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Chapter XI

Books and Documents > Medical Department of the U.S. Army in the World War, Volume III, Finance & Supply

CHAPTER XI

CONSOLIDATION OF PROCUREMENT

At the declaration of war on April 6, 1917, there were five supply bureaus--Ordnance, Quartermaster, Medical, Engineer, and Signal Corps. The last bureau developed an aviation section which ultimately became independent and had its own supply functions.1 The aviation section later became the Bureau of Military Aeronautics. As advances were made in the military and its various allied sciences, the articles on the list furnished by each supply bureau increased in number, variety, and complexity. Each supply bureau was deeply concerned for the successful accomplishment of its mission, believing that upon the success of all the supply bureaus taken together depended to no small extent the ultimate success of the military operations. Each supply bureau understood the responsibility placed upon it in the military program, appreciated the authority accorded it for the performance of its mission, and endeavored to administer its functions wisely and effectually. A century of development and of experience had amply demonstrated the efficiency of this principle and the wisdom of its application.

As the industry of the country developed, manufacture specialized more and more upon particular articles and groups of articles, which came in the course of events to be called commodities. These commodities were classified in various ways. Some were classified according to the raw materials from which the articles were made. Some derived their classification from the uses for which the articles were intended. The finished product might involve in the process of manufacture raw materials included in more than one classification. All of the supply departments required iron and steel products, textiles, wooden materials, and chemicals of some sort in varying quantities. Leather, rubber, and the nonferrous metals were required to a lesser extent but were, nevertheless, important commodities. Iron and steel and their products were required in enormous quantities, whether for cannon, arms, shells, machines, heating apparatus, plumbing supplies, cooking apparatus, hand tools, motor vehicles, hospital equipment, surgical instruments, or wire for field telegraph lines. Every phase of military activity demanded a share. Textiles were of only slightly less importance. The Ordnance Department required cotton fabrics, such as duck or canvas for the pack equipment of the soldier. The Quartermaster Department required them for tents, paulins, wagon covers, and other purposes, while the Medical Department required duck for litters, for cases for surgical instruments, and for cases for blankets and bedding. Sheets, pillow cases, and blankets were required by both the Medical and the Quartermaster Departments. Galvanized-iron buckets served such a variety of purposes that they were supplied, in some measure, by practically every supply department. Each such department had a particular use for this bucket and purchased according to its particular needs. A similar condition obtained along many


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other lines. Each supply bureau purchased, for the most part, all the articles needed for the effectual performance of the function assigned to it by law and regulations. This method of purchase was said to be by “function.” Appropriations were made by Congress for the specific purposes stated in the language of the grant. There were appropriations for the Quartermaster Department, the Signal Corps, the Medical Department, the Ordnance Department, and the Engineer Corps. Appropriations, therefore, were made according to function, apparently on the assumption that with responsibility should go authority and the means of accomplishment. Such an assumption. seems logical and sound.

A rise in prices is inevitable under war conditions. Many factors influence the rise, such as shortages of raw materials and labor, transportation difficulties, financial conditions, the general uncertainty, the reorganization of industry.

As the year 1917 drew near to its close industry was everwhere hampered by delinquencies in rail transportation and by shortages of fuel. Raw materials were received at the factories with increasing difficulty. Delays were experienced in delivering the finished articles. Ships were not available to transport to France the great mass of supplies intended for overseas shipment. Storage space for those supplies was almost unobtainable. The congestion along the Atlantic seaboard increased to such an extent that it was difficult to get trains in and out of the ports. Conditions were rapidly reaching a climax. Instructions were received by the supply bureaus to curtail production. Early in January, 1918, the United States Railroad, Fuel, and Food Administrations came into active being and were followed shortly by the Labor Administration.2 The War Industries Board was rapidly extending its control to all industry.3 

The representatives of industry on the War Industries Board had been accustomed, in civil life, to thinking of industry in terms of commodities. In their control of industry they dealt with it on a commodity basis. They were closely associated with the purchasing service created in the War Department early in January, 1918, “to provide for the proper coordination of the procurement activities of the several supply branches of the Army.” 4 It was not long before the conception that procurement of supplies for the Army should be placed on a commodity basis gained general acceptance in that service. Under this conception all purchases of a commodity would be made by a single agency. If more than one supply bureau purchased the same or similar articles, the requirements of all bureaus for that article would be consolidated and the purchase of the total quantities made by one bureau. When the articles were ready for delivery they were to be distributed to the several bureaus needing them in accordance with their respective needs. The purchase by several supply bureaus of the same or similar articles was not regarded as economical or good business practice. Purchase “by function” came into disfavor.

On January 21, 1918, the director of purchases submitted to the several supply bureaus a partial list of articles purchased by more than one supply bureau of the War Department with the following statement:

It seems very advisable to concentrate the buying as much as possible within departments in order to avoid competition in Government purchases and to secure the most efficient administration. This matter has been brought to the attention of the Secretary of War and he approves the policy of centralizing the purchase in so far as practicable.


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Suggestions were requested concerning the articles which each supply bureau thought it should purchase and those which should be procured by other bureaus. To this request the Surgeon General replied, under date of January 23, as follows:5

1. It is believed that the principle of centralizing purchases of the general departments is sound and should be followed in all cases where its application does not interfere with the efficient administration of the departments concerned.
2. On the other hand, if the methods employed are so complicated or the organization so cumbersome as to cause delay in the procurement of supplies, centralization might paralyze the functions of the several departments and lead to disaster.
3. It is suggested that in these cases where one department undertakes to procure supplies for another department it confine itself to negotiating the purchase; that it make the preliminary arrangements, such as asking for quotations, recommending award, etc., but that the actual placing of the order, making the contract, and paying for the supplies be done by the department requesting the procurement.

For example: It having been agreed that all blankets for the use of the Army are to be procured by the Quartermaster’s Department, suppose the Medical Department requires 100,000 hospital blankets. A request would be sent to the Quartermaster’s Department to procure for the Medical Department 100,000 blankets of certain dimensions, weight, composition, color, etc. The place of delivery, rate of delivery, method of packing, etc., would also be stated in the request.

The Quartermaster’s Department would invite quotations, analyze the proposals, and recommend to the Medical Department that the order for the blankets be placed with the Blank Woolen Mills at a certain price. The Medical Department would then make the contract with the Blank Woolen Mills for the blankets and the Quartermaster’s Department would have nothing further to do with the transaction.

If the method suggested is adopted there need be no transfer of funds between departments, and the additional clerical work involved would be kept at a minimum.

4. As regards the list attached to this memorandum, it is presumed that it is given merely as an exhibit showing certain articles now being purchased by two or more departments and not a complete list of such articles.
5. It is to be understood that the Medical Department would be opposed to having any of its technical or professional equipment or supplies procured by or through any other department or agency whatsoever.

For instance, in this list appears the item “electrical material,” but the Medical Department would not be willing to have its X-ray apparatus procured by the Signal Corps or the Chief of Engineers.

The Surgeon General accepted centralization of procurement as an expedient to meet a difficult situation. Already he had established a central purchasing office for the Medical Department designed to take over the purchase of all medical and hospital supplies as rapidly as the organization and operative machinery could be developed. It was intended that this central purchasing office take up, first, the purchase of drugs, medicines, and chemicals; second, surgical dressings; third, surgical instruments; and after that hospital supplies in an increasing number of articles.

The subject of consolidation of procurement was energetically pursued. Frequent conferences were held at which various steps in the procedure were discussed by representatives of the supply bureaus and others. Decision was reached in April, 1918, to make procurement by commodity and to consolidate the procurement of each commodity in some one of the supply bureaus. The general principles of this consolidation by that time were fairly complete;


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only the details remained to be worked out. The general principles governing the consolidation of procurement and the rules of procedure were published to the Army in the following Supply Circular:

Supply Circular No. 2.

WAR DEPARTMENT,
PURCHASE, STORAGE AND TRAFFIC DIVISION, GENERAL STAFF,
PURCHASE AND SUPPLY BRANCH,
Washington, May 8, 1918.

Subject: Consolidation of procurement.

1. Whenever it shall be decided to consolidate under one bureau the procurement of any article or material now being procured by more than one supply bureau of the War Department, the following general instructions shall govern in such consolidation:
    (a) Each supply bureau will continue to issue to the service the same articles as heretofore, these articles being delivered to it by the procuring bureau for such issue.
    (b) Each issuing bureau will continue to be responsible for the determination of requirements for such articles.
    (c) Each issuing bureau will continue to be responsible for the designs and specifications for such articles.
    (d) Where the issuing is not the procuring bureau, the former shall make procurement requisition on the latter for its requirement, at the same time making transfer to the procuring bureau of the estimated amount of funds required for the purpose.
    (e) In accordance with such procurement requisition, the procuring bureau will be solely responsible for making purchases, following production, conducting inspection, and making acceptance of and payment for the articles placed in its charge.
    (f) While the issuing bureau will be responsible for designs and specifications, the procuring bureau will be charged with the duty of scrutinizing all such designs and specifications for the purpose of effecting to the maximum extent possible or desirable standardization of equipment, reductions in the number of types, adaptations of standard articles for special purposes, interchangeability of parts, etc. The procuring bureau will make recommendations to the issuing bureaus along these lines, or to the director of purchase, storage, and traffic for his action when desirable or necessary; but the procuring bureau shall not on its own initiative change plans or specifications or deviate therefrom without the consent of the issuing bureau or of superior authority.
    (g) By arrangement with the procuring bureau the issuing bureau may make examination of articles under production to satisfy itself that designs and specifications are being satisfactorily complied with.
    (h) The procuring bureau shall furnish estimates of cost upon request. It shall also make periodical reports of purchases made, production accomplished, and of estimated future production.
    (i) Articles shall be delivered by the procuring bureau to the issuing bureau at the point of completion or at a designated delivery point. The procuring bureau will retain control of all shipments of components or materials until the completion of the article called for by the procurement requisition. Other arrangements as to delivery may be effected by special agreement between the procuring and the issuing bureaus.
    (j) Procurement requisitions shall give the number or quantity desired, required rates and times of delivery, delivery point, amount of funds transferred, and appropriations involved. They shall be accompanied by drawings and specifications sufficiently detailed and complete to serve as a basis for the purchasing, production, and inspection work. The procurement requisitions shall also set forth, if the drawings and specifications are not in themselves sufficient, any pertinent and useful or necessary information, such as the service requirements to be met, to enable the procurement work to be properly and efficiently performed.


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(k)Existing contracts shall not be affected by any consolidation of procurement, except in so far as can be worked out satisfactorily by mutual arrangement between the issuing and the procuring bureaus. An endeavor should be made in all cases to transfer to the designated procuring bureau as much of the production and inspection work on existing contracts as can be satisfactorily taken over to minimize as much as possible the duplications of such work up to the time that existing contracts run out.
2. The procuring bureau for each article or class of articles which it may be decided to consolidate under one bureau will be designated by the office of the director of purchase, storage, and traffic in separate enacting supply circulars to be isssued hereafter. Such supply circulars will make reference to this supply circular, which prescribes the general principles and instructions to be followed in these consolidations.
3. In special cases exceptions to specific provisions of this supply circular may be made in enacting circulars in dealing with particular articles, and, in other special cases, the consolidation effected may be partial and not include every supply bureau. In all such cases the instructions of this circular shall govern all supply bureaus except where provisions of this circular or particular bureaus are specifically excepted.
4. Upon the issuance of circulars designating procuring bureaus for given articles each issuing bureau shall submit to the designated procuring bureau a list of personnel, if any, engaged in the purchase, production, and inspection of such articles in order that proper recommendations may be made by the procuring bureau for the necessary transfers of personnel to handle the consolidated work.
5. Nothing in this circular shall be construed to affect any orders or instructions issued by the commanding general A. E. F., but otherwise provisions of this circular are for the guidance of the supply bureaus of the War Department.

By authority of the Secretary of War:
GEO. W. GOETHALS,
    Major General, Assistant Chief of Staff,
    Director of Purchase, Storage and Traffic.

Following the publication of this circular the details of consolidation were discussed. Consideration was given to the articles to be consolidated and to the ways and means of effecting that consolidation. Conferences on the purchase of supplies became a matter of daily ocurrence.6 Commodity after commodity was considered and the final decision published in supply circulars, of which 58 dealt with consolidation of procurement. Of these particular circulars, 12 were issued in May, 8 in June, 28 in July, 6 in August, and 4 in September, 1918.7 Circulars Nos. 3 and 44 are here quoted as examples. It will he noted in these circulars that certain exceptions were permitted under special conditions. The extent to which such “exceptions” could be used may be gathered from Supply Circular No. 74, also quoted below.

Supply Circular No. 3.

WAR DEPARTMENT,
PURCHASE, STORAGE, AND TRAFFIC DIVISION, GENERAL STAFF,
PURCHASE AND SUPPLY BRANCH,
Washington, May 11, 1918.

Subject: Consolidation of procurement--Enacting circular--Burlap and jute, Cotton goods, woolen goods.

1. In accordance with the terms of Supply Circular No. 2, dated May 8, 1918, “Consolidation of procurement,” except as modified herein, on and after June 10, 1918, the Quartermaster Corps shall have sole charge for the Army of making all purchases, following production, conducting inspection, and making acceptance of and payment for the following:


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2. All cotton yarns, all cotton fabrics, all scoured and unscoured wool, wool yarns and woolen fabrics, all jute yarns and jute or burlap fabrics, all equipment fabricated from one or more of the above materials together with metal parts, cotton and linen thread that are used in connection with the manufacturer of the completed articles.
3. Exceptions to the above are:
        (a) The Bureau of Aircraft Production shall continue, as heretofore, to have complete charge of the procurement of airplane and balloon cloths.
        (b) The Bureau of Aircraft Production shall continue, as heretofore, to have complete charge of the procurement of aviators’ clothing and component parts thereof until such time as the specifications for these articles become standardized. When this point of sufficient standardization shall have been reached, the procurement of these articles shall be transferred to the Quartermaster Corps.
        (c) The Medical Department shall have complete control of the distribution and finishing of all gray goods which go into the manufacture of surgical dressings, the gray goods themselves to be procured by the Quartermaster Corps in accordance with Supply Circular No. 2.
    (d) The Gas Defense Service of the Medical Department shall continue, as heretofore, to have complete charge of the procurement of the fine cotton fabric which is used in the manufacture of gas masks.
   4. With the exceptions described in paragraph 3 above, the Quartermaster Corps will be charged with the responsibility of finishing, printing, bleaching, waterproofing, dyeing, or otherwise treating all fabrics mentioned above.
5. It is the intent of this order to cover the procurement of all articles made of cotton, wool, or jute, whether they are to be used as components or as articles of issue to the troops. It is therefore directed that all components such as wagon covers, gun covers, paulins, etc., be procured by the Quartermaster Corps, except as may be modified by mutual agreement between the issuing and procuring bureaus and approved by the director of purchase, storage, and traffic.

By authority of the Secretary of War:
GEO. W. GOETHALS,
Major General, Assistant Chief of Staff,
Director of Purchase, Storage, and Traffic.

Supply Circular No. 44.

WAR DEPARTMENT,
PURCHASE, STORAGE, AND TRAFFIC DIVISION, GENERAL STAFF, PURCHASE AND SUPPLY BRANCH,
Washington, July 6, 1918.

Subject: Consolidation of procurement--Thermometers, clocks, watches, gauges, barometers, and compasses.

1. In accordance with the terms of Supply Circular No. 2, dated May 8, 1916, “Consolidation of procurement,” except as herein modified, on and after August 1, 1918, the Bureau of Aircraft Production shall have sole charge for the Army of making all purchases, following production, conducting inspection, and making acceptance of and payment for all barometers, clocks, watches, gauges (oil, air, and gasoline), thermometers, and compasses, except as may be modified by mutual agreement between the issuing and the procuring bureaus and approved by the director of purchase, storage, and traffic.
2. The exceptions to the above are:
    (a) The Medical Department shall continue, as heretofore, to have complete charge of the procurement of the special thermometers used by them.
    (b) The Ordnance Department shall continue, as heretofore, to have complete charge of the procurement of time-interval recorders or stop watches.

By authority of the Secretary of War:
GEO. W. GOETHALS,
    Major General, Assistant Chief of Staff,
    Director of Purchase, Storage and Traffic.


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Supply Circular No. 74.

WAR DEPARTMENT,
PURCHASE, STORAGE, AND TRAFFIC DIVISION, GENERAL STAFF,
PURCHASE AND SUPPLY BRANCH,
Washington, August 9, 1918.

Subject: Exceptions to consolidations of procurement--Consultation with designated procuring bureau in respect of proposed orders to manufacturers.

1. In working out the details of consolidation of procurement of articles and materials or classes of articles and materials, it has been found impracticable and inexpedient to effect immediately complete consolidations in certain cases, and therefore necessary to make in these cases either permanent or temporary exceptions in enacting circulars or similar exceptions by properly approved arrangements by mutual agreement of the supply bureaus concerned. However, the elimination of competition in the market between different War Department agencies and the coordination of all the War Department’s procurement of any given class of articles or materials are so important that they must be secured also in those cases where complete consolidation has been impracticable or inexpedient at the present time.
2. It is therefore directed that in all cases of consolidation of procurement the supply bureau in whose favor an exception is made in an enacting circular or by approved mutual agreement shall take up with the designated procuring bureau by written communication or by telephone or personal conference confirmed by memorandum, before orders are placed, each proposed purchase or schedule of purchases exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000) in money value, of articles or materials covered in general by the consolidation, in respect of the manufacturers with whom it is proposed to place such orders. If any disagreement arises as to the advisability of placing such orders with particular manufacturers, the two bureaus interested shall attempt to compose the disagreement and arrive at a mutually satisfactory arrangement; if such disagreement can not be mutually composed, it shall be promptly referred to the office of the director of purchase, storage, and traffic for decision.
3. The foregoing instructions supersede all previous instructions issued on this subject by any bureau of the War Department.

By authority of the Secretary of War:
GEO. W. GOETHALS,
Major General, Assistant Chief of Staff,
Director of Purchase, Storage, and Traffic.

In preparing the supply circulars covering consolidation of procurement it was customary for the representatives of the supply bureaus to meet in the office of the director of purchases and supplies for consideration of the particular commodity. At these conferences the commodities to be consolidated were presented and considered. After discussion, a draft of the proposed circular was submitted to the several supply bureaus for approval or comment. If any bureau did not approve the consolidation, the chief thereof presented his objections and the reasons for them in writing. After a consideration of reports from the chiefs of the several supply bureaus, decision was reached whether the consolidation would be effected. The objections by the chief of a supply bureau to a proposed consolidation were not always sustained; for example, the Medical Department strongly objected to the consolidation of microscopes for procurement by another supply bureau, but the objection was not sustained.8 A similar fate met the protest against the purchase by another bureau of oxygen and nitrous oxide for anesthesia and for the treatment of the sick.9 The gases required for such purposes must be exceptionally pure, whereas those for commercial purposes may admit of a considerable amount of impurities without interfering with the efficacy of the gas. The rules


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promulgated for the guidance of these conferences on consolidation of procurement appear below. Previous instructions along similar lines promulgated May 10, 1918, did not provide for the submission of the proposed circulars to the chiefs of bureaus for consideration prior to their issue.

MEMORANDUM

JUNE 14, 1918

To: All liaison officers.
From:    Maj. C. F. Cook.
Subject: Consolidation of procurement.

1. On account of slight misunderstandings which seem to occur over both the general and detail questions of consolidation of procurement of articles under the various “supply bureaus,” the following brief outline of the procedure followed in determining consolidations is stated for the general information of the liaison officers, their assistants, and the representatives of the various bureaus attending the consolidation of procurement meetings.
    a. The commodities to be considered are determined by the director of purchases and supplies.
    b. Meetings are held in this office on the various commodities, or groups of commodities, at scheduled times, and each liaison officer is notified as far in advance as possible, of the dates of these meetings. Each bureau is expected to have present the proper representation along technical, commodity, and other lines, as well as some one, if possible, who can decide questions of policy and speak with authority. All of this may be combined in one representative or in several. From the evidence presented by these representatives decision is made at this meeting as to which bureau is best fitted through experience, quantity handled, personnel, etc., to have charge for the Army of the procurement of the article. The members present then draw up a tentative draft of a supply circular designating some one bureau as the procurement bureau for the Army.
        c. Copies of this tentative draft of supply circulars are submitted through the liaison officers to the bureaus for discussion by the various sections interested. Written notification should then be sent to this office of the approval or definite objection of the bureaus to the draft in question.
    d. These replies are tabulated in this office and when all are received the draft of the supply circular is again submitted through the liaison officers to the procurement chief of each bureau, together with a statement as to the approval or objection set forth by other bureaus, and the recommendations of this office in regard to the same.
        e. A meeting of the procurement chiefs of the various bureaus is then called at this office where final decision of the drafted supply circular is reached, after which it is sent to the director of purchase, storage, and traffic for signature and promulgation.

The usual procedure followed by this office at present is to issue these circulars in groups of six or more at a time for approval or objection by the various bureaus.

HUGH S. JOHNSON,
    Brigadier General, Director of Purchases and Supplies.
By C. F. COOK,
     Major, Ordnance, R. C.

The majority of the articles pertaining to the Medical Department which were consolidated with other bureaus for procurement are contained in the following list:

WAR DEPARTMENT,
OFFICE OF THE SURGEON GENERAL,
Washington, D. C., August 23, 1918.
 
1. In accordance with the terms of Supply Circular No. 2, dated May 8, 1918, issued by the director of purchase, storage, and traffic, purchase and supply branch, the following items of Medical Corps property have been consolidated under the bureaus as set forth in


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column 3. All interbureau procurement requisitions will he made by this office. Recommendations (based on your experience during the past year) as to quantities to be purchased covering those items heretofore procured at your depot will be submitted by you without delay. Specifications for all items purchased at your depot will be sent to this office at once.
2. In addition to the items mentioned, other articles purchased from time to time come under the provisions of consolidation circulars. Purchasing officers must familiarize themselves with all consolidation of procurement circulars and will be governed by them. When in doubt, this office should be consulted.

Chart


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Chart


217

INTERBUREAU REQUISITIONS

After a decision had been reached that supplies should be procured upon a commodity basis, it became necessary to develop a method to effect that end. Accordingly, conferences were held at which were present representatives of the supply bureaus and other interested persons, and ways and means were discussed. The principle laid down for these discussions was that the procurement of an article common to two or more supply bureaus should be assigned for purchase to the bureau that used the greatest quantity of it. Such bureau would receive from the other bureaus statements of the quantities required by them and, after consolidating those requirements with its own, would proceed with the negotiations and purchase of the whole amount. After delivery, distribution would be made to the other bureaus in accordance with their requests. These statements or requests came to be called interbureau procurement requisitions.10 The plan seemed quite simple. Under it the Medical Department, if it required sheets, made requisition on the Quartermaster Corps;11 if lamps or microscopes, on the Ordnance Department; 12 if dry cells for flash lights, on the Signal Corps; 13 if castor oil, on the Bureau of Aircraft Production. The funds for the payment of the supplies requisition were set up by the bureau which required the articles to the credit of the bureau which made the purchases.10

The bureau needing supplies furnished the procurement bureau with its requirement for any article the specifications for that article. Thereafter the requiring bureau had no further responsibility until deliveries were made by the procuring bureau of the quantities requested. Since all competition between governmental agencies was to be obviated, prices were expected to be less; furthermore, industry would deal with only one agency on matters relating to a particular commodity. The procuring bureau was to keep in touch with all manufacturers of the articles and commodities consolidated with it for procurement; also, it was to maintain an adequate force of expert purchasing agents and inspectors for these articles.

The Medical Department placed its first interbureau procurement requisition with the designated bureau on June 26, 1918. The second requisition followed on June 29. During July, 1918, 18 such requisitions were forwarded. Twenty-two requisitions were placed during August. By September 20 the number had risen to 65. Thereafter the number of such requisitions rose steadily until at the time the armistice was signed they approximated 200.

The projected strength of the Army was rising rapidly and the quantities of the articles entered on these requisitions were very large. A few requisitions for small quantities were placed, due to a misinterpretation of instructions.

That delays would occur and difficulties and complications arise in administering the new system were, perhaps, to be expected. Time was required for the development of an efficient and smoothly operating organization for the handling of the requisitions. Due allowances had to be made for the inexperience of the personnel assigned to this work and to their lack of familiarity with the principles and details of the prescribed method. It is doubtful that the


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procuring bureaus visualized, as commodity after commodity was delegated to them for procurement, the great volume of work which would result from the consolidation. Whatever may have been the cause, long delays were experienced by the Medical Department in securing acknowledgments from the procuring bureaus of the requisitions which it forwarded. In a few instances the requisitions were handled promptly. In many other instances, however, especially during the first two months of operation of the system, delays of 10 to 30 days in acknowledging the receipt of the requisitions were not uncommon. Papers went astray or failed to reach the individual charged with the purchase of the article. The details of the system appear to have been interpreted differently in the various supply bureaus. The manner in which interbureau procurement requisitions were handled by the Medical Department is indicated in the following report of July 27, 1918:14

These are prepared by the procurement bureau officer, 12 to a set. The first two copies are signed by the bureau chief so that the approval of the Surgeon General and authorization are both accomplished. The entire set is then turned over to the contract and authorization section to be checked on specifications, for authorization of purchase, for price; and allotment number is secured from the finance section where reservation governing the amount involved is arranged for. Amendments and cancellations are handled in exactly the same manner.

The completed requisition is then returned to the procuring officer, who distributes by mail or by messenger to the various departments requiring copies, the first six, of course, going directly to the procuring bureau. The acknowledgment and all information in reference to production, place of contracts, price, terms, etc., are to come from the procuring bureau direct to the contract and authorization section. This is done so that the production department may follow up and charge the amount of allotment which may be arranged for promptly. The transfer of funds in the finance section is taken care of in accordance with instructions given in the supply circular.

Various expedients were utilized to overcome the many difficulties which persisted in spite of all efforts on the part of the supervising agency. A central organization was established to act as a clearing house for all matters pertaining to interbureau requisitions. This agency received all requisitions from the requiring bureaus, recorded them, and distributed them to the bureau designated to procure the commodity specified in each. It also received from the procuring bureau the acknowledgment of receipt of the requisitions and distributed these acknowledgments to the requiring bureaus. In general it was expected to maintain contact with both bureaus until contracts had actually been placed for the articles enumerated on the requisitions.

During the early weeks of operation of the system reports were required from time to time from all bureaus concerning the status of the requisitions.15 Later the procuring bureaus were instructed to submit reports semimonthly showing the status of all unfilled requisitions received by them up to the 5th and 20th of the month, respectively.16 As a furthur step toward the prompt and efficient handling of interbureau requisitions, the following instructions were issued August 6, 1918: 17

In order that interbureau relations affecting procurements may function smoothly and expeditiously and that the proper coordination of the various divisions of each bureau may be assured, it is believed to be desirable that all papers and verbal inforrnation be routed through a central unit, section, or individual in each bureau and that the officer in charge of


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this unit shall have at hand files which will permit an immediate reply to inquiries from another bureau relative to the status of its requisitions without waiting to have the matter reported upon through the usual internal routine of the bureau. This central unit or section should function as follows:
(a) Incoming requisitions. - To receive, record, distribute within the bureau, return receipts, issue reports of purchases and progress reports, and to answer quickly inquiries of other bureaus as to the status of requisitions.
(b) Outgoing requisitions. - To record, issue, to ascertain receipt by procuring bureau, to follow up deliveries, and to place other bureaus in touch with the individuals who can give information in regard to specifications, shipping directions, and finances when same are not stated on the original requisition.

It is therefore requested that you advise this office of your views with regard to the above and, unless there is some serious objection, that a central unit or section for the emitire bureau be organized as promptly as possible.

Since no commodity had been consolidated for procurement by the Medical Department, no need could be seen for the establishment therein of a separate organization to handle interbureau requisitions.18 A short time afterward, in response to a request from the director of purchases and supplies,19 an officer was designated by the Surgeon General to follow Medical Department requisitions of the procuring bureaus and keep completely posted at all times as to the progress of them. 20

A report on the status of the interbureau requisitions issued by the Medical Department was forwarded to the director of purchases and supplies, August 21, 1918, 21 in compliance with his request of August 16, 1918. This number of requisitions contained in the report was 25. One of them had been canceled and three had been amended. The period covered by these requisitions was June 26 to August 7. Full shipping instructions had been issued for each request. An acknowledgment of receipt of the requisition by the procuring bureau had been received for 11 of the 25 requisitions. No report of purchase or other information concerning negotiations therefor had been received.

Judging from the reports received, the negotiations for purchase on many of the requisitions were late in starting and made slow progress. Deliveries likewise were slow and unsatisfactory. The causes for the delay were numerous; doubtless many of them were beyond the power of the procuring bureau to prevent. The difficulties encountered in obtaining from the procuring bureaus information concerning the progress made in procuring supplies on these requisitions were not abated when it came to adjusting them after the need for the supplies had passed. Since no action had been taken on the last hundred requisitions submitted, they were canceled immediately after the armistice was signed.

The difficulties already mentioned had to do, for the most part, with the transmission of requisitions from the using bureau to the procuring bureau and reports thereon, such as acknowledgment of receipt, purchase reports, procurement memoranda, production reports, etc. They but suggest some internal confusion and lack of organization within the procuring bureaus for the handling of requisitions received. After the requisitions were delivered to the procuring bureau, delay followed delay. Concrete information concerning the placement of orders and progress of production was very difficult to obtain. Deliveries were late in beginning and slow in progress. How much of this delay


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was due primarily to defects in the procuring organization and how much depended upon the restrictions and regulations imposed by superior controlling bodies can not now be effectively determined.

The supply circulars referred to above plainly were intended to cover purchases in large quantities; they contained no provision or exception whereby local purchase could be made of a small quantity to fill a requisition. As a result a large number of interbureau requisitions were placed by the several supply bureaus with the designated procuring bureau for small quantities of articles, one or two or a half dozen of the article. These small requisitions added to the difficulties of the already overburdened procuring bureaus. To lessen this inconvenience the chief of the purchase branch directed, October 15, 1918, that all purchases having a money value of less than $5,000 be made directly by the issuing bureaus instead of through the procuring bureau designated in the various supply circulars.22 These instructions were furnished the purchasing agencies of the Medical Department a few days later and materially assisted in securing supplies to fill requisitions for small quantities of articles not in stock.

REFERENCES

(1) G. O. No. 51, War Department, May 24, 1918; G. 0. No. 71, August 3, 1918.
(2) American Industry in the War, A Report of the War Industries Board, by Bernard M. Baruch, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1921, 21, 85.
(3) Priorities Circular No. 3, War Industries Board, January 1, 1918.
(4) General Orders, No. 5, War Department, January 11, 1918.
(5) Memorandum for the Surgeon General, from the Director of Purchases, January 21, 1918, relative to consolidation of purchases, and indorsement thereon. On file, Finance and Supply Division,  S. G. O. ,  533 N. D./45.
(6) Minutes of meetings of the various commodity sections of the War Industries Board and of the Purchase and Supply Branch, Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, General Staff, May  to July,
1918.On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O.,750-198 D. P./166-223.
(7) Supply circulars, Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, General Staff, War Department, April 24, 1918, to December 26, 1918, inclusive.
(8) Letter from the Surgeon General to the Director, Purchase, Storage, and Traffic, May 24, 1918. Subject: Consolidation of optical glass and optical instruments. On file, Finance and Supply
  Dlvlsion, S. G. O., 750-198 D. P./84.  Also: Letter from the Surgeon General to the Director of Purchases and Supplies, July 5, 1918. Subject: Consolidation of procurement.  On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O.,  750-198 D. P./84.
(9) Letters from the Surgeon General to Purchase and Supply Branch, Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, General Staff, August 8, 1918, August 26, 1918. Subject:  Consolodation of procurement. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S.G.O.,  750-198 D.P./213, 329.
(10) Supply Circular No. 18, Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, General Staff, June 8, 1918.
(11) Supply Circular No. 3, Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, General Staff, May 11, 1918.


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(12) Supply Circular No. 72, Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, General Staff, August 8, 1918.
(13) Supply Circular No. 84, Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, General Staff, September 3, 1918.
(14) Memorandum for Lieut. Col. Stockdale, Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, Washington, D. C., from the Surgeon General’s Office, July 27, 1918. Subject: Method of  handling interbureau procurement requisitions. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O.,750-198 D. P./157.  
(15) Letter from Purchase and Supply Branch, Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, General Staff, to the Medical Corps,  Interbureau Unit, August 8, 1918. Subject: Interbureau bureau procurement requisitions. On file, Finance and Supply Division,S.G.O.,  750-198 D.P./251.
(16) Letter from Purchase and Supply Branch, Ptarchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, General Staff, to the Surgeon General, August 24, 1918. Subject: Interbureau requisitions. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 750-198 D. P./336  A.
(17) Letter from the Purchase and Supply Branch, Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, General Staff, to the Surgeon General, August 6, 1918. Subject: Central units to furnish information in status of interbureau requisitions. On file, Finance and  Supply Division, S. G. O.,  750-108 D. P./235.
(18)  Letter from the Surgeon General to Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, Attention Major Cook, August 10, 1918. Subject: Central units to furnish information in status of  interbureau requisitions. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S.G.O., 750-198 D. P./235.
(19) Memorandum for the Medical Department from the Director of Purchases and Supplies, August 13, 1918. Subject: Consolidation of procurement, appointment of an officer to follow interbureau procurement requisitions. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 750-198 D. P./320.                                        
(20) Memorandum from the Surgeon General to Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, on August 22, 1918, designating an officer to follow Medical Department requisitions on  procuring bureaus. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O.,  750-198 D. P./320.
(21) Letter from the Surgeon General to Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, Purchase and Supply Branch, August 21, 1918. Subject: Report on interbureau requisitions.On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O.,  750-198 D. P./304.
(22) Letter from Chief, Purchase Branch, Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, to the Surgeon General of the Army, October 15, 1918. Subject: Interbureau requisitions.On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 750-198 D. P./425.