A-90314, A-90834, DECEMBER 14, 1937, 17 COMP. GEN. 497

A-90314,A-90834: Dec 14, 1937

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SEALED PROPOSALS FOR THIS PROJECT WERE OPENED AT JUNEAU. THE FOLLOWING BIDS WERE RECEIVED: CHART L. 372.40 AFTER THE OPENING IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT L. THE DISTRICT ENGINEER TELEGRAPHED THE REGIONAL OFFICE OF THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS AT SAN FRANCISCO FOR INSTRUCTIONS AND WAS ADVISED BY THE LATTER TO ALLOW L. WAS SENT TO THE PURCHASING AGENT OF THE ALASKA RAILROAD. WHERE STANDARD FORM 21 WAS SIGNED BY THE PRESIDENT OF L. J. SOMMERS CONSTRUCTION COMPANY AND A COPY OF THE ADVERTISED SPECIFICATIONS ARE ENCLOSED HEREWITH. ALSO ENCLOSED IS A TABULATION OF THE PROPOSALS RECEIVED FROM ALL OF THE ABOVE-NAMED BIDDERS GIVING THE TOTAL AND UNIT PRICES FOR EACH ITEM CALLED FOR IN THE ADVERTISEMENT. YOUR OPINION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER IN CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS KIND WHERE A LOW BIDDER HAS FAILED TO SIGN HIS PROPOSAL SUCH FAILURE TO SIGN MAY BE WAIVED AND A CONTRACT AWARDED TO HIM IF HE IS OTHERWISE QUALIFIED.

A-90314, A-90834, DECEMBER 14, 1937, 17 COMP. GEN. 497

ADVERTISING - BIDS - INFORMALITIES - LACK OF SIGNATURE - WAIVER IN PUBLIC INTEREST WHERE LOW BIDDER SIGNED A BID BOND FULLY IDENTIFYING "THE ACCOMPANYING BID," BUT FAILED TO SIGN THE BID, WHICH REMAINED IN THE CUSTODY OF THE GOVERNMENT FROM DATE OF OPENING UNTIL SIGNED BY THE BIDDER PROMPTLY AFTER HAVING BEEN INFORMED THEREOF, AND ALL BIDDERS HAD BEEN ADVISED OF THE RESERVATION OF RIGHT TO WAIVE ANY INFORMALITY IN BIDS IF IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT, THE LOW BID SHOULD BE ACCEPTED, IT BEING CLEARLY IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST TO WAIVE THE INFORMALITY IN ORDER TO EFFECT A SUBSTANTIAL SAVING.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, DECEMBER 14, 1937:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 2, 1937, AS FOLLOWS:

IN YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 10, 1937, YOU QUOTE FROM A COMMUNICATION OF R. J. SOMMERS CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, JUNEAU, ALASKA, PROTESTING AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO L. J. DOWELL, INC., OF SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE GLACIER HIGHWAY (AUKE BAY-PEARL HARBOR SECTION), ALASKA FOREST HIGHWAY PROJECT NO. 2-F4, G1. YOU ASK FOR COPIES OF THE BIDS OF THESE TWO FIRMS, AN ABSTRACT OF THE BIDS, COPY OF THE ADVERTISED SPECIFICATIONS, TOGETHER WITH A REPORT OF THE FACTS IN THE MATTER.

SEALED PROPOSALS FOR THIS PROJECT WERE OPENED AT JUNEAU, ALASKA, OCTOBER 28, 1937. THE FOLLOWING BIDS WERE RECEIVED:

CHART L. J. DOWELL, INC ---------------------------------------- $84,819.40

R. J. SOMMERS CONSTR. CO ---------------------------------98,889.20

NORTHWEST CONSTR. CO ------------------------------------- 102,460.00

ALASKA CONSTR. CO ---------------------------------------- 103,169.10

WRIGHT AND STOCK, INC ------------------------------------ 104,749.30

SIEMS-SPOKANE CO ----------------------------------------- 121,038.50

ENGINEER'S ESTIMATE -------------------------------------- 107,372.40

AFTER THE OPENING IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT L. J. DOWELL DID NOT SIGN THE GOVERNMENT STANDARD FORM OF BID (FORM NO. 21). THE FIRM COMPLETED THE BID SCHEDULE AND EXECUTED THE STANDARD GOVERNMENT FORM OF BID BOND. THE DISTRICT ENGINEER TELEGRAPHED THE REGIONAL OFFICE OF THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS AT SAN FRANCISCO FOR INSTRUCTIONS AND WAS ADVISED BY THE LATTER TO ALLOW L. J. DOWELL TO SIGN THE BID AND FORWARD ALL THE PAPERS TO WASHINGTON FOR CONSIDERATION. ACCORDINGLY, THE PROPOSAL OF L. J. DOWELL, INC., WAS SENT TO THE PURCHASING AGENT OF THE ALASKA RAILROAD, 441 FEDERAL OFFICE BUILDING, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, WHERE STANDARD FORM 21 WAS SIGNED BY THE PRESIDENT OF L. J. DOWELL, INC., ON NOVEMBER 5, 1937, IN THE PRESENCE OF THREE WITNESSES, AS SHOWN ON THE DOWELL BID.

THE PROPOSALS OF L. J. DOWELL, INC., AND R. J. SOMMERS CONSTRUCTION COMPANY AND A COPY OF THE ADVERTISED SPECIFICATIONS ARE ENCLOSED HEREWITH. ALSO ENCLOSED IS A TABULATION OF THE PROPOSALS RECEIVED FROM ALL OF THE ABOVE-NAMED BIDDERS GIVING THE TOTAL AND UNIT PRICES FOR EACH ITEM CALLED FOR IN THE ADVERTISEMENT.

THE DEPARTMENT HAS NOT ACCEPTED ANY OF THE BIDS ABOVE LISTED. YOUR OPINION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER IN CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS KIND WHERE A LOW BIDDER HAS FAILED TO SIGN HIS PROPOSAL SUCH FAILURE TO SIGN MAY BE WAIVED AND A CONTRACT AWARDED TO HIM IF HE IS OTHERWISE QUALIFIED. NOT, SHOULD AWARD BE MADE TO THE SECOND LOW BIDDER? IN THIS CONNECTION IT IS TO BE NOTED THAT THE SECOND LOW BID IS OVER $14,000 HIGHER THAN THE DOWELL BID. A PROMPT DECISION WILL BE APPRECIATED WITH THE RETURN OF THE TWO BIDS ENCLOSED.

BOTH THE BID BOND AND THE FORM ON WHICH L. J. DOWELL, INC., MADE ITS BID WERE SUBMITTED IN RESPONSE TO THE INVITATION FOR BIDS FOR OPENING OCTOBER 28, 1937. THE BID BOND WAS EXECUTED BY THE BIDDER OCTOBER 25, 1937, AND REFERRED TO AND FULLY IDENTIFIED "THE ACCOMPANYING BID" WHICH, WHILE NOT ACTUALLY SIGNED BY THE BIDDER PRIOR TO DATE OF OPENING, REMAINED IN THE CUSTODY OF THE GOVERNMENT FROM DATE OF OPENING UNTIL SIGNED BY THE BIDDER NOVEMBER 5, 1937. THERE WAS, OF COURSE, AN INFORMALITY IN THE FAILURE TO SIGN BOTH PAPERS BUT IN THE GOVERNMENT INSTRUCTIONS TO BIDDERS ALL WERE ADVISED THAT THE UNITED STATES RESERVED THE RIGHT TO WAIVE ANY INFORMALITY IN BIDS WHENEVER SUCH WAIVER SHOULD BE IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT. UPON REPRESENTATIVES OF THE LOW BIDDER BEING ADVISED AS TO THE INFORMALITY IN FAILING TO SIGN THE BID FORM, THE REQUISITE SIGNATURES WERE PROMPTLY AFFIXED THERETO.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE AMOUNT OF THE LOW BID AND THE AMOUNT OF THE NEXT LOW BID, OVER $14,000, CERTAINLY MAKES IT IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST TO WAIVE THE INFORMALITY IN THIS CASE AND YOU ARE ADVISED THAT, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT, THE LOW BID SUBMITTED BY L. J. DOWELL, INC., SHOULD BE ACCEPTED FOR PERFORMANCE OF THE REQUIRED CONSTRUCTION WORK.