A-72378, MAY 9, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 974

A-72378: May 9, 1936

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

IS INVALID. THE MAXIMUM PRICE FIXING STATUTE FOR PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLES NOT PERMITTING PURCHASES AT OR APPROACHING SAID MAXIMUM IF AN AUTOMOBILE OF A LOWER PRICE WILL SERVE THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT. BIDDERS WERE REQUESTED TO SUBMIT TWO BIDS. THE RECORD SHOWS THAT INVITATIONS WERE SENT TO ONLY SEVEN BIDDERS. THREE OF WHOM APPARENTLY WERE MANUFACTURERS. ALTHOUGH LITERATURE IN THIS OFFICE INDICATES THAT THERE ARE A VERY SUBSTANTIAL NUMBER OF AUTOMOBILES MANUFACTURED WITHIN THE $750 STATUTORY LIMIT. ONLY TWO BIDS WERE RECEIVED. THE MAKE OF AUTOMOBILE OFFERED BY THIS BIDDER IS NOT SHOWN. NOR IS THERE ANY INDICATION AS TO THE AUTOMOBILES HANDLED BY OTHER FIRMS SOLICITED. THERE WAS FORWARDED A COPY OF A LETTER FROM GUY D.

A-72378, MAY 9, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 974

CONTRACTS - RESTRICTIVE SPECIFICATIONS - DE LUXE TYPE AUTOMOBILES A CONTRACT AWARDED UPON AUTOMOBILE SPECIFICATIONS REQUIRING A CAR OF THE DE LUXE TYPE, BUILT-IN TRUCK, DUAL HORNS, AND OTHER LUXURY FEATURES, IS INVALID, THE MAXIMUM PRICE FIXING STATUTE FOR PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLES NOT PERMITTING PURCHASES AT OR APPROACHING SAID MAXIMUM IF AN AUTOMOBILE OF A LOWER PRICE WILL SERVE THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT, AND SUCH SPECIFICATIONS OPERATING TO LIMIT COMPETITION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, MAY 9, 1936:

MY ATTENTION HAS BEEN CALLED TO VOUCHER NO. 140, SEPTEMBER 1935, ACCOUNTS OF G. FRANK BROWN, IN THE AMOUNT OF $739.90, COVERING PAYMENT FOR ONE FOUR -DOOR DE LUXE SEDAN, PURCHASED FROM THE HYNES GILLETTE MOTOR CO., JACKSON, WYO., UNDER CONTRACT NO. I 22 P-93, DATED AUGUST 23, 1935.

THE SPECIFICATIONS PROVIDED THAT THE CAR DESIRED MUST BE OF THE DE LUXE MODEL, FOUR-DOOR SEDAN TYPE OF THE LATEST MODEL, AND MUST INCLUDE TWO SPARE WHEELS AND CARRIERS, PREFERABLY IN FRONT FENDER WELLS, FRONT AND REAR BUMPERS, SAFETY GLASS ALL AROUND, METAL SPRING COVERS, OIL BATH CLEANER, DUAL ACCESSORY GROUP, INCLUDING DUAL HORNS, WIPERS, TAILLIGHTS, AND VISORS, SPEEDOMETER, SHOCK ABSORBERS, AND SUCH OTHER EQUIPMENT AS THE BIDDER OR MANUFACTURER MIGHT SPECIFY AS STANDARD EQUIPMENT FOR THE MODEL OF THE DE LUXE SEDAN BID ON. BIDDERS WERE REQUESTED TO SUBMIT TWO BIDS--- ONE FOR A SEDAN WITH TRUNK AND ONE WITHOUT TRUNK.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT INVITATIONS WERE SENT TO ONLY SEVEN BIDDERS, THREE OF WHOM APPARENTLY WERE MANUFACTURERS, ALTHOUGH LITERATURE IN THIS OFFICE INDICATES THAT THERE ARE A VERY SUBSTANTIAL NUMBER OF AUTOMOBILES MANUFACTURED WITHIN THE $750 STATUTORY LIMIT. ONLY TWO BIDS WERE RECEIVED. THE HYNES GILLETTE CO. OFFERED A SEDAN FOR $755 WITH TRUNK, OR $740 WITHOUT TRUNK, F.O.B. MOOSE, WYO., LESS 2 PERCENT DISCOUNT--- 10 DAYS, AND THE STATEMENT OF AWARD (FORM 1036) STATES THAT ANOTHER BIDDER SUBMITTED A BID OF $750 NET, F.O.B. DETROIT, MICH. THE MAKE OF AUTOMOBILE OFFERED BY THIS BIDDER IS NOT SHOWN, NOR IS THERE ANY INDICATION AS TO THE AUTOMOBILES HANDLED BY OTHER FIRMS SOLICITED.

IN REPLY TO A LETTER FROM THIS OFFICE REQUESTING A DETAILED STATEMENT AS TO THE REASONS FOR REQUIRING A CAR OF THE DE LUXE MODEL TYPE WITH TWO SPARE WHEELS, SAFETY GLASS ALL AROUND, METAL SPRING COVERS, OIL BATH CLEANER, AND DUAL HORNS, TAILLIGHTS, AND VISORS, THERE WAS FORWARDED A COPY OF A LETTER FROM GUY D. EDWARDS, SUPERINTENDENT, GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

IN RESPONSE TO THE REQUEST OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WE PRESENT THE FOLLOWING JUSTIFICATION FOR PURCHASING THE CAR IN QUESTION AND THE EXTRA PARTS CALLED FOR IN OUR SPECIFICATIONS.

DUE TO THE ISOLATED LOCATION OF GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK HEADQUARTERS AND THE LONG DISTANCES TO BE TRAVELED IN ALL DIRECTIONS WITH SERVICE STATIONS FEW AND FAR BETWEEN, IT IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY THAT CARS IN THIS LOCALITY BE EQUIPPED WITH TWO SPARE WHEELS. OUR SPECIFICATIONS STATED "PREFERABLY IN FRONT FENDER WELLS," BUT DID NOT COMPEL THE BIDDER TO COMPLY WITH THESE SPECIFICATIONS, SO NO HARDSHIP WAS PUT ON ANY BIDDER TO SUBMIT ANYTHING BUT A STOCK CAR.

SAFETY GLASS IS NECESSARY BECAUSE OF ROAD CONDITIONS IN THIS LOCALITY AND FOR MANY MILES FROM THE PARK. THE ROADS ARE OF LOOSE GRAVEL AND THE ROCKS FLY FROM UNDER THE WHEELS OF A CAR AND IF THE GLASS IS NOT OF THE SAFETY TYPE, WOULD ENDANGER THE OCCUPANTS OF THE CAR.

METAL SPRING COVERS ARE ALSO NECESSARY FOR THE PROPER FUNCTIONING OF THE SPRINGS ON THE DUSTY AND ROCKY ROADS IN THIS LOCALITY. IT IS A SMALL EXTRA COST AND WILL MORE THAN PAY FOR ITSELF IN PROLONGING THE LIFE OF THE CAR SPRINGS.

THE DUAL ACCESSORY GROUP INCLUDING DUAL HORNS, WIPERS, TAILLIGHTS, AND VISORS WERE ASKED FOR AS A SAFETY MEASURE. AS THERE ARE MANY MILES BETWEEN SERVICE STATIONS IT IS A WISE PRECAUTION, FOR EXAMPLE, TO HAVE TWO TAILLIGHTS IN CASE ONE DOES NOT FUNCTION.

THE SPECIFICATIONS ALSO CALLED FOR A TRUNK. IN SOME OF THE MAKES OF SMALLER CARS, ESPECIALLY THE FORD, THE STANDARD MODELS DO NOT HAVE BUILT- IN TRUNKS. IN THIS TERRITORY WHERE MANY MILES OF THE HIGHWAYS ARE ROUGH AND THE CAR VIBRATION IS GREAT, WE HAVE FOUND THAT THE ATTACHED TRUNKS ARE NOT SATISFACTORY. THEY ARE FASTENED ONTO THE BACK OF THE CAR BY BOLTS AND ALSO STICK OUT FROM EIGHT INCHES TO ONE FOOT FARTHER THAN A BUILT-IN TRUNK. THE WEIGHT OF THE TRUNK AND ITS CONTENTS SUSPENDED THAT MUCH FARTHER BACK CREATES AN UNBALANCED EFFECT AND CAUSES CONSIDERABLE VIBRATION. FURTHERMORE, THE FORD COMPANY DOES NOT MAKE A TRUNK TO BE ATTACHED TO THE BACK OF A FORD CAR. THEY ONLY MAKE THE BUILT-IN TRUNK WITH THEIR DE LUXE MODELS. IN OTHER WORDS, THEY DO NOT TAKE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ATTACHING A TRUNK TO THE BACK OF THE STOCK CAR, BUT ONLY MAKE THE BUILT-IN TYPE. TO ELIMINATE A BIDDER SUBMITTING A BID ON A TRUNK TO BE ATTACHED, WHICH IN OUR JUDGMENT IS NOT SATISFACTORY, WE REQUESTED A DE LUXE MODEL. PERHAPS WE COULD HAVE USED THE WORDS "BUILT-IN" BUT WE DID NOT REALIZE IT MADE ANY PARTICULAR DIFFERENCE AS LONG AS THE SO-CALLED DE LUXE MODELS ARE STOCK CARS WITH ALL OF THE CAR COMPANIES AND THE WORD "DE LUXE" IS ONLY A STOCK NAME WITH ALL CAR MANUFACTURERS.

ON ANOTHER MODEL OF LIGHT CAR, THE CHEVROLET, THE STANDARD CAR HAS ONLY 109 INCH WHEEL BASE, WHICH IN THIS COUNTRY WE CONSIDERED TOO SHORT. THE ROADS ARE ROUGH IN MANY PLACES, AS WE HAVE ABOVE MENTIONED, AND WE DESIRED AS LONG A WHEEL BASE AS POSSIBLE. WE MIGHT HAVE STATED THE MINIMUM WHEEL BASE DESIRED, BUT WE USED THE WORD DE LUXE WHICH WOULD MAKE THE WHEEL BASE SEVERAL INCHES LONGER.

WE HAVE MADE COMPARISON OF THE COST OF A STANDARD AND A DE LUXE MODEL FORD AND FIND THE DIFFERENCE IN COST IS NOT OVER $21.00 AFTER EXTRAS ASKED FOR ARE ATTACHED. THIS DIFFERENCE IN COST IS ARRIVED AT AS FOLLOWS, USING THE 1935 FORD PRICES AS AN EXAMPLE, AS THAT IS THE MAKE PURCHASED BY US:

CHART

FORD SEDAN (DE LUXE MODEL) F.O.B. JACKSON,

WYO., INCLUDING BUILT-IN TRUNK, OIL

GAUGE, HEAT INDICATOR, EXTRA HORN, SUN

VISOR; TOTAL --------------------------- $859.00

FORD SEDAN (STANDARD MODEL) F.O.B.

JACKSON, WYO. --------------------------- $777.00

OIL GAUGE AND HEAT INDICATOR ------------- 8.00

EXTRA HORN ------------------------------- 4.00

SUN VISOR -------------------------------- 2.50

TRUNK (TO BE ATTACHED) ------------------- 46.50

TOTAL ---------------------------- $838.00

THE ABOVE SHOWS A DIFFERENCE IN COST F.O.B. JACKSON, WYOMING, OF A STANDARD AND DE LUXE FORD MODEL AFTER THE EXTRAS ARE ADDED TO THE STANDARD MODEL TO EQUAL THE NUMBER OF EXTRAS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE OF THE DE LUXE MODEL.

CONSIDERING THE SLIGHT DIFFERENCE IN COST, WE BELIEVED THAT THE ADVANTAGES OF THE BUILT-IN TRUNK AND THE EXTRA WHEEL BASE WERE WORTH THE DIFFERENCE IN COST. FURTHERMORE, IN OUR JUDGMENT, THE DE LUXE MODEL WAS A BETTER BUY FOR THE USE IT WAS TO BE PUT TO ON THESE MOUNTAINOUS ROADS AND THEREFORE WE ASKED FOR THIS TYPE, AS WE FULLY BELIEVE THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE AHEAD BY GETTING A CAR WITH A MUCH LONGER LIFE.

ALSO, FROM OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE PRESENT RESTRICTIONS REGARDING THE PURCHASE OF A PASSENGER CAR, WE DID NOT KNOW THAT WE COULD NOT PURCHASE A DE LUXE MODEL IF WE SO DESIRED, IF THE TOTAL COST WAS UNDER THE LIMIT OF $750.

IN READING THE APPROPRIATION ACT OF 1935, WE FIND THE FOLLOWING: "NOT EXCEEDING $1,200 FOR THE PURCHASE, MAINTENANCE, OPERATION, AND REPAIR OF MOTOR-DRIVEN, PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES FOR THE USE OF THE SUPERINTENDENT AND EMPLOYEES IN CONNECTION WITH GENERAL PARK WORK.' HAVE ALWAYS ASSUMED FROM OUR INFORMATION AT HAND THAT WE WERE NOT RESTRICTED AS TO THE PURCHASE OF THE PARTICULAR TYPE OF PASSENGER CAR, WHETHER SEDAN OR COUPE, ETC. NEITHER DID WE KNOW THAT THE LAW MENTIONING THE $750 LIMITATION SAID ANYTHING AGAINST PURCHASING ANY PARTICULAR KIND OF A FOUR-PASSENGER CAR, WHETHER A SEDAN, COUPE OR DE LUXE, OR CONVERTIBLE TOP, ETC., ESPECIALLY IF IT WAS A STOCK MODEL.

WE WERE RATHER SURPRISED AT THE EXCEPTION TAKEN BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE AS THE SAME SPECIFICATIONS WERE USED IN THE PURCHASE OF A PASSENGER CAR AT YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK A FEW YEARS AGO AND THE SAME KIND OF CAR PURCHASED THEN AS WE HAVE JUST PURCHASED, TO WHICH NO EXCEPTION WAS TAKEN.

WE FULLY BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE OBTAINED A BETTER BUY FOR THE MONEY EXPENDED THAN IF WE HAD PURCHASED JUST A STANDARD MODEL WITH EXTRAS (SOME NOT EVEN MADE BY THE FORD COMPANY) ATTACHED. WE HAVE ENDEAVORED TO ACT IN GOOD FAITH SO THAT THE GOVERNMENT OBTAINED THE BEST CAR POSSIBLE FOR THE CLASS OF WORK REQUIRED AND ALSO STAYING ENTIRELY UNDER THE $750 LIMITATION.

THIS LETTER WOULD APPEAR TO INDICATE CONCLUSIVELY THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS WERE DRAWN FOR THE PURPOSE OF OBTAINING A FORD DE LUXE MODEL SEDAN AND TO EXCLUDE FROM COMPETITION OTHER MAKES AND DESIGNS OF AUTOMOBILES, INCLUDING THE FORD STANDARD, WHICH MIGHT HAVE SERVED THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT EQUALLY AS WELL, IF NOT BETTER.

THERE WAS, OF COURSE, NO AUTHORITY TO REQUIRE A DE LUXE SEDAN. THE PHRASE "DE LUXE" IS DEFINED BY WEBSTER'S INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY AND IS POPULARLY UNDERSTOOD AS MEANING "MADE OR DEVISED WITH UNUSUAL ELEGANCE; UNUSUALLY PERFECT IN MATERIAL, WORKMANSHIP, AND FINISH; LUXURIOUS; SUMPTUOUS.' THE VERY PHRASE ITSELF IMPORTS SOMETHING MORE THAN REQUIRED-- - LUXURY AS DISTINGUISHED FROM NECESSITY. IT IS KNOWN THAT MANY MAKERS MANUFACTURE AUTOMOBILES OF LUXURIOUS DESIGN AND APPOINTMENTS DESIGNATED AS DE LUXE, POSSIBLY LARGER AND MORE ORNATE THAN THEIR STANDARD MODELS, EQUIPPED WITH MINOR ACCESSORIES AND TRINKETS WHICH, WHILE THEY MATERIALLY INCREASE THE MARKET PRICE, CONTRIBUTE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO THE ACTUAL WORTH OR PERFORMANCE OF THE VEHICLE. IN OTHER WORDS, THE STANDARD MODELS OFFERED TO THE PUBLIC AT A MATERIALLY LOWER PRICE THAN THE DE LUXE MODELS SERVE THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH THEY ARE ACQUIRED--- TRANSPORTATION--- EQUALLY AS WELL IN EVERY RESPECT AND AT A MATERIALLY LOWER COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. APPROPRIATED FUNDS ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE OF WHAT IS REQUIRED BY THE GOVERNMENT--- NOT WHAT IS DESIRED BY ITS EMPLOYEES. THE SPECIFICATIONS REQUIRING THE DE LUXE MODEL SEDAN OPERATED NOT ONLY TO LIMIT COMPETITION, BUT TO CHARGE APPROPRIATED MONEYS FOR ITEMS OF EQUIPMENT IN NO SENSE OF THE WORD REPRESENTING A NEED OF THE GOVERNMENT.

THE EXPLANATION OF THE NECESSITY FOR TWO SPARE WHEELS IN THIS INSTANCE MAY BE ACCEPTED, BUT THERE WAS NO AUTHORITY FOR REQUIRING THAT THEY BE MOUNTED PREFERABLY IN FRONT FENDER WELLS. YOU WERE INFORMED TO THAT EFFECT IN MY DECISION IN 14 COMP. GEN. 518. WHILE THE VEHICLES THERE INVOLVED WERE TRUCKS, THERE APPEARS NO MORE JUSTIFICATION IN THE CASE OF PASSENGER AUTOMOBILES. THE ADDITION OF THE WORD "PREFERABLY" DOES NOT CURE THE OBJECTION. THE PREFERENCE SUGGESTED WAS THAT OF THE PURCHASING OFFICER; AND THE DEALER OFFERING A CAR WITH SPARE WHEELS MOUNTED IN FRONT FENDER WELLS WOULD HAVE A DISTINCT ADVANTAGE OVER A BIDDER UNABLE TO DO SO, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE MERITS OF THE VEHICLE OFFERED.

THE EXPLANATION GIVEN FOR THE REQUIREMENT OF SAFETY GLASS IS THAT--

SAFETY GLASS IS NECESSARY BECAUSE OF ROAD CONDITIONS IN THIS LOCALITY AND FOR MANY MILES FROM THE PARK. THE ROADS ARE OF LOOSE GRAVEL AND THE ROCKS FLY FROM UNDER THE WHEELS OF THE CAR AND IF THE GLASS IS NOT OF THE SAFETY TYPE, WOULD ENDANGER THE OCCUPANTS OF THE CAR.

THE SPECIFICATIONS FOR NONSHATTERABLE OR SAFETY GLASS HAVE BEEN THE SUBJECT OF SEVERAL DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE AND IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF A SHOWING THAT VEHICLES ARE TO BE ACQUIRED FOR UNUSUALLY HAZARDOUS WORK WHERE THE DANGER OF ACCIDENT FROM BROKEN WINDSHIELDS, ETC., IS PRONOUNCED, SUCH A REQUIREMENT IS UNAUTHORIZED. NO SUCH HAZARDOUS SERVICE IS DISCLOSED IN THIS INSTANCE. IT HAS BEEN POINTED OUT, ALSO, THAT NONSHATTERABLE GLASS IS NOT REGULAR EQUIPMENT, THOUSANDS OF AUTOMOBILES IN GENERAL USE ARE NOT EQUIPPED WITH IT, AND THERE APPEARS NO REASON WHY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AT INCREASED COST TO THE UNITED STATES, SHOULD BE FURNISHED A GREATER MEASURE OF SAFETY THAN ENJOYED BY THE GENERAL TRAVELING PUBLIC (A-38859, OCT. 27, 1931; A-40289, FEB. 25, 1932; ID. APR. 6, 1932).

THE REASON ASSIGNED FOR SPECIFYING DUAL HORNS, WIPERS, TAILLIGHTS AND VISORS DOES NOT APPEAR SUFFICIENT TO JUSTIFY THE REQUIREMENT. THE ORDINARY EQUIPMENT OF AN AUTOMOBILE IS ONE HORN, ONE WINDSHIELD WIPER, ONE TAILLIGHT, AND ONE VISOR. MORE THAN THAT IS EXCESS EQUIPMENT. THE ONLY EXCUSE GIVEN FOR THE REQUIREMENT OF DOUBLE EQUIPMENT IS THAT IT WAS A SAFETY MEASURE AND A "WISE PRECAUTION" TO HAVE TWO "IN CASE ONE DOES NOT FUNCTION.' AUTOMOBILES AND THEIR ACCESSORIES, ESPECIALLY WHEN PROPERLY CARED FOR AND SERVICED, ORDINARILY FUNCTION PROPERLY FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME AND FAILURE OF ANY PART IS THE EXCEPTION RATHER THAN THE RULE.

IT MAY BE SAID THAT THE NECESSITY FOR REQUIRING A TRUNK DOES NOT APPEAR. THE PRINCIPAL PURPOSE OF A TRUNK ON AN AUTOMOBILE IS TO SERVE AS A DEPOSITORY FOR LUGGAGE, AND PRACTICALLY ALL STANDARD MAKES OF AUTOMOBILES NOW ARE EQUIPPED WITH ADEQUATE LUGGAGE RECEPTACLES OR COMPARTMENTS. CONCEDING THE DESIRABILITY OF THE TRUNK, IT IS STATED THAT THE FORD CO. ONLY FURNISHES A BUILT-IN TRUNK ON THEIR DE LUXE MODEL AND THAT "TO ELIMINATE A BIDDER SUBMITTING A BID ON A TRUNK TO BE ATTACHED, WHICH IN OUR JUDGMENT IS NOT SATISFACTORY, WE REQUIRED A DE LUXE MODEL.' SO LONG AS THE TRUNK OFFERED IS FIRMLY AND ADEQUATELY ATTACHED TO THE AUTOMOBILE TO BE PURCHASED, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR ELIMINATING COMPETITION OF DEALERS OFFERING OTHER THAN A BUILT-IN TRUNK. WHILE, AS STATED, THE METAL SPRING COVERS MIGHT BE DESIRABLE, THEY WERE IN THE NATURE OF EXTRA EQUIPMENT AND, IN THE ABSENCE OF A SHOWING OF NECESSITY THEREFOR, THEIR REQUIREMENT WAS UNAUTHORIZED.

IT APPEARS FURTHER FROM THE LETTER THAT THE DE LUXE MODEL WAS SPECIFIED FOR THE AVOWED PURPOSE OF EXCLUDING FROM COMPETITION THE STANDARD MODEL OF CHEVROLET AUTOMOBILE, A CAR ADMITTEDLY IN THE COMPETITIVE CLASS REQUIRED, FOR THE SOLE REASON THAT IT HAD ONLY 109 INCH WHEEL BASE, IT BEING STATED THAT "THE ROADS ARE ROUGH IN MANY PLACES AND WE DESIRED AS LONG A WHEEL BASE AS POSSIBLE.' AS POINTED OUT, SUPRA, THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE THE CRITERION AND THE DESIRES OF THE EMPLOYEES ARE NOT FOR CONSIDERATION. IT HAS BEEN HELD REPEATEDLY BY THIS OFFICE THAT THE WHEEL BASE OF AN AUTOMOBILE DOES NOT NECESSARILY DETERMINE EITHER ITS STURDINESS OF CONSTRUCTION OR ITS ABILITY TO PERFORM THE SERVICE REQUIRED, AND THAT THE SPECIFICATION OF AN ABSOLUTE MINIMUM OF WHEEL BASE IS NOT PERMISSIBLE (14 COMP. GEN. 368; A-60763, DEC. 10, 1935; AND A-70183, FEB. 18, 1936.)

IT MAY BE TRUE THAT THE COST OF A FORD DE LUXE MODEL IS ONLY SLIGHTLY ABOVE THAT OF THE STANDARD MODEL WHEN COST OF NONESSENTIAL ACCESSORIES IS ADDED TO THE COST OF THE STANDARD MODEL, OR ONLY SLIGHTLY IN EXCESS OF THE COST OF THE STANDARD MODELS OF OTHER MAKES. IT MAY BE TRUE THAT IN THE OPINION AND BELIEF OF THE PARK SUPERINTENDENT, THE NONESSENTIAL ACCESSORIES, THE BUILT-IN TRUNK, AND THE EXTRA WHEEL BASE WERE WORTH THE DIFFERENCE IN COST AND THE DE LUXE MODEL WAS "A BETTER BUY.' SUCH MATTERS ARE NOT FOR CONSIDERATION. THE SOLE QUESTION IS THE ACTUAL NEEDS OF THE SERVICE TO BE PERFORMED. THE LEAST EXPENSIVE CAR WHICH WILL MEET THESE NEEDS IS FOR PURCHASING, AND IN DRAWING SPECIFICATIONS NO RESTRICTIVE PROVISIONS MAY BE INCORPORATED WHICH EXCLUDE FROM COMPETITION ANY CAR WITHIN THE RECOGNIZED COMPETITIVE CLASS IN WHICH PURCHASE IS TO BE MADE. IT MAY BE OBSERVED IN THIS CONNECTION THAT THE STATUTES LIMITING THE PRICE OF PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES PRESCRIBE A MAXIMUM AND NOT A MINIMUM PRICE. THEY DO NOT ABROGATE THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3709, REVISED STATUTES, WHICH REQUIRE THAT THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT ARE TO BE SERVED IN THE PURCHASE OF ARTICLES AND MATERIALS. THAT IS TO SAY, IF THE ACTUAL NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT REQUIRE AN AUTOMOBILE OF A MAXIMUM PRICE OF $750, ITS PURCHASE IS PERMISSIBLE. IF AN AUTOMOBILE OF A MATERIALLY LOWER PRICE WILL SERVE THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT ITS PURCHASE IS REQUIRED.

IT IS TO BE NOTED IN THIS INSTANCE THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS REQUIRED NOTHING BUT A DE LUXE FOUR-DOOR SEDAN OF A PREFERRED COLOR (TO BE SELECTED AFTER AWARD), AND INCLUDING THE SPECIAL ACCESSORIES SPECIFIED. NO MENTION WAS MADE OF THE USE FOR WHICH THE CAR WAS TO BE ACQUIRED AND THE ONLY REFERENCE THERETO WAS THAT THE "BIDDER MUST GUARANTEE THAT CAR WILL PERFORM ORDINARY WORK REQUIRED OF IT WITHOUT OVERHEATING.' THERE IS NOTHING IN THE SPECIFICATIONS OR IN THE RECORD TO INDICATE THAT THE SERVICE TO BE PERFORMED WAS OTHER THAN THE MOST ORDINARY KIND OF TRAVEL IN A MOUNTAINOUS COUNTRY ON GRAVEL ROADS WHICH ARE ROUGH IN MANY PLACES. AND THERE LIKEWISE IS NOTHING TO INDICATE THAT THE STANDARD MODEL OF ANY ONE OF A DOZEN MAKES OF AUTOMOBILES WITHIN THE STATUTORY PRICE LIMIT WOULD NOT BE ADEQUATE TO PERFORM THE SERVICE REQUIRED.

THE MATTER OF SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE PURCHASE OF AUTOMOBILES HAS BEEN THE SUBJECT OF NUMEROUS DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE AND MANY OBJECTIONABLE FEATURES HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED. IN 5 COMP. GEN. 777, IT WAS STATED:

THE PROPOSALS FOR BIDS MUST BE SUCH AS TO AT LEAST INVITE COMPETITION BETWEEN ALL DEALERS OF WHATEVER MAKE IN THAT OR SUPERIOR GRADES OF EQUIPMENT AND THE BID MOST ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT MUST BE ACCEPTED. THESE PRINCIPLES ARE SUCH AS ARE GENERALLY APPLICABLE TO COMPETITIVE PURCHASES AND IT IS HOPED THAT ADMINISTRATIVE PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE WILL BE SUCH IN THE FUTURE AS TO REDUCE TO A MINIMUM DECISIONS WHICH MAY BE VEXATIOUS AND TROUBLESOME BUT WHICH ARE NECESSARY UNDER PRESENT PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE IN ORDER TO SECURE COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW.

SINCE IT IS MANIFEST THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS HERE UNDER CONSIDERATION WERE DRAWN SO RESTRICTIVE AS TO LIMIT COMPETITION ALMOST TO THE POINT OF EXCLUSION IN CONTRAVENTION OF SECTION 3709, REVISED STATUTES, THUS RENDERING THE CONTRACT INVALID, CREDIT FOR PAYMENT ON THE VOUCHER IN QUESTION WILL BE DISALLOWED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER.