B-89498, NOVEMBER 28, 1949, 29 COMP. GEN. 235

B-89498: Nov 28, 1949

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1949: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 21. IT IS EXPLAINED IN THE SAID LETTER THAT THE EXISTING AIRFIELD WAS CONSTRUCTED BY THE ARMY DURING THE RECENT WAR WHEN THE ISLAND WAS OCCUPIED BY MILITARY FORCES AND. IT IS STATED THAT THE EXISTING AIRFIELD IS ADEQUATE FOR ALL GENERAL ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES BUT NUMEROUS REASONS ARE ADVANCED CONCERNING THE NEED FOR THE EXPANSION OF THE AIRFIELD. ALL OF WHICH ARE STATED TO BE CONNECTED PRIMARILY WITH THE CONDUCT OF THE SEALING OPERATIONS. IT IS NOTED THAT THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION ACT. 000 IS REQUESTED FOR INITIATING A PROGRAM OF PHYSICAL IMPROVEMENT OF THE PROPERTIES ON THE PRIBILOF ISLANDS. WHAT WILL THAT BE? 600 IS NEEDED FOR CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT.

B-89498, NOVEMBER 28, 1949, 29 COMP. GEN. 235

SALE OF FUR-SEAL SKINS - AVAILABILITY OF PROCEEDS FOR ENLARGING AIRFIELD IN PRIBILOF ISLANDS THE ENLARGEMENT OF AN AIRFIELD IN THE PRIBILOF ISLANDS WOULD CONSTITUTE A "PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT" WHICH, IN VIEW OF SECTION 3733, REVISED STATUTES, REQUIRES SPECIFIC APPROVAL BY THE CONGRESS, AND WITHOUT CONGRESSIONAL SANCTION THE COSTS OF SUCH PROJECT MAY NOT BE PAID FROM THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE OF FUR-SEAL SKINS, EVEN THOUGH THE EXPANSION WOULD BE PRIMARILY TO AID IN SEALING OPERATIONS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, NOVEMBER 28, 1949:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 21, 1949, FROM THE ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, STATING THAT THE FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE HAS UNDER CONSIDERATION A PROPOSAL TO ENLARGE THE AIRFIELD ON ST. PAUL ISLAND IN THE PRIBILOF GROUP, ALASKA, AND REQUESTING TO BE ADVISED WHETHER THE COST THEREOF MAY BE PAID FROM FUNDS TO BE MADE AVAILABLE IN THE TRUST FUND APPROPRIATION ACCOUNT "14X8174 EXPENSES, FUR-SEAL AND FOX INDUSTRIES, PRIBILOF ISLANDS, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR.'

IT IS EXPLAINED IN THE SAID LETTER THAT THE EXISTING AIRFIELD WAS CONSTRUCTED BY THE ARMY DURING THE RECENT WAR WHEN THE ISLAND WAS OCCUPIED BY MILITARY FORCES AND, FOLLOWING THE EVACUATION OF THE ISLAND BY THE ARMY, THE AIRFIELD HAS BEEN MAINTAINED AND USED BY THE FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE FOR CHARTERED PASSENGER TRIPS AND UNSCHEDULED DELIVERIES OF MAIL. ALSO, IT IS STATED THAT THE EXISTING AIRFIELD IS ADEQUATE FOR ALL GENERAL ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES BUT NUMEROUS REASONS ARE ADVANCED CONCERNING THE NEED FOR THE EXPANSION OF THE AIRFIELD, ALL OF WHICH ARE STATED TO BE CONNECTED PRIMARILY WITH THE CONDUCT OF THE SEALING OPERATIONS.

SECTION 3733, REVISED STATUTES, 41 U.S.C. 12, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

NO CONTRACT SHALL BE ENTERED INTO FOR ERECTION, REPAIR, OR FURNISHING OF ANY PUBLIC BUILDING, OR FOR ANY PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT WHICH SHALL BIND THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY A LARGER SUM OF MONEY THAN THE AMOUNT IN THE TREASURY APPROPRIATED FOR THE SPECIFIC PURPOSE.

IN CONSIDERING THE QUESTION INVOLVED, IT IS NOTED THAT THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION ACT, 1950, APPROVED OCTOBER 12, 1949, 63 STAT. 796, PROVIDES, UNDER THE HEADING " FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE," AS FOLLOWS:

PROTECTION OF ALASKA FUR SEALS: FOR CARRYING OUT THE PROVISIONS OF THE FUR SEAL ACT OF FEBRUARY 26, 1944 (16 U.S.C. 631A-631R), AS AMENDED, INCLUDING THE DEVELOPMENT AND UTILIZATION OF THE PRODUCTS OF THE FUR SEAL AND OTHER WILDLIFE RESOURCES OF THE PRIBILOF ISLANDS, $481,300.

ALASKA FUR-SEAL INVESTIGATIONS: FOR INVESTIGATIONS OF ALASKA FUR SEALS PURSUANT TO THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 26, 1944 (16 U.S.C. 631I), $37,400.

RELATIVE TO THE SIMILAR APPROPRIATIONS CONTAINED IN THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION ACT, 1949, APPROVED JUNE 29, 1948, 62 STAT. 1143, 1144, THERE APPEAR AT PAGES 870-872 OF PART I OF THE HOUSE HEARINGS ON THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION BILL, 1949, THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS:

MR. JAMES. $150,000 IS REQUESTED FOR INITIATING A PROGRAM OF PHYSICAL IMPROVEMENT OF THE PROPERTIES ON THE PRIBILOF ISLANDS.

MR. JENSEN. WHAT WILL THAT BE?

MR. JAMES. $10,600 IS NEEDED FOR CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT, SUCH AS A CEMENT MIXER, ROCK CRUSHER, AND AIR COMPRESSOR, USED IN CONSTRUCTING RESIDENCES, FOUNDATIONS, ROADS, AND SO FORTH; AND $24,000 IS REQUESTED FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF FOUR NATIVE HOUSES.

MR. DAY. YOU REQUESTED YESTERDAY THAT WE STUDY THE POSSIBILITY OF USING THE RECEIPTS TO TAKE CARE OF SOME OF THESE PRESSING NEEDS. WE HAVE DONE A LITTLE HURRIED THINKING, AND WE HAVE WORKED OUT SOME LANGUAGE WHICH I AM NOT ENTIRELY SATISFIED WITH, BUT WE HAVE BEEN WONDERING WHETHER THE COMMITTEE MIGHT FEEL IT ADVISABLE TO INSERT LANGUAGE IN THIS ITEM WHICH WOULD PERMIT THE FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE TO USE THE RECEIPTS FOR A YEAR OR 2 YEARS, PERHAPS, TO MAKE SOME CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS, NOT ONLY ON THE PRIBILOF ISLANDS, BUT PERHAPS IN THE REST OF ALASKA--- FOR INSTANCE, FOR THE BUILDING OF AIRPLANE HANGARS, THE ACQUISITION OF BOATS, THE REPAIR OF THE BOATS, AND THE REHABILITATION OF THE VILLAGES ON THE PRIBILOFS.

WE NEED ANOTHER PROCESSING PLANT TO TAKE CARE OF THE SEAL CARCASSES AS WE HAVE ONLY ONE. IT WOULD BE GOOD BUSINESS IN THE LONG RUN TO BUILD ANOTHER PROCESSING PLANT TO TAKE CARE OF TONS OF WASTE PRODUCTS.

PERHAPS, IF WE COULD PULL OUT OF OUR WHOLE ALASKAN PROGRAM, OR, AT LEAST THE ALASKA FISHERIES PROGRAM, THE ITEMS OF PERMANENT CONSTRUCTION, IF WE COULD TAKE THOSE OUT OF THE PROCEEDS FOR A YEAR OR SO TO REALLY PUT THE PROGRAM IN SHAPE IT WOULD MAKE A MATERIAL DECREASE IN THE BUDGET REQUEST HERE.

MR. JANSEN. OF COURSE, IN REALITY FROM THE DOLLARS-AND-CENTS STANDPOINT IT WOULD MAKE NO MATERIAL DIFFERENCE IN THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT WOULD BE LEFT IN THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES. AS I UNDERSTAND IT, YOU THOUGHT WE MIGHT TAKE THE PROFIT FROM THE PRIBILOF SEALS AND USE IT FOR ENFORCEMENT AND BUILDING UP OF PHYSICAL IMPROVEMENTS ON THE PRIBILOF ISLANDS AND WHAT ELSE?

MR. DAY. THE ALASKA FISHERY PROGRAM AND ALSO IMPROVEMENTS ON THE MAINLAND OF ALASKA. THAT MIGHT BE GOING A LITTLE FAR AFIELD. IT WOULD HELP TO TAKE IT FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE PRIBILOFS ALONE.

MR. JENSEN. I THINK FOR THIS YEAR WE HAD BETTER LEAVE IT PRETTY MUCH AS IT IS. I AM INCLINED TO THINK WE HAD BETTER DO THAT AND THEN SORT OF WORK OUT SOME SYSTEM, IF WE THINK IT FEASIBLE FOR NEXT YEAR. IF WE DO THIS THING POSSIBLY TOO FAST WE MIGHT MAKE A MISTAKE THAT WE COULDAVOID IF WE TOOK A LITTLE LONGER TIME ON IT.

IN PART I OF THE HOUSE HEARINGS ON H.R. 3838, THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR APPROPRIATION BILL, 1950, ON PAGES 441 TO 451 IT IS INDICATED THAT THE BUDGET ESTIMATE OF $481,300 REPRESENTED A DECREASE OF $100,000 FROM A NONRECURRING ITEM IN THE 1949 APPROPRIATION FOR REHABILITATION OF PRIBILOF ISLANDS, AND AN INCREASE OF $10,900 FOR EXTENSION OF SEWER MAINS ON ST. GEORGE ISLAND ($5,000) AND REROOFING OF THE BYPRODUCTS PLANT ON ST. PAUL ISLAND ($5,900). AT PAGE 443, UNDER THE HEADING " PHYSICAL IMPROVEMENTS," THERE APPEAR THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS:

MR. KIRWAN. WILL THE WORK PROPOSED FOR THE SEWER SYSTEM AND THE REROOFING OF THE BYPRODUCTS PLANT COMPLETE ALL PLANNED IMPROVEMENTS ON THE ISLANDS?

MR. JAMES. NO, SIR. THE SERVICE HAS LAID OUT AN ADVANCE PROGRAM OF PHYSICAL IMPROVEMENT FOR A PERIOD OF 5 YEARS WITH THE INTENTION OF PRESENTING IT TO THE CONGRESS PIECEMEAL, ON A YEARLY BASIS, TAKING THE MOST URGENT THINGS FIRST SO THAT WE DO EXPECT TO BE COMING BACK TO YOU LATER ON WITH ADDITIONAL REQUESTS FOR FURTHER CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS ON THE TWO ISLANDS.

INASMUCH AS THE ITEMS MENTIONED ABOVE PROPERLY WERE CONSIDERED AS CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS AND THE COST THEREOF APPROPRIATED FROM THE GENERAL FUND OF THE TREASURY, IT IS THE OPINION OF THIS OFFICE THAT THE PROPOSED EXPANSION OF THE EXISTING AIRFIELD AT AN ESTIMATED COST OF $75,000 ALSO WOULD CONSTITUTE A PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT WHICH, IN VIEW OF SECTION 3733, REVISED STATUTES, SUPRA, REQUIRES SPECIFIC APPROVAL BY THE CONGRESS WHETHER THE COST BE PAID FROM THE TRUST FUND APPROPRIATION ACCOUNT "14X8174" OR FROM THE GENERAL FUND OF THE TREASURY. WITH RESPECT TO THE EXPENSES OF SALES PROPERLY PAYABLE FROM THE PROCEEDS OF SALES, YOUR ATTENTION IS INVITED TO DECISION OF FEBRUARY 27, 1936, TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, 15 COMP. GEN. 743.

ACCORDINGLY, IN THE ABSENCE OF APPROVAL BY THE CONGRESS, THE COST OF THE PROPOSED PROJECT MAY NOT BE PAID FROM THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE OF FUR-SEAL SKINS.