Sign In
  • Question

    In order to enhance the experience of guests visiting VA National Cemeteries, can bottled water be provided at points throughout the Cemetery grounds where public water is not readily available. Can facial tissues be provided to guests using appropriated funds.


    Answer

    Yes, you can use appropriated funds to purchase bottled water.
     
    Discussion from GAO Case, "Department of the Army, Aberdeen Proving Ground--Use of Appropriated Funds for Bottled Water, B-324781: Dec 17, 2013"
    "As a general rule, without specific statutory authority, appropriations are not available for personal expenses. B-302548, Aug. 20, 2004. Bottled water is ordinarily considered a personal expense of the government employee. B-310502; B-303920, Mar. 21, 2006. However, when water otherwise available to agency employees is unwholesome, or otherwise unpotable, the purchase of bottled drinking water may be viewed as a necessity from the standpoint of the government. B-247871, Apr. 10, 1992. In this regard, we have not objected to agencies using appropriated funds to purchase bottled water upon a showing of necessity, either because the available water posed a health risk if consumed or because water was not available. B-310502; B-247871; B-236330, Aug. 14, 1989; accord Navy v. Fed. Labor Relations Auth., 665 F.3d 1339, 1350 (D.C. Cir. 2012). For example, in B-236330, we held that the Army could reimburse a colonel for the amount of his purchase of bottled water for troops in a remote area of Saudi Arabia because the water sent through regular channels was contaminated. Similarly, in B-247871, we decided that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Agency for International Development could use appropriated funds to purchase bottled water, because the water available in the building occupied by the OIG contained unhealthy levels of lead. More recently, we did not object to the Army Corps of Engineers using appropriated funds to provide bottled water to its employees working in remote work sites without access to potable water. B-310502."
     
    Although the guests that visit Arlington Cemetery are not government employees, your published mission states, "The primary mission of Arlington National Cemetery is to function as the nation's premier military cemetery and shrine honoring those men and women who served in the Armed Forces."  If your primary mission is providing funeral services and that mission is hindered because of the heat and lack of public water.  Then it is a necessity in order to properly satisfy your mission to provide bottled water.  There would not be as much question if you purchased portable generators and cooling systems for more money.  Please document your file and to link the bottled water to your mission rest assured that the tax payer is comforted by the VA's choice to use bottled water rather than buying tents, generators, and cooling systems.


    Open full Question Details