A-10985, JANUARY 30, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 556

A-10985: Jan 30, 1926

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1926: I HAVE RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 24. THE ORDER AS IT NOW STANDS PROVIDES FOR SUBMITTING AN ABSTRACT OF BIDS ONLY IN CASES WHERE AWARD IS MADE TO OTHER THAN THE LOWEST BIDDER. A CERTIFICATE BY THE POSTMASTER THAT THE LOWEST BID WAS ACCEPTED BEING AUTHORIZED IN ALL OTHER CASES. YOU STATE THAT THIS REQUIREMENT IS IN CONFORMITY WITH MY DECISION OF MARCH 8. AS FOLLOWS (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS): A SATISFACTORY AUDIT OF EXPENDITURES PURSUANT TO FORMAL OR INFORMAL CONTRACTS REQUIRES AN AFFIRMATIVE SHOWING THAT THE LOWEST BID WAS ACCEPTED. AMONG WHICH ARE BY FURNISHING THE ACCEPTED PROPOSAL AND AN ABSTRACT OF REJECTED PROPOSALS OR BY A CERTIFICATE ON THE VOUCHER BY ONE HAVING KNOWLEDGE OF THE FACTS THAT THE ACCEPTED BID.

A-10985, JANUARY 30, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 556

CONTRACTS - FILING IN GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE CONTRACTS DEPOSITED IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3743, REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED, SHOULD BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN ABSTRACT OF ALL THE BIDS RECEIVED LEADING TO THE AWARD OF THE CONTRACT, OR BY THE BIDS THEMSELVES.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, JANUARY 30, 1926:

I HAVE RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 24, 1925, REQUESTING RECONSIDERATION OF MY DECISION, MADE IN LETTER OF NOVEMBER 12, 1925, APPROVING NEW FORM OF "VOUCHER FOR RENTALS AND SERVICES UNDER CONTRACT," TO THE EFFECT THAT POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT ORDER NO. 3120 SHOULD BE AMENDED SO AS TO REQUIRE THAT AN ABSTRACT OF BIDS OR THE BIDS THEMSELVES SHOULD ACCOMPANY ALL AGREEMENTS SUBMITTED TO THIS OFFICE. THE ORDER AS IT NOW STANDS PROVIDES FOR SUBMITTING AN ABSTRACT OF BIDS ONLY IN CASES WHERE AWARD IS MADE TO OTHER THAN THE LOWEST BIDDER, A CERTIFICATE BY THE POSTMASTER THAT THE LOWEST BID WAS ACCEPTED BEING AUTHORIZED IN ALL OTHER CASES. YOU STATE THAT THIS REQUIREMENT IS IN CONFORMITY WITH MY DECISION OF MARCH 8, 1924, 3 COMP. GEN. 605, AS FOLLOWS (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS):

A SATISFACTORY AUDIT OF EXPENDITURES PURSUANT TO FORMAL OR INFORMAL CONTRACTS REQUIRES AN AFFIRMATIVE SHOWING THAT THE LOWEST BID WAS ACCEPTED, OR, IF OTHERWISE, A DETAILED STATEMENT OF THE REASONS FOR ACCEPTING OTHER THAN THE LOWEST BID.

THE DECISION ALSO STATES THAT THE INFORMATION THUS CONSIDERED NECESSARY MAY BE PROVIDED IN ONE OF SEVERAL WAYS, AMONG WHICH ARE BY FURNISHING THE ACCEPTED PROPOSAL AND AN ABSTRACT OF REJECTED PROPOSALS OR BY A CERTIFICATE ON THE VOUCHER BY ONE HAVING KNOWLEDGE OF THE FACTS THAT THE ACCEPTED BID, ATTACHED OR OTHERWISE DEPOSITED, WAS THE LOWEST BID, IF THAT BE A FACT.

A SIMPLE STATEMENT OF A CONCLUSION OF FACT, ALTHOUGH IT IS MADE IN THE CERTIFICATE OF ONE HAVING KNOWLEDGE OF THAT FACT, SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS BEING ORDINARILY A SATISFACTORY COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENT THAT AN AFFIRMATIVE SHOWING OF FACTS MUST BE MADE. SEE 4 COMP. GEN. 429, 430, IN WHICH IT WAS HELD SUBSTANTIALLY THAT ALTHOUGH STATEMENTS THAT AWARDS WERE MADE TO THE LOWEST RESPONSIBLE BIDDER WERE CONTAINED IN CERTAIN CERTIFICATES, YET SAID STATEMENTS DID NOT CONSTITUTE A SHOWING THAT THE LOWEST BIDS WERE ACTUALLY ACCEPTED.

THE CERTIFICATE OF AN OFFICIAL HAVING KNOWLEDGE OF THE FACTS IN ANY CASE HAS BEEN AND MAY CONTINUE TO BE TAKEN BY THIS OFFICE AS EVIDENCE THAT AWARD WAS MADE TO THE LOWEST BIDDER OR LOWEST RESPONSIBLE BIDDER, IN THE ABSENCE OF THE BIDS OR AN ABSTRACT THEREOF, ONLY IN EXCEPTIONAL CASES, WHEN SUCH STATEMENT IS CORROBORATED BY THE CONTRACT PAPERS OR THE VOUCHER, OR INFORMATION OR EVIDENCE OTHERWISE OBTAINED. BUT THIS OFFICE IS ENTITLED TO AND SHOULD RECEIVE THE BEST EVIDENCE OBTAINABLE OF THE CORRECTNESS OF THE ALLEGED FACTS WHICH FORM A CONDITION PRECEDENT TO THE RIGHT OF A CLAIMANT TO PAYMENT FOR SUPPLIES OR SERVICES FURNISHED OR TO THE RIGHT OF A DISBURSING OFFICER TO CREDIT FOR PAYMENTS SO MADE.

THE BEST EVIDENCE OF THE LEGALITY OF A PROCEDURE FOLLOWED IN ADVERTISING FOR PROPOSALS FOR SUPPLIES OR SERVICES, AWARD OF CONTRACT, ETC., CONSISTS OF COPIES OF ALL THE BIDS, DULY ABSTRACTED, ACCOMPANYING THE CONTRACT EXECUTED BY THE INDIVIDUAL, PARTNERSHIP, OR CORPORATION WHOSE BID WAS ACCEPTED, WHICH IS REQUIRED TO BE DEPOSITED IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE BY SECTION 3743, REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED BY THE ACTS OF JULY 31, 1894, 28 STAT. 210, AND JUNE 10, 1921, 42 STAT. 23-27. IT IS RECOGNIZED, HOWEVER, THAT THE SUPPLYING OF COPIES OF ALL THE BIDS WILL IN MANY CASES PROVE EXPENSIVE AND BURDENSOME, BOTH TO THE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS THAT PREPARE THEM AND TO THIS OFFICE WHICH MUST RECEIVE, CONSIDER, AND FILE THEM, AND FOR THIS REASON IN SUCH CASES A SUITABLE ABSTRACT OF ALL THE BIDS RECEIVED AND TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION IN THE AWARD OF THE CONTRACT WILL SUFFICE.

IT IS HARDLY CONCEIVABLE THAT POSTMASTERS OR ANY OTHER PURCHASING OFFICERS OF YOUR DEPARTMENT WOULD ADVERTISE FOR AND ACCEPT BIDS WITHOUT LISTING AND TABULATING SAME IN AN ORDERLY WAY BEFORE TAKING ACTION THEREON, IN ORDER THAT THERE MAY BE SUITABLE DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE OF THE TRANSACTION IN BRIEF FORM FOR RECORD AND READY REFERENCE PURPOSES,AND IT IS BELIEVED THAT ORDER NO. 3120, SUPRA, SHOULD BE AMENDED TO DEFINITELY REQUIRE THE ABSTRACTING OF ALL BIDS AND THE FURNISHING OF SAME WITH THE OTHER CONTRACT PAPERS TO THIS OFFICE. THE PREPARATION OF SUCH AN ABSTRACT WOULD THEN BECOME A PART OF THE OFFICIAL PROCEDURE OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT IN CONNECTION WITH THE PURCHASE OF SUPPLIES AND PROCUREMENT OF SERVICES, SUBJECT TO EXAMINATION BY INSPECTORS AND OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS, AND THEREBY THE OPPORTUNITY FOR FRAUD BY POSTMASTERS, SUCH AS THE WILLFUL SUPPRESSION OF THE LOWEST BID AS SUGGESTED IN YOUR LETTER, WOULD BE REMOTE BECAUSE SUBJECT TO READY DETECTION.

IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE I FEEL CONSTRAINED TO ADHERE TO THE REQUIREMENT CONTAINED IN MY LETTER OF NOVEMBER 12, 1925, THAT AN ABSTRACT OF BIDS OR THE BIDS THEMSELVES SHALL ACCOMPANY ALL AGREEMENTS SUBMITTED TO THIS OFFICE.