A-96434, AUGUST 2, 1938, 18 COMP. GEN. 120

A-96434: Aug 2, 1938

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ARE NOT ITEMS OF EQUIPMENT FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH THE OPERATION OF THE CAR AS A PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLE. IS AS FOLLOWS: THE BUREAU OF BIOLOGICAL SURVEY IN CONNECTION WITH ITS LAW ENFORCEMENT WORK UNDER THE MIGRATORY BIRD TREATY ACT. ARE DEEMED ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT FOR EACH AUTOMOBILE EMPLOYED ON THIS WORK. THE SPECIAL EQUIPMENT ENUMERATED IS ESTIMATED TO COST APPROXIMATELY $100. SINCE THE AUTOMOBILES USED ARE NECESSARILY OF THE . THE TOTAL COST AFTER PURCHASE OF THE SPECIAL EQUIPMENT WILL IN MOST CASES EXCEED $750. WHEREIN IT WAS HELD THAT THE STATUTORY LIMITATION OF $750 ON THE PURCHASE OF ANY MOTOR-PROPELLED PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLE INCLUDED THE ORIGINAL COST OF THE CAR AND ALL EQUIPMENT OR ACCESSORIES INTENDED FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH THE OPERATION OF THE CAR.

A-96434, AUGUST 2, 1938, 18 COMP. GEN. 120

VEHICLES - PASSENGER-CARRYING - PURCHASE PRICE LIMITATION - NONINCLUSION OF COST OF LAW ENFORCEMENT EQUIPMENT RADIOS, SIRENS, AND SPOTLIGHTS FOR USE ON AUTOMOBILES IN THE POLICING OF BIRD RESERVES AND THE DETECTION AND APPREHENSION OF GAME LAW VIOLATORS BY THE BIOLOGICAL SURVEY IN CONNECTION WITH THE DUTIES IMPOSED BY THE VARIOUS MIGRATORY BIRD CONSERVATION ACTS, ARE NOT ITEMS OF EQUIPMENT FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH THE OPERATION OF THE CAR AS A PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLE, AND THEIR COST NEED NOT BE REGARDED AS A PART OF THE PURCHASE PRICE OF THE CARS ON WHICH INSTALLED IN APPLYING THE STATUTORY LIMITATION ON THE PURCHASE PRICE OF THE CARS. 17 COMP. GEN. 640, DISTINGUISHED.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, AUGUST 2, 1938:

YOUR LETTER OF JULY 9, 1938, IS AS FOLLOWS:

THE BUREAU OF BIOLOGICAL SURVEY IN CONNECTION WITH ITS LAW ENFORCEMENT WORK UNDER THE MIGRATORY BIRD TREATY ACT, THE MIGRATORY BIRD CONSERVATION ACT, THE MIGRATORY BIRD HUNTING STAMP ACT, AND THE LACEY ACT ASSIGNS PASSENGER-CARRYING AUTOMOBILES TO ITS LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS FOR THE PATROL OF THEIR RESPECTIVE DISTRICTS AND FOR THE DETECTION AND APPREHENSION OF GAME LAW VIOLATORS.

RECOGNIZED POLICING EQUIPMENT, INCLUDING A SHORT WAVE RADIO SET FOR EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION WITH STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES, WHICH COOPERATE CLOSELY WITH THE BUREAU IN THIS WORK; A SIREN FOR THE PURPOSE OF OBTAINING RIGHT OF WAY AND STOPPING AUTOMOBILES OF SUSPECTED VIOLATORS, AND A SPOTLIGHT FOR NIGHT SIGNALING AND IN ASCERTAINING THE IDENTITY OF NIGHT HUNTERS, ARE DEEMED ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT FOR EACH AUTOMOBILE EMPLOYED ON THIS WORK. THE SPECIAL EQUIPMENT ENUMERATED IS ESTIMATED TO COST APPROXIMATELY $100. SINCE THE AUTOMOBILES USED ARE NECESSARILY OF THE ,INTERMEDIATE WEIGHT" CLASS TO MEET SERVICE REQUIREMENTS, THE TOTAL COST AFTER PURCHASE OF THE SPECIAL EQUIPMENT WILL IN MOST CASES EXCEED $750.

THE DEPARTMENT, IN CONSIDERING WAYS AND MEANS OF PROCURING THE SPECIAL EQUIPMENT NEEDED, HAS TAKEN COGNIZANCE OF YOUR DECISION A 92040, DATED FEBRUARY 14, 1938 (17 COMP. GEN. 640), WHEREIN IT WAS HELD THAT THE STATUTORY LIMITATION OF $750 ON THE PURCHASE OF ANY MOTOR-PROPELLED PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLE INCLUDED THE ORIGINAL COST OF THE CAR AND ALL EQUIPMENT OR ACCESSORIES INTENDED FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH THE OPERATION OF THE CAR. THE DECISION APPEARS TO PLACE TOO BROAD A MEANING ON THE WORDS "COMPLETELY EQUIPPED FOR OPERATION" CONTAINED IN SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF MAY 14, 1935, 49 STAT. 243. ANOTHER INTERPRETATION OF THE STATUTE WOULD SEEM TO PERMIT OF THE VIEW THAT THE ENACTMENT WAS MADE FOR THE EXPRESS PURPOSE OF LIMITING THE AMOUNT TO BE PAID FOR VEHICLES COMPLETELY EQUIPPED SOLELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF CARRYING PASSENGERS; THUS, PRECLUDING THE PURCHASE OF DE LUXE EQUIPMENT AND ACCESSORIES DESIGNED TO ENHANCE COMFORT AND SAFETY OF THE PASSENGERS BEYOND THAT POINT USUALLY REQUIRED BY THE GENERAL PUBLIC.

THE SPECIAL EQUIPMENT UNDER CONSIDERATION IS NECESSARY FOR GENERAL USE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL IN CARRYING OUT THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES UNDER THE STATUTES MENTIONED. WHILE RADIOS, SIRENS, AND SPOTLIGHTS ARE NOT ACCESSORIES ESSENTIAL TO OPERATION OF THE VEHICLES, THEY ARE ACCESSORIES ESSENTIAL TO LAW ENFORCEMENT WORK, AND IT FOLLOWS THAT THEIR USE BY LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL MUST BE IN CONNECTION WITH OPERATION OF AUTOMOBILES. THE FACT THAT MANY STATES RESTRICT THE USE OF SIRENS AND SPOTLIGHTS OF THE LAW ENFORCEMENT TYPE TO HOLDERS OF PERMITS IS FURTHER INDICATION THAT THIS EQUIPMENT IS NOT THAT USUALLY REQUIRED BY THE GENERAL PUBLIC, WHICH PLACES IT IN A CATEGORY SEPARATE AND DISTINCT FROM ACCESSORIES WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT.

IT IS SUBMITTED THAT RADIOS, SIRENS, AND SPOTLIGHTS SUCH AS THOSE DEEMED ESSENTIAL FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT WORK ARE NOT ACCESSORIES ESSENTIAL TO OPERATION OF PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES AS SUCH, EITHER FROM A COMFORT, SAFETY, OR OTHER STANDPOINT, BUT THAT THEY FUNCTION ENTIRELY AS ACCOUTERMENTS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT, AND THAT THEIR COSTS ARE NOT THEREFORE PROPERLY FOR INCLUSION IN THE LIMITATION FIXED BY THE STATUTE.

IT WILL BE APPRECIATED IF YOU WILL RENDER AN OPINION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT RADIOS, SIRENS, AND SPOTLIGHTS FOR EXCLUSIVE USE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ENGAGED IN LAW ENFORCEMENT WORK MAY BE PURCHASED FOR USE WITH MOTOR-PROPELLED PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES AND THE COST THEREOF EXCLUDED FROM CONSIDERATION UNDER SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF MAY 14, 1937, 50 STAT. 163, AND SUBSEQUENT ENACTMENTS THEREOF.

THE ACT OF JUNE 16, 1938, PUBLIC, NO. 644, 52 STAT. 736, AUTHORIZES NOT TO EXCEED $54,185 OF THE TOTAL AMOUNT PROVIDED FOR THE BIOLOGICAL SURVEY, UNDER WHICH THE ACTS CITED IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER ARE ADMINISTERED, TO BE EXPENDED "FOR THE PURCHASE OF MOTOR PROPELLED PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES NECESSARY IN THE CONDUCT OF FIELD WORK OUTSIDE OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.'

THE NATURE OF THE WORK REQUIRED TO BE PERFORMED, VIZ, THE CONSERVATION OF BIRD LIFE, NECESSARILY INCLUDES THE POLICING OF BIRD RESERVES AND THE DETECTION AND APPREHENSION OF GAME LAW VIOLATORS. RADIOS, SIRENS, AND SPOTLIGHTS ARE RECOGNIZED EQUIPMENT FOR USE ON AUTOMOBILES FOR SUCH PURPOSE, BUT ARE NOT ITEMS OF EQUIPMENT FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH THE OPERATION OF THE CAR AS A PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLE AS THEY ADD NOTHING TO THE EASE, CONVENIENCE, SAFETY, OR EFFICIENCY OF ITS OPERATION AND NEITHER DO THEY ADD TO THE APPEARANCE OF THE CAR OR TO ITS PASSENGER- CARRYING QUALITIES. ACCORDINGLY, THE COST OF SUCH EQUIPMENT, WHEN NEEDED AND PURCHASED FOR THE EXCLUSIVE USE OF OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES WHILE ENGAGED IN LAW-ENFORCEMENT WORK UNDER THE STATUTES MENTIONED IN YOUR SUBMISSION, NEED NOT BE REGARDED AS A PART OF THE PURCHASE PRICE OF THE CARS ON WHICH THE ARTICLES MAY BE INSTALLED IN APPLYING THE STATUTORY LIMITATION ON THE PURCHASE PRICE OF THE CARS.

THE FACTS IN THIS CASE CLEARLY DISTINGUISH IT FROM THE CASE CONSIDERED IN THE DECISION OF FEBRUARY 14, 1938, 17 COMP. GEN. 640.