B-62859, JANUARY 30, 1947, 26 COMP. GEN. 542

B-62859: Jan 30, 1947

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WHICH IS A PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLE WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 16 (A) OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSE STATUTE OF AUGUST 2. 1947: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 31. AS FOLLOWS: THERE IS ATTACHED PROPOSED SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE PURCHASE OF A "BUS. THIS PROPOSAL WAS FORWARDED TO THE AUDITOR. IS AMENDED TO READ AS FOLLOWS: " "SEC. 5. C-1 PROVIDES: "THESE TRUCKS ARE FOR SPECIAL USE IN TRANSPORTING OFFICERS. GEN. 451 IT WAS HELD THAT: "THE ACT OF JULY 16. A STATION WAGON IS ESSENTIALLY A PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLE (14 COMP. SINCE THERE IS SOME DOUBT IN THE MIND OF THE AUDITOR AS TO THE AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS FOR THE PURCHASE OF A STATION WAGON FOR USE AS A BUS. THAT A STATION WAGON IS A PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLE WITHIN THE MEANING OF THAT TERM APPEARING IN VARIOUS STATUTORY ENACTMENTS IS WELL SETTLED BY THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE. 19 COMP.

B-62859, JANUARY 30, 1947, 26 COMP. GEN. 542

VEHICLES - STATUS OF STATION WAGONS AS MOTOR BUSSES A STATION WAGON, WHICH IS A PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLE WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 16 (A) OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSE STATUTE OF AUGUST 2, 1946, PROHIBITING THE PURCHASE THEREOF WITHOUT SPECIFIC AUTHORITY, MAY NOT BE CLASSIFIED AS A BUS, SO THAT THE AUTHORITY IN THE CURRENT DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION FOR THE PURCHASE OF A BUS MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS AUTHORITY FOR THE PURCHASE OF A STATION WAGON.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE PRESIDENT, BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, JANUARY 30, 1947:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 31, 1946, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE IS ATTACHED PROPOSED SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE PURCHASE OF A "BUS, STATION WAGON TYPE" FOR USE OF THE D.C. DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, REFORMATORY DIVISION, LORTON, VIRGINIA. THIS PROPOSAL WAS FORWARDED TO THE AUDITOR, D.C. FOR APPROVAL AS TO AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS.

THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION ACT, 1947, UNDER THE HEADING ADULT CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, OPERATING EXPENSES, PROVIDES IN PART FOR THE "PURCHASE, EXCHANGE, MAINTENANCE, OPERATION AND REPAIR OF MOTOR BUSES.'

SECTION 16 (A) OF PUBLIC LAW 600, 79TH CONGRESS, APPROVED AUGUST 2, 1946 PROVIDES IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"SECTION 5 OF THE ACT OF JULY 16, 1914 (5 U.S.C. 78), IS AMENDED TO READ AS FOLLOWS:

" "SEC. 5--- (A) UNLESS SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY THE APPROPRIATION CONCERNED OR OTHER LAW, NO APPROPRIATION SHALL BE EXPENDED TO PURCHASE OR HIRE PASSENGER MOTOR VEHICLES FOR ANY BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT OTHER THAN THOSE FOR THE USE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, THE SECRETARIES TO THE PRESIDENT, OR THE HEADS OF THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS ENUMERATED IN 5 U.S.C. 1.'"

THE SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE "BUS, STATION WAGON TYPE" UNDER ITEM 1, C--- SERVICE REQUIREMENTS, C-1 PROVIDES:

"THESE TRUCKS ARE FOR SPECIAL USE IN TRANSPORTING OFFICERS, DOGS AND EQUIPMENT IN TRAINING OF RIOT AND ESCAPE PROCEDURES AND REQUIRE HEAVY DUTY CONSTRUCTION TO WITHSTAND THE STRAIN OF TRAVEL THROUGH FIELDS AND OVER UNIMPROVED ROADS IN FOLLOWING AND APPREHENDING ESCAPING PRISONERS FROM THESE INSTITUTIONS.'

IN 15 COMP. GEN. 451 IT WAS HELD THAT:

"THE ACT OF JULY 16, 1914 (38 STAT. 508), PROHIBITS THE PURCHASE OF PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES UNDER APPROPRIATIONS NOT PROVIDING SPECIFICALLY THEREFOR. A STATION WAGON IS ESSENTIALLY A PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLE (14 COMP. GEN. 367), THE NEED WHICH REQUIRES ITS USE- - IN THE PRESENT CASE IN PERFORMING DUTIES IN CONNECTION WITH CONSTRUCTION OF BUILDINGS--- CANNOT PERMIT AN EXPENDITURE THEREFOR UNDER THE APPROPRIATION FOR SUCH CONSTRUCTION WORK, NOR SUCH A PURCHASE BE CLASSED AS AN ARTICLE OF EQUIPMENT OF A PUBLIC BUILDING.'

SINCE THERE IS SOME DOUBT IN THE MIND OF THE AUDITOR AS TO THE AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS FOR THE PURCHASE OF A STATION WAGON FOR USE AS A BUS, THE COMMISSIONERS WISH TO BE ADVISED IF THE STATION WAGON DESCRIBED ABOVE MAY BE CLASSED AS A MOTOR BUS AND COME WITHIN THE TERMS OF THE LANGUAGE CONTAINED IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION ACT OF 1947 SO AS TO AUTHORIZE THE PURCHASE OF THIS TYPE OF VEHICLE.

THAT A STATION WAGON IS A PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLE WITHIN THE MEANING OF THAT TERM APPEARING IN VARIOUS STATUTORY ENACTMENTS IS WELL SETTLED BY THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE. 19 COMP. GEN. 06; 17 ID. 909; 16 ID. 260; 15 ID. 451; 14 ID. 367. CONSEQUENTLY, THE PURCHASE OF A STATION WAGON, NOT BEING SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED IN THE APPROPRIATION INVOLVED, WOULD CONTRAVENE SECTION 16 (A) OF PUBLIC LAW 600, 60 STAT. 810, CITED IN YOUR LETTER, UNLESS A VEHICLE OF SUCH TYPE PROPERLY MAY BE CLASSIFIED AS A BUS. THE VEHICLE WHICH THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS PROPOSES TO PURCHASE IS DESCRIBED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS ATTACHED TO THE PROPOSAL FOR BIDS AS A BUS, STATION WAGON TYPE, AND, ALSO, IS REFERRED TO AS A TRUCK. HOWEVER, WHAT THE DEPARTMENT APPARENTLY PROPOSES TO PURCHASE IS A STANDARD MODEL EIGHT-PASSENGER STATION WAGON. WHILE A BUS AND A STATION WAGON ARE SIMILAR IN THAT BOTH ARE DESIGNED FOR THE CONVEYANCE OF PASSENGERS AND, UPON OCCASION, THE LATTER MIGHT BE EMPLOYED TO PERFORM THE FUNCTION OF THE FORMER, YET, HAVING REGARD FOR THE RECOGNIZED DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO TYPES OF VEHICLES IN RESPECT TO SIZE AND CONSTRUCTION, I THINK THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT THAT THE TERMS "BUS" AND "STATION WAGON" ARE NOT USED INTERCHANGEABLY. THE TERM "BUS," IN ITS NORMAL SIGNIFICATION, REFERS TO A VEHICLE OF LARGER SIZE, GREATER PASSENGER CAPACITY, AND OF A BODY CONSTRUCTION ENTIRELY DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF A STATION WAGON; AND, MOREOVER, A BUS IS DESIGNED SOLELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF CARRYING PASSENGERS, WHEREAS A STATION WAGON IS DESIGNED AND EQUIPPED FOR USE EITHER AS A PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLE OR AS A LIGHT TRUCK OR DELIVERY WAGON. SEE 17 COMP. GEN. 909. IN THAT CONNECTION, I CANNOT BUT OBSERVE THAT A VEHICLE, SUCH AS DESCRIBED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS, FOR USE IN "TRAVEL THROUGH FIELDS AND OVER UNIMPROVED ROADS IN FOLLOWING AND APPREHENDING ESCAPING PRISONERS" HARDLY CAN BE SAID TO BE A BUS WITHIN THE USUAL AND COMMONLY ACCEPTED MEANING OF THAT TERM.

ASIDE FROM THE FOREGOING, PARTICULAR ATTENTION/IS INVITED TO SECTION 5 (C) OF THE ACT OF JULY 16, 1914, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 16 (A) OF PUBLIC LAW 600, SUPRA, 60 STAT. 810, WHICH PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED, NO APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR ANY DEPARTMENT SHALL BE EXPENDED---

"/1) TO PURCHASE ANY PASSENGER MOTOR VEHICLE (EXCLUSIVE OF BUSSES, AMBULANCES, AND STATION WAGONS), AT A COST, COMPLETELY EQUIPPED FOR OPERATION, AND INCLUDING THE VALUE OF ANY VEHICLE EXCHANGED, IN EXCESS OF THE MAXIMUM PRICE THEREFOR, IF ANY, ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO LAW BY A GOVERNMENT AGENCY AND IN NO EVENT MORE THAN SUCH AMOUNT AS MAY BE SPECIFIED IN AN APPROPRIATION OR OTHER ACT, WHICH SHALL BE IN ADDITION TO THE AMOUNT REQUIRED FOR TRANSPORTATION; "

IT IS EVIDENT FROM THE FOREGOING PROVISION THAT THE CONGRESS NOT ONLY HAS CLASSIFIED STATION WAGONS AS PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES BY EXCLUDING THEM FROM THE OPERATION OF THE RESTRICTION THEREIN PRESCRIBED IN RESPECT TO THE PURCHASE PRICE FOR OTHER PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES, BUT HAS DIFFERENTIATED THEM FROM THE CLASS OF PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES DESIGNATED AS "BUSSES.' OTHERWISE, THERE WOULD BE NO PURPOSE IN SEPARATE MENTION OF STATION WAGONS IN THE QUALIFYING PHRASE OF THE STATUTE. COMP. GEN. 909, SUPRA. IN THE LAST CITED DECISION IT WAS HELD THAT A STATION WAGON PROPERLY MAY NOT BE CLASSIFIED AS A BUS WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE LATTER TERM APPEARING IN A STATUTE RESTRICTING EXPENDITURES FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR OF PASSENGER CARRYING VEHICLES.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, I AM CONSTRAINED TO CONCLUDE THAT THE STATION WAGON WHICH THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS APPARENTLY PROPOSES TO PURCHASE IS NOT A MOTOR BUS WITHIN THE TERMS OF THE APPROPRIATION ACT REFERRED TO AND THAT THE PURCHASE THEREOF IS NOT AUTHORIZED.