A-97981, SEPTEMBER 23, 1938, 18 COMP. GEN. 255

A-97981: Sep 23, 1938

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IS CHARGEABLE TO THE SHORT WEIGHT AND MEASURE INVESTIGATION PURCHASE LIMITATIONS OF THE ACT. IF THE PURCHASE IS FOR QUALITY TESTING PURPOSES THE COST OF SUCH PURCHASES MAY BE CHARGED TO THE AMOUNT APPROPRIATED BY THE ACT FOR TESTING AND INSPECTION OF GASOLINE AND OTHER PETROLEUM PRODUCTS. IS AS FOLLOWS: THE 1939 DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION ACT APPROVED APRIL 4. 500 IS AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE OF SAMPLES OF GASOLINE AND OTHER PETROLEUM PRODUCTS. IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT AT LEAST FIVE GALLONS OF GASOLINE WOULD BE REQUIRED BY THE BUREAU FOR USE IN MAKING EACH OF THESE TESTS. YOU WILL NOTE THAT CONGRESS HAS APPROPRIATED NOT TO EXCEED $1. CONSEQUENTLY THERE IS FOR CONSIDERATION THE GENERAL RULE THAT "AN APPROPRIATION FOR A PARTICULAR OBJECT CONFERS AUTHORITY TO INCUR EXPENDITURES WHICH ARE INCIDENT TO THAT OBJECT.

A-97981, SEPTEMBER 23, 1938, 18 COMP. GEN. 255

APPROPRIATIONS - DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA - GASOLINE, ETC., PURCHASES FOR SHORT WEIGHT MEASURES AND QUALITY TESTING PURPOSES THE COST OF GASOLINE AND PETROLEUM PRODUCTS PURCHASED BY THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION ACT APPROVED APRIL 4, 1938, 52 STAT. 158, FOR THE PURPOSE OF TESTING THE WEIGHTS AND MEASURES BY OR UNDER WHICH SOLD, IS CHARGEABLE TO THE SHORT WEIGHT AND MEASURE INVESTIGATION PURCHASE LIMITATIONS OF THE ACT, BUT IF THE PURCHASE IS FOR QUALITY TESTING PURPOSES THE COST OF SUCH PURCHASES MAY BE CHARGED TO THE AMOUNT APPROPRIATED BY THE ACT FOR TESTING AND INSPECTION OF GASOLINE AND OTHER PETROLEUM PRODUCTS.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE PRESIDENT, BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, SEPTEMBER 23, 1938:

YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 16, 1938, IS AS FOLLOWS:

THE 1939 DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION ACT APPROVED APRIL 4, 1938, PROVIDES IN PART:

"FOR CONTINGENT EXPENSES, AND MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS TO MARKETS, INCLUDING NOT TO EXCEED $1,000 FOR PURCHASE OF COMMODITIES AND FOR PERSONAL SERVICES IN CONNECTION WITH INVESTIGATION AND DETECTION OF SALES OF SHORT WEIGHT AND MEASURE, MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR OF MOTOR VEHICLES, AND NOT EXCEEDING $750 FOR THE PURCHASE, INCLUDING EXCHANGE, OF ONE MOTOR VEHICLE EQUIPPED FOR MAKING INVESTIGATIONS OF SALES OF GASOLINE AND OIL BY SHORT MEASURE, $28,675, OF WHICH AMOUNT $7,500 SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR TESTING AND INSPECTION OF GASOLINE AND OTHER PETROLEUM PRODUCTS.'

THE SUPERINTENDENT, WEIGHTS, MEASURES, AND MARKETS, D.C., HAS REQUESTED TO BE ADVISED AS TO WHETHER THE APPROPRIATION LIMITATION OF $7,500 IS AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE OF SAMPLES OF GASOLINE AND OTHER PETROLEUM PRODUCTS, FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING TESTS AS TO QUANTITY AND QUALITY OF THEIR INGREDIENTS BY THE BUREAU OF STANDARDS. IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT AT LEAST FIVE GALLONS OF GASOLINE WOULD BE REQUIRED BY THE BUREAU FOR USE IN MAKING EACH OF THESE TESTS.

YOU WILL NOTE THAT CONGRESS HAS APPROPRIATED NOT TO EXCEED $1,000 FOR THE PURCHASE OF COMMODITIES IN CONNECTION WITH THE INVESTIGATION AND DETECTION OF SALES, SHORT WEIGHT, AND MEASURES, BUT THAT AS TO THE LIMITATION OF $7,500, CONGRESS DOES NOT EXPRESSLY AUTHORIZE THE PURCHASE OF GASOLINE. CONSEQUENTLY THERE IS FOR CONSIDERATION THE GENERAL RULE THAT "AN APPROPRIATION FOR A PARTICULAR OBJECT CONFERS AUTHORITY TO INCUR EXPENDITURES WHICH ARE INCIDENT TO THAT OBJECT, SUBJECT TO THE QUALIFICATION THAT THE PARTICULAR ITEMS OF EXPENSE ARE NOT SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED FOR BY SOME OTHER APPROPRIATION.' (7 COMP. GEN. 400; 17 COMP. GEN. 974).

THE ITEM OF $7,500 WAS CONSIDERED BY THE SUB-COMMITTEE OF THE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, IN CONNECTION WITH THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION BILL FOR 1939 (PP. 108-110) WHEREIN THE QUESTION OF DRAFTING OF A BILL FOR THE PREVENTION OF FRAUDULENT PRACTICES WAS CONSIDERED, AND AN ESTIMATE OF THE COST OF A LABORATORY FOR TESTING PETROLEUM PRODUCTS, AS PREPARED BY THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF STANDARDS, WAS SUBMITTED. ALSO, IN THE COMMITTEE REPORT ON THIS ITEM IT WAS STATED:

"* * * TESTIMONY WAS ADDUCED BEFORE THE COMMITTEE TO THE EFFECT THAT PROVISION FOR TESTING GASOLINE AND OTHER PETROLEUM PRODUCTS WOULD ENABLE THE SUPERINTENDENT BETTER TO CONTROL THE SALE OF THESE PRODUCTS. AT THE PRESENT TIME THERE IS NO WAY TO DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT INFERIOR PRODUCTS ARE BEING SOLD UNDER MISREPRESENTATION AS TO QUALITY. THE COMMITTEE THEREFORE RECOMMENDS THE APPROPRIATION OF $7,500 FOR THIS PURPOSE. UNDER EXISTING LAW THESE TESTS WILL BE MADE BY THE BUREAU OF STANDARDS.'

FROM THE FOREGOING IT MIGHT BE CONCLUDED THAT CONGRESS INTENDED THIS APPROPRIATION TO BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE OF SAMPLES OF GASOLINE AND OTHER PETROLEUM PRODUCTS FOR TESTS OF QUALITY BY THE BUREAU OF STANDARDS. HOWEVER, THE LANGUAGE EMPLOYED IN THE NEW APPROPRIATION ITEM OF $7,500 DOES NOT SPECIFICALLY PROVIDE FOR THE PURCHASE OF SUCH PRODUCTS, AS IS THE CASE IN THE PURCHASE OF COMMODITIES UNDER THE ANNUALLY RECURRING ITEM OF $1,000, AND WHICH WOULD ADMIT OF THE PURCHASE OF PETROLEUM PRODUCTS FOR TESTING PURPOSES.

IN YOUR DECISION TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, NOVEMBER 21, 1936 (16 COMP. GEN. 512), QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS, YOU HELD:

"OPINIONS OF INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, EXPRESSED IN DEBATE, ARE NOT FOR CONSIDERATION IN CONSTRUING A STATUTE, NOR IS IT PERMISSIBLE TO REFER TO COMMITTEE REPORTS, ETC., PRECEDING THE ENACTMENT OF A STATUTE TO CHANGE THE PLAIN IMPLICATION OF ITS WORDS OR TO CONSTRUE A STATUTE CONTRARY TO ITS PLAIN TERMS.'

SEE ALSO IN THIS CONNECTION YOUR DECISION OF MARCH 11, 1938 (A 92723).

THE COMMISSIONERS WOULD APPRECIATE EARLY ADVICE FROM YOU AS TO WHETHER THE APPROPRIATION OF $7,500 IS AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE OF SAMPLES OF GASOLINE AND OTHER PETROLEUM PRODUCTS FOR QUALITY TESTS TO BE MADE BY THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF STANDARDS.

THE $1,000 IN THE APPROPRIATION, 52 STAT. 158, IS SPECIFICALLY FOR TESTING WEIGHTS AND MEASURES WHILE THE $7,500 IS SPECIFICALLY FOR TESTING AND INSPECTION OF GASOLINE AND OTHER PETROLEUM PRODUCTS. THAT IS, IF THE GASOLINE AND PETROLEUM PRODUCTS ARE TO BE PURCHASED FOR THE PURPOSE OF TESTING THE WEIGHTS AND MEASURES BY OR UNDER WHICH SOLD THE COST IS CHARGEABLE TO THE $1,000 LIMITATION, BUT IF THE PURPOSE IS TO TEST THE QUALITY OF THE GASOLINE, THE $7,500 LIMITATION IS AVAILABLE FOR THAT PURPOSE INCLUDING THE PURCHASE OF SUCH QUANTITY OF GASOLINE AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO MAKE THE QUALITY TESTS.