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ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL
OF THE UNITED STATES
FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED JUNE 30, 1937
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE,
Washington, January 3, 1938. To the Congress:
Pursuant to section 312 (a) of the Budget and Accounting Act, 1921 (42 Stat. 25), the Annual Report of the Acting Comptroller General of the United States for the fiscal year 1937 is submitted.
Section 312 (a) provides that,
Congress at the beginning of each regular session, a report in writing of the work of the General Accounting Office, containing recommendations concerning the legislation he may deem necessary to facilitate the prompt and accurate rendition and settlement of accounts and concerning such other matters relating to the receipt, disbursement, and application of public funds as he may think advisable. In such regular report, or in special reports at any time when Congress is in session, he shall make recommendations looking to greater economy or efficiency in public expenditures.
From time to time in the annual reports of the Comptroller General of the United States there has been brought to the attention of the Congress the progress made by the Office in its efforts to discharge the responsibilities imposed upon it by law, with particular reference to the matter of prescribing an adequate accounting procedure for use by all departments and establishments of the Government.
In the prosecution of this work difficulties have been encountered which proceeded largely from the question raised in some administrative quarters of whether the law directing the Comptroller General of the United States to prescribe the forms, systems, and procedure for administrative appropriation and fund accounting comprehended the prescription of an accounting system for the Govern
ment as a whole. It is the view of this Office that the law vests in the office an independent jurisdiction in the prescribing of an accounting system for the Government and the program adopted is directed toward that objective.
At the outset surveys had to be made of the many different types of organizations through which the varied and complex activities of the Government are conducted. In connection with such surveys studies were made of forms used and practices followed with a view, wherever possible, to the adoption of such standards of uniformity as from time to time became practicable. As early as 1926 determination was made of the degree of uniformity that might and should prevail, fundamentally, in the administrative accounting records and by office circular No. 27, dated July 21, 1926, a uniform system of accounts was prescribed for use by all departments and establishments. Thereafter, as rapidly as possible, with the limited facilities available, the systems of accounts in use in the several departments and establishments were brought into conformity with the adopted uniform plan. Such work was carried on under the direction of the Chief of Investigations and in keeping with the original program which, as previously stated, was directed toward the establishment of an adequate accounting system for the Government as a whole, it was decided in 1935 that the installation of uniform systems in departments and establishments had progressed to the point where coordination of such systems with an adequate centralized accounting control was proper for undertaking. The work of establishing the necessary control accounts and coordinating systems of departments and establishments therewith was, by General Regulations No. 82, assigned for accomplishment to the Accounting and Bookkeeping Division.
In any proper system of accounts, classification of funds is a fundamental necessity. Standardization of account designations is equally fundamental. The first effort of this Office to classify funds and to prescribe standard account designations was made in 1925 when, by General Regulations No. 44, a system of symbols for appropriation accounts was prescribed. Later, in 1928, General Regulations No. 67 was issued to prescribe a system of symbols for receipt accounts. Due to the enormous and unanticipated increase in the number of accounts and to changes in accounting procedure deemed necessary to provide a more effective audit of receipts and expenditures, particularly in respect to limitations on uses of appropriations, the systems of symbols prescribed by General Regulations Nos. 44 and 67 proved, in 1936, to be inadequate. Accordingly, a new system of symbols and titles for appropriation and receipt accounts was prescribed by General Regulations No. 84, dated June 15, 1936. The obvious purposes of General Regulations No. 84 are (a) A proper classification of public moneys, both receipts and
appropriations. (6) A positive identification of receipt accounts with their related
appropriation accounts. (c) A more thorough and speedier analysis of the financial ac
counts of the Government. On the whole the new system and procedure, as modified to fit unusual conditions, has proven satisfactory and is a decided improve