A-89617, MAY 20, 1940, 19 COMP. GEN. 944

A-89617: May 20, 1940

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PERIOD FOR FILING CLAIMS AGAINST UNITED STATES WHERE OPTION ON LAND HAS BEEN ACCEPTED BUT SATISFACTORY CONVEYANCE IS NOT POSSIBLE WITHOUT CONDEMNATION. PAYMENT FOR THE CONDEMNED LAND MAY BE MADE FROM THE APPROPRIATION OBLIGATED BY THE OPTION ACCEPTANCE PROVIDED THE CONDEMNATION IS A CONTINUATION OF THE ORIGINAL TRANSACTION. WHERE AN OPTION ON LAND HAS BEEN ACCEPTED BUT THE SATISFACTORY CONVEYANCE IS NOT POSSIBLE WITHOUT CONDEMNATION. CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS ARE INSTITUTED UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES AMOUNTING TO A CONTINUATION OF THE ORIGINAL TRANSACTION. THE ORIGINAL APPROPRIATION WOULD REMAIN PROPERLY CHARGEABLE WITH PAYMENT FOR THE CONDEMNED LAND IRRESPECTIVE OF WHETHER CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS WERE CONSUMMATED.

A-89617, MAY 20, 1940, 19 COMP. GEN. 944

APPROPRIATION AVAILABILITY FOR CONDEMNED LANDS; PERIOD FOR FILING CLAIMS AGAINST UNITED STATES WHERE OPTION ON LAND HAS BEEN ACCEPTED BUT SATISFACTORY CONVEYANCE IS NOT POSSIBLE WITHOUT CONDEMNATION, PAYMENT FOR THE CONDEMNED LAND MAY BE MADE FROM THE APPROPRIATION OBLIGATED BY THE OPTION ACCEPTANCE PROVIDED THE CONDEMNATION IS A CONTINUATION OF THE ORIGINAL TRANSACTION, BUT IN CASE OF ADMINISTRATIVE DELAY OR FAILURE TO PROCEED AMOUNTING TO ABANDONMENT OF THE OPTION TRANSACTION, ANY SUBSEQUENT ACTION TOWARD CONDEMNATION WOULD BE A NEW AND SEPARATE TRANSACTION UNDER APPROPRIATIONS THEN CURRENTLY AVAILABLE. 17 COMP. GEN. 664, AMPLIFIED. WHERE AN OPTION ON LAND HAS BEEN ACCEPTED BUT THE SATISFACTORY CONVEYANCE IS NOT POSSIBLE WITHOUT CONDEMNATION, AND CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS ARE INSTITUTED UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES AMOUNTING TO A CONTINUATION OF THE ORIGINAL TRANSACTION, THE ORIGINAL APPROPRIATION WOULD REMAIN PROPERLY CHARGEABLE WITH PAYMENT FOR THE CONDEMNED LAND IRRESPECTIVE OF WHETHER CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS WERE CONSUMMATED--- OR INITIATED--- BEFORE OR AFTER THE APPROPRIATION HAD LAPSED, EVEN THOUGH SETTLEMENT COULD BE MADE ONLY BY HAVING THE CLAIMS REPORTED TO CONGRESS. 17 COMP. GEN. 664, AMPLIFIED. THE FIVE-YEAR PERIOD SPECIFIED IN SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 14, 1878, 20 STAT. 130, HAS BEEN INTERPRETED AND APPLIED BY THE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTING OFFICERS AS RELATING TO THE PROCEDURE TO BE FOLLOWED FOR THE FIVE YEARS NEXT ENSUING AFTER THE PASSAGE OF THAT ACT, AND AS NOT CONSTITUTING A STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS ON THE CONSIDERATION AND SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS WHICH THERETOFORE, AND THEREAFTER BY SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF JULY 7, 1884, 23 STAT. 254, WERE RECOGNIZED AS PROPER FOR ALLOWANCE UNDER LAPSED APPROPRIATIONS AND FOR REPORTING TO THE CONGRESS AS CERTIFIED CLAIMS, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE TIME WHEN SUCH CLAIMS MIGHT BE FILED.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, MAY 20, 1940:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 21, 1940, AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO DECISION 17 COMP. GEN. 664, RELATING TO ACQUISITION BY PURCHASE OF LANDS FOR NATIONAL FOREST PURPOSES, ESPECIALLY ITEM NO. 4 ON PAGE 668 WITH RESPECT TO PURCHASE THROUGH CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS.

THIS DECISION STATES THAT WHERE SATISFACTORY CONVEYANCE FOR LAND UNDER OPTION IS NOT POSSIBLE BECAUSE OF DEFECTIVE TITLE AND CONSEQUENTLY THE LAND IS CONDEMNED, THE ORIGINAL OBLIGATION ESTABLISHED BY THE OPTION ACCEPTANCE MAY BE ALLOWED TO STAND AND PAYMENT FOR THE CONDEMNED LAND MADE FROM THE APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE WHEN THE OPTION WAS ACCEPTED. IN THIS DECISION NO QUESTION WAS RAISED NOR STATEMENT MADE AS TO THE EFFECT,OF ANY, THAT THE LAPSING OF AN APPROPRIATION BEFORE OR AFTER CONDEMNATION IS REQUESTED BUT BEFORE PAYMENT IS EFFECTED, MIGHT HAVE ON THIS PROCEDURE. IT IS READILY UNDERSTOOD THAT IF AN OPTION WERE ACCEPTED IN THE FISCAL YEAR 1939, FOR EXAMPLE, THUS OBLIGATING FUNDS OF THAT YEAR, AND CONDEMNATION REQUESTED IN THE FISCAL YEAR 1940, THE APPROPRIATION OF THE FISCAL YEAR 1939 WOULD REMAIN OBLIGATED FOR PAYMENT OF THE LAND UNDER THE RELATED CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS. THESE FUNDS, HOWEVER, LAPSE FOR DISBURSEMENT PURPOSES ON JUNE 30, 1941. IN THE EVENT THAT AWARD IS NOT MADE BY THE COURT UNTIL AFTER JUNE 30, 1941, IT IS ASSUMED THAT THE 1939 APPROPRIATION WOULD STILL BE CHARGEABLE ALTHOUGH THE CONDEMNATION PAYMENT COULD BE SATISFIED ONLY THROUGH SUBMISSION TO CONGRESS UNDER THE LAPSED FUND PROCEDURE. YOUR DECISION ON THIS POINT WOULD BE MUCH APPRECIATED.

THERE EXISTS A FURTHER QUESTION AS TO THE PERIOD, SUBSEQUENT TO THE APPROPRIATION YEAR, DURING WHICH CONDEMNATION MAY BE REQUESTED AND PAYMENTS MAY CONTINUE TO BE CHARGEABLE TO THE APPROPRIATION OBLIGATED BY THE OPTION. UNDER 31 U.S.C. 714 THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE MAY RECEIVE AND CONSIDER CLAIMS WITHIN A PERIOD OF FIVE YEARS AFTER THE APPROPRIATION BALANCE HAS BEEN CARRIED TO THE SURPLUS FUND. DURING THIS FIVE-YEAR PERIOD (IN THE PREVIOUS EXAMPLE SUBSEQUENT TO JUNE 30, 1941) DOES THE AFOREMENTIONED DECISION CONTEMPLATE THAT CONDEMNATION MAY BE REQUESTED AND PAYMENT MADE FROM THE APPROPRIATION ORIGINALLY OBLIGATED BY THE OPTION?

YOUR EARLY DECISION WOULD BE APPRECIATED IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE DEPARTMENT NOW HAS SEVERAL CASES ON WHICH CONDEMNATION IS TO BE REQUESTED, THE OPTIONS ON WHICH OBLIGATED AN APPROPRIATION WHICH HAS LAPSED FOR DISBURSEMENT PURPOSES.

THE CITED DECISION, 17 COMP. GEN. 664, WAS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 12, 1937, PROPOUNDING TWO QUESTIONS AND STATING YOUR DEPARTMENT'S UNDERSTANDING OF THE MATTERS INVOLVED, THE LETTER BEING, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

1. AT WHAT STAGE IN THE ACTION UPON A CERTAIN OFFER TO SELL LANDS TO THE UNITED STATES SHOULD THE PROPOSED PURCHASE BE REGARDED AS A DEFINITE CONTRACT BETWEEN THE LANDOWNER AND THE UNITED STATES, AND SO RECORDED ON THE BOOKS OF THE FOREST SERVICE?

2. AT WHAT POINT AND BY WHAT PROCEDURE SHOULD AN EXISTING OBLIGATION BE REGARDED AS TERMINATED IN WHOLE OR IN PART, OTHER THAN BY PAYMENT OF THE AGREED CASH CONSIDERATION; OR, TO PUT IT IN OTHER WORDS, AFTER A CERTAIN CASE OR PART THEREOF IS FOUND TO BE NONACTIONABLE BY REASON OF DEFECTIVE TITLE, OR A DIFFERENCE IN SURVEYED AREA, OR CHANGE IN THE CONDITIONS ON WHICH THE ORIGINAL CONTRACT WAS BASED, AT WHAT STAGE IS THE EXISTING CONTRACT TERMINATED OR MODIFIED, AND BY WHAT PROCEDURE?

PROCEEDING NOW TO THE ANSWER OF THE SPECIFIC QUESTIONS, IT IS THE UNDERSTANDING OF THIS DEPARTMENT THAT ESTABLISHMENT OF AN OBLIGATION AND APPROPRIATION ENCUMBRANCE MAY OCCUR AT VARIOUS STAGES AS HEREINAFTER INDICATED, DEPENDENT UPON THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE INDIVIDUAL TRANSACTION.

1. PURCHASE BASED ON ACCEPTED OPTIONS.--- THE OBLIGATION IS CREATED BY THE GOVERNMENT'S ACCEPTANCE OF THE OPTION WITHIN THE OPTION PERIOD (1 C.G. 625; A-59458, JAN. 15, 1935). * * *

WHEN LAND IS UNDER OPTION, BUT BECAUSE OF DEFECTIVE TITLE SATISFACTORY CONVEYANCE BY THE OPTION OR IS NOT POSSIBLE, IT HAS BEEN OUR UNDERSTANDING THAT (A) THE ORIGINAL OBLIGATION ESTABLISHED BY OPTION ACCEPTANCE MAY BE ALLOWED TO STAND AND PAYMENT FOR THE CONDEMNED LAND MADE FROM THE APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE WHEN OPTION WAS ACCEPTED, OR (B) THE OPTION OBLIGATION MAY BE ABANDONED AND NEW OBLIGATION SET UP AT SUCH TIME AS IT IS DECIDED TO REQUEST ACQUISITION THROUGH CONDEMNATION, AND PAYMENT MADE FROM AN APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR OBLIGATION AT THAT TIME. * * *

AS TO QUESTION TWO, IT IS BELIEVED THAT AN ESTABLISHED OBLIGATION SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS TERMINATED UNDER THE FOLLOWING CIRCUMSTANCES:

(1) UNDER AN ACCEPTED OPTION WHEN THERE HAS BEEN ADEQUATE DETERMINATION THAT THE OPTION OR CANNOT CONVEY SATISFACTORY TITLE, UNLESS DECISION TO REQUEST CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS IS REACHED IMMEDIATELY OR PROMPTLY THEREAFTER. ANY LATER REQUEST FOR CONDEMNATION SHOULD BE TREATED AS CREATING A NEW OBLIGATION UNDER AN APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE AT THAT TIME; *

THE DECISION AS TO THESE MATTERS WAS AS FOLLOWS:

THE FIRST QUESTION CONCERNS WHAT ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION CONSTITUTES AN OBLIGATION OF FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE OF LANDS FOR THE FOREST SERVICE UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 1, 1911, 36 STAT. 961, REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER. GENERALLY IT MAY BE SAID THAT ANY ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION UNDER WHICH THE GOVERNMENT UNDERTAKES TO ACQUIRE THE LANDS UPON CONSIDERATION OF THE PAYMENT OF A CERTAIN PURCHASE PRICE THEREFOR, THUS IMPOSING A LIABILITY UPON THE GOVERNMENT FOR SAID PAYMENT, IS SUFFICIENT TO CREATE AN OBLIGATION AGAINST THE APPROPRIATION OR APPROPRIATIONS AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE OF THE LANDS EVEN IF THE PAYMENT MUST BE CONSIDERED AS SUBJECT TO CONTINGENCIES. MORE SPECIFICALLY THE QUESTION AND THE SUBDIVISIONS THEREOF AS SET FORTH IN YOUR LETTER MAY BE ANSWERED AS FOLLOWS:

1. PURCHASE BASED ON ACCEPTED OPTIONS.--- THE APPROPRIATION SHOULD BE REGARDED AS OBLIGATED AT THE TIME OF THE GOVERNMENT'S ACCEPTANCE OF THE OPTION WITHIN THE OPTION PERIOD. * * *

4. PURCHASE THROUGH CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS.--- IN THE ABSENCE OF CONTRACT OR OPTION, THE APPROPRIATION SHOULD BE REGARDED AS OBLIGATED BY THE REQUEST UPON THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO INSTITUTE CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS RATHER THAN BY THE INSTITUTION OF SUCH PROCEEDINGS. 4 COMP. GEN. 206. WHERE, HOWEVER, LAND IS UNDER OPTION BUT, BECAUSE OF DEFECTIVE TITLE, SATISFACTORY CONVEYANCE IS NOT POSSIBLE (A) THE ORIGINAL OBLIGATION ESTABLISHED BY OPTION ACCEPTANCE MAY BE ALLOWED TO STAND AND PAYMENT FOR THE CONDEMNED LAND MADE FROM THE APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE WHEN THE OPTION WAS ACCEPTED, AS SUGGESTED BY YOU, OR (B), AS ALSO SUGGESTED BY YOU, THE OBLIGATION ESTABLISHED BY THE ACCEPTED OPTION MAY BE ABANDONED AND A NEW OBLIGATION SET UP AT SUCH TIME AS IT IS DECIDED TO REQUEST ACQUISITION THROUGH CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS AND PAYMENT MADE FROM AN APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR OBLIGATION AT THAT TIME.

YOUR SECOND QUESTION RELATES TO CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH AN EXISTING OBLIGATION FOR PURCHASE OF LANDS UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 1, 1911, MAY BE REGARDED AS DISCHARGED, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, OTHER THAN BY ACTUAL PAYMENT. YOU SUGGEST IN SUBPARAGRAPHS (1), (2), (3), AND (4) OF THE CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER VARIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH YOU STATE OBLIGATIONS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS RELINQUISHED. IT MAY BE STATED GENERALLY THAT AN OBLIGATION AGAINST AN APPROPRIATION ONCE INCURRED REMAINS SUCH UNTIL DISCHARGED BY ACTUAL PAYMENT OR, IF CREATED BY CONTRACT, UNTIL THE CONTRACT ON WHICH BASED HAS BEEN TERMINATED IN SUCH MANNER AS TO REMOVE ANY POSSIBILITY OF LIABILITY AGAINST THE UNITED STATES; OR IF CREATED BY CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS, UNTIL SUCH ACTION AS MAY BE REQUIRED HAS BEEN TAKEN TO RELIEVE THE GOVERNMENT FROM ANY LIABILITY UNDER THE AWARD IF ONE WAS MADE OR THE PROCEEDINGS BE DISCONTINUED IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAW. IN THIS CONNECTION IT MAY BE STATED THAT IT IS NEITHER PRACTICABLE NOR DESIRABLE TO CONSIDER IN DETAIL CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH AN OBLIGATION AGAINST AN APPROPRIATION RESULTING FROM A CONTEMPLATED ACQUISITION OF LAND MAY BE DISCHARGED OTHER THAN BY PAYMENT. THE DETERMINATION IN EACH CASE MUST OF NECESSITY DEPEND UPON THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH MAY BE INVOLVED.

THE REASON FOR THE RULE THAT "THE ORIGINAL OBLIGATION ESTABLISHED BY OPTION ACCEPTANCE MAY BE ALLOWED TO STAND AND PAYMENT FOR THE CONDEMNED LAND MADE FROM THE APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE WHEN THE OPTION WAS ACCEPTED," IN CASES WHERE AN OPTION HAS BEEN ACCEPTED BUT SATISFACTORY CONVEYANCE IS NOT POSSIBLE BECAUSE OF DEFECTIVE TITLE, IS THAT THE CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS REASONABLY MAY BE VIEWED AS A CONTINUATION OF, AND INCIDENT TO, THE LAND ACQUISITION TRANSACTION INITIATED BY THE OPTION ACCEPTANCE. ON THE OTHER HAND, WHERE THE OPTION OR CANNOT MAKE GOOD TITLE, THE OPTION CONTRACT AND THE CONTINGENT OBLIGATION THEREUNDER MAY BE TREATED AS AT AN END, ACQUISITION OF THE LAND MAY BE DROPPED, OR THE LAND MAY THEN OR LATER BE ACQUIRED BY CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS UNDER APPROPRIATIONS THEN CURRENT WITHOUT REFERENCE TO AND AS A NEW TRANSACTION ENTIRELY SEPARATE AND DISTINCT FROM THE OPTION TRANSACTION. IT FOLLOWS THAT IF THE APPROPRIATION OBLIGATION CREATED BY ACCEPTANCE OF AN OPTION IS TO BE CONTINUED FOR PAYMENT OF THE PURCHASE PRICE UNDER CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS, SUCH PROCEEDINGS MUST BE IN EFFECT A CONTINUATION OF THE ORIGINAL TRANSACTION. IF NOT SO PROCEEDED WITH, BUT ALLOWED TO LAPSE, SO AS TO AMOUNT TO AN ABANDONMENT OF THE OPTION TRANSACTION, ANY SUBSEQUENT DETERMINATION TO ACQUIRE THE LAND BY CONDEMNATION COULD BE VIEWED ONLY AS INITIATING A NEW AND SEPARATE TRANSACTION UNDER APPROPRIATIONS THEN CURRENTLY AVAILABLE, AND NOT AS REVIVING THE ABANDONED OPTION TRANSACTION OR THE APPROPRIATION COMMITMENT CREATED BY THE OPTION CONTRACT. THIS IS RECOGNIZED BY THE STATEMENT IN YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 12, 1937, THAT:

AS TO QUESTION TWO, IT IS BELIEVED THAT AN ESTABLISHED OBLIGATION SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS TERMINATED UNDER THE FOLLOWING CIRCUMSTANCES:

(1) UNDER AN ACCEPTED OPTION WHEN THERE HAS BEEN ADEQUATE DETERMINATION THAT THE OPTION OR CANNOT CONVEY SATISFACTORY TITLE, UNLESS DECISION TO REQUEST CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS IS REACHED IMMEDIATELY OR PROMPTLY THEREAFTER. ANY LATER REQUEST FOR CONDEMNATION SHOULD BE TREATED AS CREATING A NEW OBLIGATION UNDER AN APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE AT THAT TIME; * * *. ( ITALICS SUPPLIED.)

THAT IS NOT TO SAY, HOWEVER, THAT THE MATTER MAY NECESSARILY BE DETERMINED BY THE LAPSE OF TIME BETWEEN THE OPTION ACCEPTANCE AND PAYMENT PURSUANT TO THE CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS. IT IS UNDERSTANDABLE THAT THERE COULD BE CASES WHERE THE ADMINISTRATIVE INVESTIGATION OF TITLE DIFFICULTIES INVOLVED WOULD BE SUCH THAT THE FINAL DETERMINATION TO CONDEMN RATHER THAN TO TAKE A CONVEYANCE UNDER THE OPTION CONTRACT MIGHT BE SO LONG DELAYED THAT THE CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS COULD NOT BE CONSUMMATED, OR POSSIBLY EVEN INITIATED, BEFORE THE APPROPRIATION HAD LAPSED AND THE BALANCE THEREOF HAD BEEN COVERED INTO THE SURPLUS FUND. ANY SUCH CASES THE ORIGINAL APPROPRIATION WOULD REMAIN PROPERLY CHARGEABLE WITH THE PAYMENTS, IRRESPECTIVE OF WHETHER THE CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS WERE CONSUMMATED--- OR INITIATED--- BEFORE OR AFTER THE APPROPRIATION HAD LAPSED, EVEN THOUGH SETTLEMENT COULD BE MADE ONLY BY THIS OFFICE CERTIFYING THE CLAIMS AND HAVING THEM REPORTED TO THE CONGRESS FOR AN APPROPRIATION PURSUANT TO THE STATUTES IN THAT RESPECT.

ORDINARILY THIS OFFICE WOULD NOT BE REQUIRED TO QUESTION THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION AS TO WHETHER THE CONDEMNATION PAYMENTS SHOULD BE CHARGED TO THE APPROPRIATION OBLIGATED BY ACCEPTANCE OF THE OPTION OR TO THE APPROPRIATION CURRENT WHEN CONDEMNATION WAS REQUESTED. HOWEVER, FOR THE REASONS STATED ABOVE, THERE MAY NOT BE RECOGNIZED AN ABSOLUTE ADMINISTRATIVE CHOICE IN THIS RESPECT, OR ANY ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY TO REVIVE ABANDONED PURCHASE TRANSACTIONS UNDER LAPSED APPROPRIATIONS, AS POSSIBLY CONTEMPLATED BY THE LAST PARAGRAPH OF YOUR PRESENT LETTER; AND, IN ANY CASE, WHEN THERE HAS BEEN SUCH DELAY THAT PAYMENTS ARE NOT TO BE MADE UNTIL AFTER THE APPROPRIATION HAS LAPSED--- THAT IS, MORE THAN 2 YEARS AFTER THE END OF THE FISCAL YEAR IN WHICH THE OPTION WAS ACCEPTED--- THE ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION SHOULD BE JUSTIFIED BY A CLEAR SHOWING THAT THE CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS WERE IN FACT A DIRECT CONTINUATION OF THE OPTION TRANSACTION AND NOT AN ATTEMPTED REVIVAL OF A PREVIOUSLY ABANDONED OPTION TRANSACTION FOR THE PURPOSE OF SAVING OR AUGMENTING CURRENT APPROPRIATIONS. IN THIS RESPECT THE LAPSE OF TIME BETWEEN THE RECEIPT OF INFORMATION SHOWING THE TITLE TO BE TOO QUESTIONABLE TO WARRANT TAKING A CONVEYANCE UNDER THE OPTION AGREEMENT AND THE REQUEST FOR CONDEMNATION WOULD BE MOST MATERIAL, AND ANY UNREASONABLE DELAY IN REQUESTING CONDEMNATION UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES COULD BE VIEWED ONLY AS AN ABANDONMENT OF THE OPTION TRANSACTION AND, THEREFORE, AS TERMINATING THE APPROPRIATION OBLIGATION IN THAT RESPECT, SO AS TO RENDER SUCH APPROPRIATION UNAVAILABLE FOR PAYMENTS UNDER CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS NOT INITIATED UNTIL SOME SUBSEQUENT FISCAL YEAR. SEE SECTION 3690, REVISED STATUTES. IN THE NEXT TO LAST PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER YOU STATE THAT "UNDER 31 U.S.C. 714 THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE MAY RECEIVE AND CONSIDER CLAIMS WITHIN A PERIOD OF 5 YEARS AFTER THE APPROPRIATION BALANCE HAS BEEN CARRIED TO THE SURPLUS FUND.' TO CORRECT THE APPARENT MISCONCEPTION AS TO THIS, IT SHOULD BE POINTED OUT THAT THE ACT OF JUNE 14, 1878, 20 STAT. 130, FROM WHICH THE CITED CODE SECTION WAS TAKEN, WAS THEN AND SINCE INTERPRETED AND APPLIED BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS, SO FAR AS THE 5-YEAR PERIOD WAS CONCERNED, AS RELATING TO THE PROCEDURE TO BE FOLLOWED FOR THE 5 YEARS NEXT ENSUING AFTER THE PASSAGE OF THAT ACT, AND AS NOT CONSTITUTING A STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS ON THE CONSIDERATION AND SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS WHICH THERETOFORE, AND THEREAFTER BY SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF JULY 7, 1884, 23 STAT. 254, WERE RECOGNIZED AS PROPER FOR ALLOWANCE UNDER LAPSED APPROPRIATIONS AND FOR REPORTING TO THE CONGRESS AS CERTIFIED CLAIMS, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE TIME WHEN SUCH CLAIMS MIGHT BE FILED. SEE FIVE YEAR CLAIMS CASE DECIDED JULY 31, 1883, 4 LAWRENCE ( FIRST COMPTROLLER) 252; FARRARS CASE, DECIDED NOVEMBER 29, 1884, 5 LAWRENCE 447, 462, 506. ALSO, CIRCULAR 21 OF THIS OFFICE, 4 COMP. GEN. 1082.