A-65946, OCTOBER 3, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 266

A-65946: Oct 3, 1935

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AUTHORIZING THE POSTMASTER GENERAL TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR FURNISHING ALL ENVELOPES REQUIRED BY THE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE MANDATORY EXCEPT WHEN OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY LAW OR WHEN THE NEED IS SO URGENT AS NOT TO PERMIT OF THE DELAY INCIDENT TO THIS SOURCE OF PROCUREMENT. IS AS FOLLOWS: THIS DIVISION RECENTLY ESTABLISHED FORTY-EIGHT STATE OFFICES TO FACILITATE PROCUREMENT OF EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES IN CONNECTION WITH THE WORKS PROGRESS ACTIVITIES UNDER THE EMERGENCY RELIEF ACT OF 1935. AS YOU WILL APPRECIATE. GREAT PRESSURE IS BEING EXERTED FROM EVERY ANGLETO PROMOTE THIS ACTIVITY. THE OBJECTIVE OF WHICH IS TO TAKE SOME TWO MILLION PEOPLE FROM THE RELIEF ROLLS AND EMPLOY THEM ON PROJECTS UNDER WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION.

A-65946, OCTOBER 3, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 266

CONTRACTS - ENVELOPES - EMERGENCY AGENCIES THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF JANUARY 12, 1895, 28 STAT. 624, AS AMENDED, AUTHORIZING THE POSTMASTER GENERAL TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR FURNISHING ALL ENVELOPES REQUIRED BY THE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE MANDATORY EXCEPT WHEN OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY LAW OR WHEN THE NEED IS SO URGENT AS NOT TO PERMIT OF THE DELAY INCIDENT TO THIS SOURCE OF PROCUREMENT.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, OCTOBER 3, 1935:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 1, 1935, TRANSMITTING COPY OF A LETTER DATED SEPTEMBER 26, 1935, FROM THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF PROCUREMENT, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, TO THE PURCHASING AGENT, POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, WITH REFERENCE TO THE PROCUREMENT OF ENVELOPES FOR THE USE OF THE WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION. YOU REQUEST DECISION AS TO THE PROPER PROCEDURE TO BE FOLLOWED.

THE SAID LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 26, 1935, IS AS FOLLOWS:

THIS DIVISION RECENTLY ESTABLISHED FORTY-EIGHT STATE OFFICES TO FACILITATE PROCUREMENT OF EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES IN CONNECTION WITH THE WORKS PROGRESS ACTIVITIES UNDER THE EMERGENCY RELIEF ACT OF 1935.

AS YOU WILL APPRECIATE, GREAT PRESSURE IS BEING EXERTED FROM EVERY ANGLETO PROMOTE THIS ACTIVITY, THE OBJECTIVE OF WHICH IS TO TAKE SOME TWO MILLION PEOPLE FROM THE RELIEF ROLLS AND EMPLOY THEM ON PROJECTS UNDER WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION--- PROJECTS WHICH MAY NUMBER SEVERAL THOUSAND.

IT IS OBVIOUS THAT, WITH SUCH AN UNDERTAKING, LARGE QUANTITIES AND VARIETIES OF ENVELOPES WILL BE USED. MUCH OF THIS DEMAND CAN, AND IS BEING MET, QUITE SATISFACTORILY, BY PURCHASES FROM THE AWARD OF CONTRACTS FOR ENVELOPES, AND PROCUREMENT OFFICERS ARE BEING CAUTIONED AS TO THE RIGIDNESS OF THE REQUIREMENT THAT ALL ENVELOPES FOR ALL ACTIVITIES MUST BE PROCURED FROM CONTRACT. PROCUREMENT OFFICERS ARE ALSO ASKED TO CIRCULATE INFORMATION THAT REQUISITIONING OFFICERS SHOULD ANTICIPATE THEIR NEEDS SO AS TO PERMIT TIMELY DELIVERIES FROM CONTRACTORS AND TO UNDERSTAND THAT MINOR DIFFERENCES IN SPECIFICATIONS AS TO SIZE, QUALITY, OR TYPE WILL NOT BE REGARDED AS WARRANTING DEPARTURE FROM CONTRACT STANDARDS.

MANY SITUATIONS, HOWEVER, HAVE ARISEN WHERE IT IS PLAIN THAT OBSERVANCE OF THE PRESENT STRICT REGULATIONS REQUIRING ALL ENVELOPES TO BE PROCURED EXCLUSIVELY FROM GOVERNMENT CONTRACTORS WILL NOT BE POSSIBLE, IF THE ADMINISTRATIVE WORK NECESSARY TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF A PROJECT IS TO BE DONE PROPERLY.

PROBABLY THE CHIEF DIFFICULTY IS THE UNAVOIDABLE DEMAND IN MANY INSTANCES FOR IMMEDIATE DELIVERY. UNEXPECTED AND URGENT ADMINISTRATIVE INSTRUCTIONS DIRECTING PROMPT ACTION OFTEN REQUIRE CIRCULATION OF MATTER THROUGHOUT A STATE--- SITUATIONS OF A MANDATORY CHARACTER, INVOLVING THE USE OF ENVELOPES, SUDDENLY ARISE--- UNDER SUCH CONDITIONS IT IS SIMPLY IMPOSSIBLE TO FUNCTION IF SUPPLIES, THE NEED FOR WHICH IN QUANTITY OR TYPE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN ANTICIPATED, MUST BE BOUGHT FROM A CONTRACTOR SO LOCATED THAT DELIVERY IN SATISFACTORY TIME IS OUT OF THE QUESTION.

NOT ONLY IS THE QUESTION OF MEETING EMERGENCIES PROMPTLY INVOLVED, BUT IT IS ALSO BELIEVED THAT IN SOME INSTANCES REQUESTS FOR ENVELOPES OF A TYPE NOT COVERED BY CONTRACT ARE JUSTIFIABLE AND THAT PURCHASE IN THE OPEN MARKET OF SUCH REASONABLE REQUESTS SHOULD BE PERMITTED PENDING CONSUMMATION OF CONTRACTS THEREFOR BY THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT.

WITH THIS IN MIND, ATTENTION IS INVITED TO THE EXCEPTION TO SECTION 3709, WHICH EXCEPTION PROVIDES THAT THE SAID SECTION SHALL NOT APPLY TO ANY PURCHASES MADE, OR SERVICES PROCURED, IN CARRYING OUT THE PROVISIONS OF THE JOINT RESOLUTION, WHEN THE AGGREGATE AMOUNT INVOLVED IS LESS THAN $300. WOULD IT NOT BE ALLOWABLE, UNDER THIS EXCEPTION, TO PURCHASE LOCALLY IN THE OPEN MARKET SUCH ENVELOPES AS ARE NECESSARY TO MEET REQUIREMENTS WHICH CANNOT BE SATISFIED THROUGH PURCHASE UNDER CONTRACT?

IT IS THE PRONOUNCED OPINION OF THIS OFFICE THAT, IF THE WORKS PROGRESS ACTIVITIES ARE NOT TO BE DANGEROUSLY HANDICAPPED, SOME MEANS OF MEETING THE EMERGENCY REQUIREMENTS FOR SUCH PROJECTS MUST BE FOUND AT ONCE.

SECTION 96 OF THE ACT OF JANUARY 12, 1895, 28 STAT. 624, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 26, 1906, 34 STAT. 476, PROVIDES:

* * * THE POSTMASTER GENERAL SHALL CONTRACT, FOR A PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING FOUR YEARS, FOR ALL ENVELOPES, STAMPED OR OTHERWISE, DESIGNED FOR SALE TO THE PUBLIC, OR FOR USE BY THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, THE POSTAL SERVICE, AND OTHER EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS, AND ALL GOVERNMENT BUREAUS AND ESTABLISHMENTS, AND THE BRANCHES OF THE SERVICE COMING UNDER THEIR JURISDICTION, AND MAY CONTRACT FOR THEM TO BE PLAIN OR WITH SUCH PRINTED MATTER AS MAY BE PRESCRIBED BY THE DEPARTMENT MAKING REQUISITION THEREFOR. * * *

THE DECISIONS HAVE BEEN TO THE EFFECT THAT THE PROVISIONS OF THE SAID ACT AUTHORIZING THE POSTMASTER GENERAL TO ENTER INTO SUCH CONTRACTS FOR FURNISHING ALL ENVELOPES REQUIRED BY THE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE MANDATORY AND EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR BY LAW THE PURCHASE OF SUCH ENVELOPES OTHERWISE THAN THROUGH THE POSTMASTER GENERAL CAN IMPOSE NO LEGAL OBLIGATION ON THE UNITED STATES. SEE 3 COMP. GEN. 945 AND 7 ID. 600. IN THIS CONNECTION SEE, ALSO, CONSOLIDATED SUPPLY CO. V. UNITED STATES, 59 CT.CLS. 197.

IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT, WHEN DUE TO AN UNFORESEEN EXIGENCY THE NEED FOR THE ENVELOPES IS SO URGENT AS NOT TO PERMIT THE DELAY NECESSARILY INCIDENT TO OBTAINING THEM THROUGH THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, AN OPEN MARKET PURCHASE MIGHT BE MADE TO TIDE OVER SUCH EXIGENCY. 13 COMP. DEC. 144; 3 COMP. GEN. 945.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD FROM THE MATTERS SET FORTH IN THE LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 26, 1935, SUPRA, THAT, IN GENERAL, IT IS PROPOSED TO PURCHASE ENVELOPES FOR THE USE OF THE WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ACT OF JANUARY 12, 1895, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 26, 1906, SUPRA, AND THAT ONLY IN CASES WHERE, DUE TO AN UNFORESEEN EXIGENCY THAT WILL NOT PERMIT OF THE USUAL PROCEDURE, IS IT PROPOSED TO FILL THE NEEDS BY PROCUREMENT IN THE OPEN MARKET. IF THIS BE THE SITUATION, AND A SHOWING IS MADE IN EACH INSTANCE OF THE FACTS AS TO THE EXIGENCY THAT WOULD NOT PERMIT OF THE USUAL PROCEDURE, AND THE VOUCHER IN PAYMENT THEREFOR IS ACCOMPANIED BY A CERTIFICATE OF THE PURCHASING AGENT, POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, TO THE EFFECT HE COULD NOT HAVE MADE THE PURCHASE IN TIME TO MEET THE NEED, CREDIT FOR OTHERWISE PROPER PAYMENTS WILL BE ALLOWED BY THIS OFFICE, IT BEING UNDERSTOOD THAT SUCH PURCHASES WILL BE ONLY SUCH AS ARE NECESSARY TO TIDE OVER THE EXIGENCY AND THAT THERE BE NO QUANTITY PURCHASES IN THE OPEN MARKET TO FILL EXISTING NEEDS UNDER THE GUISE OF AN EMERGENCY.