A-66476, JANUARY 6, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 582

A-66476: Jan 6, 1936

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

APPROPRIATIONS - AVAILABILITY FOR DEVELOPMENT OF LABOR-SAVING DEVICE - CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE USE OF THE APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE UNITED STATES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION FOR 1936 FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OR PROCUREMENT OF A SPECIALLY CONSTRUCTED MACHINE DESIGNED TO GRADE EXAMINATION PAPERS. 1936: THERE WAS RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 15. A DETAILED STATEMENT CONCERNING THE MACHINE IS QUOTED FOR YOUR INFORMATION FROM THE HEARING BEFORE THE SUB-COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS IN CHARGE OF THE SECOND DEFICIENCY APPROPRIATION BILL FOR 1935: "THE HEAVIEST ITEM OF THE COMMISSION'S WORK. NATURALLY IS THE GIVING OF EXAMINATIONS. A MAJOR COST IS THE RATING OF PAPERS IN EXAMINATIONS FOR WHICH COMPETITION IS GREATEST.

A-66476, JANUARY 6, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 582

APPROPRIATIONS - AVAILABILITY FOR DEVELOPMENT OF LABOR-SAVING DEVICE - CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE USE OF THE APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE UNITED STATES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION FOR 1936 FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OR PROCUREMENT OF A SPECIALLY CONSTRUCTED MACHINE DESIGNED TO GRADE EXAMINATION PAPERS, SPECIFICATIONS FOR WHICH CANNOT BE DRAWN WITHOUT DEVELOPMENT AND EXPERIMENTATION. THE TERMS OF THE APPROPRIATIONS NOT BEING AMBIGUOUS, RESORT MAY NOT BE HAD TO THE HEARINGS TO DETERMINE THEIR MEANING IN THIS RESPECT.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, JANUARY 6, 1936:

THERE WAS RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 15, 1935, AS FOLLOWS:

THE COMMISSION WOULD APPRECIATE YOUR DECISION AS TO THE PROCEDURE TO BE FOLLOWED IN DEVELOPING AND PROCURING A SPECIALLY CONSTRUCTED MACHINE TO BE OPERATED BY PHOTOELECTRIC DEVICES, AND DESIGNED TO GRADE INTELLIGENCE-TEST TYPES OF EXAMINATION PAPERS. A DETAILED STATEMENT CONCERNING THE MACHINE IS QUOTED FOR YOUR INFORMATION FROM THE HEARING BEFORE THE SUB-COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS IN CHARGE OF THE SECOND DEFICIENCY APPROPRIATION BILL FOR 1935:

"THE HEAVIEST ITEM OF THE COMMISSION'S WORK, OF COURSE, NATURALLY IS THE GIVING OF EXAMINATIONS, AND A MAJOR COST IS THE RATING OF PAPERS IN EXAMINATIONS FOR WHICH COMPETITION IS GREATEST. AMONG THESE ARE EXAMINATIONS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY FOR SUCH POSITIONS AS CLERK OR CARRIER IN CITY POST OFFICES, RAILWAY POSTAL CLERK, AND RURAL CARRIER.

"THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHOTOELECTRIC DEVICES WITHIN RECENT YEARS HAS BEEN SUCH THAT THE COMMISSION'S DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH HAS STUDIED THEIR ADAPTABILITY TO THE WORK OF GRADING EXAMINATION PAPERS WHERE THE SHORT ANSWER FORM OF QUESTIONS MAY PROPERLY BE USED, AND HAS DESIGNED MACHINE WHICH WILL UTILIZE THESE DEVICES.

"AFTER CAREFUL STUDY OF THESE DEVICES AND FREQUENT CONSULTATION WITH SCIENTISTS OF THE BUREAU OF STANDARDS AND ENGINEERS IN PRIVATE INDUSTRY, THE COMMISSION SUBMITTED ESTIMATE TO * * * PROVIDE FUNDS TO BUILD A MACHINE WHICH WILL RAPIDLY AND ACCURATELY PERFORM ANY OR ALL OF THE FOLLOWING FUNCTIONS:

"1. IT WILL COUNT THE TOTAL NUMBER OF PAPERS FED INTO THE MACHINE.

"2.FEED THE PAPERS INTO THE MACHINE.

"3. REJECT, BEFORE FEEDING, ALL PAPERS NOT PROPERLY STACKED IN FEEDER OR IN PAPER FORM TO BE INSPECTED.

"4. CHECK THE ANSWER TO DETERMINE IF IT IS THE PROPER ONE; AND, IF SO, TALLY IT IN THE TOTAL GRADE AS A COUNT OF ONE.

"5. TOTAL THE GRADE OF EACH PAPER, AND INDICATE BY PRINTING OR OTHER MEANS THE GRADE IN A PREDETERMINED POSITION ON THE PAPER.

"6. INDICATE BY MARKING ON THE PAPER IF EACH QUESTION IS ANSWERED, CORRECTLY.

"7. NOT COUNT THE ANSWER WHERE TWO OR MORE ANSWERS ARE GIVEN, ALTHOUGH ONE MIGHT BE CORRECT.

"8. SHOW HOW MANY CORRECT ANSWERS WERE GIVEN TO ANY AND/OR ALL QUESTIONS IN ANY BATCH OF PAPERS GOING THROUGH THE MACHINE; THIS INFORMATION TO BE TOTALIZED ON 100 COUNTERS ON THE MACHINE ITSELF.

"THE COMMISSION BELIEVES THAT SUCH A MACHINE CAN BE BUILT WHICH WILL DO THE WORK INDICATED, AND THE BUREAU OF STANDARDS AND THE BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CONCUR IN SUCH BELIEF. * * *

"THE MACHINE WILL SCORE A SET OF PAPERS IN APPROXIMATELY 5 SECONDS, AS COMPARED WITH 5 OR 6 MINUTES FOR RATING AND REVIEWING A SET AT THE PRESENT TIME. IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THE SUCCESSFUL DEVELOPMENT OF SUCH A MACHINE WILL GREATLY EXPEDITE THE COMMISSION'S WORK AND RESULT IN A MATERIAL REDUCTION IN THE COST OF RATING THE CLASS OF EXAMINATIONS IN WHICH THE SHORT-ANSWER TYPE OF QUESTIONS IS APPROPRIATE.'

THE SECOND DEFICIENCY APPROPRIATION ACT, FISCAL YEAR 1935, APPROVED UNDER DATE OF AUGUST 12, 1935, PROVIDES IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION

"SALARIES AND EXPENSES: FOR AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT FOR SALARIES AND EXPENSES, INCLUDING THE SAME OBJECTS SPECIFIED UNDER THIS HEAD IN THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACT, 1936, $25,000.'

IT WILL BE NOTED THAT THIS AMOUNT OF $25,000 IS APPROPRIATED FOR THE PURPOSE OF DEVELOPING AS WELL AS PROCURING THIS MACHINE AS SHOWN IN HOUSE DOCUMENT 162, 74TH CONGRESS, WHICH STATES AS FOLLOWS:

"SUPPLEMENTAL ESTIMATES, CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION

"SALARIES AND EXPENSES, CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, 1936 -------- $25,000

"THE PURPOSE OF THIS ESTIMATE IS TO ENABLE THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION TO DEVELOP AND PROCURE A SPECIALLY CONSTRUCTED MACHINE TO BE OPERATED BY PHOTOELECTRIC DEVICES, AND DESIGNED TO GRADE INTELLIGENCE-TEST TYPES OF EXAMINATION PAPERS.

"THE POSSIBILITIES OF DEVELOPING SUCH A MACHINE HAVE BEEN INVESTIGATED SUFFICIENTLY TO INDICATE THE PRACTICABILITY THEREOF, AND THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT SUCH A MACHINE IN SUCCESSFUL OPERATION WOULD PERMIT OF LARGE SAVINGS IN TIME AND MONEY. AT PRESENT THE RATING OF INTELLIGENCE-TEST AND SIMILAR EXAMINATION PAPERS BY HAND IS A COMPARATIVELY SLOW PROCESS, AND IN ADDITION TO THE ACTUAL COST OF RATING, FURTHER UNNECESSARY EXPENSE IS INVOLVED IN REPLYING TO PREMATURE INQUIRIES FROM INTERESTED PERSONS REGARDING THE GRADES ATTAINED, THE ESTABLISHMENT OF REGISTERS, AND RELATED SUBJECTS. MOST OF THIS CORRESPONDENCE WOULD BE AVOIDED IF APPLICANTS COULD BE INFORMED PROMPTLY OF THE RESULTS OF EXAMINATIONS.

"TO DEVELOP AND PURCHASE THIS MACHINE IT IS ESTIMATED THAT AN ADDITIONAL APPROPRIATION OF $25,000 WILL BE REQUIRED.'

AS A CONSEQUENCE THREE QUESTIONS ARE PRESENTED FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION AND DECISION:

THE FIRST QUESTION IS WHETHER THE LANGUAGE IN THE COMMISSION'S ANNUAL APPROPRIATION WILL PERMIT THE PURCHASE OF SUCH A COMPLETED MACHINE AS PROPOSED. THE APPROPRIATION ACT IN QUESTION IS STATED IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION

"FOR THREE COMMISSIONERS AND OTHER PERSONAL SERVICES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, INCLUDING PERSONAL SERVICES REQUIRED FOR EXAMINATION OF PRESIDENTIAL POSTMASTERS, AND INCLUDING NOT TO EXCEED $2,500 FOR EMPLOYMENT OF EXPERT EXAMINERS NOT IN THE FEDERAL SERVICE ON SPECIAL SUBJECTS FOR WHICH EXAMINERS WITHIN THE SERVICE ARE NOT AVAILABLE, AND FOR PERSONAL SERVICES IN THE FIELD; FOR MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS; FOR NECESSARY TRAVELING EXPENSES, INCLUDING THOSE OF EXAMINERS ACTING UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE COMMISSION, AND FOR EXPENSES OF EXAMINATIONS AND INVESTIGATIONS HELD ELSEWHERE THAN AT WASHINGTON, INCLUDING NOT TO EXCEED$1,000 FOR EXPENSES OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS WHEN SPECIFICALLY DIRECTED BY THE COMMISSION; FOR FURNITURE AND OTHER EQUIPMENT AND REPAIRS THERETO; RENTAL OF EQUIPMENT; SUPPLIES; ADVERTISING; TELEGRAPH, TELEPHONE, AND LAUNDRY SERVICE; FREIGHT AND EXPRESS CHARGES; STREET-CAR FARES NOT TO EXCEED $300; STATIONERY; PURCHASE AND EXCHANGE OF LAW BOOKS, BOOKS OF REFERENCE, DIRECTORIES, SUBSCRIPTIONS TO NEWSPAPERS AND PERIODICALS, NOT TO EXCEED $1,000; CHARTS; PURCHASE, EXCHANGE, MAINTENANCE, AND REPAIR OF MOTOR TRUCKS, MOTORCYCLES, AND BICYCLES; GARAGE RENT; POSTAGE STAMPS TO PREPAY POSTAGE ON MATTER ADDRESSED TO POSTAL UNION COUNTRIES; SPECIAL DELIVERY STAMPS; AND OTHER LIKE MISCELLANEOUS NECESSARY EXPENSES NOT HEREINBEFORE PROVIDED FOR, $2,020,000: PROVIDED, THAT NOTWITHSTANDING ANY PROVISIONS OF LAW TO THE CONTRARY, THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION IS AUTHORIZED TO EXPEND DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1936 NOT TO EXCEED $2,100 OF THIS AMOUNT FOR ACTUARIAL SERVICES PERTAINING TO THE CIVIL SERVICE AND CANAL ZONE RETIREMENT AND DISABILITY FUNDS, TO BE OBTAINED BY CONTRACT, WITHOUT OBTAINING COMPETITION, AT SUCH RATES OF COMPENSATION AS THE COMMISSION MAY DETERMINE TO BE REASONABLE; PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT NO DETAILS FROM ANY EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT OR INDEPENDENT ESTABLISHMENT IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA OR ELSEWHERE TO THE COMMISSION'S CENTRAL OFFICE IN WASHINGTON OR TO ANY OF ITS DISTRICT OFFICES SHALL BE MADE DURING THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1936, BUT THIS SHALL NOT AFFECT THE MAKING OF DETAILS FOR SERVICE AS MEMBERS OF THE BOARDS OF EXAMINERS OUTSIDE THE IMMEDIATE OFFICES OF THE DISTRICT MANAGERS: PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION SHALL HAVE POWER IN CASE OF EMERGENCY TO TRANSFER OR DETAIL ANY OF ITS EMPLOYEES TO OR FROM ITS OFFICE OR FIELD FORCE.'

THE COMMISSION IS OF THE OPINION THAT THERE IS PROVIDED IN THE APPROPRIATION ACT AMPLE AUTHORITY FOR THE PROCUREMENT OF SUCH A MACHINE BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT IT IS A LABOR-SAVING DEVICE DESIGNED FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH THE RATING OF EXAMINATION PAPERS.

THE SECOND QUESTION UPON WHICH A RULING IS REQUESTED MAY BE STATED AS FOLLOWS: IS THE COMMISSION AUTHORIZED TO CONTRACT FOR DEVELOPING ONE EXPERIMENTAL MACHINE WITH A REPUTABLE MANUFACTURER TO BE SELECTED FROM AMONG A GROUP OF REPUTABLE MANUFACTURERS ON THE BASIS OF THE RESULT TO BE OBTAINED, ESPECIALLY IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT NO SUCH MACHINE IS NOW IN EXISTENCE, THAT IT WOULD BE EXPERIMENTAL IN FACT AND THAT, IN ALL PROBABILITY, ONLY ONE SUCH MACHINE WILL BE REQUIRED? IF THE COMMISSION IS REQUIRED TO PROCURE THE MACHINE AFTER SOLICITING OPEN COMPETITIVE BIDS BASED UPON DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS, IT WOULD BE REQUIRED TO CARRY ON STUDIES AND EXPERIMENTS WHICH IN THEMSELVES WOULD BE EXTENSIVE AND NECESSARILY EXPENSIVE, BEFORE SUCH DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS COULD BE DRAWN. IN THIS CONNECTION YOUR ATTENTION IS INVITED TO THE DECISION OF JANUARY 7, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 463, WHEREIN IT WAS STATED IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"WHILE THE MATTER IS NOT FREE FROM SERIOUS DOUBT, IT APPEARS FROM THE FACTS SUBMITTED THAT THE PRIMARY OBJECT AND PURPOSE OF THE PROPOSED PURCHASE OF THE SAMPLE PLANES IS TO ENABLE YOUR DEPARTMENT TO PRACTICALLY ASCERTAIN THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE MATTER OF PLANES FOR THE USE OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, WHICH APPEAR NOT NOW DEFINITELY KNOWN, BY MAKING FURTHER TESTS UNDER ACTUAL USE CONDITIONS OF THE TWO PLANES THAT NOW APPEAR, FROM SUCH TESTS AS IT HAS BEEN PRACTICABLE TO APPLY, POSSIBLE OF USE IN SUCH CONNECTION; THERE ALSO NOW APPEARING NO PRACTICAL WAY OF OBTAINING THE REQUIRED INFORMATION AS TO THE NEEDS OF YOUR DEPARTMENT IN THE MATTER AND THE POSSIBLE USES OF PLANES OF THE TYPE HERE INVOLVED IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, EXCEPT BY ACTUAL USE OVER A REASONABLE PERIOD OF TIME, AND THAT SUCH USE WOULD BE IN THE INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES, THE UNDERSTOOD PURPOSE BEING TO PUT THESE PLANES, IF PURCHASED, INTO THE WORK AUTHORIZED BY THE APPROPRIATION INVOLVED, COMPETITION HAVING BEEN HAD AS DISCLOSED, I FEEL JUSTIFIED IN THIS INSTANCE IN WITHHOLDING OBJECTION TO THE PURCHASE OF THE TWO SAMPLE PLANES AT THE PRICES PROPOSED. THIS IS NOT, HOWEVER, TO BE CONSTRUED AS AUTHORITY FOR PURCHASES UNDER THE SUBMITTED BIDS AT OTHER THAN THE LOWEST PRICE, AS REQUIRED BY LAW.'

THE THIRD AND LAST QUESTION UPON WHICH THE COMMISSION DESIRES A RULING MAY BE STATED AS OLLOWS: IRRESPECTIVE OF THE ANSWER TO QUESTION TWO THE COMMISSION DESIRES TO BE ADVISED WHETHER IT WOULD BE AUTHORIZED TO CONTRACT WITH THE BUREAU OF STANDARDS FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF SERVICE IN DEVELOPING SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE PROPOSED MACHINE.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT REIMBURSEMENT FOR SERVICES PERFORMED BY THE BUREAU OF STANDARDS WOULD BE MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 601, TITLE VI OF THE ACT OF JUNE 30, 1932.

YOUR INSTRUCTIONS AND ASSISTANCE IN THIS MATTER WILL BE GREATLY APPRECIATED.

NOWHERE IN THE REGULAR APPROPRIATION FOR SALARIES AND EXPENSES, 1936, NOR IN THE DEFICIENCY APPROPRIATION OF $25,000 MADE IN THE ACT OF AUGUST 12, 1935, FOR THE SAME OBJECTS, IS ANY MENTION MADE OF A LABOR-SAVING DEVICE. AND WHILE THE APPROPRIATION PROVIDES SPECIFICALLY FOR EQUIPMENT THERE IS NOTHING IN THE LAW TO INDICATE AN INTENT TO AUTHORIZE THE PROCUREMENT OF ANY EQUIPMENT OTHER THAN SUCH AS MAY BE OBTAINED IN THE USUAL WAY AFTER ADVERTISING AS REQUIRED BY LAW. THE APPROPRIATIONS ARE NOT AMBIGUOUS AND, ACCORDINGLY, UNDER THE ESTABLISHED RULES OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, IT IS NOT PERMISSIBLE TO REFER TO THE HEARINGS TO DETERMINE THE MEANING OF THE APPROPRIATION. 11 COMP. GEN. 380; 14 ID. 638. FURTHERMORE, THE HEARINGS CITED WERE BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS, AND THERE IS NOTHING IN THE WORDING OF THE APPROPRIATION ITSELF TO PUT THE CONGRESS AS A BODY ON NOTICE THAT THE ADDITIONAL FUNDS WERE BEING APPROPRIATED FOR EXPERIMENTAL WORK SUCH IN INDICATED IN YOUR SUBMISSION. THE AMOUNT INVOLVED IS SO LARGE AND THE PURPOSE SO NOVEL THAT THE PROPOSED EXPENDITURE CANNOT BE HELD TO BE AUTHORIZED IN THE ABSENCE OF A PROVISION IN THE APPROPRIATION ACT OR OTHER STATUTE SO WORDED AS TO LEAVE NO ROOM FOR DOUBT AS TO THE INTENT OF THE CONGRESS TO AUTHORIZE SUCH AN EXPENDITURE.

UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES IT MUST BE HELD THAT THE USE OF THE APPROPRIATION IN QUESTION FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OR FOR THE PURCHASE OF A MACHINE OF THE KIND DESCRIBED IS NOT AUTHORIZED.