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rightful claimants such sums as may be found by the Secretary of Agriculture to have been erroneously collected for the use of any lands, or for timber or other resources sold from lands located within, but not a part of, the national forests, or for alleged illegal acts done upon such lands, which acts are subsequently found to have been proper and legal; and the Secretary of Agriculture shall make annual report to Congress of the amounts refunded hereunder. Transfers from lump-sum appropriations.
Act of August 26, 1912 (37 Stat., 595). Sec. 7. No part of any money contained herein or hereafter appropriated in lump sum shall be available for the payment of personal services at a rate of compensation in excess of that paid for the same or similar services during the fiscal year nineteen hundred and twelve; nor shall any person employed at a specific salary be hereafter transferred and hereafter paid from a lump-sum appropriation a rate of compensation greater than such specific salary, and the heads of departments shall cause this provision to be enforced. Amendment of act, supra.
Act of March 4, 1913 (37 Stat., 828). That hereafter section seven of the Act approved August twentysixth, nineteen hundred and twelve (Thirty-seventh Statutes, page six hundred and twenty-six), and any amendments thereto, shall not apply to the payment, out of moneys appropriated or which may
be hereafter appropriated in lump sum for the Department of Agriculture, for personal services of employees engaged in strictly scientific or technical work: Provided, That nothing contained herein shall be construed to authorize the transfer of any person employed at a specific salary and the payment of compensation from lump-sum appropriations at a rate greater than said specific salary.
And hereafter every officer or employee of the Department of Agriculture whose rate of compensation is specified herein shall receive compensation at the rate so specified. Purchase of trec seed.
Act of June 30, 1914 (38 Stat., 415).
That hereafter the Secretary of Agriculture may procure such seed, cones, and nursery stock by open purchase, without advertisements for proposals, whenever in his discretion such method is most economical and in the public interest and when the cost thereof will not exceed $500; Compromise of claims.
Sec. 3469, R. S. Upon a report by a district attorney, or any special attorney or agent having charge of any claim in favor of the United States, showing in detail the condition of such claim, and the terms upon which the same may be compromised, and recommending that it be compromised upon the terms so offered, and upon the recommendation of the Solicitor of the Treasury, the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to compromise such claim accordingly. But the provisions of this section shall not apply to any claim arising under the postal laws.
Where judgments are recovered in actions for trespass on National Forests, such amounts thereof as represent punitive damages, costs of suit, or amounts to cover replanting are not such revenues of the National Forests as are subject to the 25 per cent deduction for distribution to the States and Territories in which the National Forest concerned is located. (17 Comp. Dec., 688.)
A force employed in the District of Columbia to supervise and control the field work of employees engaged in making examinations, surveys, etc., under the Weeks forestry law of March 1, 1911, can not be paid' from the appropriation made by that act. (17 Comp. Dec., 780.)
Publications of advertisements affecting national forests made by supervisors or rangers pursuant to written instructions from the Forester, issued under authority of the Secretary of Agriculture, specifying the newspapers to be used are publications authorized by Revised Statutes, section 3828. (13 Comp. Dec., 446.)
The withholding of moneys due a corporation by the United States is not authorized as a set-off against the liability of such corporation to the United States for indefinite profits arising out of a timber trespass committed by another person. (15 Comp. Dec., 113.)
Costs adjudged against forest officers in the prosecution by them, before a justice of the peace, of one arrested for setting a fire which spreads to National Forest lands, are not chargeable against the United States and can not be paid from Forest Service appropriations. (Comp. Dec. of May 6, 1912; 2 Sol. Op., 693.)
Expenses of Government officers in going, returning, and in attendance on court, when sent away from the usual place of their duties, as witnesses, for the Government, as the result of knowledge obtained in the discharge of their official duties, are payable from the appropriate appropriation of the department from which they are sent, and not from the judicial appropriations for fees of witnesses. (12 Comp. Dec., 391; see also 14 Comp. Dec., 80 and 516; 15 id., 154, 298 and 757.)
Where authority is exercised by a special class of officers in the arrest of persons for violations of the laws of the United States, all expenses incident to such arrests are defrayed by the Government and paid out of appropriations made for certain purposes, and not until prisoners come into the custody of the United States marshal by virtue of a duly recognized authority can it be said that a judiciary appropriation may be available for the payment of such expenses. (8 Comp. Dec., 127; 11 id., 753; 15 id., 602; 16 id., 371; 17 id., 566.)
When an offender is arrested by a forest officer for violation of the forestry laws or regulations and taken before a United States Commissioner, the liability of the judiciary appropriations would commence with the complaint and warrant; but in no case would such appropriations be liable for any fees or expenses of the forest officer where it is his duty to aid in the detection, prosecution, and punishment for violations of such laws and regulations. (14 Comp. Dec., 113.)
The appropriation for general expenses of the Forest Service can not be used to pay for the support of a prisoner confined in a State
jail for violation of the rules and regulations relating to the forest reserves under a commitment issued by a United States Commissioner. Such payments are chargeable to the judiciary appropriation. (14 Comp. Dec., 113.)
A forest officer keeping a privately owned automobile for official business can not receive compensation for carrying another forest officer in the car, both being on an official trip. (2 Sol. Op., 782.) General expenses.
The appropriation for the general expenses of the Forest Service can not be used to pay an impounding fee under a village ordinance for horses of the Government taken up and impounded by the village authorities. (1 Sol. Op., 642.)
The expense of transporting horses of employees of the Forest Service, needed in the performance of their official duties, is payable from the appropriation for general expenses. (1 Sol. Op., 350.)
The expenses of identification and eradication of poisonous plants within the National Forests may be paid from general expenses under the appropriation for 1910. (1 Sol. Op., 199.)
The fire-fighting fund provided under general expenses in the act of March 4, 1911, is available for paying the cost of repairs to a vehicle unavoidably damaged while under hire to the Forest Service for conveying men to a forest fire, with the express agreement to be responsible for damages. (2 Sol. Op., 740.)
Salaries of stream gaugers working under cooperative agreement with the Geological Survey are payable from the appropriation for general expenses of the Forest Service. (2 Sol. Op., 719.)
Telephone lines consisting of insulated wire laid upon the ground and temporarily used in one part of the forest and then removed and used in the same way in another part should be charged, under general expenses, for the “purchase and maintenance of all necessary field
supplies,” etc. (1 Sol. Op., 651.) Labor employed in constructing such lines should be paid for from the appropriation for general expenses, as a field expense of the particular forest. (1 Sol. Op., 651.)
Expenses of a forest officer while attending, in his official capacity, the examination or trial of a person charged with violation of the laws relating to timber trespass on National Forests are payable from the general expenses for the Forest Service. (1 Sol. Ap., 383.)
The appropriation for the construction and maintenance of roads, trails, bridges, etc., in the appropriation act of August 10, 1912, is not exclusive, but is interchangeable with the item for general expenses “to pay all expenses necessary to protect, administer, and improve
. the National Forests.” (Solicitor to his assistant at San Francisco,
. Sept. 7, 1912.) Improvements. Enlargement and improvement of ranger stations. See under Operation,”
page 30, ante. The installation for the first time of bathroom fixtures in the Fort Valley experiment station, in the same manner as similar fixtures are usually installed in the ordinary city house, are not repairs within the meaning of the appropriation act. (2 Sol. Op., 768.)
Fruit trees, grapevines, and rosebushes purchased for planting on ranger stations can not be paid for out of any appropriation for the Forest Service made in the appropriation act of 1911.
(1 Sol. Op., 556.)
A contract for the construction of a cabin for use as a ranger station need not be supported, necessarily, by a bond, since such cabin is not a “public building” within the meaning of that term as used in the act of February 24, 1905 (33 Stat., 811). (Opinion of Solicitor dated Feb. 19, 1914.) Fire-fighting fund.
Fees of an employment agency for services in securing fire fighters may be paid from the appropriation for fighting forest fires and other unforseen emergencies. (1 Sol. Op., 349.) Reforestation.
The appropriation for the year 1911 of $166,640 "For silvicultural and other experiments," etc., is available, in the discretion of the Secretary, for allotment to the various forests, not for experiments and investigations merely, but to carry on the work of reforestation. The amounts allotted may be used cumulatively with the amounts authorized in the appropriations for the various forests by name. (2 Sol. Op., 705.) Supplies.
Supplies ordered under annual contracts for one fiscal year, but not delivered in that year, may be paid for at prices fixed by the contracts out of the appropriations for the succeeding year. (1 Sol. Op., 311.)
If the need for ordering wire existed in the fiscal year 1910, and the contract in question was properly made under the appropriation for that year, the purchase price may be paid from that appropriation, even though the wire was not delivered until the next annual appropriation has become effective, and it can not be put to physical use until some time in the next fiscal year. (Id.) Refunds.
The refund provision in the agricultural appropriation act of March 4, 1907, contemplates cases of sales of National Forest products and does not apply to erroneous or excess collections for trespass on National Forest lands, or to erroneous collections for products of lands not a part of the National Forests. (17 Comp. Dec., 204.)
No refund can be made, under the act of March 4, 1907, of money paid for timber cut in the construction of an irrigation ditch under permit from the Forest Service, pending approval of maps filed with the Secretary of the Interior, even though the lands affected have been eliminated from the National Forest. (2 Sol. Op., 676.)
Where a timber-sale contract expired by limitation before all the timber paid for was cut, the right to damages, either actual or liquidated, became vested in the United States, and could not be waived or released by any officer of the Government. If in such case the contract provided for liquidated damages, or if the United States sustained actual damages by reason of the breach, and the amount deposited did not exceed the sum of the purchase price of the timber cut
and removed plus the amount of such damages, then no refund could be made. (Case of Orleans Longacre, Comp. Dec., Dec. 27, 1911.)
The provision in a timber-sale contract that “all moneys paid or promised under this agreement” shall become the property of the United States “as liquidated damages and not as a penalty," on the failure of the purchaser to fulfill “ all and singular” the numerous requirements of the contract, some of which are comparatively trivial and if broken can result in little damage, is, in legal substance and effect, a provision for a penalty, and a refund can be made where money has been deposited in excess of the actual damages suffered. (2 Sol. Op., 831.)
The provision in timber-sale Form 202 that refunds will be made only at the discretion of the Forester, except when the amount of such deposits is more than the value of the timber on the cutting area covered by this agreement," does not empower the Forester to make refunds without limitation and without reference to the damages which may accrue to the Government by a breach of the contract. (2 Sol. Op., 831.)
Where an applicant for a timber-sale contract deposits money to cover the cost of advertising the sale, and dies before submitting a bid, the deposit may be regarded as made “to secure the purchase price on the sale” of forest products, and may be refunded to his legal representatives after deducting any expense incurred by the United States in consequence of the application. (Case of C. W. Dutrow, Comp. Dec., Dec. 27, 1911.)
Where timber unlawfully cut is seized and subsequently released to the trespasser on payment of its value and his agreement to clean up the cut-over area, the transaction amounts to a sale on condition subsequent, and on his failure to perform the condition the money, less damages caused by the breach, may be refunded under the act of March 4, 1907, and the trespasser be held liable for the trespass. (1 Sol. Op., 355.)
The amended refund provision contained in the act of March 4, 1911, being clearly remedial in character, is retrospective in its operation. (2 Sol. Op., 685; Comp. Dec., Dec. 27, 1911.)
Moneys erroneously collected on account of a special-use permit to occupy lands listed under the act of June 11, 1906, could not be refunder under the act of March 4, 1907 (34 Stat., 1256), but may be under the retroactive amendment contained in the appropriation act of March 4, 1911. (2 Sol. Op., 685; Comp. Dec., Dec. 27, 1911.)
Where by mistake the amount agreed upon in settlement of a trespass by boxing for turpentine is twice paid, the excess payment may be refunded under the amending provision contained in the appropriation act of March 4, 1911, as “money erroneously collected for the use of any lands." (Case of C. J. Conger, Comp. Dec., Dec. 27, 1911.)
Moneys collected for a trespass in cutting timber from an unperfected homestead claim can not be refunded under the amending act merely because final proof has since been made and final certificate issued. If the cutting was in fact illegal when done, the subsequent proof and issuance of certificate does not satisfy the statutory requirement that the act be “subsequently found to have been legal and proper." (Case of Haney, Comp. Dec., Dec. 27, 1911.)