A-57939, NOVEMBER 8, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 368

A-57939: Nov 8, 1934

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CONTRACTS - SPECIFICATIONS - AUTOMOBILES A STATEMENT OF THE WHEEL BASE AND WEIGHT OF AN AUTOMOBILE IN SPECIFICATIONS IS NOT OF ITSELF A SUFFICIENT STATEMENT OF THE NEEDS OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE PURPOSE OF SECURING PROPER COMPETITION. THE UNITED STATES IS NOT REQUIRED TO ACCEPT THE CHEAPEST AUTOMOBILE IF IT DOES NOT PROPERLY MEET THE NEEDS OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE PARTICULAR SERVICE TO BE RENDERED AS DISCLOSED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS. YOU HAVE FURTHER REPORTED THAT THESE INDEXES HAVE NOT BEEN USED WHERE THE CHEAPEST TRANSPORTATION AVAILABLE WOULD MEET THE NEEDS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. YOU HAVE REQUESTED INFORMATION AS TO PROPER SPECIFICATIONS IN EACH OF THE TWO CLASSES OF PROCUREMENT IN EVENT THE PRIOR PROCEDURE SHOULD BE IN ERROR.

A-57939, NOVEMBER 8, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 368

CONTRACTS - SPECIFICATIONS - AUTOMOBILES A STATEMENT OF THE WHEEL BASE AND WEIGHT OF AN AUTOMOBILE IN SPECIFICATIONS IS NOT OF ITSELF A SUFFICIENT STATEMENT OF THE NEEDS OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE PURPOSE OF SECURING PROPER COMPETITION, BUT THE SPECIFICATIONS SHOULD STATE FULLY AND ADEQUATELY THE ACTUAL NEEDS OF THE UNITED STATES. THE UNITED STATES IS NOT REQUIRED TO ACCEPT THE CHEAPEST AUTOMOBILE IF IT DOES NOT PROPERLY MEET THE NEEDS OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE PARTICULAR SERVICE TO BE RENDERED AS DISCLOSED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS. PROPER EVALUATION FACTORS MAY BE USED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS TO COMPARE THE TESTED VALUES TO THE UNITED STATES, FROM A PERFORMANCE STANDPOINT, OF AUTOMOBILES IN VARIOUS PRICE RANGES.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, NOVEMBER 8, 1934:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED IN RESPONSE TO MY LETTER OF OCTOBER 5, 1934, CONCERNING CONTRACT ALS-10042, DATED JUNE 30, 1934, WITH THE FARGO MOTOR CORPORATION, FOR THE DELIVERY OF THREE AUTOMOBILES, YOUR REPORT OF NOVEMBER 2, 1934, TO THE EFFECT THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE HAD FOR A LONG TIME EMPLOYED WEIGHT AND WHEEL BASE AS INDEXES TO SECURE THAT STURDINESS OF CONSTRUCTION REQUIRED TO INSURE PERFORMANCE UNDER SPECIAL SERVICE CONDITIONS AND FEELS THAT IN THE PRESENT INSTANCE THE SPECIFICATION DISCLOSES THE JOB TO BE DONE--- THE PARTICULAR AND UNUSUAL USE INVOLVED--- WITHOUT IMPOSING ANY MECHANICAL STIPULATION UNNECESSARY TO THAT END AND WITHOUT PLACING ANY BIDDERS UNDER UNNECESSARY CONSTRUCTION RESTRICTIONS. YOU HAVE FURTHER REPORTED THAT THESE INDEXES HAVE NOT BEEN USED WHERE THE CHEAPEST TRANSPORTATION AVAILABLE WOULD MEET THE NEEDS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, AND YOU HAVE REQUESTED INFORMATION AS TO PROPER SPECIFICATIONS IN EACH OF THE TWO CLASSES OF PROCUREMENT IN EVENT THE PRIOR PROCEDURE SHOULD BE IN ERROR.

IF THE PRIOR PROCEDURE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE HAS NOT BEEN TO STATE THE WEIGHT AND WHEEL BASE AS TO THE CHEAPER AUTOMOBILES, THERE WOULD APPEAR TO BE NO SUGGESTION NECESSARY WITH RESPECT TO THESE PARTICULAR FEATURES OF SPECIFICATIONS FOR SUCH AUTOMOBILES, BUT IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT A STATEMENT OF WEIGHT AND WHEEL BASE WILL OPERATE TO SECURE AUTOMOBILES IN THE SECOND PRICE RANGE FOR WHICH THEY APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY USED. WEIGHTS MAY BE ARTIFICIALLY INCREASED. THERE IS OF RECORD IN THIS OFFICE A CASE WHERE THE SPECIFICATIONS IMPROPERLY PROVIDED THAT THE AUTOMOBILE SHOULD HAVE A WEIGHT OF 3,200 POUNDS LESS SPARE TIRE, GASOLINE, WATER, AND OIL, AND THE ACCEPTED BIDDER STATED THE WEIGHT OF ITS MACHINES TO BE 3,205 POUNDS. HOWEVER, IT DEVELOPED AFTER THE AUTOMOBILES HAD BEEN DELIVERED AND USED THAT THE TOOL COMPARTMENT UNDER THE FRONT SEAT CONTAINED APPROXIMATELY 480 SQUARE INCHES OF LEAD WEIGHING 196.5 POUNDS WHICH APPARENTLY HAD BEEN POURED IN AFTER THE PAN WAS ATTACHED TO THE FRAME TO INCREASE THE WEIGHT OF THE AUTOMOBILES TO MEET THE QUALIFICATIONS. THE LEAD WAS COVERED BY A RUG WHICH WAS PASTED THERETO AND UPON WHICH THE TOOLS RESTED AND WAS NOT DETECTED UNTIL SOME TIME AFTER THE AUTOMOBILES HAD BEEN ACCEPTED, PAID FOR, AND PLACED IN USE, BUT--- AND THIS IS THE IMPORTANT POINT AT PRESENT--- THE DEPARTMENT CONCERNED REPORTED THAT THE AUTOMOBILES WITH THE ELIMINATION OF THE ARTIFICIAL WEIGHT OF 196.5 POUNDS EACH WERE ENTIRELY SUITABLE FOR ITS USES (A-35142). IN OTHER WORDS, THAT CASE ILLUSTRATES THAT WEIGHTS MAY BE ARTIFICIALLY INCREASED AND THAT WEIGHT DOES NOT NECESSARILY "SECURE THAT STURDINESS OF CONSTRUCTION REQUIRED TO INSURE PERFORMANCE UNDER SPECIAL SERVICE CONDITIONS.' THE SAME MAY BE SAID OF THE WHEEL BASE WHICH OPERATES ARBITRARILY TO ELIMINATE CERTAIN MAKES OF COMMERCIAL AUTOMOBILES FROM COMPETITION. A STATEMENT OF WHEEL BASE AND WEIGHT IS NOT A STATEMENT OF THE NEEDS OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE SPECIFICATIONS SHOULD BE REVISED ACCORDINGLY.

IT IS NOT FOR THIS OFFICE TO STATE THE TERMS OF SPECIFICATIONS WHICH SHOULD BE USED IN THE PURCHASE OF AUTOMOBILES BY THE VARIOUS DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT. THAT IS AN ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBILITY SUBJECT TO THE REQUIREMENT THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS FULLY AND ADEQUATELY STATE THE ACTUAL NEEDS OF THE UNITED STATES SO AS TO PERMIT OF FULL AND FREE COMPETITION BY ALL QUALIFIED BIDDERS AND THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS SHALL NOT CONTAIN ARBITRARY REQUIREMENTS OPERATING TO LIMIT COMPETITION UNNECESSARILY. HOWEVER, IT MAY BE STATED THAT THE UNITED STATES IS NOT REQUIRED TO ACCEPT THE CHEAPEST AUTOMOBILE IF IT DOES NOT PROPERLY MEET THE NEEDS OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE PARTICULAR SERVICE TO BE RENDERED AS DISCLOSED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS. PROPER EVALUATION FACTORS MAY BE USED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS TO COMPARE THE TESTED VALUES TO THE UNITED STATES, FROM A PERFORMANCE STANDPOINT, OF AUTOMOBILES IN VARIOUS PRICE RANGES.