A-13103, MARCH 30, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 776

A-13103: Mar 30, 1926

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THE ACCEPTANCE OF OTHER THAN THE LOWEST BID FOR THE PURCHASE OF AN AUTOMOBILE TRUCK CHASSIS WILL NOT BE OBJECTED TO WHERE THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE CERTIFIED THAT THE TRUCK OFFERED BY THE LOWEST BIDDER HAD BEEN PREVIOUSLY USED BY THE OFFICE AND HAD BEEN FOUND UNSUITABLE FOR THE HEAVY AND ROUGH WORK FOR WHICH PURCHASED. WHEREIN WAS DISALLOWED THE CLAIM OF HARRY UMBERGER FOR $1. THE CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED ON THE GROUND THAT THE LOWEST BID HAD NOT BEEN ACCEPTED. UMBERGER ARE STATED BY THE COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF FISHERIES IN THE REQUEST FOR REVIEW OF THE SETTLEMENT AS FOLLOWS: REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS FOR AUTO TRUCK WERE REQUESTED FROM DEALERS IN THE VICINITY OF WYTHEVILLE. FISHERIES STATION WHERE THE TRUCK WAS TO BE USED.

A-13103, MARCH 30, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 776

ADVERTISING, ACCEPTANCE OF OTHER THAN LOWEST BID - SPECIFICATIONS IN ADVERTISING FOR BIDS FOR AUTOMOBILES, TRUCKS, ETC., AS REQUIRED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3709, REVISED STATUTES, THE PARTICULARITY OF THE SPECIFICATIONS SHOULD NOT BE SUCH AS TO PRECLUDE COMPETITION BETWEEN VARIOUS MAKES OF APPROXIMATELY THE SAME GRADES AND CLASSES, AND THE SPECIFICATIONS SHOULD BE DRAWN WITH RESPECT TO THE SERVICE REQUIREMENTS AND THE CONDITIONS OF INTENDED USE RATHER THAN MECHANICAL CONSTRUCTION. THE ACCEPTANCE OF OTHER THAN THE LOWEST BID FOR THE PURCHASE OF AN AUTOMOBILE TRUCK CHASSIS WILL NOT BE OBJECTED TO WHERE THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE CERTIFIED THAT THE TRUCK OFFERED BY THE LOWEST BIDDER HAD BEEN PREVIOUSLY USED BY THE OFFICE AND HAD BEEN FOUND UNSUITABLE FOR THE HEAVY AND ROUGH WORK FOR WHICH PURCHASED.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, MARCH 30, 1926:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED FROM THE COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF FISHERIES, PRESUMABLY BY AUTHORITY OF THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, A REQUEST OF FEBRUARY 6, 1926, FOR REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT NO. 0119416, DATED FEBRUARY 1, 1926, WHEREIN WAS DISALLOWED THE CLAIM OF HARRY UMBERGER FOR $1,285 FOR ONE DODGE TRUCK CHASSIS FURNISHED TO THE BUREAU OF FISHERIES UNDER PROPOSAL DATED SEPTEMBER 23, 1925. THE CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED ON THE GROUND THAT THE LOWEST BID HAD NOT BEEN ACCEPTED.

THE CIRCUMSTANCES ATTENDING THE ACQUISITION OF THE DODGE CHASSIS FROM MR. UMBERGER ARE STATED BY THE COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF FISHERIES IN THE REQUEST FOR REVIEW OF THE SETTLEMENT AS FOLLOWS:

REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS FOR AUTO TRUCK WERE REQUESTED FROM DEALERS IN THE VICINITY OF WYTHEVILLE, VA., FISHERIES STATION WHERE THE TRUCK WAS TO BE USED. THREE BIDS WERE RECEIVED, EACH BID FOLLOWING THE SAME SPECIFICATIONS AS CALLED FOR BY THIS BUREAU. ONE OF THESE PROPOSALS WAS FOR A FORD TRUCK AT $748.08, ANOTHER WAS FOR A CHEVROLET AT $738.50, AND THE THIRD FOR A DODGE TRUCK OF $1,285.00.

THE REASON FOR REJECTING THE BIDS FOR THE FORD TRUCK AND THE CHEVROLET TRUCK WAS THAT EACH OF THESE MAKES OF TRUCKS HAD BEEN TRIED AT OTHER STATIONS OF THE BUREAU AND FOUND TO BE UNSUITABLE FOR HEAVY AND ROUGH WORK. THE TRUCKAGE AT WYTHEVILLE IS UNUSUALLY HEAVY AND AS THE DODGE TRUCK AT OTHER STATIONS OF THE BUREAU HAS PERFORMED SATISFACTORILY UNDERHEAVY WORK, THIS MAKE OF TRUCK WAS DEEMED TO BE THE BEST ADAPTED TO THE PARTICULAR NEEDS OF THAT STATION.

SECTION 3709, REVISED STATUTES, REQUIRES ADVERTISING PRELIMINARY TO MAKING PURCHASES ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT. BY LATER ENACTMENTS THERE HAVE BEEN CREATED CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS TO SAID SECTION WITH RESPECT TO MINOR PURCHASES BUT THESE EXCEPTIONS ARE NOT INVOLVED HERE. THE PURPOSE OF THE REQUIREMENT IS AT LEAST THREEFOLD, NAMELY: (1) TO SECURE PUBLIC SUPPLIES AT THE LOWEST PRICES OBTAINABLE; (2) TO INSURE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO ALL WISHING TO DO BUSINESS WITH THE UNITED STATES; AND (3) TO PREVENT FAVORITISM.

IN THE MATTER OF MOST GOVERNMENT PURCHASES THE SPECIFICATIONS CAN AND SHOULD BE SO DRAWN THAT ANY ARTICLE COMPLYING THEREWITH WILL MEET THE GOVERNMENT'S NEEDS, AND IN SUCH CASES, ORDINARILY, THE LOWEST BID WOULD BE MOST ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT AND SHOULD BE ACCEPTED. THE DIFFICULTY IN THE MATTER OF PURCHASES OF AUTOMOBILES, TRUCKS, ETC., APPEARS TO LIE IN THE FORM IN WHICH BIDS ARE ASKED. CERTAIN MAKES OF CARS OF VARIOUS GRADES ARE SUFFICIENTLY WELL KNOWN WITH RESPECT TO THEIR RELATIVE MERITS THAT THE SUPERIORITY OF THE ONE OVER THE OTHER MAY BE BROADLY SAID TO BE A MATTER OF COMMON KNOWLEDGE, SO THAT WITH RESPECT TO ANY OTHER THAN ORDINARY USE THE ADAPTABILITY OF A PARTICULAR GRADE MAY BE READILY AGREED UPON. FOR ALL ORDINARY USES ALL MAKES AND GRADES OF CARS ARE FOR CONSIDERATION IN DETERMINING THE BID MOST ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. FOR OTHER THAN ORDINARY USE, THE SPECIFICATIONS ACCOMPANYING THE PROPOSALS FOR BIDS SHOULD PARTICULARIZE THE EXTRAORDINARY USE OR CONDITIONS SUCH AS ROUGH ROADS, IMPROVED ROADS, LIGHT OR HEAVY LOADS, CONTINUOUS OR INTERMITTENT USE, ON A DAILY, WEEKLY, OR MONTHLY BASIS, MILEAGE, ETC. THE PARTICULARITY OF THE SPECIFICATIONS SHOULD NOT BE SUCH AS TO PRECLUDE COMPETITION BETWEEN VARIOUS MAKES OF APPROXIMATELY THE SAME GRADES AND PRICES OF EQUIPMENT, BECAUSE SPECIFICATIONS SO RESTRICTED WOULD NOT CONSTITUTE COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENT AS TO ADVERTISING. OTHER WORDS, IT CAN NOT BE SAID, EXCEPT IN CERTAIN RARE INSTANCES, THAT ONLY A CERTAIN MAKE OF EQUIPMENT WILL ANSWER GOVERNMENT NEEDS; AND SPECIFICATIONS MAY NOT BE SO DRAFTED, OR BIDS ACCEPTED ON SUCH A BASIS, AS NECESSARILY TO SUGGEST FROM COMMON KNOWLEDGE OF THE MERITS OF THE VARIOUS MAKES AND GRADES OF EQUIPMENT, LIMITATION TO A PARTICULAR MAKE OR GRADE. COMPARE 4 COMP. GEN. 983, AND 5 ID. 30.

THE PROPOSALS FOR BIDS MUST BE SUCH AS TO AT LEAST INVITE COMPETITION BETWEEN ALL DEALERS OF WHATEVER MAKE IN THAT OR SUPERIOR GRADES OF EQUIPMENT AND THE BID MOST ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT MUST BE ACCEPTED. THESE PRINCIPLES ARE SUCH AS ARE GENERALLY APPLICABLE TO COMPETITIVE PURCHASES AND IT IS HOPED THAT ADMINISTRATIVE PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE WILL BE SUCH IN THE FUTURE AS TO REDUCE TO A MINIMUM DECISIONS WHICH MAY BE VEXATIOUS AND TROUBLESOME BUT WHICH ARE NECESSARY UNDER PRESENT PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE IN ORDER TO SECURE COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW.

WHILE THE PROPOSAL FOR BIDS IN THIS CASE DOES NOT FULLY SATISFY THE FOREGOING STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES, THERE APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN A REASONABLE ATTEMPT TO COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE STATUTE, AND THE AGREED PRICE OF $1,285 FOR THE CHASSIS WILL BE ALLOWED.