A-20376, NOVEMBER 9, 1927, 7 COMP. GEN. 325

A-20376: Nov 9, 1927

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IT IS PROPER TO ASK SUCH LOW BIDDER TO VERIFY THE AMOUNT OF HIS BID. 1927: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 25. IN RESPONSE THERETO THE FOLLOWING BIDS WERE RECEIVED: TABLE W. MORRISON WAS ASKED TO CONFIRM THIS FIGURE. INASMUCH AS AN ERROR WAS OBVIOUSLY MADE BY THE LOWEST BIDDER. THE BUREAU WAS COGNIZANT OF THAT FACT BEFORE AN ORDER WAS ISSUED. YOUR DECISION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER OR NOT AN ORDER FOR THIS WORK MAY BE PLACED WITH THE NEXT LOWEST BIDDER. YOU DO NOT SUBMIT COPIES OF THE ADVERTISEMENT ON WHICH BIDS WERE ASKED OR THE SPECIFICATIONS ACCOMPANYING THE ADVERTISEMENT. PROPOSALS THAT HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED IN RESPONSE TO AN ADVERTISEMENT FOR BIDS MAY NOT BE WITHDRAWN AFTER THEY HAVE BEEN OPENED.

A-20376, NOVEMBER 9, 1927, 7 COMP. GEN. 325

CONTRACTS - MISTAKE IN BID - WITHDRAWAL WHERE A COMPARISON OF THE LOWEST BID RECEIVED WITH OTHER BIDS AND THE ESTIMATES PREPARED BY THE UNITED STATES FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF CERTAIN WORK DISCLOSED SUCH A DISCREPANCY--- THE LOWEST BID BEING CONSIDERABLY LESS THAN THE ENGINEER'S ESTIMATES FOR THE LABOR AND MATERIAL ALONE AND CONSIDERABLY LESS THAN THE HIGHEST BID--- AS TO LEAD THE CONTRACTING OFFICER TO BELIEVE THAT A MISTAKE HAD BEEN MADE BY THE LOW BIDDER, IT IS PROPER TO ASK SUCH LOW BIDDER TO VERIFY THE AMOUNT OF HIS BID.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, NOVEMBER 9, 1927:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 25, 1927, AS FOLLOWS:

THE BUREAU OF STANDARDS OF THIS DEPARTMENT RECENTLY REQUESTED BIDS FOR ENLARGING ITS SAFE-TESTING FURNACE, AND IN RESPONSE THERETO THE FOLLOWING BIDS WERE RECEIVED:

TABLE

W. L. MORRISON ----------------------------- $2,100.00

E. D. WARD --------------------------------- 2,782.50

CLINTON WARD ------------------------------- 2,925.00

LEWIS ENGINEERING AND CONSTR. CO. ---------- 3,200.00

THE BUREAU ENGINEER HAD PREVIOUSLY ESTIMATED THE COST OF LABOR AND MATERIALS ALONE TO BE CONSIDERABLY MORE THAN THE AMOUNT QUOTED BY THE LOWEST BIDDER, AND SO MR. MORRISON WAS ASKED TO CONFIRM THIS FIGURE, WITH THE RESULT THAT HE DISCOVERED AN ERROR OF A THOUSAND DOLLARS. MR. MORRISON THEREUPON REQUESTED THAT HE BE PERMITTED TO WITHDRAW HIS BID.

INASMUCH AS AN ERROR WAS OBVIOUSLY MADE BY THE LOWEST BIDDER, AND THE BUREAU WAS COGNIZANT OF THAT FACT BEFORE AN ORDER WAS ISSUED, YOUR DECISION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER OR NOT AN ORDER FOR THIS WORK MAY BE PLACED WITH THE NEXT LOWEST BIDDER.

YOU DO NOT SUBMIT COPIES OF THE ADVERTISEMENT ON WHICH BIDS WERE ASKED OR THE SPECIFICATIONS ACCOMPANYING THE ADVERTISEMENT. ORDINARILY, PROPOSALS THAT HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED IN RESPONSE TO AN ADVERTISEMENT FOR BIDS MAY NOT BE WITHDRAWN AFTER THEY HAVE BEEN OPENED, EVEN BEFORE AWARD IS MADE, AND THE BIDDER IS BOUND TO ACCEPT THE AWARD. 6 COMP. GEN. 504; 21 OP.ATTY.GEN. 56.

HOWEVER, IN THE INSTANT MATTER IT APPEARS THAT A COMPARISON OF THE LOWEST BID RECEIVED WITH THE OTHER BIDS AND WITH THE ESTIMATES PREPARED BY THE BUREAU OF STANDARDS ENGINEER, DISCLOSED SUCH A DISCREPANCY--- THE LOWEST BID BEING CONSIDERABLY LESS THAN THE ENGINEER'S ESTIMATES FOR THE LABOR AND MATERIAL ALONE AND $1,100 LESS THAN THE HIGHEST BID--- AS TO LEAD THE CONTRACTING OFFICER TO BELIEVE THAT A MISTAKE HAD BEEN MADE BY THE LOW BIDDER, MR. MORRISON. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, IT WAS PROPER TO ASK THE LOW BIDDER TO VERIFY THE AMOUNT OF HIS BID.

THERE IS GIVEN NO EXPLANATION AS TO JUST HOW THE $1,000 ERROR ALLEGED BY MR. MORRISON WAS MADE, AND ORDINARILY AN ALLEGED ERROR IN A BID CAN NOT BE RECOGNIZED UNLESS SATISFACTORILY EXPLAINED, EVEN WHEN THE CONTRACTING OFFICER HAS REASON TO BELIEVE THAT AN ERROR HAD BEEN MADE. BUT THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES APPEARING IN THIS CASE MAY BE ACCEPTED AS SUFFICIENT JUSTIFICATION FOR ALLOWING W. L. MORRISON TO WITHDRAW HIS BID AND FOR AWARDING THE CONTRACT TO THE NEXT LOWEST BIDDER.