Use of Appropriated Funds for the Purchase of Lands for the Protection of Water Sheds of Navigable Streams and for the Upper Mississippi Wild Life Refuge

A-17267: Jun 28, 1927

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Shirley Jones
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The General Accounting Office initially decided that certain payments made by the disbursing clerk at the Department of Agriculture for options on lands selected by the department for purchase under statutes authorising the acquisition of lands for the protection of water sheds of navigable streams and for the Upper Mississippi Wild Life Refuge, and appropriation made for carrying out said purchase, would be disallowed in the next settlement of his accounts. Agriculture requests that the matter be reconsidered or, in the event expenditures for options are still held to be unauthorised, that, in view of the long standing practice and the necessity for continuing it, authority be given to continue paying for options until the matter can be submitted to the Congress for legislative authorization.

The laws and appropriations here in question contemplate the purchase of lands but the purchase of a right to subsequently purchase lands, however desirable from an administrative point of view it may be, cannot be said to be so closely connected with the purchase of lands as to be a necessary part of the purchase price for the lands to be acquired and this would clearly be so in these cases where the option to purchase is not exercised and in those cases where the amount of the option is not included in the purchase price of the lands when the option is exercised, resulting in the payment of money from which the United States receives no ultimate benefit whatever.