Original jurisdiction in case of Richard P. Schaefer v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Frank C. Hilton, Secretary of Property and Supplies.
Thomas D. Caldwell, Jr., with him Caldwell, Clouser & Kearns, for plaintiff.
Theodore A. Adler, Deputy Attorney General, with him Israel Packel, Attorney General, for defendant.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Judge Mencer dissents. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 350]
Richard P. Schaefer, a taxpayer, has sued the Commonwealth's Secretary of Property and Supplies in equity seeking a decree preliminarily and permanently enjoining the defendant from accepting and opening bids for school buses.
The plaintiff alleges that the Department of Property and Supplies mailed to school bus vendors an invitation to submit bid proposals for school buses in kinds and numbers to meet the estimated requirements of certain school districts and intermediate units of the Commonwealth, and that the Department had no statutory power to engage in this activity. The defendant filed an answer. After hearing, we denied preliminary relief. The parties stipulated that the record made at that hearing together with the pleadings shall be the record and each has filed a motion for summary judgment.
The school buses for which the Department of Property and Supplies invited bids are intended for use by school districts and intermediate units. Neither the Commonwealth nor any branch of the Commonwealth government nor any agency of the Commonwealth has use for school buses. Rather, the Department of Property
[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 351]
and Supplies will give notice of the accepted proposal to the Department of Education which will disseminate the information to those districts and units which had expressed a desire to purchase their requirements through the Department of Property and Supplies.
The issue is solely one of statutory construction. The powers of the Department of Property and Supplies relating to the procurement of supplies are laid out in Section 2403 of the Administrative Code of 1929, Act of April 9, 1929, P.L. 177, 71 P.S. § 633, as follows:
"The Department of Property and Supplies shall have the power, and its duty shall be:
"(a) To formulate and establish standards or specifications, whenever practicable, for articles, materials, supplies, furnishings, and equipment used by administrative departments, independent administrative, departmental administrative, and advisory boards and commissions, . . . .
"(b) To enter into contracts for supplying all stationery, printing paper, and fuel, used in the legislative and other departments of the Government, and for repairing and furnishing the halls and rooms used for the meetings of the General Assembly and its committees. All such contracts shall be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder below such maximum price, and under such regulations as are prescribed by ...