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22d Congress.]

No. 475.

[1st Session.

ON THE MANNER OF OBTAINING SLOP CLOTHING FOR THE NAVY, AND LOSSES ACCRUING ON THE CONDEMNATION AND SALE THEREOF.

COMMUNICATED TO THE SENATE MARCH 16, 1832.

Navy Department, March 15, 1832.

Sir:

In compliance with a resolution of the Senate, passed 27th January, 1832, directing me "to report to the Senate the amount of loss sustained by the United States by the condemnation of slop clothing within ten years, and in what way, and by whom such slop clothing has been furnished," I caused inquiries to be instituted in the office of the Navy Commissioners and in that of the Fourth Auditor.

The result, soon as obtained, I hasten to submit to the Senate, with the expression of my regret that

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greater accuracy is not attainable, and with the assurance, repeated from the last annual report of this Department, that the subject of property accounts needing, in my opinion, some revision, will, unless Congress think proper to legislate, receive, in the revised code of rules and regulations now preparing, every improvement within the power of the Department to provide.

1. "The amount of loss sustained" within ten years appears by one estimate (A) to he about $29,196, and by another (B) about $45,743. On reference to the document B, it will be seen that some of the loss on slop clothing is not included, because not yet ascertained by actual sales; and, on reference to A, it will be seen that some of the loss occurred on samples and not on purchases. The difference between these two amounts arises chiefly from the report B being the most extensive, and from a difference in the estimates of the average cost of the particular clothing condemned; about which cost entire accuracy is not attainable, because, after the lapse of some years, the actual original cost of any specified article condemned cannot generally be ascertained.

2. The "way" of obtaining slop clothing has been usually by contract or proposals. It has been "furnished" usually by regular contractors, under the supervision of the Navy Commissioners, except in cases where the contract failed, or the supplies abroad unexpectedly proved to be insufficient. But if the resolution was intended to embrace (in the expression "by whom such slop clothing has been furnished") the names of the individual contractors who delivered the particular articles condemned, I would observe that, after the articles are delivered and carefully surveyed, and accepted by the proper officers, no separate marking or arrangement takes place, so as to identify them accurately at any future period as having been bought of any specified contractor, or at any specified price.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, &c.,

LEVI WOODBURY.

Hon. President of the United States Senate.

A.

Navy Commissioners' Office, March 5, 1832. Sir:

Upon receiving your letter of the 3d ultimo, the Commissioners caused the files of their office to be thoroughly examined, with the view to ascertain the amount of slop clothing condemned during the last ten years at the several navy yards, and they have now to report that the aggregate amount at all the yards, computing the cost at the average contract prices, appears to be $29,196.83, viz:

At Portsmouth, N. H.

$13 50

At Boston

2,792 64

At New York

11,255 58

At Philadelphia

4,879 50

At Washington

171 11

At Norfolk

1,165 45

At Pensacola

2,319 04

$29,196 83

The slop clothing condemned ató

New York, sold for

$2,555 96

Philadelphia

1,652 18

Washington

69 70

The Commissioners are not in possession of information as to the amount for which the slop clothing condemned at either of the other yards sold. This information must, however, be in the possession of the Fourth Auditor, who alone is authorized to settle the accounts. The circular of the 17th May, 1823, issued by the Secretary of the Navy, requires that the proceeds of all sales of navy property be deposited in bank, and that certificates of such deposits be transmitted to the Fourth Auditor of the Treasury. If the agents have failed to comply with this circular, they have certainly been culpable; but the system of accountability would seem to be defective rather in practice than in theory.

We may approach the probable amount of loss upon these articles of condemned slop clothing, by supposing that those condemned at Portsmouth, Boston, Norfolk, and Pensacola were sold at the same rates as were those condemned at New York, Philadelphia, and Washington. This would give an aggregate loss of $21,537.27 in ten years.

These slops generally were returned into store by our ships after long cruises; some of them as far back as the year 1817. Those at Washington consisted of samples which had been collecting for a series of years, and became moth-eaten.

Slops are procured by the Commissioners as they are required for the service, and are sent to their respective destinations, consigned to the commanding officers of the respective stations, who are responsible for the proper disposition of them. The control of the Commissioners then necessarily ceases, until reports of survey condemn the slop clothing, when they are ordered to be sold at public auction, and the proceeds to be deposited as directed by the circular of 17th May, 1823, above referred to.

I am, with great respect, sir, your obedient servant,

JOHN RODGERS.

Hon. Levi Woodbury, Secretary of the Navy.

B.

Treasury Department, Fourth Auditor's Office, March 13, 1832.

Sir:

In compliance with the request contained in your letter of the 31st of January last, I have the honor of enclosing you, herewith, two statements: the first, showing by average the prime cost of slop

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clothing condemned, the price sold for, the place where sold, and the loss sustained by the United States, by such sale, during the last ten years, so far as returns have been made to this office; and the second, showing by average the prime cost of slop clothing condemned and returned to navy stores, of which no account of sales has been received.

I beg leave to refer you to the Board of Navy Commissioners, under whose superintendence all purchases and shipment of slops are made, for information as to "what way, and by whom the slop clothing has been furnished," as the books and papers of my office do not enable me to answer that portion of the inquiry with any degree of certainty.

I understand that slop clothing, to a large amount, has been shipped within the last ten years to Port Mahon and Rio de Janeiro, for the supply of the Mediterranean and Brazilian squadrons; but this office furnishes no means by which to ascertain the quantity condemned and sold at those ports. It is believed to have been very considerable.

From the fact that no property account is kept in this office, you are aware that the information now given has been collected from the accounts of navy agents and pursers; and from their voluminous character, and the multiplicity of items and papers which it was necessary to examine, I cannot vouch for the entire accuracy of these statements.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

AMOS KENDALL.

Hon. Secretary of the Navy.

Statement showing, by average, the prime cost of slop clothing condemned, the price sold for, the place where sold, and the loss sustained by the United States, by such sales, during the last ten years, so far as returns have been made to this office.

Place where sold.

Cost by average.

Price sold for.

Loss sustained by U. S.

New York

$18,688 72

$3,577 35

$15,111 37

Philadelphia

8,483 97

1,622 93

6,861 04

Norfolk

8,082 84

2,165 14

5,917 70

Washington

211 05

83 00

128 05

Boston

2,316 14

722 74

1,593 40

Pensacola

3,087 74

557 84

2,529 90

Valparaiso

14,879 23

5,099 72

9,779 51

Sold to the crews of different ships, by order of the commanders

5,353 02

1,530 65

3,822 37

$61,102 71

$15,359 37

$45,743 34

AMOS KENDALL.

Treasury Department, Fourth Auditor's Office, March 13, 1832.

Statement showing, by average, the prime cost of slop clothing condemned and returned to the following navystores, of which no account of sales has been received.

To navy store at Port Mahon

$1,711 52

To navy store at Gibraltar

1,196 34

To navy store at Key West

599 56

To navy store at Norfolk

115 54

To navy store at New York

1,111 46

Lost aboard the frigate Guerriere

502 98

$5,227 40

AMOS KENDALL.

Treasury Department, Fourth Auditor's Office, March 13, 1832.