A-4109, AUGUST 4, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 149

A-4109: Aug 4, 1924

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IS A FIELD EXPENSE. IT APPEARING THAT THE GENERAL SUPPLY COMMITTEE CONTRACTS DO NOT INCLUDE AND WERE NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE FOR FURNITURE FOR THIS FIELD SERVICE. 1924: I HAVE YOUR LETTER DATED JULY 16. REQUESTING DECISION OF A QUESTION THEREIN STATED AS FOLLOWS: THERE IS TRANSMITTED HEREWITH A LETTER OF THE 8TH INSTANT FROM THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS AT NEW YORK. WILL COST $1. SIMILAR FURNITURE PURCHASED FROM THE GENERAL SUPPLY CONTRACTORS WILL COST. THE FURNITURE COVERED BY THE PROPOSALS SECURED LOCALLY IS NOT OF AS HIGH A GRADE AND QUALITY AS THAT ON THE GENERAL SUPPLY CONTRACTS. IS FOR USE IN OFFICES OF SUGAR SAMPLERS. THE LOWER GRADE OF FURNITURE WILL ANSWER THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH IT IS REQUIRED EQUALLY AS WELL AS THAT OF THE BETTER QUALITY.

A-4109, AUGUST 4, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 149

PURCHASES - FURNITURE FURNITURE FOR USE IN OFFICES OF SUGAR SAMPLERS, INSPECTORS, ETC., IN VARIOUS CUSTOMS QUARTERS, ON DOCKS AND OTHER POINTS IN THE NEW YORK CUSTOMS DISTRICT, IS A FIELD EXPENSE, AND MAY BE PURCHASED WITHOUT REGARD TO THE ACT OF JUNE 17, 1910, 36 STAT. 531, IT APPEARING THAT THE GENERAL SUPPLY COMMITTEE CONTRACTS DO NOT INCLUDE AND WERE NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE FOR FURNITURE FOR THIS FIELD SERVICE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, AUGUST 4, 1924:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER DATED JULY 16, 1924, REQUESTING DECISION OF A QUESTION THEREIN STATED AS FOLLOWS:

THERE IS TRANSMITTED HEREWITH A LETTER OF THE 8TH INSTANT FROM THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS AT NEW YORK, SUBMITTING THE ESTIMATED COST OF CERTAIN FURNITURE REQUIRED IN VARIOUS CUSTOMS QUARTERS, BASED ON COMPETITIVE PROPOSALS RECEIVED, WHICH, IF PURCHASED LOCALLY, WILL COST $1,040.53. SIMILAR FURNITURE PURCHASED FROM THE GENERAL SUPPLY CONTRACTORS WILL COST, ACCORDING TO THE PRICES IN THE SCHEDULE, $2,014.40.

THE FURNITURE COVERED BY THE PROPOSALS SECURED LOCALLY IS NOT OF AS HIGH A GRADE AND QUALITY AS THAT ON THE GENERAL SUPPLY CONTRACTS. THIS FURNITURE, HOWEVER, IS FOR USE IN OFFICES OF SUGAR SAMPLERS, INSPECTORS, ETC., ON DOCKS AND OTHER POINTS, AND THE LOWER GRADE OF FURNITURE WILL ANSWER THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH IT IS REQUIRED EQUALLY AS WELL AS THAT OF THE BETTER QUALITY.

IT IS THE DEPARTMENT'S PRACTICE TO MAKE SUCH PURCHASES LOCALLY WHEN IT RESULTS IN A SAVING OF MONEY FOR THE GOVERNMENT, AND IN THIS INSTANCE THE COLLECTOR WOULD BE AUTHORIZED TO ACCEPT THE LOCAL BIDS WERE IT NOT FOR THE FACT THAT THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE QUESTIONS AND SUSPENDS THE ACCOUNTS COVERING PURCHASES OF THIS CHARACTER MADE OTHERWISE THAN FROM THE CONTRACTORS ON THE GENERAL SUPPLY SCHEDULE. THE COLLECTOR IN HIS LETTER REFERS TO SUCH A SUSPENSION. NUMEROUS SIMILAR SUSPENSIONS HAVE APPEARED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF OTHER COLLECTORS OF CUSTOMS.

THE DEPARTMENT IS NOT AWARE OF ANY LAW OR REGULATION WHICH MAKES THE PURCHASE OF FURNITURE FOR THE CUSTOMS SERVICE FROM THE GENERAL SUPPLY COMMITTEE CONTRACTORS MANDATORY. THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, HOWEVER, APPEARS TO TAKE AN OPPOSITE VIEW.

YOUR OPINION, THEREFORE, IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE DEPARTMENT MAY PURCHASE THE FURNITURE IN QUESTION AT THE LOWER COST OF $1,040.53, OR WHETHER PURCHASE MUST BE MADE AT THE HIGHER FIGURE OF $2,014.40 UNDER THE GENERAL SUPPLY SCHEDULE. IN PURCHASING LOCALLY THE DEPARTMENT NOT ONLY SAVES THE DIFFERENCE IN COST OF $973.87, BUT, AS THE LOCAL BIDDERS WILL DELIVER THE FURNITURE AT POINTS WHERE IT IS DESIRED WITHOUT ADDITIONAL COST, THE TRANSPORTATION AND DRAYAGE CHARGES ARE SAVED IN ADDITION.

THE ACT OF JUNE 17, 1910, 36 STAT. 531, REQUIRING ALL SUPPLIES FOR EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND OTHER GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENTS IN WASHINGTON TO BE CONTRACTED FOR AND PURCHASED THROUGH THE GENERAL SUPPLY COMMITTEE IS NOT EXCLUSIVELY APPLICABLE TO THE FIELD SERVICE UNLESS PROVISION FOR THE FIELD SERVICE OF THE PARTICULAR DEPARTMENT HAS BEEN INCLUDED IN THE CONTRACTS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR IN QUESTION. 20 COMP. DEC. 42; 26 ID. 918; 3 COMP. GEN. 748.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD FROM YOUR SUBMISSION THAT THESE ARTICLES OF FURNITURE FOR USE IN OFFICES OF SUGAR SAMPLERS, INSPECTORS, ETC., IN VARIOUS CUSTOMS QUARTERS, ON DOCKS, AND OTHER POINTS IN THE NEW YORK CUSTOMS DISTRICT, WHICH IS CLEARLY A FIELD SERVICE, WERE NOT INCLUDED IN OR INTENDED TO BE PROVIDED FOR UNDER THE GENERAL SUPPLY COMMITTEE CONTRACTS. THEREFORE ASSUMING THAT THE PURCHASE OF THE FURNITURE REFERRED TO IS NECESSARY TO THE PROPER PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES IN CONNECTION WITH COLLECTING THE CUSTOMS IN THE NEW YORK DISTRICT, I HAVE TO ADVISE THAT THE PURCHASE UNDER SEPARATE CONTRACT, AFTER PROPER ADVERTISING, INSTEAD OF UNDER GENERAL SUPPLY COMMITTEE CONTRACTS, IS AUTHORIZED.