with their duties, but appear to be appointed without reference to their business qualifications and are frequently changed-for what reason is unknown to this office. I recommend that they be required to give bonds for the faithful performance of their duties in a sufficient amount to secure the Government from loss. I also recommend that commanders of regiments who appoint them be accountable for all public funds or property which may come into their hands until their appointments are approved by the Secretary of War, and good and sufficient bounds given for the faithful performance of their duties.
The object of this department is to insure an efficient system of supply, and to give facility and effect to the movements and operations of the Army. It is the duty of this department to provide quarters, hospitals, and transportation for the Army and prisoners of war, and transportation for all military stores, provisions, camp and garrison equipage, ordnance and ordnance stores; to direct the survey and superintend the opening and repairing of roads, and the construction and repairs of bridges which may be necessary to the movements of any part of the army, or as communications between the posts on the frontier and between those posts and the interior; to provide good and sufficient store-houses for all military supplies; to provide materials and direct and superintend the constructing and repairing of quarters, barracks, hospitals, store houses, stables, and other necessary buildings for the accommodation of the Army and the security; of public property; to purchase all fuel, forage, straw, and stationery required for the Army, and have them transported to the posts where they may be wanted and issued to those entitled to them; to purchase all horses, oxen, mules, and harness, and all wagons, carts, boats, and other vessels, with their equipments, for the transportation of the Army and for garrison purposes; to have the custody of the same and be responsible for their proper use; to purchase all cavalry and artillery horses; to construct, repair, and maintain all telegraph lines necessary for military purposes and to provide for the maintenance of the steam-ram fleet on the Western rivers. The duty of constructing and maintaining the gun-boat fleet on the Western rivers, for which it has hitherto been the duty of this department to provide, has been transferred to the Navy Department.
It is no less a duty to examine promptly, the accounts received so that officers may be timely advised of the defects existing, and an opportunity afforded them to render such explanations as may be necessary while the subject is fresh in their memory.
The clerical force of this office is still insufficient to examine the accounts with that promptness which their importance demands and the interest of the service requires. The additional force authorized by the act of Congress approved February 7, 1863, was not appointed for a considerable time after the passage of the act, Congress having failed to make any appropriation for the payment thereof. When the appointments were made the current business of the office had accumulated to such a degree as to demand a large proportion of the force authorized, leaving the number to be assigned to the administrative examination of accounts much less than was anticipated. That progress has not, therefore, been made in the examination of accounts which was expected. A great obstacle to more rapid progress has existed in the time occupied in imparting such instruction to new appointees as was necessary to make their service available. Another still greater obstacle was the great amount of labor necessary to be performed in the correction of informalities and defects required to be remedied before the usual administrative examination could be made.