B-143891, OCTOBER 7, 1960, 40 COMP. GEN. 205

B-143891: Oct 7, 1960

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IS A LIMITATION ON THE COST OF THE VEHICLE COMPLETELY EQUIPPED FOR OPERATION WITHOUT REGARD TO WHETHER THE VEHICLE IS TO BE USED FOR CARRYING PASSENGERS OR EQUIPMENT. SO THAT AIR-CONDITIONING EQUIPMENT FOR STATION WAGONS TO BE USED FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF LABORATORY SAMPLES AND SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS IN HIGH TEMPERATURE AND HIGH HUMIDITY AREAS IS EQUIPMENT NECESSARY TO MAKE THE VEHICLE PERFORM THE FUNCTION FOR WHICH PURCHASED AND TO BE COMPLETELY EQUIPPED FOR OPERATION. YOU ASK WHETHER THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE PROPERLY MAY PURCHASE AND INSTALL AIR-CONDITIONING EQUIPMENT ON TWO STATION WAGONS EVEN THOUGH THE COST OF THE EQUIPMENT TOGETHER WITH THE ORIGINAL COST OF THE STATION WAGONS WILL EXCEED THE MAXIMUM OF $1.

B-143891, OCTOBER 7, 1960, 40 COMP. GEN. 205

APPROPRIATIONS - LIMITATIONS - PURCHASE OF STATION WAGONS - AIR CONDITIONING EQUIPMENT THE MAXIMUM PRICE LIMITATION ON THE PURCHASE OF STATION WAGONS BY THE GOVERNMENT IN 5 U.S.C. 78 (C) (1) AND IN SECTION 201 OF THE GENERAL GOVERNMENT MATTERS APPROPRIATION ACT, 1960, 73 STAT. 165, IS A LIMITATION ON THE COST OF THE VEHICLE COMPLETELY EQUIPPED FOR OPERATION WITHOUT REGARD TO WHETHER THE VEHICLE IS TO BE USED FOR CARRYING PASSENGERS OR EQUIPMENT, SO THAT AIR-CONDITIONING EQUIPMENT FOR STATION WAGONS TO BE USED FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF LABORATORY SAMPLES AND SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS IN HIGH TEMPERATURE AND HIGH HUMIDITY AREAS IS EQUIPMENT NECESSARY TO MAKE THE VEHICLE PERFORM THE FUNCTION FOR WHICH PURCHASED AND TO BE COMPLETELY EQUIPPED FOR OPERATION; THEREFORE, SINCE THE COST OF THE AIR-CONDITIONING EQUIPMENT, TOGETHER WITH THE ORIGINAL COST OF THE STATION WAGON WOULD EXCEED THE LIMITATION, THE AIR CONDITIONING EQUIPMENT MAY NOT BE INSTALLED IN THE VEHICLES.

TO THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE, OCTOBER 7, 1960:

IN YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 2, 1960, YOU ASK WHETHER THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE PROPERLY MAY PURCHASE AND INSTALL AIR-CONDITIONING EQUIPMENT ON TWO STATION WAGONS EVEN THOUGH THE COST OF THE EQUIPMENT TOGETHER WITH THE ORIGINAL COST OF THE STATION WAGONS WILL EXCEED THE MAXIMUM OF $1,950, PRESCRIBED BY 5 U.S.C. 78 (C) (1) AND SECTION 201 OF GENERAL GOVERNMENT MATTERS APPROPRIATION ACT, 1960, 73 STAT. 165.

IT IS EXPLAINED THAT THE STATION WAGONS WERE PURCHASED FOR USE BY THE DIVISION OF RADIOLOGICAL HEALTH OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE IN CONDUCTING TESTS IN THE LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, AND MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA, AREAS. THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE REQUESTED THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION TO PURCHASE AIR-CONDITIONED VEHICLES. HOWEVER, AFTER THE GENERAL SERVICE ADMINISTRATION ADVISED THAT BIDS COULD NOT BE OBTAINED FOR AIR-CONDITIONED STATION WAGONS WITHIN THE STATUTORY PRICE LIMITATION, THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION WAS INSTRUCTED BY THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE TO PURCHASE THE VEHICLES WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING. THE VEHICLES WILL BE USED PRIMARILY FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF PERISHABLE LABORATORY SAMPLES AND SENSITIVE SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS IN THESE AREAS. THE LABORATORY SAMPLES WOULD INCLUDE SUCH ITEMS AS BIOLOGICAL SAMPLES, AIR SAMPLES, MILK, WATER, ETC., AND WOULD BE TRANSPORTED FROM VARIOUS COLLECTION POINTS TO PROCESSING LABORATORIES. THE SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS WOULD INCLUDE RADIOLOGICAL AND COMPUTING EQUIPMENT, AND WOULD BE TRANSPORTED FROM ONE LABORATORY TO ANOTHER, E.G., LAS VEGAS TO MERCURY, NEVADA, A DISTANCE OF 70 MILES.

IT IS FURTHER EXPLAINED THAT IN CONDUCTING TESTS IN THE LAS VEGAS AND MONTGOMERY AREAS, THE DIVISION OF RADIOLOGICAL HEALTH IS CONFRONTED WITH THE FACT THAT IN THE LAS VEGAS AREA TEMPERATURES DURING THE PERIOD FROM APRIL THROUGH SEPTEMBER REACH HIGH RANGING FROM 90 DEGREES TO 140 DEGREES, AND IN THE MONTGOMERY AREA, THE HUMIDITY BECOMES EXTREMELY HIGH DURING THESE MONTHS. BECAUSE OF THE PERISHABLE NATURE OF THE LABORATORY SAMPLES AND THE SENSITIVITY OF THE SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS TO BE USED IN CONDUCTING THE TESTS, IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT BOTH THE SAMPLES AND THE INSTRUMENTS BE PROTECTED FROM THE DAMAGING EFFECTS OF HEAT AND HIGH HUMIDITY, NOT ONLY IN THE LABORATORIES, BUT ALSO WHILE THEY ARE IN TRANSIT. THE VALIDITY OF THE RESULTS OF THE TESTS WOULD PROBABLY BE IMPAIRED IF THE SAMPLES AND EQUIPMENT WERE UNPROTECTED, WHILE IN TRANSIT, FROM THE WEATHER CONDITIONS PREVALENT IN THE LAS VEGAS AND MONTGOMERY AREAS.

TO PROTECT THE SAMPLES AND INSTRUMENTS WHILE BEING TRANSPORTED IN THE STATION WAGON, IT IS STATED THAT THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE CONSIDERED THE USE OF EITHER REGULAR ICE OR DRY ICE. HOWEVER, THIS WAS REJECTED BY THE SCIENTISTS AND TECHNICAL PERSONNEL BECAUSE BOTH COOL TEMPERATURES AND REDUCED HUMIDITY ARE NEEDED TO AFFORD THE PROPER PROTECTION TO THE SAMPLES AND INSTRUMENTS, AND THESE CONDITIONS CANNOT BE OBTAINED WITH THE USE OF ICE. CONSEQUENTLY, REQUEST HAS BEEN MADE TO AIR-CONDITION THE TWO STATION WAGONS IN ORDER THAT THE TESTS MAY BE CONDUCTED UNDER CONDITIONS WHICH WILL NOT IMPAIR THEIR VALIDITY.

IT IS STATED THAT YOUR DOUBT IN THE MATTER ARISES BY REASON OF DECISIONS OF OUR OFFICE CONCERNING THE LIMITATION, PARTICULARLY THE DECISION APPEARING IN 36 COMP. GEN. 725. THAT DECISION CONCERNED THE EXTRA COST OF SPECIAL EQUIPMENT SUCH AS NYLON TIRES, EIGHT-CYLINDER ENGINES, HEAVY DUTY BATTERIES, AND HEAVY DUTY SPRINGS AND SHOCKS, INSTALLED ON VEHICLES USED IN LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES. IT WAS HELD THEREIN THAT WHILE SUCH ITEMS MIGHT ONLY INCIDENTALLY AFFECT THE COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE OF THE PASSENGERS, THEY WERE ESSENTIAL TO THE "EFFICIENT OPERATION OF THE VEHICLE" AND CONSEQUENTLY THE COST OF SUCH ITEMS MUST BE CHARGED AGAINST THE STATUTORY LIMITATION.

THE PRESCRIBED LIMITATION IS ON THE COST OF A PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLE COMPLETELY EQUIPPED FOR OPERATION. THE STATUTE MAKES NO MENTION OF THE USE TO BE MADE OF THE VEHICLE, WHETHER TO CARRY PASSENGERS OR TO CARRY MATERIALS. THE STATION WAGONS HERE INVOLVED ARE NOT NOW FULLY EQUIPPED TO PERFORM THE FUNCTION FOR WHICH THEY WERE PURCHASED AND IN ORDER FOR THEM TO BE "COMPLETELY EQUIPPED FOR OPERATION" IT IS NECESSARY TO INSTALL AIR- CONDITIONING EQUIPMENT. FURTHERMORE, SUCH EQUIPMENT WOULD BE PERMANENTLY INSTALLED, WOULD BECOME A PART OF THE VEHICLES, WOULD ENHANCE THEIR VALUE AND WOULD AFFECT THE COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE OF THE PASSENGERS. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES IT IS OUR CONCLUSION THAT THE AIR-CONDITIONING EQUIPMENT MAY NOT BE INSTALLED ON THE STATION WAGONS SINCE ITS COST, TOGETHER WITH THE ORIGINAL COST OF THE VEHICLES, WILL BE MORE THAN $1,950.