A-77556, SEPTEMBER 1, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 207

A-77556: Sep 1, 1936

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

THE CLASS OF AUTOMOBILE TO BE PURCHASED IS FOR CONSIDERATION ON THE BASIS OF THE WORK TO BE DONE. ADVERTISED AUTOMOBILE SPECIFICATIONS STIPULATING SUCH WEIGHT AND WHEELBASE REQUIREMENTS AS CAN BE MET BY ONLY THREE OF THE TEN DEALERS TO WHOM INVITATIONS TO BID WERE SENT. ARE NOT A COMPLIANCE WITH SECTION 3709. NOTWITHSTANDING ONE OF SAID DEALERS IS WILLING TO ACCEPT A PRICE BELOW THE STATUTORY LIMITATION. IN STATING THE WEIGHT REQUIREMENTS OF THIS ITEM IN THE BODY OF THE SPECIFICATIONS THE FIGURE WAS RAISED TO 3. THE SERVICE REQUIREMENTS STATED FOR THE RESPECTIVE ITEMS WERE AS FOLLOWS: ITEM 1. CARS TO BE PURCHASED UNDER THESE SPECIFICATIONS WILL BE USED IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE DEPARTMENT OF THE RESETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATION IN WASHINGTON.

A-77556, SEPTEMBER 1, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 207

CONTRACTS - SPECIFICATIONS - AUTOMOBILES WHERE IN ADVERTISED SPECIFICATIONS FOR AUTOMOBILES THE STATEMENT OF SERVICE CONDITIONS FAILS TO INDICATE ANY ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE IN THE TYPE OF SERVICE TO BE PERFORMED UNDER THE DIFFERENT ITEMIZATION CLASSIFICATIONS, THE CLASS OF AUTOMOBILE TO BE PURCHASED IS FOR CONSIDERATION ON THE BASIS OF THE WORK TO BE DONE, AND NOT THE RANK OF THE USING OFFICIAL OR EMPLOYEE. ADVERTISED AUTOMOBILE SPECIFICATIONS STIPULATING SUCH WEIGHT AND WHEELBASE REQUIREMENTS AS CAN BE MET BY ONLY THREE OF THE TEN DEALERS TO WHOM INVITATIONS TO BID WERE SENT, AND BY THOSE DEALERS ONLY WITH AUTOMOBILES LISTED AT PRICES IN EXCESS OF THE STATUTORY PURCHASE PRICE LIMITATION OF $7500, ARE NOT A COMPLIANCE WITH SECTION 3709, REVISED STATUTES, REQUIRING ADVERTISING AND AWARD UPON A COMPETITIVE BASIS, NOTWITHSTANDING ONE OF SAID DEALERS IS WILLING TO ACCEPT A PRICE BELOW THE STATUTORY LIMITATION.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR, RESETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATION, SEPTEMBER 1, 1936:

THERE HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION CONTRACT NO. ER RA-743, OCTOBER 2, 1935, WITH THE GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, BUICK DIVISION, FOR FIVE FOUR- DOOR FIVE-PASSENGER SEDANS DELIVERED AT WASHINGTON, D.C., FOR THE RESETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATION.

THE INVITATION FOR BIDS AND SPECIFICATIONS LEADING TO THE CONTRACT COVERED TWO ITEMS, AS FOLLOWS:

CHART

QUANTITY

NEW AND LATEST MODEL, FOUR-DOOR FIVE-PASSENGER SEDANS,

3,100 POUND CLASS IN ACCORDANCE WITH ATTACHED

SPECIFICATIONS, DELIVERED WASHINGTON, D.C. ---------- 4

NEW AND LATEST MODEL, FOUR-DOOR FIVE-PASSENGER

SEDAN IN ACCORDANCE WITH ATTACHED SPECIFICATIONS,

3,500 POUND CLASS, DELIVERED WASHINGTON, D.C. ------- 1

IT MAY BE NOTED HERE THAT WHILE THE INVITATION CALLED FOR VEHICLES IN THE 3,100-POUND CLASS UNDER ITEM NO. 1, IN STATING THE WEIGHT REQUIREMENTS OF THIS ITEM IN THE BODY OF THE SPECIFICATIONS THE FIGURE WAS RAISED TO 3,500 POUNDS.

THE SERVICE REQUIREMENTS STATED FOR THE RESPECTIVE ITEMS WERE AS FOLLOWS:

ITEM 1. CARS TO BE PURCHASED UNDER THESE SPECIFICATIONS WILL BE USED IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE DEPARTMENT OF THE RESETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATION IN WASHINGTON, D.C., AND ADJOINING TERRITORY. THEY OFTEN WILL BE USED FOR LONG DISTANCE TRAVEL. THEREFORE THEY SHOULD BE OF STURDY CONSTRUCTION WITH ADEQUATE AND FLEXIBLE POWER TO NEGOTIATE HEAVY GRADES AND CAPABLE OF TRAVEL UNDER EXTRAORDINARY ROAD OR WEATHER CONDITIONS.

THE CAR MUST BE CAPABLE OF SUSTAINED HIGH SPEED AND CHASSIS AND BODY MUST BE SO CONSTRUCTED AS TO WITHSTAND MOST GRUELLING TESTS THAT LONG DAY BY DAY DRIVING REQUIRES. VARIOUS UNITS, SUCH AS IGNITION COIL, GENERATOR, DISTRIBUTOR, CARBURETOR, ETC., MUST BE OF HIGH QUALITY SO AS TO REDUCE TO A MINIMUM REPEATED OR EVEN OCCASIONAL BREAK-DOWNS ENROUTE, AS SUCH BREAK- DOWNS SERIOUSLY INTERFERE WITH THE APPOINTMENTS OF THE ADMINISTRATORS AND CONSEQUENTLY CAUSE GREAT LOSSES. ACTUAL EXPERIENCE HAS PROVEN THAT THE LIGHTER WEIGHT CARS ARE NOT SUFFICIENTLY STURDY IN CONSTRUCTION TO WITHSTAND THE LONG DAY BY DAY DRIVING UNDER THE SERVICE CONDITIONS STATED, WITHOUT SERIOUS DELAYS.

ITEM 2. THE CAR TO BE PURCHASED UNDER THESE SPECIFICATIONS WILL BE USED BY THE ADMINISTRATORS IN VISITING VARIOUS PROJECTS UNDER CONSTRUCTION AND INVESTIGATING PROPOSED PROJECTS AND BETTERMENTS WITHIN THE STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. AS THESE DUTIES ARE OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE NATURE REQUIRING CONFERENCES AND INSPECTIONS IN COMPANY WITH STATE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT AND OTHER STATE OFFICIALS, IT IS NECESSARY, IN MANY CASES, THAT THEY BE ACCOMPANIED BY THESE OFFICIALS ON SUCH TRIPS. THE CARS MUST BE CAPABLE OF CONTINUOUS AND LONG DISTANCE TRAVEL BETWEEN STATES AND SHOULD BE OF STURDY CONSTRUCTION WITH ADEQUATE AND FLEXIBLE POWER TO NEGOTIATE HEAVY GRADES, SAND, MUD, ETC., AND CAPABLE OF TRAVEL UNDER EXTRAORDINARY ROAD OR WEATHER CONDITIONS. THE ROUTES TO BE TRAVERSED BY THESE CARS WILL INCLUDE ALL KINDS AND CONDITIONS OF ROADWAYS, RANGING DOWN TO UNIMPROVED ROADS AND PROJECTS UNDER CONSTRUCTION.

THE AUTOMOBILE MUST BE CAPABLE OF SUSTAINED HIGH SPEED AND CHASSIS AND BODY MUST BE CONSTRUCTED SO AS TO WITHSTAND THE MOST GRUELLING TESTS THAT LONG DAY BY DAY DRIVING REQUIRES. VARIOUS UNITS, SUCH AS IGNITION COIL, GENERATOR, DISTRIBUTOR, CARBURETOR, ETC., MUST BE OF HIGH QUALITY SO AS TO REDUCE TO A MINIMUM REPEATED OR EVEN OCCASIONAL BREAK-DOWNS ENROUTE, AS SUCH BREAK-DOWNS SERIOUSLY INTERFERE WITH THE ADMINISTRATORS' APPOINTMENTS AND CONSEQUENTLY IMPAIR THEIR EFFICIENCY AND ACTUALLY DELAY THE WORK ON INSPECTION OF IMPORTANT PROJECTS. ACTUAL EXPERIENCE HAS PROVEN THAT THE LIGHTER WEIGHT CARS ARE NOT SUFFICIENTLY STURDY INCONSTRUCTION TO WITHSTAND THE LONG DAY BY DAY DRIVING UNDER THE SERVICE CONDITIONS STATED, WITHOUT SERIOUS DELAYS.

WHILE THE SERVICE REQUIREMENTS UNDER ITEM NO. 2 ARE SOMEWHAT MORE EXPATIATED THAN UNDER ITEM NO. 1, ANALYSIS OF THE STATEMENT OF SERVICE CONDITIONS DOES NOT INDICATE ANY ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE IN THE TYPES OF SERVICE TO BE RENDERED UNDER THE TWO ITEMS, AND IT WOULD APPEAR THAT AN AUTOMOBILE IN THE 3,100-POUND CLASS WOULD SERVE THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT AS WELL UNDER ITEM NO. 2 AS UNDER ITEM NO. 1, THE MATTER FOR CONSIDERATION BEING THE WORK TO BE DONE, RATHER THAN THE RANK OF THE OFFICIAL OR EMPLOYEE WHO IS TO USE THE AUTOMOBILE IN THE SERVICE OF THE GOVERNMENT.

OTHER PROVISIONS OF THE SPECIFICATIONS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

THE CHASSIS MUST HAVE A WHEELBASE OF NOT LESS THAN 119 INCHES, A SHORTER WHEELBASE WILL NOT BE ACCEPTABLE AS CARS WITH A SHORTER WHEELBASE DO NOT HAVE THE STURDY CHASSIS CONSTRUCTION REQUIRED IN THESE SPECIFICATIONS.

THE VEHICLE SHALL BE EQUIPPED WITH FULL BALLOON TIRES OF A STANDARD AND REPUTABLE MAKE, ALSO SHATTER-PROOF GLASS IN WINDSHIELD AND ALL WINDOWS.

THE COMPLETE VEHICLE, LESS BUMPERS, TOOL KIT, GASOLINE, AND WATER SHALL WEIGH 3,500 POUNDS. A DEVIATION OF NOT MORE THAN 6 PERCENT OVER OR UNDER THIS WEIGHT WILL BE ACCEPTED. A VEHICLE LIGHTER THAN THAT SPECIFIED HAS BEEN FOUND, BY EXPERIENCE, TO LACK THE STURDINESS REQUIRED.

CERTIFICATE OF WEIGHT AND MODEL UPON WHICH BID IS SUBMITTED WILL BE REQUIRED.

IMPORTANT: THIS CERTIFICATE DOES NOT MEAN SHIPPING WEIGHT, BUT MEANS THE ACTUAL WEIGHT OF THE VEHICLE WITHOUT THE ACCESSORIES AND SUPPLIES LISTED IN PRECEDING PARAGRAPHS.

THE FOREGOING PROVISIONS OF THE SPECIFICATIONS, ALL OF WHICH HAVE BEEN HELD UNDULY RESTRICTIVE OF COMPETITION AND, THEREFORE, UNAUTHORIZED, WERE MADE EVEN MORE STRINGENT BY THE FOLLOWING:

EACH BIDDER MUST SUBMIT COMPLETE SPECIFICATIONS OF AUTOMOBILE BID ON. THE AUTOMOBILE MUST MEET IN EVERY PARTICULAR THE FOLLOWING GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS. FAILURE TO DO SO WILL BE SUFFICIENT CAUSE FOR REJECTING ANY BID.

IT IS STATED THAT INVITATIONS TO BID WERE SENT TO DEALERS IN PONTIAC, CHEVROLET, OLDSMOBILE, BUICK, DODGE, PLYMOUTH, GRAHAM-PAIGE, FORD, AND CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES. IT APPEARS FROM THE NOVEMBER 1935 ISSUE OF THE "MOTOR" MAGAZINE THAT CHEVROLET, FORD, PLYMOUTH, DODGE, GRAHAM-PAIGE, AND PONTIAC AUTOMOBILES COULD NOT MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SPECIFICATIONS AS TO WEIGHT AND/OR WHEELBASE. AN INVITATION FOR BIDS ON THOSE AUTOMOBILES WAS NOT COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF SECTION 3709, REVISED STATUTES, AS TO ADVERTISING, IF THE SPECIFICATIONS, RATHER THAN THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT, WERE TO CONTROL. SUCH MODELS OF CHRYSLER, BUICK, AND OLDSMOBILE AUTOMOBILES AS COMPLIED WITH THE SPECIFICATIONS WERE SUBSTANTIALLY HIGHER IN LIST PRICE THAN THE $750 STATUTORY LIMITATION. THE SPECIFICATIONS, THEREFORE, OPERATED TO EXCLUDE ALL MAKES OF AUTOMOBILES PROPERLY COMPETITIVE IN THE LOWER PRICE FIELD, AND TO ASSURE THAT THE MINIMUM PRICE BID FOR ANY AUTOMOBILE WHICH COULD MEET THE SPECIFICATIONS WOULD BE APPROXIMATELY THE MAXIMUM PERMITTED BY THE STATUTE.

TWO BIDS WERE RECEIVED ON ITEM NO. 1 AND ONLY ONE ON ITEM NO. 2. THE OURISMAN CHEVROLET CO. OFFERED FOUR CHEVROLET AUTOMOBILES ON ITEM NO. 1 FOR AN AGGREGATE PRICE OF $2,927.68, WHILE THE GENERAL MOTORS CO., BUICK DIVISION, OFFERED BUICK AUTOMOBILES UNDER BOTH ITEMS AT A PRICE OF $741.25, PLUS $48.75 FREIGHT, OR $790 EACH. THE BID OF THE OURISMAN CHEVROLET CO. WAS REJECTED, THE REASON ASSIGNED BEING THAT THE CHEVROLET CARS WERE TOO LIGHT AND TOO SMALL FOR THE REQUIRED SERVICE, AND AWARD WAS MADE TO THE BUICK COMPANY FOR BOTH ITEMS.

THE SPECIFICATIONS AS TO SERVICE REQUIREMENTS USED IN THE PURCHASE OF THESE AUTOMOBILES ARE ALMOST IDENTICAL WITH THOSE WHICH WERE RECENTLY UNDER CONSIDERATION IN TWO DECISIONS TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, A- 70183, FEBRUARY 18, 1936, AND JUNE 15, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 1085.

AS WAS POINTED OUT IN A DECISION OF JUNE 16, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 1103, TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, SINCE THE CONGRESS HAS SEEN FIT TO SET THE MAXIMUM PRICE LIMIT OF $750 FOR PASSENGER-CARRYING MOTOR VEHICLES, THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3709, REVISED STATUTES, REQUIRE THAT THERE SHALL BE OPPORTUNITY FOR FREE AND OPEN COMPETITION WITHIN THAT PRICE LIMIT, AND ANY UNDERTAKING TO LIMIT COMPETITION BY THE USE OF ARBITRARY SPECIFICATIONS AS TO WEIGHT, WHEELBASE, OR OTHER RESTRICTIVE FACTOR IS UNAUTHORIZED. FORTIORI IS THIS TRUE WHEN IT MANIFESTLY APPEARS THAT THE WEIGHT AND/OR WHEELBASE REQUIREMENTS, EVEN IF APPROXIMATE, ARE SUCH THAT NO AUTOMOBILE IN THE RECOGNIZED LOW PRICE CLASS COMPLIES THEREWITH.

THERE MAY BE INSTANCES IN WHICH AUTOMOBILES IN THE "LIGHT-WEIGHT" CLASS WITH THE SHORTEST WHEELBASE WILL NOT ADEQUATELY MEET THE NEEDS OF THE SERVICE, AND IN THAT CONNECTION IT HAS BEEN HELD BY THIS OFFICE THAT AN APPROXIMATE WEIGHT OF 3,100 POUNDS MAY BE USED FOR THE PURPOSE OF INDICATING THE NEED OF A STURDIER VEHICLE. EVEN SO, SUCH WEIGHT CAN BE CONSIDERED ONLY AS APPROXIMATE, AND A REASONABLE DEFICIENCY EITHER OF WEIGHT OR WHEELBASE, OR BOTH, MAY NOT BE MADE AN EXCUSE FOR REJECTION OF AN OTHERWISE ACCEPTABLE LOW BID.

IT APPEARS THAT THE PURCHASE HERE INVOLVED WAS MADE AND THE AUTOMOBILES DELIVERED AND ACCEPTED SOME TIME BEFORE THE MATTER WAS BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF THIS OFFICE, AND APPROVAL OF OTHERWISE PROPER PAYMENTS WILL NOT BE WITHHELD IN THIS INSTANCE BECAUSE OF THE IMPROPER SPECIFICATIONS. IT IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD, HOWEVER, THAT THIS OFFICE DOES NOT SANCTION THE USE OF APPROPRIATED MONEYS UNDER CONTRACTS FOR THE PURCHASE OF PASSENGER- CARRYING VEHICLES WHERE IT APPEARS THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS ARE SUCH AS TO EXCLUDE FROM COMPETITION ANY MAKE OF AUTOMOBILE OR AUTOMOBILES REASONABLY WITHIN THE $750 PRICE CLASS, SUBJECT TO THE PROVISO STATED ABOVE THAT WHERE ACTUAL SERVICE CONDITIONS ARE SHOWN TO BE SUCH AS TO REQUIRE A SLIGHTLY STURDIER CAR THAN THOSE IN THE RECOGNIZED LIGHT WEIGHT CLASS APPROXIMATE WEIGHTS AND WHEELBASE, WITHIN A REASONABLE LIMIT, MAY BE USED TO INDICATE THE NEED. NEITHER WEIGHT NOR WHEELBASE MAY BE STIPULATED FOR THE PURPOSE OF EXCLUDING ALL BUT THE PREFERRED VEHICLE OR VEHICLES, AND CONFINING COMPETITION TO AUTOMOBILES IN A HIGHER PRICE CLASS THAN FIXED BY THE STATUTE.

THE TRANSACTION HERE INVOLVED IS OPEN TO THE FURTHER OBJECTION THAT BIDS WERE NOT SOLICITED ON THE BASIS OF FACTORY DELIVERY. IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT IN THE PURCHASE OF EQUIPMENT FOR THE GOVERNMENT, BIDS SHOULD BE INVITED OFFERING BOTH FACTORY, OR SHIPPING POINT, AND DESTINATION DELIVERY, IN ORDER THAT THE GOVERNMENT MAY ACCEPT THE BID MOST FAVORABLE, HAVING REGARD FOR LAND-GRANT RATES AND OTHER ADVANTAGES. 14 COMP. GEN. 82, AND A-78315, JULY 18, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 43. THE BID OF THE BUICKCOMPANY IN THIS CASE INCLUDED AN ITEM OF $48.75 PER VEHICLE, OR A TOTAL OF $243.75, FOR FREIGHT. THERE IS NOTHING TO SHOW THAT THE AMOUNT REPRESENTS THE ACTUAL FREIGHT PAID BY THE CONTRACTOR, OR, IF SO, WHETHER IT IS MORE THAN WOULD BE THE COST OF SHIPPING THE FIVE AUTOMOBILES FROM THE FACTORY OR OTHER SHIPPING POINT TO WASHINGTON ON GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING BY THE ROUTE MOST ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE UNITED STATES.

IT IS REQUESTED THAT THIS OFFICE BE FURNISHED A DETAILED REPORT RELATIVE TO THAT POINT, SHOWING THE ACTUAL SHIPPING WEIGHT OF THE FIVE VEHICLES, THE POINT OF SHIPMENT AND WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE COST OF SHIPPING THE FIVE AUTOMOBILES SIMULTANEOUSLY FROM THE FACTORY TO WASHINGTON--- TAKING ADVANTAGE OF CARLOAD RATES, ETC.--- ON GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING.

PREAUDIT ACTION ON BUREAU VOUCHER NO. 37585, IN THE AMOUNT OF $3,950, COVERING PROPOSED PAYMENT UNDER THE CONTRACT WILL AWAIT YOUR REPORT, AND YOUR PROMPT ATTENTION IS REQUESTED.