY WAGON ROAD GRANT LANDS IN OREGON, REQUIRES SUCH LANDS AND THE TIMBER THEREON TO BE APPRAISED AT LEAST ONCE IN EACH TEN-YEAR PERIOD FOR ASSESSMENT PURPOSES AND AS THE APPRAISAL INITIATED IN 1949 WAS THE FIRST SUCH ACTION SINCE 1939, THE APPRAISAL WHEN COMPLETED AND APPROVED ON THE BASIS OF FACTUAL DATA OBTAINED IN AND ADJUSTED AS OF 1949, PROPERLY MAY BE CONSIDERED AS MADE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE ACT IF OTHERWISE CORRECT. WHILE THE APPRAISAL COMMITTEE TO APPRAISE THE COOS BAY WAGON ROAD GRANT LANDS IN OREGON AND THE TIMBER THEREON WAS CREATED PURSUANT TO FEDERAL LAW --- ACT OF MAY 24, 1939--- AND ITS EXPENSES ARE PAID OUT OF FEDERAL REVENUES, THE FUNCTION OF THE COMMITTEE IS TO MAKE FINDINGS AS TO THE VALUE OF THE LAND AND TIMBER INVOLVED INDEPENDENT OF FEDERAL SUPERVISION AND, UNDER SECTION 1 OF THE ACT, TWO OF THE THREE MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE MAY NOT BE EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES, THEREFORE SUCH COMMITTEE IS NOT A FEDERAL AGENCY WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF SECTION 601 OF THE ECONOMY ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932. INASMUCH AS THE APPRAISAL COMMITTEE, CREATED PURSUANT TO THE ACT OF MAY 1939 TO APPRAISE THE COOS BAY WAGON ROAD GRANT LANDS IN OREGON AND THE TIMBER THEREON TO BE APPRAISED AT LEAST ONCE IN EACH TEN-YEAR PERIOD IN ORDER TO COMPUTE PAYMENTS IN LIEU OF TAXES AUTHORIZED TO BE PAID ON SUCH PROPERTY, PLACES RESPONSIBILITY FOR SUCH APPRAISALS IN AN APPRAISAL COMMITTEE, AND THEREFORE THE ANNUAL USE FOR APPRAISAL PURPOSES OF THE PERPETUAL TIMBER INVENTORY RECORDS OF SUCH LANDS, MAINTAINED BY THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, OBVIOUSLY WOULD NECESSITATE CONSIDERATION AND APPROVAL BY SUCH COMMITTEE OF ANY ADJUSTMENTS FOR DEPLETIONS AND INCREMENTS MADE IN THE INVENTORY RECORDS. PHYSICAL INVENTORIES OF THE TIMBER ON THE COOS BAY WAGON ROAD GRANT LANDS MAY BE MADE IF A PERPETUAL INVENTORY SYSTEM IS ADOPTED AT SUCH INTERVALS AS THE APPRAISAL COMMITTEE, CREATED BY THE ACT OF MAY 24, 1939, TO APPRAISE SUCH LANDS, DETERMINES TO BE NECESSARY FOR A DEGREE OF ACCURACY CONSISTENT WITH THAT OF TIMBER ESTIMATES MAINTAINED FOR PRIVATELY OWNED TIMBER IN THE SAME LOCALITY, PROVIDED THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE ACT FOR AN APPRAISAL OF SUCH LANDS AND TIMBER AT LEAST ONCE IN EACH TEN-YEAR PERIOD ARE OBSERVED. VOUCHERS COVERING EXPENSES INCURRED BY THE APPRAISAL COMMITTEE ESTABLISHED BY THE ACT OF MAY 24, 1939, IN CONNECTION WITH THE APPRAISAL OF THE COOS BAY WAGON ROAD GRANT LANDS IN OREGON AND THE TIMBER THEREON, MAY NOW BE PROCESSED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR FOR PAYMENT UNDER ITS REGULAR DISBURSING PRACTICES AND SUCH VOUCHERS, EXCEPT THOSE INVOLVING DOUBTFUL QUESTIONS OF LAW OR FACT, NEED NOT BE TRANSMITTED TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FOR DIRECT PAYMENT.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, SEPTEMBER 11, 1953:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF MAY 12, 1953, FROM THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, REQUESTING A DECISION ON SEVERAL QUESTIONS INVOLVING LAND AND TIMBER APPRAISALS UNDER THE ACT OF MAY 24, 1939, 53 STAT. 753, 754, PROVIDING FOR THE DISPOSITION OF FUNDS DERIVED FROM THE COOS BAY WAGON ROAD GRANT LANDS IN OREGON.

THE SAID ACT PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

* * * THAT PRIOR TO MAKING ANY PAYMENT UNDER THIS AUTHORIZATION AN APPRAISAL OF THE LAND AND TIMBER THEREON SHALL BE MADE, WITHIN SIX MONTHS AFTER THE PASSAGE OF THIS ACT, BY A COMMITTEE TO CONSIST OF A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, ONE REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE TWO COUNTIES INTERESTED, AND A THIRD PERSON SATISFACTORY TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR AND THE COUNTY OFFICIALS, BUT WHO SHALL NOT BE AN EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES NOR A RESIDENT OF, NOR A PROPERTY OWNER IN, EITHER COOS OR DOUGLAS COUNTY. UPON APPRAISAL THEREOF, THE LAND AND TIMBER THEREON SHALL BE ASSESSED AS ARE OTHER SIMILAR PROPERTIES WITHIN THE RESPECTIVE COUNTIES, AND PAYMENTS HEREUNDER IN LIEU OF TAXES SHALL BE COMPUTED BY APPLYING THE SAME RATES OF TAXATION AS ARE APPLIED TO PRIVATELY OWNED PROPERTY OF SIMILAR CHARACTER IN SUCH COUNTIES.

APPRAISALS OF THE LAND AND TIMBER THEREON SHALL BE MADE, IN THE MANNER PRESCRIBED IN SECTION 1 HEREOF, NOT LESS FREQUENTLY THAN ONCE IN EACH TEN- YEAR PERIOD, AND THE AMOUNTS DUE HEREUNDER IN ANY YEAR SHALL BE COMPUTED AS SPECIFIED IN SECTION 1 OF THIS ACT UPON THE BASIS OF THE LAST APPRAISEMENT. THE EXPENSES OF MAKING THE APPRAISEMENTS PROVIDED FOR IN THIS ACT SHALL BE PAID BY THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY UPON CERTIFICATION BY THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, FROM THAT PORTION OF THE RECEIPTS DERIVED FROM SUCH LANDS AND TIMBER PAYABLE TO THE COUNTIES AND SHALL BE DEDUCTED FROM ANY AMOUNT DUE SAID COUNTIES.

YOUR LETTER STATES THAT DECENNIAL APPRAISALS AS REQUIRED BY SECTION 2 OF THE ABOVE-QUOTED ACT WERE MADE IN 1939 AND 1949, BUT THAT THE LATTER APPRAISAL BY A STANDING COMMITTEE WAS CONCEDED TO BE UNSATISFACTORY DUE TO WIDE AND INCONSISTENT DISCREPANCIES BETWEEN THE ESTIMATES OF TIMBER VALUES BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AND THOSE MADE BY COOS AND DOUGLAS COUNTIES. ALSO, IT IS STATED THAT IN ORDER TO PROVIDE FOR MORE REALISTIC APPRAISALS IN THE FUTURE A PROPOSAL HAS BEEN MADE THAT THE STANDING COMMITTEE AUTHORIZE AND PAY FOR THE MAINTENANCE BY THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, OF PERPETUAL TIMBER INVENTORY RECORDS STARTING WITH A PHYSICAL INVENTORY CURRENTLY BEING COMPLETED. UNDER SUCH ARRANGEMENT THE APPRAISAL COMMITTEE WOULD NOT APPROVE THE ANNUAL ADJUSTMENTS THEREIN FOR DEPLETIONS AND INCREMENTS BUT FROM TIME TO TIME WOULD MAKE A COMPLETE PHYSICAL INVENTORY BY ADEQUATE SAMPLING METHODS AND, IN ADDITION, WOULD MAKE OR APPROVE ADJUSTMENTS IN VALUATIONS OF THE LAND AND TIMBER CONSISTENT WITH CHANGES IN COUNTY TAX ASSESSMENTS ON PRIVATE LANDS AND TIMBER IN THE SAME VICINITY.

THE SEVERAL QUESTIONS PROPOUNDED IN YOUR LETTER ARE SET OUT AND ANSWERED SERIATIM BELOW:

1. SINCE THE ACT REQUIRES AN APPRAISAL NOT LESS FREQUENTLY THAN ONCE IN EACH TEN YEAR PERIOD, MAY THE APPROVED APPRAISAL, WHEN MADE, BE RETROACTIVE TO 1949 WHICH WOULD BE TEN YEARS AFTER THE 1939 APPRAISAL?

IN VIEW OF THE REQUIREMENT IN SECTION 2 OF THE 1939 ACT FOR APPRAISALS AT LEAST ONCE IN EACH TEN-YEAR PERIOD AND AS THE APPRAISAL INITIATED IN 1949 WAS THE FIRST SUCH ACTION SINCE 1939, THE SAID APPRAISAL WHEN COMPLETED AND APPROVED ON THE BASIS OF FACTUAL DATA OBTAINED IN AND ADJUSTED AS OF 1949, PROPERLY MAY BE CONSIDERED AS MADE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE ACT, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.

2. IS SUCH COMMITTEE AN "EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, ESTABLISHMENT, BUREAU OR OFFICE" WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 601 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932 (47 STAT. 417/?

WHILE THE APPRAISAL COMMITTEE WAS CREATED PURSUANT TO FEDERAL LAW AND ITS EXPENSES ARE PAID OUT OF FEDERAL REVENUES, THE FUNCTION OF THE COMMITTEE IS TO MAKE FINDINGS AS TO THE VALUE OF THE LAND AND TIMBER INVOLVED INDEPENDENT OF FEDERAL SUPERVISION AND, UNDER SECTION 1 OF THE ACT, TWO OF THE THREE MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE MAY NOT BE EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES. ACCORDINGLY, SUCH COMMITTEE IS NOT A FEDERAL AGENCY WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF SECTION 601 OF THE ECONOMY ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932, 47 STAT. 417, AS AMENDED, 25 COMP. DEC. 101; OF. 13 COMP. GEN. 338.

3. IF THE ANSWER TO THE ABOVE IS IN THE AFFIRMATIVE, IS THERE ANY OBJECTION TO THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, IN FUTURE REAPPRAISALS, UNDERTAKING THE FIELD WORK FOR THE APPRAISAL ON A REIMBURSEMENT BASIS UNDER SUCH TERMS, CONDITIONS AND STANDARDS AS MAY BE AGREED UPON WITH THE APPRAISAL COMMITTEE?

IN VIEW OF THE NEGATIVE ANSWER TO QUESTION 2, IT IS APPARENT THAT SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY WOULD BE REQUIRED TO ENABLE THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT TO PERFORM FIELD WORK FOR THE APPRAISAL COMMITTEE ON A REIMBURSABLE BASIS.

4 (1) CAN THE PERPETUAL INVENTORY RECORDS BE USED ANNUALLY FOR DETERMINING THE AMOUNTS TO BE PAID TO THE COUNTIES ALTHOUGH THE ADJUSTMENTS IN THE RECORDS ARE NOT ACTED UPON BY THE COMMITTEE?

SINCE THE 1939 ACT PLACES RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE APPRAISALS IN THE COMMITTEE, THE USE FOR APPRAISAL PURPOSES OF PERPETUAL INVENTORIES OF THE LANDS AND TIMBER MAINTAINED BY THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT OBVIOUSLY WOULD NECESSITATE CONSIDERATION AND APPROVAL BY SUCH COMMITTEE OF ANY ADJUSTMENTS MADE IN THE INVENTORY RECORDS.

4 (2) IF THE ANSWER TO THE PREVIOUS QUESTION IS NEGATIVE, CAN THE PERPETUAL INVENTORY RECORDS BE USED WITH DETERMINATION OF ANNUAL PAYMENTS IF THE COMMITTEE APPROVES THE ADJUSTMENTS WHICH ARE MADE IN THE RECORDS?

YES. SEE ANSWER TO QUESTION 4 (1).

4 (3) IF THE PERPETUAL INVENTORY SYSTEM IS ADOPTED, UNDER EITHER (1) OR (2), MAY THE PHYSICAL INVENTORIES BE MADE AT SUCH INTERVALS AS THE COMMITTEE DETERMINES TO BE NECESSARY FOR A DEGREE OF ACCURACY CONSISTENT WITH THAT OF TIMBER ESTIMATES MAINTAINED BY THE COUNTIES FOR PRIVATE TIMBER? COUNTY TIMBER CRUISES OF PRIVATE TIMBER USUALLY HAVE BEEN AT LEAST 20 YEARS APART.

THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION IS IN THE AFFIRMATIVE, PROVIDED THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE ACT FOR AN APPRAISAL IN EACH TEN-YEAR PERIOD ARE OBSERVED.

5. REFERRING TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 26, 1939, B-6728, IN CONNECTION WITH VOUCHERS COVERING EXPENSES INCURRED BY THE APPRAISAL COMMITTEE, DO YOU STILL WISH THE EXPENSE VOUCHERS TO BE CERTIFIED AND TRANSMITTED TO YOUR OFFICE FOR DIRECT PAYMENT? SINCE THE BUREAU IS SUBJECT TO COMPREHENSIVE AUDIT BY YOUR STAFF AND AUTHORITY TO MAKE TAX PAYMENTS AND PAYMENTS TO THE COUNTIES HAS BEEN GIVEN TO THE BUREAU, I BELIEVE IT WOULD BE MORE PRACTICAL TO HAVE THE APPRAISAL COMMITTEE'S EXPENSES ALSO PAID BY THE BUREAU.

THE LETTER OF OCTOBER 26, 1939, B-6728, REFERRED TO ABOVE, DIRECTED THAT THE CLAIMS OF COOS AND DOUGLAS COUNTIES, OREGON, AND OF THE MEMBERS OF THE APPRAISAL COMMITTEES BE TRANSMITTED TO THIS OFFICE FOR DIRECT SETTLEMENT UNDER THE PROCEDURES EXISTING AT THAT TIME FOR EFFECTING PAYMENT OF AMOUNTS DUE STATES AND COUNTIES PARTICIPATING IN RECEIPTS FROM FEDERAL LAND USE PROGRAMS. HOWEVER, BY GENERAL REGULATIONS NO. 113, DATED SEPTEMBER 20, 1951, 31 COMP. GEN. 755, THE SAID PROCEDURES WERE REVISED TO AUTHORIZE SUCH PAYMENTS TO BE MADE UNDER THE REGULAR DISBURSING PRACTICES OF THE DEPARTMENTS OR AGENCIES CONCERNED, SUBJECT TO POST AUDIT BY THIS OFFICE.

IN VIEW THEREOF, IT WILL NOT BE REQUIRED THAT THE EXPENSES OF THE APPRAISAL COMMITTEES UNDER THE LAND USE PROGRAM HERE INVOLVED BE PAID THROUGH DIRECT SETTLEMENT BY THIS OFFICE.

ACCORDINGLY, VOUCHERS COVERING SUCH EXPENSES MAY BE PROCESSED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR FOR PAYMENT UNDER ITS REGULAR DISBURSING PRACTICES WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT VOUCHERS INVOLVING DOUBTFUL QUESTIONS OF FACT OR LAW WILL CONTINUE TO BE SUBMITTED TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FOR SETTLEMENT. CF. B-111439, DATED MARCH 17, 1953, TO YOU, INVOLVING CERTAIN CLAIMS AND ACCOUNTS DUE INDIANS.