B-156366, APR. 7, 1965

B-156366: Apr 7, 1965

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THE FACTS AS DISCLOSED BY YOUR LETTER ARE AS FOLLOWS: ON AUGUST 15. OPERATED BY A BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS (BPR) EMPLOYEE WAS STRUCK BY A CATERPILLAR TRACTOR OPERATED BY A SUBCONTRACTOR. YOU STATE THAT SINCE IT WAS A GSA VEHICLE THE BPR PROJECT ENGINEER WAS ACTUALLY WITHOUT AUTHORITY TO AUTHORIZE THE REPAIRS AND SHOULD HAVE CONTACTED GSA OFFICIALS AS PRESCRIBED IN THE PERTINENT REGULATIONS. THE CLAIMANT (MUSGRAVE) WAS NOT AWARE OF SUCH REQUIREMENTS. DESPITE REPEATED EFFORTS BY THE CLAIMANT AND BPR TO SECURE PAYMENT OF THE BILL THE SUBCONTRACTOR HAS REFUSED TO PAY AND IS NOW APPARENTLY OUT OF BUSINESS. DEMANDS HAVE ALSO BEEN MADE ON THE PRIME CONTRACTOR. THE MATTER DID NOT COME TO THE ATTENTION OF BPR OFFICIALS UNTIL AFTER FINAL PAYMENT WAS MADE TO THE PRIME CONTRACTOR.

B-156366, APR. 7, 1965

TO MR. HENRY C. EDDY, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS:

YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 17, 1965 (REFERENCE 09-00.51), WITH ENCLOSURES, REQUESTS A DECISION AS TO WHETHER YOU MAY PROPERLY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT A VOUCHER COVERING A CLAIM OF THE MUSGRAVE CHEVROLET, INC., FOR $133.50 FOR REPAIRS TO A GOVERNMENT MOTOR VEHICLE.

THE FACTS AS DISCLOSED BY YOUR LETTER ARE AS FOLLOWS:

ON AUGUST 15, 1962, A GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (GSA) MOTOR POOL VEHICLE NO. G4-12777, STUDEBAKER LARK STATION WAGON, OPERATED BY A BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS (BPR) EMPLOYEE WAS STRUCK BY A CATERPILLAR TRACTOR OPERATED BY A SUBCONTRACTOR, QUARRYING AND CONSTRUCTING, INC., ON A BPR CONSTRUCTION PROJECT. THE OPERATOR OF THE TRACTOR AND THE SUBCONTRACTOR ADMITTED LIABILITY FOR THE DAMAGE. THE BPR ENGINEER ASSUMING IN GOOD FAITH THAT THE SUBCONTRACTOR WOULD HONOR HIS OBLIGATION AUTHORIZED MUSGRAVE CHEVROLET, INC., TO MAKE THE REPAIRS. YOU STATE THAT SINCE IT WAS A GSA VEHICLE THE BPR PROJECT ENGINEER WAS ACTUALLY WITHOUT AUTHORITY TO AUTHORIZE THE REPAIRS AND SHOULD HAVE CONTACTED GSA OFFICIALS AS PRESCRIBED IN THE PERTINENT REGULATIONS. HOWEVER, THE CLAIMANT (MUSGRAVE) WAS NOT AWARE OF SUCH REQUIREMENTS.

DESPITE REPEATED EFFORTS BY THE CLAIMANT AND BPR TO SECURE PAYMENT OF THE BILL THE SUBCONTRACTOR HAS REFUSED TO PAY AND IS NOW APPARENTLY OUT OF BUSINESS. DEMANDS HAVE ALSO BEEN MADE ON THE PRIME CONTRACTOR, AND THE SUBCONTRACTOR'S INSURER. THE MATTER DID NOT COME TO THE ATTENTION OF BPR OFFICIALS UNTIL AFTER FINAL PAYMENT WAS MADE TO THE PRIME CONTRACTOR, HENCE, TO WITHHOLD PAYMENT WAS NOT POSSIBLE. THE REGIONAL LEGAL COUNSEL FOR GSA HAS ADVISED BPR THAT SINCE AT NO TIME WAS GSA A PARTY TO THE ACTION, IT WILL NOT ASSUME ANY LIABILITY FOR THE PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM.

YOU EXPRESS THE VIEW BPR HAS AN OBLIGATION TO PAY THE CLAIM SINCE IT RESULTED FROM THE ERRONEOUS ACTION OF A BPR EMPLOYEE. YOU ADVISE THAT IF WE APPROVE PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM BY THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS, IT IS THE BUREAU'S INTENTION TO BRING WHATEVER ACTION IS NECESSARY THROUGH THE APPROPRIATE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY TO EFFECT COLLECTION OF THE AMOUNT INVOLVED.

MOTOR POOLS ARE OPERATED BY GSA PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY CONTAINED IN SECTION 211 OF THE FEDERAL PROPERTY AND ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES ACT OF 1949 AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 1, 1954, 40 U.S.C. 491. IN VIEW OF THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN GSA BY THE ABOVE-CITED STATUTE AND IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS, THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS--- AS INDICATED IN YOUR LETTER--- WAS WITHOUT AUTHORITY TO ORDER THE REPAIR WORK PERFORMED ON THE GSA VEHICLE BY MUSGRAVE CHEVROLET, INC. ORDINARILY, NO RECOVERY CAN BE HAD IN SUCH INSTANCES. HOWEVER, IN VIEW OF ALL THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE TOGETHER WITH THE SMALL AMOUNT INVOLVED, AND SINCE THE GOVERNMENT HAS RECEIVED THE BENEFIT OF THE WORK PERFORMED, THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT OUT OF BPR FUNDS IF OTHERWISE PROPER.