A-87949, AUGUST 6, 1937, 17 COMP. GEN. 106

A-87949: Aug 6, 1937

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IF SUCH ARTICLE IS USUALLY PURCHASED INDIVIDUALLY OR IN LIMITED NUMBERS. IF SUCH CLASS IS USUALLY PURCHASED BY THE DOZEN. IS NOT APPLICABLE TO THE PURCHASE OF PACKING BOXES AND CASES FOR SHIPMENT OF STATIONERY AND PRINTED FORMS TO THE FIELD. AS THE USE OF BOXES AND CASES FOR SUCH PURPOSE IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE AUTHORITY FOR PURCHASE OF OTHER ITEMS ENUMERATED IN THE APPROPRIATION. IS NOT APPLICABLE TO THE PURCHASE OF AN ELECTRIC TRUCK FOR INTRAOFFICE DELIVERY OF SUPPLIES. AS THE APPROPRIATION IS SPECIFICALLY AVAILABLE FOR "PURCHASE AND EXCHANGE OF MOTOR TRUCKS. " AND THE NEED FOR AN ELECTRIC TRUCK WAS DISCLOSED IN CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS ON THE APPROPRIATION BILL. IS AS FOLLOWS: UNDER THE AUTHORITY "* * * AND ALL OTHER NECESSARY MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS.

A-87949, AUGUST 6, 1937, 17 COMP. GEN. 106

APPROPRIATIONS - CONTINGENT EXPENSES - PRICE LIMITATION ON UNENUMERATED ITEMS THE WORD "ITEM" AS USED IN THE APPROPRIATION FOR CONTINGENT EXPENSES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1938, SPECIFYING PARTICULAR OBJECTS OF EXPENDITURE AND PROVIDING FOR ,ALL OTHER NECESSARY MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS (NOT EXCEEDING $50 FOR ANY ONE ITEM)," MEANS A SEPARATE EXPENSE, WHICH IN SOME INSTANCES MAY BE A SEPARATE ARTICLE, IF SUCH ARTICLE IS USUALLY PURCHASED INDIVIDUALLY OR IN LIMITED NUMBERS, EACH TO SUPPLY A PARTICULAR NEED, OR MAY MEAN EACH QUANTITY PURCHASE OF A CLASS OF ARTICLES, IF SUCH CLASS IS USUALLY PURCHASED BY THE DOZEN, GROSS, POUND, C., TO SUPPLY CONTEMPLATED FUTURE NEEDS, AND WITH RESPECT TO MATERIAL, SUPPLIES, AND SERVICES FURNISHED THE DEPARTMENT BY THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, THE TERM "ANY ONE ITEM" GENERALLY MAY BE CONSIDERED AS APPLYING TO EACH SEPARATE ENTRY OR CHARGE FOR THE MATERIAL, SUPPLIES, OR SERVICES BILLED FOR EACH PARTICULAR JOB. THE LIMITATION IN THE APPROPRIATION "CONTINGENT EXPENSES, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE," FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1938, ON THE PURCHASE PRICE OF UNENUMERATED MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS, IS NOT APPLICABLE TO THE PURCHASE OF PACKING BOXES AND CASES FOR SHIPMENT OF STATIONERY AND PRINTED FORMS TO THE FIELD, NOTWITHSTANDING ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC MENTION OF SUCH PURCHASES, AS THE USE OF BOXES AND CASES FOR SUCH PURPOSE IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE AUTHORITY FOR PURCHASE OF OTHER ITEMS ENUMERATED IN THE APPROPRIATION. THE LIMITATION IN THE APPROPRIATION "CONTINGENT EXPENSES, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE," FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1938, ON THE PURCHASE PRICE OF UNENUMERATED MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS, IS NOT APPLICABLE TO THE PURCHASE OF AN ELECTRIC TRUCK FOR INTRAOFFICE DELIVERY OF SUPPLIES, AS THE APPROPRIATION IS SPECIFICALLY AVAILABLE FOR "PURCHASE AND EXCHANGE OF MOTOR TRUCKS," AND THE NEED FOR AN ELECTRIC TRUCK WAS DISCLOSED IN CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS ON THE APPROPRIATION BILL.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, AUGUST 6, 1937:

YOUR LETTER OF JULY 27, 1937, IS AS FOLLOWS:

UNDER THE AUTHORITY "* * * AND ALL OTHER NECESSARY MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS," THE DEPARTMENT HAS HERETOFORE PURCHASED FROM THE APPROPRIATION "CONTINGENT EXPENSES, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE," ALL CLASSES AND VARIETIES OF ITEMS NOT SPECIFICALLY NAMED, SUCH AS "OILCLOTH," AND, ALSO, THOSE WHICH WERE NOT INCLUDED IN A CLASSIFICATION MENTIONED IN THE APPROPRIATION, SUCH AS "STATIONERY," WHICH WERE NECESSARY FOR ITS PROPER FUNCTIONING. THE ABOVE APPLIES EXCEPT WHERE THE CONTINGENT EXPENSE APPROPRIATION WAS NOT AVAILABLE BECAUSE OF A SPECIFIC APPROPRIATION FOR THE PURPOSE.

THE CONTINGENT EXPENSE APPROPRIATION FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1938 PROVIDES IN PART "* * * AND ALL OTHER NECESSARY MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS (NOT EXCEEDING $50.00 FOR ANY ONE ITEM) NOT INCLUDED IN THE FOREGOING * * *.'

YOUR DECISION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED AS TO THE MEANING OF THIS LIMITATION UPON THE MISCELLANEOUS PURCHASES WHICH ARE NOT SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED BY NAME (SUCH AS "OILCLOTH") AND, ALSO, IS NOT INCLUDED IN A CLASS (SUCH AS "STATIONERY"), WHICH IS SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED IN THE APPROPRIATION.

THE DEPARTMENT SPENDS ANNUALLY HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS FROM THIS APPROPRIATION FOR PACKING BOXES AND CASES IN WHICH SHIPMENT OF STATIONERY AND PRINTED FORMS ARE MADE TO ITS SEVERAL FIELD SERVICES. THESE BOXES AND CASES ARE NOT AUTHORIZED IN THE APPROPRIATION BY NAME, NOR DO THEY COME UNDER A CLASS OF PURCHASES AUTHORIZED BY CLASSIFICATION. IT SEEMS TO THE DEPARTMENT ENTIRELY UNREASONABLE THAT THE CONGRESS INTENDED TO PLACE SUCH A LIMIT UPON THE PURCHASE OF THESE AND OTHER NECESSARY ITEMS. THE PURCHASE OF THESE ITEMS IS BEING DEFERRED UNTIL YOUR DECISION IS OBTAINED, ALTHOUGH THE DEPARTMENT IS IN IMMEDIATE NEED OF THEM TO FORWARD STATIONERY AND PRINTED FORMS TO ITS FIELD OFFICES.

THE NAMING OF CERTAIN ITEMS, SUCH AS "OILCLOTH," AND CLASSES OF PURCHASE, SUCH AS "STATIONERY," WAS TO INDICATE THE VARIETIES OF ITEMS WHICH THE DEPARTMENT COULD PURCHASE FROM THIS APPROPRIATION, WHEREAS OTHER ITEMS SUCH AS NEWSPAPERS (NOT EXCEEDING $1,500.00) AND TWO MOTOR PROPELLED PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLES ARE SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED BECAUSE OF STATUTORY LIMITATION OR PROHIBITION AGAINST THE PURCHASE OF THESE TWO ITEMS UNLESS SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED IN THE APPROPRIATION. FROM THE VOUCHERS SETTLED BY YOUR OFFICE DURING THE PRECEDING YEARS YOU ARE, NO DOUBT, WELL ACQUAINTED WITH THE FACT THAT NUMEROUS ITEMS NECESSARY FOR THE WORK OF THE DEPARTMENT HAVE BEEN PURCHASED AT A COST FAR IN EXCESS OF THE $50.00 LIMITATION, THE ONLY AUTHORITY FOR THEIR PURCHASE BEING "* * * AND ALL OTHER NECESSARY MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS.' THE DEPARTMENT, SOME YEARS AGO, PURCHASED TWO ELECTRIC TRUCKS FOR USE IN DELIVERING STATIONERY SUPPLIES AND PRINTED FORMS FROM ITS STOCK ROOM TO THE BUREAUS IN THE COMMERCE BUILDING. THESE TRUCKS COST $495.00 EACH, AND IT APPEARS, AT THIS TIME, THAT ONE OF THEM MAY REQUIRE REPLACEMENT DURING THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR, WHICH, OF COURSE, CANNOT BE DONE IF THE CONGRESS INTENDED THAT NOT TO EXCEED $50.00 SHALL BE EXPENDED FOR ANY ONE ITEM NOT SPECIFICALLY NAMED IN THE APPROPRIATION.

IF YOU CONCLUDE THAT THE FIFTY DOLLAR LIMITATION APPLIES TO EACH ITEM NOT SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED IN THE APPROPRIATION BY NAME OR BY CLASSIFICATION, WILL YOU ALSO PLEASE STATE YOUR OPINION ON THE FOLLOWING:

WOULD ALL TYPES AND SIZES OF ELECTRIC FANS CONSTITUTE ONE ITEM?

IF NOT, WOULD CEILING FANS CONSTITUTE ONE ITEM, DESK FANS A SECOND ITEM, AND WALL FANS A THIRD ITEM?

IF SO, WOULD CEILING FANS TO OPERATE ON ALTERNATING CURRENT CONSTITUTE AN ITEM, WHEREAS CEILING FANS OPERATING ON DIRECT CURRENT CONSTITUTE ANOTHER ITEM, AND WOULD EACH SIZE OF THESE FANS OPERATING ON DIFFERENT ELECTRIC CURRENTS CONSTITUTE ANOTHER ITEM, SUCH AS 10-INCH FANS, 12-INCH FANS, 16- INCH FANS, ETC. ?

ALSO, WOULD EACH OF THESE CLASSES OF FANS, I.E., CEILING, DESK, WALL, THE DIFFERENT CURRENTS, A.C. AND D.C., AND EACH SIZE BE FURTHER DIVIDED INTO CLASSES OF OSCILLATING AND NON-OSCILLATING?

WOULD ALL ELECTRIC FAN PARTS USED IN REPAIRS TO ELECTRIC FANS CONSTITUTE A SEPARATE ITEM, OR WOULD EACH PART CONSTITUTE A SEPARATE ITEM?

THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE FURNISHES THIS DEPARTMENT WITH MATERIAL, SUPPLIES, AND SERVICES SUCH AS REPAIRS TO AND INSTALLATIONS OF ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT IN THE BUILDING, CONSTRUCTION OF BOXES AND CASES, CONSTRUCTION OF PARTITIONS AND PAINTING OF SAME, MISCELLANEOUS CARPENTRY WORK, MOVING JOBS INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF THE BUILDING. WOULD THE MATERIAL USED IN CONNECTION WITH THIS WORK, SUCH AS LUMBER, NAILS, SCREWS, PAINT, ETC., BE LIMITED TO $50.00 FOR EACH OF THESE ITEMS DURING THE FISCAL YEAR? WOULD THE TOTAL EXPENDITURE FOR LABOR IN CONNECTION WITH THESE JOBS BE LIMITED TO $50.00 DURING THE ENTIRE FISCAL YEAR?

AS THE VARIETY OF ITEMS PURCHASED UNDER THE GENERAL AUTHORITY IS GREAT AND, THEREFORE, THE DEPARTMENT ACTIVITY GREATLY INCONVENIENCED BECAUSE OF THIS NEW LANGUAGE IN THE CURRENT YEAR'S APPROPRIATION, YOUR PROMPT DETERMINATION OF THESE QUESTIONS WILL BE APPRECIATED.

THE CONTINGENT EXPENSE APPROPRIATION FOR YOUR DEPARTMENT, ACT OF JUNE 16, 1937, PUBLIC, NO. 153, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

CONTINGENT EXPENSES: FOR CONTINGENT AND MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES OF THE OFFICES AND BUREAUS OF THE DEPARTMENT, EXCEPT THE PATENT OFFICE, INCLUDING THOSE FOR WHICH APPROPRIATIONS FOR CONTINGENT AND MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES ARE SPECIFICALLY MADE, INCLUDING PROFESSIONAL AND SCIENTIFIC BOOKS, LAW BOOKS, BOOKS OF REFERENCE, PERIODICALS, BLANK BOOKS, PAMPHLETS, MAPS, NEWSPAPERS (NOT EXCEEDING $1,500); PURCHASE OF ATLASES OR MAPS; STATIONARY; FURNITURE AND REPAIRS TO SAME; CARPETS, MATTING, OILCLOTH, FILE CASES, TOWELS, ICE, BROOMS, SOAP, SPONGES; FUEL, LIGHTING, AND HEATING; PURCHASE AND EXCHANGE OF MOTOR TRUCKS AND BICYCLES; PURCHASE, INCLUDING EXCHANGE, OF TWO MOTOR-PROPELLED PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES FOR THE GENERAL USE OF THE DEPARTMENT; MAINTENANCE, REPAIR, AND OPERATION OF THREE MOTOR-PROPELLED PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLES (ONE FOR THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE AND TWO FOR THE GENERAL USE OF THE DEPARTMENT), AND MOTOR TRUCKS AND BICYCLES, TO BE USED ONLY FOR OFFICIAL PURPOSES; FREIGHT AND EXPRESS CHARGES; POSTAGE TO FOREIGN COUNTRIES; TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE SERVICE; TYPEWRITERS, ADDING MACHINES, AND OTHER LABOR-SAVING DEVICES, INCLUDING THEIR REPAIR AND EXCHANGE; FIRST-AID OUTFITS FOR USE IN THE BUILDINGS OCCUPIED BY EMPLOYEES OF THIS DEPARTMENT; AND ALL OTHER NECESSARY MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS (NOT EXCEEDING $50 FOR ANY ONE ITEM) NOT INCLUDED IN THE FOREGOING, $126.842, WHICH SUM SHALL CONSTITUTE THE APPROPRIATION FOR CONTINGENT EXPENSES OF THE DEPARTMENT, EXCEPT THE PATENT OFFICE, AND SHALL ALSO BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE OF NECESSARY SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT FOR FIELD SERVICES OF BUREAUS AND OFFICES OF THE DEPARTMENT FOR WHICH CONTINGENT AND MISCELLANEOUS APPROPRIATIONS ARE SPECIFICALLY MADE IN ORDER TO FACILITATE THE PURCHASE THROUGH THE CENTRAL PURCHASING OFFICE (DIVISION OF PURCHASES AND SALES), AS PROVIDED BY LAW: PROVIDED, THAT A STATEMENT OF EXPENDITURES FROM THIS APPROPRIATION SHALL BE REPORTED TO CONGRESS IN THE ANNUAL BUDGET.

THE LANGUAGE OF THE LIMITATION HERE IN QUESTION DIFFERS FROM THE LANGUAGE GENERALLY USED TO AUTHORIZE EXCEPTIONS TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF SECTION 3709, REVISED STATUTES, WHICH EXCEPTIONS ARE GENERALLY AUTHORIZED "WHEN THE AGGREGATE AMOUNT INVOLVED DOES NOT EXCEED" A SPECIFIED SUM. ACCORDINGLY, THE DECISIONS HERETOFORE RENDERED WITH RESPECT TO EXCEPTIONS FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF SECTION 3709, REVISED STATUTES, ARE NOT NECESSARILY FOR APPLICATION TO THE PRESENT LIMITATION.

THE WORD "ITEM" IS VARIOUSLY USED AND DEFINED--- THE DEFINITION DEPENDING LARGELY UPON THE CONNECTION IN WHICH IT IS USED. WEBSTER'S AND FUNK AND WAGNALL'S DICTIONARIES DEFINE IT AS MEANING, AMONG OTHER THINGS, A SEPARATE ARTICLE. IN THE CONNECTION IN WHICH IT IS USED IN THIS APPROPRIATION IT EVIDENTLY WAS INTENDED TO MEAN A SEPARATE EXPENSE, WHICH IN SOME INSTANCES MAY MEAN A SEPARATE ARTICLE AND IN OTHER INSTANCES A CLASS OF ARTICLES. FOR EXAMPLE, ARTICLES WHICH USUALLY ARE PURCHASED INDIVIDUALLY OR IN LIMITED NUMBERS, EACH TO SUPPLY A PARTICULAR NEED, SUCH AS ELECTRIC FANS, THE INDIVIDUAL ARTICLE MAY BE CONSIDERED AS ONE ITEM WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE STATUTE, EVEN THOUGH A NUMBER OF THEM MAY BE PURCHASED AT ONE TIME. BUT AS TO SUPPLIES OF A CLASS USUALLY PURCHASED BY THE DOZEN, GROSS, POUND, TON, ETC., TO SUPPLY CONTEMPLATED FUTURE NEEDS, THE LIMITATION MUST BE APPLIED TO EACH QUANTITY PURCHASE. WHICH OF THE ABOVE RULES WOULD APPLY TO ELECTRIC FAN PARTS PURCHASED FOR REPAIR PURPOSES WOULD DEPEND UPON THE NATURE OF THE NEED--- WHETHER EXISTING INDIVIDUAL OR CONTEMPLATED FUTURE--- AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES GIVING RISE TO THE PURCHASE.

IN THE MATTER OF PACKING BOXES AND CASES FOR THE SHIPMENT OF STATIONERY AND PRINTED FORMS TO THE FIELD, YOU ARE INFORMED THAT WHILE SUCH BOXES AND CASES ARE NOT SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED IN THE APPROPRIATION THEIR PROCUREMENT AND USE FOR THE PURPOSES INDICATED MAY BE CONSIDERED AS AUTHORIZED AS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE AUTHORITY FOR THE PURCHASE OF "STATIONERY" AND FOR "FREIGHT AND EXPRESS CHARGES--- " PARTICULARLY IN VIEW OF THE SPECIFIC AUTHORITY FOR THE USE OF THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE PURCHASE OF SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT FOR THE FIELD SERVICES. CONSEQUENTLY, THE PURCHASE OF PACKING BOXES AND CASES FOR THE PURPOSE STATED MAY BE REGARDED AS NOT SUBJECT TO THE $50 LIMITATION.

IN THE MATTER OF THE PURCHASE OF AN ELECTRIC TRUCK FOR THE PURPOSE STATED IN YOUR SUBMISSION, THE NEED FOR WHICH WAS FULLY DISCLOSED TO THE SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS AT THE TIME OF THE HEARINGS ON THE BILL AND, APPARENTLY, WITHOUT OBJECTION, SUCH PURCHASE MAY BE CONSIDERED AS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE PROVISION FOR THE PURCHASE OF MOTOR TRUCKS.

WITH RESPECT TO MATERIAL, SUPPLIES, AND SERVICES FURNISHED YOUR DEPARTMENT BY THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, THE TERM "ANY ONE ITEM" GENERALLY MAY BE CONSIDERED AS APPLYING TO EACH SEPARATE ENTRY OR CHARGE FOR THE MATERIAL, SUPPLIES, OR SERVICES BILLED FOR EACH PARTICULAR JOB.