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I have conceived it a duty as Acting Comptroller General of the United States—now for one full fiscal year from July 1, 1936, to June 30, 1937—to carry on the business of the office without drastic changes in the procedures that have prevailed for the past 15 years, unless facts should make it necessary, so as not to in any way affect the freedom of action—either in matters of organization or of procedure of a Comptroller General when appointed.
The question of reorganization has been brought somewhat to attention, but beyond apparent beliefs of various agencies of the Government that there should be reorganization, nothing particularly affecting the work entrusted to this office appears the main urgency being to in some way or other place the official head under some dominating force.
The within report has parts upon the matters of administrative accounting systems and preaudit which procedures have been at times objects of criticism. Much apparently has been objected to as to preaudit. Such procedure, however, is a matter not necessarily affecting administrative discretion. It seeks to in some respect extend the statutory duty of this office to render decisions upon submissions of the heads of executive agencies or a disbursing officer-see section 8 of the act of July 31, 1894 (28 Stat. 208)—the preaudit being in fact submissions of vouchers through a disbursing officer and by this preliminary action safeguarding the legality of the payment to be made on such voucher.
Likewise as to administrative accounting. The act of July 31, 1894 (28 Stat. 206), contains a provision as follows:
Sec. 5. The Comptroller of the Treasury shall, under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, prescribe the forms of keeping and rendering all public accounts, except those relating to the postal revenues and expenditures therefrom. and the act of June 10, 1921 (42 Stat. 25), provides that,
Sec. 309. The Comptroller General shall prescribe the forms, systems, and procedure for administrative appropriation and fund accounting in the several departments and establishments, and for the administrative examination of fiscal officers' accounts and claims against the United States.
Trained personnel on either side necessarily have views as to the procedures and it may be expected that conflicts in that connection will arise, each side seeking to maintain its views. The law has wisely prescribed that the decisions of this office shall be final and conclusive upon the executive branch of the Government and it may be observed that rarely has there been administratively submitted to the Congress-aside from matters of expenditure under appropriations requiring the specific authority to appear in the appropriation actsuch a decision with a view to sustaining an administrative procedure.
My period of service as Assistant Comptroller General began on March 6, 1931, and I have closely, perhaps for a time somewhat silently, observed things here. In all matters, particularly those having a vast magnitude, perfection is not possible, but I can say major errors here have been rare and such as there may have been probably mainly involve resolving the doubt in the interest of the United States through safeguarding the uses of public moneys.
R. N. ELLIOTT, Acting Comptroller General of the United States.