Procurement of Sites for Public Buildings

B-142862: Jun 21, 1960

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The bill would repeal that part of the act of March 2, 1889, as amended, which requires that in the procurement of sites for public buildings it shall be the duty of the Attorney General to require grantors to furnish, free of all expenses to the Government, all requisite abstracts, official certifications and evidences of title that he may deem necessary. The cited statutes applies only to site acquired for public buildings, which sites it is understood represent only a small percentage of the number and value of Government acquisitions. The statue does not apply to sites which are not to be used for public buildings, such as sites for military reservations, defense requirements, flood-control and reclamation projects, Veterans Administration facilities, national forests and other similar Government acquisitions. With respect to the acquisitions of the latter type, it has been the universal practice for years to pay the costs of abstracts and other necessary title evidence from the appropriations available for the acquisition of the sites, except where the sites are acquired by condemnation in which event the cost of procuring title evidence is generally regarded as part of the expense of the condemnation proceedings, and therefore for payment out of the appropriations for the Department of Justice.

Section 355, Revised Statutes, as amended provides that the head or other authorized officer of any department, independent establishment, or agency shall procure any evidence of title which the Attorney General may deem necessary, and that the expenses of procurement, except where otherwise authorized by law or provided by contract, may be paid out of the appropriations for the acquisition of land or out of the appropriations made for the contingencies of the acquiring department, independent establishment, or agency. If the present statutory requirement is repealed, the foregoing provision of Section 355 Revised Statutes would appear to adequately provide for the procurement of any title evidence which the Attorney General may consider necessary and the cost of procurement of same, except where otherwise authorized by law.

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