A-10047, JULY 17, 1925, 5 COMP. GEN. 41

A-10047: Jul 17, 1925

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TRANSMITTING WITH REQUEST FOR DECISION WHETHER PAYMENT THEREON IS AUTHORIZED SEVERAL VOUCHERS FOR PHOTOGRAPHIC APPLIANCES AND SUPPLIES IN AMOUNTS VARYING FROM THREE TO THIRTEEN DOLLARS EACH AND AGGREGATING $43.55. THE PURCHASES PURPORT TO HAVE BEEN MADE ON A WRITTEN ORDER UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE ACT OF JUNE 5. YOU STATE THAT THE ARTICLES IN QUESTION ARE OF VARIOUS KINDS AND FOR VARIOUS PURPOSES. - THE ONLY DOUBT IN RESPECT TO THE PAYMENT OF THESE VOUCHERS IS THE QUESTION THAT YOUR OFFICE HAS RAISED IN THE PAST SETTLEMENTS OF ACCOUNTS OF THIS OFFICE IN SIMILAR CASES. AS YOU FAILED TO IDENTIFY THE PARTICULAR ACCOUNTS OR INSTANCES IN WHICH THE QUERY REFERRED TO WAS MADE. I CAN NOT AT THIS TIME ADVISE WHY SUCH INQUIRY WAS MADE IN THE PARTICULAR CASE.

A-10047, JULY 17, 1925, 5 COMP. GEN. 41

PURCHASES, OPEN MARKET - INTERIOR DEPARTMENT THE ACT OF JUNE 5, 1924, 43 STAT. 392, PERMITTING THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR TO MAKE PURCHASES NOT EXCEEDING $100 IN AMOUNT IN THE OPEN MARKET WITHOUT REGARD TO SECTIONS 3709 AND 3744, REVISED STATUTES, DOES NOT AUTHORIZE A SUCCESSION OF SMALL PURCHASES MERELY TO AVOID COMPLIANCE WITH SAID SECTIONS OF THE REVISED STATUTES.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO L. L. CUMBERLAND, DISBURSING OFFICER, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, JULY 17, 1925:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 6, 1925, TRANSMITTING WITH REQUEST FOR DECISION WHETHER PAYMENT THEREON IS AUTHORIZED SEVERAL VOUCHERS FOR PHOTOGRAPHIC APPLIANCES AND SUPPLIES IN AMOUNTS VARYING FROM THREE TO THIRTEEN DOLLARS EACH AND AGGREGATING $43.55. THE PURCHASES PURPORT TO HAVE BEEN MADE ON A WRITTEN ORDER UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE ACT OF JUNE 5, 1924, 43 STAT. 392, AUTHORIZING THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, ITS BUREAUS OR OFFICES, TO MAKE PURCHASES IN THE OPEN MARKET WITHOUT REGARD TO SECTIONS 3709 AND 3744, REVISED STATUTES, WHEN THE AMOUNTS DO NOT EXCEED $100.

YOU STATE THAT THE ARTICLES IN QUESTION ARE OF VARIOUS KINDS AND FOR VARIOUS PURPOSES, THE NEED FOR WHICH COULD NOT BE ANTICIPATED IN EACH CASE AND THAT---

THE ONLY DOUBT IN RESPECT TO THE PAYMENT OF THESE VOUCHERS IS THE QUESTION THAT YOUR OFFICE HAS RAISED IN THE PAST SETTLEMENTS OF ACCOUNTS OF THIS OFFICE IN SIMILAR CASES, IN WHICH YOU ASK WHY THE NEEDS OF THE OFFICE COULD NOT BE FORESEEN SUFFICIENTLY IN ADVANCE TO ENTER INTO A CONTRACT FOR GREATER QUANTITIES OF SUPPLIES COVERING LONG PERIODS OF TIME TO BE HANDLED IN SUCH QUANTITIES AS MAY BE REQUIRED AND AT SUCH TIMES AS MIGHT BE REQUIRED * * *.

AS YOU FAILED TO IDENTIFY THE PARTICULAR ACCOUNTS OR INSTANCES IN WHICH THE QUERY REFERRED TO WAS MADE, I CAN NOT AT THIS TIME ADVISE WHY SUCH INQUIRY WAS MADE IN THE PARTICULAR CASE. SUCH QUESTIONS ARE PRIMARILY FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION, AS POINTED OUT IN 4 COMP. GEN. 159. SHOULD IT, HOWEVER, COME TO THE NOTICE OF THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS THAT A SUCCESSION OF PURCHASES, EACH AMOUNTING TO LESS THAN $100 BUT AGGREGATING MORE THAN THAT AMOUNT AND ALL COVERING SUPPLIES FOR THE SAME SERVICE, HAD BEEN MADE WITHOUT COMPLIANCE WITH SECTIONS 3709 AND 3744, REVISED STATUTES, IT WOULD BECOME NECESSARY TO CONSIDER WHETHER THE PROCEDURE OF MAKING A SUCCESSION OF PURCHASES, INSTEAD OF A SINGLE PURCHASE, HAD NOT BEEN ADOPTED AS MEANS OF AVOIDING COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SECTIONS OF THE REVISED STATUTES IN QUESTION IN A CASE NOT PROPERLY WITHIN THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE PROVISION OF THE ACT OF JUNE 5, 1924, SUPRA.

THE NEED FOR AN EXPLANATION TO ACCOMPANY VOUCHERS WOULD NOT ARISE IN CASE OF ISOLATED PURCHASES, BUT AN EXPLANATION SHOULD ACCOMPANY VOUCHERS DISCLOSING A SUCCESSION OF PURCHASES FOR THE SAME SERVICE OF A KIND INDICATING THAT THEY COULD HAVE BEEN COVERED BY A SINGLE CONTRACT. IF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE CONTINUES TO HAVE NEED FOR PHOTOGRAPHIC CHEMICALS OR OTHER SUPPLIES IN SUCH QUANTITIES AS WOULD AGGREGATE MORE THAN $100 DURING THE FISCAL YEAR, THEY SHOULD BE MADE THE SUBJECT OF A FORMAL CONTRACT AFTER PUBLICATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF SECTIONS 3709 AND 3744, REVISED STATUTES.

IT IS NOTED THAT THE PURCHASES COVERED BY THE VOUCHERS WERE MADE PURSUANT TO WRITTEN ORDER. SUCH WRITTEN ORDER, OR A CERTIFIED COPY THEREOF, SHOULD BE ATTACHED TO THE VOUCHER IN EACH INSTANCE; AND IF THE PROPOSED PAYMENTS ARE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TERMS OF SUCH WRITTEN ORDERS, PAYMENT ON THE VOUCHERS HEREWITH RETURNED IS AUTHORIZED IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY OBJECTION NOT CONSIDERED ABOVE.