B-126437, MAR. 1, 1956

B-126437: Mar 1, 1956

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- WAS TO FURNISH ONLY THE LOOSE-FITTING TYPES OF GARMENTS. WERE REQUIRED TO BE FURNISHED BY THE EMPLOYEES AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. WERE LAUNDERED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE. FURTHER PROVIDES: "* * * THE HEAD OF ANY AGENCY TO WHICH ANY SUCH APPROPRIATION IS MADE SHALL. WHERE THE FURNISHING OF A UNIFORM OR THE PAYMENT OF A UNIFORM ALLOWANCE IS AUTHORIZED UNDER ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW OR REGULATION EXISTING ON THE DATE OF ENACTMENT OF THIS ACT. WHERE A UNIFORM IS FURNISHED OR ALLOWANCE PAID UNDER ANY SUCH LAW OR REGULATION NO UNIFORM SHALL BE FURNISHED OR ALLOWANCE PAID UNDER THIS SECTION.'. WHILE CERTAIN EMPLOYEES OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION ARE STILL BEING FURNISHED UNIFORMS UNDER PUBLIC LAW 473.

B-126437, MAR. 1, 1956

TO THE ADMINISTRATOR, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION:

ON DECEMBER 23, 1955, THE ACTING ADMINISTRATOR REQUESTED OUR DECISION "WHETHER THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS AFFAIRS MAY PRESCRIBE BY REGULATION THAT WEARING APPAREL, I.E., UNIFORMS, PRESCRIBED FOR CERTAIN VETERANS ADMINISTRATION EMPLOYEES IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES" MAY BE LAUNDERED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE PURSUANT TO SECTION 1 OF PUBLIC LAW 473, 80TH CONGRESS, APPROVED APRIL 3, 1948, 62 STAT. 160, 38 U.S.C. 11J. THE UNIFORMS PROPOSED TO BE COVERED BY SUCH REGULATION INCLUDE THOSE FURNISHED OR FOR WHICH A UNIFORM ALLOWANCE FOR DEFRAYING THE COST OF ACQUISITION THEREOF HAS BEEN PAID UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 402 OF THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES UNIFORM ALLOWANCE ACT, APPROVED SEPTEMBER 1, 1954, 68 STAT. 1114, AS AMENDED, 5 U.S.C. 2131, AND THOSE FURNISHED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 1 OF PUBLIC LAW 473, 80TH CONGRESS.

SECTION 1 OF PUBLIC LAW 473 PROVIDES, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"THAT APPROPRIATIONS HEREAFTER MADE FOR THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION SHALL BE AVAILABLE, SUBJECT TO SUCH LIMITATIONS AS THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS MAY PRESCRIBE BY REGULATIONS, (1) FOR FURNISHING AND LAUNDERING SUCH WEARING APPAREL AS MAY BE PRESCRIBED FOR EMPLOYEES IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES * * *,"

THE PROVISION JUST QUOTED RENDERS SUBSEQUENT VETERANS ADMINISTRATION APPROPRIATIONS AVAILABLE FOR FURNISHING AND LAUNDERING ALL WEARING APPAREL (UNIFORMS) PRESCRIBED FOR VETERANS ADMINISTRATION EMPLOYEES IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES, SUBJECT ONLY TO SUCH LIMITATIONS AS MAY BE PRESCRIBED BY THE ADMINISTRATOR. THE ACTING ADMINISTRATOR'S LETTER INDICATES THAT BECAUSE OF ECONOMY AND PRACTICABILITY THE PRACTICE OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION UNDER THAT ACT--- PRIOR TO THE PASSAGE OF THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES UNIFORM ALLOWANCE ACT--- WAS TO FURNISH ONLY THE LOOSE-FITTING TYPES OF GARMENTS, SUCH AS LABORATORY SMOCKS AND COATS, WHITE DUCK TROUSERS, ETC., WHILE THE TAILORED TYPES OF UNIFORMS, SUCH AS THOSE WORN BY NURSES, DIETITIANS, ETC., WERE REQUIRED TO BE FURNISHED BY THE EMPLOYEES AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. BOTH CATEGORIES, HOWEVER, WERE LAUNDERED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE.

SECTION 402 OF THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES UNIFORM ALLOWANCES ACT AUTHORIZES ANNUAL APPROPRIATIONS, LIMITED AS PROVIDED THEREIN, TO EACH AGENCY OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OR OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND FURTHER PROVIDES:

"* * * THE HEAD OF ANY AGENCY TO WHICH ANY SUCH APPROPRIATION IS MADE SHALL, OUT OF FUNDS MADE AVAILABLE BY SUCH APPROPRIATION, (1) FURNISH TO EACH SUCH EMPLOYEE SUCH UNIFORM AT A COST NOT TO EXCEED $100 PER ANNUM, OR (2) TO PAY TO EACH SUCH EMPLOYEE AN ALLOWANCE FOR DEFRAYING THE EXPENSES OF ACQUISITION OF SUCH UNIFORM AT SUCH TIMES AND IN SUCH AMOUNTS, NOT TO EXCEED $100 PER ANNUM, AS MAY BE PRESCRIBED IN ACCORDANCE WITH RULES AND REGULATIONS PROMULGATED PURSUANT TO SECTION 404. WHERE THE FURNISHING OF A UNIFORM OR THE PAYMENT OF A UNIFORM ALLOWANCE IS AUTHORIZED UNDER ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW OR REGULATION EXISTING ON THE DATE OF ENACTMENT OF THIS ACT, THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY MAY IN HIS DISCRETION CONTINUE THE FURNISHING OF SUCH UNIFORM OR THE PAYMENT OF SUCH ALLOWANCE UNDER SUCH LAW OR REGULATION, BUT WHERE A UNIFORM IS FURNISHED OR ALLOWANCE PAID UNDER ANY SUCH LAW OR REGULATION NO UNIFORM SHALL BE FURNISHED OR ALLOWANCE PAID UNDER THIS SECTION.'

THE ACTING ADMINISTRATOR'S LETTER INDICATES THAT, WHILE CERTAIN EMPLOYEES OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION ARE STILL BEING FURNISHED UNIFORMS UNDER PUBLIC LAW 473, CERTAIN OTHER EMPLOYEES ARE BEING FURNISHED UNIFORMS OR ARE RECEIVING ALLOWANCES THEREFOR UNDER THIS LATTER ACT.

THE APPROPRIATIONS MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES UNIFORM ALLOWANCE ACT ARE AVAILABLE ONLY FOR THE PURPOSES EXPRESSED IN THAT ACT, NAMELY, THE FURNISHING OF A UNIFORM OR THE PAYMENT OF AN ALLOWANCE THEREFOR, AND ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE LAUNDERING OF SUCH UNIFORMS. HOWEVER, THE LAST SENTENCE OF SECTION 402, AS QUOTED ABOVE, CLEARLY DOES NOT REPEAL THE AUTHORITY GRANTED BY PUBLIC LAW 473. WHILE SECTION 402 REQUIRES AN ELECTION BY THE AGENCY HEAD BETWEEN THAT SECTION AND ANY PRIOR STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION FOR FURNISHING UNIFORMS OR PAYING UNIFORM ALLOWANCES, THAT ELECTION REQUIREMENT STILL PERMITS CONCURRENT USE OF BOTH AUTHORIZATIONS FOR DIFFERENT EMPLOYEES IN THE SAME AGENCY. MOREOVER, EVEN WHEN SECTION 402 IS ELECTED FOR CERTAIN EMPLOYEES, THUS SUPERSEDING THE PRIOR AUTHORIZATION SO FAR AS SUCH EMPLOYEES ARE CONCERNED, SUCH ELECTION APPLIES ONLY TO THE AUTHORIZATION IN THE PRIOR STATUTE FOR FURNISHING UNIFORMS OR PAYING ALLOWANCES AND DOES NOT AFFECT ANY OTHER AUTHORIZATION CONTAINED THEREIN. SINCE PUBLIC LAW 473 MAKES VETERANS ADMINISTRATION APPROPRIATIONS AVAILABLE FOR FURNISHING AND LAUNDERING ANY AND ALL WEARING APPAREL PRESCRIBED FOR VETERANS ADMINISTRATION EMPLOYEES IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES, SUBJECT ONLY TO SUCH LIMITATIONS AS THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS AFFAIRS MAY PRESCRIBE, AND AS THERE IS NOTHING IN THAT ACT INDICATING THAT THE AUTHORITY TO LAUNDER IS RESTRICTED TO SUCH UNIFORMS AS MAY BE FURNISHED THEREUNDER, THE DETERMINATION BY THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY TO FURNISH CERTAIN UNIFORMS OR PAY CERTAIN ALLOWANCES UNDER SECTION 402 WOULD NOT IN ANY WAY RESTRICT THE BROAD PRIOR AUTHORITY TO LAUNDER PRESCRIBED UNIFORMS.

ACCORDINGLY, WE SEE NO OBJECTION TO YOUR ISSUING REGULATIONS PROVIDING FOR THE LAUNDERING OF UNIFORMS FURNISHED UNDER EITHER OF THE CITED ACTS, AS WELL AS THOSE UNIFORMS FOR WHICH AN ALLOWANCE HAS BEEN PAID PURSUANT TO SECTION 402 OF THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES UNIFORM ALLOWANCE ACT.