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the payments made by the chief disbursing clerk. The comptroller's reasons for making these disallowances may be summarized as follows:
That the appropriation for “ investigation of school and home gardening, Bureau of Education, 1920," designated for the payment of the claims was fully expended at the expiration of the fiscal year for which it was made; that the entering into of agreements in the form of accepted proposals prior to the close of the fiscal year 1920 was resorted to by the Commissioner of Education for the purpose of making the unexpended balance available for expenditure thereafter for purposes which the comptroller assumed the commissioner deemed to be within the intent of the appropriation; that it was necessary that the contracts should be formally executed in the manner prescribed by section 3744, Revised Statutes, if in view of the provisions of section 3690, Revised Statutes, payments thereunder were to be made after the expiration of the fiscal year 1920.
In applying to the comptroller for a revision of his decision of August 9, 1921, the chief disbursing clerk requested, as a matter of accounting, that the payments made by him be charged to the appropriation for “investigation of rural and industrial education, 1921," instead of to the appropriation for the fiscal year 1920 originally designated. In support of that request the chief disbursing clerk referred to a letter from the Commissioner of Education to the Secretary of the Interior wherein the opinion was expressed that the vouchers properly might be so charged. That request was denied by the Comptroller General in his decision of September 7, 1921.
It only remains for me to say that if the chief disbursing clerk erred in not adhering to the strict letter of the law in making his payments the Auditor for the Interior Department likewise erred in subsequently paying similar claims. Certainly these errors, if such they were, were not intentionally committed by the chief disbursing clerk or the auditor.
The vouchers bore evidence by their formal certificates executed by the duly accredited administrative officer that they were correct and just, that the services were necessary and were performed, and that the prices charged were reasonable. It may therefore be reasonably inferred that the Government received full value for the payments. In these circumstances the chief disbursing clerk ought not to be compelled to suffer financial loss.
Mr. ABEL. I would like to add this general statement: The Bureau of Education during that year had these two appropriations for special purposes--one for the investigation of school and home gardening in cities and manufacturing towns and the other for maintaining a register of teachers. It had been customary in the Bureau of Education for the last 10 years to contract with persons who were not employed in the bureau to prepare manuscripts directly bearing on the subjects designated in the appropriations. The contracts for these manuscripts were drawn in the form of proposal and acceptance. This had been considered by the auditors as sufficient and had been paid.
In the items in question the ('ommissioner of Education acted in good faith, following a precedent that was so long established and the manuscripts were prepared for the bureau of a value quite equal to the amounts designated. In other words, the work has been done and the payments have been made to the individuals by Mr. George Evans, chief disbursing clerk of the Department of the Interior. Because of a technicality those amounts are now charged against Mr. Evans. It seems unjust that they should be, especially since he and the Commissioner of Education were following a practice that had been customary for so long.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 1922.
BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.
STATEMENT OF MR. EDGAR B. MERITT, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER
OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.
PURCHASE OF GOODS AND SUPPLIES FOR INDIAN SERVICE, 1920–21. The CHAIRMAN. For expenses necessary to the purchase of goods and supplies for the Indian Service, etc., you are asking a deficiency appropriation of $3,730.40 for the fiscal year 1920 and $78,000 for the fiscal year 1921. Will you be kind enough to tell us how this happened for these two years and why there has been such delay in presenting these items?
Mr. MERITT. The matter is fully explained in a letter written by Commissioner Burke, dated January 21, 1922, and I think I can save the time of the committee by reading the letter:
JANUARY 21, 1922. The SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR.
Sir: There is transmitted herewith in triplicate deficiency estimate of appropriations required for the Indian Service for the fiscal year 1921, and prior fiscal year, in the sum of $83,040.12. Of the total amount of this estimate $81,730.40 is required to meet claims presented for the purchase and transportation of Indian supplies.
Since the last deficiency act, 1921, for payment of audited claims then in the Treasury for 1920 was passed, additional claims payable from the 1920 transportation fund amounting to $3,730.40 have been properly certified to by the Treasury Department, for the payment of which no funds are available; $56,408.97 of the estimate is to cover actual claims for the transportation of supplies shipped in the regular course of business, which claims have been certified by the Treasury Department for payment. The appropriation " Purchase and transportation of Indian supplies, 1921," is exhausted.
The CHAIRMAN. Would there have been enough money in the appropriations to pay these bills if they had been presented in time?
Mr. MERITT. No, sir; there was not a sufficient appropriation to meet the outstanding claims.
The CHAIRMAN. You are referring to 1920 or 1921 ?
There are still in the possession of the transportation companies a number of accounts for services performed for the Indian Service, a survey of which indicates that eventually an additional sum of $10,000 will be required to liquidate them. This sum is included in the estimate submitted.
In addition to the claims certified by the accounting officers of the Treasury Department the Indian Office has recently sent to that department claims amounting to $7,981.69, payable from purchase and transportation of Indian supplies, 1921, and there still remain in the Indian Office transportation claims payable from the same fund in the sum of $2,316.58.
The need for deficiency appropriations in connection with the transportation of Indian supplies has been an annual occurrence for may years, as will be noted from the inclosed table bearing the title “ Deficiency appropriations." For a number of years prior to the fiscal year 1922, $300,000 has been annually appropriated for the transportation of Indian supplies. The Indian Office, when making its estimates, has justified the need for a much larger appropriation.
Supplies purchased for the Indians must necessarily be transported to destination, and therefore when after advertising for bids in accordance with section 3709 of the Revised Statutes, the lowest bidder, freight considered, is one who, by the designation of some distant point as the place for delivery to the Government, requires that the Government do its own shipping, the carrying charges must be paid from the appropriation for the transportation of Indian supplies. Under the present method of making appropriations for the Indian Service it can not be otherwise, unless that service is to be required to purchase everything delivered to it at the nearest railroad station to the ultimate point of consumption, and thereby forego a big saving to the Government which accrues by shipping on Government bills of lading over land-grant roads. The system .followed in the Indian Service is that used by the War and Navy Departments, as well as other branches of the Government service, and if it is proper for them it likewise is proper for the Indian Service so to do. Inasmuch as the amount needed for the transportation of supplies in any case can not be determined until after the purchases have been made, and as the estimate to Congress for the year must be made before even the annual supply contracts are entered into, the amount thought to be required can be only an estimate based on past experience. The solution of the problem is, of course, to make the appropriation for this particular work sufficient to meet its needs. There is absolutely no chance to avoid a deficit when, for instance, no provision was made by Congress to offset the advances in freight rates made from time to time by common carriers. In the fiscal year 1917 the Indian Service spent $50,957.55 for the three warehouses and $365,093.22 for freight alone; $416,050.83 in all; yet for 1918, when freight rates were being increased, there was appropriated for all purposes the usual $300,000. In 1918 the Indian Service spent $55,515,58 for warehouses and $402,690.69 for freight transportation, a total of $458,206.27.
On June 25, 1918, an increase in rates of 25 per cent was allowed, yet for 1919 and 1920 only $300,000 annually was appropriated. To relieve the steadily increasing burden thrown on the transportation fund Congress directed for the fiscal year 1921 that the cost of inspecting, storing, and transporting coal for the Indian Service should be paid from the funds out of which the various units were supported. Almost immediately the increase in freight rates of August 26, 1920 (ranging from 25 to 40 per cent), became effective and offset the benefit derived from this change. The estimate for 1922 provided for an increase of $70,000 over the amount heretofore appropriated for transportation, and was believed to be ample for the purpose. This amount was based on the thought that there would be incorporated in the 1922 bill the provision found in the 1921 act which would direct that the payment for the transportation, etc., of coal be paid from support funds. This did not occur and there will be a deficiency of about the amount annually required for the shipment of coal for 1922.
The CHAIRMAN. These bills are now in?
Mr. MERITT. The railroad people are slow in getting their bills to the department.
Mr. Sisson. In a word, this deficiency is due to the increased freight rates ?
Mr. Meritt. Yes, sir; the freight rates have been increased anywhere from 25 to 40 per cent.
TELEGRAPHING AND TELEPHONES.
The CHAIRMAN. For telegraph and telephone toll messages on business pertaining to the Indian Service you are asking a deficiency appropriation of $35.52 for the fiscal year 1920. Is that an audited account?
Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir. We had an appropriation of $8,000 for that year, but we did not have quite enough money left to meet the telegraph bills outstanding,
The CHAIRMAN. Would there have been enough money in the appropriation to pay these bills if they had been rendered in time?
Mr. MERITT. No, sir; there is a deficiency in that appropriation of this amount.
The CHAIRMAN. This is a deficiency for the fiscal year 1920, and I think these bills should have been rendered long before this.
Mr. Sisson. Why were not the bills presented earlier? The amount is small, but I think the chairman is right about that.
Mr. MERITT. It is an audited claim.
The CHAIRMAN. The fact that you have audited claims of two or three years back does not make them any better.
Mr. MERITT. But we simply did not have enough money to pay the outstanding claims.
The CHAIRMAN. It should have been sent in last year.
Mr. Sisson. There is some reason for it, I presume, but there should not have been this delay.
FOR IMPROVEMENT, MAINTENANCE, ETC., FORT HALL IRRIGATION SYSTEM.
The ('HAIRMAN. The next is a deficiency estimate of $11 for the fiscal year 1920.
Mr. MERITT. That is in connection with the Fort Hall irrigation system in Idaho.
The CHAIRMAN. How did this deficiency arise?
The act of June 30, 1919 (41 Stat., 13), appropriated $50,003 for this purpose, all of which was expended. On June 10, 1921, more than 11 months after the expiration of the fiscal year, the Auditor for the Interior Department. in a settlement of the accoun is of a field disbursing officer, transferred an itern of $11 to this appropriation from a similar appropriation for the previous fisa! year, but there was then no balance in the 1920 appropriation to which the amount could be charged, thus creating it deficiency and making this itelny necessary.
PROMOTING CIVILIZATION AND SELF-SUPPORT AMONG INDIANS OF MENCA
LERO RESERVATION, N. MEX.
The CHAIRMAN. The next item is:
For promoting civilization and self-support among the Indians of the J2lero Reservation, N. Mex., $250,000, to be expended or distributed in the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior, under such regula ions as he man prescribe; to remain available until expended, and to reimburse the l’nitin States from the sale of timber on such reservation.
Mr. MERITT. I was somewhat surprised to see that item in this bill. The CHAIRMAN. There is no authority of law for it?
Mr. MERITT. There was a separate bill covering this subject which passed the Senate.
The CHAIRMAN. But not the House?
Mr. MERITT. No, sir; we are not asking for a deficiency appropriation, although we have made a favorable report on the bill.
The CHAIRMAN. You do not need it?
FOR RECONSTRUCTION OF IRRIGATION PROJECT FOR THE LAGUNA PUEBLO.
The CHAIRMAN. The next item is: For the reconstruction of the irrigation project for the Laguna Pueblo, and for the operation and maintenance of the system, fiscal year 1921, $1,069.05, reimbursable by the Indians benefited, under such rules and regulations as the Secretary of the Interior may prescribe.
How cloes that occur for 1921 ?
Mr. Meritt. This amount was expended in excess of the appropriation and was for the transportation of several cars of cement and steel trestles for use in connection with the Laguna Pueblo irrigation system, New Mexico. It is evident that the disbursing agent, in estimating the cost of his work, failed to include the cost of transportation, hence the necessity of a deficiency item to cover the cost of transportation in this connection.
The CHAIRMAN. Why did that not get here sooner; that is reimbursable !
Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir; for 1921.
Mr. MERITT. As soon as they get to farming the land. They will have period of about 20 years to pay the construction cost of the system.
OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE OF MODOC IOINT IRRIGATION SYSTEM,
The CHAIRMAN. The next item is, “ For operating and maintenance of the Modoc Point irrigation system within the Klamath Indian Reservation, in the State of Oregon, fiscal year 1921, $2.55, reimbursable in accordance with the provisions of the act of March 3, 1911."
Mr. Meritt. This small sum is required for transportation cost of gasoline and roof cement, for which no funds are available for payment.
The CHAIRMAN. Are those bills all audited ?