B-75040, APRIL 12, 1948, 27 COMP. GEN. 625

B-75040: Apr 12, 1948

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TYPEWRITERS - PURCHASE PRICE LIMITATION - EXTRA KEY MACHINES IF IT BE ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT THE SPECIAL TYPEWRITING NEEDS OF AN AGENCY REQUIRE THE USE OF MORE THAN THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF CHARACTERS (84) WHICH ARE AVAILABLE ON A STANDARD TYPEWRITER. SUCH EXTRA-CHARACTER MACHINES ARE NOT TO BE CONSIDERED AS "STANDARD" MACHINES WHICH ARE REQUIRED TO BE PURCHASED AT PRICES NOT IN EXCESS OF THOSE PRESCRIBED BY THE TREASURY AND POST OFFICE DEPARTMENTS APPROPRIATION ACT. 1948: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 1. YOU STATE IN YOUR LETTER THAT THE PUBLIC LIBRARY IS IN URGENT NEED OF 10 TYPEWRITERS FOR USE IN CATALOGING. THAT A SPECIAL LIBRARY CARD ATTACHMENT IS NECESSARY ON THE PLATENS OF THE MACHINES.

B-75040, APRIL 12, 1948, 27 COMP. GEN. 625

TYPEWRITERS - PURCHASE PRICE LIMITATION - EXTRA KEY MACHINES IF IT BE ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT THE SPECIAL TYPEWRITING NEEDS OF AN AGENCY REQUIRE THE USE OF MORE THAN THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF CHARACTERS (84) WHICH ARE AVAILABLE ON A STANDARD TYPEWRITER, OR WHICH CAN BE MADE AVAILABLE THEREON BY THE ATTACHMENT OF ONE OR TWO EXTRA KEYS WITHOUT THE NECESSITY OF SUBSTANTIALLY REBUILDING THE MACHINE, SUCH EXTRA-CHARACTER MACHINES ARE NOT TO BE CONSIDERED AS "STANDARD" MACHINES WHICH ARE REQUIRED TO BE PURCHASED AT PRICES NOT IN EXCESS OF THOSE PRESCRIBED BY THE TREASURY AND POST OFFICE DEPARTMENTS APPROPRIATION ACT, 1948.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO R. M. BRENNAN, PURCHASING OFFICER, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, APRIL 12, 1948:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 1, 1948, REGARDING THE PROPOSED PURCHASE OF 10 TYPEWRITERS FOR THE PUBLIC LIBRARY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AT A PRICE IN EXCESS OF THE STATUTORY LIMITATION FIXED BY THE TREASURY AND POST OFFICE DEPARTMENTS APPROPRIATION ACT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1948 ON THE PRICE PAYABLE BY ANY AGENCY OF THE GOVERNMENT FOR STANDARD TYPEWRITERS.

YOU STATE IN YOUR LETTER THAT THE PUBLIC LIBRARY IS IN URGENT NEED OF 10 TYPEWRITERS FOR USE IN CATALOGING; THAT A SPECIAL LIBRARY CARD ATTACHMENT IS NECESSARY ON THE PLATENS OF THE MACHINES; AND THAT SPECIAL CHARACTERS AND DIACRITICAL MARKS FOR TYPING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES ARE REQUIRED, NECESSITATING AN EXTRA SIZE KEYBOARD WITH 46 RATHER THAN THE USUAL 42 KEYS. IT APPEARS FROM YOUR LETTER THAT BID INVITATIONS EMBODYING THE ABOVE-MENTIONED SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS WERE ISSUED, IN RESPONSE TO WHICH THREE BIDS HAVE BEEN RECEIVED RANGING FROM $113.75 TO $145.50 PER MACHINE, APPROXIMATELY $29 TO $60 IN EXCESS OF THE STATUTORY PRICE LIMITATION FOR A COMPARABLE STANDARD TYPEWRITER. YOU STATE ALSO THAT THE LOWEST BID IS CONDITIONED UPON A RULING BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES THAT THE ABOVE-MENTIONED STATUTORY PRICE LIMITATION IS NOT APPLICABLE TO THE PROPOSED PURCHASE. IT IS STATED THAT THE LOCAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE LOW BIDDER HAS INFORMED YOU THAT THE TYPEWRITERS REQUIRED WOULD HAVE TO BE MANUFACTURED SPECIALLY AT THE FACTORY.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING YOU REQUEST MY DECISION AS TO WHETHER ACCEPTANCE OF THE LOWEST BID RECEIVED FOR FURNISHING THESE TYPEWRITERS WOULD BE IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE STATUTORY PRICE LIMITATION MENTIONED.

THE TREASURY AND POST OFFICE DEPARTMENTS APPROPRIATION ACT, 1948, APPROVED JULY 1, 1947, 61 STAT. 224, PROVIDES, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

NO PART OF ANY MONEY APPROPRIATED BY THIS OR ANY OTHER ACT SHALL BE USED DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1948 FOR THE PURCHASE, WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL LIMITS OF THE UNITED STATES, OF ANY STANDARD TYPEWRITING MACHINES (EXCEPT BOOKKEEPING, BILLING, AND ELECTRIC MACHINES) AT A PRICE IN EXCESS OF THE FOLLOWING * * *. THE ACT CONTINUES WITH A LIST OF PRICES FOR VARIOUS SIZES OF TYPEWRITERS, AND, AS HEREINBEFORE STATED, THE MAXIMUM PRICE PAYABLE FOR THE PARTICULAR SIZE MACHINES HERE UNDER CONSIDERATION IS SOME $29 LESS THAN THE LOWEST BID RECEIVED.

THE INHIBITION IN THE FOREGOING STATUTE IS AGAINST THE PAYMENT OF PRICES IN EXCESS OF THOSE SPECIFIED FOR THE VARIOUS STANDARD TYPEWRITING MACHINES THEREIN DESCRIBED. THERE IS NO PROHIBITION AGAINST THE PURCHASE OF NON- STANDARD MACHINES IF THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT CANNOT BE FILLED OTHERWISE. IN THIS CONNECTION IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT THE TEST OF THE NECESSITY FOR A NON-STANDARD MACHINE IS WHETHER A STANDARD TYPEWRITER WILL PERFORM THE WORK TO BE DONE. SEE 4 COMP. GEN. 1045; 5 ID. 900; 16 ID. 70.

SO FAR AS CONCERNS THE TYPEWRITERS NOW PROPOSED TO BE PURCHASED IT APPEARS THAT THEY DIFFER FROM A STANDARD MACHINE IN HAVING A SPECIAL HOLDER FOR LIBRARY CARDS ATTACHED TO THE PLATENS, AND IN HAVING 46 KEYS AND 92 CHARACTERS, RATHER THAN THE USUAL 42 KEYS AND 84 CHARACTERS. SPECIAL HOLDER FOR LIBRARY CARDS COULD UNDOUBTEDLY BE ATTACHED TO A STANDARD MACHINE, AND IT SEEMS EVIDENT THAT SUCH AN ATTACHMENT WOULD NOT SO MATERIALLY ALTER THE MACHINE AS TO REMOVE IT FROM THE CATEGORY OF "STANDARD" MACHINES. HOWEVER, THERE ARE ONLY 42 KEYS AND 84 CHARACTERS AVAILABLE FOR USE ON ,STANDARD" TYPEWRITERS, AND IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT WHILE ONE OR TWO KEYS MAY BE ADDED TO THE KEYBOARD OF A STANDARD TYPEWRITER WITHOUT TOO GREAT DIFFICULTY, THE ADDITION OF FOUR EXTRA KEYS WOULD REQUIRE A SUBSTANTIAL REBUILDING OF THE TYPEWRITER. IT WOULD APPEAR, THEREFORE, THAT A TYPEWRITER WITH 46 KEYS PROPERLY SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A "STANDARD" MACHINE.

CONSEQUENTLY, IF IT BE ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT THE SPECIAL NEEDS OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY IN CATALOGING WORK REQUIRE THE USE OF MORE THAN THE NUMBER OF CHARACTERS WHICH ARE AVAILABLE ON A STANDARD TYPEWRITER, OR WHICH CAN BE MADE AVAILABLE THEREON BY THE ATTACHMENT OF ONE OR TWO EXTRA KEYS WITHOUT THE NECESSITY OF REBUILDING THE MACHINES, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE ABOVE-QUOTED PROVISIONS OF THE TREASURY AND POST OFFICE DEPARTMENTS APPROPRIATION ACT, 1948, SUPRA, WOULD NOT PROHIBIT THE PURCHASE OF MACHINES WITH THE REQUIRED NUMBER OF CHARACTERS AT PRICES IN EXCESS OF THOSE PRESCRIBED IN SAID ACT.