A-61265, MAY 29, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 859

A-61265: May 29, 1935

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CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS - REPAIRS AND PARTS FOR AUTOMOBILES CONTRACTS FOR REPAIRS AND PARTS FOR AUTOMOBILES IN USE IN THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS SHOULD BE AWARDED AFTER ADVERTISING FOR BIDS IN THE COMMUNITIES WHERE SUCH WORK IS TO BE DONE. PURCHASE OF PARTS FROM OR AWARDING CONTRACTS FOR REPAIRS TO THE MANUFACTURERS OF THE SEVERAL MAKES OF AUTOMOBILES OR THEIR LOCAL AGENTS OR REPRESENTATIVES WITHOUT ADVERTISING IS UNAUTHORIZED. 1935: THERE WAS RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 4. IN ANALYZING THE PROBLEM IT IS OBVIOUSLY IMPRACTICABLE TO SECURE COMPETITION FOR REPAIRS TO MOTOR VEHICLES OR THEIR UNITS AND PARTS. WHERE THE EXACT MECHANICAL CONDITION OR REPAIRS REQUIRED ARE NOT KNOWN AND CANNOT BE DETERMINED BY USUAL EXTERNAL INSPECTION.

A-61265, MAY 29, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 859

CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS - REPAIRS AND PARTS FOR AUTOMOBILES CONTRACTS FOR REPAIRS AND PARTS FOR AUTOMOBILES IN USE IN THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS SHOULD BE AWARDED AFTER ADVERTISING FOR BIDS IN THE COMMUNITIES WHERE SUCH WORK IS TO BE DONE. PURCHASE OF PARTS FROM OR AWARDING CONTRACTS FOR REPAIRS TO THE MANUFACTURERS OF THE SEVERAL MAKES OF AUTOMOBILES OR THEIR LOCAL AGENTS OR REPRESENTATIVES WITHOUT ADVERTISING IS UNAUTHORIZED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR, MAY 29, 1935:

THERE WAS RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 4, 1935, AS FOLLOWS:

THE PROBLEM OF SECURING REPAIRS TO MOTOR VEHICLES ASSIGNED FOR USE TO THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS IN A COMMERCIALLY PRACTICAL MANNER AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF LAW REQUIRING COMPETITIVE BIDS HAS FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME BEEN GIVEN CAREFUL CONSIDERATION BY THE WAR DEPARTMENT. MANY THOUSANDS OF MOTOR VEHICLES NOW ASSIGNED TO VARIOUS CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS ACTIVITIES THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES, IN MANY CASES LOCATED GREAT DISTANCES FROM GOVERNMENTAL REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE FACILITIES, MAKE IT NECESSARY TO RELY UPON COMMERCIAL FACILITIES FOR THE REPAIRS REQUIRED.

IN ANALYZING THE PROBLEM IT IS OBVIOUSLY IMPRACTICABLE TO SECURE COMPETITION FOR REPAIRS TO MOTOR VEHICLES OR THEIR UNITS AND PARTS, SUCH AS ENGINES, AXLES, AND TRANSMISSIONS, WHERE THE EXACT MECHANICAL CONDITION OR REPAIRS REQUIRED ARE NOT KNOWN AND CANNOT BE DETERMINED BY USUAL EXTERNAL INSPECTION. IT IS NOT PRACTICAL TO DISASSEMBLE THESE PARTS OR UNITS AT THE CAMPS IN ORDER TO PERMIT INTERNAL EXAMINATION OF THE VEHICLE, NOR IS THERE COMPETENT PERSONNEL AVAILABLE TO DO SUCH WORK. RELIABLE AND HONEST BIDDERS, NATURALLY, REFUSE TO COMMIT THEMSELVES TO A DEFINITE BID WITHOUT AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE AN EXPERT EXAMINATION OF THE INTERNAL CONDITION OF THE VEHICLE OR ITS UNITS AND PARTS.

THERE ARE NOW BEING USED BY THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS FORDS, CHEVROLETS, PLYMOUTHS, AND DODGES. THE MANUFACTURERS OF ALL OF THESE VEHICLES HAVE AUTHORIZED REPAIR FACILITIES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. THEY ALSO HAVE A SCHEDULE OF PRICES WHICH THESE DEALERS UNIFORMLY CHARGE FOR LABOR AND FOR PARTS USED. THESE FIXED CHARGES ALSO ARE ON A FLAT RATE BASIS WHICH SETS FORTH THE TIME REQUIRED FOR ANY GIVEN OPERATION. EACH OF THESE MANUFACTURERS OFFERS A STIPULATED DISCOUNT TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR PARTS. THE PRICE OF LABOR VARIES IN VARIOUS SECTIONS OF THE COUNTRY, BUT IS UNIFORM WITHIN DEFINITE STATED TERRITORIAL LIMITS.

THE CONSIDERATION GIVEN TO THIS PROBLEM BY THE WAR DEPARTMENT LEADS TO THE BELIEF THAT THE INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT WOULD BE ADEQUATELY CARED FOR SHOULD THE WAR DEPARTMENT CALL UPON EACH OF THESE MANUFACTURERS TO ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT TO REPAIR VEHICLES OF THEIR MAKE AT THEIR PUBLISHED PRICES. THESE AGREEMENTS COULD BE GIVEN A CONTRACT NUMBER AND FILED IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, THE CONTRACT NUMBER TO BE QUOTED ON ALL PURCHASE INSTRUMENTS CALLING FOR WORK UNDER THESE AGREEMENTS. THIS WOULD BE SIMILAR TO AGREEMENTS NOW ENTERED INTO WITH CERTAIN MANUFACTURERS FOR THE SALE OF ARTICLES FOR RESALE PURPOSES.

YOUR ADVICE IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER YOU WILL WITHHOLD OBJECTION TO PAYMENTS FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS UNDER CONTRACTS OF THE CHARACTER INDICATED ABOVE.

SECTION 3709, REVISED STATES, PROVIDES:

ALL PURCHASES AND CONTRACTS FOR SUPPLIES OR SERVICES, IN ANY OF THE DEPARTMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT, EXCEPT FOR PERSONAL SERVICES, SHALL BE MADE BY ADVERTISING A SUFFICIENT TIME PREVIOUSLY FOR PROPOSALS RESPECTING THE SAME, WHEN THE PUBLIC EXIGENCIES DO NOT REQUIRE THE IMMEDIATE DELIVERY OF THE ARTICLES, OR PERFORMANCE OF THE SERVICE. WHEN IMMEDIATE DELIVERY OR PERFORMANCE IS REQUIRED BY THE PUBLIC EXIGENCY, THE ARTICLES OR SERVICE REQUIRED MAY BE PROCURED BY OPEN PURCHASE OR CONTRACT, AT THE PLACES AND IN THE MANNER IN WHICH SUCH ARTICLES ARE USUALLY BOUGHT AND SOLD, OR SUCH SERVICES ENGAGED, BETWEEN INDIVIDUALS.

THERE IS NO AUTHORITY IN THIS OFFICE OR ELSEWHERE, SHORT OF THE CONGRESS, TO WAIVE COMPLIANCE WITH THIS STATUTE. IT WAS DESIGNED TO GIVE ALL QUALIFIED CITIZENS EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO COMPLETE FOR GOVERNMENT BUSINESS; TO SECURE TO THE GOVERNMENT THE BENEFITS WHICH FLOW FROM FREE COMPETITION; AND TO AVOID IMPROPER PRACTICES IN PROCURING SUPPLIES AND LETTING CONTRACTS--- AND HAS LONG SAFEGUARDED THE DOING OF SUCH PUBLIC BUSINESS.

YOUR LETTER PROPOSES, FOR REASONS ASSIGNED THEREIN, TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS WITH THE MANUFACTURERS OF THE SEVERAL MAKES OF AUTOMOBILES NOW BEING USED BY THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS, WITHOUT ADVERTISING FOR BIDS OR INVITING COMPETITION, WHEREBY THE MANUFACTURERS WILL UNDERTAKE TO FURNISH TO THE GOVERNMENT REPAIR PARTS AND SUPPLIES AT PRICES FIXED IN THEIR RESPECTIVE SCHEDULES, SUBJECT TO A STIPULATED DISCOUNT TO THE GOVERNMENT. IT APPEARS THAT THE MANUFACTURERS UNDERTAKE, ALSO, TO FIX THE LABOR PRICES TO BE CHARGED BY THEIR AUTHORIZED AGENTS OR REPAIR FACILITIES IN A GIVEN COMMUNITY, AND TO DETERMINE THE APPROXIMATE TIME REQUIRED FOR ANY GIVEN OPERATION OF REPAIR OR RENOVATION ON THE AUTOMOBILES MANUFACTURED BY THEM.

IT IS MANIFEST THAT SUCH CONTRACTS WOULD GIVE TO THE AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVES OF THE MANUFACTURERS A MONOPOLY ON THE REPAIR AND SUPPLY BUSINESS FOR THE POSSIBLY THOUSANDS OF AUTOMOBILES IN USE BY THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS, CUTTING OFF ALL OTHERS--- NO MATTER HOW READY, ABLE, AND RESPONSIBLE--- FROM ANY OPPORTUNITY TO COMPETE FOR THIS GOVERNMENT BUSINESS, AND AT THE SAME TIME DEPRIVE THE GOVERNMENT OF THE BENEFITS FLOWING FROM FREE COMPETITION. IT IS NOT ESTABLISHED THAT THERE ARE NOT, IN THE RESPECTIVE COMMUNITIES WHERE SUCH REPAIRS ARE TO BE MADE, OTHERS ENGAGED IN THE BUSINESS OF AUTOMOBILE REPAIRING WHO MIGHT PERFORM THE NECESSARY LABOR AT A LOWER PRICE AND IN A SHORTER TIME THAN FIXED IN THE MANUFACTURERS' SCHEDULES. AND WHILE IT MAY BE THE PART PRICES SHOWN IN SUCH SCHEDULES ARE THE LOWEST OBTAINABLE, THAT IS NOT DEFINITELY TO BE ASSUMED. IT MAY BE THAT LOWER PRICES ARE OFFERED TO THE AUTOMOBILE REPAIR TRADE GENERALLY OR IN SPECIAL INSTANCES.

IT MAY DEVELOP AS A RESULT OF REQUESTS FOR BIDS IN CONFORMITY WITH SECTION 3709, REVISED STATUTES, THAT THE RESPECTIVE MANUFACTURERS ARE IN SUCH POSITION OF ADVANTAGE BY HAVING REPRESENTATIVES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY, AS POINTED OUT BY YOU, TO DO THE WORK CHEAPER THAN OTHERS, BUT, IF SO, UNDOUBTEDLY THEIR BIDS WILL BE LOW AND FOR ACCEPTANCE IN CONFORMITY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF SECTION 3709, REVISED STATUTES.