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COMMISSARY-GENERAL OF SUBSISTENCE.
Washington, D. C., October 10, 1878. SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the opera tions of the Subsistence Department for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1878, and since my last annual report, and to present for your consideration such suggestions regarding the duties of officers of the Subsistence Department as experience has indicated to me to be judicious and proper, and which, if carried into execution, would, in my opinion, inure to the best interests not only of the Army, but the government generally.
APPROPRIATIONS AND RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS OF FUNDS.
Congress having failed, prior to its adjournment on the 4th of March, 1877, to make any appropriation for the subsistence of the Army for the then ensuing fiscal year, it became necessary, as set forth in my lastannual report, to purchase subsistence supplies on credit and to continue on duty, without contract or agreement to be paid therefor, such employés as were necessary for the proper performance of the duties of the department.
As this subject was so fully referred to in my last annual report, I deem no further allusion to it necessary, except to state that the amount of indebtedness incurred by the purchase of stores on credit, between July 1 and November 30 (by which latter date the appropriation for subsistence of the Army, made by the act approved November 21, 1877, had become available), was $1,214,256.14. The value of services rendered during the same time was $19,323.85.
All of these claims were paid as rapidly as presented after funds for the purpose were furnished, most of which were distributed before the 1st of December, although at so late a day in the month of November that they were not available for disbursement at points remote from Washington until some time during the month of December. The appropriation for subsistence of the Army, for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1878, made by the act approved November 21, 1877, was.... $2, 370, 000 00
Received through the Treasury:
lections for tobacco sold to enlisted men and charged on
$73, 843 87 From the Interior Department, on account of supplies furnished the Indian Department..
31, 824 83 On account of stores lost in transit.. From miscellaneous sources.
22, 765 79
128, 760 30 Making the total amount of funds in the Treasury available for subsistence of the Army for the fiscal year 1878.
2, 498, 760 30
Of which amount $2,498,604.60 was transferred to officers for disburse. ment, and $155.70 paid out through the Treasury Department on account of claims against the Subsistence Department.
In addition to the amounts received from the Treasury by officers for disbursement on account of subsistence of the Army for the fiscal year, viz, $2,498,604.60, there was on hand on the 1st of July, 1877, the proceeds of sales of subsistence supplies during the previous tiscal year, $145,421.04. During the tiscal year there was received, as proceeds of sales of subsistence supplies, which are, by the act of March 3, 1875, exempt from being covered into the Treasury, and immediately available for the purchase of fresh supplies, the sum of $566,326.37. The amount disbursed was $3,510,551.70.
In connection with the subject of appropriations for subsistence of the Army, attention is respectfully invited to the following extract from my last annual report:
I deem it my duty to urgently invite your attention, and, through you, that of Congress, to the necessity, in the interests of economy, for making sutticient appropriation for the subsisience of the Army to enable the department to purchase the supplies required at the proper time and for cash, and for making the appropriation available from the date of the passage of the act making it.
The advantages of purchasing for cash are too apparent to render it necessary to give any reasons for making the recommendation upou that point; with reference to the appropriation being available from the date of the passage of the act making it, economy requires that stores intended for remote posts should be purchased in time to be shipped early in the spring, so as to reach their destination prior to the hot months of June and July. The loss in transporting meats and delicate stores for sales to officers and enlisted men great in the hot months, and should be avoided if practicable.
Should it not be deemed advisable to make the whole appropriation available from the date of the passage of the act making it, it is suggested that in each annual appropriation $300,000 for the purchase of supplies for remote posts be made immediately available for disbursement, as has been done for several years. Under the construction of section 3,678, Revised Statutes, which las prevailed at this office since I have been Commissary-General, this authority would be necessary even were there ample appropriation for any one fiscal year to purchase sup: plies to last until the cool weather of the next fall, when stores could be transporteil with less loss than in the hot mouths. This section of the Revised Statutes provides that
All sums appropriated for the various branches of expenditure in the public service, shall be applied solely to the objects for which they are respectively made, and for no others.
I have construed this statute to virtually prohibit me from authorizing the purchase of subsistence supplies in any one fiscal year in excess of the amounts which would probably be required until supplies purchased under the appropriation for the next fiscal year could reach the posts. This construction, if there should be no appropriation for the next fiscal year available until July 1, would render it necessary to commence immediately the purchase and shipment of supplies in the hot months of July and August. I therefore respectfully suggest that the section of the Revised Statutes be amended, or authority be given by law, for the Subsistence Department to purchase from the appropriation for any current fiscal year, such supplies as will probably be required at posts until supplies purchased from the appropriation for the next tiscal year can