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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
November 29, 1851. Sir: For the purpose of enabling you to recommend to Congress, at its approaching session, such measures as you may judge necessary and expedient respecting the various subjects confided to the Department of the Interior, I respectfully submit the following report.
The law creating this department was approved the 3d of March, 1849. By its provisions, the Secretary of the Interior is required to exercise supervisory and appellate powers over the acts of the Commissioner of Patents, of the General Land Office, of Indian Affairs, of Pensions, and of Public Buildings; and also over the accounts of marshals, clerks and other officers of the courts of the United States; over the officers engaged in taking the census, the inspectors and warden of the penitentiary of the District of Columbia, and the subject of lead and other mines of the United States. He is also charged with other duties not specially mentioned in the law, but which, from their peculiar nature, appropriately belong to his office. Among these is the general supervision of the proceedings of the commission instituted, under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, to run and mark the boundary line between the United States and Mexico. Under each of these several heads he has important and responsible functions to perform. He prescribes rules for the general administration of the different bureaus : sees to their faithful execution, and decides, judicially, on all appeals from either of them which may be brought before him.
Such is the general outline of the duties of the office. The reports of the heads of the several bureaus will give full and satisfactory information of their respective operations, accompanied by many valuable suggestions of improvements and modifications in the existing laws.
It is proper, however, that I should exhibit to you a condensed summary of the condition of the department as a whole, with such remarks of my own as the public interests seem, in my judgment, to demand. This I will now proceed to do; and, for the sake of convenient reference, my statements will be arranged under the different heads above enumerated, and such others as may be necessary.
A reference to the aggregate of the two columns will show that the estiinates for the next year are less, by $1,136,695 43, than those for the present fiscal year, although they embrace many iteins of large amount for new objects not embracer in the estimates for the present year-as, for example, $150,000 for the census, and upwards of $300,000 for surveying the public lands in California.
This reduction results from no diminution of the actual expenses of this branch of the public service, but from the fact that the estimates for this year embraced many very large items for deficiencies of the preceding year. A vicious practice las prevailed for some years past, of reducing the estimates at the commencement of the session below the amount actually necessary, with the view of afterwards applying for additional appropriations in what is called a deficiency bill. I took occasion in my last report to express my disapprobation of this practice, and I required the heads of the several bureaus, attached to this department, to make full and fair estimates of all that the public service required. It was accordingly done, and now, instead of deficiencies amounting to near two millions of dollars, it will be found that they are but little over $300,000. It is impossible to foresce what will be the actual expenditures of any given year, because they depend on contingencies beyond the control of the department; but it inust be admitted that there has been a reasonable approximation to accuracy, when it is found that, in the disbursement of more than seven millions of dollars, the expenditures exceed the estimate only about $300,000.
With these general remarks, I proceed to submit detailed explanations of cach class of the estimates, in the order in which they stand.
Under this head the estimate for the next fiscal year exceeds that for the present, $7,577 50. This results from the fact that at the expiration of the last fiscal year unexpended balances of former appropriations remained, as stated in my last annual report, which brought the estimates of the presert year below their legitimate amount,
The estimate for the present fiscal year amounted to
last session, for settling lind-titles in Cali-
$30,000 00 That for surveys of the publie lands
2.1,000 00 And the sum einbraced in the present esti
mates, to meet defciencies for the present year
And the expenditures properly chargeable to the present
fiscal year will be shown to be
1,066, 157 50
The estimate for the next fiscal year amounts to
in the present year
And the amount chargeable to the next year is
This is accomted for by the unexpectedly large amount required for the surveys in California. Leaving California out of the qnestion, and the estimates compare thus: Estimate for the present yeim
39:36,10250 Deduct the amount therein for surveys in California
And it will leave the amount chargeable to the present year
Estimate for the next fiscal year
And the amount properly chargeable to the next fiscal
year will be
Being $7,116 03 less than the amount properly chargeile to the present year.
Under this head the estimates for the next fiscal year amount to $1,098,196 30 less than those for the present fiscal year. For reasons siated in my last annual report, the estimates for the present year were unusually large, but the estimates for the next fiscal year are even below
of those for the last and present fiscal years.